Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone

Status: In Progress

Genre: Action and Adventure

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Action and Adventure

Summary

27-year-old Malia Pym is a brilliant loser; intelligent, but unmotivated, charming but irresponsible, talented but unreliable. After an accident leaves her with strange powers and her irreverent life of sex, drugs, and rock n' roll spirals out of control, Malia is left asking herself the questions she's been running from for years. Can her girlfriend Cass ever forgive her for all her fuck ups? Is she strong enough to do the right thing? Could there, maybe, be a hero buried somewhere inside her?

Summary

27-year-old Malia Pym is a brilliant loser; intelligent, but unmotivated, charming but irresponsible, talented but unreliable. After an accident leaves her with strange powers and her irreverent life of sex, drugs, and rock n' roll spirals out of control, Malia is left asking herself the questions she's been running from for years. Can her girlfriend Cass ever forgive her for all her fuck ups? Is she strong enough to do the right thing? Could there, maybe, be a hero buried somewhere inside her?

Chapter1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 17, 2016

Reads: 586

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 17, 2016

A A A

A A A

“Put that out. Who the fuck do you think you are?”

 

Malia resisted the urge to roll her eyes as she slowly exhaled a cloud of smoke. Resting her foot on her opposite knee, she used the sole of her shoe to crush out the newly lighted cigarette.

 

“Who's next?” Francesca “The French Kiss” Apolline, all long lashes and luscious curves, sat beside her at the small round table in the dining hall. She tapped a stack of headshots, calling Malia back to the task at hand.

 

“Uh...” Malia scooted forward in her seat, leafing through the pile a thin, long-legged blonde sashayed onto the stage at the front of the dining hall. Francesca rolled her eyes in exasperation.

 

“What's your name, sweetheart?” She raised her voice and kindly asked the young woman, who stood nervously in the spotlight.

 

“Ashley?” The blonde replied uncertainly. “Ashley Monroe.”

 

“Here you go.” Malia found the corresponding headshot, slipping it from the pile and handing it to Francesca.

 

“Have you got any performance experience?” Francesca asked. Ashley shook her head, but smiled brightly.

 

The French Kiss inhaled sharply. “Okay,” she smiled indulgently. “Whenever you're ready.”

 

Music faded in from over the speakers and slowly, awkwardly, and just out of time to the music, Ashley began to sway, twisting her hips and rocking her body in a way that was almost sensual... but not quite.

 

“Honest to god, where do these people come from? This is a professional show, not amateur hour at the community center.” Francesca muttered under her breath, making notes in the margins of Ashley Monroe's headshot.

 

“She's cute.” Malia countered, distracted by the undulating form of the woman on stage, who had begun removing articles of clothing, piece by piece.

 

“She can't count a beat.” Francesca said flatly.

 

“With an ass like that, does it matter?” Malia asked, arching an eyebrow as she watched the jeans slip from Ashley's lily-white hips.

 

“I'm looking for performers, not Presbyterians wanting to piss off their parents.” Francesca retorted as she scrawled a large “NO” into the margins of Ashley's headshot.

 

“Nice alliteration.” Malia acknowledged her friend without agreeing, squirming slightly in her seat as the woman continued to dance.

 

Francesca held up a hand. “Thank you.” She called. “That's all we'll need. We'll be in touch.”

 

Malia stifled a smile as Ashley, poor sweet Ashley, nodded hopefully, completely unfamiliar with the fact that “we'll be in touch” was the performance variant of “it's not you, it's me.”

 

“Aww, I liked her.” Malia grinned as she watched the blonde sway off stage.

 

“Gullible and insecure. Yup, seems your type.” Francesca panned, picking up the pile of headshots. “Honestly, Cass is too damn good for you.”

 

“Yeah...” Malia replied uncomfortably, crossing her arms and sitting back in her seat. “Yeah, well...”

 

“You're not breaking up with her.” Francesca stopped what she was doing, arching a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and reading into her friend's tone.

 

Malia shrugged, avoiding an answer.

 

“What did you do?”

 

Malia bobbed her head back and forth, wanting to avoid the conversation and knowing she couldn't.

 

“Her dad is in town.” She admitted at length, guilt lacing every syllable.

 

Francesca's eyes widened.

 

“That was today? What the hell, Mal!?” Francesca hissed, shocked and outraged.

 

“Would you calm down?” Malia snapped.
 

“Cass loves you. Cass is coming out for you.” Francesca spat, her green eyes flashing angrily. “And you're in here perving on my auditions while she talks to her father alone?

 

“I didn't ask her to, did I?” Malia hissed back, sitting upright in her chair, her brown eyes alight.

 

Francesca snorted. “Look, I have loved you since seventh grade when you punched Joey Tedesco in the face for trying to put his hand up my skirt at the fall harvest dance, but what the actual fuck, Malia? Cass is easily the best thing that's ever happened to you.”

 

“I... I know.” Malia growled in frustration, wishing she had never chosen burlesque auditions at The Gilded Lily as her temporary hideout.

 

Francesca sat back in her chair, taking the pile of headshots from the table and straightening them, conspicuously refusing to look at her best friend.

 

“Get out, Mal.” She said, her manicured fingers flipping through the pages. “I can handle this myself. Go make this right.”

 

Malia rolled her head against her shoulders, knowing better than trying to argue with The French Kiss.

 

“Go fix this with Cass.” Francesca headed off the impending excuses. “Or end it. Either way. But she's sweet and she loves you and she deserves more than the usual fuck-offs you pull.”

 

The words stung, but Malia hated herself for their truth. Without a word, she stood, grabbed her jacket from the back of the chair, and headed toward the exit.

 

In the foyer of The Gilded Lily, Malia reached for her phone, speed-dialing a number and putting it to her ear as it rang through.

 

“Hey, Josh.” She said when the voice on the other end answered. “It's me. Yeah...”

 

She glanced guiltily over her shoulder, making sure Francesca hadn't followed her as she listened to her friend talk.

 

“No, I'm not doing anything.” She ignored the guilt twisting her stomach. “Yeah, I'll meet you out there in an hour.”

 

 

The sky shone down blue and white against the crags and crevices of rock. Malia parked her car in the shade and slung her pack over her shoulders, hiking through a series of well-traveled and memorized ravines. Josh waited for her at a familiar spot, his gear splayed over the ground, sunlight filtering into dusty patches of light on the gravel beneath them. The park was protected, and climbing wasn't technically allowed, but the pair knew the area well, and were shielded from view and concealed by the fact the path they were on was not typically traveled.

 

Malia dropped her pack next to Josh's, collapsing next to it and removing her shoes.

 

“Rough day?” Josh asked.

 

“Rather not talk about it.” Malia grunted as she shoved her feet into tight leather climbing shoes.

 

“Cool.” Josh shrugged. That was one of the things he liked about Malia – her constant refusal to talk. Talking, in his opinion, ruined the better parts of a relationship, which were, of course, fucking and getting high. It made her completely un-datable, but since he was, too, it ended up a wash.

 

Malia stood and brushed herself off, studying the face of the rock momentarily before jumping, grabbing a firm hold and pulling up.

 

“Rope?” Josh asked.

 

“No.” Malia said simply.

 

There was something both terrifying and liberating about climbing in the foothills without equipment.

Malia pulled herself over a low overhang, flagging her left foot under her right to steady herself on the precarious ledge to which she now clung, suspended some 20 feet in the air. The rock was sturdy, and there was a kind of fairness in knowing that if she fell and died, it was her own damn fault. To her, there was a strange sort of comfort in knowing she could die.

 

Malia pushed herself up and reached with her right hand, grabbing a slightly larger crimp near her head that let her relax a little. There was something about climbing that Malia equated with meditation (which she had never tried). On the wall, with nothing but her own focus and skill keeping her from falling to the ground, there was no room to think of anything else. There was nothing. Nothing but rock and skin. The smell of sweat and chalk and the ancient, earthy smell of stone. For Malia, it was better than drugs (which she had tried. Frequently, and with enthusiasm.). The high lasted almost as long, there weren't the after effects, and Malia could remember it afterward.

 

She hoisted herself over the boulder's topout, a solid 25 feet above the hard gravel, and rolled onto the solid stone. Breathing heavily, Malia lay splayed on top of the boulder, looking up between the higher rocks to the sky above. Her chest ached, her arms screamed, but her mind was clear. It was only then that she noticed the clouds rolling in, low and fast. It was going to rain, and in the narrow pass in which they were climbing, there was a very real danger of a washout.

 

“Josh!” She shouted from over the cliff.

 

“I see it! We better get going if we're going to make it out of here!”

 

Malia rolled onto her side and found a solid down-climb; an area of the cliff that was significantly easier to climb down than the way she had just climbed up. She dropped the last five feet to the ground, rushing to meet Josh by the backpacks and pick up their equipment.

 

They started trekking back to the car as the huge raindrops began to fall, cascading down the rocks and making miniature rivers in the dirt underfoot.

 

“We're not going to make it before it gets worse.” Josh said doubtfully.

 

Malia nodded, looking around with her friend. “Looks like there's a cave up there. We can bivy and wait out the storm.”

 

The rain had reached nearly torrential proportions by the time Malia and Josh settled themselves into the mouth of the cave. It was low and deep, and high enough off the floor of the small canyon that they would be safe from any flash flooding. Malia tossed her equipment against the wall of the cave and sat down, loosening her climbing shoes. The leather had gotten wet in the rain and the mud, and was beginning to pull at her skin.

 

“Well, we're not going anywhere for a while.” Malia looked bored as she watched the rain cascade down in front of the cave.

 

“We could always screw.” Josh shrugged.

 

“Fuck you.” Malia threw her shoe at him.

 

“Is what I'm suggesting.” Josh countered, dodging the shoe.

 

It wasn't an unreasonable request on his part. Sex had continued to be a semi-regular facet of their relationship, even after they had broken up years ago. Only since Malia and Cass had made things “official” six months ago (he suspected at Cass' insistence) had their trysts stopped, and though Josh had no desire to rekindle any kind of romantic relationship with Malia, he had to admit he was feeling the effects of the drought. It was unlike them to go so long without it, even if they were both in relationships with other people. Josh wondered if this was because of Cass or Malia.

 

“How's Cass?” Josh asked at length.

 

“Fuck, not you, too.” Malia groaned.

 

“What?” Josh asked, pulling a joint from his pack and lighting it. “What'd you do?”

 

“Are you seriously doing this?” Malia shot him an annoyed look.

 

Josh shrugged, saying nothing. Malia held her hand out, gesturing toward the joint, which Josh passed freely. They sat in silence, getting high, for an hour or so before Malia stood, stretching her arms over her head and shifting her weight from side to side. She turned and looked back into the depths of the cave.

 

“I'm gonna go poke around.” She declared.

 

“Bad idea.” Josh protested. “Bad, bad, bad idea.”

 

Malia didn't listen to him as she opened their backpacks and pulled out two lengths of climbing rope. She handed the end of one of the ropes to Josh.

 

“Relax.” She said “You hang on to this end, and I won't get lost.”

 

“Snakes.” Josh warned. Malia responded only by flipping him off as she wandered into the dark, beginning a slow and uncertain exploration of the cave. Josh reached for his water bottle, trying to swallow the bad feeling lurking in the back of his throat as the rain beat hammers upon the rocks.

 

 

Malia blinked hard as the darkness closed in quickly around her. The gray light filtering in from the mouth of the cave faded and the sound of rain falling outside echoed dully against the walls, dissipating into nothingness. She felt her way through the blackness, her hand trailing against the cold, vaguely damp walls of the cave as her feet shuffled along the gritty, pebbled floor. The rope slipped through her fingers as she walked, marking her path like Ariadne's golden thread.

 

The air was cool and heavy, the darkness oppressive. It awoke a primal sense of tingling fear that made the red hair at the back of her neck prickle. It reminded Malia of being six years old and convinced there was a monster under her bed. Part of her wanted to turn and run, but the intensity of the excitement and fear mingled together was intoxicating and kept her moving firmly forward.

 

Malia took another step. Without warning, the gravel shifted, sinking under her foot, wrenching her ankle as she was thrown off balance. She yelled as, in a horrible blind moment, she found herself falling, consumed by the quiet dark. She flailed, grabbing helplessly for something to catch her. Her arms and knees scraped painfully against rock, catching edges and pinwheeling off them.

 

She landed with a hard thud, the pattering sound of gravel knocking loose and cascading down the sharp drop filled her ears. Her body ached. Her head throbbed. She lay silently, gasping for the breath that had been knocked out of her. She coughed and sputtered. Her head throbbed. Slowly, she reached up, feeling a sore spot on the back of her head. A thick, warm liquid matted her hair.

 

“Shit.” Malia grunted, closing her eyes.

 

“Mal!?” Josh's voice was distant and echoey. “Mal!?”

 

“Yeah!” Malia shouted back, her voice croaky, her ribs sore.

 

“Shit, Mal! What the fuck!?”

 

The injured woman rolled her eyes.

 

“Shit!” Josh's voice wafted down to her again, sounding closer this time. “Shit, Mal. Are you okay?”

 

“I'm bleeding!” She croaked back after carefully considering the question.

 

“Shit.” Josh swore again to himself. She could hear him scuffling around somewhere above her.

 

“Okay... Okay, Mal.” She could tell by his voice that Josh was trying unsuccessfully to stay calm. “Okay, I've got the rope... I'll throw some rope down to you!”

 

Malia shook her head, a wasted motion in the darkness.

 

“I can't climb up.” She said. “I... Shit, you're – you're gonna have to rig a sling, or something... Is there anywhere you can set some anchors up there? You can toss my harness down and pull me up.”

 

“I... uh...” There was more scuffling above her. “Fuck, I can't see anything... it's too damn dark.”

 

“Yeah.” Malia muttered. She lowered herself heavily to the sharp floor of the cave, closing her eyes again. Everything hurt.

 

She opened her eyes, staring at the darkness surrounding her. Her head felt fuzzy, her ears filled with a strange sound she couldn't place. Malia blinked hard, frowning as she tried to sort out her senses. She listened hard, slowly realizing what she was hearing.

 

Water. She thought. The tiny drips and trickles of water running off rock. There was an opening somewhere nearby. She reached out with her hands, skimming along the surface of the cave floor. The floor was different than above. Instead of the soft, slick gravel, her fingers felt along rough and jagged edges embedded into the floor.

 

A glimmer caught her attention. To her left and up ahead, in the direction of the trickling water, something glowed a strange, greenish-blue. She stopped moving and stared, dumbfounded. As she watched, the glowing spread, creeping across the cave floor and sneaking up the walls. A long moment of confusion and awe passed before Malia understood; the storm had stopped. Latent rain water trickled through an opening in the cave. The rising moon spilled silvery light through the same opening. The glowing was massive beds of crystals covering the floor and walls of the cave. Something in the light caused the crystals to fluoresce.

 

Malia looked around in awe as, in an instant, the cavern was alight with an eery glow. She looked down. Green flecks mingled with blood, embedded deeply in the scratches and gashes over her body.

 

“Mal, you okay?” Josh's voice called down from the darkness above.

 

“Do you see this?” Malia called up.

 

“What?” Josh lay at the top of the cave, squinting hard. The drop sloped steeply out, partially covered by an overhang of rock. Straining his eyes, he could see a dull band of green glowing, just under the overhang. “What the fuck is that?”

 

“I don't know.” Malia admitted. “There's a hole here, though.” She called up. “I'm going to see if it's big enough to get out.”

 

“Be careful.” Josh warned.

 

“Yeah, snakes.” She muttered sarcastically under her breath. The glow of the crystals made her search easier.

 

Carefully, Malia worked her way across the cavern, toward a patch of bluish-black, where the crystals first started to fluoresce.

 

The opening was tall, but narrow, a slit in the rock through which the inky blue night sky, freckled with pinprick stars, shone through. The moon hung low and large on the horizon.

 

“It's, uh...” Malia called back to Josh. “It's... four... maybe six feet up? It's tight, but I think I can get through. Grab our stuff, I'll meet you outside.”

 

With less confidence and more determination, Malia pulled herself up the ledge. The sharp edges of crystals cut into her palms. Her fingers slipped against the smooth edges and it was difficult to find good footing. Struggling against the dizziness and buzzing in her head, she pulled herself into the crevasse. She collapsed with her back against it, her knee wedged next to her chest, keeping her propped in the opening. She looked out over the landscape, somehow different and unfamiliar in pallor of the early night.

 

The earth was fresh and a breeze caught strands of her strawberry hair. She took a deep breath of the rain soaked air, feeling relief wash over her like the torrent over the rocks.

 

“Hey!”

 

Malia looked down to see Josh standing in the trail below, their bags slung over his shoulders.

 

“Can you get down?” He asked.

 

Malia surveyed the climb; a sharp drop on the same slick, gritty gravel she had fallen down in the cave. Nearly impossible to climb up, but easy enough to fall down, she thought ruefully.

 

Taking a breath, she heaved herself over the edge, sliding hard down the rock and into the ravine. She collided hard with Josh, who slipped her arm over his shoulder and helped steady her.

 

“Easy, easy.” He said, holding her up. “C'mon.” He started easing her down the trail, toward where the cars were parked. “You can crash at my place.”

 

“Nah.” She shook her head. “Can you give me a ride home?”

“You're all fucked up.” Josh countered. “You look like shit.”

 

“Yeah.” Malia panned his comment. “Take me home.”

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Jen Lattimer. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments:

Other Content by Jen Lattimer

More Great Reading

Popular Tags