I worked on this short story some time ago. I thought I had lost it but yay I found it. It was squirreled away in an email. Thanks the Gods I had sent it out for editing. My laptop is still dead and I didn’t get a chance to backup so I’ve lost a lot! I know I need to work more on this story, clean up more of the plot line, expand the ending.
I’m seriously contemplating on using this as a jumping point for the NaNoWriMo in November. I will be participating again with high hopes of reaching 50,000 words. Last year’s was only 15,000. So, take a look and please comment. And if you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, let me know! I need buds!!
Klink, klink, klink. The sound echoes through the courtyard as Chris James hammers away on the anvil. A chestnut-brown Shire horse waits patiently nearby for his new shoe. His hands are burly and gnarled and blacked with grime but strong as he grips the hammer. His shoulders are over broad from working in this shop from his youth. The early morning sun casts him in shadows in the forge but his eyes do not see anything but the hot glow of the iron he focuses on.
He turns and grabs the iron tongs from behind on the bench. Using them he picks up the ingot and flips it over, examining it, and watching expectantly for color changes. In the space of a single breath, the iron cools and James returns the ingot to the forge. Sweat beads on his brow as he stokes the fires again and again. The iron must be hot enough, flexible enough to make a horseshoe, but all this he knows as intimately as he knows his name, Chris Alexander James III and son of an impoverished woodsman.
Time is of essence he thinks as he pulls out the ingot again and places it back on the anvil and hammers away. Soon underneath the blows of the hammer, the shape emerges of a very large horseshoe. “Almost done.” Taking up the tongs and the new shoe he walks over to the Shire and checks the fit. It’s good, just needs a tap here and there. “A few moments more,” rolls though his mind. Time is of the essence.
Steam rises up out of the trough as he plunges in the shoe to let it cool down before shoding the horse. James looks up from his work and sets his eyes on the dusty cloud coming up the road. Two gilding bays pull an old farm cart and a single driver into the courtyard. The cart wobbles badly making a loud grinding noise that should wake even the heaviest of sleepers. Watching the cart pull to a stop in front, he steps out, grabs the leads, and ties the pair to the hitching posts. An old man steps off the buckboard, his appearance is wizened and gray with a beard that must reach his belt buckle.
“You must James, the Blacksmith” chokes out the stranger. “I need your assistance” he says waving his hand towards the broken wagon wheel. The rim was not attached to the wooden frame anymore and looked more off than on. “Do you have an extra wheel?”, he wheezed “and take this one as trade?”
James rotated his shoulders and flexed as if something had been poking him uncomfortably in the back. He took a few steps closer to the buckboard, glancing quickly at the bundles in the back, his mind racing at the thought of what else the old man might have. All he saw was plain brown sacks, nothing that spoke of any value. Bending down by the wheel, he placed his hand on the rim and shook it with all his strength. The rim was indeed loose and needs to be reset to the wheel.
“Hmm,” softly spoke James, “I can trade you a good wheel but it’s not going to cover my cost for fixing this.” He paused and stood up and looked into the eyes of this black robed greybeard. The stranger’s eyes twinkled for a moment. “Good fellow, may haps,” bargaining softly the stranger spoke, “ I could interest you in an oddity?”
He reached his wrinkled hands inside his robe and with the sound of a click; he pulled out a clear crystal ball the size of James’s fists. Exposed the rays of the sun, it twinkled and brighten the courtyard so no shadows remained. The blacksmith swallowed deeply. It was the most exquisite thing he’d ever seen, as he shaded his eyes from the brightness. “Sure. It’s a deal,” he said as he reached his grimy hands to shake on it. The moment he touched the stranger’s hand, he heard a loud thundering clap and everything turned bright white.
Chris Alexander James III breathed deeply in, waiting for his vision to return. Something’s not right, not right at all, he thought panicking. “Where are my arms and legs?” he tried to speak but could only think his words. New strange feelings and sensations started to come across his mind. “Am I hunched over, on all fours?” A feeling of coldness seeped though where his hands should be and his legs felt as if they were stiff and unbendable. “What is going on?”
Experimentally, he tried to move what used to be his arms and legs. Nothing happened. They felt stiff and very cold and not at all like flesh but more of cooled iron. He tried to arch his back and yet it was same as his arms and legs. “I’m just all tied up. That must be it. I have to open my eyes.”
The world in front of James was no world he ever knew. Before him, in a brightly lit building sat row upon rows of benches and people in strange brightly colored clothing. As he looked down, his vision took in the image of a dirty brown bench seat attached to four metal legs.
“Now boarding for El Paso at Gate 2” the announcer called in the bus station. A buzz grew louder and louder in James’ ear. “Good Morning, San Francisco. It’s 6 am and it’s time for your morning news.”
Buzz buzz buzz; the alarm clock was going off. “Wait, what? The clock? Where am I?”