Sunday, August 5, 2018

Short Story - Dripping with Gold

A short story from a writing prompt posted online. 

The prompt: You are a struggling alchemist trying to transmute gold. Eventually, after years of failure, it finally works! Just not quite the way you intended.

This has nothing to do with my novel, but I am working on improving my writing by practising whenever I can. If you enjoy this, share. Thanks.

Dripping with Gold.

I ran down the stairs and grabbed the bannister to propel myself down the hallway. This is worse than last term with the jelly spell.  How long would it take to burn though the floor?

I pushed open the door and called to the lab techs in their white suits to, ‘Run.’ They gaped at me for a few seconds, but then saw it when I pointed. I screamed again, this time there was a flurry of movement.

Their roof, connected to my floor, was changing colour from white to molten gold. Just as the last lab tech, directly under the widening pool of molten death, gave up on her critical and delicate experiment and dashed out of the way, the first blob of the molten metal slowly bulged downwards in a painfully slow motion drip. The spherical bulb stretched downwards, tapering up into a thin strand that hung for a moment from the floor above before snapping off and crashing down through the desk, beakers and distillation equipment.

The gold held the shape of a perfect drip for a moment before slowly spreading out across the floor. I had been frozen there for a second, watching, but then the smell of burning transfiguration serum hit my nose and I snapped out of it.

I turned around and pelted towards the staircase again. What was on the floor below?

When I reached the room, I bashed open the door to see a group of first-years, their mouths agape at the intrusion. Then I saw the daggers in Professor Trudo’s eyes. Oh no! If there was anyone I didn't want to see this... but there was no time for that. 
‘Get out of here now,’ I screamed, pointing to the roof. The gold hadn’t burned through yet, but there was a brown patch of discolouration developing. 

The first years ditched their books without hesitation, commendable speed compared to the stuffy lab techs above, and I was just turning to run down to the next level when I felt the collar of my shirt tighten.

Trudo! He’s always hated me! ‘Daniel,’ he drawled. ‘It’s such a pleasure to see you,' there was no pleasure in his tone. 'Why are you disturbing my lesson?’
I was one hundred percent sure this sadistic genious knew what I was working on with Lishman. He had tried to get me expelled already for it. If there was more time I would have made a glib jibe, but I only spluttered out, ‘Molten gold.' I didn't really mean the incredulous tone, it just came out that way.
‘So,’ he said, like we were on a Sunday drive in the country, ‘why are you letting it burn through my classroom?’
I stood aghast at his question. The pool of molten metal was, by this stage, bulging down from the hole in the ceiling. If only I had predicted that the transmutation of iron into gold would produce so much heat!

He went on like he was reading my mind. ‘As I recall, Daniel,’ could he speak any slower? ‘You did excell at cold spells when you took my class. In you go.’
I felt the force of his magic push me into the room. The gold was much lower now, forming a drip, and I had to limbo back to avoid my head from being burnt off. My heart shot into my mouth and I put up my hands to shield my face from the heat. I used all the will I could muster to remember those old cold spells I hadn’t used in five years. I shuddered. Where was my brain when I need it?
‘Come now Daniel,’ Trudo’s vicious voice sneered, ‘you remember... Glacies…’
That’s right, ‘Glacies aqua,’ I screamed in terror, and ice shot from my hands. I held the words in my mind. Ice filled the space between me and the gold.
At first, all I heard was sizzling as steam billowed around the room. The gold continued its journey downwards and my knees bent. My mind cried the spell as pressed all my energy into it. I fell onto my back and I pushed every skerrick of will into cooling that drip.

Then finally, when the drip was mere centimetres from my chest, the sizzling slowed, and the gold froze in its path. I breathed a deep sigh and slid sideways on my back, across the wet floor, and out from under the massive bulbous ball of gold still hanging from its thin strand from the floor above.
I stumbled forward and, shaking, pushed myself up onto my jelly legs to my feet.

Trudo walked in with a bored look on his face. ‘Dear me Daniel,’ he sighed, ‘you always seem to make such a mess, wherever you go.’

I didn’t care about how much Trudo hated me today, though. I had done it, and it didn’t matter that I just destroyed 3 floors of the college to do it. That amount of gold was going to set me up with enough money to finish my studies at this university. Even if it took me the rest of my life.

Inspiration: Harry Potter, Reddit r/writingprompts, and the UQ pitch drop experiment.

Pink Moto