The Diffident Hero - NaNoWriMo 2012 - Chapter 5, pt. 1

That was the moment that Brandon’s world truly transformed itself into something he barely recognized. He couldn’t have been more baffled than if he’d suddenly found himself transported into any of the worlds of his comics and books and movies. It certainly felt like that was where this new world belonged.

It would have been terribly exciting, except that those worlds were experienced while dry and warm and comfortable at home, not soaking in the sludge with the heroes.

Sorcha had wasted exactly enough time for them to finish their coffees, and then they were off. He didn’t know what she did, but one minute they were in the café, and the next …

“What happened? Where’d the café go?”

They were still seated, and the transition had happened so suddenly (or was it so gradually?) that he couldn’t put his finger on exactly when it had occurred. The space they were in resembled the café in many respects. The floor plan of the building seemed to be the same. There was a counter where the café’s counter had been. There were tables and chairs in something resembling the same locations as the café’s.

He wasn’t a particularly devoted student of interior design, but he was reasonably certain the café had not been decked out in quite this much crystal and faerie dust when he’d entered.

He gaped for a moment and turned back to Sorcha, only to gape again. Sorcha sat before him, gazing intently again, a wide grin on her face.

“Um … are those … do you … what …”

“Something you’d like to ask?” She inquired innocently. The translucent, barely visible wings on her back fluttered and shimmered as she hunched her shoulders forward, staring even more intently.

“Are … those … wings?”

“There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? And yes, of course they are!” She fluttered them meaningfully.

“You’re—”

She nodded, suddenly all serious. “I’m one of the People, yes. Though that’s not actually what we call ourselves, you know. As dream names go, it’s not too bad, I guess. It’ll do for now.”

“Dream names?” He kind of hoped she’d keep on giving him new questions to ask. It kept him from focusing on the changes to the café—and, if his peripheral vision wasn’t playing tricks on him, the rest of the city.

“I certainly hope you don’t think that story you came up with was true! All that wandering around in the swamp and killing things and the circle of trees? You’d have to go far, far away from here to see or do any of that!” She looked almost affronted. “No, it was all just a dream, something you came up with to make sense of the call. Happens all the time.”

“So I’m not the only one, then.” That was oddly comforting. He could get lost in a crowd.

She laughed merrily. “Oh no, no. There are lots of others. Well, some others. A few others. Not too many right now, actually, but they’re out there.”

“So you can fly?” He looked the wings over carefully; they didn’t look strong enough to support her.

“I sure can! Not like this, though, not with these or in this body. But yeah, if I change, I can fly.”

“So wait, you can change your body?”

She rolled her eyes. “Come on, Brandon, think a moment. You just witnessed the entire café change, and I changed along with it. Is it really so hard to believe that I can change again in other ways?”

“Right. Sorry, it’s a lot to take in.”

“Well, you’d best get used to rapid change. You’ll need to be on your toes where we’re going!”

“Where are we going?”

“Let’s go have a look.” She smiled and took his hand. They rose and made their way to the door, past crystalline tables and windows covered with slatted blinds. Sorcha dropped his hand, took hold of the door handles, lead him outside, and whirled to him with an impish grin.

Beyond her, the city looked just as it had after work. Skyscrapers rose in the distance. Buildings of more moderate height crowded around them. Cars raced down the road, while the sidewalks bustled with people coming to and fro. Some of them gave him startled glances and looks of recognition, and he remembered with a start that he wasn’t quite through with his moment of fame just yet.

“I don’t get it, what’s changed?” he asked.

“You!” she exclaimed. “Don’t worry if you don’t see it just yet. It’ll happen.”

“Why’d everything go back to normal, but you still have your wings?” It was true. She was standing in the middle of the sidewalk, wings flapping lazily behind her, and people weren’t giving them a second glance, even those who moved out of their way to avoid walking into them.