The Rings of Fate
Author's note: Please leave comments...I need to see what I need to change. Thanks! :-)
The MatchesHe felt his eyelids sliding down from exhaustion. James jerked awake. I can’t fall asleep now, they’ll notice me, or worse, I’ll fall down. He thought. He has been waiting for at least forty minutes now. The streets are slowing filling with human and cars, like a filling bathtub. Slow at first, but it will overflow when stretched to one point. He slid down the tree trunk, his backpack flopping on his back. He had to get off now. If he got off later, a lot more people will notice a messy Nike freak kid jumping off a tree when he was supposed to be at school.
He walked casually down the street, as if he belonged there with his battered backpack thumping against his back. He has learned from past experience, like escaping from mad teachers, that if you look confident where you are, other people’s eyes will just pass over you. Now the streets are overflowing like a flooding river. He found the bus stop. There a short and stocky bus driver in the front seat. James cursed. No matter if you have a ticket or not, you have to give this driver tips before he will let you on. He has sharp eyes, there is no way James could slip pass him. Plan A failed, now go to plan B, bribing. As he walked on the air conditioned bus, he slid a twenty-dollar bill to the driver. And he bent down.
“I don’t have a ticket but if you don’t tell, I’ll give you another when I get off,” he said.
The driver gave him a stiff nod. He knows as well as James that kids under sixteen are not allowed to purchase ticket without a parent or guardian present. If James went up to the ticket booth, he might as well run to the police station and yell “I am James Hamilton and I killed two men at the hospital!” He went straight to the back. Taking a window seat, he looked over his crazy adventures. It seemed like a million years ago when he went to school. But he knew it was only yesterday. His thoughts soon floated to the ring. If it is suppose to work, maybe it isn’t just working for him. He is adopted after all. Maybe it doesn’t matter that you were in the family, it just matters if you have the blood in you. But maybe it really doesn’t work and what his mom said were just made up. James suddenly remembered a strange word his mom used. After she said it, the ring flew in the hospital room. Maybe it is magic. She did say there was magic back then. The word is…it starts with a c, that much he was sure of.
“Crusk!” He remembered the word.
He placed it on a seat beside him. He murmured the word under his breath. The ring stayed on the seat. He tried again with closed eyes, this time concentrating harder and imagining the ring flying into his hand. He felt something heavy on the hand. He opened his eyes, and there it is. The ring rested on his palm as if it was there all the time. He let a whoop of joy, but quickly stifled it with the looks people were giving him.
The bus was quickly filling up. Soon, they were packed like sardines in the bus. A blond heavy set woman climbed on the bus and searched for seats. There was only one seat left, the seat beside James. The woman sat on the seat and let out a sigh of relief. To this point, James was pushed to the window; she took up her whole seat plus some of James’. He saw the bus driver talking to the instructor at the ticket booth. A minute later, the bus jerked forward and started the journey. The woman beside him took out two knitting needles and yarn. She was casting off her work.
“What’s your name? Ya look like a street hoodlum. Just like my grandsun,” she addressed him with a heavy southern accent.
“James,” He replied.
“Whell, his name is Ben. He just roam the streets all day, not doing anything else…” She went on about her grandson and what his does.
James just tuned out, with a couple smiles and nods here and there. Even if his magic did work, he was not sure if the ring will work for him. He looked at his reflection in the window. His blond hair was messy and matted with dirt. His clothes were rumpled and dirty. The blue eyes on his face were filled with confusion, tiredness, and frustration. He looks nothing like a Chinese boy, with their dark hair, dark eyes, and the air of smartness around them.
Every Chinese he knew was smart in some way. Mom was good at literature. She has a PhD degree on Shakespeare. Dad was math and science. He always gets a dreamy look on his face when he talks about it. They have Albert Einstein posters all over their hallways, courtesy to his dad. His friends at Chinese school were either good at music, history, language arts, math, science, or all. Their faces automatically transforms into a frown when they receive an A- on an assignment or test. He is lucky to get a B. His mom says everyone is good at something, very true for them. But he always wants to figure out the strength he has. Not something academic. They were celebrating when he got a B for an overall grade in sixth grade.
Maybe he isn’t smart enough to work the magical ring. Or he doesn’t have the blood. Whatever the reason is, he was determined to find out. He looked out the window. He wasn’t sure if he can trust Cody’s visions. Even if they are true, can he find the family and would they believe his story? He cast the doubts aside. He has to focus on this journey first, and then he can worry about it later. He leaned his head on the window and closed his eyes.
Fire was closing around him, yet he wasn’t afraid. He knew it was friendly and would not harm him. It greeted him like a friend, wrapping him in its flames like a hug. He looked from side to side, seeing two girls and another boy. One of the girls have shoulder length hair that she put up in to pigtails. She was about James’ height and skinny. Around her was a swirl of water. She didn’t look afraid. On her hand, a golden ring with sapphire chips around it reflected off light. The other girl was consumed in dirt, yet she was clean and uninjured. She too had a golden ring on her finger, except it was banded with tiger’s eye. Her hair whipped her face; she was slightly taller than James. At last, his eyes turned to the boy. He has short hair that reaches his ears. An invisible force blew around him. James recognized it was air. His clothes were tattered but it looked identical to what James was wearing. His ring was studded with diamonds. He was shorter than all of them but he was also stockier and stronger than all of them. His face lost its childish features. He looked mature and steady, unlike the middle school kids he sees at school. He realized with a start that these are the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air.
“Believe James, that’s how you operate your ring. We are the most powerful people in the universe. You are the first outsider that has gain possession of the ring, but don’t worry, you are Chinese at heart and it is all that matters,” All of their voices were mixed together as if they were put in a juice blender. “Come to us and help us defeat the enemy. Separate, we are weak, together we are unbeatable.”
James shrank in the fire, wanting to disappear. The voices are scaring him. All of this is scaring him.
He woke up with a start. Sweat poured down his face despite the cool air condition in the bus. Their voices were still ringing in his ears.
“Ya okay, sun? Ya looked like ya’ve seen a ghost! Just like my little boy after Halloween. This one time…” The woman next to him went on to her son and how he had pee his pants during Halloween.
It was a dream. He told himself. Yet, it felt real. The fire and the other teenagers, they look real. If there is magic to lift things, why not magic to send dreams? But on the other hand, it might just be his over imaginative mind at work. He snapped back to the present when the bus came into a stop on the side of the highway. Smoke was issuing from the front. On the left there were mountains and on the right there was a small canyon and a river. It was almost ninety degrees outside. The bus driver cursed and climbed off to check on the small bus. A few minutes later, he announced that the bus is broken and there is no way to fix it without the right tools. They’ll have to wait until another bus comes to pick them up. The temperature is soaring high without the air condition. The bus acted as an oven, isolating the temperatures. Soon, everyone were tossing and turning in their seats, trying to find a cool spot. Being squeezed next to the window didn’t help James cool down, on the controversy, it made him even hotter. He gave up trying to keep cool in the bus and picked his way out. It was definitely cooler outside. The wind from cars created a fan for James. He sat down at the side of the highway. This must be weird to the people driving. He thought. It would be weird to him, if he was the ones on the road. Realizing it was more comfortable outside, passengers streamed down, unable to take the heat anymore. The bus driver came over, holding his hand out. James slapped a twenty dollar bill on his hand. As much he hated seeing that go, he had to do it or else he wouldn’t be able to get to Los Angeles.
Luckily, the second bus arrived not long after the first one broke down. All of them were eager to get on the air conditioned vehicle. This time, he was sitting beside a boy his age. He has red hair and green eyes, just like Cody. But the similarities stop there. This boy acted like he was the royalty of England. His shirt was pressed and neatly buttoned down. His dress pants were stiff as a stick and his shoes were so shiny James has to squint while looking at it.
“So what is your name?” he asked haughtily. “Water.” The woman sitting across from him quickly bent down and retrieved a bottle of water and placed it in his hands. She looked like his mother, but acted like his servant.
“James,” he replied without looking at him.
“You’re supposed to ask what my name is,” the boy said after a long awkward pause.
“I would if I cared.” The boy didn’t take the hint.
“Well I will tell you anyways, it seems like your parents forgot to teach you proper manners,” he said with his nose in the air.”My name is Liam. “
James could feel his blood run faster and faster until his vision turned red. It took all his self control not to strangle this kid. He took deep breaths and pointedly turned to face the window. The bus driver announced that they will be arriving in twenty minutes. James breathed a sigh of relief. The farther away from the kid he is, the better he will be.
James set foot on the Los Angeles ground. The blazing sun beat on his back as he took a look around. Now that he was here, how will he find the right people? He can’t just wonder around Los Angeles and knock on every house and ask “Do you have a ring that was emperor Qin’s but he gave it to your ancestor?”. Even if he did, there’s like seven million houses in this city. By the time he knocked on all on them, he would be seventy years old.
Cody said something about Disneyland. Maybe that’s the way to start. He made up his mind to go to Disneyland. However silly that sounds, it’s his only choice. Well, maybe not only, but it sure beats knocking on all the doors. He started toward the direction of Disneyland. It was easy blending in here. Families crowd the sidewalks, making it almost impossible to pick James out. The walk wasn’t far, but the heat made him gasping for his breath when he arrived. How will I get in? He asked himself. The ticket booth lady certainly would not sell him any tickets. Plus, he only has two dollars left. Then he found a discarded Winnie the Pooh costume on the side. He found his way in. Grabbing the costume, he dragged it behind tall bushes and wiggled in. He regretfully left his backpack behind a bush. It was just an inconvenience. It was immensely uncomfortable, for it was even hotter inside and the costume is just a tiny bit too big for him. Okay, make that very big. He tripped over his own leg and hit his head on the concrete sidewalk. Several toddlers were pointing at him and giggling. A parent even had their kid took a picture with him. At last, he got up again and managed to get to the entrance without any other accidents. The lady didn’t even give him a look and waved him on. He stumbled inside and found a quiet place to get rid of this costume. Once he did, he looked around. There were people everywhere. But he would look too weird just looking for the Chinese family Cody talked about. He needs to merge in this crowd. So he did what he has to, go on the rides.