The Escape Road

AN: A little songfic. Sorry to those of you who hate them.  Anyways, the song is The Way, by Fastball – it was a hit a couple years back.  You don't have to listen to it while you read or anything. I haven't even tried that myself.  I apologize if this story is a little rough around the edges – it's hot off the press, or computer, or keyboard… whatever. I'll fix it later, but reviews and suggestions would be nice!

Rustle. Rustle. Snap!

            Mikaila jerked to a halt and spun around, instinctively dropping into a fighting crouch.  Nothing. Silence.  She paused for a moment, holding the stance. Still nothing.  She straightened up, trying to convince herself that it was nothing. Just a rat, skittering around in the dark.  Or a bird, perhaps, sleepily turning around in its nest outside. Sure, that was it – just rats and birds.  Silly her.  Maybe she just needed light. It was dark, she was alone in the house… anyone would be frightened. Nothing unusual.

            Mikaila glanced at the skinny wax taper melting into the wood of the table, and snorted despite her fear.  Such a puny thing would do her no good.  She liked to do things the normal way, most of the time.  It comforted her, made her feel normal, gave her the structure of routine and the pride of accomplishment.  This was different, though.  Nothing was to be gained by pretending.  No one pretends in the dark; what would be the point?

            Raising her arm, Mikaila called Fire.  It came, warm and comforting, and she held it tenderly for a brief second before tossing it into the air, to light her way.  The flames coalesced into a fuzzy, flickering sphere that wobbled across the room in front of her. As she picked up the sword from the fireplace, Mikaila reveled in the rush of strength, the feeling of power. Nothing could stop her now.  Leveling the sword at the fire, she smiled for the first time in a long time.

            Down swept the sword, through the flame.  Spinning, she made another attack, this time from the side.  She leapt up, and retreated behind the table. She feinted and jabbed; she attacked and defended.  As she moved, the flame moved with her, and she practiced her sword fighting against this most light-footed opponent. Each attack was made with a mad grin on her face. Steel and flame, fire and fighting, this was what she was all about.

            Finally, exhausted but laughing, she put down the sword, and the dark nothingness closed in around her.  Fear returned, but she kept it at bay.  All was wonderfully clear now.  She had her magic and her material weapons; nothing could harm her.  Refreshed and bolstered by the exercise, her mind had finally seen the way.  She was leaving.  Now, in the dark of night, before the early morning sun could throw its cruel illumination over the reality of her life. Where to, she knew not, but she didn't care. She would see the path by the light of her Fire.

            Mikaila rushed around the small dwelling, gathering supplies and tools.  Spirits buoyed by the joy of it all, she sang and danced gracefully while packing.

They made up their minds, and they started packing.
They left before the sun came up that day.
An exit to eternal summer slacking,
But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

She almost laughed when she automatically paused to clean up the dirty dishes on the table.  She wouldn't need the any more; they could rot here unwashed for eternity!  She paused at the wine glass, though.  Memories that she had banished long ago pushed their way back from lonely exile. 

The farmer's cart she was ridding in had broken down, and night was nigh.  Unable to reach the inn as they had planned to, they were forced to stop at a nearby house to ask for help and lodging.  More of a castle than a house, really – it was huge.  Some people would have called it a palace, but that was far too positive a term for the looming structure engraved in her memory. Its master was entirely civil, graciously offering them his hospitality in silky, charming tones.  She was flattered by his copious compliments, impressed by his fancy clothes, charmed by his impeccable manners, and all to happy to accept his offer of a drink.  They had fine wine together on one of his sprawling patios.  He offered her the first sympathetic ear since her escape from the city, and she all too willingly poured out her life story to him.  He smiled, nodded, and offered her more wine.  She got more drunk, as he got more friendly.  Caught up in past pains, she didn't notice his arm around her, and was mildly surprised when her started kissing her.  She didn't like it, but he ignored her protests. In fact, he seemed to like it. The more she tried to repel him, the more he persisted in his attentions, and the rougher he got.  Drunk and tired, she couldn't resist, and he went too far…

They drank up the wine, and they got to talking.
They now had more important things to say,
And when the car broke down they started walking.
Where were they going without ever knowing the way?

Mikaila's voice trailed off as the reverie trapped her, entangling her mind with empty ropes of emotion.  The flame flickered lower, throwing shadows on the wall, and suddenly she was back to the present.  She shivered with the sudden chill, and recalled the wandering shadows with a quick thought to the Fire.  No more of this forbidding darkness; she would go somewhere warmer.  No more passiveness; from now on she would do what she wanted and follow her own will.  She would be strong. 

Emboldened by her resolution, Mikaila opened the door and crossed the threshold into a world of amber.  The moon was enormous. It hung on the horizon, resting and preparing itself for its laborious journey across the sky.  Hazy atmosphere tinted the moonbeams with orange and ocher tones, and the newly forged light poured around houses and trees to pool in the street.  There, it cooled into a light glitter, painting the cobblestones gold.  Mikaila looked at the wealth of road before her, and closed the door.  She would never come back to this home, but she didn't care.  Here was Fire in front of her, a sword at her side, the road at her feet.  She never looked back.

Anyone could see the road that they walk on is paved in gold,
And it's always summer; they'll never get cold.
They'll never get hungry; they'll never get old and gray.
You can see their shadows wandering off somewhere.
They won't make it home but they really don't care.

They wanted the highway; they're happier there today, today.