The Many Worlds of EzloSpirit: The ZU Collection of Short Stories by EzloSpirit
I started writing fiction when I was 9 or 10. I started seriously writing fiction when I was 12. I started writing short stories when I was 13. I'm now 18. I've come a long way.
This thread serves as a collection of the short stories I've written over the years. Each story has its own separate post, and they are posted in order of creation, not necessarily release. I decided to do it this way just now, so as to better exemplify how my writing has evolved over the years. (Please bear in mind that not all of the short stories I have written can be found here. A few are considered exclusive to other sites, and others I have not yet published to ZU. For a full list of short stories and links to each one, check out the Master List at my writing blog.)
My short stories tend to be science fiction more than anything else, but there is also a bunch of fantasy, some comedy, a bit of tragedy, some horror, and even a folktale. There is also a huge variety of target ages. If you are a younger reader (or a squeamish reader), please pay attention to the ratings found at the top of each story post.
Now, open your mind. Prepare yourself for the many journeys and worlds that lie ahead. We begin our travels high in the sky, where a city made out of clouds awaits us. We begin with my first-ever short story, "The City in the Clouds."
The Many Worlds of EzloSpirit Warp Station (table of contents):
(Not available on ZU: "Chosen Ones" [December 2008] & "The Blind Man Who Could See" [October 2010])
Auditory people (or anyone who likes audiobooks): I've recorded some audio versions of my stories! If you want the full collection (does not include "Star Crash," "Duck Season," or "The Mirrors are Plotting" and does include "Chosen Ones" and "The Blind Man Who Could See"), click here to download it! It's free!
UPDATE (10/28/2011): All of my short stories up until now (ever on ZU) are now in this thread. As such, I am now permitting (and welcoming) any and all feedback (praise and/or constructive criticism. No flaming, obviously) for any or all of my stories. The best part of this thread is that, because it will be updated every month or so (hopefully), people can react to my oldest stories whenever they wish (or not) without necroposting. Also, from now on, NEW stories will ONLY be posted IN THIS THREAD. As for the opening commentary I've tended to open up my story threads with, that will be exclusively on my writing blog in story launch posts.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Science Fantasy. 313 words. 1st story written chronologically. Rated G/T (General readers/Teen) for brief sci-fi violence.
A Worlds of the SightSpirit Short Story:
"The City in the Clouds"
“Wow!” Tokth exclaimed. The view of the City awed the boy as he approached in his air glider.
“Is it like you imagined?” said Droll.
“No! I thought it would be made of the same material as our houses.”
The cloud city loomed over the glider, every house, Temple, and building made of fluffy, white cloud.
The boys landed, staring at the City in the Clouds in immense fascination. They stepped out, equipped with their cloud boots, and ran towards the Great Temple, the city’s community center and great place of meditation.
When Tokth and Droll arrived, they made a shocking realization.
“The Festival of Clouds is today. The city should be crowded!” Tokth declared. We didn’t see anybody! Plus, there’s no one in here!” Droll was silent.
The boys stood there, staring into space, not speaking a word to each other. Tokth was brought back to the City by the sound of footsteps. He looked to Droll. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear that? I see it!” Droll whispered, a hint of horror in his tone. Tokth looked back to where the footsteps had seemed to be coming from. What he saw took his breath away. Standing there was a monster that every Tegen feared; the reptilian Letharn was poised for combat, holding an electrostaff. Two more Letharns joined the first, one on each side of their leader.
“What do we do? What do we DO?!” screamed Droll. Then he fainted.
The Letharns took that opportunity to charge. Tokth grabbed an electrostaff from one of them then whacked the original wielder, staff on high voltage. He lunged at the other Letharn. It was fried on contact. Out of breath, Tokth collapsed onto the floor. Then he saw something terrifying; he had forgotten something, something very important.
He had forgotten the first Letharn. He watched helplessly as the Letharn advanced towards Droll’s unconscious body.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Fantasy. 616 words. 2nd story written chronologically. Rated T (Teen) for some disturbing situations and brief graphic imagery.
The Many Worlds of EzloSpirit
“In the Trees: A Short Story of Vislia”
King Nesh sighed. Life in the Tree Palace was boring. Sure, he got all the power over his people, the people of Junglaria. But he had to admit that living in a giant tree wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world.
Nesh, according to Junglarian tradition, was forbidden to leave the Palace. Ever. The only way he could communicate with the people of the Trees—as they were commonly known—was by using his many messenger parrots.
One parrot now came to Nesh with a message not from his people, but from the House of Sight, thousands of miles away.
“From Lars, Chief Seer of the House of Sight,” the parrot declared. “‘Your Highness, I have Looked into the future and Seen a threat to your people that could be disastrous. The tribe of people simply known as the Warriors has harnessed the magic of a band of sorcerers. They are planning to use this magic to set fire to your kingdom.’ That is all,” the parrot concluded.
Nesh looked out at his city through one of the large holes in the side of his throne room. Everything looked peaceful. The treehouses that served as houses and buildings were all intact. The people were going about their normal daily lives. How could anything be wrong?
Nesh stared at the beautiful red and orange sunrise on the horizon, shielding his eyes from the bright sun overhead. Wait a second. Nesh snapped out of his daze. Sunrise? Sun overhead? He looked again, this time squinting, at the “sunrise.” It was a wave. A wave of…fire!
Nesh panicked. He didn’t have enough messenger parrots to warn his entire kingdom of the wave conjured using the magic of a league of sorcerers known as the Devil’s Cry. There was only one thing to do.
He opened the door to the palace…and stepped outside. Then he yelled a loud as he could, saying, “FIRE! EVACUATE!”
The Junglarians jumped into action. People were scurrying around everywhere, screaming at the top of their lungs. Mothers scooped their children up and ran for the gates of the jungle city. Men gave directions.
The firey wave drew closer. Nesh was terrified. Suddenly, a messenger parrot entered through a window.
“From Dell, Citizen of the Village of Hearing,” the bird began. “‘I have heard the cries of your people. I have notified the Village Chief. He has sent some of my fellow Citizens to assist you. One of them is my girlfriend, Marina, who has a way with water…. She will help put out the fire. Take care.’ That is all.”
That was a relief. Help was on its way! But the wave was nearly upon the city! Nesh looked back to the city to see that everybody had safely evacuated. That is, everybody but himself.
Just as he remembered himself, the wave descended upon the Palace.
* * *
Marina had put out all of the fires by summoning a tidal wave of water. She was devastated the she couldn’t stop the fire wave in time. She sat under a bare, burnt tree, watching the others search for the bodies of any unfortunate procrastinators.
The other Citizens returned ten minutes later. They had their final report.
“The city is clear,” one Citizen said.
* * *
Nesh, now but a burnt person, walked around. Where he was, he did not know. He just walked. Death was welcome for the ruined king. He could not stand much longer.
Just as he knew he could not live any longer, a small village came into view. The Junglarian flag flew high above it. As he fell to the ground, Nesh did not cry. He smiled.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Sci-fi/Tragedy. 290 words. 4th story written consecutively. Rated T (Teen) for disturbing situations.
"A Future Lost"
Caleb wept. The teenager was stranded on a moon billions of lightyears away from his home planet. The boy's small shuttle had had its engine torn away into the cosmos upon impact with a wandering asteroid. That teenage boy was Caleb.
A sixteen-year-old kid with greasy, brown, so-messy-it-looks-like-a-bomb-went-off hair, Caleb wore the classic black and blue jumpsuit that all licensed Space Travelers were required to wear while exploring the universe. His glasses had no lenses; they were lost in the shuttle when the asteroid hit.
"Why me?" he cried, perfectly aware that not even his echo would answer. The lost boy curled up into a ball. He had no way of knowing how much longer his jumpsuit's life-support system would last. Its nano-batteries had to be nearly empty. The suit had been changing the empty non-existence that was the airless space around him into oxygen for hours.
Hopeless, Caleb began thinking about what he would never be able to do. He knew he would never again see his mother. He knew that he would never kiss his life-long crush, Samantha. He knew that he would share the same fate as his father. For as a Time Traveler had once told him, that was the way it was meant to be.
Caleb knew it was a big mistake. He should never have trusted that illegal Time Traveler. Jenkins Gollth was known for enticing unsuspecting victims into Time Traveling with him to a time he knew his victim could connect to. A time when a friend or family member died. A time when the victim would die along with his friend or relative.
And that was why Caleb, his jumpsuit's life-support system exhausted at last, laid down to an eternal rest. Right beside his father....
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Eleven chimes. Just one hour to go. Then we all die. Hunted. Become one of them.
To describe the beasts is like explaining the meaning of life. I can tell you only this: the beasts have fangs. Fangs that pierce your skin effortlessly. That’s when you join them. Become them. And there is no turning back.
You do not need to know who I am. In sixty measly minutes, you won’t care. Because you will be screaming, trying to escape me. I’m sorry. I’m oh, so sorry.
* * *
I sit beneath the tall oak tree out in front of my mansion. As I pluck a blade of grass from the ground, a cool, soft breeze rushes by me. I bring my knees in close and curl into a ball. I know the storm is coming. And I’m scared. Very scared.
When I look up, she is standing there. She is a child, about seven years of age. Yet I see wisdom and fear, even age in her dark, hazel eyes.
“Are you afraid?” she asks me. Her voice reminds me of the good and light in this dark, cruel world where all we do is wage war, kill each other, and live in perpetual fear. I nod in reply. “Give me your hand,” she instructs me. I oblige, letting her wisdom flow through me, yet not allowing it in. She pulls me to my feet. I shiver, though whether from cold, fear, or something else entirely I’ll never know.
“Why do you come to me, little girl?” I inquire. “Why do you wish to help me when you should be hiding away from the monsters? They are coming.”
“Yes, I know,” she replies, smiling. How could she? There is nothing happy, nothing worth smiling about. The beasts are coming.
She takes me to the park, and we sit down on a bench. “Why do you shiver so?” she asks. I am still unsure how she could be so concerned about me when she should be very concerned about herself. Because the beasts shall come when the clock strikes midnight, and the bell shall toll twelve times.
“I don’t know,” I say. We sit on that bench for a while. Spend our second-to-last thirty minutes alive just sitting there. Breathing. Waiting.
When we finally stand up and she bids me farewell, the clock reads quarter-to. Fifteen minutes, then we all go to hell. Or hell goes to us.
It is deserted. And why shouldn’t it be? Everyone is probably in his or her bed, cowering in fear. I don’t know why I don’t join them. Perhaps it is because the monsters under the bed or in the closet are scarier, more dangerous. But no. That can’t be it.
I bend down and pluck another blade of grass out of the ground. I twirl it around my index finger, hoping for some comfort. The oak tree above me is menacing. Just like my mansion behind me. And just like the clock. Fifteen minutes. The beasts are coming.
I lay back on the grass. The morning dew covering the grass is cold. Though it is not morning. I shiver once more. The next five minutes seem like weeks. For I know that after these five minutes, I’ll only have two more five-minute blocks of time to live. That’s when the beasts come. And I think I hear them stirring even now. Yearning to awaken and feed.
I stand up. I walk down the street. I am alone. The street lamps are out. It’s just me and the darkness. I consider killing myself so I would not become a vessel for a new beast. But no. I am too weak at heart to do that.
As I walk down the lane, I hear only the trees whispering to the calm, cool breeze. Not a cricket chirps. Not child whimpers. Just the trees. And the beasts. They whisper in their slumber. They want to be free.
Ten minutes until midnight, and I continue my silent, cautious stroll down the lane. I pass my church and consider praying for mercy and protection, but not even God could protect me from the beasts. Please, O Lord, protect me from the danger that lurks just around the corner. No.
I walk until I reach the park bench where I had sat with the child. I sit down. I look around into the darkness of night and see nothing. But it’s not like there’s anything to see anyway. Just the dark.
I ponder over the beasts. Who would be my attacker? Would it be one of my relatives? My mother was the last one before me. Last night. Her screams as the beasts grabbed her and bit her still ring in my ears. Where did the beasts come from? Stories tell of a door. And beyond that door, a world of evil sits. The door has never been seen, except by a few. It was in a valley in the mountains. People lived there. I feel very sorry for them. Oh, so sorry.
The trees. They moved. The trees. They are shrinking. The trees. They are taking another form. The trees. They are the beasts. They have awakened.
One steps towards me. I gasp. I know that face. That child. I look at the empty space beside me on the bench. I look back up at the beast. I am certain. And I am content.
As the beast draws closer, I close my eyes. Was sitting with the child a dream? No. Then how is she a beast? I’ll never know. I feel oh, so sorry for myself. For the child. For you. For the world.
The beast slowly reaches down and takes gentle hold of my hand. I open my eyes. As I look into the beast’s angry yet sorrowful red eyes, I see apology and pity. Then it lifts my hand up, bares small, razor sharp fangs…and bites me on my hand.
I close my eyes, smiling. And I change. My eyes turn red and my canine teeth sharpen. And I laugh. An evil, inhuman laugh. And I’m hungry. Very hungry. Oh, so hungry.
"Twelve Chimes" is the first in a two-part serial. The story is continued in "The First Hour."
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Sci-fi. 1,227 words. 6th story written consecutively. Rated G (General readers).
An EzloSpirit-Zelda Universe Original Short Story:
“Illusions & Lies:
"Start from the beginning," Bennigan instructed. "Don't leave out any details."
"Well," Rickson began. "It started---what was it? Last Tuesday?---last Tuesday, when I was just walking home from the shop; I work at the bookshop on Errins Street, you see. So I was walking, and I looked across the street. I don't know why. I just did. And at that exact moment, I saw a man. Just an ordinary, stereotypical businessman, seemingly walking home from a day at the office. But when I looked at that moment, across the street, that perfectly ordinary business man flickered."
"Flickered?" inquired Bennigan.
"Yeah!" Rickson assured him. "Flickered! Like some sort of futuristic hologram or something! He just kind of wavered. But only at the exact moment I looked across the street. It only lasted for less than a second. Back then, I wasn't even sure I'd seen it. I mean, now I'm positive, but then? I had to convince myself that I had just had a long day.
"So anyway, I got home, and I told Lora---she's my wife, you see---what had happened. She told me exactly what I had convinced myself:
"'Sweetie, you've just had a long day,' she said. 'Go get some rest.' And that's what I did. I went to bed without supper. Or anything. And I think I was out before my head hit the pillow. I must have been, because I woke up a moment later when my head hit the backboard." Rickson rubbed his head.
"What happened then?" Bennigan asked.
"Let's see. Well, hitting my head made me forget all about that flickering man incident, although I guess that was for the better. Unfortunately, I was forced to remember it soon after forgetting about it.
"It was after hitting my head on the bed that I realized there was someone else standing in the room. It was the man. That's when I remembered. I had gotten him out of my head for a brief, liberating ten seconds or so. Then, he spoke.
"'You have seen something you were not meant to see, Leonard Rickson,' the mysterious man said. 'For that, you will have to pay.' Which was a really creepy thing to hear."
"What did the man do?" said Bennigan.
"He vanished," Rickson said, quite bluntly. "He just…vanished. Literally. I saw it. I didn’t even blink. I mean, if there was a weird man in your room whom you'd seen flicker like a hologram, I don't think you'd want to blink anyways. Well, he literally just blinked out of existence. Or something like that. One moment he was there, the next moment he wasn't. It was like when you are recording a video of yourself, you hit the pause button, move out of the picture, and press the record button. Then when you watch the video, you're there, and then you suddenly aren't. I don't know how he did it; I just know he did."
"What did you do then?" asked Bennigan, still emotionless.
"I think I fainted. I mean, wouldn't you? I was dead frightened. The flickering man had threatened me and then just vanished. What scared me even more was that he knew my name. And that he knew I'd seen him. If that's what he was actually referring to when he said I’d seen something I wasn’t supposed to see.”
“What happened when you woke up?” Bennigan said. “What did you see?”
“You!” Rickson exclaimed. “I saw you, staring down at me! No offense, but it was really creepy.
“Anyways, so there you were, staring down at me. I was clueless as to how I gotten there. Wherever “there” was. I sat up and looked around. I was in a gray, cement room. Dimly lit. A single table was in the center of the room. A single lightbulb hung above the table. That room was this room. We’re in it right now.
“So anyways, you told me I had a visitor. Those were your first words to me. I hate when the first words people say to me are really ominous. I just hate it. To make things worse, my visitor was…the flickering man. My mortal enemy. What really freaked me out, almost to the point of fainting again, was that the flickering man had walked right through the wall. Once he was in the room, he smiled at me, still holding that briefcase of his. It was creepy.
“He said, ‘Hello, Leonard Rickson. We meet again. We have brought you here today because you have seen something---’”
“‘I was not supposed to see, I know!’ I said. ‘Who is ‘we,’ and who are you?’ He smiled again.
“‘You know too much already, Leonard Rickson. But I shall tell you anyway. We are figments of your imagination.’
“‘Him, too?’ I asked, referring to you, Bennigan, as you pulled me up to a standing position.
“‘There are only a select few people in your world whom are real.’ Just then, my wife, Lora, came flying through the wall. Instantly, she began to…flicker. Like a hologram. Except she didn’t stop. She kept on flickering. It went on for another five seconds, and then she was gone. Forever. Just like that. She turned off. Like a TV.
“‘Lora!’ I cried.
“‘She isn’t real, Leonard. She never was. She never will be. You were married…to an illusion. I am an illusion. Only four other people in this world are real. You are being lied to. This whole world. It’s just one big lie.’
“‘And who is lying to me?’
“‘We are. And now you know the truth. Goodbye, Leonard.’ And then he began to flicker again. And he turned off. Like a TV. Like Lora.”
“What did you do?”
“I panicked. Because that man was not the only illusion in the room. Almost everybody was disappearing. One by one.
“And then suddenly, I was outside. And I saw what was truly happening. I knew too much. Everyone was disappearing. Turning off. Even the world itself was beginning to flicker. The ground. The buildings. Everything. I turned around, and I was back in here.”
“And that’s when you and I sat down for this talk,” Bennigan finished for him.
“Yes,” Rickson confirmed. “Somehow, this room is not flickering.”
“It will. This room will be the last to go.”
“What do you mean?” Rickson exclaimed, his voice rising with panic. “What are you talking about?” And then it started. The gray, cement walls, ceiling, and floor all started to waver, as a hologram wavers when you put your hand through it.
“This world is collapsing, now that you know everything.”
“Think about it, Rickson,” Bennigan said, as emotionless as ever, despite the rapidly vanishing world around them. “If you were trying to hide something, and someone found out where you were hiding it and even saw it at that location, would you bother to continue to hide it?”
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!” Rickson screamed.
“The world’s almost gone now. Find the others. Find the other four people, the ones that are not illusions.”
“I promise I’ll find you, Bennigan! I PROMISE!”
“The problem with that is that there are currently six people in this world.”
“What? NO! NOT YOU!”
Bennigan began to flicker. And then everything went black.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Mythology. 1,441 words. 7th story written consecutively. Rated G (General readers).
“Just a Bite”
A Short Story by EzloSpirit
The most annoying part is that it all came down to a simple miscommunication. You might think that taking a bite of that sweet flower was my downfall, but if you think about it, I would not have gotten the opportunity to make that mistake if I had known that there was a war going on in Troy. It’s almost humorous.
My name is Medesaelus. I’m not a warrior. I’m not a king. And I’m certainly not a god. I’m just a trader. That’s all. Of course, I get to handle all sorts of valuable materials: bronze, diamonds, and once, even gold. But none of it is actually mine. The nobles give me their stuff, telling me to trade it for such and such for them, I ship out, trade with some people in a distant land, ship back to my original location, and give the new stuff to the nobles. It’s the same over and over again. But I never did it just to meet the rich or to pretend I was rich or any of that. No, I became a trader to see places. To meet people who know little or nothing at all about where I come from. To see great, stretching, green landscapes that I would never see in the white, stone city of Athens. Of course, I never intended to see the jungle where that flower grows.
The flower tasted good. I’m not kidding; it was rich and sweet and I never wanted to stop eating it! Of course. Because that’s what it’s supposed to do.
Anyway, so one day, Theseus, that great king who defeated the great Minotaur, asked me for a favor. Naturally, I was ecstatic that I would be doing a service directly for my almighty king, and I accepted the job without hesitation. He asked me to take a hundred diamonds and a hundred fine bronze vases and pots and trade them for two hundred bronze helmets.
I loaded the goods onto my ship and shipped off. I had decided to trade in Troy, a rich city that I had never been to before. I had heard countless tales of the great, powerful army there and thought to myself that they were bound to have that many helmets. I sailed for two months before reaching Troy.
When I finally made it to shore, I encountered a fleet of Achaean battleships. My welcoming committee proceeded to turn its cannons towards my ship upon sighting me. I knew those cannons were loaded with deadly Greek fire, which even a flood could not put out. Fire which virtually burned underwater.
One of the Achaean ships sailed towards me. The crew boarded my ship and, pointing their bronze-tipped spears at either my heart or my head, inquired as to where I was from and what my business was there. I told them that I was Medesaelus and that I was a trader on a mission for His Majesty, King Theseus of Athens, son of Aegeus. The one who looked like the leader stepped forward and asked me what I had to trade. I told him I had diamonds and vases for the Trojans.
“Do you know that there is a war going on here?” the leader asked. I replied no. There was a war? Why didn’t anybody tell me that? “Well, the Trojans are busy fighting us in a war, so you had better leave while you can.”
So, after the Achaean soldiers left my ship, I turned around and started to head back to Athens. Unfortunately, as in all good tales of misfortune, I was caught in the middle of an enormous storm on my second week heading back. A towering wave crashed down onto my ship, washing out all of the precious diamonds and vases into the realm of the earth-shaking Poseidon.
I decided it probably was not a good idea to go back to Athens, as the great Theseus would most definitely have me executed or even execute me himself. So I sailed on a different and completely unknown course.
It was still the very same day, at nightfall, when I reached land. It looked like a small island. Past the sandy shore, I saw only green. Tall trees and lush vegetation grew in a dense jungle beyond the beach. I took out my small dagger when I got off of my ship because I knew I’d be needing it to cut away any branches in my way. I never expected I would never be getting back on that ship. I took a thick branch from the ground and rubbed it against another. Soon, I had my very own torch to help me see through the dark jungle ahead.
I hadn’t taken one step into the jungle when a figure shot past me in a blur. I saw it running away farther into the jungle, and I started to run after it, still taking care not to set the whole jungle on fire with my burning torch. I probably ran a mile without stopping before the figure slowed down and stopped in a clearing. As soon as I began to slow down, my knees buckled, and I collapsed onto the ground, landing painfully onto the flame of my torch. Luckily, landing on it put it out. Unluckily, I was burned pretty badly. And I was passed out.
When I finally came to, I saw someone, clearly a human, kneeling over me. He--I’m pretty sure it was a man--was rubbing some sort of oil on my burns. Which jolted me up, screaming. The oil was cold, and since my burns were really sensitive to cold, the oils felt colder than ice, which is very painful. Miraculously, though, the pain, all the pain, began to recede at a noticeable rate.
Then came the smell. The smell was sweet. I looked to see where it was coming from, and I saw the healer holding out a flower to me. It was a beautiful, white flower, clearly freshly-picked. It smelled like ambrosia, like the dessert of the gods, like Olympus itself. So sweet. I took it from the healer. And I took a bite. Just a bite. A small, harmless bite. The smallest, the sweetest, the most delicious…and the stupidest bite of my entire life.
I thanked the healer as I quickly ate the rest of the flower. Then I went off to find some more. It wasn’t difficult. The flowers surrounded the vast clearing, and there were probably more in the jungle. I began to greedily pick the white flowers, one by one, as I forgot about all the places I’d seen on my trading excursions and all the places I’d wanted to see. I forgot everything…except the flower. And I ate and ate, consuming about five flowers every minute. I ate until I was full of the delicious white flower. Then I waited. Waited for my stomach to empty itself. Then I would get more. It was all I wanted. The cursed, dastardly, beautiful flower. It was more than an addiction. It was my life.
Somehow, I managed to break away, but even now I need the flower. I’m now sitting on a large log with my eyes closed on the outskirts of the clearing. I can’t see the flower or I know I will lose all of my memories again. And I may never be able to break away and remember again.
“Medesaelus,” a voice calls, echoing. “It is I, Medesaelus.” I know that voice. But how did he find me? “You lost my diamonds, my precious bronze vases. My treasure. Now you shall pay.” I hear the sound of a sword being unsheathed. And I open my eyes. The weapon is not a sword. It is a flower. A white flower. And there is nobody there.
Without thinking, I leap to the flower, and, tearing it from its stem, I sink my teeth into it, its infinitely sweet and succulent taste washing over my tongue and washing away all my worries and memories. I must stay, I must eat, and that is all.
Yes, if I had never accepted that job from Theseus, I would never have gotten here. Yes, if I had known Troy was at war, I would never have gotten here. Yes, if I had just accepted my fate and returned to Athens, I would never have gotten here. If I had not made these stupid, fatal choices, I would not be here right now, forever imprisoned by, forever a slave to, and forever enjoying the rich, sweet, infinite taste of the beautiful, stunning, white lotus flower.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Sci-fi. 895 words. 8th story written consecutively. Rated T (Teen) for some scary imagery and brief violence.
An EzloSpirit-Zelda Universe Original Short Story
“Illusions & Lies: Day Two”
The Second Installment in the Thrilling Short Story Series by EzloSpirit
When Rickson looked out of the window, the sun was rising. His face was splashed with the colors of fire as the sun continued to come out from under its nightly covers. Not even moments ago he was in a dim interrogation room in the city he had always lived in. Then, suddenly, his whole world had begun to vanish around him. A mysterious man had told him that his life was an illusion. Soon after, everything had just blinked out of existence.
Rickson’s eyes began to sting. Badly. “Oh, shoot!” he exclaimed, immediately averting his eyes from the sun, which he’d been staring at for close to an hour. He looked down at himself, not seeing much for a couple minutes. As his eyes adjusted to the room’s level of light, he saw metal clamps over his wrists. It was at this point that he realized how uncomfortable he was. He looked back over his shoulder. Then he moved his knees apart and looked down. He was clamped by both the wrists and ankles to a throne-like metal chair. Multi-colored wires were tangled all around the chair in specific patterns that greatly reminded Rickson of diamonds and crystals, though they did not shine.
“Lora,” he called, “a little help here!” Then he remembered: his wife had been an illusion. Just then, he noticed a note written in front of him on the floor. It was sloppily written in what looked like blood. But whose blood? It read:
PRESS THE BUTTON ON THE
SIDE OF THE LEFT ARM.
THEN YOU MUST FIND
“‘Find the others,’” Rickson repeated. “But that’s what Bennigan said.” Bennigan. The interrogator. The final illusion. “He said something about there being four other people in the illusory world that were not illusions. But how am I supposed to know who they are?” Oh, well! I’ll need to free myself before I do anything anyway, so…button on the side of the chair, he thought to himself. Ah, there we are! He found the button with his left hand and pushed it. Instantly, the clamps holding his wrists and ankles snapped apart. Rickson stretched out his arms and legs.
So this was the real world. Didn’t seem much different yet, save for the creepy metal throne. The lost man stood up. His knees buckled. “I have a sick feeling that that chair created all of the illusions and put me into that fake world. Who knows how long I’d been sitting there?” He used the chair to pull himself up to a standing position and took a moment to get used to standing again. Then he took a small step away from the chair. Once he was sure he would be fine, Rickson proceeded to walk slowly from the illusion chair towards a black door across the tall room.
When he finally opened the door, he was met with such a stunning and devastating sight that he could not help himself from gasping. His knees buckled again.
Rickson saw the real world. An orange sky greeted him, even though the sun was high in the sky. He saw towering mountains of rubble and ash that reached the fluffy, black cumulus clouds above. These mountains littered the ground as far as the eye could see. Rickson turned his head and looked back at the building in which he had been imprisoned. It was a gray building. He thought it must have stood tall once, but only part of the ground floor was left; it looked like the room he had been in was the only one still completely intact. In fact, it looked like his building was the only one that had not been completely reduced to rubble.
Rickson coughed. The air was foul. He pulled his shirt collar up over his mouth and nose.
He just sat there for hours, silent and almost unmoving. This was nothing like the illusory world, the dream world. This was hell. What else could it be? After seeing this, Rickson wanted desperately to return to the illusions he had been forced to leave behind.
Suddenly, a figure darted out from behind a mountain of rubble. The figure rushed toward Rickson. Before he knew what had hit him (literally), Rickson felt a sharp pain on the side of his head, and he blacked out.
When he came to, Rickson had no idea where he was. Why was the sky orange? Oh, wait. He wasn’t quite sure about that yet, he remembered as everything started to come back to him.
“Sorry about that,” a woman’s voice said. “I thought you were one of the people who had put me into that world. Since you’re not wearing that uniform, I now assume you aren’t one of them. But if you are, mark my words, I’ll take this pipe here that I knocked you out with, and I’ll do more than just knock you out.” That voice sounded strangely familiar. And strangely impossible.
“Why is the sky orange?” Rickson asked, still too dazed to concentrate on the voice or anything it had said.
“Pollution,” the voice replied. “The atmosphere is much dirtier here than in the illusion world.”
“Wait,” Rickson gasped, suddenly jolting up. “Did you just say ‘illusion world?’”
“Yes, I did, Leonard,” the voice said.
Turning around to face her, recognition in his eyes and voice, Rickson whispered, “Lora.”
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Sci-fi/Comedy. 1,373 words. 9th story written consecutively. Rated T/M (Teen/Mature) for language and mild violence.
An EzloSpirit-Zelda Universe Original Short Story
“Illusions & Lies: Day Three”
The Third Thrilling Episode in the Epic Short Story Series by EzloSpirit
Rickson bolted upright, screaming. He had just dreamt that his whole world had been a fake, that the real world was a desolate wasteland, and that his wife, Lora, had gone badass. What a horrible nightmare.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Lora asked from about fifteen feet away. Wait a moment. Fifteen feet away? Why wasn’t she in bed next to him? On that subject, where was the bed?
“Ah!” Rickson screamed. Then he fainted.
* * *
When Rickson regained consciousness, Lora was kneeling over him. She was dressed in all black. Her black hair was tied up in a bun.
“I’m sorry this isn’t a nightmare, Leonard,” she said, understanding Rickson’s fainting as if it were something that happened a lot.
“But you-you-you…” Rickson stammered.
“Come on, Leonard, spit it out,” Lora ordered him.
“You…vanished! I saw you! You were an illusion!”
“Damn, you’re stupid!” Lora suddenly shouted. Rickson just stared back at her, wide-eyed. A moment later, she calmly said, “Okay, sorry. That was a bit harsh.
“You were the last to go,” she explained. “What you saw was me returning to the real world. It just looked like I was vanishing like an illusion. You blinked out like that, too; you just could not see it because, well…it was you, and you can’t see yourself.”
“But that man told me you were an illusion!”
Lora’s tone and expression was suddenly full of hatred and menace. “That man is an evil, lying bastard. Don’t ever trust anything he says!”
Rickson proceeded to stare at her in wide-eyed amazement again. “Lora! What the heck happened to you that your language became so dirty?”
“Sorry, Leonard,” she replied, sighing. “I’m just so…angry.”
Still giving her his stunned look, he said, “You sure are!” Lora gave him a quick, little smile. “But wait. Just before everything was gone, Bennigan, the interrogator, told me that there were six people in the world including him and me. And that was after you were gone. So who was the sixth person?”
“Bennigan,” his wife answered. (Wait. If their wedding had been an illusion, were they still considered married?)
“No, I mean the other real person,” Rickson said.
“No, really. Bennigan,” Lora whispered, looking past her “husband’s” shoulder. Rickson turned to see what she was looking at.
And standing there, tall and grim, his short black hair as spiked up as it had been the last time Rickson had seen him, was Bennigan. Impossible, interrogating Bennigan. In the real world.
Rickson’s jaw dropped. Then he took a deep breath and let out a long, loud yell. “WHAT!” And, as usual, he fainted.
“Was it something I said?” Bennigan asked in his trademark emotionless manner.
* * *
Rickson bolted upright, screaming. He had just dreamt that his whole world had been a fake, that the real world was a desolate wasteland, that his wife, Lora, had gone badass, and that a creepy interrogator had come back from being fake. What a horrible nightmare.
Hold on. Why was the sky still orange? Why was Lora still dressed in black? And why was Bennigan the creepy interrogator standing over him next to Lora?
“Ah! Ah! AH!” Rickson screamed. Just before he could faint again, Lora stomped on his stomach. Hard. “YAH!”
“Stay with us, Rickson,” said Bennigan. “I have a lot to explain to you two. Well, actually, I only have a lot to explain to you, since I’ve been talking to Lora while you’ve been out.”
“You didn’t have to nearly crush my guts to get me to listen!”
“Actually, that was Lora, and actually, yes she did; you were about to faint. Again.”
“Hmph,” let out Rickson, letting the topic go.
“You’re probably wondering how I could be standing here when I am clearly an illusion.” Rickson nodded dumbly. “The simple answer is that I’m not an illusion. I had merely hinted at the possibility that I could be an illusion so you would begin by looking for the others instead of me. I know you well enough to know that you would have been looking for no one else but me until you found me, which could have been years.”
“So you lied that there were six people in the world at the end?” asked Rickson, who was not remotely amused by anything Bennigan had just said.
“Not at all,” said Bennigan, smiling for the first time ever in Rickson’s memory.
“Okay, that’s really creepy,” Rickson said, looking very creeped out. “I know two of the six people were you and me, and another two were the two other real people besides you, Lora, and me. So who were the other two?”
Still smiling ominously, Bennigan answered Rickson’s question. “The other two were members of the organization responsible for placing us inside the false world. They were projecting themselves into the illusion to watch it crumble apart.” After he was finished, his expression returned to its usual neutral state.
“An organization was responsible?” Rickson inquired, stunned.
“Yes, Rickson,” Lora sighed, getting very bored of his cluelessness, “an organization was responsible. Remember how I smacked you on the head with a pipe, thinking you were ‘one of the ones responsible?’”
“Oh. Right,” Rickson said. “I must have forgotten that because you probably gave me a concussion.” Lora rolled her eyes. “Wait. Bennigan, you were in the interrogation room with the evil man with the briefcase. Does that mean you were working for them?” He suddenly looked more frightened of Bennigan than usual.
“Technically,” replied Bennigan. “I was their illusion world correspondent, and it was my job to report on things happening in the illusion world. Oh, and to report on things happening with you two and the other two real people. They knew I was a real person. After all, they put me there. But what they didn’t know was that I was secretly planning their downfall.”
“Sort of like a double agent,” Lora pointed out.
“So what do we do now?” Lora asked.
“Here’s the plan: we each return to our respective chairs,” Bennigan replied.
“As in ‘illusion chair?’” Rickson asked, quite confused.
“But isn’t the illusion world gone?” Rickson pointed out, becoming increasingly confused as the conversation went on.
“Technically it is, but we can create a new one.”
“The chairs use our minds to create the illusory world. The MindVeil Organization can shut the system down, but they cannot stop us from turning it on. As long as we act as if it’s an ordinary day, the Organization won’t shut it down.”
“So basically, what we’re going to do,” Lora began, “is re-enter the illusion world and, among the three of us, try to figure out who the other two people are, and meanwhile, we act as if we’re doing nothing out of the ordinary?”
“That is precisely what we are going to do,” Bennigan confirmed. “Let’s get to it then.” And then Rickson heard him say something very un-Bennigan: “I’ll catch you both on the flipside.” Rickson raised an eyebrow.
And so, the three lost wanderers in a desolate wasteland parted ways for a brief time, each going off in a different direction.
* * *
Within ten minutes, Rickson was back in the tall room and seated in the throne-like illusion chair. He looked down at the floor in front of him. The first note had been wiped clean and a second one had taken its place:
PRESS THE BUTTON ON
THE SIDE OF THE
THEN, JUST SIT BACK AND
ENJOY THE RIDE.
Like the first note, this one was written in blood. And now Rickson knew whose blood. “I’ll have to ask him to show me the scab where he had cut himself to be able to write that.” He paused for a moment to think about how that conversation might go. “Actually, on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t,” he decided.
He proceeded to follow Bennigan’s bloody instructions by pressing a button on the right side of the chair. Immediately, metal clamps snapped shut over his wrists and ankles.
Then, Leonard Rickson leaned back, closed his eyes, and enjoyed the ride. He felt himself returning and falling, falling, falling to the illusion world. And his greatest challenge yet.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Audio version (original version) (13:46)
(The audio version of the extended version of Trust Fall is only available as part of the full album. Sorry! On the bright side, I like this recording better!)
Sci-fi/Tragedy. 2,209 words (original version). 2,423 words (extended version). 10th story written consecutively. Rated T (Teen), for peril and mild language.
An EzloSpirit-Zelda Universe Original Short Story
Written for the Zelda Universe August 2010 Writing Contest
Sometimes when you are lost and without hope, you find yourself turning to the wrong people for help. You get so caught up in your hopelessness that you lose your sense of judgment. Then you wind up asking your mortal enemy for a favor.
I’m sorry to say that this happened to me. You see, I am the last surviving passenger of the starship Eurylochus. The only reason I was on that damn ship in the first place is because my dad was the Head of Engineering. Otherwise, the deep-space vessel was no place for a loud, hyperactive, rebellious, and stubborn seventeen-year-old girl like me.
The Eurylochus had only been about halfway to its destination, Ouraya Intergalactic Spaceport, when a fleet of small alien warships in a wide “v” formation had jumped out of hyperspace. Upon sighting us, all of the ships had begun firing bio-lasers at us. Someone, presumably the captain, a grumpy, wrinkly old man who had no compassion for anyone besides money, his ship, and himself, sounded the alarm, and we all rushed to the emergency evacuation chamber, where two-hundred single-seater escape pods were assembled around the circular room. We had to evacuate since the Eurylochus was only a cargo ship and had no weapons.
Luckily for me, my quarters had been right next to the em-evac chamber. I had been the first to reach the escape pods. I had quickly scrambled into one, sat down, fastened my seatbelt, and sealed the door before anyone else had gotten there. The Engineering team members were the second arrivals; my dad was running in front. I remember. He had looked at me, smiling.
Everything’s going to be all right, the smile had said. We’re going to get through this together. But that wasn’t meant to be. For as he and his team had run into the em-evac chamber, a massive hole was blown in the wall. The Engineering team, starting from the back, began flying out the hole and into the freezing, airless emptiness of space. My dad had, of course, followed. He had still been smiling.
This was when I launched myself. I don’t know why I looked back. But I did, and now, I wish I had turned into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife. When I looked back, I saw the ship give in. It exploded in a massive burst of flame and destruction. Everyone on that ship but me died right before my eyes in a great, deadly holocaust.
And all I could do was watch and sit as I, Maddy Morain, became the only one to escape the destruction alive, my father’s smile still burned into my retinas.
I woke up, dazed and confused and alone. When I got back my bearings, I found that the escape pod had crash-landed…somewhere. I opened the door, a loud hiss from the disengaging pressure seal following the act, I looked up and around me, and I saw I was at a small intersection of crimson walkways between tall alien buildings.
When I once again faced out from the escape pod, I was greeted by a weapon. The weapon, which was probably a bio-laser handgun, was held by a nasty-looking alien who towered over me by a few feet. He—the alien was probably a male, or the equivalent—was pale green with tangled, worm-like hair the same color as his skin on his head. He wore a long, black coat. He sort of reminded me of the twenty-first century gangsters I had seen pictures of in old books. Except this guy was not remotely human.
“Who are you, where do you come from, and why are you here?” the alien snarled. He sounded like he had two voices, one at a medium pitch and one at a deep pitch. I could understand him because everyone on the Eurylochus had had translator microchips injected directly into their brains—a very painful, but thankfully quick process.
“M-my name is Maddy Morain, I’m from the p-planet called Earth, and I crash-landed here after the ship I had b-been in was destroyed.”
Still aiming his gun, he asked, “What ship?”
“Th-the Eurylochus,” I stammered, afraid for my life.
“What? And you survived?”
“I was the only one.”
“You were very lucky then. You know that I should shoot you dead right now for trespassing on this planet, but I don’t want you to feel like your luck would run out soon.” He lowered his weapon. “You should leave.”
“I-I can’t. My escape pod’s busted. It’s probably out of fuel anyway. And my ship is gone.”
“That was unfortunate. You should have died right then and there. Everyone was supposed to. That ship was trespassing on our galactic property by law. I was sent by my chief to lead three whole squads to take down the trespasser.”
“Y-you?” I whispered.
“Yes. I am Captain Rell of the Ranxi Global Police. I was in charge of destroying the Eurylochus. Now run along. I would recommend that you stick to the shadows. You don’t want any of us Ranxi finding an alien loose on Ranxilon.”
At that, Rell walked away. I turned the other way and ran, sticking to the shadows like Rell had suggested.
I ran and I ran, not knowing where I was going. I was lost on an alien planet who knows how far from Earth. Any time I saw a Ranxi, I would dart back the way I came and take a different pathway. The city was like a maze of these crimson pathways. The intersection I had crashed in was only one of thousands.
Once, I found myself running down a path that was not completely deserted. I had reached an intersection, turned onto another pathway…and panicked, quickly ducking into the closest doorway, which happened to be open. Walking toward me, a few yards ahead of me at the time, had been a small Ranxi, probably a child. My luck was still with me because the child had been looking down when I had turned onto that street. If it had been looking up, it would most certainly have seen me, and then the whole city would have known of my presence there in a few minutes. Because I am pretty sure that a human on Ranxilon was a pretty big (and bad) deal.
When I caught my breath after that close encounter, I turned around and looked to see where I was. It looked like a small supermarket, sort of like those mini-marts at charge stations on Earth. The lights were off—if there were any to begin with—and the place was deserted. I assumed it was closed.
But if it was closed, then why was the door ajar? I dashed out of there, and I could have sworn I had heard a two-pitched voice shout, “Who’s there?” I continued my mad dash to nowhere.
After a few hours, Earth time, I began to feel hopeless. I would never get off Ranxilon, and it would not be long before I was caught. What would the Ranxi do to me? Would they experiment on me? Would they dissect me for research? Would they eat me alive? I had not heard of the Ranxi or Ranxilon before I had gotten there, so I had no idea what to expect from them.
This hopelessness began to weigh down on me. It was not long before I collapsed to the ground in the middle of a deserted pathway. And something inside me snapped. I blindly decided that I could not go on alone. I decided that I needed help. But I only knew one being on the whole planet. I decided that I had no other choice.
So I ran back to where I had seen a police station. I was going to ask Rell for help.
It did not take me long to reach the police station. Of course, I was not even sure Rell would be here. But I was too far gone to care. I was too far gone to care about a lot of things. The biggest thing that I should have cared about but did not was how I could trust Rell when he had been the one leading the assault on the Eurylochus.
I ducked down below a wide window. I slowly stood up and peeked through the greenish glass-like material. I guessed I really was lucky that day because standing there, talking to an important looking Ranxi who was probably the police chief, was Captain Rell himself. Luckily (more luck), Rell was facing toward me while the chief had his back toward me. I made a small gesture. One of Rell’s eyes looked up at me for a brief second before looking back at the chief. It was really disgusting, but at least I knew that he knew I was there. I ducked back down to wait.
About two minutes (again, Earth time) later, Rell came out the front door. He dragged me by the arm into an alleyway.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Rell whispered fiercely. “I thought I told you to leave.”
“I thought I told you I couldn’t,” I retorted. I was not so afraid of him anymore. I guess that considering the fact that he was the only being I knew, it was not worth it being frightened of him. “I came to you for help. I figured you would know a way to get off this planet.”
“Hmm. Well, there are the Ranxi Rockets.”
“What are they?” I asked.
“A very long time ago, pieces of three human vessels landed on and destroyed half of this city. We managed to reconstruct the vessels, and they turned out to be rockets. I hope you’ve read your history books, because I refuse to explain in detail what a rocket is to you.”
“No, I know what a rocket is. So I can take one and leave?”
“Technically, you can’t. But I’ll allow you to take one so I don’t have to deal with you anymore.”
“Take this, and put it on. It’s a stealth coat. Makes you invisible.” I put the stealth coat on. “We had best be going then.”
And so, I began to follow quite possibly my worst enemy through the maze-like city to the docks where the Ranxi Rockets, and my freedom, awaited.
I thought we would never get to the Ranxi Rockets. All of the paths in the city looked pretty much the same to me. It took about an endless hour of walking.
It was only at this point that I started having doubts. Why was I trusting of Rell? I thought back to when I did climbing a few Earth years ago. Before we were able to climb, we had to do things called trust falls. We would get into pairs, and then one of us would go rigid and fall back while the other person would be behind the first person to catch and give him or her a little push back up. If the person catching was distracted, too far back, or not strong enough, the person falling would, well, fall and hit the ground.
This is what I was doing. I was in the middle of a trust fall, and I was the one falling; Rell was the one catching. Or was he? I had to believe he would catch me, or else…or else what? Would I be killed? Experimented on? I had to believe Rell would catch me and push me back up, back to Earth, my home.
When we finally reached the docks where the Ranxi Rockets sat, dormant and waiting, I was out of breath.
“So what do we do now?” I wheezed.
“Hold on, I have to get access,” answered Rell. “I will only be a minute.” He walked away as he got out some sort of communicator and began speaking inaudibly into it. Soon, he was out of sight.
And so I waited, invisible. No one else was around but Rell and me. What was taking Rell so long?
Then he came back. Accompanied by two other Ranxi officers. Rell pointed straight at me. What was going on? I thought he was getting access to the Ranxi Rockets’ docks. The new arrivals marched toward me, and one yanked off my stealth cloak.
The officer grimaced. “A human. You were right, Captain. Disgusting creature.”
“Uh, so can I leave on one of the rockets now, please?” I asked a little shakily.
Both of the officers laughed. Or something close to laughing. The second officer answered me. “What? You want to use one of the Ranxi Rockets to go back to your pitiful home? Are you crazy? You aren’t even allowed on Ranxilon at all, let alone near the Ranxi Rockets. Sorry, little human, but you are going to be executed!”
“WHAT? RELL, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!” I screamed.
The traitorous captain walked over. “Only what I was obligated to do. You didn’t really think I was going to let you get away twice, did you? Sorry, Maddy, but your luck has finally run out.”
The two other officers proceeded to grip me by the arms and drag me away. I screamed the whole time. “TRAITOR!”
So here I am. I am currently locked up in a cell in the Ranxi Global Police station. If I tried to escape, I would be sliced apart by the lasers that separate me from the rest of the world.
This is it. This is Death Row, Ranxilon-style. My execution is scheduled for tonight. It is supposed to be done by sending a massive electrical charge through my body. It should be really painful but really quick.
I guess this is what I get for trusting Rell. He was responsible for destroying the Eurylochus. He had been glad to get rid of the ship. So why wouldn’t he be glad to get rid of me, too?
This has been it: my final trust fall. Rell had never been there to catch me at all; he had always been standing so far away. This whole time, he has been letting me fall, fall, fall, until I hit the ground. The painful, deadly ground. I will never do a trust fall again.
* * *
As I lay on the execution table, as the shock plate is lowered, I cannot help but remember my father’s smile. We’re going to get through this together. Yes, we will. I’m coming, Daddy.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Note: This is a direct continuation of "Twelve Chimes." It is recommended that you read that first.
Horror. 1,981 words. 12th story written consecutively. Rated M (Mature) for brief language and sequences of terror.Reader discretion is advised.
An EzloSpirit-Zelda Universe Original Short Story:
“The First Hour”
Part II of II in The Midnight Sequence
Hello again, stranger. You may not recognize me. I am the shadow of my former self. Then, I was a coward, always yearning to hide in a closet from the red-eyed beasts. Now, I am one with the nightmare. I am hungry. Oh, so hungry. But I know you, stranger. That may sound a little bizarre that I know you even though you are still but a stranger to me, but I know enough about you to feel I know you. Anyway, because I know you, and because you let me describe my story last time, no matter how disturbing it became, I’ve decided to refrain from biting you. That’s not to say others won’t get you….
Remember, stranger, that I had ended my last story with the bite. The mysterious girl from the park, the paradoxical girl who had all along been a tree, a beast in hibernation, and who was never a hallucination. It was she who had sunk her fangs into me, only after giving me a look that could easily have been mistaken as sympathy and apology. It was then that I had begun to change, both in body and in mind. My eyes turned from a piercing blue to a blood-drenched red. My canine teeth sharpened and lengthened into fangs.
I had become a beast, starving for flesh and blood just as the Paradox Child had been.
Now, I am standing here, staring at you, oh, so hungry, yet restraining myself from sinking my teeth into your skin. I am standing here, a shadow of my former self. I am no longer a coward. I am a predator, hungry for human prey.
Come with me. Be my shadow as I continue my life through the next phase, the next hour.
* * *
I walk along the lane that, just a single hour ago, I had walked along awaiting my imminent doom. The street lamps flicker, and the screams of those terrorized by my kind pierce the air.
My kind. “My kind,” I hiss aloud. These words are a new taste on my tongue. The most wonderful taste. But I want more.
A small child darts across the street. My mother—I recognize her—darts after him, her red eyes almost glowing with wanting, with need. With hunger. That child was only about four years of age. Now he will live eternal.
A different child steps out from behind a tree. She stares right into my blood-red eyes. No human, let alone a mere child, looks deep into the eyes of a beast. She lifts up her arm and gently says, “Come, my child. Feed.” And now I recognize her: she is my creator. And she is offering me prey. For this is how the Paradox Child works: she changes her form at will to feed her children, her beasts.
I scamper over to her, starving. When I grip her arm, she does not even twitch. Then I feed. The flesh is bitter. The blood is sour. And I would not have it any other way.
It only lasts a few seconds, but it feels not a second more than eternity. Sweet, sweet eternity. And it is wonderful. Wonderful eternity. The flesh and the blood and the experience. Eternal.
When I finally let it all go, I get my last taste by licking my fangs. The wounds on the Child’s arm seal themselves. And she changes into her true form.
Thank you…my mother, I think to her. She smiles in reply. For I know that she heard me. She changes back into a human and runs off to feed another of her children, another of the beasts.
I run off myself, searching once more. Before I know what is happening, a loud crack rings through the air, and pain shoots through my shoulder. Two gaping holes, side by side, stare back at me when I look down at my left shoulder. Nothing drips out. And through the holes, I see, upside-down, a pale, frail, bearded old man staring back at me as if his worst nightmare were staring right back at him—which was probably true. He is pointing a hunting rifle at my shoulder.
“Leave us alone, you—undead—son of a b*tch!” the old man shouts. He does not understand: I am not undead. I am dead. A beast’s genetic curse inhabits my body and keeps it alive.
I turn around slowly, snarling. This old fool dares to challenge me. And even when I am hungry, starving for the foul tastes of flesh and blood. I bare my fangs, warning him. Not warning him that if he does not stand down, I will attack him. I bare my fangs, warning him that I am about to attack him.
The next seconds are a blur. A bitter, sour, eternal blur. When I am finished, the old codger collapses in a heap of old bones and dust. The beast genes must have rejected his body and destroyed it. That happens on occasion.
My stomach is still half-empty. I must feed more. I remember that in under a week, there will be no sustenance left in this town. Then we shall move on to the next. Perhaps we will soon come to your town or city. And when that time comes, I will not resist, will not hold back. You will be mine.
I look at the mighty clock tower looming higher than any building in town. Twelve forty-five. Time sure flies when you are having fun. Or feeding. I only have fifteen minutes left. That is only nine-hundred seconds. And it will fly by. I must feast.
I see a large group of people in the shadows, creeping into the church as if they are certain nobody—and nothing—is watching. But I see them. I let out a long, shrill screech. The last few members of the group run into the church, now aware that they have been spotted. My brothers and sisters gather in the park behind me, heeding my call. The Child sits on the bench, the very place at which I was born fifty minutes ago, smiling at me and inviting me to sit down. I oblige.
“You must still be hungry,” says the Paradox Child, calmly, like a mother talking to her young child. “Well, thanks to you, all of us will soon have a feast. And you can have the biggest portion. How many of them are there?” In her human form, she looks delicious but all the more powerful and intimidating.
At least twenty, my lady, I inform her. Just the thought makes my mouth water.
“We will have to share, but you can have two of them to yourself.”
Let us storm their refuge. In reply, she smiles. Then we both stand up and walk to the edge of the park, ready to lead the pack together.
Then, with a deafening group screech, the equivalent of a battle cry, we all run at the church, desperate for our feast. And I am leading it all.
When we reach the church doors, the Paradox Child and I set ourselves on tearing off the door hinges. Our prey had locked the doors. It will only have bought them seconds. Because it takes us only seconds to rip the hinges from the old stone wall and throw the doors themselves, both the color of dried blood, onto the street behind us. Let the feast…begin!
The pack rushes into the high-ceilinged chapel, overturning benches and tossing aside books to get at the screaming humans. I had been right: there are about twenty-one or twenty-two humans who had sought refuge in the church.
I pick my first victim: a middle aged, pale-face woman dressed in a sparkling green dress and wearing an exorbitant amount of makeup. I chase her down the aisle. I corner her by the altar. She holds up her fingers in a cross.
“Stay away from me, vampire!” she screams, tears falling like a river down her face. I hiss at her. We are not vampires. Vampires suck your blood until you are dry and dead. They do not even exist. We suck you until we are, well, finished, and then our genes infect you like a virus, and you either become one of us, or you become nothing but bones and dust. Vampires have nothing on us.
I throw myself upon her, sinking my fangs into her skull. I stay that way, drowning in the tastes of eternity, for five minutes. Then I let go, eager to get my second fill before I sleep.
My second victim is already standing over me. When I release the woman, who promptly turns to dust, I look up and see him looking down at me with a teary expression, as if he were sorry for something.
“I’m so sorry that happened to you,” he cries. I stand up and begin the chase.
It is not long before I find myself in the left side of the confession booth, my prey on the right side.
He asks me, “Do you not remember me?” I just stare back at him through the holes in the wall separating the sections of the booth, my mouth watering. “I am your son! You are my father!”
Something abnormal stirs within me. A feeling that my kind is not supposed to be able to, not allowed to have: just a touch of…love. This young teenage boy is—was—my son. I must have loved him before I had changed into a beast. But as quickly and unexpectedly as it had come, the feeling vanishes completely. Forever.
I grip the wall through the holes and pull a large chunk out of it. I dive through the hole, landing on the boy.
“You don’t have to do this, you know,” he softly informs me.
I embrace him, hold him close. He puts his arms around me. And I bite him on the top of his shoulder, still holding m former son tight.
“Well,” he says, even as his eyes turn bright red, “I guess this means we’ll always be together, right?” He gives a nervous chuckle, even as his canine teeth sharpen and grow ever-so-slightly longer. And then I release him.
And then I hear a loud, booming sound. Just a single sound that rings endlessly in my ears.
The clock tower. One chime.
It is one o’ clock.
We both step out of the confession booth. The pack begins walking towards the entrance. Stained glass is scattered about the floor in a minefield of shards. Benches are overturned; some are even snapped in half, splinters jutting out towards the ceiling like a fascinated child reaching for the stars.
When it reaches the outdoors, the pack begins to disperse. I find myself walking towards my mansion, my former home. The Paradox Child walks to the park. My former son, my eternal son, follows behind me. When we reach the front lawn, I notice that the tall oak tree that I had always been fond of is missing.
Then my son and I take position on the damp grass. And we begin to change. I grow taller, much taller, until I tower over the great house behind me. My arms stretch outward, become wood, and leaves sprout from them. More limbs sprout from my arms. Acorns dangle from some of them.
I am the tall oak tree.
* * *
Now, we sleep. But we shall awaken again. Tomorrow night.
We will come when twelve chimes ring out for all to hear, a dark warning to everybody saying we are coming. And then, for the first hour of the new day, we will feed. We will feast. And the cycle will continue forever more.
We are your worst nightmares. We are coming for you. We are oh, so hungry.
We are the Midnight Beasts.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
It happened one morning that Westley was riding the subway to school when it began to screech to a halt.
“Somebody’s on the tracks!” someone cried.
“Wait! Who is that? It looks like a medieval knight!” said somebody else.
“Look, he just pushed the person on the tracks out of the way! We’re going to hit the knight!”
There was such a commotion that nobody noticed the train speeding up again. Or that the train never hit anybody. Or that someone in the armor of a knight had saved an innocent person from a painful death.
Except for Westley. He almost could not believe it. How could anybody be so heroic? Apparently, knights could. If only he could be a knight. The problems with that were that he was only eleven years old…and knights were not really around anymore.
For the rest of the day, Westley daydreamed that he was the bravest knight in New York City, saving fifty princesses in a single day. He did not hear his lessons. He did not hear his friends whispering to him during class. The crowded lunchroom, which was always so noisy that it sounded like constant white noise, was hardly a whisper to Westley. Instead, he heard praise from kings and queens (and the mayor) for his achievements and his outstanding courage.
In fact, he only snapped out of it while staring at his homework after school. It was when he heard mention of the heroic knight in the subway from the news, which his mother was watching in the other room.
“Early this morning, a Brooklyn woman was reported to have stood on the tracks of an incoming subway,” a female news reporter began. “She was supposedly attempting to commit suicide. But this attempt failed when somebody wearing a knight costume tackled her out of the way and successfully got out of the way himself!”
A man’s voice began to speak. It sounded like the engineer that Westley had heard announce each stop on the subway that morning. “The knight was about half a second from being hit. While I’d been slowing down the train, it would’ve still probably been a fatal hit.”
Then it switched back to the news reporter, who continued to discuss the incident. She eventually concluded by saying that the identity of the hero may never be known.
Now, it just so happened that Westley owned his own knight costume from Halloween a few years back. So at eleven o’ clock, when his mother went to bed, he put on his costume, snuck out of his apartment, and went out into the city to save the day. Not that he knew exactly whom or what exactly he would be saving. He just let his hero-fever take hold of him and guide his way. Nobody seemed to think anything of the little knight walking around Brooklyn; they knew that the real knight had been a full-grown man.
Nobody paid him any attention…until he saw a woman getting mugged by three tough men in a side alley. As soon as his brain had processed what was happening, he leaped into action. He ran into the alley. The crooks looked up from pinning the victim to the ground, startled by the figure rushing towards them. But at the last moment, Westley tripped over a pothole and fell. Luckily, his costume protected him from getting much more than a couple bruises, but it was not enough to protect him from the hit that his ego took. The dent was made worse when the crooks realized what had just happened and started laughing at him. Then they just finished what they had gone there to do, easily snatching the woman’s purse from her hands, and they left the alley, stepping over the poor boy lying on the ground sobbing to himself.
The woman got up and brushed herself off. Then she walked over to Westley and knelt down. “That was very brave. Thank you for trying. I don’t really care that you didn’t stop them; I am touched that you even tried.” Westley’s sobbing slowed down and eventually came to a stop. He lifted his head up, his knight helmet falling off, its plastic cracked all down one side. “What is your name?” the woman asked.
“Thank you very much, Westley. My name is Anita. If you want, I can walk you home.”
“But what about those guys who took your purse?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“My mom’s going to freak out if she finds out about this.”
Anita smiled. “I promise I won’t tell. Now, I’ll walk you home, but then it’s up to you to sneak back into bed. And I’ll be waiting outside the door for a few minutes, just in case she’s awake.”
Westley smiled, too. “Okay, sounds like a plan. Let’s go.”
Westley went to school the next morning, making sure that he did not start daydreaming about valiant knights or damsels in distress. He had been lucky the previous night; his mother had been sound asleep when Anita and he had arrived back at the apartment, and, after saying goodbye to Anita, he was able to sneak back into bed without causing too much noise.
He was just emerging from the depths of the subway station below when he saw a large, shiny, black van screeching around a corner only about five or six blocks away. People realized the danger of the situation and began running to the sidewalks, and some more cowardly people even went inside shops to seek shelter from the out-of-control van.
However, there was one man, wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day when the sun was still rising, standing in the middle of the street and looking around confusedly, wondering what all the commotion was about.
Without thinking about what he was doing, let alone how dangerous it was, Westley ran towards that man, while the black van rumbled towards him, going well over the speed limit. The young boy grabbed the man’s shirt sleeve when he got close enough and just kept running as quickly as his legs could take him.
“Hey! Can’t you give a blind man a break?”
The force from the rush of air that followed the speeding van inches away from where he and the blind man stood safely on the sidewalk almost caused Westley to lose his balance. He felt very faint from overexertion, but at the same time he felt relief and, most of all, proud.
The news crew arrived at Westley’s house while his mother was cooking dinner. But before they started rolling the camera to interview him, he asked to be excused for a moment and dashed into his bedroom.
When Westley emerged, he was holding a long, shining, plastic sword in one hand. And he was dressed up in the shining armor of a knight. But nothing shined brighter that night than the wide, proud smile on Westley’s face.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Thriller. 1,928 words. 14th story written consecutively. Rated M (Mature) for some bloody violence, disturbing situations, & mild language.Reader discretion is advised. This story is not appropriate (strong violence & disturbing situations) for children under the age of 12.
I swear that the cheering of the crowd nearly just blasted a hole in each of my eardrums. Add that to the freezing cold, and I am not having a good time at Times Square. I need to get out of here. Too many people. Too much noise. Overwhelming. Someone help me. Please. “Help!” It’s all a blur now. Losing focus. Ground, rushing toward me. Ow.
They call it an asylum. An asylum is a safe haven. The Woodstone Institute is no asylum. There aren’t even any beds. Just chairs bolted to the floor. Everything is bolted to the floor. It’s to prevent patients who are classified insane, which make up almost the entire clientele, from picking up furniture and throwing it at each other.
Not even a minute after I had regained consciousness, I had found myself in a plush chair—it was, of course, bolted down—being interrogated by some old psychiatrist. Twenty minutes later, he told me, “William, we are going to take care of you and make you better again, but I’m sorry because you have a very serious case of PTSD.”
“What’s that?” I had grumbled.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder,” he replied. “Something happened to you that you don’t seem to remember; PTSD develops when the person is put through a very awful and traumatic experience or experiences. Symptoms include those you described: emotional sensitivity to loud noises and crowds.”
“Well, what happened to me?” I shot at him, wanting to strike out. This had scared me a little, as violence is typically not in my nature unless I am a victim of direct physical violence.
“Like I said, we are not sure yet. But we are going to help you find that out over the next month.”
“The next month?” I shouted. I found myself looking for something to grab, something to use as a weapon. It didn’t take me long. Bad idea, doctor.
I leaped out of my comfortable chair and grabbed the stapler on the psychiatrist’s desk. An hour ago, I found out that it was the only stapler in the facility. You’d think there wouldn’t be any staplers in the facility. Anyway, I grabbed the stapler, opened it up, and slammed it down on the back of the old man’s neck before he could react.
Doubling over in pain, he still managed to press a button on his desk and say, through clenched teeth, “Code Red. Hostile patient. Also, bring a first aid kit. I have a staple remover, so no need for you to bring one.” I must not have been the first patient to hit him with his stapler. You’d think he’d have gotten rid of it after the first time, yet he acted as if it had happened many times.
Two men and a woman, all clothed in white, rushed into the room. The woman was holding a small white box, and one of the men was holding a syringe. The two men lunged at me. These guys were clearly trained because I was pinned down still holding the stapler. And no matter how hard I tried to break free of their grasp, I couldn’t move. I screamed. Then, the man with the syringe stabbed the needle into my neck and pushed the sedative into my bloodstream. I gave up then; I knew it was no use. I’d seen too many TV shows.
I look out the small window in the door, and I see the two men who had tackled me before walking towards my room. They are finally coming to get me. One opens the door, and the other comes in and takes the straightjacket off of me. He then escorts me out of the “Fluffy Room” and leads me to the room that would serve as my home for an entire month.
The floor, wall, and ceiling are all bare, gray cement. I now understand why this is supposedly one of the cheaper “asylums.” A silver, metal table sits on one side of the room, and a silver, metal chair sits on the other. My extra clothes, which were brought from my home while I was in the Fluffy Room, are neatly stacked on a shelf hanging above the window. Luckily, the chair on the right side of the room is close enough to the window to be used as a stool. Overall, the room is quite homely. A whole month? My condition will surely get worse being stuck here. At least the Fluffy Room is cozy.
“Do you have family, William?” the escort asks me.
“No. I’m just a lonely thirty-three-year-old man. Got a problem with that?” I would never have talked like that before coming here. I must have gone through something worse than anything I could ever have imagined.
“No, but that’s okay. Sorry to hear that, though. You know, many of our patients find it therapeutic to write a letter home, even the ones that don’t have anyone to write to at home.” He took out a paper and a pencil and handed them to me. “My name’s Jerome, by the way. I’ll be your personal…assistant. If you need anything, come to me.” I find it amazing how polite he could be to me after the whole stapler incident. After all, he was the one who had administered the sedative.
I smile and thank him. He leaves. I walk over to the shiny table on the left side of the room. There is no chair or anything for me to sit on in front of the table. So I’ll have to stand.
But what to write?
“THREE! TWO! ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Of course. It’s New Year’s Day. And I haven’t made my New Year’s resolution yet! I think about all the things I want to strive for in the coming year. I want to gather up the courage to ask a girl on a date; I’ve never been able to do that my entire life. I want to watch less TV. Nah, that’s too easy.
I look around me. And something clicks inside me. I know what I want. I want freedom. I want to get out of Woodstone.
This year, I will get myself out of Woodstone. No matter what the cost. And it looks like it will have to cost at least a few lives.
Jerome will have to go first. It shouldn’t be too difficult. He gave me a weapon. His partner, whose name I don’t even know, will also need to go sooner rather than later. Then comes the woman with the first aid kit; she helped my worst enemy.
Lastly, I will dispose of my worst enemy: Dr. Wilkinson, the psychiatrist.
I write my list down and fold up the paper. I start biting my fingernails in anticipation. I just have to wait for Jerome to come back. And then I will be free within a half-hour or so.
“TEN! NINE! EIGHT! SEVEN! SIX!”
When is this? I try to look up at the year below the sparkling, glowing glass ball, but it’s out of focus. Wait. This was last night. Seconds before I snapped. What happened then? Why am I crazy?
I’m surprised I’d fallen asleep at all sitting in the hard, metal chair across my room from the table. Why aren’t there any damn beds in this place?
“William?” Jerome pokes his head around the door. I think I see his partner behind him. Too easy. “Arnold and I are here to give you some pills. They will help you calm down a bit.” He walks in with a cup of water. Arnold follows him in holding two small pills in one hand. When Jerome offers me the cup of water, I just stare back at him. He smiles. And it drives me insane. Oh, wait; I’m already insane.
My right hand, which I had had behind my back gripping the still-sharp pencil, flies out of hiding. Standing up, I jam the pencil right into Jerome’s throat, take it right out, then knock him out with a punch to the head so he can lose blood quietly. Arnold is too stunned to react in time. He suffers the same fate. That was too easy.
I take a red shirt from my shelf and wipe the blood on it. Lesson: don’t lock up a clever person in a mental institution.
I dumped the bodies down an old garbage chute I’d found from before this had become an “asylum.” Nobody is going to find them down there. Or at least link the murders to me.
Over the next week, I discover that the first aid woman from that first day, Cheryl, makes regular visits to Dr. Wilkinson’s office to check up on his punctures. Apparently, one of the holes made by the staple had actually become infected. Cheryl checks up on him every other evening. And tonight is one of her nights.
After dinner, I return to my room like a good little boy. I wait a while, the door open a crack. When I see Cheryl walk by my room, I quietly and carefully follow after her. She enters Wilkinson’s room as soon as she reaches his door. I wait a minute or two and then knock on the door. I smile as I enter the room.
“Sorry about last week, doctor,” I say.
“Oh, no need to worry about it. It was an appropriate response.” Typical Wilkinson reply.
I casually close the door behind me and lock it. I casually walk over to Cheryl. I casually bend down and pick up a syringe out of her open first aid box. Then, not-so-casually, I grab Cheryl’s shoulder and plunge the needle into it, pushing all of the sedative in. Wilkinson presses his button, but before he can declare a Code Red, I am there with the stapler, slamming at least five staples into his throat. He begins wheezing. I look for another sedative. There’s one in his top drawer. How convenient. He’s gone in seconds.
To finish off Cheryl, I take the bottle of disinfectant from her first aid kit and pour the whole contents of it into her mouth for her to either choke on or swallow when she comes to. Either way, she’s dead. Revenge is sweet.
I hear footsteps. Wilkinson had still pressed the button. And there aren’t any red shirts in here. I’m a sitting duck. Not so clever now, eh, self?
I bolt out of there and head for the garbage chute.
“FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Suddenly, the sound of gunshots pierces the screams and shouts of joy. Those screams and shouts become panicked and frightened. People everywhere. All running in different directions. So tall.
“Daddy!” I call. Then I trip. Someone steps on my leg. I scream, tears flowing like a wild river down my round cheeks. Someone steps on my hand. I hear the crunch this time. Someone kicks me in the head. I black out.
Crying, I get up. I probably have a concussion. Note to self: don’t go headfirst down a garbage chute.
I remember it all now. I had been five. I had pushed it out of my mind completely until it was given a crack to squeeze back in through while I was at Times Square last week.
“Hey! Stop him!” Shouts from around the corner. I run. And run. And run.
When I am running across the street, I don’t hear the screeching of tires until the very last moment. Ow.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Fantasy. 688 words. 15th story written consecutively. Rated T (Teen) for disturbing situations.
An Ultimalia-Zelda Universe Creativity Corner Original Short Story
“The Open Gate”
It started yesterday. I had been walking down the sidewalk near school after a long, hard, stressful day in that oppressive building when I noticed an open gate across the street to my left. Okay, that’s nothing really special. But it was a very special gate. Why? Because nobody makes a gate that’s studded with hundreds of tiny gemstones and that is otherwise made out of pure gold. Not even for the Queen.
I crossed the street and walked through the open, black gate, drops of water on the iron causing it to shine. I found myself on a driveway. But not one leading up to a house. The driveway was leading me nowhere.
For hours, I walked through a wood so thick that the sun shied away from it, not even trying to light it up. The entire time, I felt the brick road beneath my feet, leading me through the forest and across plains covered in flowers until I would finally reach the Emerald City that awaited me. Or so I fantasized.
The road soon took me out of the forest. I was walking over a highway. Cars roared, exhaust fumes gushing out of the pipes under each one. The smell became almost unbearable. I felt my throat close up. I had to turn back.
And as soon as that thought crossed my mind, the smell went away. Weird. I decided to continue on. But before I did, I took out my cell phone so I could call my mother and tell her I’d be getting home a little late; in my mind, only a half-hour or so had passed. I looked at the screen, which read, “No Service.” Oh, well. My mom would understand.
The road continued onwards. I began to get a bit hungry. A sign in front of me indicated that a rest stop is located five minutes away. Five minutes later, I turned off of the road and walked into the empty parking lot of a rest area. I walked in and went up to the counter of a Sbarro pizzeria. No one was there. But there was pizza behind the glass heater. Since nobody else was there, I decided not to let the cheese pizza go to waste. So I climbed over the counter and proceeded to eat a couple slices. Then I left the building. It didn’t occur to me until I’d already made it back to the road and walked about ten minutes that rest areas tend to have road maps. Oh, well. Maybe I’ll find another rest area.
However, the road soon left the highway environment, and I found myself walking through a scorching desert. It wasn’t long before I was so thirsty that I could feel my tongue swelling up and I could hardly salivate. I had no choice but to turn around. But wait; how convenient! An oasis with the clearest water you could ever imagine rested at the bottom of the dune I was currently crossing, just off of the road. I pushed myself to get to it, and when I did, I spent a couple hours wading in the cool water and slurping it up until it was gone.
I returned to the road and just kept walking. And walking. And walking. And whenever I had the thought of turning back, something would always conveniently appear that would satisfy my needs. And I would keep walking.
A day later, I am still walking. In fact, it only seems like a day to me, but I am sure that it has been much longer; my watch, unlike my phone, says it is a week after I first left. I can only imagine what my mom is going through.
Being conscious that I am trapped, forever walking on an endless road and taking breaks only when a seat or bed appears (which tends to happen only when I am about to collapse), I don’t know why I don’t just turn around and run back home. All I know is that I stepped through an impossible, open gate and was lost for all of eternity.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Folktale. 1,543 words. 16th story written consecutively. Rated G (General Readers).
“Wonders of the Sky”
People called him a traveler. He called himself an explorer.
“What do you explore?” they would ask.
“The world,” he would answer. “I explore the world, looking for the impossible wonders that I know lie in wait for me somewhere out there.”
Along his travels, he became known, in nine different languages, as the Wanderer, the one who wandered the planet, searching for…. What exactly he was searching for was one of the great mysteries of the time.
There were those who wanted desperately to help the Wanderer in his massive search. These devout few called themselves the Followers, the self-proclaimed “chosen” ones who tagged along behind the Wanderer in his wanderings, aspiring to discover what it was that he was looking for.
One day, while the Wanderer happened to be looking the great, mysterious Stonehenge up, down, and all around, one of his Followers approached him slowly. Now this was unusual, as the Wanderer almost always ignored the Followers, and the Followers tended to watch him from a good distance. Well, this daring Follower chose to take a risk and ask the one simple question that would change the Followers’ movement for the remainder of the Wanderer’s long, unknown journey.
“Excuse me, sir,” the Follower began cautiously, “but I was just wondering: what sort of ‘impossible wonders’ are you searching for?”
The Wanderer looked up from Stonehenge, beginning to observe instead this curious stranger standing in the center of the ring of towering stone structures. The two of them—the short, middle-aged man who wandered the Earth, and the tall, skinny, young man who had dared to ask a forbidden yet pressing question—just stood there for a while, looking into each other’s eyes.
It was not until after the two men had been standing there idly for ten minutes that a smile began creeping its way into visibility on the Wanderer’s face. The Follower did not know what to make of this, but he stood his ground. Then, the self-proclaimed explorer spoke.
“I am looking for magic,” the Wanderer declared. At that moment, there was a great stir in the crowd of Followers listening from afar. “Magic?” What could he possibly mean by “magic?” A couple of the more confused Followers broke off from the crowd just then with the intention of visiting the nearest bookshop in order to purchase the Harry Potter series for the Wanderer. Unfortunately for them, the Follower-Who-Dared—as he came to be known—decided a mere minute after they had left to ask the Wanderer the very question that was now on the other Followers’ minds.
“Magic, sir?” inquired the Follower-Who-Dared.
“Yes,” the Wanderer replied. “I am searching for wonders so impossible that they could only be magical.”
The Follower-Who-Dared then decided to dare further. “Have you come close to finding any of these wonders yet, sir?”
The Wanderer frowned, making the Follower-Who-Dared a tad nervous. “No, I haven’t. Not in the Amazon Rainforest, not in the city of New York, not in the old shrines and temples of Japan, not in the small villages of India, not in the savannas of Africa, not in the Welsh countryside, and not even in the impossible, ancient monument we stand beside as we speak. I am beginning to fear the worst: perhaps there is no such thing as magic.”
The nearby Followers were aghast after hearing the Wanderer’s last statement. Had their “master” given up all hope of success? Was their journey at a close? Was there really no magic to be found anywhere on this Earth?
These questions began eating away at the Followers. Some began to cry. Others just left, returning home. Still others even went a little insane. However, minutes later, the Wanderer continued.
“Despite this…horrifying notion, I have decided to try one final location, although I must admit that I am not optimistic.” The Follower-Who-Dared just stared at the Wanderer, filled with dread and despair, as a single teardrop began snaking its way down his idol’s cheek. As the teardrop hit the green grass of Stonehenge, he felt something die inside himself, and he fell to his knees.
The Wanderer turned away, ashamed.
The next morning, the Wanderer, along with his remaining Followers, boarded an airplane at London-Heathrow Airport, bound for the American Midwest, where great, rolling plains—and the final destination on his long, wonderful, sad journey—awaited him.
Throughout the long flight, the atmosphere in the Followers’ cabin was somber at its best. Every one of them knew that this was likely the end of their quest and that the chances of the Wanderer finding what he was looking for were utterly ill.
The Wanderer himself was exceptionally distraught, to the point that he began trying everything he could think of to distract himself from thinking about the upcoming step in his journey, the very last. First, he tried taking a nap. When he realized that he would not be falling asleep on that rumbling jet, he resorted to picking up and opening SkyMall. He soon discovered that, while some of the items shown in the catalog would be nice to have, there was no way he would be able to afford them. Finally, he took two sleeping pills—more than he had ever been willing to take at once—and in fifteen minutes, he managed to fall into a long, troubled sleep.
Seven hours later, the plane landed. The Wanderer felt woozy from the double dose of sleeping pills, but he still managed to drag himself off the plane, through customs, and out the airport doors, his Followers following fairly close behind him, most of them afraid that their exhausted idol would collapse without warning.
The Wanderer took a taxi (whose driver he paid a hefty sum in order to be driven out by the plains) to the side of a quiet road that stretched through the plains themselves. By the time the taxi arrived at his destination, the effect of the sleeping pills had worn off.
The very fact that the Wanderer had taken a taxi caused a big problem for the Followers in that the plains were big, and they had no idea where exactly the Wanderer was going to be dropped off. In addition, none of the Followers had any mode of transportation with which to follow the Wanderer’s taxi and keep up. In the end, they were forced to wait for the Wanderer’s return, booking a block of rooms at the airport hotel.
Thus, the Wanderer began his final search for magic without begin shadowed by his Followers. He closely examined the tall grass that surrounded his legs up to his knees. He silently circled a vigilant prairie dog that was sniffing the cool evening air above ground. He stopped to look at every different thing, living or not, that he could find, searching for any magic that would be the only explanation for its existence.
It was getting dark, and the Wanderer still had not found any magic in the seemingly endless plains. Still, he continued his search, which quickly became desperate. Soon, he was running around frantically, flashlight in hand, looking around at everything. Grief soon overcame the Wanderer. He gripped his head with both hands and broke out in huge, painful sobs. He felt his legs carry him backward, trying to get away.
And then, he tripped. Until his back hit the ground, it had seemed perfectly innocent and ordinary. The Wanderer had tripped on a patch of tangled grass while walking backward. However, it changed his life. For as he lay there on his back in the middle of the silent American plains, he saw what he had been looking for for years. He saw magic…in the sky.
The Wanderer saw the stars of the night sky.
As he looked up into the twinkling lights above him, undisturbed by artificial light or clouds, he found himself floating away from his body, drifting towards the breathtaking sky. It was not long before he found himself surrounded by the beautiful shards of shining light, letting the magic of the stars bring him before their brilliant majesty. He spent what seemed like hours, even days, observing the stars up close, finding no flaws and no explanation, all the while confirming his belief that he had found magic at last.
The stars. Huge spheres of burning gas and plasma, lighting the vacuum of space and the surface of Earth at night. So perfect, so…beautiful. And as each one dies, many more are born, yet they are not alive. How could it be anything else besides magic? The night sky was the most beautiful thing that the Wanderer had ever seen. Magic.
As he lay there in the grass, however, he felt his years catch up to him. He suddenly felt old and tired and ragged. His long journey had come to an end, and there was nothing left to find.
And so, as the Wanderer lay there, looking up at the magic above him, he felt his soul pass on as he died with a smile so bright still shining on his face.
And if one were to look down at his lifeless body, one would still see in his eyes the magical twinkle of the stars.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
It has been called the Light. However, few have ever seen it…besides King Arten. And those who have seen it find themselves locked away in the castle dungeon. Forever.
Despite the likely consequences of even laying eyes on the Light, many denizens of the kingdom travel far and attempt (rarely successfully) to sneak past the royal guards and cleverly break into the not-so-secret hidden room behind the throne room without alerting the guards. This is because it is said that the Light is a great treasure that is worth so much, the value could feed the entire kingdom for twenty-four years.
Unfortunately, King Arten is terribly selfish. His selfishness can be traced back to his upbringing; his parents were determined not to spoil their son, despite his being a prince, and they deprived him of many of the privileges and permissions that would normally be granted to princes, such as huge feasts, any toy in the world…even friends—Arten’s parents decided that he should make all of his friends, but Arten himself was too withdrawn and modest to feel comfortable socializing with other children his age.
Now that he is king and his parents are gone, he feels free to take what he wants and keep every bit of it to himself, having been deprived of so many things throughout his childhood. His selfishness is the kingdom’s worst enemy, for he will let no man, woman, or child lay a finger on the Light. In addition, it does not make him the best of rulers. No.
King Arten will have to go.
Damen was one of the many who decided to make a grab for the Light. Unlike most, however, he was also after something else: his little brother, Isaac. Isaac had “faulty” knees, as his family described them, so when His Majesty, King Arten, had walked down the street one day, Isaac was the only person unable to bow to his king. The king had had him sent to the dungeon, despite the explanations and pleas of Isaac’s parents. Isaac was only ten years old.
And so, Damen had a legitimate reason for being in the royal castle during the time when he planned to swipe the Light. That eliminated the many royal guards outside, who, luckily for Damen, were much more plentiful than those inside. Yet he still had to worry about the guards inside the castle. Most of whom were in the throne room, pretending that they were guarding the king himself when they were actually guarding the throne, which was the door to the Light’s chamber.
Damen entered the castle with no problems, as he had a scheduled audience with the king. He was there to bargain for Isaac’s release, with no price at all being his goal, though he was quite skeptical that that the king would understand his brother’s knee problems and just give him up like that. He was nervous, too. He had never spoken a word to the king before, and he was terrified that he might say something wrong, which the king has had a few of his subjects executed for before.
The king sat on his throne looking grumpy and bored—in other words, perfectly normal. Damen approached the throne and bowed about ten feet away. Arten nodded, and Damen stood up again.
“Sire, two months ago, you walked down my street, and a child did not bow down to you as you approached,” began Damen.
Arten’s expression became even more bored. “Yes, I know that already.”
“Well, you see, sir, that child was my younger brother, Isaac. Since birth, the condition of his knees has worsened, and I fear he may lose them soon. Because you see, Your Majesty, the only reason my brother did not bow to you that day was that he was incapable of doing so; he cannot bend his knees. Sure, his knees bend; I believe that you observed that for yourself as your guards—” Damen hesitated, now aware that he may have been about to say something that King Arten would interpret as an attack. “—as your guards carried him. However, lord, it pains him something terrible to bend his knees.”
Arten glared back at the youth, as if expecting more. When he realized that was the end of the boy’s speech, he snapped, “I am sorry to hear that. Now, what is your point?”
Damen stifled a retort that suddenly began crawling up his throat. “Well, sir, my parents are worried sick about Isaac and would be ever so grateful to you if you could allow him to return home. They also wish you to know that they are deeply sorry for the incident and that Isaac did not mean to offend you in any way.”
The king thought to himself for a moment, then gave his answer. “He should have endured the pain for a minute. He stays here for another ten months.”
“But sir! We can give you all of the wheat currently in our fields—!”
“But nothing!” Arten shouted, getting annoyed. “He stays! That’s final, though I am touched by your concern for your brother. Now, move along!” He stood up and walked out of the room, heading for his bedchamber to take his nap.
Damen was filled with grief. His parents would be angry with him for failing in his mission. Then he remembered the other reason he was at the castle. He cheered up instantly and turned around as if he were about to walk towards the front doors. Then he drew a rune from his pocket and tossed it out into the center of the room, immediately turning back towards the throne and ducking. When the rune hit the floor, a blinding light shot out and bathed the entire throne room. The light faded almost instantly, and when Damen turned around, every guard was sprawled out on the ground unconscious, not even having had the time to shout. Too easy.
He ran up to the throne and checked each side for hinges connecting the golden chair to the stone wall behind. Sure enough, there they were on the left side. The boy grabbed the right side of the chair and pulled it away from the wall. A faint glow could be seen in the room beyond. The Light.
Damen stepped into the hidden room and gazed at the Light in awe. He was not sure what he was looking at. The Light was simply a ball of light hovering a few feet off of the ground. That is all it was. Or was it?
The boy reached out his hand to touch it. His fingers had barely made contact when he heard footsteps and everything went black.
Damen woke up in a dark, musty cell with mold-covered stone walls. He found himself on a wooden board that he assumed was the cell’s bed. When he rolled onto his side, he found that there was another wooden board on the opposite side of the room; someone was standing on it. He knew that face. It looked thinner than it had two months earlier, but it was definitely the same face.
“Isaac,” he said.
The younger boy looked up from the floor, and his eyes brightened. “Damen!”
“Quiet down in there!” a voice called from beyond the bars. Damen saw that it was a royal guard who for some unknown reason did not looked bored, despite the fact that his job was to stand or sit in one place day and night, making sure nobody escaped, which never happened anyway.
Isaac walked over to his older brother. “The king was very mad at you. He said you came here to ‘bug him’ about me and then tried to steal the Light.”
Damen looked at the filthy ground, ashamed. “I thought that I'd use the Light as backup for getting you out of here. I was planning on taking it and then exchanging it for you.”
Isaac beckoned him to stand up. He leaned in and began whispering in Damen’s ear. “You needn’t have exchanged it had you gotten it.”
Damen glanced over at the guard, who was paying no attention to the two boys to his left and was instead staring ahead with a pike held upright in his right hand, attempting to look menacing but not succeeding since nobody was really watching him anyway. “How do you mean?” he whispered back.
“I have seen what the Light can do, even experienced it.”
“The Light can do something?” whispered Damen, confused. Then he thought about what he saw in the dark room behind the king’s throne: an energy, a power, not a physical object.
“Yes,” replied Isaac. “The king used it on me.”
“What did it do?”
“It forced me to bow.”
“How?” Damen was getting worried. Very worried.
“By making me want to bow.”
Damen was stunned. This was beyond any power he had ever known of. The Light was able to bend the people’s wills if what his brother was telling him was true. Able to alter people’s thoughts and decisions without physical force. The Light suddenly scared Damen, and the thought that that power was in the hands of tyrannical King Arten was absolutely terrifying.
“Even though I technically wanted to bow, it still hurt as much as usual,” Isaac added. And Damen was sent over the edge.
Over the next ten months, Damen schemed and prepared. He would be escaping Arten’s dirty dungeon. If not, he would be stuck there for the rest of his life while his brother walked out officially after ten months’ time. So he set to work on a plan to get out of there…and then get rid of Arten.
He started by removing some of the loose bricks that hung ever so slightly out of the walls—there were a fair amount of them—and began scraping runic symbols into each one using the other bricks. By the time it came time for Isaac to be released, everything was ready.
The quartet of guards that made up Isaac’s escort out of the castle and back to the safety of his own home again came at dawn on the one-year anniversary of the bowing incident. The guard on duty took a key out from a small compartment in the wall behind him then proceeded to unlock the door. The barred door opened with an ear-piercing screech. The other guards walked into the cell and helped Isaac stand up—he had been laying down since he was too weak to stand up for long periods of time.
The guards were quite polite to Isaac, especially compared to the ones who had taken him away three-hundred sixty-five days earlier. They let him walk on his own with some support so as to spare him most of the pain that he often must endure while walking.
On their way out of the castle, they passed through the throne room, which was empty, as in the ten months since Damen’s attempt to steal the Light, an enchantment had been placed on the hinges of the throne-door that prevented all but King Arten from opening it. As they walked across the long, blood-red carpet that stretched from the castle entrance to the throne, a small, ant-sized figure slid down the leg of Isaac’s pants and began making its way towards the throne.
After Isaac and the guards left the throne room, Damen grew back to his full size by activating a regrowth rune that was bound to the shrink rune he had used so that he would be put back to his original size. He then proceeded to take out a disenchantment rune, with which he tapped each hinge. The enchantment broke immediately. In no time, he was behind the throne and inside the hidden chamber.
Damen reached out and grasped the Light in both hands. All of a sudden, he blacked out as his mind was flooded with all of the stolen decisions and captive wills the Light had gathered over the years. Before he had passed out completely, however, he was able to discover the truth that had been stolen not from a few traitors to the crown...but from the entire kingdom.
Arten was the first monarch of the kingdom.
Nobody found Damen and locked him up again. He’ll never know if it was just luck or if holding the Light in his hands had anything to do with it. All he knew was that he now had the means of getting rid of the false king who was Arten: the truth. The boy tucked the Light under one arm and ran out the castle.
“Stop!” a guard shouted at him as he hustled down the great, stone steps leading from the castle. Damen paid the guard no attention and just kept running. At least ten guards began chasing after him. The boy was running on almost pure adrenaline now in a mad race to deliver the Light, the most important treasure of them all, to the people of the land.
The shining sphere of light awed the boy as he picked it up. It had been a mistake, the result of including the wrong rune in a spell he was practicing, but it was beautiful. And it spoke to him. It said, “I can give you glory.” And the boy said, “Really?” The entity replied, “Yes. Eternal glory. Just present me to your enemies, and they will treat you like a god.” The boy smiled and daydreamed of being a king who had everything.
Damen kept running. He ran down his own street, not stopping to see his parents or Isaac, just trying to stay ahead of the guards who continued to chase him. Soon, he was beyond his village, which the royal castle rested on the other side of. He did not know exactly where he was going, but he knew his destination and the direction it was in from his village: south. His village rested in the north end of the kingdom, directly above the center. And the dead center of the kingdom was where Damen was headed.
Sure enough, when the boy showed the ball of light to his parents and his friends, they gave him whatever he wanted and treated him with the utmost respect. He went to a builder and asked how much it would cost to have a castle built by the village. The shining sphere grew brighter for a brief moment before returning to its original level of radiance. The builder replied, “Nothing at all.” And the construction began immediately.
Damen soon reached a river. Without hesitating, he began wading across. Luckily, it had not rained in over a week, so the current was not too strong and the water level only reached his waist at its deepest. In minutes, he was across. He began to run again, a great stone tower rising up in the distance.
The castle was finished in two years. The boy, now an adolescent, thanked the builder, and the builder just grinned and said, “Anything for you, milord.” People came from all over the land to see this brilliant new structure. The boy invited them all inside to show them an even greater treasure.
As he neared the stone tower, Damen drew a fire rune from his pocket, and once he was close enough, he tossed the rune at the wooden door, which was suddenly caught in a mighty blaze. When he was close enough for the heat to begin to burn, he drew and threw a water rune, instantly dousing the inferno. He easily kicked a hole in the door and began making his way up the spiral stair that ringed the inside of the tower. On the way up, he felt a strange presence fighting him.
That night, when all had left his castle, the boy sat down in a mighty, golden throne. His ball of light then spoke to him again, “You need to hide me away now. But do not fear, for I will make sure that all will continue to adore you.” And so, the boy moved aside the throne with some help from some of those who swore to protect him and used a rune to blow a hole in the wall. He continued using runes to clear out a room in which to put the energy. “What if more people are born who don’t like me?” the boy asked before leaving the light orb in the room. “I am now connected to them and thus to their offspring. I will consume their offspring’s thoughts as soon as they are born, and they will always love you.” And the boy left, satisfied. And the energy went to sleep, no longer hungry for the time being.
The Light began trying to wrench its way out from under Damen’s arm, and Damen had a very hard time holding onto it, all the while escaping the few guards who had continued to chase him. His legs were killing him, and it burned for him to breathe. He stumbled onto the top of the tower and used every last bit of strength to keep his grip on the writhing Light and hold it up to the sky. And just as the guards rushed onto the roof, streams of light began flowing out of the Light and spinning and spiraling around the tower.
“No!” a voice hissed.
And as the strings of blinding light consumed it, waves of light began spreading out from the tower, passing through the countryside, the forests, the mountains, the villages. And the kingdom saw the light. The truth. The people were free.
The castle fell that day. Arten was confirmed to have died in the brief siege that tore the castle apart. His tyrannical rule had ended once and for all.
Damen returned home with what remained of the Light—just a rune—and smashed it in the village square, a burst of yellow dust escaping the rubble as the Light let out its last breath. The guards who had chased him apologized for trying to stop him, and Damen forgave them, for they had only been blind to the truth like everyone else.
Damen’s parents cried tears of the purest joy when they reunited with the son they had thought gone forever. Damen himself also cried because all four of them were back together again, and he would not have it any other way.
Over the next two years, Damen became an experienced healer. One day, he discovered the perfect circle of runes that would allow him to repair his little brother’s knees. Isaac bowed to him that day. And it did not hurt one bit.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
Sci-fi. 1,498 words. 18th story written consecutively. Rated T (Teen) for some disturbing situations and mild language.
The Many Worlds of EzloSpirit
A short story by EzloSpirit
“Captain, we have a problem,” Midshipman Prance noted.
“It’s nothing; don’t worry about it,” Captain Gora replied.
“But, sir—the proximity sensors on the engine core are going crazy, as if it was in contact with something or some things all over the core.”
Suddenly, Borton, former personal escort of the Ambassador, spoke over the intercom. “Hello, Captain. Midshipman. How are you today? It’s been a while since we’ve spoken.”
“Borton? Is something the matter?” said Prance.
“Not for long. You see, your passengers have wronged me. My brother, Artur, shot me in the leg and stole my job. Opus was quick to replace me. And we all know that Lincoln hates me and treats me like trash.”
“Is this some kind of threat?” Gora asked.
“Not at all. I am merely informing you that I have had Zero place explosives at vital points on the engine core. He and I are safely far away in the roomy primary escape pod. You, however, are obviously not.” Borton’s next word was a bit quieter, indicating that he may have turned his head. “Zero?”
“Yes, sir,” the captain and midshipman heard Zero say. Then hell broke loose.
Five Earth-hours earlier, Borton sat in his hoverchair, rubbing his leg where a bullet from his brother’s antique handgun had pierced his skin six months earlier. Nobody had believed him when he had told people that it was Artur who had shot him. His brother had gotten rid of the weapon by throwing it out into space while on his new job as the Ambassador’s escort, and the bullet could not be examined by current technology or forensic methods.
Borton had always been more successful than Artur, always one step ahead. This is why, Borton believes, Artur had shot him to steal his job. Now he was merely tagging along until this year-long trip ended—which would be in about one Earth-day since they were now on their way back to Earth—confined to his quarters so he would not bump into anything with his leg.
All in all, Borton was angry. Besides his brother badly wounding him and stealing his job, Ambassador Opus himself had shown little compassion or sympathy. Heck, as soon as the Ambassador had heard the news in his fancy hotel suite on Praxius Nine, he had begun frantically searching for a replacement…until Artur stepped in a few Earth-minutes later and was hired on the spot. Opus had not waited to see if Borton would heal enough to resume his position in the future. He had not even asked if Borton was okay.
Then there was Opus’s son, Lincoln. He was only twelve, but sometimes, every conceivable swear word would pour out of his mouth and into Borton’s ears and ego when they came within ten feet of one another. Lincoln had wanted Borton out of the job for a long time. It was even for a logical reason, too: Borton had gotten Opus into quite a fair share of scrapes involving space pirates, customs officers, and other “unfriendlies.” But he had always (barely) managed to get them both out of those scrapes, too. Not that Lincoln cared about that.
Borton’s cup of anger had spilled over, and now, he had decided an Earth-week ago, those at fault must be taught a lesson.
The only sympathizer with Borton was Zero, a misanthropic engineer who worked on the Ambassador’s vessel. He was highly disapproving of the upper class, and he detested Ambassador Opus. He was not too fond of the Ambassador’s bratty son either. So he had decided to go through with Borton’s plan without any hesitation.
At the moment, Zero was supposedly placing remote plasma bombs at strategic points on the vessel’s engine core. Just to check, Borton contacted the engineer over personal intercom. “Update?” was all he said.
“Done,” Zero reported.
“Oh. Well, we should go right away so we can detonate before one of your fellow engineers has a chance to discover the bombs.”
“Yes.” And the connection was closed.
Borton maneuvered his hoverchair over to the side of his bed. He picked up the only possession he would be taking with him: a physical copy of an image of his daughter, Melody. He smiled, forgetting for a moment all of the pent-up anger within himself, his thoughts turning to Melody, safe at home. He lamented for a moment, as he often did, that his little eleven-year-old girl was growing up and had not yet been off of the rock they called home, Earth. Then the anger came back, and he headed out of his quarters, still seated in his hoverchair.
Zero was already in the primary escape pod—which was less of a pod and more like a small shuttle, complete with restroom, kitchenette, and even a bed behind five chairs—when Borton arrived.
“Ready?” asked the former escort.
“Yes,” the engineer replied simply.
“We have an emergency! All crew except engineers, come to the bridge immediately!” Gora shouted into the main intercom system.
“Sir, it didn’t go through; the intercom is down!” Prance pointed out.
“Damn it! Go find the Ambassador! I’ll send out a distress signal!”
Prance nodded and ran out of the bridge, heading for the Ambassador’s quarters. He was nearly thrown off-balance numerous times on the way; the ship was shaking violently as a seemingly endless series of explosions rocked the entire vessel from the engine room.
“Oh, Midshipman Prance!” Ambassador Opus sighed in relief as Prance dashed into the large quarters. He was cowering in a corner and coughing as smoke began filling the room. Lincoln was tucked under his father’s arms.
“The captain has sent a distress signal, but it is unlikely we will be rescued in time,” Prance began. “The ship is looking unstable beyond hope of repair. We need to evacuate.”
With Prance in the lead, the three began heading directly towards the central evacuation center. Fires blazed all around them. Breathing was becoming difficult.
Before they reached their destination, they met up with Artur. Or rather they picked him up; the Ambassador’s escort had apparently been thrown back and hit his head against a wall, knocking him unconscious.
When they reached the evacuation center, they found only a single escape pod left…with room only for two passengers.
“Captain, we have a problem!” Prance shouted into his personal intercom.
“We got a lot of ‘em! Which one are you specifically referring to?” Gora responded.
“Only two of us can go!” the midshipman declared.
“What? Well, you know what to do! I’m sorry, Midshipman. But do it quickly; I’m getting dangerous readings from that room!”
Prance put his intercom into stand-by, and ordered, “Ambassador, I need you and your son to get off this ship. Your escort won’t be able to come with you, so you are on your own. Find a spaceport and get a ride the rest of the way home. Go!”
Opus and Lincoln scrambled into the air lock as Prance dragged Artur out of the room. They sealed the air lock and rushed into the escape pod just as something in the room behind them exploded, sending an inferno hurtling at the air lock door. Then they sealed the pod and departed.
Back on the bridge, Prance arrives with Artur, who is now conscious but using Prance as support, to find Gora waiting restlessly. “We can’t die here, not now. So I’ve been thinking of alternatives. I came to this: who started this mess in the first place?”
“My brother,” answered Artur.
“Exactly,” said Gora, “and I think I can establish a ‘com connection with the primary escape pod.” And so that’s what he tried…successfully.
“I see—er, hear—you’re still alive,” came Borton’s voice over the intertransport intercom system.
“Come back for us, you idiot!” Artur fumed.
“Give me one good reason I should after all you have done to me.”
“All I—? Listen, Borton, you can have your job back, and I’ll pay for a surgical procedure for your leg. Just don’t let us die here like this!”
“It’ll take more than that,” Borton said calmly.
“I’ll be nice to you forever!” Artur screamed, now frantic.
“Not going to cut it. Bye, Artur.”
“WAIT! I’M SORRY!”
There was a pause, though the intercom connection was still fully established. Eventually, Borton said, “Oh?”
“Yes! I’m so, so sorry, Borton!” Artur cried.
The connection went dead. The three stranded travelers were about to panic more when, through the window, they saw a large escape pod traveling towards them. It docked in a nearby evacuation center, and Gora, Prance, and Artur rushed into the pod.
As the pod departed, the ship blew up in a massive, silent blast that sent the escape pod cruising forward at twice its initial speed.
Inside, all were quiet for a while. It wasn’t until they had almost reached the nearest spaceport that anybody spoke a word.
Borton told Artur, “Then I forgive you.”
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)
General Fiction. 2,360 words. 19th story written consecutively. Rated G (General Readers) (contains material that may be considered intense for very young children).
The Many Worlds of EzloSpirit
A short story of friendship
There is much to be said about how a shared experience or place can bring people together. A lot of power exists in the sharing of a meal or a friend or a favorite television program or the shade of a certain tree. Or a duck pond.
Spring was in full swing. Martin was, too. He felt a new rush of excitement each time he departed from the zenith of his flight. Each time, he threw his legs out straight in front of him—or drew them back—with a radiant smile on his face, hanging on for dear life, ready for the thrill of the next arc of his swing.
Soon, however, he grew tired of this. He needed to relax on the grass, which did not move him around at adrenaline-producing speeds. So he departed from the swingset and walked to the park’s small duck pond, beside which he plopped himself down on the full, green grass.
It was not long before a young girl came and did the same. Wearing a bright, blue blouse with a blue-and-white checkered skirt, the girl looked to be about Martin’s age of nine years. She had flowing, brown hair that hung down to midway down her back. A blue headband that matched her blouse adorned her head.
The two children just sat looking at the duck pond for a while. A mother duck and her ducklings swam around in circles, the ducklings training their tiny, webbed feet to help propel them forward.
“Hi,” the girl said suddenly. Martin looked up to see her smiling at him.
Smiling back, he replied, “Hi.”
“What’s your name,” asked the girl.
“Martin. What’s yours?”
“Nice to meet you, Angie.”
“Nice to meet you, too, Martin.”
And the two of them turned back to the duck pond, resuming their silent, serene observation of the duck and her ducklings as they swam around the small body of water. The heavenly aromas of the blooming flowers that surrounded the pond only added to the tranquility of the scene. Leaves were already visible on the branches of nearby trees, as well.
And Martin and Angie sat there together, unmoving, silent, and happy.
Months went by, and over the course of those months, Martin forgot about Angie and the ducks. Instead, his mind was filled with anticipation and excitement for the end of his third-grade year of school. The weather had become warm and clear, and the young boy longed to play in the sprinkler and eat freshly barbecued hot dogs on his patio.
Instead of doing these things, however, the first thing that Martin did once school was out for the summer was tag along with his parents to the park, where his family planned on having a picnic. When the three of them arrived at the park, Martin’s mother told him to go off and play on the swings or on the jungle gym until the food—including hot dogs, much to Martin’s delight—was all cooked on the public grill.
But Martin did not go directly to the swings. Nor did Martin go directly to the jungle gym. He went directly to the duck pond. And sitting there, in the shade of an adjacent apple tree, was the small girl whom Martin had met briefly the previous spring.
“You’re Angie, right?” Martin said.
The girl looked up. When she recognized him, she smiled. “Yeah, and you’re Martin, right?”
Martin smiled and said, “Yeah.”
They looked at the duck pond, where seven full-grown ducks drifted slowly across the water, some of them dunking their bills under the pond’s surface in an effort to catch a small bite to eat. Martin then noticed in the mirror-like water the reflection of one of the apple tree’s branches, from which a small, round, bright-red fruit dangled and swayed in the soft breeze blowing across the park.
“Do you see that apple?” Martin asked.
“Yeah,” Angie replied after looking up.
“I am going to pick it.”
“Watch!” And he reached for one of the low-hanging limbs, pulling himself up using all of his strength. Then, he used the trunk to edge his way around to the adjacent branch, from the end of which hung the apple.
“Be careful up there!” Angie warned.
Martin just gave her a grin and began inching his way along the thick branch’s length. When he reached the edge, he slowly reached his hand down under the branch and curled his fingers around the delectable fruit. Carefully, he pulled the apple off of its stem, the branch swaying ever so slightly from the force.
Five minutes later, Martin was on the ground, holding the apple and grinning proudly from ear to ear. As Angie looked on, the boy walked over to the duck pond and dipped the fruit into its clear waters. Drawing it out, he then held out the apple to Angie, who smiled and accepted the gift. She took a bite, and a look of pure ecstasy appeared on her face as the sweet juice of summer washed over her taste buds.
Once Angie was finished eating the apple, the two children ran over to the playground together to play, leaving behind the ducks, who quacked to each other out of sheer joy spawning from the beauty of the world around them.
For the rest of the summer, Martin and Angie met each other often, almost always at the duck pond. They talked and laughed and played the weeks away.
One day, Angie asked, “Martin, do you consider us friends?”
Martin replied, “Of course, I consider us friends! I consider us best friends! Do you consider us friends, Angie?”
“Of course!” And they went back to swinging.
It did not seem like long, however, before the leaves covering the trees turned from a full green to a beautiful, fiery technicolor. The air turned crisp and cool. School began again for Martin, with new teachers and children to meet. The young boy entered the double digits of age. He had more homework than ever before, and he was forced to cancel his weekly playdates with Angie at the park.
Martin was shorter than most of the other boys his age, and he was a quiet idealist, so the others took it upon themselves to make it clear that Martin was not “normal.” It soon became common for the boy to exit the school bus in tears. He began to suffer from frequent stomachaches and would scream when his father would force him into the car to drive to the bus stop. The teachers at school did not know how to help him, and when they tried, they only made Martin more terrified of going into school the next day.
One day in November, Martin put a medical thermometer in boiling water and pretended to have a fever. His parents had him stay home from school. Three hours later, he confessed to his mother that he felt fine. Worried, she decided to give him the day off anyway and drove him to the park.
For hours, he sat silently by the duck pond, waiting. At about four o’clock, Angie arrived. Martin had not seen her since September. Still, though he desperately wanted to, he found himself unable to smile at his best friend when she sat down next to him by the pond.
“Are you okay?” a concerned Angie asked.
Martin did not answer. He looked sullenly at the ground.
Angie put her hand on her friend’s slouched back. “You can tell me what’s wrong, you know.”
Nothing happened for a moment. Then, suddenly, Martin squirmed so as to get Angie’s hand off of him; she removed it promptly, aghast. He then croaked, “I can tell you, but you won’t be able to do much to help me.”
“I can at least try!” the young girl snapped, appalled by Martin’s behavior. After a moment, she asked, “Are you mad at me for something?” Then, Martin started sobbing. Angie did not know what to do. So she walked away across the field of browning grass.
Only the mother duck still swam in the pond. And then, as Martin sat on the pond’s bank, curled up into a ball and rocking back and forth, she walked out of the water, spread her wings, and flapped away from the park for the winter.
Over the next few months, things got better for Martin. His parents sent him to a therapist, and the teachers worked with the school guidance counselor to help the boy out with his problems with the other students. Even as the air grew frigid and biting and snow blew onto the streets of town, Martin’s life grew warm and cozy once more. His classmates began to appreciate Martin’s compassion for others and his innovativeness when it came to solving unusual problems. Peace had returned for the young boy.
However, there was something—someone—still missing from his life: Angie. Each time that Martin crunched across the snowy field at the park and reached the frozen, vacant duck pond, there was nobody in sight. His friend never answered his phone calls nor his emails nor his letters.
He tried to pretend that Angie had just been another one of his imaginary friends, albeit a very realistic one, but none of his previous imaginary friends had been able to make him laugh or cheer him up when he cried. And he never would have climbed up a tree and picked an apple dangling above a duck pond just for an imaginary friend. No, Angie had been very real and very perfect, and now, she was gone.
On one of his many visits to the park during the winter, Martin brought along some ice skates. Wearing a sweater, a heavy jacket, sweatpants, a pair of gloves, and a warm, fuzzy hat, in addition to his ice skates, the boy cautiously walked onto the icy surface of the duck pond and pushed off from the snow-covered bank.
As he cut figure eights into the ice with the blades beneath his feet, Martin imagined Angie skating alongside him, laughing and smiling. He remembered all of the amazing times that the two of them had had together: that time when Angie had snuck up from behind and pushed a previously-idle, now-screaming Martin down the slide; that time when Martin picked the apple for Angie; that time when Angie told bad jokes while melted ice cream surrounded her mouth; that time when the two of them had jumped into a pile of leaves, both grinning from ear to ear—no, wait. They had never gotten the chance to do that last activity; that had merely been a fantasy of Martin’s that he lived through in a dream one night during the fall.
As Martin skated across the frozen pond, tears began slowly snaking their way down his face. It was not long before the droplets and the trails that they had left behind froze on his cheeks. Longing for his best friend’s company, the boy made no move to wipe the frost from his face. He just kept cutting up the ice beneath him.
By the time spring came around, Martin had given up on Angie and his visits to the park. Though he could not completely forget about her, he pushed her from the forefront of his mind and closed the mental door on her, leaving the door unlocked but firmly shut. He found himself unable to find anybody with whom he could be as close as he had been with Angie, but he did not let that bother him.
Instead, he just enjoyed the weather. It was warming up again. Hints of leaves were visible on trees, and the ground was littered with flower buds among the blades of green grass. Perfect weather for returning to the park!
Out of habit, Martin went directly to the duck pond. As he approached, he noticed that the water splashed against the banks once more, and two mother ducks now drifted across the calm surface. Martin thought that they looked familiar and realized that these mothers had probably been part of the group of ducklings that he had seen the previous spring. Their eggs were nestled in the muddy bank opposite Martin.
The boy smiled at the sight of the ducks and the duck eggs; the cycle of life deeply fascinated him. He sat down, cross-legged, on the grass beside the pond and watched the ducks swim around and sit on their eggs. The smells and sounds of spring only deepened the serenity of the scene.
There then came a disturbance: the sound of footsteps behind Martin. He did not need to turn around to know exactly who it was.
“Hello, Martin,” said Angie.
“Hello, Angie,” said Martin.
Angie sat down on the grass next to the boy. Just like old times. Almost.
“I am back,” the girl pointed out.
“Where did you go?” questioned Martin.
“I went to live with my mom for a few months in Greece.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were going?”
“Because I didn’t get the chance. My dad didn’t come home the night of our last meeting. Some ‘social services’ person came and took me to see my mom. And I couldn’t receive your messages because I wasn’t at home or in an area with phone or Internet service.”
“I…wish I could have done something…” Martin trailed off, stunned by the news that his friend had just given him.
“So do I,” Angie said, trying unsuccessfully to hold back tears. “And…that’s why my mom and I moved back here.” She burst out crying, and Martin leaned over and wrapped his arms around her.
“I guess we both need each other after all—” Martin began.
“—But we both knew that all along,” Angie finished, smiling through her tears. Then, she wrapped her arms around Martin.
As the two children held each other tight, silently vowing never to let go, on the opposite bank of the duck pond, high-pitched sounds could be heard as tiny bills poked their way out of their eggs. The mother of the new ducklings quacked for joy.
And the cycle started anew.
Come visit Fargrove! We've got pears! (3DS FC: 4940-5449-0029)