Friday came and went, and with it, another Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig. This time, he gave us 1,000 words and the theme of Insomnia. Apparently, he’d been having a little trouble sleeping when he came up with this week’s theme, so I can see why he choose it. For my piece this week, I’ve tied it into a tabletop game in which I am currently playing – Princess the Hopeful. I mention it a bit here, and considering that these magical girls often stay up late and give up sleep to protect the world and attempt to have a normal life, I though that this was the perfect theme to explore that a little bit. So Lucy/Aegis is my character (name changes happened), and this is a tiny extract from her life as a Princess, fighting to forces of darkness.

tired_warrior_by_nenee

Insomnia

Lucy was still up, sitting with her back against the sofa, coursework spread out on the table in front of her. A yawn cracked her jaw open, and she rubbed her eye, but even as she indicated sleep, she had no intention of seeking her bed tonight.

“Lucy?”

A tiny, tired voice came from the doorway through to the bedroom. Lucy looked up, and a smile of warmth came across her face as she spied her sister. Putting her pen down, she easily climbed to her feet, and crossed the short distance to room.

“What’s my little princess doing awake, hey?”

“Had a bad dream,” Imogen’s face looked a little sad, as she rubbed her eyes from the light still on in the living room.

Lucy reached down, easily picking her sister up and settling her on her hip. Imogen snuggled her face into her shoulder as Lucy gave her a reassuring hug.

“Was it the same one as last time, with your teacher?”

“Different one. You were there. And the monster was there. And the monster was trying to eat me, but you wouldn’t let it, so then it ate you instead.”

Lucy closed her eyes, letting the words fade along with the stab of emotions that they had brought forward. She turned her head and kissed her sister’s head, “I promise. No monsters are going to eat you.”

“What about you?”

“No monster are going to eat me either,” she kissed her forehead again, and then walked into the dark bedroom, quietly so as not to disturbed their brother, who was sprawled out over his thin bed.

Settling Imogen back down on the bed, Lucy tucked the duvet in around her, and paused on the edge of the bed, smiling down at her sister.

“You coming to sleep soon?”

“I’ll come when I’m finished princess.”

“You’re never finished.”

Lucy smiled, “Seems that way sometimes,” she leaned forward to kiss her sister a final time, “You go back to sleep now. Have a nice dream, for me, okay?”

“Okay,” her sister was already mumbling the words, eyes closing. It was nice to see her slip back into sleep so easily, as Lucy quietly got up, and slipped back out into the living room.

Another half hour went by, pen scratching away at the coursework, until her phone vibrated on the table, and she flicked a glance at the screen. Time to go to work.

Hood pulled up, trainers on, Lucy slipped out of the front door, careful to lock it behind her, before she slipped out into the dead city, dark and creepy as midnight approached, only the occasional unbroken street lamp throwing out golden light against the black of the night.

She met up with her fellows just outside Utopia’s place. Ray was bouncing on the heels of her feet, and Flora was running up from the end of the street, ponytail bobbing wildly as she assumed she was late.

She skidded to a halt by them, doubling over, slightly out of breath, “Sorry….I’m…late.”

“It’s fine Flora, you aren’t late,” Utopia reassured her.

Lucy reached out a hand, stroking the head of the red panda that was sitting on Utopia’s shoulder. Elisa purred slightly under the touch, but then shook her head, and frowned. As if it was unbecoming for a shikigami to receive such attention.

“I think I’ve got a lead on the darkened we’re chasing. Might have a place he uses as a hide out,” Elisa said.

“Is Devlin coming with us?” Lucy looked over at Utopia, who, predictably, turned a faint pink colour at the mention of him.

“Ah, no. He’s sitting this one out.”

“Willingly, unwillingly, or did you tire him out?”

“Aegis!”

Lucy grinned at her, and then let it drop.

“Come on you two, stop teasing each other and let’s go!” Ray had already Transformed, her magic settling over her to form the familiar cloak from which she would pull the exact item that they needed at the time.

Lucy, closed her eyes, and felt the customary weight of her armour settling on her, the plates shifting as she rolled her shoulders, easy to move in, but still offering her that protection she needed, as she made the slight mental shift from Lucy to Aegis. It wasn’t a big difference, but there was something about being Transformed which leant itself to her Princess name.

“My sister had another dream tonight.”

“Oh?”

“A monster was trying to eat her, but then I got in the way and it ate me instead.”

“Hm. Given the level of potential reality in that, I’m starting to believe that your sister might be a Beacon.”

“Certainly possible. If not now than in the future. She is only five after all.”

“True. In the meantime, we’ll work on not getting you eaten by the big bad monsters.”

Aegis smiled, “Out of all the things I think the darkspawn will do, eating me is not my biggest worry.”

The night was long, and active, as the four of them chased the darkened and his darkspawn minions through the city, herding him into an area that it was safe for them to fight him in.

Flora was frowning as she looked over the clawed wounds in Aegis’s side, her bracelets sprouting flowers as she attempted to magically heal the wound.

“That’s about as much as I can do, sorry Aegis.”

She grimaced as the wound were touched again, “S’fine. I can hide this without too much trouble. I’m just glad for once they didn’t go for you.”

Flora gave her a sympathetic smile as Aegis let her sword and shield and armour evaporate, changing back into her mortal appearance, hoody and sneakers not at all beaten up from the night’s activities.

Lucy quietly slipped back through her front door, the clock on the oven blinking that it was four in the morning at her, as she padded through into the bedroom.

Both of her siblings were still asleep, and she let out a sigh of relief as she stripped down, lying on the thing bed next to her sister’s.

Even though she had college in the morning, and even though she had been running all over the city, tiring herself out, when her head hit the pillow, her eyes remained open, looking up at the ceiling, images and memories flooding through her head.

It wasn’t uncommon for this to happen at night. The memories of failure, the worry of the women who was behind all of this, pulling the strings on her puppets. And most of the fear that something would happen to her siblings, that she wouldn’t be there, that she would fail to protect them if she was.

Lucy sighed again, turning her head to look at her sleeping sister.

As long as she lived and breathed, she wouldn’t stop fighting for them. No matter what.

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