8 1/2" x 6". Watercolor and permanent ink on paper. 1/10/14.  Win it here.

8 1/2" x 6". Watercolor and permanent ink on paper. 1/10/14. Win it here.

From our most committed Scribbler, comes some story in bits an pieces:

This one tied together in my mind with a story I'd already thought of for a pre-scribble doodle. It forced me to start writing that story. I'm approaching 3000 words at this point, and still have more to go... I will share the rest of the story soon. But for tonight, here's the part of the story that applies to this doodle:

Standing outside her parents’ home, Ella looked at the vines in the distance reaching up toward the sky. She loved the way they tangled together, becoming woven into an intricate pattern of leaves and light. Her parents had read to her the cautionary tale of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, and when she was old enough, she’d read it herself. It was almost required reading for parents and their children – a warning to children carried into adulthood.

She had often wondered about the real Jack and what had happened to him. A good cautionary tale had at least the bare bones of truth strung with a bright skin of exaggeration. She’d always gotten a good laugh about the magical beans. Who needed magical beans when there were vines everywhere that grew to the sky on their own? Ella had climbed those vines herself many times as a child. But she’d never climbed to the top. That silly story had put a fear in her that she had always obeyed. Now that she was older, she’d outgrown her desire to climb for climbing’s sake, and only ventured up a vine when she needed a better vantage point for her drawing.

She gathered up her sketch book, pencils, and pens into her satchel. Ella had always been captivated by the beauty of the natural world, and loved to capture it in her sketches. Tonight, she planned on venturing out to see the desert beauty in the light of the moon. The desert blooms must be lovely in the shadows cast by moonlight.

Since she was leaving without her parents’ permission or knowledge, she decided to forego the saddle on Maris. She walked the horse from the barn, moving silently in the moonlight. Once they were clear of the farm, Ella mounted Maris and the two started toward the desert. Ella tilted her head back to take in the night sky. It was not often she got this unimpeded look at the moon and stars during the summer. The Disk was usually hovering over this area in summer.

Always with The Disk came cloud cover. It was part of the reaction of The Disk’s systems with the atmosphere. She’d never really understood the science of it, but she’d seen it in action enough times to believe it to be true. Whenever The Disk was present, so were the clouds.

The Disk was just part of the sky. Ella had never known a time when it didn’t exist. Neither had her parents. But the stories say that there was a time that The Disk was not a part of the sky. Ella would have loved to have seen the world then. She imagined a world where the light was always full and the flowers grew in even more abundance. She loved the world she knew, but she imagined a world where the clouds and shadows of The Disk did not exist.

To have a clear night like this, with no clouds, was a treat. Maris knew the path, so required only infrequent guidance from Ella. She pulled out her sketch book and started capturing the scenery around her. She’d drawn this scene before, but she wanted to capture the light and colors she saw now, without the interference of The Disk clouds. Her hands moved over the paper, translating what she saw into colors and patterns on the paper.

She guided Maris to a spot where the cactus flowers were in full bloom. She dismounted and found a comfortable spot of sand. She pulled out her sketchbook and started drawing while Maris nibbled a bit of desert grass.

Ella had lost herself in her work when she suddenly noticed a change in the light. She looked up to see the familiar Disk clouds coming in from the west. She found her mind wandering back to the story of Jack and that beanstalk again. She knew that it was a tale told to children to scare them away from trying to find a way to access The Disk. She wondered whether there was something to be afraid of up there, or if there was something that was so precious that it needed protecting. Was there a better way to keep people away from something than to instill a fear of that thing in their minds?

She found herself curious about what was hidden on The Disk. Jack and his tale be damned, she wanted to know its secrets! She tucked her nearly finished art and supplies into the satchel and called to Maris. The horse obediently approached and waited for Ella to mount. Instead of heading for home, Ella headed for the hills where the cloud bank that hid The Disk gathered. She knew there were vines in that area, and if luck was with her, she would be able to use them to get close enough to see The Disk.

She and Maris stopped near a very hearty growth. The vines were nearly as thick as a tree trunk and wound together to reach skyward. The ends were lost in the cloud cover above. There was a stream and grass nearby, so Ella felt comfortable leaving Maris alone here. She dismounted, slipped the strap of her satchel over her head and under her right arm to secure it, and started climbing.

*  *  *

Here's the next piece story... so far. Still a long way from done! (Darn you, Eliza!)

The vines were sturdy enough to hold her. They swayed only slightly under her weight as she made her way up. She stopped a couple of times to look down to check on Maris, but the horse was oblivious to what was going on above her and nibbled on the fresh green grass that grew around the base of the vines.

The next time Ella stopped, she could barely make out the horse and the ground. She must be entering the cloud layer. She felt as though she were looking through a fog when she looked down or up, and the air had taken on an odd scent, almost metallic, but with a tinge of old dust. She couldn’t yet make out where she was in relation to The Disk, so she kept climbing.

She could no longer see the ground, and the vines were starting to thin out. She felt the swaying increase with her every movement. Yet Ella was determined. She wanted to find out what the secret was, why The Disk was not spoken of except in cautionary tales. She pushed herself further up, though the air was getting heavy with the unpleasant scent she’d detected when she first entered the cloud layer.

Ella was in the thick of the clouds, when she encountered the end of the vines and the bottom of The Disk. The surface above her head was solid and metallic. She’d not thought about what she would do if she came up against The Disk’s under-surface. She’d always imagined that she’d climb up and find herself at the edge of The Disk, or like Jack in his magical story, the vines would somehow grow through a hole and come out the other side. She realized now how foolish that thought was. The Disk was always moving in the sky. There was no way that the vines could grow through. She saw now that the vines were broken at this level, and some of the ends were stunted, as though they’d given up trying to grow to this height. She was surprised that she’d been able to climb this high. But due to the constant pruning, the growth was thicker and more tangled than it would normally be at this height.

And she would have to be extremely lucky to reach one of the edges of The Disk. She’d speculated from looking at the clouds that hid it from view that The Disk must be miles wide. She watched as the metal above her slowly moved in the direction she’d just come from. When morning came, it would be casting its shadow over her family home.

As she watched, the metal above her head ended. She must not have been far from that edge when she reached the top of the vines. The Disk was moving slowly, so Ella had a minute to debate what she would do next. With a deep breath, she made her decision. She reached up and grabbed the edge of The Disk as it passed. There was a thick lip of metal on the edge, and she felt an unpleasant tingling that shot through her body. But she held on and pulled herself up until she could slip a leg over that edge. She looked behind her and saw that The Disk was pulling away from the vines she’d used to climb up. She hadn’t thought about getting back down again when she’d made her decision. She watched as her chance to leave slipped away into the clouds. Her heart sank as she realized what she’d done. Trying to find the top of a tangle of vines near the edge of The Disk again was going to be a near impossible task.

Ella turned and looked around. She couldn’t see far; the clouds formed a thick fog that surrounded her and limited her field of vision. What little she could see was flat with no vegetation. She made her way slowly away from the edge and toward what she hoped was the center of The Disk.

She had only traveled about twenty feet, when she felt another current tingle through her body. She turned and looked behind her and saw a shimmering curtain of light. She hadn’t seen it as she approached, but it was clearly visible from this side. Beyond, she could see the thick fog she’d been walking through, a moving wall of mist. She reached her hand out to touch the barrier, but the sting she received caused her to draw her hand back quickly. She hadn’t felt that when she walked through! Her options for returning seemed to be quickly vanishing.

She turned and started forward again. She could see clearly now; the fog had been left on the other side of the barrier behind her. Ahead of her she saw metal buildings reaching into the sky. The hard surfaces looked unnatural to Ella’s eyes. She’d never seen this much metal in one place before. She craned her neck up to see beyond the buildings to the night sky. She had to look almost straight up to find the stars. They looked so distant, even though she was closer to them here than she was on the ground.

Ella walked slowly toward the buildings. She didn’t see any movement or activity. It was still night, but it was surprising to not see any movement at all. She was used to plants moving in a breeze, or animals and insects flitting about. But there were none. No plants in sight, no insects. No birds or rodents. Just metal. That unnerved her more than anything else she had seen so far.

She approached the first building and reached her hand out to touch the metal. She expected to feel cold beneath her hand, but instead she felt pleasant warmth, as though the metal was being heated from within. She walked around the building looking for a door. The building was enormous. She walked hundreds of feet looking for the end of the wall. She’d seen from a distance that the buildings towered into the sky, but she hadn’t realized they were this broad as well. She came to around the corner of the building to find a tall square outlined in the metal surface. This had to be the door. But it was so tall! She looked up to find the upper edge, and was surprised to see that it was over four times her height. Her mind flashed on the story of Jack. He’d encountered a giant on the end of his magical beanstalk. Ella began to wonder if that was a part of the truth of the story.

She didn’t see any way to open the door. She walked around the rest of the building and then started walking the path between the other buildings. Still no plants or signs of life greeted her. Perhaps no one lived here at all and these buildings were just storage repositories for the government. Perhaps The Disk itself was deserted and floated the sky unattended.

Ella sensed the lightening of the night sky before she saw it above her. It would be dawn soon. She wondered if light would bring life to these drab metal buildings. In the dull light of the moon and stars, everything was a dull, unending gray. Her eyes ached to see some bit of color.

Ella headed back the way she’d come. She needed to find a place to sit. She’d been up all night, and her body was craving a few minutes of rest. She felt that she’d be safer closer to where she had boarded The Disk, so she found her way to the backside of the building she’d first touched and sat with her back to the warm metal. As the heat seeped into her body, she drifted off to sleep.

She woke to the same quiet and gray. Though the sun was fully up, she could only tell by the faint light that reached the surface of The Disk. Ella looked up to see the sky, and saw only a blue-gray light with wisps of gray clouds. The vibrant color she knew from home was gone. She wondered if it was the effect of being this high up, or if there was something obstructing her view.

While she was looking up, movement caught her eye. She focused on the movement and saw the largest person she’d ever seen. She guessed that the man she was nearly 30 feet tall. The giants in Jack’s story did exist. He didn’t look like the people she knew from below. His skin was pale white with gray highlights. The hair on his head had been pure black. The clothes he’d worn were the same colors: white, gray, and black. Were there any colors here at all? Ella had to look at herself to make sure it wasn’t an odd effect of The Disk, but her skin was still a pale pink and her clothes bore the same bright colors they had when she’d gotten dressed the day before.

Ella watched as the giant approached the barrier she’d crossed in the night. She waited until he was occupied with inspecting the barrier before she moved. She headed away from the barrier and around the building she’d slept against. She moved so that she stayed on the outer edge of the cluster of buildings, and she moved slowly. She didn’t want to attract any attention to herself.

Ella had no idea what she was going to do now. She had no desire to stay on The Disk any longer, but she had to find her way down. And she was getting hungry and thirsty. She hadn’t planned on being gone this long, and she definitely hadn’t planned on being stranded on The Disk when she’d left home. She would need to find some water or a way back down soon.