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Listening: 1-2

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A boy walks down a cracked street. There’s no one around, he’s the only person in the road. His footsteps echo down the alleys going nowhere.

He doesn’t stop to look at anything. The sky is grey and swollen with clouds but it doesn’t rain. The air is warm and thick and suffocating. A stop-sign he passes is rusty and the words are unreadable, and near that a car has been left tipped over on the side of the street.

His brow furrows and he sighs in disgust. “Carina, there’s no one here.”

Nobody answers him. The warm wind brushes through his hair.

“I know. I know nobody will come to me. They’re all gone. I don’t know where they went.” He says, walking in a brisker pace. “I’m trying. There’s no one here! How am I supposed to work with that!?”

His words roll across the shattered windows and sagging buildings, yet no one answers. Then he halts abruptly.

“I don’t see anything.” He says. “What am I supposed to see here?”

He’s standing in the center of three roads intersecting each other.

“I’m looking. I don’t see anything.” He says impatiently. “I can’t do what you want me too if I can’t see it. What-”

Then he shuts up, his dark brown eyes going wide.

“Wait, that’s it. That is it. Carina, are you sure I have to do this?” His hands tremble ever so slightly, and he fiddles with the zipper on his blue jacket nervously. “Are you absolutely sure? ‘Cause-‘cause I’m not sure if I can do it…”

There’s something standing in front of him like a black skyscraper, tall and looming, gliding across the ground toward him. It’s about six feet tall, made of pure shadow, no apparent head or eyes or limbs. It stops in front of him about five feet away. It’s unmoving as if it were frozen solid.

“C-C-Carina? I-I-I don’t know what to do!” The boy’s face turns white, contrasting sharply with his obsidian hair. “I mean, I know what you told me, but-but-but-”

He stops short, his harsh breathing extraordinarily loud in the sudden silence.

The thing doesn’t move, as if waiting for the boy to act first.

“Okay, okay, I-I get it now, Carina.” He says, his voice shaking. “Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll do it.”

And then he approaches it.

The shadow twitches, and an eerie moan resonates from within. The boy extends a quivering hand toward its mass. A monstrous head forms from the shadows and its mouth peels open like a rotting fruit, blood red inside with millions of needle sharp teeth.

The boy gasps, his face a mask of terror, but he forces himself to graze his fingertips across what would’ve been its snout, and the whole thing ripples like water and dissolves, collapsing on itself like a dropped blanket before the shadows evaporate.

The only thing left is a small, unconscious child.

But then the boy screams, a horrible, horrible, blood-chilling scream as the shadowy vapor that touched him disintegrates circles of skin from his hand. Blood pools down his arm. “Okay I did it Carina! I did what you asked! There’s a person here! MAKE THE PAIN STOP!”

No one is around but the boy and the child.

His voice goes out to nothing.

“C-C-Carina…” He whimpers, screwing his eyes shut with pain. “Why do I have to do this? I didn’t know it would hurt-I-I didn’t- I…”

The child opens her eyes and looks up placidly. She has curly blond hair and bright, innocent blue eyes.

“I-I didn’t mean to let this happen. I didn’t know it would.” She quivers. “I’m so-so sorry.”

The boy seems to pull it together, gritting his teeth and blocking out the pain as his blood drips onto the ground.

“It’s not your fault.” He manages, wincing. “People just didn’t listen to Carina and I when this was happening. They all thought I was crazy…”

“I don’t now.” She looks up at him, wincing.

“Well I wish they did.” He struggles to straighten up. “Because now I have to find all of the thousands of people in this city and cure them of this curse.”

The girl staggers to her feet, swaying slightly from her unused limbs.

“Then I’ll go with you.” She then pouts. “I’m not going to leave, you can’t make me. I’ll listen. What’s Carina saying now?”

The boy smiles weakly.

“Right now she just says to go find more people. She tends to be pretty impatient when the world’s about to end.”






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