Himalaya 4 – Shield

Craig sleepily tumbled out of bed. It was the first day of a new term at University. He had been worrying about it since coming back from the Himalayas. Now he had to face his biggest fear. What would happen if he touched someone and like Ben and the girl in Kathmandu and their health miraculously improved, as if by magic? Of course the opposite could happen and it would prove it just had all been hallucinations. What would the lecturers think if he had been hallucinating and the problem continued? Would he be send down? Would they think it was drugs? Who wants a doctor with a mental or drug problem? He was between a rock and a hard place.

He showered and dressed picking out what ever came nearest to hand to wear. He could not remember what he needed, so he just throw everything he might need into his bag. He ended up carrying several books.

He staggered out into the corridor where there was a hum of activity. Other students were off to lectures. Several students spoke to him, his answers were short. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

Matthew who was on the same course hurried past. “We’ll be late. Come on hurry up”

Craig reached the porters lodge. He stopped to check for letters. He had three. A circular about a concert by the duo Bent referencing the Album Intercept. He couldn’t go so that would go in the bin. A letter which he recognised as his sister’s writing, he would read that later. The third throw him. The stamp told him it was from Kathmandu. Who could be writing to him? He turned it over twice. What could he do? Open it and send all those thoughts and emotions spinning round his head again. He had to leave it until after his lecture was over. He put it in his bag. Then he took it out again. He just couldn’t leave it. He’s need to open it was too great.

He found a bench, it was a warm day for October but he felt cold, as cold as he did on the upper slopes of the snow covered Himalayas.

He heard the clock striking in the distance. He was late for the lecture. He ran, clutching his books and letters.

He was last in, the lecturer was already speaking. He tried to sneak in quietly and sit at the back. He stumbled as he went down the first step in the lecture theatre. The sound of his books flying through the air and landing on the steps near the front row echoed round the theatre. His letter seemed to float gracefully landing on a empty front row seat. Everyone turned round and looked at him.

“Nice of you to join us,” the lecturer sarcastically commented.

Craig hastily almost tumbled down the steps to the front row. A girl helped pick up his books. He sat down in the seat which his letter had landed on, which happened to be next to the girl, after all she was still holding his books and other letters. She handed them to him. He placed the letter in front of him. It seemed to stare back at him saying “Open me.”

He hardly heard a word of the lecture. The lecturer pointedly asked him questions. It was only the quiet whisper from beside him that helped him survive the lecture.

Everyone trooped out at the end of the lecture leaving Craig and the girl left in the theatre.

“Are you alright?” The girl asked.

Craig realised she couldn’t get out until he moved.

“Yes,” he mumbled. What was the girls name? He racked his memory. He’d been on the same course for four years and she had just been a face in the crowd.

“Sorry Tania. I am blocking you in.” Craig said as he moved clumsily, knocking his books flying. He got into the aisle and bent down to pick up his belongings.

“It’s Titania isn’t it?” He said as she stepped pass him.

She gave him a scowling look, then started to climb the steps.

“Your a fairy and I am a rock.” Craig commented without really knowing why.

She stopped and turned.

“A rock?”

“Celtic rock actually.”

“Well that’s better than a fairy.” Tania said as she descended the steps and went passed Craig and picked up that letter. She held it out to him.

He stood up, just because he felt small beside her. He made no effort to take the letter. It seemed like an age that they both stood still the letter between them.

Tania turned the letter over. “It’s from Tibet. Is that where the Rock went climbing?”

She leaned forward and placed the letter on top of Craig’s books.

“Ever had a letter you don’t know if it’s good news or bad news?”

“You mean like one to say if you have got into the university of your choice or not. Either way you have got to open it. What you need is a cup of coffee.” Tania said taking back the letter and climbing the steps to leave the theatre.

Craig followed. What else could he do.

The Cafeteria was a buzz with students. The tv screen was playing a American foot ball match. Tania homed in on an empty table in a corner. She sat down at the table and placed the letter in the middle.

“I’ll save the table. You get the coffee. Mine’s latte”

Craig was staring at the letter, but after a second prompt he went to get the coffees.

Matthew, the fellow medical student, intercepted him with a nudged. Matthew had a reputation for the ladies. Craig had concentrated on his studies and only occasionally got distracted by girls.

“Your in there, with the ice maiden.” Matthew commented. Tania had turned him down on several occasions.

Craig just stared at him. “Just buying Coffee.” He replied.

Matthew turned, “Good intercept” he said looking at the tv screen and Craig hastily returned to the table.

Tania handed him the letter. “Its a letter from a hospital in Kathmandu. Were you ill out there?”

“No. How do you know it’s from the hospital?”

“It says so on the back,” Tania turned the envelope over and showed Craig the inscription.

“One of the climbers was injured so I went with him. Then I went the following day and spent the day there.”

“Then it’s a thank you letter. Just open it and get it over with.”

Craig did as he was told.

It was a handwritten letter and a folded sheet. He looked at the bottom of the letter the signature was unreadable.

The letter was not much better. It was in broken English so the theme was difficult to follow. He had to keep going back to the beginning to finally make sense of it.

“Well?” Tania asked “Good news or Bad news?”

“Good, I think” Craig said doubtfully.

“Well” Tania leant forward.

“There was a girl,” Craig started.

“There always is.” Commented Tania sitting back loosing interest.

“She was 8 maybe 9 I think,” that attracted Tania’s attention again. “She was unconscious.”

“What was the matter with her?” Tania asked. Craig wondered should I be telling this story to a girl I hardly know.

Tania prompted him to continue.

“She had some sort of accident. The girl had a head injury. They didn’t expect her to survive. She was a street kid, they didn’t know her name. There was no one to sit with her. So I sat and talked to her. I don’t know the full details my Tibetan isn’t that good. The nurse, I think who wrote the letter, didn’t speak very good English. That’s why the letter is difficult to read. I can’t read the signature but I don’t know her name anyway.”

“That was kind of you to sit with the girl. So the nurse wrote to thank you.” Tania commented taking a sip of her latte.

Craig had opened the other sheet of paper. It was a picture drawn my a child with a signature on the bottom of Alisha. He just starred at it. He’s head was spinning again.

“”Craig what’s that?”

Tania had to repeat her question before Craig, reluctantly searching for a answer, could reply.

“They have put the girl in an orphanage but she drew a picture for me.”

How could he explain it. A picture of the two unicorns and a waterfall. A figure with climbing gear holding out his hands. But stranger still, in the top corner was a fairy with a crown on. Had Alisha drawn Titania Queen of the fairies. Had the letter flew throw the air and took him to Titania?

8 thoughts on “Himalaya 4 – Shield

  1. I liked how many different angles you managed to take the prompt; from the brief line about the comic, to the glare of the autumn sun, to the comfort of one’s room. Nicely done! I’m thoroughly enjoying this story. What it is that Ben needs to talk about, I wonder? Looking forward to the next installment!


  2. I rather think you’re starting to get a true feel for Craig now Bella. It looks a stronger plot now and I’m seeing it grow each time. I did have one thought…is it a dark secret? My mind turned straight to something sinister as in evil. Or, is it more a mind thing. Is he just trying to hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist in fear that it might cost him his career? He could bend that into a dark secret methinks.

    Like Abe said. A quick reminder of story so far is a great idea. It might catch new readers who won’t know about previous pieces.

    I reckon you’ve got loads more in this. Which is good as we’ve just scheduled next years prompts lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Craig thinks it dark because he doesn’t understand it or the implications. Have ideas where it’s going but the prompt words are shaping the story line. Let’s hope the next word will blend into Craig’s meeting with Ben.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahh, my second thought was more accurate then! I do like your idea of using the prompt to shape the story too. I’m sure the next one will work too… not that I can tell you what it is ha, ha. Well that and next years too…by then you’ll have a whole book created via short story prompts. Imagine that!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, you got a lot of mileage out of the prompt word this month! This has the feel of a transitional piece: you do a nice job of reminding readers what’s happened thus far, and the story ends with anticipation of what will happen next, although not much actually happens in this installment (except he might have damaged his Marvel comic – ye gads!). 😉
    Just curious, when you began this serial, had you already determined Craig and his sister would be named after Ailsa Craig island, or was that an inspiration that occurred later? It seems like a symbolically important point, and I’m wondering if that will play into upcoming installments (but no spoilers!). I enjoy how the mystery is deepening!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I started with Corona it was based on the story of unicorns in a child’s book. It said the origin of unicorns were in the Himalayas. Hence the introduction of two climbers to carry an original story. The story is developing with each prompt word. Where is it going to end is a mystery. I do know the next episode is about Craig’s meeting with Ben. Hope the prompt word will fit into the situation.
      I needed a name for the girl in Kathmandu and found Alissa is a name used in Tibet so I was inspired to use the island name of Ailsa Craig. Craig has already mentioned his name was Celtic.

      Liked by 1 person

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