I'm participating in John Remy's latest experiment in creativity, over at his blog, Mind on Fire.
Every day for the next week, he will pick a Tarot card at random, and everyone who is participating will create something spurred by that card, and post it.
Today's card is the Knight of Swords, and this is what jumped out of my mind in response to that imagery, a short story, just a couple of scenes, really, that has nothing to do with Tarot at all, but was nevertheless the first thing I thought of on seeing the day's prompt. It is a first draft, but that seems appropriate for this sort of on-the-run experiment.
So, without further comment: "The Knights in the Park":
“Mom!” Katie came tearing through the house, yelling at the top of her lungs. “Mom! I just came by the park, and there’s a bunch of guys out there in armor.”
“Yes, dear,” Mom said as Katie flew by her and into the kitchen. She was used to Katie’s flights of fantasy, and had long since started ignoring them. “It’s probably those knuckleheads in the SCA, practicing. You know how they like to beat each other with sticks.”
“No, Mom,” Katie said, banging shut the refrigerator door, water bottle in hand. “They didn’t have sticks. They had real swords. And spears.”
Mom sighed. “The SCA doesn’t use real swords, Katherine Marie. You’ve seen Mr. Smith’s swords. They’re made out of rattan.”
Katie sighed back, much more dramatically than her mother had.
“I told you, they’re real swords. I know, ‘cause one of them had stabbed another one, and the one that was stabbed was bleeding all over the place. It was gross.”
Back in the living room, Katie paused to drink.
“I asked if they needed me to call an ambulance, but they acted like they didn’t understand me. They were speaking some other language.”
“You need to stay away from Mr. Smith and his friends when they’re practicing,” Mom said. “Those helmets they wear restrict their vision, and one of them might hit you accidentally.”
“But the guy was bleeding, Mom. And moaning, and cussing I think. I couldn’t understand him, but it sounded like Dad does when he cusses.”
Mom looked up at her daughter for the first time since she had come inside.
“You’re a mess, Katie. Go wash up and change clothes. I’ve got to go to the grocery store when I finish folding this laundry, and I want you to go with me.”
“I hate going to the store, Mom,” Katie whined.
“Katie….”, Mom said, a warning tone in her voice.
Katie turned to go, and as she went down the hall she called back, “And there were horses too, Mom. And the horses had armor on, too.”
Mom stopped folding for a minute. Horses? The group that practices in the park never had horses. She shook her head, then went back to her folding.
Twenty minutes later, Katie and her mom were in the car, backing out of the driveway.
“Go the other way,” Katie said when her mom started to turn the car left out of the driveway. “I want to drive by the park and see if they knights and the horses are still there.”
“There are no knights in the part. And there are no horses. Horses are not allowed in the park.”
Mom was about to say no, when she decided that showing Katie that there were no knights, and no horses, in the park might make her daughter think twice before making up these stories. So, she drove back into the driveway and then backed out the other direction and headed toward the park.
Just as Mom suspected, there was no one in the park except for a few kids in the skateboard park.
Except, as the turned the corner and could see past the concrete of the skateboard area, there was a glint of sunlight off metal. As she drove further and could see more, there was a group of men in armor, some with helmets on and some with helmets dangling from gloved hands.
And there were two horses, held by the reins by a boy in a tunic, just beyond the knot of men, who seemed to be gathered around something, or someone, on the ground.
Maybe I should go take a look, see if someone needs help, Mom thought as she pulled up to the curb. She shut off the car, told Katie to stay put, and started across the street.
But, as Katie’s mom stepped up onto the sidewalk on the park side of the street, the gathering of men and the younger man and horses seemed to just dissolve away. One moment they seemed as solid as the sidewalks she was standing on. The next moment they were all transparent; she could see them, but she could see the lawn and trees beyond them, as well. And then, in another moment, they were just…gone.
Katie’s mom stopped still, looked all around her, to see where the group had gone. But they were nowhere in sight.
After a moment, she turned and went back to the car.
“Did you see that, Mom?” Katie said. “They were there, and then they just vanished. That was so cool.”
“Things…people…do not just vanish, Katie,” Mom said. “That’s impossible. It violates every known law of physics.”
Mom paused, sighed yet again. “Yes. I saw that.”
And then she turned and looked at Kate. “And if you breathe a word of this to anyone, you will be grounded until you are ninety years old. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Katie said.
“And I mean no one. Not Dad, not your teachers. Nobody.”
Katie caught the slight edge of hysteria in her mother’s voice and knew that this was one thing she really shouldn’t talk about.
“Yes, ma’am,” Katie repeated. “But we really did see it, didn’t we?”
Mom nodded her head, started the car, and continued to the grocery store.