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The Colorless Chalice

by Gina Gidaro 3 months ago in Short Story

There is a bird song in the walls.

A Home Flood

There was a birdsong coming from behind the walls.

“The colorless chalice, being old and new

Lights the path the wood crew grew.

Carrying tomorrow past the fireflies dew,

What a task only the brave will do…”

A young girl peaked through the cracks of the wooden wall but saw only darkness. The song was sung over and over in a raspy, muffled and dream-like tone. She didn’t completely understand it, but it was the first interesting thing to have happened in a long time, so she flung her backpack over her shoulder, tied on her boots and left the room. The house was misshapen and constantly changing. It was made of wood, nothing but wood, giving it a naturally dark interior, minus the hundreds of fireflies taking station on the ceiling and the empty shelves along the walls.

Upon exiting her room, the wandering girl encountered the maid, Mrs. Gilford, and watched for a curious moment as she sat before a large basket, folding white socks of all different sizes. The girl poked the maid on the arm. The maid didn’t seem to feel it.

“I have to find the colorless chalice,” the girl stated. There were tiny drops of red on the white socks.

Mrs. Gilford turned, startled, casting a nervous glance upward. “Oh my. You must return to your chamber…before the house learns your name.”

“I need to find the colorless chalice,” the wandering girl repeated.

Reluctantly, the maid pointed down one of the many dark hallways. She shoved something into the girls backpack, and then sent her on her way.

The house was a disorienting maze, one she usually knew better than to venture. She came across rabbits with star-shaped eyes, and books with razors for pages. She passed a heavy game of fencing between kitchen utensils and a yellow dog that kept asking bystanders their opinions on worm holes. It was hard to know who to trust.

“Excuse you!” cried a voice from under the girls’ foot. She jumped back, unaware of her mistake. Some kind of creature emerged from a corner of darkness. It was a small, black monkey with a long white mustache. It yanked its long tail out of the pathway, glaring at her with dark eyes. “Can’t a monkey get some sleep around here?” it asked. “No, no of course not. That would require that dog over there to shut up.”

The yellow dog was preaching about the logistics of multiple dimensions.

“I have to find the colorless chalice,” the girl interjected. The monkey scoffed.

“Nice to meet you too,” the monkey said. “My name is Humrichouse the Emperor. You don’t want to go looking for that chalice, no, no, that’s crazy talk, it really is…”

“I need to find the colorless chalice,” the girl repeated.

“You’re luny, you know that? Absolute cookoo bananas, but I haven’t seen a banana in far too long and for that fact only will I lead you to where you need to be.”

With that, Humrichouse started down a hallway that was not there a minute ago. The girl followed. She struggled to keep up with the creature, especially since the area slowly became coated in a thick fog.

Finally, the monkey propped itself on a wooden crate and there was Melly. She had a particular way with fog. Her plastic hands could warp and transfer and thicken any cluster of condensation she desired. One could always tell when she was near, because the low clouds followed her 18-inch body like a flowing gown.

“Hi there,” she said, small hands positioned in a way that suggested she was holding something, or wielding it. “What pleasant company this is.”

“I have to find the colorless chalice,” the wandering girl stated. Humrichouse sat quietly, watching the exchange.

“An adventure!” Melly exclaimed, attempting to clasp her hands together. Her palms wouldn’t touch, just her fingertips, creating an upside down heart. “That sounds wonderful, but it seem that I’ve lost my glasses and I can’t see very well.”

“Your eyes are plastic,” Humrichouse deadpanned.

Melly wasn’t affected by this. “Your point?”

The monkey looked at the wandering girl, who glanced back at him with a shrug of the shoulders.

“A pair of glasses, you say?” Humrichouse asked.

“I do say,” Melly clarified. The monkey jumped off the crate and ordered then to follow. They did. He took them down a series of hallways without much urgency, until they arrived back at the fencing utensils. The spoon used a wooden pencil as his weapon, while the fork used a pair of wired round-lensed glasses.

“My glasses!” Melly exclaimed. The three of them devised a plan and waited for the perfect moment to execute it. The utensils went on and on, only breaking when the fork succeeded in knocking the pencil out of the spoons hold.

“Ah-hah!” the fork hollered in triumph. “You can’t win against me and my oracles!”

Melly created a circle of fog to surround the spoon, causing quick confusion. As it tried to find its way out, Humrichouse leaped onto the shelf just above the spoon, reached out and snatched the glasses from it. It let out a metallic whine of displeasure. Humrichouse started running, leaving Melly and the wandering girl to chase after him. With Melly gone, the fog disintegrated. From behind them they could hear, “Get that mustached monkey!”

The trio returned to the location where they met Melly.

“Quick, go,” rushed Humrichouse. Melly stationed the glasses on her face.

The fog around them separated, showcasing a large lake of dark blue/black water. The girls step onto a thick wooden door that held itself on top of the bioluminescent liquid. As they set off, the utensils showed up.

“What have you done with the oracles?” demanded the spoon.

“Don’t demand anything from me, you silver stick,” Humrichouse snapped. “I’ll toss you into that water and watch you sink.”

What was said after that is unknown. Melly trudged them along the lake, using an unloaded rifle for an oar.

“Look out for the Willie Wishers,” Melly said, acting as a sort of tour guide. She referred to the thousand red-bellied piranhas inhabiting the water below. “Don’t mind their sadness. It’s hard to tell what they are actually upset about.”

As they moved along, the girl stared over the door and observed. One fish could be seen (and heard) blowing their nose on algae so hard it caused the water to ripple. “If only I had a will,” it cried. “Then maybe I’d have a way!”

The door jolted as it came in contact with the shore. They had made it to the other side. This side of the house was different from the other. While the previous side was active, changing and full of creatures, this side was quiet, still and empty. Or that is how it seemed. Rather than wooden walls and sharp turns, this side was only trees, dirt and an ambiguous sky. The dirt ground was littered by thousands of fireflies like a carpet, flashing their lights here and there.

The wandering girl stepped off the floating door and onto the Earthy ground. A dozen fireflies shot up as she did. She also discovered that, among the thousands of fireflies, the ground was litter by dozens of smashed mason jars.

“This is where I leave you,” Melly said, slowly floating back to the other side. “Please return soon.” With that, she faded into her own fog.

The forest shallowed the girl as soon as she ventured into it. It was a forest full of trees with thick trunks and wide branches. Soon after entering, the girl realized there were creatures in the trees, building them. They blended into the wood and moved ceaselessly, securing branches to trunks and leaves to branches. As she walked by, they would glance at her with glowing eyes, but didn’t suspend their work. The wood crew, she thought.

She walked and walked without a notice of a sound until there was a rustling and a deep, low groan. In front of her, the trees began to move and fireflies flew up like fireworks. A tall and skinny being emerged from the darkness. It was hairless and pale, with fireflies for eyes and rocks for teeth. Its back was hunched, spine ridged, but it was still as tall as the trees.

There was silence between them. The creature studied the girl with interest and then a sadness came over it. The creature glanced down at its feet, and the girl noticed they were flat and bloody. She then pulled out of her backpack what Mrs. Gilford shoved into it: a giant pair of socks. She offered them to the creature, who cocked its head, regarding her with curiosity. It took the socks and pulled them over its bloody feet. After a moment of observing its new attribute, the creature did its best grin and held its large palm out for the girl. She climbed onto it.

“I have to find the colorless chalice,” she said, and the creature understood. Now that the pain in its feet was cushioned by the socks, the creature stood up straight. Bones could be heard cracking and releasing, but the creature appeared relieved. It was now taller than the trees, and as it lifted its palm and the girl as high as it could, she could see the colorless chalice. Hanging high in the sky, it was there. The creation made of stars was positioned on its side, close to tipping over but not quite. A group of fireflies stationed themselves to hold it from tipping. The girl reached out, shooed the beetles away, gripped one of the stars and yanked it all the way down.

The chalice let free the most luminescent light. It flooded the land, it traveled deep into the lake, and squeezed itself through the cracks of the wooden house. The creature set down the girl and sunk into the ground. It’s lanky, white body grew quickly into a tall and strong birch tree. The fireflies were gone and the world saw a light that was other than theirs.

The wandering girl made her way back across the lake, back through the house and to her chamber. It too was full of light, and the birds, who were freed from behind the walls, sung again…

“The colorless chalice, being old and new

Lights the path the wood crew grew.

Carrying tomorrow past the fireflies dew,

Bless it be, what the brave can do…”

Short Story

Gina Gidaro

Read next: Air

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