Hi guys! I recently entered a prompt-based fiction writing contest hosted by Word Warriorz and won. The story's already been published on emilyscale.com but in case you missed it, here it is.
“Xi! Xi!” I heard my mother call out. I stopped playing and threw the rest of my pebbles to the floor. I ran to her.
“Yes, mother?” I said diligently, as the obedient daughter I was.
“It’s time,” she said. I nodded. I knew exactly what she was referring to. The time had come for me to go fetch water at the river, as per the routine. I took two jerry cans and started following the path to the river. “Keep behind the big kids,” she said, “and don’t leave the path. No straying Xi!”
“Yes mum!” I shouted back as I skipped along happily. Going to the river was my favourite part of the day. The water was always warm, but not too warm; cold, but not too cold. We would play in it, as innocent children would. That day was going to be no different. I could already see myself splashing about in the cool waters. I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. It was my best friend, Ly. He pointed to the bigger kids straddled across the path. I shuddered.
Though the big kids always accompanied us small kids to the river, the bigger kids would still find a way to pick on us. It was forbidden for the bigger kids to pick on the big kids. However, there was no such rule to protect us small kids from the bigger kids. Ly and I huddled closer to the big kids. None of us small kids breathed a word as we made it through the group of bigger kids. There were about ten of them, each of them with a mean grin on their face. I was glad when we made it to the river safe and sound.
“I don’t get why they have to be so mean,” Ly said to me as we jumped into the river.
“Maybe they’re just not happy,” I thought out loud.
“That doesn’t excuse their behavior Xi,” Ly said sternly.
“I know, I just feel sorry for them.”
“You’re always so empathetic!”
“Is it wrong?”
“No, it’s admirable.”
I smiled. We played some more before moving higher up the river to fill our jerry cans. We would use that water to water the seedlings in the nursery. I couldn’t help but think of how wonderful it was that those tiny seedlings would grow into big leafy trees. Strong trees. Trees that would produce tasty fruit that would feed us. I WISH I COULD BE A TREE.
“Be careful what you wish for!”
I turned around sharply. “Ly, did you say that?”
“Say what?” Ly asked, mystified.
“Never mind,” I said as I looked around. I saw something move in the bushes that were at the other side of the river. “Well it can’t be from there because it was rather whispery,” I thought to myself. Nonetheless, I was curious. I started making my way across the river.
“You can’t do that!” Ly said as he firmly held my hand. “What if the current sweeps you away? We’re just about to leave, you’ll be left behind!”
“But I have to see…”
“We’ll come back tomorrow. Live to see another day.”
Ly could tell that I was not happy about it. “Fine,” he said, “as soon as we’re at the nursery and done watering the seedlings, I’ll sneak you back.”
“You’ll teleport me here? But that could get you in trouble!”
“Would you rather I didn’t?”
I shook my head. “No.”
We picked up our cans and headed back. I did my part of the watering rather quickly, taking care not to overdo it. I couldn’t wait to go see what was in the bushes at the other side of the river. I hoped it would be an abandoned flying car that had happened to crash in the bushes, then I’d fix it up and Ly and I would fly it anywhere we pleased. I squealed a little bit when Ly gave me the secret signal. I tried to contain my excitement. I followed him behind a shed when no one was looking, but just as I got there, one of the bigger kids, Ty, stepped up to us. Clearly, I had miscalculated. I panicked. He had an evil smile on his face and I could tell that the torment was just about to begin. I hated the way his being there made me feel really small. Just as Ty was about to drag us from behind the shed, Ly took my hand and teleported us away. A different kind of panic wave took over me. No one but I knew that Ly was already teleporting. It was against the rules for us smaller kids to teleport, if we could, without supervision.
“Oh Ly, we’ll get into so much trouble!”
“Big whoop! We’re thirteen, we can do whatever we want!”
I wanted to point out how not true that was but I had been charmed by the scenery. So beautiful!
“It is quite a sight, isn’t it?” It was the whispery voice again.
“Okay, who said that?” I shouted as I looked around.
“I did.” Said a shadowy creature. As it emerged from the shadows, I could see it was a person, Isirept. Isirept had been our most revered advisor, before disappearing into thin air. Because Isirept was neither male nor female, Isirept was held to a higher stature and admired by most for having broken down gender boundaries. However, the revelry died down after Isirept disappeared in our time of greatest need. Looking around, I saw that Ly had disappeared and that I was all alone with Isirept.
“What did you do to him?” I asked, in a shaky voice.
“It’s not what I’ve done, it’s what you’ve done. You’ve transported yourself to the other dimension.”
“I have? But how is that possible?”
“I don’t know. I have to warn you though, I have never found a way back.”
“But I could hear you!”
“Yes, you could.”
“Does that mean that I was moving back and forth the two dimensions?”
“But how could you hear me?”
“Well, girlie, we’re connected.”
“You’re a sage.”
“A sage. Wisdom is your forte. You need to lead your people into prosperity.”
I pinched myself. “I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming.”
“Are you done?”
“So I’m not dreaming.”
“Oh wise Isirept, how can I lead anyone to prosperity? I am thirteen years old! I’m still a small kid!”
“Being small doesn’t mean you can’t be great.”
“Right, but everyone else has a special power. Ly can teleport. Mean Ty can turn anyone into any animal as he so wishes. My mother can communicate with the spirits of the land. My neighbor has a brain that will put a supercomputer to shame…”
Isirept cut me off. “Oh yes. Evolution sure has done you good. But it will all be chaos soon. We don’t have much time. Here, catch!” Isirept said and threw me some strange object. “Take these too,” Isirept said and threw me more objects.
“Right. A singular pearl, some weird tin thing and…what is this third one?”
“A bythiersgyrinkspot!” Isirept said, rather proud.
“Are you sure you’re not making this stuff up?”
“Why would you think that?”
“Because that word is quite a mouthful? I’ll just call it the third thingy.”
I watched as Isirept conjured up a soft breeze which made the objects vanish. “They will appear when you most need them. Tell no one.” Isirept said, then vanished.
I looked around. I was back in the bushes across the river. I looked around for Ly but he was nowhere to be seen. I guessed that I must have been gone for long because it had gotten quite dark. I was quite apprehensive about swimming across the river but I knew that I had to. It was my way home. As I was preparing to do so, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turned around and came face to face with a tall, strong, ruggedly handsome, oddly familiar man. “Xi! It’s you! I’ve been scouring these bushes and everywhere else for years hoping you’d come back.”
I gasped. “Ly?”
“Yes. Are you okay? You’ve been gone for years! Everyone was so worried about you!”
“Years?” I looked at him, then at myself. I could see that my body had grown all the way up to post puberty. “But how?”
“Well, you’ve been on and off to see Isirept…”
I cut him off. “How do you know about that?”
“Ok. I really wish I could explain but there’s no time. The sun hasn’t come up for ages and the land is dry. In case you hadn’t noticed, the river is gone!”
I looked to where I pointed and realized that what he was saying was indeed true, the river was gone and the entire land was dry. The only green thing for miles were those very bushes behind us. As I looked to see what else had changed, he teleported us back home. I could see that the people were frail and weak, like they hadn’t had a meal in weeks, possibly months.
“You’ve been gone for ten years. Nine months ago Esupet returned and…well, he did this. We’ve had no water since then, and the sun hasn’t risen. He said that he was angry that your mum and Isirept cast him out for hi ‘innocent ventures’ and that he will not stop until he gets his revenge.”
“But how did you know that I was on and off to see Isirept?”
“I don’t know, I guess I just knew.”
I moved away from him. “Stay away from me,” I said.
He could see that I was shaken, that I didn’t trust him. “I am not him, Xi, I am not my father. I would never hurt anyone!”
“Tell me the truth. How did you know?”
“He read your mother’s mind then killed her.”
“Esupet? Then how did you know?”
“He told me.”
“So your wicked father voluntarily revealed that information to you? Am I supposed to believe that?” I could feel the colour filling my cheeks. I was angry. I felt betrayed. I couldn’t believe that Ly would lie to me as he and I very well knew that the only way he would get any information from his father was if he possessed him and controlled his mind, which was forbidden on account of violating free will. I started to walk away but was immediately stopped by a booming voice.
"Very well son! You found the golden goose!” It was Esupet. “It’s high time I returned, given that I was cast out unfairly.”
“Oh yes, your ‘innocent ventures’. You were controlling people, making them steal and kill for you.” I said.
“I only killed off the bad people. But today I’m here for you. I know Isirept gave you something. Give it to me and I’ll return everything to the way it was,” said Esupet.
“Just do as he says,” Ly nudged me. I could tell he was scared that Esupet would harm me. It crossed my mind that perhaps I had judged him too harshly before. I tried thinking of anything that Isirept had said that would help out, be it for a little while. The tin object appeared before me. I could see Esupet reach to grab it but I waved my hand in the same fashion as Isirept had and behold! Esupet was entrapped in it. Ly and I couldn’t believe our eyes. Now that I had Esupet trapped, I had no idea what I would do with him. I could feel a strange wind blowing as I closed my eyes and wished that Esupet had never existed. I called for the pearl and it summoned the rain clouds. As it started raining, I opened my eyes. I could feel that something was different. I looked around. Mother was alive. Ly was gone.