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Not Oz, Part 1
Our story begins with a rebel. Rebels make the best heroes.
Tillie Zona Dare was 16, adolescent. She liked her name. It rolled of her tongue. It was like a cheese Danish, welcoming and comfortable. She was tall and thin with blond hair, brown eyes and lips like cherries, often wooed by Arwenians. But she was tougher than she looked. She was running away from The Mother and The Father.
You would assume that she detested her parents because of her juvenile nature, but her loathing was much deeper than that. She hadn’t liked them from the beginning, when they tried to sneak away from the delivery room without her. They enrolled her in programs that involved sleeping away, very little parent-child time, etc. She might have liked them, but they resented her too much. Now, she won't even call them mom and dad. That would mean she respected them or even appreciated their company. They were The Mother and The Father. Tillie was nothing more than a mistake on their honeymoon that they wanted to cover up.
One cannot even imagine the joy that Tillie Zona Dare might have felt when another Sandystorm storm came. On her home planet of Arwen, the dry, grainy ground often swirled, whooshed and roared over the planet. It was a tragic but natural thing that happened a lot, until the rain came for several years. It had stopped last year. This was the first storm in a while, and the planet needed to be evacuated, a routine they've had since the beginning.
The robots marched her and her kelb, Koda off to her spaceship. She was to sail behind The Mother and The Father’s ship, in her own ship. So they left her in there alone. Of course, the simpleton robots didn’t realize that the quiet yet unruly girl would disobey the Arwenian code, but she did anyway. As Sandystorm 1046 ripped apart Arwen, Tillie was kicking her little vessel into hyperdrive, and soaring the opposite way.
All she wanted was a place to think. She saw the little dark planet quite a few light-years away. It appeared to have a couple spots of land, and a thick atmosphere. It would be a nice spot. Little did she know she was landing on Earth.
Tillie had heard about Earth, how it crumbled and fell as people jumped off cliffs, trying to end their lives quickly. It was the apocalypse. Life as they knew it ended. It was bad for them, but Tillie knew that there was nothing that they could do. The planet was so devastated, it was impossible to tell what planet it was from the naked eye, which was why Tillie landed on it.
As she glided down, Tillie looked outside. The ground was charred and steaming. It looked like the top of a volcano on Arwen. Slowly, she landed on the ground when…
CH-CH-CH-BMMMM. The spaceship rattled and jerked Tillie into the window, leaving a little cloud of moisture. It faded away, just as Tillie’s jolt of fear did. Koda shook with kelby nervousness, she was a rational thinker; something was wrong with the machine.
Gradually, Tillie stepped down the ramp and peered under the ship to see what was there. Something was caught in the landing gear. As she came closer, she saw something that made vomit creep up her throat like a spider up a water spout.
It wasn’t a something, it was a someone. Some not-so-pretty woman’s stomach was gone, replaced by a mass of flesh and blood. There was little skin around the neck, and the limbs were torn and bent in thousands of positions.
Hanging from a gear was a little necklace with a glowing red pendant. It pulsed, oddly. Tillie picked it off and put it on. It made her feel a little safer.
Tillie backed away. She was scared. Everything was ruined. She wouldn't see the Mother or the Father again…or her friends or… anyone? This planet was dead, barren, and completely unknown. It would just be her and her animal friend. Tillie looked around. Someone had to be somewhere. Then, in the horizon she saw something. She needed to get to it, so she ran.
She must have run miles because she was panting. Her chest rose and fell like the waves of a sea during a storm. She didn't know where to run, when to stop. Tillie just ran at the little puff of smoke she saw in the distance, with furry little Koda in tow.
Tillie reached the smoke faster than she had expected. She saw a pit, it was smoking. Something was kindling in it. It was some charred leaves, pointy but not prickly. It smelled weird. Tillie took a big breath, and it filled her lungs. She could feel it flow into her lungs, and almost flinched when it reached her brain.
The runaway felt sick, but she kept breathing in the smoke. Something about it made her feel…good. Like everything was going to be okay. Her brain was being tricked. She closed her eyes, sat down and let the mind find its footing.
There was a woman. She was very pretty, in a white dress. Her blonde hair glowed, and her pale face seemed to almost glitter. When she spoke, her voice was like water filling up a tall glass.
"Hello, my name is Miriam. Are you good or bad?" She trilled.
Tillie didn't know how to respond, so she just mumbled, "Umwellseedqsdmcapoersafabcdefghijk
"I don't really care much, you just killed Bastinda's sister, and everyone here wants to know why, how, the usual matter. So, what is it?"
What was she anyway? Good or bad? She had run away from her parents, but with good intentions. And who was Bastinda? And her sister? Was she nice? Where was Koda? She heard a bark. Okay, he was nearby. Tillie looked around. The pit was gone. She was by her ship. Was she awake? This was weird.
"Uh, I'm good. I guess."
"Well, I guess I'll leave it to the Tichstocks."
So Tillie was asleep, she was awoken by chatter.
"She still asleep?"
"Yeah, she was by the pot hole for almost an hour"
"An hour? Jeez, she must be high as a kite."
Tillie blinked to look at the people towering over her sleeping body. Well, they weren't exactly towering. These people, the Tichstocks probably, were definitely not over four feet. They were oddly proportioned.
The girl rolled over. Oh, tall people. But not pretty. Tillie supposed that they didn't have the option of beautification surgery that they have on Arwen. One had no arm, another no leg. One was really skinny. And one was white as snow.
They looked like a group of misfits. But they were friendly. The big ones helped her up. The little ones put food in her mouth. She liked the food, it was bread. Finally Tillie decided to talk.
"Thank you," She said.
The biggest man, well the biggest little man marched up to her.
"No. Thank you! Why, if you hadn't landed you're contrapadaption on that old Narta, we'd be history!"
"Um what? Who? Huh?" Tillie was confused, to say the least.
"Narta, don't you know? She, Bastinda, thinks they run the whole place? I mean, we aren't anarchists here, but a little courtesy would be nice..." The man kept going on until a grave, short, skinny man stopped him.
"She knows nothing, Rod." The man croaked. "Let me tell her." he turned to Tillie and began his story:
"Welcome to Earth. Or…what used to be France. You look like someone that would know what happened here. Well, not all of us got out of this nightmare. There are only a couple thousand people here. And on this land, we have a bit of a dictatorship on our hands."
"A dictatorship?" Tillie inquired.
"Yeah," he replied. "We're ruled over by these old girls, Bastinda and Raina. Their dad was a famous magician. When he died, the felt like because he was magic, so were they. Pretty soon, they got people following them like they were deities or something. Then, those people got people, and now we've got them ruling over us and making us kiss their toes. We have to, they've got guns. No one wants to get shot."
"What about this necklace?" Tillie gestured to the pulsating amulet around her neck.
"Those are supposed to keep them alive. They're from the caves of South America—before they were destroyed and drowned. Bastinda lost hers, and it seems you've got Riana's."
Tillie looked down at the pendant. It would really protect her…From dying? Maybe she would be okay here after all.
All of a sudden, big men with guns swept into the little clearing, scaring of a bunch of the Tichstocks. Then entered a woman, But her face was covered. She called, "WHERE IS THE MURDERER OF MY SISTER?"
Someone pointed at Tillie. The blank head turned to her, "Well, well, well. Say goodbye to your pretty little face!"
A guard held a gun to her face. It was ready to fire on command of the woman, but then she yelled "STOP!" and leaned toward Tillie.
"Nice necklace," She scoffed. "It's my sister's, and it’s the only thing keeping you alive. How about you give it to me?"
Obviously, this woman had no tolerance. "Then you better watch your back."
As swiftly as they came, the party left.
The man that had talked to her to before rushed over and cried, "Well, look at that! That was Bastinda, and she can't kill you! You're unbelievable! You can definitely help us now right?"
Tillie didn't know how to answer at all. She didn't even know how she got here. Yes, she had a laser gun, and the works. But all this material probably wouldn't help.
"I honestly can't tell. I didn't ask for this. I need help." Tillie croaked. She filled her voice with sorrow.
She watched the faces fall. Everyone’s hopeful smiles slowly collapsed. They couldn’t even look at her; they just averted their eyes so that it looked like they were in conversation with each other. Tears slid down from their eyes dripping like melted candle wax down bruised, dirty cheeks. As they skimmed down the face, little rivers were made in the dirty clouds, like a stream running through a dry desert. Tillie’s eyes almost hurt from looking at such devastation. Even Koda whined, as if he knew anything. She knew she had to help.
“Well, maybe I can help, if I go home,” she said, “but I need to fix my ship.”
“That’s easy!” cried a little boy, “Go to the Shaman!”
Apparently, somewhere south of the misfit’s village, there was a Shaman, who could help with anything. They showed her a tree. It only grew along the pathway of where the Shaman was. All she had to do was follow it. Tillie bid the little deformed people goodbye and started on her way.