Chapter 10

Copyright © 2022 Norma Rrae.

Luci felt the hairs on her arms prickle like an electrical storm
made of anger was coming. She lunged at Ashier, “You! I
could have died down there, or worse, trapped by Chamier.”

Ashier sidestepped, causing Luci to crash on the ground. “It’s
unfortunate that you escaped. The iron lung would have looked
good on you,” he said.

Luci lifted herself off the dirt and glared at him.

His mouth twisted up at the corners. “I can help you get back

She snarled, “Get away from me.”

Ashier picked a worm off his head and popped it in his
mouth. As he chewed, his jaw muscles rippled. Luci cringed, remembering Chamier crunching the spider. “I know where your
mother is,” he said.

“I don’t believe you,” she said.

“You don’t need to because your mother will keep on her way
anyway, regardless of what you think of me,” Ashier said.

He leaned against a willow. He plucked another worm off
his head, examined it closely, then bit its head off dramatically.

“Where is she then?”

He shrugged. “In the labyrinth,” he said, then spat the worm
at Luci.

That was enough. First, Ashier lied to her, and now he spat?
She kicked at his knees, knocking him to the ground. In one swift
movement, he rolled, then jumped back up. Luci charged at him,
colliding hard into his chest. She tackled him. Ashier wiggled his
hand out from under Luci and blew grey material off his palm.

She quickly moved to dodge the attack of unknown dust blown
into her face. Luci felt disorientated. She choked on the smell of
that dark place. Then she had an idea.

She fell back, blinking through the dusty stuff in her eyes and
demanded, “Why are you trying to send me back to that place?”

Ashier crossed his arms. “Don’t matter to me much.”

“Then why are you fighting me?” Luci asked, rubbing her
sore elbow.

“It’s fun.”

“Maybe I’ll just run away, and you won’t have any more fun.”

His face fell. Luci had hoped for that reaction. She added, “I
guess I could stay, as long as you don’t push me back into that
place. You know, the dark place. What’s it called?”

Ashier laughed. The worms wiggled from the movement.
“I’m not that dumb.”

He ran around Luci and smacked her back. Hard.

“Ooof,” escaped from Luci’s lips. She swung around, but
Ashier was faster. He booked it around and bashed her other shoulder. Luci swung both arms, trying to deflect future hits, but
Ashier’s size made him perfect for dodging each swing. Luci tried
to kick when the Memegwaan ran. Luci was too angry to let him
get away. She chased after him into a field of tall white f lowers.
Luci lost him in the flower forest. She slowed and stepped
around the f lowers cautiously. She expected him to appear at any

Bugs crawled along the flower stalks sending warnings to her
to leave this place.

Don’t touch the flowers or be tempted to smell the buds, the bugs

Luci could hear the popping of worms in Ashier’s mouth. He
chewed and walked. The sound carried.

Luci stood still for a few heartbeats to close her eyes and listen.

The chewing grew louder. She readied herself, opening her eyes
the second Ashier appeared. She attacked.

She threw a heavy fist towards his face. Ashier ducked and
jabbed her arm painfully backward against a f lower stalk. The
moment her skin touched the silky hair-covered stem, her skin
bubbled up into painful blisters. Her flesh screamed with pain.
She cried out and pulled away.

“Ashier,” she growled and spun around.

He punched her in the stomach, causing her to stumble back
into the towering flower. This time he didn’t run away.

Luci shook her head, then looked at the small man. She
furrowed her brow. Who was he? She couldn’t remember. It
seemed a memory that was just right there, but as a blister on her
hand popped, the knowing bled through her fingers.

His mouth twisted into a cruel smile. He wasn’t a friend, she
decided. Luci peeled off the f lower, her skin swelling with watery
blisters. Each new pop wet her shirt with drained memories.

“What are you doing?” she shrieked.

He folded his arms. “Hmm, not quite,” he said.

He shot both fists forward and smashed them against Luci’s
chest. The hit knocked the air out of her lungs. She tripped,
body-slammed the stem, which reverberated, and a single petal
fell into her lap.

Luci stared at the white floret in horror. She knew it meant
something. A wicked meaning that she had, but then it slipped

She glanced back at the f lower. Why was she scared of this

She looked at the man and snarled. But then she couldn’t
remember why she was mad. He was doing this. She knew that
much. “Go away!”

“Nope, that won’t do,” the man grumbled.

He jump-kicked both legs into her chest, causing her body
to snap the giant flower in half. She choked on the bile creeping
up her throat.

A large flower bud landed in her lap. She picked it up, and
blisters formed where it touched her skin.

She crumpled into a ball as the pain encapsulated her. Why
did everything hurt so much? What was causing the pain?

“Hey, girl,” a voice said.

She peeled her eyes up to see a man standing there, but he
wasn’t an ordinary man. He looked strange. Or maybe he was
a normal-looking man. She didn’t know anymore. What was
a man? A blister popped. She rolled over to look at the thing
looking at her.

“I’m a girl?” she asked. What did he mean? Was that her
name? Girl?

More blisters appeared on her arms, grew, and then popped.

Then she couldn’t remember what he’d said.

“Who are you?” she asked.

He grinned.

“What are these?”

The girl held her arm up. Blisters appeared and popped.
The blisters hurt. Her skin hurt. A quiver rippled her bottom
lip. A sickness spread from the blisters to her chest and settled
in her mind. The eruptions on her skin seemed to burst all her
knowledge out. She gingerly touched her cheeks, where she felt
new blisters emerge. Each volcanic eruption of clarity broke away.
Then, suddenly, the thing turned to leave. The girl snivelled,

“Wait, can you help me?” she implored.

“That will do just fine,” he said. The thing swung in a frantic
circle then turned into a soft grey moth. The moth thing flew


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