Amaranth

The air was still, quiet. It smelled musty, the way old books do. It seemed not a soul stirred in the silent library. It was an unusual silence, one that both scared and fascinated Violet. The shelves of books, endlessly high in her eyes, cut her off from the rest of existence. It was her own world, a world of hushed whispers and the flipping of pages. The usual hum of the library, the sound of confused children looking for their parents, or bored teenagers talking over their homework, was gone. She wandered through the aisles, looking for something to fill her imagination with wonderful words. In other words, Violet was looking for a book.

Violet ran her fingers against spines of books, reading titles and looking at covers. She was distracted, not really paying any attention to anything. The words started to blur. Something was pounding in the back of her mind. The silence was getting to her, the fear of being alone started to close in on her. She froze. She felt she couldn’t breathe. She needed to find something, someone, anyone, to hold onto. She quickly pushed her way out of the aisle, breathing deeply. She collapsed in relief as the feeling passed. She sat with her back against the end of the shelf, trying to catch her breath. She wished desperately that she had not come there alone.

She walked slowly over to one of the blue chairs that were placed everywhere in the library. A table sat in front of her, empty. She sat back and closed her eyes, trying to clear her mind. She sat still for a few moments before opening her eyes. When she did, a book sat on the table in front of her.

Violet jumped up quickly, looking around for whoever had put it there.

“Hello?” She called out nervously. No one answered. She was alone. She looked back at the strange book in front of her, the book that seemed oddly familiar, in a very unfamiliar way.

It was small, a child’s book. The cover was strange. It was a rough line drawing of sorts. It showed a girl with long, curly hair. Her face seemed sweet, like a little girl’s. She was in some sort of forest, with strange animals. Some looked a bit like bears, but with human faces. They were quite frightening. The rest were completely unidentifiable. The girl on the cover hadn’t seemed to notice them yet. By the way they were looking at her, Violet thought they probably wanted to eat her. It was all in black and white.

If the cover didn’t draw her in, the name did. “Amaranth”. Violet wondered what that was. The name of the girl? Slowly, still thinking of the mysterious person who must have put it there, she picked up the square book. It was surprisingly heavy for its size. Violet turned it sideways, looking at the pages of the book. There weren’t many. Cautiously, she opened the book to the first musty page. It was blank, and the yellow color of an old book. The second had all the copyright information. It was surprisingly normal, except for a missing author name. Violet wasn’t too interested in why there wasn’t an author. Her mind was still preoccupied with how the book got there, and why the person hadn’t answered when she called out for them.

Still, she opened the strange book, and began to read. The first thing she read made her throw down the book, and almost scream.

To Violet, I’m so sorry.

“Okay, who’s out there? I know there’s someone. How do you know my name? Who are you?” Violet was scared now, very, very scared. “Oh, very funny. Come on, give it up.” She thought for a moment. “Henry, was that you? It’s not funny!” Henry was her best friend. She couldn’t think of anyone else who would do this.

Violet spun around, facing the book again. “Fine, I read the book. Happy?!”

She slid back into her seat, looking around her to see if anyone was watching her. She seemed very alone. Again, she opened the book. She skipped the dedication and went straight to the beginning of the book. She hoped it wasn’t too cheesy.

“Once upon a time, there was a girl in Canada whose name was Violet. This is the story of what happened one stormy day.”

Violet stopped and sat up. She looked for the closest window. There. She walked slowly towards it, her heart pounding a million miles an hour. By this point, she was completely bewildered. She could hear it already. She looked out the window, wishing it wasn’t true, but it was. Rain

She went back t her seat, stunned. She realized it was just a book, and it shouldn’t make her feel like this, like all the air was pulled out of the room. Reminding herself that it was just a book, she sat down to read the rest of it.

It was a strange book. The Violet in the story gets blown away in the wind of the storm, and ends up in a weird place called Oz. After, it gets really creepy. Everything is dead, and it looks completely abandoned. A broken sign reads “Welcome to Oz”. She looks around for a while and discovers two roads; one that is saffron, and another that is amaranth.

“What,” Violet said aloud to herself “Is saffron? Or amaranth for that matter?” The book had no color, so she couldn’t tell. She got up in search of a computer. At that moment, her mother called her on her cell phone.

“Honey?” Violet’s mother said. “I’m coming to pick you up. The storms getting bad, and I don’t want you to be alone.”

Violet checked out the book, thinking she’d read it later, and waited for her mom near the front of the library.

Violet noticed the wind was particularly strong. He looked through one of the windows to see a tree bending down towards the ground, as though it was praying. Things blew through the streets; newspapers, loose branches, and other items. Inside the library, the air was cold, still, silent. Violet let out a breath, and could see it in front of her. ‘Why is it so cold all the sudden?’ She asked herself. Something was not right.

She suddenly had the urge to go outside. She needed to feel the wind and the rain on her skin. She felt as though she had been sleeping with her eyes open, and she needed something to wake her up. She felt like the walls were closing in on her, crushing her. She needed a release. She walked to the front doors, looking outside, thinking of how cold and fresh the rain would feel. As she pushed open the door, she could smell the rain, and the dust in the air. She could feel the electricity in the air, the way you can when it storms. The wind was strong, it wanted to pull her away, but she fought it as she took the first step out the door. The wind was so strong; it pounded in her ears so she could hear nothing else; the rain was thick and heavy; she held her hands out and could not see them. She was almost instantly soaked to the bone. The ground was slippery and wet, and she found herself falling towards it. As she hurtled downward, a gust of wind seemed to lift her up. She opened her eyes wide, desperately trying to see what was going on. A moment later, she was gone.

Violet seemed to be drifting. She was so numb, she couldn’t feel any part of her body. Just trying to open her eyes was difficult. She felt groggy, as though she had been sleeping for a long time, deeply sleeping. Still, it felt as though just seconds ago she was falling through the rain. The rain was gone now, and Violet wasn’t wet anymore, just very cold. She also still had the book, somehow. It took great strength, but she managed to open her eyes.

It was a strange sight. No longer was Violet at the library; in fact, she had never seen anything like where she was now. It looked like a dead city, abandoned. It had the stillness and eeriness of a graveyard. Violet’s breathing seemed so loud in the quiet place. There were house that were once painted bright colors, now dull, and oddly shaped. It was as though a child had formed them. They were uneven, rounded, and unusually small, as if a child lived there. Violet was on her feet now, looking around with uneasiness. The small town looked like it had once been a happy, cheerful place. But it wasn’t any longer, and the air smelled different, as if something awful had happened. The silence was unnatural; something evil had happened here.

Violet, realizing this, stumbled backwards, almost fell, then caught herself on something. She whipped around, and had to turn her head sideways to read the broken side, which read:
“Well come to Munchkin Land”

“Munchkin land?!” Violet said aloud to herself, then louder “Is anyone here? Hello? Where am I?”

“You’re where it says you are.” A voice called out. “Or can you not read?”

Violet spun, looking for the source of the voice; finding no one, she yelled, “Who’s there?”

“Oh? It’s just little old me. You’re not afraid, are you?” Violet thought she could hear the smile in the voice. Then the voice whispered, “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.”

Violet covered her ears. It felt as though the person, or thing, was standing right behind her. She was very scared, but she gathered up enough bravery to ask, “How do I get out of here?”

“Well,” the voice said with a sigh, disappointed he wasn’t scaring her as much as he’d like, “That’s up to you. You must choose which road to follow. One leads to evil, one leads to good. You know the rhyme,
‘The two paths for you to take
One to heal, one to break
The choice is yours, but I will not lie
One you shall live, and the other, you die.’

There are two roads out of Munchkin Land. Like the rhyme says, one will lead you to safety, and one the other one, you will die. I’d be very careful, if I were you. So what is your choice, little girl, saffron, or amaranth?”

Violet saw both of the roads. One was red, one was yellow. “Which is which? All I see is red and yellow, no saffron, no amaranth.”

“Stupid girl! You don’t even know your colors. Saffron is a yellow, amaranth is a red,” The voice replied snidely. Violet was offended by his comment, but decided to just ignore it. Saffron is yellow, amaranth is red. At the end of one you will be alive, and the other, dead.

“I already know what road you’re going to take. Everyone takes the saffron one. And then they are never seen again. And you, ignorant girl, will following their footsteps.”

Violet, who was going to take the yellow one, stopped and yelled, “You think you can call me stupid and ignorant, but you are a coward! You don’t even have the bravery to show me your face. I am not stupid, and I am not ignorant! I will make up my own mind, and you will not be telling me what I decide to do! I will take the amaranth road, I will not be stupid, but you will stay here and stay a coward.”

With that, Violet turned and walked down the red road, already deciding she would follow it to the very end, and get home.

Sitting behind one of the run down houses, the owner of the voice cackled in delight of tricking yet another ignorant person to go down the red road, the road that only he had survived.

The road was very quiet. The only sound Violet heard were her shoes hitting the ground. She was in a forest of sorts, the strangest she had ever been in. The trees were a deep blue, and twisted in unnatural ways.

Violet remembered the book in her hand. She opened to the first few pages again. How had she forgotten? Everything that had happened to her, it also happened in the book. Violet sat down on the road. How had she forgotten? Swept away in the wind, finding the roads. She wondered what would happen next, if she choose the right road. She went to the next page, but found it blank. Surprised, she flipped through the rest of the book. Nothing was written on any of the pages. It was strange; the story only seemed to lead up to where she was, as though the story was written while she went through it.

Violet’s eyes opened wide, and the gasped. “Oh, oh no,” She whispered to herself. She had figured it out. The story was about her. She didn’t know what was going to happen. She just hoped she wasn’t going to die.

Violet tried to keep very aware as she walked. She didn’t want to be like the girl on the cover, surrounded by evil answers but oblivious to them. The silence seemed to break as she walked through the forest. She heard strange noises everywhere, sounds of creatures; breathing, moving, breaking branches. It seemed like they were getting closer to her, breathing down her neck, but every time she turned around, nothing was there. Sometimes it felt as though something was looking at her, or walking right next to her. She couldn’t see anything though.

“Violet, stop it. It’s all in your head; you’re just freaking yourself out,” She whispered to herself. She continued walking, blocking out any and all noises she thought she could hear.

“Violet,” the wind seemed to whisper, but she blocked it out.

“Come, come into the forest, Violet,” the voices were calling, but Violet ignored them.

“I won’t hurt you,” a voice, similar to the one she had heard before, said. At that, Violet started running.

She finally ran out of the forest, taking deep breathes. The sun was out here, and she was in a valley. It was huge, as far as she could see, both ways. Both sides faded into the horizon. No one could hide in the empty space.

That’s when Violet noticed it was no, in fact, empty at all. It was full. Full of things.

The things are not easy to describe. They exist everywhere, on every planet, in every place, every house, and every little corner of the worlds. They even exist, as much as we block it out, in our mind. They are whispers, memories of what once was and what will be. They are ghosts of the present and the past. They are the root of evils in the worlds, the ever-existing. They never are, and they always are. They are the in between of here and now, there and then. They are the creatures of hate, the destroyers of worlds, usually hidden, always there. There are few places in this universe where one can see one of these creatures, the ghosts of those who never lived. The Valley Dz?vajiem un Mirušajiem, meaning ‘the valley of the living and the dead’, is one of those places. It is also called the valley of Valissa, the ‘in between’.

Most people go their whole life without seeing these things. Few that do see them survive. Of those who do survive, most go crazy. But there are a small fraction of people who, after seeing them, survive and stay completely sane.

At first, the sight of the things themselves is mostly harmless. They just look like shiny glowing lights. Then, they become horrible. The longer you look at them, the worse they seem. They really do not change at all. But the things can see into your soul, they can read you like a book. They know all your fears. They do not change the way they look, but they change their essence. They create the feeling you felt when you found what you were most afraid of. They become the most horrifying creatures in the universe.

Imagine Violet’s thoughts when she walked into the most populated place in all of time and space for the things.

Violet cast her eyes slowly around the valley. She saw shiny silver lights, glowing from the corner of her eyes, but when she turned, nothing was there. She kept almost seeing the things, looking left and right quickly, until she could see one. Right in front of her, floating, was what was about to become the most terrifying thing in the universe.

At first, she thought she was only afraid because she was confused as to what the thing in front of her was. She realized that this was not it, and the feeling that was making her heart beat faster, was fear. And fear it was; fear that made her want to cover her eyes and cry. It made her want to run, and the only thing that was stopping her from doing so. Its icy hand crept up her back, clutched her throat, kept her from screaming. Her knees gave out and she crashed to the ground. Then she did what most find impossible to do in the presence of a thing of this kind; she closed her eyes.

To a thing, the eyes are the entrance to the soul. They have a direct link to one’s inner essence. The only thing that kept things from creeping into dreams is that the dreamer’s eyes are closed. Things usually make people so afraid; they immobilize, then die of fear. They can’t move enough to close their eyes, they’re so afraid. Violet had done the unthinkable; she had closed her eyes.

The things had no power over her now. Violet had realized this as the laid on the ground with her eyes shut. She knew she could never make it through the whole valley with her eyes closed, but if she could just do little pieces at a time, and block the monsters out of her mind, she might just make it through.

Violet, eyes still closed, stood up slowly. Knowing it was useless, she put both hands in front of her. She thought she’d just open her eyes for a moment, just to get a sense of direction.

“One. . . Two. . . Three,” Violet opened her eyes and quickly looking around. The fear began to slowly slither back into her mind, but she fought it the best she could. She found the forest behind her, then, in front of her, what looked to be a fortress. She quickly shut her eyes again. She could feel the air around the things; felt them growing closer to her, surrounding her. She couldn’t quite touch them, her hands went through them, but she could feel the freezing air they carried. She ran, hoping she was still going the way she wanted. She stumbled, almost fell, but balanced herself out.

She races towards the edge of the valley blindly, fearing the things, and, at the same time, not fearing them at all.

Violet felt the ground rush up to meet her. It was then she opened her eyes. She caught herself on her hands, then realized that she was no longer in the valley. She breathed a sigh of relief. The things weren’t following her anymore. They couldn’t leave the boundaries of the valley.

She turned to look at what lie ahead of her. A giant fortress sat upon a mountain, surrounded by purple forest. She dreaded going into the forest again, but knew, somehow, that she needed to get to the fortress. She got herself off the ground, and started off. She wondered if she would find the road again, if she’d run into it in the forest.

The forest now was as gloomy and dark as it had been earlier. The gnarled, twisted trees threatened that they could tear Violet into pieces. The whispers in the dark said her name. The air was cold, and smelled faintly of smoke and blood. She tried her best to keep away from the trees, but it was made difficult when the roots seemed to be purposely tripping her, forcing her to stumble. She then had to catch herself on the trees. They were rough and rigged, and her hands were soon covered in cuts. After all the bizarre happening that day, Violet barely felt them.

As she wound her way through the seemingly endless forest, Violet began to wonder why she was going through all of this. To get home, she told herself. But that couldn’t be true. Hadn’t she been trying to get away from home all her life? Then she realized the truth; though she told herself otherwise, all Violet really wanted was to be home. She needed that love.

On the verge of tears, Violet opened the book again. She had kept it in her jacket pocket until now. She found that the pages that were once empty were so no longer. The book now held everything that had happened to Violet, with pictures and everything. I’m the character of this book, Violet thought. This story is about me. The thought chilled her.

Trying to forget about the book, Violet began walking again. The uphill climb was treacherous, and Violet almost fell off many times. She had to hold on for her life all the way up the steep mountain.

Finally, she made it to the top of the mountain. It was then she had a good look at the fortress. It was a dark grey, and surrounded by clouds of its color. It had 7 tall towers, and what looked like a rickety draw bridge. The building itself seemed to have a certain aura of strangeness about it. Never had Violet seen anything so big, or so creepy. By now, Violet was weary, and just wanted to go home. She started towards the castle, hoping it would be nicer than it appeared to be.

As she drew near the draw bridge, Violet wondered how to enter the castle. The bridge was drawn shut. Was she to shout out, or throw rocks at the door? A moat went all the way around the castle, and Violet doubted it was safe in the least.

As soon as Violet was close enough to start deciding what would be the best way to get someone to let her inside the castle, the draw bridge slammed to the ground. Violet jumped back, unsure of whether or not to enter.

“Come,” said a sinister voice from inside. Violet’s heart raced. The fortress suddenly seemed to be the last place Violet would ever want to be. The voice was so terrible, so evil, Violet just wanted to run away. As she began to turn her back, a sweeter voice called out, “Please come in.”

Violet turned back. The castle turned into an inviting place now, just where she wanted to be, a passage home. She found herself saying yes, of course, she would love to come in. A voice in the back of her mind was screaming something, but Violet ignored it.

She walked into the castle, delighted by the beauty of it, the lovely smell she couldn’t place, the red carpet. Suddenly a woman stood in front of her. To Violet, she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

“Hello my dear,” Said the beautiful woman. “I’m Amaranth. Who are you? Oh, let me guess. Are you Violet?”

Violet smiled, extremely happy that the woman knew her name. “Yes, I am Violet. How did you know?”

Amaranth ignored Violet’s question. “Violet, do you happen to have a book with you?”

Violet looked at her, wondering why she wanted it. The screaming in the back of her head was getting louder now, giving her a headache.

“Violet,” Amaranth said, more sternly now. “Violet, give me the book.” Her voice cracked at the end, giving it away. Violet finally saw things for what they were. The illusions faded away. Violet saw that the carpet was not red; it was white, stained with blood. The smell was awful, a smell of dead bodies and decay. Violet’s eyes turned huge when she realized what the beautiful woman she thought was: an ugly witch.

Amaranth saw this. “Kill her!” she yelled. Suddenly, there were guards surrounding Violet. “Give me the book, now, or you will die!” she commanded.

“What do you want with it? Why is it important?” Violet asked.

“Why is it important?! It’s the key of power. That book tells the story of Oz,” Amaranth replied, annoyed.

“No, it tells the story of me!” Violet yelled. What was the witch talking about?

“That’s what you wish to see. We’ve waited for you; you are the deliverer of the book! We worked so hard to make sure you’d get the book here, that it would get to you, so you could bring it to me! Now! Give me the book, or die!”

Violet looked into the witches eyes, seeing nothing but evil. She thought about this strange world, and how really, it was just like hers. Her eyes filled with tears. She knew what she had to do. She knew how to do it. She had seen the massive torches when she had first walked in. She took the book, and held it out to the witch. Just as she bent in to take it, Violet pulled it away and threw it into the torch. It burned easily, going up in instant flames like old, dry books do. Amaranth’s eyes filled with rage.

“Kill her!” She instructed the guards. Violet put up no fight; seconds later, she was dead.

‘The two paths for you to take
One to heal, one to break
The choice is yours, but I will not lie
One you shall live, and the other, you die.
Saffron yellow, Amaranth red
Refuse the witch, you shall end up dead
Once a sad and lonely place
A purple sky of night
Ended with a burning
Now we’re covered in golden light
Never again she shall return
To her love, her world
But to die at a witch’s hand
And stop the plans unfold

She played with the hands of death
Danced with her biggest bet
Wondered if she should fear
If her death will draw her near’





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