Meep! :3 Here's ze moment you've all been waiting for - me to announce the winners!
Trust me, it was super hard to choose the winners! It took me ages to read through them all and decide on who should get which place. I wanted to give everyone 1st place...but I can't do that, sadly, can I?
So here're the winners!
Infinitemajesty in 10th place
Batmanhero in 9th place
Vms915 in 8th place
RockyTop2 in 7th place
SilverDawn in 6th place
Snowyclaw in 5th place
hannahandmemy in 4th place
MisterChunkybuddy in 3rd place
Cometcatcher109 in 2nd place
AllRiseSilver in 1st place
Now, here are the stories!
"On the Eve of an Eclipse"
It's been a long time since we had seen them here. We thought they had returned but all of a sudden they just, disappeared. We are trying to get by everyday. It's hard for anyone to live happily under the reign of the wicked. If you take a look around, all of us are depressed, longing for freedom. The beautiful skies over Jamaa are a sick grey. Everything lies in ruin. We fear that nothing good will ever come in sight. We strive so much for just one speck of light. The Alphas, they are gone. As if a brisk wind blew them away forever. As soon as the Alphas disappeared, the Phantoms returned. They rose from the mountains past Mt. Shiveer and quickly cast a shadow over our land. Everywhere we traveled they were there, terrorizing us. They still are. We can't stop them. They do as they please. Who knew our sky mother's turmoil could create such wretched beasts. This invasion was once our worst dream, now it's our bitter reality. We haven't given up yet though, some of us have reawakened. We could fight the Phantoms every day, but it's difficult to fight with the little resources we have. It's difficult to be a victor without enough power. So instead we are waiting, waiting for the right moment to strike.Those phantoms can't clog all of the light our heavenly sky father shines upon us. We will strike during an eclipse. On this day the sun will disappear and for a few moments we would be plunged into an unmerciful darkness. It's not a very long time, but it's long enough to disappear into the night, destroy the phantoms and take back what is rightfully ours. From the ashes of darkness we will rise, and the wicked phantom king will fall along with his followers. We can't stop now, since it's only a matter of time before they finish us all. But, upon the day's grey break tomorrow.. we shall do their bidding. They thought they could take everything and crush our spirits. Well no more! For tomorrow we will be strong, we will be one, tomorrow we are light, we are invincible. Darkness will perish forever. To victory!
The Unexpected Catch
Mild winds of hot, steamy air filled the fiery beaches, occasionally stirring up small grains of sand. Our car screeched to a stop, the doors opened and sighs of relief poured out. Everyone was glad to finally reach our destination after several hours: a place to fish. I opened the door; a gust of red-hot wind blew in and stung my eyes like a hot piece of coal.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge was in the distance, a stream of concrete along a beautiful crystal-clear ocean. Cars zoomed there and then, a cloudless sky, a mild day. Pelicans plunged in, beaks full of fish, while cormorants nested below the bridge, occasionally diving in to find loose branches and twigs. The peaceful nature under humanization.
As soon as I got out, my uncle went back to the trunk and produced four fishing rods, a large tackle box with reels suspended in the air. Then he pulled out Hot Cheetos, bags and bags of chips, enough food to last the entire week, sunscreen, and bait.
While everyone rushed for the chips, my uncle put away our eager hands and held the sunscreen up. He put the chips away; then slathered tons of sunscreen on everyone and ran eagerly to the bridge going through the sea. Our shoes went crunch, crunch, filling up with hot sand, as I had forgot to wear sandals.
This was my first time fishing. The last time a saw people casting, it looked simple: holding a stick, letting out the string and throwing it across as the line swished cleanly through the air with a silent ring. Then, boom! A fish catches, the person struggles for life to haul up the catch, and after several minutes they succeed, only to throw it back moments later.
I chose a black fishing rod with spots of red, and my uncle taught me how to throw it. Once again, it looked easy.
When it was my turn, I let go of the reel too early and my string got tangled in someone else’s. The next one, I did let go at the right time, only to fall a few feet from the deck. My third try went about a dozen feet to the left and fell with a loud pong. Frustrated, I gave up, but my uncle wasn’t done with me. He threw it for me and told me to hold it. Sigh.
While everyone was in a frenzy of catching and throwing back and cutting worms and shouting at each other and all that, I gloomily sat down on a bench holding the fishing rod. The sun scorched the bridge, making everything fiery-red.
Just then, when I was just about the reel up my line again to try fishing some other day when the temperature doesn’t go over a hundred degrees, the line shook.
I didn’t know what to do. I called to my uncle, but he was busy slicing up worms into itty bitty bits. I looked at my brother, but he was also busy smashing chips into his mouth. So I made my mind, and pulled the line back up. I spun the reel around like crazy, spinning like a weaver, spin, spin, spin. The fish struggled just as hard as back, throwing the rod left and right, up and down. It wouldn’t give up, thrashing like a mad fish, until it was a few feet away from the dock. Suddenly, all the movement stopped. The area grew so silent; I thought the fish had gone away. Frustrated after using all that power on nothing, I sat down gloomily.
Then, remembering I had to pull the line back up to get more bait, I reluctantly started reeling in the line slowly, pull, pull, pull. A seagull silently glided past the water, looking for fishes easy to snatch out of the water.
Finally, the line came up, but with a strange feature: there was something stuck on the edge.
Curious, I reeled it in more, all the way to the edge, over the bridge.
And there, was a fish.
Not just an ordinary, tiny, useless fish, there were two ordinary, tiny, useless fish! Both fish had fallen for the juicy (and bloody) worms. The two of them had dark spots on the cheeks, and were hanging neatly like fish in a market.
I had no idea what to do again. So I looked around, found a small bucket full of water, and dumped it there. Just then, my uncle came over and his eyes widened. Uh oh, I thought. Maybe that bucket wasn’t such a fishing bucket.
Finally, he came back to life. “Nice fish you caught,” he said.
I was ecstatic; I hopped around in little circles, looking like a complete maniac.
Confident and full of excitement, I threw the fishing rod as hard as I could, almost letting go of the rod. The line swished in a perfect arc and landed with a plop. Ripples went in and out.
The sun began to set, a red fiery glow in the air, peeking out of the clouds as if it was saying a final goodbye. I grew drowsy, relaxing and almost falling asleep, and then boom.
A giant shock snapped me out of my afternoon nap and got me to my feet. Shaking my head, I pulled slowly, thinking it was a normal striped bass or spot or something. However, when I pulled, nothing happened.
I pulled again. Nothing happened.
Full of adrenaline, I pulled and pulled for life, however, I couldn’t do more than bring the pesky fish a tiny bit closer.
Even after the line was a few feet away, the thrashing didn’t stop (from both of us). I grew suspicious: normal fish don’t do that. After finally bringing it up, I wasn’t so sure it was a fish.
It had a bluish-grey bottom, a green top, tiny black eyes hanging from above, and had sharp red claws. One was stuck greedily on the succulent worms.
Arms stinging and legs shaking from the fierce battle, I took it over to the bridge, which was a mistake. As soon as I brought it to flat ground, it jumped off, sneakily taking the worm with him. The crab swallowed the worm, crab-walked all the way to the bottom of the bridge, waved his tiny red claws as if it was saying goodbye, you couldn’t catch me, and dropped backwards into the sea.
Full of amusement and anger, I relaxed on a bench and hungrily finished off a large bag of chips. I’ve had enough of fishing for the day. The basket was full of fish; some had to be reluctantly thrown back as there was no space left. The sun was peacefully swallowed by the clouds, purplish, red, yellow and blue streams of light shooting out. The sea calmed down, ripples making their last vibrations, the winds blew away, and the seagulls cried one last screech.
That night, we feasted.
The Forbidden Island
“Farewell, Lana! I shall return soon!” cried Victor Anderson. He was waving to his betrothed as he boarded the plane that would take him to the island of Java in Indonesia, where he would be performing field research on the Javan leopard species. Anderson had been offered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he accepted. He would be gone for 7 days, returning just in time for his long-awaited wedding to Lana Woodrow. As Anderson boarded the plane, he felt that everything was going his way this week.
Seven hours later, Anderson was drifting off to sleep on the plane, when a jarring noise woke him up. He heard the pilot’s voice, saying, “We have hit some turbulence, everything is just fine.” Anderson settled back down in his seat. Five minutes later, he heard a loud, heart-wrenching snap. He glanced out the window, and what he saw made his heart skip a beat. The left wing of the plane had snapped clean off, and it was spiraling down into the ocean. A couple of seconds later, the plane was falling rapidly. By this time, the rest of the passengers had woken up, and had noticed that something wrong. Many of them were clutching each other in terror; some were whispering prayers under their breath. Suddenly, the plane went into a straight, nose first dive. The passengers screamed, and Anderson clutched at his seat belt, thankful that he had kept it on. The unlucky passengers who had not been buckled in went sailing past him down the aisle. He winced at they hit the door leading to the cockpit. Without so much as a warning, the plane hit the water, and sank below the surface. The last thing Anderson remembered before his world went black was a beautiful woman swimming towards him, and carrying him gracefully towards the flickering light above.
Anderson awoke, groaning, in a pool of light broken by small shadows. He opened his eyes, and saw he was laying on the edge between a beach and a rainforest, in what appeared to be a lagoon, with shimmering blue water, and crystal white sands. A small girl was standing over him. She had startlingly green eyes, with long, brown, shiny hair falling over her shoulders and back. “Are you okay?” she asked, with a small, soft voice, like gently falling snow. She had pale, smooth skin. Anderson sat up.
“Yes, I think so,” he said unsteadily. “Where am I?”
The girl smiled again. “We call it the Island. When you are ready, you will know its full name.”
Anderson frowned, trying to recall what had happened. “How did I get here?”
“Isabella. It was her turn, this time.” She sighed. “I can’t wait until I can be a Retriever.”
Anderson stared. “What’s a Retriever?” he asked.
“A Retriever goes out and takes people here,” she said, looking around the beach.
“We should go. They will be waiting,” said the girl, cutting over him. She rose, and Anderson followed her lead, rather grudgingly. Together, they walked into the rainforest.
Five minutes later, the girl led Anderson into a clearing in the rainforest, and Anderson gasped. Up above, there were about thirty tree houses up in the trees, connected by a network of ropes, ladders, and bridges. “Wow,” said Anderson, turning his head left and right, taking in the glorious sight. The girl beamed up at him.
“I have to go tell the others you are here. They’ve been expecting you for some time, but Isabella took longer than she was supposed to.” She ran to the largest tree, and climbed up the rope ladder that led to the tree house above. Anderson stared around aimlessly, pondering her words. What had she meant, they were expecting him? Anderson did not have long to wait alone. Before long, the girl was back, followed by a tall, stocky man. He had a short, bristly beard, and walked with his arms swinging casually by his side. The moment he caught sight of Anderson, he frowned.
“You are not supposed to be here,” he said. His voice was harsh, accusatory. He turned to the small girl. “Why did you bring him here, Samantha?” he asked.
The small girl did not flinch or wince. “My job is to bring people from the beach to here. It is Isabella’s job to Retrieve them.” The man nodded.
“I must have a word with her. She brought him here at the wrong time.” He turned on his heel and vanished between the trees.
Anderson frowned. “What did he mean by saying that I am here at the wrong time?”
Samantha sighed. “I can’t tell you that, I’m afraid.”
Later, Anderson was in Samantha’s tree house, and the man knocked on the door. Samantha opened it, and he stepped over the threshold. “We have decided,” he said.
“Decided what?” Anderson asked, puzzled.
“What to do with you,” the man replied. Anderson froze. “We have decided that you are to live on the island until it is your time to come to this community.”
“How will I know when it is my time?” Anderson asked.
The man smiled grimly. “You will know.” He turned, and strode out through the door.
Anderson stared after him. “But-but- what am I going to do? How will I survive?”
Samantha gave him a small, sad smile. “I don’t know. But I may see you again sooner than you think.”
An hour later, Anderson was strolling through the rainforest. The man had not given him any supplies. He had said that his people had no need for them. Anderson’s first task was to search for food. He spotted a likely looking bush, with some blue berries on them. But before he reached the bush, a large, deadly looking bird had swooped down and landed in front of the bush. It opened its beak and let out a harsh cry. Anderson backed away quickly. He turned, and ran from the scene. The bird did not pursue him, but instead, pecked at the berries on the bush.
Later, Anderson found a small rivulet, and, bending over, drank greedily. When he had satisfied his thirst, he stood up, and continued walking. Anderson suddenly stiffened. He had heard a twig crack behind him. He jumped, and turned around. A large, black dog was crouched about 10 feet from him, hackles raised, and growling. Anderson’s heart sank. He turned to run, but the dog pounced. Anderson felt a searing pain in his arm. Suddenly, a loud sound rent the air. A large rock had fallen and landed on a branch, snapping it. The dog scampered away, leaving Anderson panting on the ground. He was in enormous pain. The dog’s teeth had left his arm bleeding profusely. He managed to stagger towards a large plant, and wrapped one of its leaves around his injury.
The blood seeped through the leaf, but the flow slowed slightly. Anderson still felt that he had lost a lot of blood. He was feeling weak and dizzy. He walked to the nearest tree, and sank beneath it onto the soft moss. Anderson was obstructed from view by the branches of the weeping willow tree. His body was wracked with pain, and he tried to fall asleep, as to escape the feeling of weakness that was growing stronger in his body. It felt like a long time that Anderson lay under the weeping willow tree. Or was it? He could not be sure of a thing like time on this island. Did it even exist? After a while, his eyes slowly closed, and his breathing stopped. There was no such thing as pain. Anderson was slowly drifting, drifting along through nothingness. He saw his betrothed, Lana, who was breathing lightly in bed. He felt like a feather, lighter than air, and meaningless, just drifting through time and space. He felt warm breath on his neck, and felt himself being carried in the arms of sweet, gentle time. He felt himself fall slowly back to earth, like a feather caught on a breeze. He opened his eyes. He was lying underneath a large tree, which marked the border between the beach and the rainforest. He felt a gentle breeze lifting his hair. Anderson saw the prominent outline of Samantha, kneeling over him.
“Are you alright?” she asked, in her sweet, soft voice.
“I think so,” said Anderson, getting slowly to his feet. He looked at his arm, and to his enormous shock, saw that the injury inflicted by the wild dog had healed. It was no longer bleeding, and the skin covering the spot where the injury was completely smooth. He looked in a nearby pool of water, and gasped at his reflection. It was no longer unshaven and scraggly. His short, black hair was rippling in the wind, and his blue eyes glittered in the water. His face was smooth and flawless. “I just remember falling asleep, and when I woke up, I was here,” he finished.
Samantha didn’t answer. She rose, and beckoned for him to follow her. Together, they walked slowly into the forest, taking the same route they had the first time.
Samantha suddenly spoke. “I told you when you first came here that I would eventually tell you the full name of this island. It is called-” She paused, and then proceeded. “It is called the Island of Zion.”
Anderson frowned at her. “And?”
Samantha sighed. “I came here about 100 years ago. The last thing I remembered before I awoke here was I was on a ship. The ship had hit an iceberg, and it was sinking. Everybody was panicked. I got trampled into unconsciousness. Then I remembered the wonderful feeling.” Anderson looked at her sharply. Was she going where he thought she was?
“It felt like I was drifting slowly through time, like an insignificant speck of dust. When I woke up, Isabella was bending over me on this beach. She explained everything that had happened.”
Samantha looked at him sadly. “Haven’t you realized by now what this island is, what it does?” she asked softly.
“No,” said Anderson, puzzled. They had shared the same feeling, but he still didn’t understand what that meant.
“Look at it this way,” she said. “You were in a plane crash, and I was in a sinking ship. Both happened in this ocean.”
Anderson gasped. A streak of understanding had passed through him, like lightning. He understood what had happened. Samantha seemed to have noticed that he understood. “Let’s go back to the community. They will let you back in now. It is finally time for you to arrive.” Taking his hand, they walked together back to the tree houses, with Anderson wondering what would come next.
"The Eye of the Storm"
“Never,” he’d said. I watch through my bedroom window as my dad loads his suitcases and pulls out of the driveway. I watch his car turn the corner without looking back. I watch his car until it’s just a meaningless speck. And I watch until there’s nothing left. “I’ll never leave you alone.” Tears threaten to spill from my eyes, but I hold them back.
You don’t need him anymore, I tell myself. He obviously doesn’t love you. But that doesn’t stop the dull, aching pain in my heart. I drape myself over my bed and lie there, feeling sorry for myself.
That’s what he would want you to do, a random thought crosses my mind. I don’t want to give him what he wants, so I pick my sorry self off the floor and head downstairs to take Storm, my horse, on a run.
On my way out the door, my mom stops me.
“What are you doing, honey?” she says like everything’s okay. Oh yeah, your husband just left his wife and kid stranded without even saying goodbye. Everything is just peachy!
“I’m taking out Storm,” I mumble, not looking my mom in the eye.
“I’d rather you didn’t. There’s been a tornado watch for our whole county.” But I’m already out the door.
I open the barn door to find Storm whining impatiently. Storm is a beautiful black stallion with a single white star on his forehead. My Grandpa gave Storm to me a few years ago, telling me I could name him whatever I wanted. I took one look into those black, stormy eyes that looked straight into my soul and named him Storm.
Storm’s long, graceful legs make him perfect for galloping through the open fields of Fairmont, Oklahoma.
I put on Storm’s saddle and brittle and hop onto his back. As we trot down the familiar path, I hear a rumble of thunder echo in the distance. A storm was definitely coming our way, but we had plenty of time to make our usual run.
I edge Storm into a canter and we continue down the dirt track, hopping over fallen branches. The wind picks up, whipping my hair across my face, and I shiver. But the rhythmic clip clopping of Storm’s hooves against the ground is hypnotizing, and thoughts of anything else slip away.
We reach the split in the path. One path continues along our usual route along the fields, but the other ventures into the forest, completely engulfed by trees on either side. On a usual day, I would head down the field path without a second glance, but today I have this strange feeling to go the other way.
What have I got to lose?
I pull Storm to the left, headed toward the forest, but he resists, trying desperately to go the normal way.
“Come on, Storm!” I urge, and finally he relents.
We clip clop into the forest and I immediately notice the decrease in temperature. The dense strands of trees overhead filter out all but the teeniest bit of light from reaching the bottom. The ground is uneven and Storm trips at first, but soon gets the hang of the new terrain.
I edge Storm into a gallop and lean forward, loving the rush of the wind in my hair. Storm runs faster and faster and faster until we’re flying through the forest. It’s like we’re the only ones in the world, Storm and I. And all that matters is continuing forward, not knowing where our destination will be, and not really caring.
I almost don’t notice when the rain starts to fall. It’s soft mist at first, but it soon becomes hard pellets of water slamming into my skin and soaking my clothes until they become heavy lumps of fabric on my body. I finally decide to turn Storm around, and we head halfheartedly back where we came from.
The wind comes out of nowhere, almost knocking me off Storm. This wind is fierce, ripping enormous branches from tree trunks. It pushes Storm and me back into the forest, and we’re blinded by the dirt flying up from the ground. This is not your average wind. This was the start of something bigger.
Gotta get home. Gotta get home. That’s all I can think about. I push Storm forward, head down, and we slowly make our way through the blistering winds and pelting rain.
There! I finally see it, the edge of the forest. Suddenly, there’s an ear-breaking crack from the sky, and a huge bolt of lightning hits the ground just a few yards from us. Storm screams and rears up, knocking me off the saddle.
I hit the ground with a thud, and I look up just in time to see my horse running back into the forest with a look of pure terror.
“STORM! Storm, no!” I cry out deliriously. But I know it’s no use. Storm is long gone.
Crawling on my hands and knees, I make my way out of the forest. If there’s just one thing I learned from my dad, it’s that trees are the worst places to be during a thunderstorm.
At first I don’t see it. The wind slams me into the fence surrounding the fields. My shoulder aches with the hit, and I try desperately to continue my way home.
Suddenly, the wind screams a horrible scream, and I look behind my shoulder.
Even though I had lived in Oklahoma my whole life long, I had never seen one in real life before. I had stood, awestruck, in front of the T.V. watching a twister rampage through a town, leaving a path of destruction behind it. I remember thinking that was bad.
But bad doesn’t describe a spiral of air and dirt circling at 120 miles per hour. It’s picking up trees and stray farm equipment as it makes its way right toward me.
My immediate response is to keep running ahead, but I craw parallel to the winds, headed for a massive rock in the middle of the fields. The heavy blasts keep pushing me to my start position, but I will not give up. Inch by inch I continue to the boulder.
Finally, I make it to the rock where I crawl up in a little crevasse. I put my knees to my chest and listen.
“There’s been a tornado watch for our whole county,” my mom had said.
“Sorry, Mom,” I whisper.
All I can do is sit there and wait as the howling winds destroy my town, piece by piece.
One week later-
“Another high speed tornado is expected to be hitting the small town of Fairmont, Oklahoma making this a record high for-” I shut off my radio. There could be ten tornadoes headed our way for all I care.
Glancing at my watch, I realize that the school bus will be leaving in five minutes. Before heading out the door, I grab a pop tart from the kitchen cabinet and shove it in my mouth, leaving a generous amount of crumbs on the carpet. I knew my mom would have a fit. Good.
I’m about to put on my raincoat when I hear Mom saying my name.
I turn around, expecting to hear it about the crumbs.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “I know how hard this is for you.”
“No,” I shake my head, “I don’t think you do, Mom. You don’t understand what it’s like to lose two of the most important things in your life.”
“I know what it’s like to almost lose one,” she whispers.
Without responding, I leave, slamming the door behind me. I purposely avoid looking at the barn where I know Storm won’t be waiting for me.
The damage to Fairmont was actual pretty minimal. Except for a few torn roofs and turned up lawns, the tornado had decided to spare us after all. But the damage in my heart made up for it. My mom and I went out looking for Storm that night, and all we found was a saddle sitting at the edge of the forest. And my dad hadn’t bothered to even call and see if we were okay.
Once I get to the bus, I’m completely soaked through. My raincoat was sitting in the house where I left it. But what did it matter anymore?
The bus driver raises her eyebrows at the water dripping from my clothes but doesn’t say anything. I slosh to my usual seat in the back and sit down. I put my head in my hands and look out into the dreary rain.
When the bus turns the corner, I’m forced to look at Storm’s old barn. Through the drizzly rain, a black horse with a white star is standing right outside the door. I close my eyes, trying to clear my head. I was going delusional, seeing Storm everywhere.
He’s GONE, I tell myself. You need to stop holding on.
I open my eyes. The horse is still there. He turns his head, looking right at me, with black stormy eyes. Eyes that looked right into my soul.
“STOP THE BUS!” I yell. The bus driver slams on the brakes and all eyes turn to me. I rush toward the bus doors, forgetting to even grab my backpack.
“Open the doors, please!” I tell the bus driver. I expect her to tell me to sit down, but she pulls the lever, opening the doors. I swear I see her wink as I barrel down the steps.
Faster and faster I run, slipping down on the wet grass on my way to Storm. Finally I reach him, wrapping my arms around his neck and sobbing into his mane. Storm nickers and rests his head on my shoulder.
I don’t know how long I spend standing there. Minutes or maybe hours.
“Retta! Retta!” I whip my head around to see my mom running down the hill, crying.
When she reaches me, she wraps my raincoat around my shoulders and hugs me. I cry into her shoulder too.
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper.
Instead of responding, she wraps her free hand around Storm, and I do the same. And there we are: Human and horse and human, wrapped in each other’s embrace.
It’s then I realize that the two most important things in my life aren’t gone. They are right here with me.
(The prologue as the whole story would be too long.)
It was twilight. Tiheä Forest was silent and still, apart from an owl hooting somewhere. There was a chilly autumn wind blowing, and a storm seemed to be on its way. Deep in the dense trees a cavern was dug out of the bank, and it led to the homes of many foxes.
‘I’ve done it,’ cackled the black fox with an evil snarl. ‘Well done, Malicia,’ a tall, old Polar fox with a greedy look in his eyes congratulated her. ‘Rainstorm Skulk’s territory shall be ours!’
‘Yes, Alpha,’ Malicia joined in with his evil chuckles.
‘If we hadn’t such a good Spirit Fox as you the curse would never have been cast,’ continued the Alpha. ‘Rainstorm Skulk’s Spring will never be anything like you. Pathetic creature. And their confounded Alpha Male hasn’t long to live now.’
‘Willow will take over then,’ another fox pointed out.
‘Silence, Clash!’ hissed the Alpha, ‘If you value your place in this Skulk.’
‘Well, for your information, Alpha, I don’t value my place in your nasty Skulk,’ continued Clash, losing her temper. ‘I think I’d actually prefer to leave. I don’t want to be part of a Skulk who tries to kill off another just to steal their territory which is theirs by heritage! So I think I’d rather leave.’
She stormed out into the stormy night before the Alpha (who was fuming) could stop her.
‘No matter,’ he growled. ‘We shall have to whole of Rainstorm Skulk’s territory soon, we don’t need her.’
‘Too true, Alpha,’ agreed Malicia. ‘She wasn’t much help anyway. Unless she...’ the evil Spirit Fox exchanged worried glances with the Alpha.
Meanwhile Clash bounded across the wooded ground, running towards the place known as Rainstorm Territory. Her thoughts were mixed. She felt angry, rather doubtful of what she was doing, and slightly ashamed. Was she betraying the Skulk of her Ancestors? But Clash’s Inner Voice spoke up. The answer was no. Fang Skulk was not what it had once been, and Clash knew she must act for the best if it was ever to be returned to its former self. She headed slightly nervously across a fallen tree which crossed the wild, rushing river and looked around for what she knew was the Alpha Den of Rainstorm Skulk. She eventually found it and burst in. The Alpha Pair as well as the Beta Male were having a meeting.
‘Sophus,’ breathed Clash, ‘sorry about bursting in and all that, but Fang Skulk has put a curse on you.’
‘I thought you were part of Fang Skulk…?’ Willow, the Alpha Female pointed out, looking stunned at this sudden intrusion.
‘I quit,’ the dark red fox explained. ‘The curse stops you from having Kits.’
The Alphas and Beta looked blank, horrified and alarmed, if it’s possible to be all at the same time.
‘I need to go,’ Clash ended. ‘Sorry again for trespassing.’ With that she left.
‘What can we do?’ cried Willow.
‘Luckily Rose has already given birth, otherwise her Kits would probably been – been born dead,’ said Sophus.
‘Yes, Alpha,’ agreed Herb Robert, who was, of course, the Beta.
‘I may be the Alpha, but you are my Kit by marriage, and I would rather you called me Sophus,’ said the Alpha. ‘And I think we had better talk to Spring about this. She would know what to do better than I.’
‘Good idea,’ agreed Willow.
The three polar foxes got up and padded out of the den. Sophus led them through the cold into another den, where two identical tawny brown Vixens were, one sorting through herbs, the other talking to her.
‘Greetings, Spring, greetings, Sierra,’ Sophus greeted them.
‘Oh, good evening, Alphas, and Beta,’ said the one with the herbs, coming over to them. ‘What brings you here?’
‘Well,’ initiated Willow, ‘Clash, from Fang Skulk has just informed us that we are under a Magic Charm from them.’
‘What?’ chorused the twins, for that was what they were, of course.
‘And, knowing Fang Skulk, I suppose it’s bad?’ verified Sierra.
‘Absolutely,’ Herb Robert nodded grimly. ‘We can’t have Kits.’
‘How awful,’ gasped Spring, going back to her simmering herbs, which were about to boil.
‘And we were wondering if you knew how to do anything about it,’ finished Willow.
‘Hmmm,’ Spring seemed to explore the depths of her memory. ‘A sterilising curse...’ she trailed off. After what seemed like forever to the four waiting foxes, she suddenly cried out ‘I’ve got it!’
‘Yes?’ breathed Sophus, Willow, Herb Robert and Sierra all at once.
‘Good news and bad,’ proclaimed Spring. ‘Bad – we can’t do anything about it.’
There was a sigh of disappointment from around the den.
‘But I said we can’t,’ continued Spring. ‘Someone else can.’
‘Who can?’ questioned Sophus. ‘Pray go on!’
‘The Leader of the Cloud Horse Herd,’ finished Spring.
‘But he’s in the clouds,’ said Willow, disappointed.
‘There’s no way we can get to him,’ Spring agreed downheartedly. ‘So it seems there is nothing we can do.’
‘Wait,’ exclaimed Sophus. ‘I remember something I heard a long time ago, when I was just a little Kit.’
‘What is it, Father?’ asked Willow fervently.
‘That there is a way, from the utmost peak of Mount Head-In-The-Clouds, for a certain, chosen fox to enter the clouds.’
The Fall - Of Spirit and Shadow
The wind danced with the sand in the thin air of the forgotten plains. Mira stood on the crest of a high dune, proud and tall, but almost transparent with exhaustion. Thousands of years fighting the darkness can leave even the strongest of spirits without the strength to go on. With this encounter, however, Mira had something different, something she had been saving for a time such as this.
This would be the end.
Her brilliant silver eyes wandered the horizon patiently, watching as the darkness invaded the sky; shadows rippling along the sand at a breathless pace. A looming eye surrounded by a swirling darkness rose about the earth, invading the pale blue desert sky. An involuntary shiver ran down the grey heron's spine as she watched the hideous thing she created so long ago creep toward the sandy hilltop she stood upon. A chilling laugh echoed along the plains.
"Give up mother," the phantom boomed, "all is lost."
Mira shook her head, eyes never leaving the creature. "I am not the mother of one such as you," she replied, "you were born of hate and pain, and so do not belong here."
A gleeful giggle, one not fit for the ears of any sane creature, erupted from the darkness. "Oh but you are. You created me. When Zios left this world you hated him so; he left you alone didn't he?"
Mira lifted her wings high, "I was angered, but that is but an emotion. You are the embodiment of despair, and so do not belong in this land."
"And you expect to stop me, after all this time? Foolish bird."
It was the spirit's turn to laugh. "I am not finished yet dark shadow. As you said, you are part of me, and what am I but the earth?" Mira's wings began to flap at a dizzying rate as she rose, twisting and turning on the howling wind. Sand rose in a cyclone, engulfing Mira and the phantom.
"NO!" The phantom bellowed, "YOU CANNOT BIND ME!"
The spirit that was once a grey heron whirled through to sky, rising to the clouds and gently falling to earth. With one last shrill scream of rage the phantom dissipated, the shadows it was once made of raced away along the desert. The sand fell and the plains lay empty. Nothing but the gentle whisper of the wind was left on the empty landscape.
And so Mira fell, but is she gone? No, she lies within the earth. Within the sky. She is part of everything in Jamaa, just as we are a part of her. She is proud of our strength and watches over us. Perhaps you'll catch glimpses of her spirit from time to time. The shadows remain as well, but no longer strong enough to emerge on their own. They grasp at the minds of the weak and the petty, but jamaasians are always there to fight the darkness. Mira and Zios fight as well, though they reside in a place beyond sight. Sometimes we can feel them as they fight the shadows, the earth rumbles and lightning flashes. Even the earth boils over in Jamaa's highest mountains in their struggle. Mira, Zios, the shamans, and us. Those that inhabit Jamaa. We all play a part in the fight against the darkness, and we will continue. The war may never end, but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth fighting.
The End of the Beginning
The forest is beautiful at this time of the night. The stars do not shine, and the forest is veiled in darkness. Yes, it is I, Ashflower, the infamous rouge with the power of fire. Many fear me, but you do not have to be afraid, come nearer. Come into the deepest shadows… follow the glow of my eyes. Who are you? Ah, but what does it matter to me. My only friend is the howling storm. Are you of WaveClan? Well, be glad you are not. I see you stare at my fur. I know; it is charred to ashes. Every scar has a story, you know. This is the story of my life. If you let me, I will tell it to you…
My story begins in a secluded glade bathed in the silver radiance of the moonlight. There, my spirit entered the world as a newborn kit, my innocence unbroken. Through my sealed eyelids, I knew only the nighttime breeze that ruffled my silky fur, the gentle prickle of the soft grass, and the loving presence of two cats, my mother and my sister. My mother… she loved me with all her soul; I know she did. I would have met her love back, but before I could even open my eyes, I was ripped away from her. A fire ravaged the forest, its flames devouring anything in its path. Every living thing was turned to ashes in the blaze. The forest glowed with smoldering embers, and flakes of ash drifted aimlessly in the dark air like all was lost and nothing mattered. But I was lucky. I survived, because of Leafsong. She rescued me from the ashes of death, and she took me in and lifted me up to the light of silverpelt. I live because of her. That is why, whatever it takes, I shall avenge her death.
My past is but a dim memory now, my birth none but faded over. But what I do not wish to remember relentlessly haunts my mind. Leafsong named me Ashkit for my charred fur, and I grew up a proud member of Leafsong’s clan, WillowClan, and I became Ashpaw, the apprentice of my father, Goldenclaw. I believed I lived a full life, a blissful existence under the caring wings of Leafsong and her mate.
But alas, one day, the sinister clouds of fate rolled over the once peaceful sky of my life, and the spiritual sun drew in its warming rays. My adoptive father, Goldenclaw, stricken with green-cough, finally released his grip on life and drifted away from ours. I was left in the cold, to cling even tighter to Leafsong’s comforting essence. But it was then that she revealed the truth to my tear-filled eyes that she had hid all my time with her. The cats I had cherished all my life since the faded edges of my earliest memories weren’t my real mother and father. As salty tears tumbled down my furless cheeks, she told me of the blazing fire that scarred me, and of my rescue. A part of me was angry with her for lying to me of my past, but I knew deep within my heart that she would always be my mother. I suppose I had never wondered why my fur was gone and my skin was black and burnt. If I ever asked, she would have told me that it was just my way of being unique, which is not a lie. I would never know who my real mother was, for she was killed in the fire. But, as Leafsong told me, I do have a sister, and WaveClan had rescued her. I felt boxed in, like a kittypet trapped in a room of its housefolk’s nest. I could never know my mother. My sister lived in WaveClan, WillowClan’s most powerful rival. Could I ever know my true past? But it didn’t matter, I concluded. I had Leafsong. She meant the world to me, and she still does. I cried with her as we held vigil for Goldenclaw.
What happened the following night would again change the course of my life. I was roughly awakened just before midnight by the haunting sound of claw raking against flesh and the angry screeches of fighting cats. I burst out of the warriors’ den and into the moonlit camp. Cats relentlessly fought, driven by cold anger. I could see it in their eyes. Pure hatred… it scared me. Perhaps a mindless border dispute had sparked this battle… it was like a fire. The camp was nearly destroyed, and so were the hopes and dreams of many. I was lost in the midst of the battle as I searched desperately for Leafsong to see if she was all right. WaveClan warriors leapt upon me, but I pushed them away as I ran through the battlefield. I couldn’t catch even a trace of Leafsong’s sweet scent amongst the stagnate smell of the WaveClan cats. As ominous clouds blotted out the dazzling light of the moon, rain came down in icy cold torrents, chilling my body as it ran down my bare skin. The droplets turned the floor of the camp to mud. The rain hid my tears as I melted into the shadows at the edge of the camp. My eyes darted from cat to cat, and suddenly met the stare of Leafsong. Her eyes, the color of fresh spring grass, were clouded with sadness and regret. They dragged me to her, and I willingly came. She lay on the muddy ground, her fur matted and dirty. She was barely recognizable, and I could not bear to see her like she was. I curled up next to her, gently grooming her fur. Time seemed to stop around us. “Mother, I love you,” I cried, snuggling closer to her. “Don’t go!” “I… will never leave you… Ashpaw,” she crooned, stroking me weakly with her tail. “I will always… be here.” Using all the strength, she reached out her paw and touched it to my chest. I smiled, but my lips faltered and tears streamed down my cheeks. “Who did this to you?” I nearly screamed. My breath caught in my throat. “It was WaveClan... Avenge me…” she whispered. I purred to calm myself, but I still shook with anxiety. “I promise. Goodbye, mother.” I panted, tears choking me. “Goodbye… Ashflower…” she whispered, her voice barely audible. She closed her eyes and relaxed, each breath coming shorter. I smiled, knowing she would soon be somewhere better now, free of pain and sorrow. Leafsong had taught me not to believe in StarClan, but wherever she was, she would always be… here. I held my paw up to my heart feeling the invisible imprint of hers.
I did not look back, but ran as fast as I could away from the forest of all my bad memories. I did not stop if I ripped a claw on the rocky ground, or a bramble raked across my skin. I did not stop until I burst forth from the forests of WillowClan and came to a great river of calm, murky green water. The whole body of water was wider across than many Thunderpaths combined, and in the middle if its deep rippling waters was a small island covered in pine trees. It was WaveClan camp. It was perfect for the liking of the WaveClan cats, for it was nearly impossible for a WillowClan warrior to attack from the water. I cursed the island under my breath as I padded toward the waves. Tears pushed at my eyes, and my throat felt as if I had swallowed a piece of fresh-kill whole. As the weak gray light of dawn softened the night and the last raindrops fell and then ceased, I cried. I cried more than I ever had, until it felt like every last drop of water had been drained from my body. It seemed to me that I had been hit by a monster on the Thunderpath. The wind picked up, whipping the serene water into violent waves. I let the murky cold wash over me, and my tears swirled into the water. It felt to me like the whole river was of my tears. My claws flexed at the sand, and I felt it sift through my grip… like Leafsong. I had held on so tightly, yet in a night I had lost a great part of my spirit. She was not my mother, but she was. And WaveClan had taken her away from me. Her last words played over and over again in my head.
All of the sudden, all my sadness and anger were replaced with a burning thirst. I only wanted one thing: revenge. My name was Ashflower now, and I had a mission. The last tears dried from my cheeks, and I smiled as I imagined the whole river catching afire. Suddenly, I was blinded by a mixture of smoke and steam, and blasted backward by a wall of immense heat. When I the smoldering haze cleared, I stared wide-eyed at the river. Its once glassy water that dimly reflected the sky and clouds had transformed into a steadily burning sea of pure fire. I gasped as I beheld what my own thoughts had created. Was I really that powerful? I wondered. All of the sudden, I heard a great roll of thunder rumble right above me, like the roar of a ferocious lion. It echoed in the distant mountains and shook the earth under my paws, putting out the river of fire. I trembled in the sheer awe of the mighty storm. I lifted my head up to the sky, and I saw that the clouds were glowing an eerie azure. They started to slowly swirl together like a peaceful typhoon, and as I stared into the eye of the storm, it was like I was in a trance. Without knowing what I was doing, my tongue formed words. In them, I heard the ancient echo of a thousand cats’ voices, all together in harmony saying this: “Fire and Ice will reunite, merge Tree and Water together, defeat the shadows of the Night and lock them up forever…” Then the clouds and thunder were gone, and I was left alone on the sandy beach of the river, which now was nothing but a dry gouge in the ground, like the useless tread mark of a monster’s paw in the mud. The echo of the words I was unconsciously compelled to say remained in my mind, like a paw print forever preserved in stone. Leafsong’s gentle touch… her paw to my heart. I smiled as I remembered her serenade purr. Had I heard her voice amid the others? It was a prophecy, I realized, and it was mine.
I became a from form the moment I ran away from the territories of WillowClan, but I keep my name because Leafsong gave it to me. I use my unusual powers of fire to avenge my mother as I swore to her before she died, by attacking WaveClan without mercy. I know I must follow the prophecy, but my thirst for revenge is too powerful to ignore. I concluded that Fire represents me, but who is Ice? Something whispers to me that she is my sister, but if Leafsong was right and WaveClan rescued her, does that mean she could responsible for my mother’s death? I know that Tree and Water are WillowClan and WaveClan, but if I loathe the WaveClan cats, then how can I possibly bring myself to help unite that filthy clan with the clan of my mother? I can never possibly avenge Leafsong completely; her soul is worth more than all of WaveClan. So I must fulfill as much as my physical body will let me until I can no longer carry out my promised duty of revenge, and I will join Leafsong, wherever she is, and she will know that her death was not in vain. But if I do not fulfill the prophecy, then could the forest be doomed when the ‘shadows of the Night’ aren’t defeated? As you can see, I am a very troubled cat. It is not my fault. I am not evil, as most cats assume, but my past has scarred my life more than can be healed. Now, the golden light of dawn softens the dark night. Go home, young one, and take what I have shown you. Learn from your past and shape your future. As for me, it may or may not be too late…
The Earth is the only planet in which life is known to exist. Life is an extraordinary gift which has been given to us, and we must not waste it nor make a bad use of it. Over the centuries, people have tended to give this miracle religious explanations, assuming there is a being superior to us all. In every way we try to please them, and over our history, other cultures have disagreed, imposing new gods and goddesses, but we have always remained loyal, defending our religions occasionally with our lives, never betraying that being above us all.
Why? One of the questions that we ask every day. To relatives, to teachers, to defenders of other religions, but above all, to ourselves. That´s why people, over the great web of life which forms our history, have tried to uncover the mysteries of our universe. All we want is answers.
But although I respect people who flow in religious rivers, I personally don´t need answers. I think life is like a river with a low current, all you have to do is get into it and let it carry you to wherever it needs to with it gentle waves. A river flows to a certain place, it´s like a quest to get to wherever it needs to, and sometime all the rivers will join together, creating something big and strong that roars by, while plants and life blossom along its banks, and eventually reach the sea.
But unfortunately, not all rivers are equal. Some don´t carry enough water, while others flood too often. Some rivers flow through fertile lands while others squirm with difficulty along dry deserts. Some rivers smoothly and easily join with others, while others find it harder to get together and relate with others. We must all be grateful for what our river offers, and if we can flow into other rivers to help people who are less lucky than us, we must do it. And even though every person is original, unique, irreplaceable and unrepeatable, we must try to reach equality between the rivers they flow in.
This story is about how different rivers try to flow for their objectives, and how they try to contribute to reaching the sea.
One well known river´s source was in a village in a country called Terai. (Now Nepal.) So that´s were this river started its journey. The father of this river, the king, didn´t want him to suffer the unfairness and harshness of the world, so he decided to keep him inside his palace, living a prince´s life full of luxury. But after twenty nine years of flowing, he decided we wanted to see the world outside the palace. His father agreed, so this river flowed outside the palace and was shocked at the view. There were beggars, poor people, illnesses, unhappiness and death. So the river decided the palace was not were he wanted to flow, so he tried to find the light, and for the rest of his life he lived in harmony with nature, meditating about the world around him and flowing a peaceful, simple and happy life. That river stopped flowing long ago, but when you meditate, you can still hear him running by.
The second river´s source was in Bethlehem. This river flowed trying to help and join with other rivers. He performed many miracles, and cured many people. He also taught everyone about his Heavenly father and what he wanted, trying to teach us about how He wanted us to live. But this river ended up joining a lot others and became quite popular. That annoyed some priests, who tried to make him stop flowing. After thirty three years since its birth, it stopped flowing. But the next day, due to a miracle, it flowed again for then stopping again. This river wanted human suffering to stop, and scarified himself so his Father forgives us.
These two rivers are very basic examples of flowing for what we want, and how any river can do it if they try hard enough. There is a story beyond each river, and you must make your river carry you were you wanr.
Life is like a river, you must let it carry you, guided by instinct, and one day your life´s energy will join up with another and you will cooperate, and one day we will join up to create something big and innovative, to eventually reach the sea, a perfect balance where the earth will be at peace, with all life forms living and dying, cooperating, bringing love and despair, smiles and tears.
But if your river gets too dry, floods, roars before the moment has come or flows into a marshland, you must keep calm and try and control it, get it back in its channel. When their river goes out of control, some people just leave it. You must never leave your river, but if you don´t like the river you´re wading in, you must change it and slowly make it flow to your destiny, the destiny you have chosen.
Midnight stars shivered across the sky as I sat there on the ice, staring at each little pinwheel that glittered in the darkness. Tonight it was still, but tomorrow would never be the same. I hugged my arms around my knees, trying to shelter myself against the cold, chilly winds that blew against my bare arms. Quietly, I listened to the faint hum of life that stirred within the darkness. The stillness of a night is what soothed me the most.
I glanced up at the sky again, breathing chilly puffs of air that drifted lazily across the sky. A silver sheen of ice was swept beneath me, and it felt like I was sitting on a glowing transfiguration of the moon.
We’d been living this far up North for as long as I could remember; my mother, father and I. In a way, I’ve been living in a dream, a world that clung to me like a dark shadow. Out of all of the places we could’ve gone, I would have never wanted to live HERE, but it was the only way to escape. Our old world had never been safe, and now it was destroyed. I solemnly continued working my mind around these thoughts, gasping as the stars twinkled brilliantly throughout the sky.
I can almost hear them saying hello… I thought, and then I smiled, waving back at those stars. They flew, cherished at my response. As I relaxed my shoulders, I breathed in the silence, sighing in relief. At least this place could be magical.
I laid there for a little while longer.
After a few more minutes, a brilliant flash of light struck through the sky. Startled, I stared into the distance to see a huge golden eagle flying high above the stars, his wings spread gallantly. He gently flapped his wings, smoothly gliding them into a quick land before me. I saw that he was at least two times my size, which was abnormal for an eagle. After he landed, a sheen of his golden feathers fluttered down to the ice, one of them gently brushing against my chin. The eagle, in turn, bowed his head to gaze at me, one golden eye staring at me unblinkingly.
“Who are you?” I asked, and the eagle chuckled softly.
“I am from somewhere high above. I know that you are discontented with your life, little one, but there is a place where you can be happy, even if it’s just for a moment. Would you care to join me?” the eagle’s pure, clear voice sang through my heart, and I knew at once that he was sincere.
“Join you? Where?” I asked, not of suspicion, but of curiosity.
“You will see. Hop on my back.”
I did as told, surprised to feel how soft his feathers were. The eagle smoothly readied his wings, and then quickly took off, soaring high up into the skies I laughed in delight, chilly tendrils of the wind brushing along my arms. The exhilaration of this moment was priceless, and I laughed again, kissing the winds that swept along my face. I felt my heart surge in this new kind of freedom, and I dared my eyes to look down. A vast, white and snowy landscape spread below me, blurred with snowy-capped mountains. The sky warped into a dark crimson as we flew on, and the winds whispered softly by my ear. I felt perfectly content, even as the sky grew darker.
“Little one, look up,” the eagle rumbled, and I did.
I was amazed.
A flurry of colors were spread high across the sky, emitting strange hues of green, gold, and violet. I felt as if I could touch them, they were that near. The lights glowed comfortingly around us, blocking out the ominous darkness of the night. They swirled around the sky, streaking the stars in colors that I had never seen before.
“Those ar e called the Northern Lights. Lovely, aren’t they?” the eagle asked, and I nodded in response. I continued to watch the lights in awe, completely mesmerized by them. It felt as if they were my only safety, the warmth of their colors wrapping around me like a soft cocoon.
“Thank you for showing me this,” I said, and the eagle laughed. He didn’t say anything, but I could see the twinkle in his eyes.
And there, in the darkness, we drifted with the lights. There was no need for us to speak to each other, our minds were already connected. After a few more minutes of quiet, all we had to do was look at those whispering stars, and the silence was forgiven.
9:30. Friday November 27 2049
I sigh and power off my Tab, before carefully placing the sleek electronic device in my back pack. It’s late, and I have to get home before the curfew. I choke down the last drops of my bitter coffee and heft my bag onto my back.
“Have a good night,” the young barista calls.
I turn around just as I’m opening the door. “You, too. Have some rest; you shouldn’t be working so late.”
He scoffs and sets down the cup he was polishing. “Neither should you. Good night. Oh, your file says that you’ve reached your nutrition standard for the day.”
I nod and leave, heading for the tram platform. They’re training nutritionists at younger ages nowadays. It is a decent occupation, though. But I was determined to be a writer when I took the occupation exam in 9th grade. The cold November air dances around me in a chilling waltz, making me shiver and wish that I had worn a thicker coat. I stand there quietly, shifting my weight back and forth from my right to my left leg. There are some men and women in suits, busy on their cells, and a few boldly dressed teenagers laughing together at a joke known only to them.
A boy, around my age, lies on a metal bench, his eyes shut tight. He hugs a bag to his chest as he sleeps, and his black and blue highlighted hair looks like it had been hit by hurricane. I reach up subconsciously and brush my blond hair out of my eyes, remembering that I needed to get a haircut. A distant memory tells me that I have seen him somewhere; however, I choose to ignore it. A lot of people dye their hair. I can already hear the soft trundling of the tram on the airway, and I glance at the sleeping boy. He’s probably riding this tram, too. I bite my lip hesitantly, and inch over towards him.
Hoping with all my heart that I wasn’t wrong, I softly poke his shoulder with a shaking hand. His eyes open slowly and he looks at me silently. It was the kind of glare a son would give his mom when she wakes him up for school. Just as the tram slides to a stop behind me, I blurt out, “The tram’s here. Are you riding on it?”
He yawns and stands up, grabbing his bag. “Yeah; thanks for waking me.” He stands behind me as we wait in line to board the tram. His head droops every few seconds, and I almost want to laugh at his childishness.
I press my ID card against the scanner, and the light glows green as the doors slide open for me. I sit down, and hold my bag in my lap. The coffee wasn’t very strong, and I can feel exhaustion setting in. The black haired boy sits next to me, and I resist the urge to look at him, instead focusing on the calming music of the city night. The cars and late night bands create a melody that hums in my ear, urging me to sleep. I remove my glasses and rub my eyes; I don’t want to miss my stop.
A massive television drones out its nightly report. “The Security Force has rounded up yet another gang of Felons, and is continuing to keep this illegal activity under control. Peace is priority.”
The smoke and pollution is lowest at night, making the black sky clear and star dotted. The tram runs along the airway, blurring the outside world into a never ending painting of infinite colors. As a child I used to be terrified of the tram, afraid that the two rails holding the large tram in the air could suddenly collapse and send its passengers to their doom. I soon learned that the chance of there being a tram accident is miniscule. After all, the Society’s motto is ‘Peace is priority’. It’s a rather boring and run-of-the-mill motto if you ask me, but it’s carried the citizens of the New World a long way away from the hectic times of the past.
I rest my head against my bag and mentally check my schedule. I have an article due on Monday, and if the publishers approve of it, then I can get a part time job as a writer on their magazine. Not my dream job, but it’s a pretty nice start for a college student like me. It’s the kind of job my teachers have been encouraging me to get.
The tram slows to a stop and the intercom beeps on. A woman’s voice chirps, “Saphyr City University- Dorm Building 01!”
I walk down the descending platform towards the main entrance and I hear soft footsteps behind me. It’s the black haired boy. Unease gnaws at my gut but I brush it away. He’s just a student, like me. I press my ID card against the scanner and the doors swing open with a happy chime. The common room feels warm and comforting from the cold night, and it’s colored with different shades of blue to represent the university.
As I head to my room on the second floor, the black haired boy continues to walk behind me. He stares at everything around him with an intense gaze, as if he’s soaking it all in and recording it. What does he want? Why is this kid following me? What if he’s a Felon? I frown in nervousness and irritation. Just as I’m a few steps from my door, I stop in my tracks and turn to face the boy. I feel my blood rushing and my temper gets loose.
Despite the fact that he’s a few centimeters taller, I grab his hand and twist it behind his back, slamming him against the wall.
“What do you want?” I growl with undisguised malice.
The boy squirms under my grip. “Calm down. I’m not a felon if that’s what you’re thinking- I’m your new roommate!”
I let go of him in surprise. “What? Oh…” I clumsily fish my Tab out of my bag and flip through the different e-Documents. I find the one that was sent to me by an administrator a few days ago. Below the words “Saphyr City University Student Registration” is a picture of the boy with a crooked, small smile on his thin lips. I skim through the e-Document hastily.
First Name: Jin
Last Name: Yifan
Major: Photography Journalism
Dorm: Unit 258
My room. Jin looks at me with a triumphant smirk on his face that screams ‘I told you so’. “Let me formally introduce myself. My name is Jin Yifan; first year photography journalism major.”
I hold my hand out sheepishly. “Sorry. I forgot that I was getting a roommate. I’m Soren Finley; journalism major. This is my second year.”
Jin studies me with his piercing dark eyes and shakes my hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Soren. I’m looking forward to rooming with you.”
As I look back at him, I can’t help but feel a chill run down my spine.
Despite the initial awkwardness and unfamiliarity, Jin and I get along well enough. Jin has no intention of becoming best friends with me, and keeps his conversations with me quick and curt. He spends most of his time studying or watching something on his Tab. At first, I tried inquiring about it, but he would conveniently ignore me and turn up the volume on his headphones.
Today, it’s the same routine as always. We’ve both finished our classes and Jin is currently lounging on his bed, munching on a sugar-free chocolate bar as he watches his Tab. Some nights, he’ll go out, saying that he’s just taking a stroll, but he decided to stay tonight. I put my book away and turn around in my chair to face Jin. I’m bored out of my mind, but I don’t want to go outside without a companion tonight. Anyways, I need to get to know Jin better. He glances up at me briefly before looking back at his Tab.
“Ehm.” I cough. I walk over to him and prod his shoulder roughly. “Jin. Jin. Jin.”
He pulls his headphones off in annoyance. I notice that they’re an old model, not one of the newer, sleeker types in stores. “What, Soren?” he groans.
I shrug halfheartedly. “I thought we could go out for dinner tonight. Or perhaps take a stroll. You know, since we just finished the semester tests. And it might snow tonight. So, do you want to-“
I glare at him in frustration. “You’re my roommate! We’re supposed to hang out. You know, go to the theater, to the park.”
He meets my gaze, irritation flashing in his eyes. “And do what? Watch those stupid movies about how great and peaceful society is? Eat the amount of calories they designate for us to eat each day? The Society controls everything. Stop dreaming and thinking that you’re free because you’re not! Stop eating up the lies they feed you!”
I step back; the sudden turn in the conversation surprises me. “What?”
Jin’s eyes widen and he mutters something under his breath. “Nothing. Forget it. Just leave-“
I furiously stare at Jin, disbelief and fear clashing together in my head. “No! Society tells us what to do for our own good. We are free! We live in peace!”
Jin abruptly stands up and dumps his Tab and some other stuff in his bag. “I’m going outside,” he murmurs, eyes cast at the ground. With those words, he turns and walks out of our room, leaving me in a frightening state of confusion.
I slump onto my bed. I haven’t been this scared since I was child, and even then I was mature enough to suppress my emotions. Society teaches us that panic and fear are our worst enemies, that long ago those two things are what drove the people insane. No one would trust other people, and you would always have to watch your back. It was a free for all, a sort of silent war, and people only cared about winning.
I try to piece together what Jin said. However, nothing matches; it’s all so different and completely goes against how I feel and think. I lie down and turn on my side, willing myself to go to sleep. Maybe I’ll be able to forget about it; Jin was just angry, that’s all.
But in Society, anger is another emotion you should avoid.
“New e-Document message,” my Tab beeps and causes me to look up from my writing.
It’s been two days since Jin stormed out, and I can’t help but hope that it’s about him. I hurriedly open the e-Document. It’s from a school administrator. I read through it and relief and frustration pummel me at the same time.
“We are sorry to inform you that your roommate, Mr. Jin Yifan, has chosen to leave Saphyr City University for his own reasons.”
I sigh deeply and close the e-Document. So that’s where Jin went. I glance around the room; strangely, he didn’t come back to pick up a lot of his things. My Tab beeps again and I look at it curiously. I’ve received another e-Document. Suddenly, a strange feeling washes over me, like I shouldn’t be receiving it. I open the e-Document, surprised and scared that it’s not from an official or administrator. Only they have the permission to send e-Documents to people- I can’t send even send an e-Document to my friends.
“Help me. Scarlet River. Now.
It doesn’t list a sender address. I stare at the words in shock. JY could only stand for one person I know.
JY. Jin Yifan.
I run down the street, wrapping my coat around me tightly, and clutching my Tab to my chest. My shoes slap against the pavement, and a few people yell at me to slow down. It’s against the rules to run in public, but it’s weird that I could care less. Forget the rules, I need to find Jin.
Jin’s letter had mysteriously disappeared from my Tab without a trace, and it wasn’t even a question that I needed to help my roommate. How did he send an e-Document to my Tab? I have no idea. But I’m going to find out.
The Scarlet River is an old winding trail of water at the outskirts of the city. Long ago, a factory used to operate next to it, but then broke down. Metal from the factory was dumped into the river, and it rusted over time, staining the water red; hence the name Scarlet River.
I come to a stop next to the bank of the river, my chest heaving.
I turn around at the voice. Jin is slouched under a tree, between some bushes, its shadows shielding him. I come closer and crouch down. He looks awful and bruised, like a broken toy. Jin’s usually intense, focused eyes are swollen and bloodshot.
“Oh no… What happened to you?” I stare at him in shock.
“I was taken into custody by the police,” he breathed. “And I escaped. Any more questions?”
I help into a better position and sit across from him. “Why were you arrested? They told me you dropped out of school!” I still can’t believe my eyes. The Society and administrators never lie.
“Soren, I’m going to give you information that is considered classified by Society,” Jin murmurs, “I trust you, and in return I want you to stay calm and listen.”
I nod feverishly.
“I’m an Anomaly.”
I gasp and open my mouth to say something but he shushes me.
“I know, I know, they’re supposed to be myths, legends, whatever. But they’re not.” Jin pauses, searches my face for any reaction, and then continues. “My parents were biologists and chemists. Back when Society wasn’t a complete dictator of our lives, they worked with Society to formulate medicines. One day, they were offered a new project- Operation New Gene. The purpose was to create a new kind of human that would survive if the world would ever go into disaster. My parents refused, they didn’t want to be injecting people with a chance of the formula failing. But their superiors wouldn’t have that. After that, my parents disappeared one day when I was 5; they’re probably dead.” Jin’s eyes look hollow and endless and he inhales deeply.
“I was taken up, told that my parents had left me, and brought to a lab. I met others there. We were injected, poked, and prodded at, every single day. They… changed us. We had to get out of there. It’s a bit complicated to explain, but somehow, I escaped. I was supposed to go looking for you.”
Jin looks directly at me, and a new fire burns in his eyes. “Soren, you have to help me get the others out. I don’t have time to explain it all, you have to trust me. You have to help the other mutants, the Anomalies. Soon, they’ll be successful, and the world will be turned upside down. The Anomalies weren’t going to be used as disaster survivors, but as war machines, Soren. Please help me.”
I shake my head. I feel so confused and scared. Jin is wrong. This is all wrong. I should be at my dorm or with friends, not listening to Jin talk about mutants and secret organizations. Jin grabs my shoulders. “Soren, you help me, and I tell you what happened to your parents.”
I stare at him, and my eyes sting. They feel watery and a hard lump forms in my throat. “No. My parents died in a car accident.”
“No, Soren, they didn’t. They’re not even dead. And is you help me, I can take you to them.”
So many unbelievable things have happened today; what’s the difference if you add my parents supposedly being alive to the list? I’m already too deep in this dark pit of secrets. I can’t back out now. I would expect to be scared, terrified, and confused, but now I feel a sense of adrenaline and excitement. So this is what breaking the rules feels like. I look back into Jin’s eyes solemnly. “You pulled me into this; you better pull me back out. Tell me what I need to do.”
His lips curve into a small smile, and beneath all the seriousness, his black, bruised eyes, and his shaggy hair, I see a child. A child who’s childhood was stolen from him and he needs my help. “Okay, then,” he says, “Listen carefully.”
A halls and floor are a pristine white that hurts my eyes. I tug at my white coat, adjusting the sleeves just a bit, and readjust the tiny circular object in my ear. Jin told me that it was made out of a metal free carbon material, and that the security wouldn’t be able to detect it. A few other people in white coats and shiny shoes stroll by and I lower my gaze to the floor, careful not to make eye contact. A door adorned with the logo ‘Gaia Medicines and Sciences for Society’ slides open as I hold up my fake ID card to the scanner.
“Remember, Soren, turn right past the main desk to the elevators,” Jin’s voice sounds in my ear, “Scan your card, then press Ground Level 0. It will ask for an eye and fingerprint scan. Dante should have equipped you with a little cover for your finger and contact lenses.”
I recall the man Jin had brought me to after we talked by the Scarlet River. It turns out that Jin isn’t the only escaped Anomaly. Dante was a rather intimidating, big man, but he and Jin were ready to suit me up with all the equipment that I would need. I remember asking him so many questions.
“How did you send me an e-Document?”
“Just a little bit of hacking and tech work.”
“Why can’t you do that to infiltrate the operation base? Or even better, why can’t you do it?”
“Their security is pretty tough to get by, and I don’t have the right resources. I don’t blend in as well, and they’re going to recognize me or Dante. Now hurry up and dye your hair!”
I finish doing all the scans in the elevator, and I feel it plunging down, deep into the ground. The doors slide open, and two men are there to greet me. They’re armed to the teeth, and my heart starts to race.
“Stay calm, Soren.”
I take in a lungful of air and step out of the lift. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. I’m just here to check on the experiment subjects and make sure all of the statistics are stable.” I hand them my ID card and back pack.The man on my left looks through my bag and pulls out the two electric rods that Jin gave me. With a touch of my finger, they would activate and turn my body heat into electricity, and Jin gave them to me in case of trouble. My heart plummets into my stomach and I force myself not to scream.
“What’s this?” he asks.
I flip my newly dyed chestnut hair out of my eyes casually. “Oh, those are just a treat for the subjects whenever they misbehave. Just to get them back in line,” I quickly improvise. The man nods in understanding and puts them
back in the bag. He takes out a small case that I remember is full of energy replenishing nutrition tablets for the Anomalies. I lick my dry lips nervously.
I huff and scratch the back of my head in fake embarrassment. “Oh. Oh, this is so awkward… but um… that’s medicine for my…” I lean in closer, to the guard’s ear, and he stiffens.
“It’s for my diarrhea,” I whisper seriously.
His eyebrow twitches and he carefully puts the case back into my bag. “Okay, you’re free to go, Professor Rawkins.” I thank him and continue down the hallway.
“Nice one,” Jin snickers in my ear, “I hope your diarrhea gets better.”
I smile and keep walking until I find the doors I’m looking for: Subject Containment. I have to do a series of security scans before they slide open. Horrible sounds flood over me as soon as I enter. Screams echo behind closed doors, and machines whir and glow. Through large glass windows, I can see people of varying ages being hooked up to machines and tubes. Some have strange hair, or unusually large muscles. It’s a nightmare.
I take my ID card out, and steady my breathing as I stop in front of one door. There are small holes in the vertex where the wall and ceiling connect, and I gaze at them carefully and see the glass panels inside of them. Cameras. Society is always watching; like how a hawk watches its prey.
“Are you in the Subject Containment wing?” Jin murmurs.
I can barely hear my own voice. “Yes.”
“Now go make some chaos,” Jin giggles hysterically.
I can’t help but laugh. One day I’m a college student worried about his upcoming test, and now I’m breaking into a government base to help some mutants. Life is wonderful.
I turn around and swipe my card through the scanner and step into a lab as I take out my electrical rods. They recognize my fingerprint and buzz to life. Blue electricity coils around them like a venomous snake. Doctors turn around in shock and stare at me with huge eyes. They’re scared of me. I falter, and instead of attacking the doctors like I had planned, I slam the electric rods into the manual fire alarm, hitting every button I can see. Things are breaking and shattering around me, like a huge chaotic orchestra. I go wild, unleashing all I’ve got. The Anomalies’ bonds break and they cheer.
They run out of the room, ripping wires and cables off of their bodies. A man stops in front of me, and gazes at me with unnaturally green eyes. “Thank you so much. Please free the others, we know what to do.”
I smile at him and hand him the container of nutrition tablets. “Give these to the others, too. How long have you been planning this?”
“For the past few years. But we needed you to put it all together.”
“Me? Why me?”
“Because only you will be able to stop your father.” With those words he runs away with the others, taking down the guards and doctors.
The sprinkles whir on and drench me in cold water, reminding me that I had a job to do. I grab my electric rods and continue breaking through doors and alarms. There are people everywhere and I push through the mob desperately. I run down the hallway, which no longer looks pristine and bright, but like a battered warzone.
“Soren, go to the chemical storage and just flood it!” Jin yells.
I pause, and breathe heavily. A doctor is crouched on the ground, whimpering in fear. “Please, please, don’t hurt me! I j- just research! Stop hurting us, you monster!”
I stare at him. “I’m not the bad guy here. Who is heading this?”
He just cries in response and curls into a ball. Blood pounds in my ears and I strike him with a rod. It leaves a scorching mark against his body and he wails in agony.
“WHO IS YOUR BOSS? WHO IS TELLING YOU TO DO THIS?” I scream furiously.
“D- Darren!! Darren Finley!” he sobs.
I step back and collapse against the wall. “What? Dad?”
“He’s the one who started all this,” the doctor whispers before passing out.
I close my eyes and inhale deeply, my nostrils flaring. I need to know. I need to know what side I supposed to be on. I need to find my parents. I’m tired of being lied to and deceived.
“Soren! Soren, are you there? Get to the chemicals!” Jin screams.
I growl and pull the earpiece out of my ear and place it against my lips. “Oh, shut it, Jin,” I hiss and throw it into the water.
I run down the maze of halls, finally coming across the stairs. I turn around and see Security Force officers running through the halls, fighting against the Anomalies and failing. “There he is!” a man yells and points directly at me. His visor is black and glossy, and I can see my reflection in it. I look like a psychopath, with hair askew and rods ablaze.
“STAY BACK!” I screech at the top of my lungs, and I start climbing the stairs. I run and run, the officers close on my heels. A sharp cut of pain bursts in my shoulder, and I press my hand against it. It’s wet and red with scarlet blood. My legs scream with pain and I can barely hold myself up but I push myself onward. The officers fire at me with cannons of electricity, and the booms and cracks echo through the stairwell. My vision starts to blur and I see black dots across my eyes. The cheers and roars of the Anomalies come closer and soon they’re on top of the officers, taking them down one at a time. “Go, Soren!” one calls.
I find a door labeled ‘Head Office’ and swipe my card through the scanner. “Access denied,” it chirps over and over.
I glare up at a camera positioned above the door. “OPEN UP! OPEN UP, DAD!” I scream.
The metal door swings open and I step through. Everything is quiet, and it gives me a chance to relax. I wipe some blood off my lip, and pull of my white coat. My breath comes out in ragged huffs, and my heart feels like it’s going to jump out of my chest. This hallway is decorated with a baby blue carpet, and the Society’s logo is emblazoned on it in gold letters along with ‘Peace Is Priority’.
I drag my rod against the carpet and cross out the letters, making smoke rise from it. “What peace?” I mutter.
A set of glass doors stand elegantly at the end of the hallway, and I gently press them open. It’s a well decorated office, with glass windows overlooking the city lining one wall and a carefully carved wood desk and throne-like chair in the center. It’s a gorgeous site to see, as nowadays wood is hardly ever used.
“It was made it in 1973. Isn’t it beautiful?
I turn up my rods to their highest capacity and slowly turn around. “Yeah, it’s nice.”
I can’t help but feel a mixture of emotions when I see the man behind me. It’s like I’m gazing at a mirror, but it’s showing me an older version myself- blue eyes, blonde hair, sharp jaw and a tall, lithe body.
“Why?” I whisper.
My father shrugs at me and pushes his black rimmed glasses up his nose. “Why what?”
“Why did you leave me? Why are you doing this to those people? You’re hurting them! THAT’S WHAT, YOU JERK!” I throw a crackling rod at him but he deftly dodges out of the way.
“Having a child would slow down the operation. I couldn’t let a single child stop me from working hard at the greatest thing that’s ever happened to mankind. I’m doing this for the survival of our countries. Even with this war savaged world, there’s still land out there, across the globe. All we have to do, of course, is claim it. But with regular weapons, the land would be ruined. So we resorted to the most intelligent, yet trainable and teachable creature out there. Humans. These… Anomalies… can fight by hand without the use destructive weapons. They have increased speed, stamina, and intelligence, without any of the burdensome emotions, for example, guilt or sympathy.”
He throws his head back and laughs, raising his arms. “I’m doing something revolutionary, son,” he stop and glares at me, anger raging in his eyes. “Do you know what you have done? You’ve just unleashed a batch of the most unstable, powerful humans into the city. Just because you felt oh-so sorry for them.” He claps sarcastically. “Bravo, kid.”
“No,” I snarl, “They’re not brainless monsters like you think they are. And I’m not your son.”
He rolls his eyes and waves his hand at me. “Whatever. The operation will continue. I will become king of the world. I can bring true peace to Society.”
I raise my one remaining rod and step forward. “And do what? Control everyone’s lives? Turn them into sheep? These people don’t even know what the world was like before the Great Wars! And it was probably a lot better than now!”
The whirring sound of a heli-plane comes up against the wide, clear windows. The shiny plane hovers quietly and I see Jin hanging onto it. “SOREN!” he screams.
The man in front of me laughs again. “You think I’ll just let you leave?”
“No,” I reply, “That’s why I’m doing this!” I step closer and place the rod against his neck and spin him around, twisting his arm. He cries out in pain.
I turn us around together and shove him against the windows, slamming his against it over and over until they shatter into a million pieces. I take one last look into my father’s eyes. He’s scared and worried, but I didn’t care at all. “Goodbye,” I hiss and hold him over the edge, high above the ground. The fabric of his suit slips through my hands before I even realize it. He flails and grabs onto a ledge, clinging onto it for dear life.
“JIN!” I scream worriedly, reaching out, “HELP ME!”
“JUMP!” he yells back. “I’LL CATCH YOU! I PROMISE SOREN!” The heli-plane comes closer, but it’s still so far away.
“I can’t! You have to jump, I’ll catch you!”
I close my eyes and steady myself. The glass crunches beneath my feet, and ground looks miles away. “JIN!” I yell and step back several steps, before running forward, reaching for Jin’s pale, long hands. I leap forward with all the strength that I have left and it feels like I’m going to fall to a painful death and suddenly Jin is too far away. I reach forward as I sail through the air, stretching my body. “JIIIN!” My hands are in his, and he wraps his hands around my arms tightly. I’m precariously dangling off the side of the heli-plane and my shot arm feels like it’s going to be pulled off, but Jin pulls me up safely onboard.
I look back, and see my father standing on the ledge. He watches me for a split second, and then turns away. I choke back a sob; I never expected this to happen. I didn’t want my father to be a monster.
“I got you, diarrhea boy,” Jin laughs and rubs my back comfortingly. He spots my wounded shoulder and grabs a first aid kit, quickly going to work to patch me up. Dante sits in the pilot’s seat and he turns around to give me a thumbs-up.
I sigh and lie down. “So, what’s going to happen to the Anomalies? What are we going to do?”
“The others are going to take over the tower and make sure all the chemicals are destroyed. Next week we’ll be doing a march to the main Society building in the center of the city, and negotiate with the leaders here and expose all the nasty little secrets. We’re starting a revolution, Soren!” he finishes bandaging my shoulder and wipes my face down with a warm towel. “Thanks for helping us,” he adds, “I’m sorry about your dad being a… well, a maniac.
I smile at Jin’s enthusiasm and close my eyes. “You’re welcome. But I know I’m the one who can take him down. I’m like him, but I’m choosing the right side.”
Jin lies down next to me on the hard floor. “Dante’s taking us to a place on the outskirts of the city. The Security Force won’t come after us there, hopefully. It’s off limits. But if they do, we’ll be ready. It’s nice and full of trees, really relaxing. There’s a little hut and I’ve been there once and I saw a deer and it ran away….”
Jin rambles on quietly as the heli-plane soars through the sky, and I finally feel calm. It’s just the beginning. I don’t know what’s coming, but I know that it’ll be exciting. It might be tough but I’m going to take my father down no matter what. I’m going to help my people, even if my life is going to completely change.
Anyways, what's life without a little adventure?
Sooo...congratulations Jammers of Jamaa! :3
I'll send you the prizes tomorrow, as I can't get on Animal Jam at this precise moment in time.
Please remind me if I happen to forget you!
Oh, and I suppose, AllRiseSilver, you're wondering what the mystery part of your prizes is? :3
3 Month Animal Jam Membership!
If you don't want to use it, you can give it to someone else, of course!
But before I can give you the code, I need your parent/guardian to email me their permission (sorry...).
As soon as I get the email, I'll give you the code :)
Well, bye for now! ^.^