The Fortune Teller's Granddaughter
The room was white. Not white paint, but light emanating from the walls. It was so bright that I could hardly see. After a few seconds, it got easier to open my eyes and I started looking around. The room was bare apart from these black barrels that were stacked up against the walls. They had little windows on the front, so that you could see inside.
I look inside one of them and, at first, didn't see anything. I knew this was all really weird, but that's why I'd gone there in the first place, y'know?My Grandmother told me that there was something bad there, but I didn't listen. I wanted to see it for myself. I thought that maybe I could do something, because of our family history, you know?
All of sudden I start to hear a tapping noise coming from inside the barrel so I leaned in closer, desperate to see inside. The thing inside came at me, nearly hard enough to knock the barrel clean over. Then it starting making this...awful noise. It was low down, angry. Mean. Like an animal with rabies must sound. I nearly jumped out of my skin, but I managed not to call out. As scared as I was of this thing, it didn't compare to what Grandma told me about the Tall Man. She said that he didn't just want your life. He wanted your body and your soul too. She told me that he wasn't from here.
Grandma used to tell me that our family came from across the ocean over a hundred years ago, and that's all she'd say. I heard a few of my older relatives talking once, at a wedding. The language they were speaking sounded kind of like Russian to me, but I'm no expert. She taught me all the things my Mother was supposed to learn. She'd had a hard time dealing with the "gifts" our family has, couldn't block out the unwanted thoughts. So she got lost, geographically and metaphorically. The last we heard of her she was somewhere out in California, reading palms on the beach for whatever money she could hustle.
Our family had come to the town and stayed because of the Tall Man. My Great-Grandmother had sensed the evil of the place, and thought it our moral obligation to try and negate it. Or at least contain it. So that's what we did for a long time, until I disappeared. You told my that my Grandma passed away in 1980, and that it's 1989 now. That means the Tall Man has been loose for nearly ten years by now.
Anyway; I was in the room and this... dwarf in a hooded robe appears from nowhere and attacks me. I'm trying to fight him off and, as we're struggling, I notice these two silver poles that are sticking up out of the floor. I managed to throw the thing against one of them, and I think I broke it's back. I watched it writhing around on the floor yelping in pain and I felt kind of sorry for it. I was about to lift it's hood back when I heard a rush of footsteps coming towards me. I turned around and saw more of those things, about half a dozen, all closing in on me. One of them launched itself at me and hit me in the chest, throwing me backwards. I screamed out loud for the first time. Everything changed.
The place I found myself in was strange – literally alien. The sky was red and, for as far as I could see, the ground was nothing but rocks. I tried to stand up but it was hard. The gravity there was different, a lot stronger than here on Earth. Soon I realised that's why the Tall man was making the dwarves – to prepare them for that world. There were black barrels and dwarves everywhere, they almost seemed shocked to see me there. For a while they just stood and watched me. I tried to run but couldn't even get to my feet. They quickly descended and tied me up. They carried me above their heads, as if I were a prize or a wild boar. I lost consciousness after a while, and when I came again, there was a city. Still far away but definitely a city. The tallest buildings were the only ones I could make out. They were what you'd call skyscrapers but instead of looking orderly and geometrically sound, they were like clawing fingers. Black, sharp fingers stretching up toward the sky.
As I began contemplating what might happen to me when we reached the city, a commotion broke out. I heard a few sharp cracks and was soon cast to the ground. I was lying on my side and saw a few of the dwarves fall sideways, apparently dead. The rest scattered, squawking in fear. I felt my bonds being cut and slowly got to my feet as best I could. The people that had freed me were the same size as the dwarves but they didn't hide their faces. They looked like small humans, the tallest of which was four and a half feet. They were pretty uniform in their appearance; most had dark black hair and honey coloured eyes. We couldn't communicate by speaking, so I followed their motioning hands. They led me to a cave opening which led to a warren of tunnels. I followed them, barely able to keep up. As I was losing all motion and energy, we emerged in to an opening where there were beds and food, and a fire. I collapsed and blacked out, the little people looking down on me fascinated. I felt someone stroke my hair.
That's where I lived for the next seven years. I soon got the hang of their language, and most of the people in my cave learned enough English to get by with me. I learned that my hosts were opposing the tall man and his army. Their whole planet was not always the way it was when I arrived
Once, apparently, it had been just like Earth. Earth when it was nice. Oceans, forests, that type of things. Then the Tall Man had risen and war had broken out. The weapons used by both sides had turned the planet to near dust. The Tall Man had taken to abusing their technology to recruit soldiers from Earth and other planets. My hosts introduced to what they called 'The Lengthener'. It was something more advanced than a medieval stretching rack, but the same principle. People on the planet used it to squeeze a few extra inches out of their frames. Height meant prestige there. I learned from my hosts that the planet's gravity would reduce my height by about a sixteenth of an inch a day. With the help of the lengthener, I was able to avoid coming back to Earth child-sized.
Over the next nine years, I fought side by side with the cave dwellers against the Tall Man's armies. Sometimes we won, sometimes we lost. Eventually, we wore them down and stormed the city. We smashed his infernal palace and found the portal that could return me to earth. I bid farewell to my kind, brave friend and took the leap.
'And that's how you found yourself wandering in the crematorium at three AM?' The tone of the cop's voice was condescending, to say the least.
'Yeah.' She rolled her eyes and let him know she didn't give a shit if he believed or not.
'Well...' He sighed, 'We can't really charge you with anything other than trespassing. You sound like you've had it rough kid, So I'd like to give you a break. Just tell me one thing...'
'Shoot.' She said, itching to get out of the station and start her war again.
'What's your name?' The cop asked, closing his notebook. He got up from his seat, his jacket folded over his arm.
'You can call me Star.' She replied, getting up from her seat.
He looked over the tattoo on her cheek. 'Fair enough.' He opened the door for her, and she breezed by towards the front doors of the station.
'Good Luck, Star.' The cop called to her.
'It's not me who needs it!' She shouted back. With that, she disappeared into the night outside.