Title: Return to Dust
Disclaimer: Don't own.
Word count: 585
Summary: There is a being standing in the carrot patch.
Note: Written as an assignment for my writing course, in which I was supposed to take a scene from the first book and rewrite it from another perspective, using a maximum of 600 words. Beware of the major AU warning stamped on this piece – I present a different take on the mesdames. Because after all, the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.
The children are frozen in mid-motion, limbs suspended by invisible strings as if they were marionettes of flesh and bone, cradled in their parents' embrace with joyous smiles fixed to paralyzed faces. At their feet, Fortinbras stands firmly on his hind legs, muscles poised to leap but suddenly stalled in time; his tongue is lolling out of his mouth, gums pulled back in a delighted doggy grin.
Mrs Whatsit lands in a stumble, squashes a row of broccoli beneath her feet and hears the telltale whirr of Mrs Which and Mrs Who tessering in behind her. The vegetable garden is utterly inert, not the slightest gust of wind, the moonlight static and dimly reflected in unmoving drops of dew hanging off of still grass strands – it paints a cold and sharp silver outline against the family's silhouettes.
"Wwhatt," Mrs Which groans, voice hoarse and pained. "Wwhatt iss thiss?"
At her side, Mrs Who whimpers and falls down onto her knees, fingers digging into the wet dirt. Mrs Whatsit ignores them both. There's a sharp pain in her chest, and she presses a hand to her skin, over the place her heart would be, were she human.
There is a being standing in the carrot patch, and she cannot take her eyes off it.
"What are you?" she rasps, throat dry and reluctant to part with the words.
"You know very well what I am," the being says. It glows with an otherworldly light, its body a blinding shimmer so bright it puts the full moon overhead to shame, its face like lightning. In its right hand it holds a long sword, blade sharp and as pale as ebony, and from its back two large wings extend, feathers brilliant in their whiteness.
"Bbegonne!" Mrs Which cries, her light dim and dying – it flickers from translucent silver back to solid, dark robes, as if she had no control over which form to take. "Thiss iss ourr ddominnion. Yyou hhavee nno rightt!"
The being straightens, sword scraping against the soil. "I have every right, by the command of He who reigns supreme."
Mrs Whatsit flinches, fingers contracting and nails digging into her chest; behind her Mrs Who is making pitiful sounds, sharp inhales heard over Mrs Which's ragged breathing.
"I know of your lord," the being interrupts. "The Light-Bearer. The Morning Star. He who was destined to fall from the heavens."
"This is our business," Mrs Whatsit gasps. "These children are–"
"Silence!" The being slashes through the air, points the blade of his sword towards her. "You have accomplished only that which the Most High has allowed you to accomplish. Evil has struck a blow to evil. Your work here is done."
"Thhey arre ourrs," Mrs Which gurgles against the pain, mouth open as if in a silent scream.
"Finish it," the being says.
The mesdames suddenly find themselves pulled to their feet, silently watching as the children turn jubilant smiles towards them; none show any sign of being able to see the blinding brilliance of the being still standing in the carrot patch.
Mrs Whatsit forces a breath, feels the dull and painful throb of the purest light in her chest.
"Oh, my darlings," she says. "I'm sorry we don't have time to say good-bye to you properly. You see, we have to–"
With a slash of the angel's sword, they're expelled from the garden.