The Last of the Meridae

September 1, 2007
By Shiphrah Meditz, Austin, TX

On Monday, October 19, 2006, I entered the Forest and life as I knew it was never the same. To this day I wonder what would have happened if my cell phone had not rang in the middle of class. Some say ignorance is bliss. But, I will let you judge for yourself. For starters, I am a fifteen-year-old boy living in Ditto Falls, Illinois; a small town famous for its steaks. My father is a dentist and my mother has been gone for five years unearthing fossils in Mongolia. Yeah, I know. Random. I am an only child. Bobby, my best friend, has nine siblings. Sometimes I envy him.
Sometimes I donÕt. Sam & Co, five meaty boys and their leader, the future bouncer Sam, is the bane of my life. Their one purpose in this world is to beat me up. On sight. As a result I am an expert at finding places to hide. Once I even squeezed under Professor WelkinÕs desk to avoid them. Imagine my surprise when I found five empty port bottlesÉbut thatÕs another story. My day began just like any other. I woke up, ate my Wheat-Bran, rode the bus to Woods High School, and failed yet another Chemistry exam. Then I ate a sandwich for lunch, sat out baseball practice in the dugout (the coach said I could get hurt), dodged Sam & Co at least five times, and was sent to detention when my cell phone rang in class. Our school is rather strict with stuff like that. Detention lasted half an hour. This was why I missed the bus. No problem, I began walking home. However, two blocks away from the school Sam & Co appeared. On bicycles. They saw me. I fled.
I had a pretty good start, but they had the unfair advantage of wheels. I began to panic and, like an idiot, didnÕt watch where I was going. That was why I found myself in a narrow alley staring at the Forest with nowhere else to turn. Before I continue with my shocking story, let me tell you a bit about this Forest. It has got to be the creepiest place on earth. ThereÕs always mist oozing out of it; the dark, dank kind that makes you wet in an instant. ItÕs all leafy and moss-strangled. Various people have heard strange cries coming from it. There are innumerable legends about the various ghouls, ghosts, and other crawlies that supposedly lurk among the leaves. All locals, including me, avoid it religiously. A couple foreign companies tried to build there but they gave up due to some reason or other. This enhanced its reputation to enormous proportions. Bobby said the superstition was ‘pure rotÕ. To prove this point he walked into the Forest. That evening the police found him ten miles away floundering in the treacherously cold GullyÕs Creek. His face was bloody and his leg, broken. The most they got out of him was convulsive shivering. Bobby is now recuperating in front of the TV with a bag of Cheese Nachos. He pretends to be vacant whenever I try to broach the subject.
Hey, jerk, come here! You need a lesson!Ó Sam was flexing his football muscles meaningfully, striding towards me. At that all my indecisiveness vanished. I squealed and darted into the trees. I only meant to go a little way, mind you. So imagine my horror when Sam & Co followed! I ran through the foggy woods until my lungs were bursting. Then I stopped and looked around, fearfully. Tall, solemn old trees met my eyes on all sides. No ghosts, or monsters yet, but that didnÕt mean anything. Its funny how you can hear something all your life and never give it a thought, but the moment itÕs taken away you immediately notice. Ditto Falls is a noisy little town and children often have blaring car horns for lullabies. But this darkly green place was as silent as the grave. Okay, bad analogy. Why dost thou run from those who pursue thee?Ó I turnedÉand screamed. In fact, now that I think back on it, my hair might have stood on end as well. A beautiful, pale head of a woman, all silvery-haired and grey-eyed, sadly stared at me with a queenÕs regality. But there all human likeness ended. Her neck was thick, feathery, long, and joined onto a white horseÕs body. Two massive pearly bat wings, faintly translucent in the dim light, lay folded along her back. Her tail was serpentine, scaly, with a tassel of snow-white hair. Where hooves should be, four snow-white claws stamped the ground instead. Dost thou speak? Or be thee like other humans who seest me and swallow their tongues in fright?Ó I jumped. UhhÉÓ I stuttered, and then my curiosity overcame my fear. W-what are you?Ó The face became grief itself. I am the last of the Meridae. Once we were many. Now all have died from sorrow, all except me.Ó Huh?Ó Okay, nobody ever accused me of being bright. We Meridae live for a very long time. We have seen humankind sink lower and lower into selfishness, greed, ambition, and hate. We tried to counsel them, but they called us monsters, refused to listen. So we went into hiding, pined away from grief. Now only I remain.Ó I felt sorry for the Meridae. Then I thought of something. Why did you break BobbyÕs leg?Ó Something very close to a growl escaped her lips. I did nothing. The little human took one look at me and fled. He should have more sense to look where heÕs going.Ó I nodded my head. It sounded like Bobby. Tell me why thou fleest from the other humans?Ó I rolled my eyes, Because they beat me up whenever they catch me.Ó Duh! Why?Ó I shrugged. I dunno. They like it, thatÕs all.Ó Tears streamed out of her eyes and she shook her head mournfully. Ahh, humankind, how low hast thou fallen!Ó Then her eyes became like steel. There must be an end to this wickedness!Ó I wasnÕt too into the whole melancholy thing, but that second idea was totally okay with me! Come, ride on me.Ó I was kind of unsure about this, but I didnÕt have much choice. The Meridae crouched down and I sat on her furry back. We bounded away through the forest in a flurry of emerald leaves. We found them blundering around the woods nearly a mile away. I think Sam & Co still have nightmares to this day. Imagine getting lost in a haunted forest. Then imagine seeing us galloping towards them like two vengeful specters exploding out of fog. Let me tell you, the Meridae looked pretty weird already, but she was now down right scary! I am positive her eyes were smoking. Sam & Co turned and ran in utter terror! The Meridae and I listened to their screams fading into the distance with some satisfaction. I slid off her back and thanked her profusely. She sighed, mournfully. I am glad I was able to teach one last lesson before I departed this world. You will not be bothered by them again and they now know what it is like to be hunted.Ó What?Ó Again I was unbelievably dense. She stepped away from me, spreading out her wings against the trees, Farewell little human. I go to my brethren.Ó A brilliant flash of silver, a burning smell, and the last of the Meridae was gone. Two days after, a building company bought the forest. Now a new stretch of suburban neighborhood is all that remains of the MeridaeÕs last home on earth. Sam & Co now avoid me like a pestilence. How nice.
Though I only knew her for a few moments, I miss the Meridae. She seemed like a pretty nice sort of creature and I owe a lot to her for ridding me of the biggest pestilence in my life. Best of all, she gave me some pretty wicked ideas for my next Halloween costume!

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