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The Chronicles of the Snow and the Bug
Jade eyes peered out from underneath scarlet bangs. They glared lazily at the round white face on the wall; its long black hands moving slower than physically possible. A gentle breeze shifted the eyes focus from the wall to the open window. The sky was the deepest of blues, white clouds breaking it up here and there. The cool summer breeze beckoned for the eyes to come outside and enjoy the day. A thin sigh escaped from the mouth below the eyes. The soft dragging of metal on wood caused the boy’s ears to twitch slightly. The jade eyes swiftly shifted their gaze in the direction of the sound, only to meet the deafening slap of ruler to table. This jolting sound was swiftly followed with a sharp smack to the back of the boy’s head. Scarlet hair went flying as the boy’s hands moved it aside clutching at his throbbing head. A stern voice rang out from above:
“Glad to see your back with us mister Clemens. I was sure you were going to miss your chance to continue your education over the summer. But alas, you made it back to reality in time.”
The stern voice belonged to a tall, thin, old man. His balding white hair covered the top of his wrinkly head. His neatly pressed suit reeked of mothballs, leaving only his hands and face uncovered. Boney hands lightly gripped the old wooden ruler he held, his yellowing fingertips evident of his old age. His black eyes, along with his pursed lips, were stern. The boy’s jade eyes locked with the old man’s black eyes, tension high between them. The old man looked away, and continued down the row towards the front of the room. As he reached the front, he spun around swifter than someone his age should be able.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself, Mister Clemens?”
Jade eyes glanced lazily around the room, meeting the harsh eyes of others. A soft gentle voice from behind him whispered:
“Just say your sorry, Mushi.”
Mushi Clemens stood, the old wooden chair sliding out from behind him. His shaggy scarlet hair fell around his face, covering his eyes. His nervous habit kicked in as it did, shaking the hair from his eyes.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention Mr. White. I’m sorry.”
Suppressed giggles echoed through the classroom. Mr. White turned, and a smile spread across his thin lips. The ruler twirled in his bone fingers as he began to pace in front of the class. Beads of sweat began to form on Mushi’s skin. Mr. White walked down the row of desks coming face to throat with Mushi, his black eyes looking up. Mushi glanced down.
“Well, I’m glad to hear that, Mister Clemens, but sadly it doesn’t matter. Do you know why?”
Before Mushi could answer, Mr. White continued.
“It’s because you should be sorry, and you should have realized that yourself. Miss Athena shouldn’t have answered for you. So, guess what class?”
Mr. White turned, and walked back to the front of the room; Mushi glanced back up at the clock. All right, operation waste-time is almost complete. The red second hand inched closer and closer to the top of the clock. 3…2…1… Mushi grabbed the books on his desk and bolted for the door. Mr. White spun as he did, anger in his eyes.
“MISTER CLEMENS! STOP RIGH…”
Before Mr. White could finish his sentence, a glorious ringing echoed throughout the building. Mushi disappeared around the frame of the door, flying down the slowly filling hallway. As he reached the doors to the outside world, he lowered his shoulder. As his body slammed into the door, blowing it wide open, a weight lifted off of Mushi’s shoulders. Two swift strides carried him over the stairs, and out into the school lawn. He would have continued his swift run all the way to his house, but a chorus of voices stopped him in his tracks.
The voices belonged to three people sprinting towards Mushi. The first one was his best friend, Titan Seppen. Titan’s unusually white hair bounced as he ran; his silver eyes wide with joy. The muscles in his body rippled as he ran, and his form was smooth and flawless. Next to him was one of Mushi’s best girlfriends, and the girl who sat behind him, Julia Athena. Her blonde ponytail whipped the air behind her, along with her red skirt. But what Mushi, and every other guy noticed, was the simple bouncing of her shirt as she ran towards him. Rounding out the three was the black haired Axel Lexa. His short, somewhat stubby legs carried him half the distance of the other two. Add that to his lack of physical fitness, and it was obvious as to why he brought up the rear in their sprint towards Mushi.
“Jeez, about time you guys got here. I was about ready to continue on my home all by my lonesome.” Mushi grinned, and laughed. Titan and Julia laughed as well, with Axel panting instead. Mushi patted Axel’s back, and laughed even louder. Axel glared up at Mushi.
“Yeah, it’s so funny watching me have a heart attack.”
“Oh Axel, don’t worry, we didn’t mean anything.” Julia leaned forward, and smiled at Axel. Titan and Mushi nodded in agreement. “Anyway, let’s get going. Now that school’s out, we can spend all night at the mall.”
Titan leaned over and whispered in Mushi’s ear. “Yeah, we can until she buys everything in it.”
Julia’s soft expression turned hard, eyes glaring at Mushi and Titan as they snickered. She turned, arm reared back, and swung with all her might at the two. Her soft delicate hands became hard, dense, opened-palm slaps in an instant. Axel closed his eyes and looked away as she ruthlessly slapped them silly. When he opened them, he saw Julia smiling and casually walking away with Mushi and Titan lying on the ground behind her, bloodied and bruised. “Let’s get going boys. I’ll need you to pack around my bags.”
Axel helped Mushi and Titan up, both of them semi-conscious. Mushi slowly coughed out what words he could say. “One of these days, we’ll be able to take her. Right, Titan?”
Titan slowly nodded in simple agreement. “Hopefully we will.”
Night had fallen by the time Mushi and friends were walking home. The streets were deathly quiet, except for the group’s laughter. Julia carried two small shopping bags while Mushi and Titan were weighted down with them. The moon was high in the sky, illuminating whatever the streetlights didn’t. Axel looked causally up at the sky and sighed.
“What’s the matter Axel?” Axel turned, and jumped at the sight of Mushi’s shadow covered face.
“Well, I just feel like we just do nothing at all anymore.”
“Like, what do you mean?”
“Like, how nothing is over-the-top exciting anymore for me. I mean, you guys do all this cool stuff, and everyone notices you, but me, I blend in with the shadows.”
By now, Julia and Titan had joined in on the conversation. Julia’s blonde ponytail swung side to side as she walked.
“Axel, don’t worry about that kind of stuff. Just enjoy life. Plus I really doubt stuff is like you say it is.”
“Oh, I can tell you from experience, it… What… Wh…”
Axel stopped, and raised his hand, pointing up in the air. Julia, Titan, and Mushi’s gazed followed suit, and their eyes widened in astonishment. Above them, a gaping hole was forming in the sky. Black liquid fell from it, raining down to the pavement. A white claw shaped hand slowly broke through it, followed by a figure in a tattered hooded cloak. Feet and hands as white as snow were the only things not covered by the cloak. A high-pitched cackle erupted through the night sky.
“Yes! I’m finally free of that accursed place. Those damned guardians could never stop someone like me. The human world is mine for the taking now!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!”
Red eyes glowed from beneath the folds of the creature’s hood. Mushi and company were frozen in fear, tears gathering in the corners of their eyes. Their feet, consumed by the concrete, could neither move nor budge. The glowing red eyes engulfed their figures, reflecting them.
“Ahh, I see someone is here. What luck I have! My first meal in ages will be the flesh of humans! Today is my lucky day!”
The creature reared back, cackling in a shrieking manner. It dove through the air, clawed hands spread out. White fangs slowly grew out from the shadows of the creature’s hood, its glowing red eyes locked on Mushi and company. Saliva dripped from the creature’s fangs, and as it drew closer, Mushi slowly realized he was going to die. Tears streamed from his jade eyes as his scarlet hair became matted to his skin. His lips trembled, and a shallow whisper echoed around him.
“I don’t want to die.”
“If you don’t want to die, then get out of the bloody way!!”
The voice echoed through the night air, and Mushi’s eyes widened as he felt whatever bonds had held him were lifted. He saw the giant figure appear over his head, armor gleaming in the moonlight. The tattered black cape billowed behind the armor cladded figure. Armored fingers gripped the shaft of the massive halberd, its metallic blade craving blood. The armored knight swung the halberd diagonally, cleaving the creature in two. Black blood splattered the armor, pavement, Mushi, Titan, Julia, and Axel. The two halves of the creature fell to the ground with a thump. The armored figure turned and shouldered the halberd. Blood covered the shiny armor, staining it black. A voice echoed from beneath the horned helmet.
“Is everyone alright?”
Mushi glanced around at his friends, some still paralyzed in fear. He slowly nodded yes, his mouth stuttering to find words.
“Alright. That’s good to hear. Well, if that’s so, then I’ll be on my way. There are others who need my help.”
And with that the armored knight turned, his metallic boots ringing as they struck the pavement. The knight jumped and rocketed into the air. As he slowly lost altitude, his feet hit what seemed to be solid air, and he pushed off it with another swift jump. Mushi slowly lost sight of him in the night sky.
When he was gone, Mushi turned, watching his friends slowly realize what had occurred. Julia collapsed to the ground, her eyes locked on the creature’s corpse. Axel walked over to it looking over it closely. Titan however remained unshaken at the sight of the corpse. He walked up to Mushi, resting a hand on his shoulder as he did, and whispered in his ear.
“We need to get those two out of here. We need to make them realize this was just a dream, not a reality. I don’t think either of them realizes what exactly happened. But I know both you and I saw all of that.”
Mushi looked Titan in the eye, and nodded in agreement. “Yeah, let’s get out of here. We can sort it all out later.”
A scream pierced through the air. Titan and Mushi turned to Julia the source. Her body shook, and her arm vaguely pointed towards Axel’s direction. They both followed her gaze, eye’s widening as they did. The black hole that had brought the creature had reappeared, tentacles coming from its depths. The tentacles had grabbed hold of the body and were slowly dragging it back into the depths of the hole. However, they also had hold of Axel. Tears ran down his face as he was slowly dragged into the gapping hole, and as his body slowly disappeared into it, he let out a savage scream. Titan ran forward, grabbing hold of Axel’s hand, trying to pull him out of it. Even with Titan pulling him, Axel slowly disappeared into the depths of the hole. Mushi grabbed hold of Axel’s other hand, pulling on it with all of his might. Titan’s silver eyes glanced at Mushi, and he sighed softly. He leaned close to Mushi and whispered softly in his ear.
“Get away from here. I’ll get him out of this. You make sure Julia’s okay got it?”
Mushi stared dumbfounded at Titan, but his jade eyes slowly understood. A tentacle was woven around Titan’s right ankle, slowly pulling him in with Axel. Titan let go of Axel’s hand, and shoved Mushi back.
“I said get out of here, you idiot!”
Mushi fell backwards, and stared in disbelief as two of his best friends were pulled into the void and disappeared from sight. The hole closed, and stillness returned to the area. Tears ran the length of Mushi’s face, as well as Julia’s. Mushi grabbed Julia’s hand, helped her up, and drew her close. He whispered softly into her ear.
“Julia, they’re gone. They’re gone.”
Julia softly cried into Mushi’s shoulder.
“But don’t worry, we’ll get them back. I promise we’ll get them back.”
“Well, if that’s the case, we’ll help you in everyway we can.”
A strong powerful voice broke through the night air. Mushi and Julia turned at the sound of it. Mushi’s eyes widened in anger at the sight of the armored knight, the large halberd resting gently on his shoulder. Standing next to it was a girl cloaked in a pure white robe. A tall wooden staff supported her as she used it to walk forward. She held out a pale-scarred hand. White hair flowed out from the folds of the hood, and milky white eyes stared blankly at Mushi and Julia. A thin crooked smile spread across her face.
“We are sorry we couldn’t make it in time. Others like the one Tiberius killed earlier popped up all over town. We had to deal with them first. For that I am truly sorry. However, that is done and over with. Now is the time for you to decide if you are ready to make good on your promise to the girl. When you have decided, give this whistle a good blow, and we will come for you. But I will give you one warning for you to think on. Once you join, there is no turning back. Not ever.”
As she said this, she put a small porcelain whistle in Mushi’s hands. The porcelain was cold to the touch, and for it’s size, it felt heavy. The women turned, and casually walked away.
“Time to go, Tiberius.”
The knight nodded, and a pure white light glowed around them. The light grew so intense, forcing Mushi and Julia to look away. When it dissipated, the two were gone. Mushi gripped the whistle tightly; it’s corners cutting into his skin. He turned to Julia, his face stern with assurance.
“I will get them back. I promise that. I’ll give you time to think on your decision before I blow the whistle, but by noon tomorrow, I will blow it.”
Julia nodded, Her tears now gone. “Alright, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
Titan’s eyes shot open. His body was numb, and his head spinning. A cloudy sky hung overhead. As he sat up, his body shivered with the bracing wind. Axel lay next to him, covered in a blanket of snow. Titan searched the horizon for anything, but the only thing he could see was the billowing snow, and an endless horizon of it.
“Where the hell are we?”