Short Story: Swaying Bridge

Whumptober 2022 fill No.8: Stomach Pain | Head Trauma | Back from the Dead

Takes place after Operation Drop and Roll. Read that first.

~Swaying Bridge~

When Edmund was a child, there was a rope bridge near his house. He and his friends used to climb it on windy days and ride the swaying bridge.

The world was swaying now, but he wasn’t a child, and he wasn’t on a bridge.

“—Asteria now—”

“—two hours—”

“—wait—firm pressure—”

Pain flared as something pressed against his head and his mind slithered away.

* * *

Someone was throwing up.

Bitter bile on his tongue.

Oh. That person was him.

* * *

“—how long—”

“—held up—”

“—make it—”

* * *

“—you’re here—”

“—me space—”

Cool hands on heated skin.

A quiet exhale as the pulsing pressure in his head lifted, and he followed the pull into a deeper sleep.

* * *

Edmund woke to baby blue walls and a fluffy bed that swallowed him like his grandmother’s hugs.

He couldn’t remember how he got here, but he recognised the room immediately. How could he not when he spent almost half of his working hours in the room guarding Leora while she slept?

Looking up at Leora’s worried face though, that was a first.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

What a strange question. He checked himself, from wriggling his toes, to bending his knees, to rolling his shoulders, and stretching his neck.

“Fine,” he said.

“I’ll believe you if you can get out of that bed on your own,” Leora said with a wobbly smile that couldn’t decide if it should be a frown or a grin.

Edmund had watched Leora struggle out of the cloud-like bed almost every day for the past year. He’d never tried it himself, not wanting to risk being trap in it if a threat burst into the room, but he’d played out all kinds of scenarios in his mind before. If he just rolled out like a log…

The bed shifted beneath him and dumped him back in the middle.

If he got on his hands and knees…

His limbs sunk deep into the mattress.

If he stood on his feet…

The mattress swallowed him up to mid thigh, which boggled his mind because the bed wasn’t even that tall.

In the end, he fell back to what had worked for Leora. Spreading himself out like a five-leaf clover to distribute his weight, he carefully wriggled sideways until he hit the edge and rolled off like a droplet of water.

Edmund had never made fun of Leora before for how she shimmied out of the custom bed, and he would keep it that way for the rest of his life.

The moment he found his feet, Leora tackled him into a tight hug with the same ferocity he would squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. Somewhere between his last memory and waking up was a story… but Edmund could wait a little before finding it out.


Genre: fantasy

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