4A—Ari Nix and How It All Began
4C—Mrs. Jameson and Her African Violets
4B—Jasmine Leit and her Collection of High Heels
The Rooftop Garden and the Terror of Heights
4D—Morgan Liu and her Obsession with Fairy Tales
Ari sailed straight through the layers of concrete and insulation and piping and wood. Straight into an apartment lit with a purplish hue from a fish tank sitting against the wall. And he knew this because he found his head in said fish tank, fake seaweed flowing so close to his eye he flinched, just as a brilliantly blue tang darted through his open mouth.
He gagged, though there was nothing at all to actually gag on.
His flinching caused him to spin sideways, his downward plunge halting somewhat as he spilled free from the brightness of the fish tank and into a living room he’d never before set foot within. He caught glimpses of open books, pages upon pages cut, folded. Words, blended ink, while on the left-hand sides chapter headings curled with fantastical fonts. Shadows from the tank lights swam upon the carpet, giving it a rippled effect.
“Oh thank goodness. This must be Morgan’s place.” He took a breath that smelled nothing of fish or mugginess, though he knew quite well that it should have. That scent had escaped down the hall often enough whenever Morgan opened her door.
He flailed again, wind-milling his arms, the world becoming a violet blur as he struggled to remain upright and within Morgan’s apartment. His downward spiral shifted, sending him upward instead. Right over Morgan’s desk where her most recent project sat open, bits of paper scattered about the book while an intricately folded soon-to-be masterpiece lay in a three-dimensional form—though what it was supposed to be eluded Ari. A gingerbread house? A tower? Whatever it might be, it was soon to join the countless other books Morgan had mounted at angles upon her wall.
Each one spoke of a different story. Rose bushes, every rose carefully folded with loving precision. A carriage with its door open, a tiny hand against the handle, a single slippered foot pressed against the step. The headless horseman, his horse forever frozen as it reared up, head thrown back, words across his muzzle. And Ari even picked out one he thought could be his favorite, a single unicorn racing between the trees toward the bottom of the book, a bulky, horned presence rising from the top edge to give chase.
He craned his neck, attempting to see the last of Morgan’s artwork, but the shadows grew too dark further from the fish tank and he himself had not ceased his forward movement up and over Morgan’s ebony desk. His legs didn’t quite disappear through the window, their vague shapes still visible, all but glowing in the moonlight. Ari made a frustrated sound.
“This is the worst.”
Then his head followed, down through the desk, past the dry wall and into thin air a good four stories above the street, the dumpster a forest green and likely smelling given that one side sat open. Perched on the dumpster stood a cat, sniffing about the edges of the opening.
He put his hands out as if that would have stopped him from careening down four stories and right into that open dumpster. “The absolute worst!”
At Ari’s complaint, the cat jerked its head up and stared at him.
“Yo!” he called as his legs spun on a return trip into Morgan’s apartment where they then hovered over her desk.
The cat darted forward, straight through the brick wall of the first floor.
“Now if I could only convince one of Mrs. Jameson’s cats to teach me how to do that.”
Without any other recourse, and not favoring the idea of being thrown beyond the building again, especially not in an upward direction, Ari used the same method he’d attempted before—a move he decided to christen “the windmill of pathetic desperation.” This time he was prepared to be flung, he just had not quite anticipated this particular direction.
He went somersaulting back through Morgan’s living room, the purplish tone of her apartment welcome after hovering high aloft the ground again. Yet a moment later, he shot through another layer of dry wall, this time getting a glimpse of Morgan’s bathroom and its fuzzy toilet cover right before his head went through that toilet cover and into the bowl beneath.
Tune in on Tuesday, June 20th, for the next installment of Ari’s Tour: 3D—The Nurses and Too Many Beach Paintings.
This is a teaser for my novel Bridle the Unicorn. On sale now for only $0.99.