Chapter 11 Washed Away


Washed Away

Lilly remained in her state of heated fever for a month. The days passed slowly and continued to snow. The last leaves were ripped from the trees and the river became deeper and more violent. The banks flooded and swept away mud, rocks and driftwood. The once calm waters of crystal were transformed into traitorous currents of dirty flood water.

Moulina came back one day. She had compacted balls of snow stuck to her fur coat so she padded around the room scratching and biting the parasitic snowballs. Eventually she removed the weights and came to rest on Lilly’s pillow. She gently licked the hot head of salty sweat and cold tears.

When ever Abigail came into the room Moulina darted under the bed and hid quietly. Lilly smiled secretively to herself as she dreamed mad thoughts and viewed twisted images in her mind. The fever took her close to madness but Moulina kept her in reality. One day she came back from hunting with a mouthful of snow, but it was far too white to be just picked up from outside. Even the freshly fallen snow had a grey tint but the snowball was pure white and almost bright. Moulina placed it on Lilly’s face where it quickly began to melt. The creature’s eyes shone and the snow froze and spread over the boiling skin. The cold forced the fever into retreat and frequent cooling pressed the fever flat. It became thin and powerless over Lilly who was weak but still had her mind intact.

When Lilly was strong enough she could cool the bed to an ice coffin that chilled her body to a point that would have killed most healthy people. Lilly could move and speak again but by the start of December, she was still sick and delirious.

She would have terrible nightmares and wake up to be met by Moulina who calmed her frightened soul. Lilly’s health fluctuated. She could be recovering but then lapse back into burning fever. Yet through it all she remained in constant dreams. She could never be sure if she was awake or dreaming. The confusion distressed her but in her dreams she found freedom and new life. She would imagine herself in a meadow with buttercups and butterflies. She could find herself talking to eagles in the far western skies or breathing the salt waters with mermaids and sunken ships.

Her imagination grew as she fantasised these events but some dreams puzzled her. They seemed too real and were always the same. Either she was alone in a vast hall of ice or sitting on a mountain top speaking with a giant. One night as she was drifting off to sleep the snow outside grew thick and buried the land. Lilly drifted away into the dimension of her creations. The image of a great hall formed in her mind and was full of pillars made of grey ice. The floor was sugar coated in frost and when she walked the perfect crunch of her steps echoed around the empty hall. As Lilly wonder through the thousands of columns she regarded the occasional sculpture that glittered and sparkled in the moonlight of the starry night sky. A layer of thin ice served as a roof through which the stars seemed so clear and yet different, almost closer. Lilly looked at the pillars, each with exquisite designs of creatures, flowers and lands of geography never seen by human eyes. She was completely alone but not deserted in the strange place. She new she was safe and felt at ease with out any threats from the outside world.

Eventually she would reach the walls of the vast hall and peered into them. They were of clear ice that reflected her beautiful face but there was more beyond the reflection. Deep back into the thick ice Lilly could see images of paused motion held still within the walls. The images of the past lay dormant in the ice.

Lilly continued to walk round the hall and found a white table encrusted in frost. There was a chest laid on it with mercury patterns swirling and shimmering. The chest glowed and opened easily as Lilly lifted the lid gently, cautious of what dwelled within. Light flooded the room and bounced off the pillars to shed light into every shadow in the room. The content of the box was a crown. Bright grey almost silver, frosted stones and clear ice froze together to form a beautiful crown. Lilly ran her fingers over it memorising every change in shape and texture from the rough frosted stone to the smooth and shiny ice. So perfectly beautiful was the crown that Lilly had little desire to leave it but the dream started to fade. Lilly tried desperately to remain within her frozen hall with the royal crown of ice but it melted with the break of day.

Lilly began to cry for no reason and kicked her covers in irritation. Moulina growled at her so Lilly stopped and watched the small animal for a while. She was sweet and child-like when she hid the needle teeth behind her brown lips. Lilly remained in her own dream world for two months, through which she would talk to her many visions. She would talk to the tree outside who was upset about the loss of his leaves; she would admire the music sung by the wind and compliment her on the beautiful voice. She would speak to a giant in her delirium and tell him things. He would answer her questions and make the conversations last for hours.

One glorious evening - just past the New Year - the sun began to set over the dark hills in sheets of orange and yellow fading to red and purple then blue and mauve. Lilly awoke from her dreams of confusion and glanced about to see if she was still dreaming. She noticed the warm glow of the sunset and watched it for an hour as it faded to black and stars glittered in the velvet curtain of the night. She yawned and curled up in her soft covers and then noticed a mouse was sitting on the window sill.

In reality Moulina was now devouring it on the floor but Lilly saw it twitching its whiskers and cleaning itself. She stepped over to the window where the mouse crawled down the dead honeysuckle. She guided herself slowly down after it. The sweet brown mouse scurried across the path and down to the river where it swam out into calm waters. It reached a stepping stone and looked back at her. Lilly giggled and followed. The water was more difficult to wade through than it looked. The clear sky began to cloud over with a snow storm but Lilly dangerously continued to follow the cute rodent. When she reached the mouse he swam to the next stepping stone and waved his tail at her. She followed but fell into the clear water. When she emerged the water had changed to rough and dirty with no sign of the mouse. The strong water pulled at her to force her down stream.

Moulina finished her mouse and looked about frantically to see that Lilly had disappeared. She heard a loud splash and jumped onto the window sill. The snow storm had engulfed the land and blurred Moulina’s vision. Through the blizzard she could see Lilly struggling in the water as the rough rapids clawed at her. Moulina dived out of the window and ran to the river. She placed her tail in the torrent and froze the turbulent waters. The ice spread over towards Lilly but by the time it reached her, she had lost her footing and was swept away. Moulina ran across the ice and jumping into the water.

She swam after Lilly but was caught in the rapids that pushed her under. She struggled to stay afloat but choked and was wrenched down stream. The sharp rocks cut Lilly’s legs and hands. She was too weak to save herself and grew lame in the rough winter water. Despite numerous attempts to summon up strength, she was powerless and lost hope. She let the river take her at its will. Moulina began to cry and drown. They were hauled down through town and past the river side houses. Lilly tried to call for help but the water plunged her into silence. She was swept through the town without anyone noticing her and by the time she had reached the outskirts she was drifting face down in muddy water.

An old tree was her saviour as she was caught in the fingers of the branches that clutched at her limp body. It stopped her from being pulled further down stream but she was still in the water. The river hauled her under the tree so she was submerged and held tightly by the tree branches so she became wedged underwater.

Moulina hit a branch and grabbed onto it with her sharp claws. She struggled out of the water and pulled herself to safety where she howled in the winter air and panted for breath. She vomited up water and food as she coughed and wheezed with the weight of her thick coat crushing her fragile body. She noticed a piece of white fabric floating to the surface. Lilly drifted beneath the turbulent water while part of her torn her dress bobbed up to the air. Moulina bit the fabric and pulled, but it ripped. In a last desperate attempt she froze an entire wall of water in front of Lilly. The effort almost killed her and the river flooded round the wall and onto the fields. Sheep bellowed and ran for safety but Moulina had reduced the pressure on Lilly so she floated to the surface and bobbed in the still river. Waves of dirty flood water swamped the surrounding fields and flowed over the farmland while the water on the other side of the wall slowly drained away and rested Lilly on the slimy bed. The rocks were covered in weeds, gravel and debris from the surging water. The exposed bed bubbled and fizzed with the introduction of air to the once soaking vegetation.

Moulina jumped down to Lilly and stood on her chest. The wall of ice protected them from the river and the grey, dying tree provided them with shelter from the snow. Lilly was not breathing and her body was limp as a fish. Moulina jumped on her chest to encourage a heart beat but Lilly lay perfectly still. Moulina proceeded to massage her body to get the blood moving: she crushed and released the pressure on the chest to animate air through the lungs. Some river water oozed from the pale mouth but there was no breath.

Moulina grew tired and weak but she carried on with her mission to restore life to the dead body. Shouting came from the fields and she realised she had left the water to flood the land. She made a mound of ice rise up from the river bed to lift them out of the way of the water as she melted the ice barricade. The river swelled over the wall and cascaded into the tree dislodging it so it was washed away. The magical creature made a bridge on which Lilly slid over the river and unfortunately into a fence on the other side of the high banks. Moulina rode her to solid ground and then thawed everything to resume the normal river flow. She checked to see if Lilly was breathing but no air moved from her lips. She began to cry again and licked Lilly’s soft, stiff face with her rough tongue.

Lilly was dead and Moulina knew this.

frederic   frederic wrote
on 7/14/2009 12:25:23 PM
As I intimated in an earlier critique, I was hoping that the river was a salutary force in Lilly's life. It turns out to be her deathbed. This story is very imaginative. I have to say that in terms of artistic license. For me, I would have liked Liily better if you had kept her in reality. Have her keep yelling at Rose, for example, because of the bad sort she is going around with. Love with Simon. I started re-reading Joan Didion's "Run River" a while ago. I was hoping for something in that vein. I never took to fantasy and horror. Lastly, I don't think I would kill Liily off, given the chapter where she acquires magical powers to manipulate cold and ice. She could do questionable things with her new powers, and then perhaps the river could aid her in deciding the right use to put to her magic. Very talented-- A.

Trenchtownrock   Trenchtownrock wrote
on 7/8/2009 9:59:07 PM
I guess I should have read this chapter before I read really set this up for what happened in the last are a talented soul my friend..well done.

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Chapter 11 cools lilly down after her fever and even though you might think it is going from bad to worse, it going from bad to surprising ;)
A Word from the Writer
No relation to Flushed Away