Determination (Part 1 of 11)

(part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11)

“You saved my life.”

Matthew Li ran a still-shaking hand through his hair as he watched the paramedics load their newest patient into the red ambulance. The car had come out of nowhere, flying down the street, and careened off the road into a telephone pole—passing what felt like millimeters in front of him.

What made it all the more heart-stopping—as if that wasn’t enough—was that Matthew would have been right in its path if he hadn’t felt a tug on his shoulder bag only seconds before. With a sigh he had twisted around to free it from the unfortunate bush it had caught on, then turned back and—

After tumbling backward in shock, landing hard on the pinkish cement of the sidewalk, he saw the girl standing behind him. Only then.

She was staring toward the wreck with no particular expression on her face. Matthew instinctively followed her gaze and immediately cringed. The car’s front windshield had shattered, along with both the driver-side and passenger-side windows. The hood was crumpled around the engine. Nothing seemed to be on fire, but some liquid was spreading out into the street in an ominous pool. Matthew couldn’t see the driver, but the lack of movement from inside the car couldn’t be a good sign.

Incredibly, he could already hear sirens. Or maybe he’d already been sitting here for minutes.

Matthew opened his mouth, swallowed, tried again. “That was you, wasn’t it.”

The girl nodded. She had long hair that had been dyed blue, a white hairband sitting behind her ears, and was wearing a black dress, which scooped down to reveal a gauzy white shirt beneath. Her white tights ended in trim black shoes with a single strap. She looked about about 15, though Matthew had to admit that all teenagers looked like babies to him these days.

“You saved my life,” he continued, still unable to believe it. This time the girl didn’t even nod, just shifted her large eyes to look at him directly.

The adrenaline was still pumping through Matthew’s body, and he put a hand over his heart, pressing down lightly as if that might steady it. “How…how did you know?”

The girl closed her eyes. “I am a witch,” she said matter-of-factly. “The Witch of Miracles.”

“That’s blasphemy,” Matthew said automatically. The morning’s sermon flashed into his mind, the caution that time and time again it had been shown that only God could perform true miracles.

“Is it?” If the girl had smiled, Matthew would have taken it for mockery, but her expression hadn’t changed, not even a lift of an eyebrow. “Then perhaps you might call me the Witch of Determination.”

“All right,” said Matthew, not feeling like there was any alternative. He decided not to challenge the “witch” business, which didn’t really mean anything in particular. More disturbing was the girl’s voice, which was too calm to fit a teenager—“refined” was the word that came to mind—and her sudden appearance on the empty sidewalk, as if out of thin air. And she had known about the car crash, somehow.

Plus, as his brain had just registered, she was standing solidly on absolutely nothing, about ten centimeters off the ground.

I’m clearly still in shock, he thought to himself. A girl is standing—floating—in front of me, and I’m treating it as an everyday occurence. More likely this is a stress-induced hallucination.

A shiver came over him. Or I actually was hit by the car, and this is a last dream as my brain shuts down.

“It’s understandable that you might think that,” the girl said, and Matthew started. “Therefore, I will come back at a time when you have recovered from your experience.”

Matthew’s breathing finally started to slow. He glanced over to see the paramedics slamming the ambulance door shut, and a police officer finally heading his way. What do you want with me? he thought, but the words didn’t come out.

Instead, he turned back to the girl—to the witch—and asked, “What should I call you?”

The witch looked past him again. “You may call me Lady Erica,” she said, and faded away before his eyes.

(part 2)

I haven’t posted anything since April? That won’t do at all.

This story’s inspired by that visual novel Umineko: When They Cry, as well as Matt Gemmell’s Changer. Lady Erica is in fact supposed to represent a specific character from Umineko, but I’m hoping to keep the story independent of that universe. It’s my own take on how that power might work, and might not match up with what’s canon there.

The “part 1 of ?” reflects that I’m not sure yet how I’m going to get to the real idea I want to explore, but I hope to have better luck than I did with “Office Blues” because I’ve already written a draft for part 2. We’ll see how it goes.

EDIT: Changed the spelling of Erica’s name from “Erika” to distance it further from Umineko.