I thought an update regarding my Once Upon a Time fan-fiction tribute to Zelena would be in order at this point since I'm nearly at 10K words in its writing.
I'm doing something I don't usually do. I'm writing it as a short story, which basically means I'm simply not dividing it up into chapters. I don't have a strong reason for choosing to do so beyond the simple intuition that I should write it that way.
Zelena, brilliantly played by the beautiful Rebecca Mader, got serious short shrift in the series, which should have ended after its sixth season this year, but will carry on into a seventh. I've watched the promo trailer for the seventh season, and I'll admit that it looks intriguing. Kye and I will probably watch the season premiere, but with a fairly discerning if not critical eye.
I thought I'd offer an unedited snippet of my short story for you. When you finish it, pop by my Archive of Our Own profile page for more of my fan fiction, including one for Firefly, The Dread Pirate Roberts (from The Princess Bride), Lord of the Rings, and Gilligan's Island!
Tasty and Totally Unedited Snippet from "N.V.," my Once Upon a Time fan-fiction tribute!
It was over for me, and I knew it. But I didn’t feel fear or loss of any kind; rather the sense that a new home waited for me somewhere ... beyond. I glanced up, because I was sure that was where it was, and besides, that’s where balloons go when released, right? Up?
Above was the bridge—the very one I had the good sense to avoid when I left, but not when I returned. It arced blackly over a white sky. Towering fir trees on both sides of it watched me die with indifference. Smoke rose from it, as though someone had built a campfire on it.
I could smell the air and feel a slight chill on my skin, but not what had to be frigid water as it rushed over my broken form. It was like the nerves of my tethered soul were feeling, not those of my body. It was the oddest sensation.
I gazed back down at my body. All I had to do was let go. Let go and float into the sky, and be free forever.
But just as I voiced that wish, there she was.
She was beautiful. Astonishingly so. Flaming red hair and angry sapphire eyes. She wore the clothes and cloak of a huntress.
She too was injured. Her cloak was torn and burned, and the hand she brought over my face was covered in blood and injured. She waved her hand, and I, the balloon, began to deflate.
That’s precisely how it felt—like a deflating balloon. As I did I descended back down into broken body.
It wasn’t what I wanted, and I cried for her to stop.
“No! No! Let me go! I don’t want to go back! I’ll suffer! Stop! Please!”
But I deflated more, and then dropped, limp, into myself. When I did I felt the frigid cold rushing over me, and my injuries, the unendurable pain of them, and I gagged and coughed. It was suddenly black, like my eyes were closed.
They were. I opened them. I was suddenly gazing up into the huntress’ face. I was back in my broken body.
I tried to speak, but coughed up blood instead.
“Easy. Easy, now,” she said. Her voice, like the rest of her, was angelic. She cupped the back of my head and pulled it out of the water.
“I can help you more,” she said, “but not here. You need to feel safe, and you don’t. I can feel it. So I need you to think very hard—stay with me, now! Don’t close your eyes! Come on and stay with me and listen hard, all right?—I need you to think very hard about where you feel safe. Do it now, okay? Come on, do it!”
I did as she asked even as I coughed up more blood. I thought of home. My bed.
She waved her hand over my chest, and smiled. “Yes. There it is. Now this will hurt, but it will save your life. Here we go ...”
Her hand stopped waving and plunged into my chest.
It felt just like it should: an indescribable moment of agony easily as awful as falling forty feet off a bridge into a rocky stream after being mugged and beaten by trolls. I screamed, but then she yanked and in her fist was a glowing ... heart. My heart!
But her fist wasn’t bloody, at least not with my blood, and neither was my heart! She stared at it almost dispassionately. “My, my. You’ve been a very good and true sort, haven’t you? This little beauty is almost perfect.”
She gazed mischievously down at me and winked. “Almost.”
I stared up in horror and fear, but couldn’t speak. It was like the overwhelming pain coursing through me had cut off my vocal chords. Strangely, though, I felt no pain from my chest where she had plunged her hand into it. Instead a tingling sensation remained, pleasant and compelling, like it wanted me to do anything the huntress asked of me.
She had returned her attention to my glowing heart. (Was that my heart? Or was it some very strange magical representation of my heart?)
“Yes. I see. I know where you live,” she said, still staring at it. “And ... your bedroom. I can take you there right now.”
She glanced down and smiled in a very compassionate manner. “Ready? Here we go ...”
She flourished her free hand and suddenly I was rising, rising, rising ... just like I wanted to as a balloon or whatever it was that I was for that sadly brief moment.
I rocketed up past the bridge, and I could see what was making all that smoke that rose from it.
Trolls were piled on each other at its center. Or, I should say, what was left of the trolls was at its center. It was one big pile of broken limbs, random torsos, hanging fur, and gaping mouths. The pile smoked. I passed through it, and smelled burning hair.
Something hadn’t just battled the trolls and won. Something—someone—had wiped them out with the ease of a god and the rage of a demon.
I rose higher into the white sky and fell asleep with the hope that I was going to Heaven.