Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ferris Wheel | An Original Short Story

Hi, there! I think Saturdays are going to become my day for post original writing. This week I have a short story to share. It's recently written and not at all edited yet, so please give me any feedback you have!  

Ferris Wheel by C P Cabaniss

The line of semi translucent people wound through the woods and down an old gravel path, ending abruptly with a drop that would terrify even the most daring of individuals. Standing on the edge, looking down into that black abyss, a soft mist surrounding her, Ruby wanted to be terrified but couldn’t find the will. She was, after all, already dead. What could a fall of several hundred feet do to her now? Even if there were rocks at the bottom, waiting to dash her body to pieces. Could her body even be dashed? More than fear, Ruby felt a sense of curiosity. Not that she was ready to throw herself to a second death or anything—she still didn’t know if she could feel pain, after all—but now that mortality was behind her, fear seemed like such a silly response to the unknown.

Ruby wasn’t quite sure how she had gotten here, after the accident. One second she was falling through glass, her skin ripping open, body riddled with pain, and the next she was here, standing at the edge of a cliff, in a line of other—presumably—dead individuals. She wanted to ask a question, but every time she opened her mouth someone glared at her. Apparently there was a taboo on speech. Go figure.

The line ahead of her shuffled forward, another person disappearing into the fog and trees, lost to sight. An odd screech was coming from somewhere in those woods, and even though she was not—could not be—afraid, going toward that sound did not seem wise, so she tried to linger there on the cliff side, contemplating her second death. Only, someone appeared behind her, administering a sharp jab to her back, and she was pushed forward in line, another step closer to the tree line.

The darkness was denser the closer they moved to the towering trees. Ruby studied her surroundings, not sure if it was night or day in this odd after life she had fallen into. There were no stars or moon, despite the dark, nothing to shed even the barest light. But it was light enough to see, which defied logic. You had to have light to see and light had to have a source. That’s just how things worked. But then, this was somewhere other and the laws of nature that Ruby had come to accept, if not understand, might have changed. Perhaps it was darkness that needed a source here, and not light.

A shrill cry issued from the woods, filling Ruby’s bones with dread, if not fear. She was moving closer every minute, a jab to her back pushing her forward when she tried to stay still, her tennis shoes scraping on some unknown, unseen, debris. No one else seemed to react to the cry, continuing placidly along, their transparent forms blending with the eerie mist before becoming substantial once more. The line behind her was filling in, a new person appearing every time the line moved forward. She never could see them appearing; one second her eye was looking at empty air and the next there was a person standing there. None of them seemed surprised. It was like they had expected this. She wasn’t positive, but she was pretty sure no religion she ever studied presented the afterlife as a moving line into an unknown copse of trees from which screeches and cries would issue forth. Then again, religion had always confused her, so maybe she just hadn’t noticed.

Finding herself on the path inside the column of trees was unnerving, even if she couldn’t be scared. Ruby rubbed her arms, trying in vain to generate heat in her unfeeling limbs. At least they aren’t sprouting shards of glass, she told herself, taking another step forward. The mist ahead of her suddenly cleared, giving her a clear view of what was making that screeching, creaking noise.

“A Ferris Wheel?” She said, addressing no one in particular, not noticing the glares being cast her way. “We died and were brought to ride on a Ferris Wheel? What kind of afterlife is that?” No one answered, but a few did nod, so she wasn’t completely alone. She wasn’t sure if that should be comforting or terrifying, considering where she was.

One by one those in front of her were ushered onto the Ferris wheel and whisked from site. The man running the controls was translucent like the rest of them, another spirit lost in the paradise of cheap amusement park rides. He seemed almost happy to usher the people forward, into the little swinging cabins that would carry them high into the sky. The Ferris wheel was big, far bigger than any she had ever seen in life.

Each of the cabins was enclosed with glass, a black veil draped over the top. A small door in the side of the cabin allowed new passengers to enter. These were quickly closed by the happy control man, who smiled at each occupant before pushing his lever and sending them on their way. The black veils fluttered, disturbing the mist, as the cabin rose up, up, up into the sky before finally being lost to the vast blackness above.

When Ruby was nudged to the front of the line the control man smiled, ushering her forward with exaggerated eagerness. The cabin waiting for her was empty, she thought, though she couldn’t see inside. The black veil shut out all the light. She suddenly wished she could feel fear.

“You know, I don’t much like heights,” she told the man, hearing several hisses from those behind her in line. “I think I’ll just go back to the cliff and see what I can find.” She thumbed over her shoulder, trying to take a step back.

The operator man grabbed her arm, pulling her forward until their noses were nearly touching. “It’s time to embrace your destiny, Ruby.” His voice was gravelly and unused; she suddenly wondered how long he had been here. At the same time she felt a shiver down her back, the first thing she had actually felt this whole time. Before she could even struggle to get away, the man shoved her into the cabin and slammed the little door behind her, enfolding her in the arms of darkness.

The light had felt unnatural before, but at least she had been able to see. Now she was…not terrified. She still couldn’t feel fear, even after being manhandled by some ancient dead man forcing people to ride a Ferris wheel. Her death was getting weirder and weirder. Could she not be normal for once in her life and do things the simple way? A white light, maybe angels singing. Something that was not this?

Righting herself in the cabin, trying to pull herself up into the seat, she suddenly sensed another presence with her. She held her breath, although she didn’t technically have to breathe, and waited. She was not going to make the first move here. Things didn’t seem to go well for her when she did.

“Welcome aboard, Ruby. I’ve been waiting for you.” The voice was smooth and silky, deep, masculine. Light suddenly illuminated the small space, almost blindingly bright after the dimness of the fog and the darkness from seconds before.

The man with her was young, her own age, maybe. And gorgeous. His eyes were a bright green that shone in the light; they seemed to almost create the light. His brown hair was thrown back in windswept waves, falling over his ears, framing his face.

“Great. Couldn’t you have at least been ugly? Now I have to deal with a beautiful angel of darkness or whatever you are. How long is this ride going to take anyway? I want to get back on the ground. And how do you know my name?” She pulled herself into the seat across from the angel of death, giving him a glare.

“I know all about you, Ruby. I’ve been waiting for you. And what makes you think we’re going back to the ground?” His voice almost made her want to melt. Almost.

“Uh, because that’s what Ferris wheels do? They take you for a ride and then let you out. Haven’t you ever been to an amusement park? I mean, other than this one?” The little cabin swayed, rocking them gently as they climbed higher and higher. At least, Ruby assumed they were moving. She couldn’t tell since the black veil prevented her from seeing out and all.

“Ferris… No. I don’t think you understand. Did you see anyone else return?” The guy was shaking his head, like there was something wrong with her.

“What do you mean, of course—“ She stopped abruptly. She hadn’t seen anyone else come back. They all got into a cabin, usually more than one per cabin, unlike her, and none of them ever came back. All of them were empty when they returned to the ground. “What happened to all those people?” She demanded.

“This is the Dimensional Wheel, or one of them, at least. There are many possibilities for those who enter its cabins. I do not know where all of them have gone, but I do know where you’re going.” He moved forward, into her space, so quickly that she didn’t have time to react. “You can save us. You were not fractured and so you can put us back together.”

Ruby narrowed her eyes as the man moved to the door. He glanced back at her, reaching a hand to pull something from her hair, as he pushed the door open with the other. She looked out and had to stifle a gasp. Everything is made of glass. An entire city spread before her, seeming to sway with each tilt of her Ferris wheel cabin. An entire city made entirely of glass.

“You’re our glass rose,” the man said, brandishing what he had pulled from her hair moments before. It was a delicate glass flower that looked close to breaking in his large fingers. He was surprisingly gentle as he cradled it. “You have been sent to save us. The prophecies said you would come, falling through a shower of glass. And you did.”

With a soft groan Ruby shakes her head, the memories from her accident flooding her thoughts. She remembers all of her careful work in packing the flowers for the wedding, how some of them had small glass flowers, like the one now cradled in the strange man’s fist, woven into their stems. She was driving, trying to get there in time to set up, on a deadline, worried she wouldn’t get paid in full if she didn’t hurry. And then the truck that came out of nowhere. The crunch of metal as the two vehicles collided. The spray of glass from every direction, how she was thrown through the backseat, the flowers pricking her skin, through the back window. The pain was unbearable.

“The glass rose has come to save us,” the man whispered, brandishing the flower, making her meet his eyes. “Our city is fractured and you can repair it. It is your destiny.”

“Great,” Ruby sighed, casting her eyes back over the city of glass. The Ferris wheel cabin swayed beneath her feet. “Why couldn’t I have just died like a normal person?”

This is an original short story. All rights belong to me, the author. Please do not copy without permission.  

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