Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned

Finish the Story: Fear

F

Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

Until that day, fear had been an idea, a concept. Now it was real: a feeling I would carry inside me for the rest of my life. The day began innocently enough, with …

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  • Until that day, fear had been an idea, a concept. Now it was real: a feeling I would carry inside me for the rest of my life. They day began innocently enough, with a heavy bank of ominous clouds and brilliant smatterings of jagged lightning.

    You’d think nothing could ruin a day so perfect, but you’d be wrong.

    Petunia Petalsworth, that pale-haired, perfect excuse for a godmother trainee, turned my favorite dress robes pink.

    She swore it was an accident, a spell intended for her own robes that went awry. I knew better.

    Her robes were petal pink. The new shade of my robes was magenta.

    Naturally, the teacher believed her. Even though they were supposed to be neutral, everyone understood they favored the Light students.

    So instead of my neatly-pressed, glimmering midnight robes, I found myself wearing gag-me glittery things. It was hard to even take myself seriously in that getup, but it was not permitted to leave class once it had begun unless bespelled in such a way that it threatened permanent damage.

    That made sense, of course. Otherwise no one would ever finish class.

    My pleas to the teacher that everlasting embarassment would indeed do permanent damage to my reputation were ignored.

    Not even my very best glower was enough to dim the brightness of those awful robes, but I consoled myself with the fact that they’d be restored at the end of class.

    My consolation was short-lived, however. You see, today was no ordinary class day.

    Today, we had a guest lecturer.

    And today’s guest lecturer was none other than Azaziel Bramblesworth the Third, enchantress of the Waste, Terror of the East, and Bespeller of the Duchy of Brandysmede.

    There weren’t many kingdoms left these days. Bespelling an entire Duchy was quite the accomplishment.

    She was my hero.

    I had a poster of her transforming into a crow on the wall above my bed. I bought all of her books. I even had her entire line of action figures, though if you tell anyone I said that I swear I will put a toad in your lunchbox.

    My entire being froze the moment the teacher announced it.

    She was coming here. Today.

    Now.

    A trail of heat followed the splash of cold fear, zigzagging up my spine and spilling hot color into my ears and cheeks.

    No. She was supposed to meet me at my best. Shake my hand. BEG that I become her apprentice!

    I couldn’t let her see me like this!

    The door opened with deliberate slowness, accentuating every potential creak the hinges could possibly produce.

    A flurry of crows spilled into the room, eerily silent except for the rushing sound of their wingbeats as they flew just above our heads in a precise and practiced circle.

    A hand appeared, bony and pale and dripping with black webbing.

    No, no, no! I grabbed my wand, pure fear spilling from my heart and pouring into my shaking hands.

    Terrified, I couldn’t think of a spell. Any spell at all, let alone one that might, by some stroke of miracle, turn my dress from flagrantly hideous to respectably horrible.

    The hand turned into a black-robed arm. The arm attached itself to a body, and in a panic, I swung my wand and prayed to every black god who might be listening.

    A puff of smoke. A flash of light.

    … Do we really have to keep talking about this? Fear makes you do stupid things. That’s really the moral, here, isn’t it? A valuable life lesson. I’ll use it as a weapon even more carefully now that I know what it feels like.

    Now if you could please just transform me back, I’d like to go back to class and learn anything at all before Ms. Bramblesworth leaves.

  • I’m not always fond of the ones I do, but at least I do them! ^^

    ——————
    Until that day, fear had been an idea, a concept. Now it was real: a feeling I would carry inside me for the rest of my life. The day began innocently enough, with the plain oatmeal porridge that served as breakfast to all of the initiates. It had been all we’d been allowed for breakfast for the past five years, but today all of that would change.

    “Initiate Tendriss,” the Master’s voice was sonorous, resonant in the large hall.

    “Yes, Master,” I stated calmly, willing my heart to calm.

    “Are you ready to take your oath?”

    Fear. It was a feeling that lived in the mind, something that the members of the order were taught to harness, but had my training been enough? Was I ready?

    “Yes, Master,” I repeated, not letting my hesitance show in my voice. I would not shame my family, after all they’d given up to get me this far to fail them now.

    “Then come with me,” he said, turning and moving away without looking back to see if I followed.

    Silence fell over the dining hall as I stood to leave, all of the conversation in the room ceasing as they gave me nods, one by one as I walked past them.

    I followed the Master up the long winding staircase to the tower that he called his home.

    At the top, he opened the door to his chambers, his inner sanctum, and waved me in ahead of him.

    The room was spartan, dark. A lone candle was lit on the desk, but it only served to highlight the gloom, not banish it.

    “Sit,” the Master waved me to a seat and took a seat himself on the other side of the desk. “How many years have you been with us, Tendriss?”

    “Seven, Master,” I said. I responded quickly, without taking time to think. Anything else would lead to punishment.

    “How many times have you attempted the Test of Fear?”

    “Seven, Master,” I said again.

    “And you try the test again today? What do you imagine has changed, initiate?”

    “I believe I have come to grips with my fear, Master,” I said, doing my best to ensure my voice was steady.

    “Have you?” His voice was cool and distant, slightly amused. “Let us see.”

    He reached forward with a hand, fingers outspread.

    I could feel his touch, tendrils of fear creeping in through my mind.

    Come, initiate, the voice was in my head. Show me what you know of fear.

    Images crashed through the inside of my head. The door to the basement when I was only four years old. My father’s belt, looped and coiled in his hand, ready for striking. The forest at night, inky black and impenetrable. The growl of a wolf from two feet away as I held it at bay with a torch. The stairs leading to the Master’s tower. This test. Repeated attempts to master my fear, to internalize it, and with it, control and direct it in others.

    I struggled against the oppressive weight of it, the tide of darkness that the Master sent hurtling through my soul like a spear.

    Time after time, I’d failed this test. I couldn’t master my fear before.

    I had nothing on the line before, though. Nothing worth fighting for.

    And now I did.

    I let the fear bombard me. Let it wash over me. Felt the receding of my heartbeat and the calming of the nerves.

    I was an initiate to the Charnel House with family depending on me to earn my robes and to return to carry on their legacy against the duke. I could not fail.

    I let the fear settle into my mind, down in the depths where the heart of myself resided and welcomed it as a friend instead of trying to push it out.

    I breathed it in and the fear became a part of me, solid with weight.

    “Good,” the Master’s voice rasped in the stillness, a slight tremble to his voice revealing how strenuous it had been to maintain his emotional onslaught for so long. “Now you are ready.”

    The true work had begun.

Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned