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Unlocking Alterdon (Short Story)
Author's note: This was actually a creative writing piece for my honors english class. The character Ms. Currier is actually my English teacher, the prompt was that she flew us in a helicopter and dropped us off on a place where there were native people, and we were supposed to tell us the story of our first encounters and how there culture would be percieved by me. So, the character Faith... is really me... hahaha...
The helicopter lurched once more as a gust of wind from the storm blasted against the light frame. I kept my eyes closed, clutching the arms of my seat, and doing breathing exercises to calm my nerves.
“What a wonderful day for a flight!” Ms. Currier, my English teacher, called out. I couldn't help but give her a wry look.
We had been flying over Ireland in an attempt to find a lost civilization that at once was rumored to have the largest collection of historical documents and literary documents in history, when a large storm came ashore blowing the helicopter off its planned course.
“Do you know where we are?” I asked as a rumble of thunder made my heart race.
“Um, do you want the truth?” Ms. Currier asked looking over at me, her face adorned with hopelessness. I sighed and covered my face with my hands. I couldn't die now! I haven't even graduated high school, or finished watching all the seasons of Gilmore Girls! I can't die not knowing if Rory goes back to school or not!
The helicopter lurched and sirens began blaring. I felt my adrenalin kick in, and I quickly grabbed the emergency parachutes.
“Something's damaged the fuel line, so we're going down! We need to jump before the helicopter begins a spiral.” Ms. Currier yelled over the sirens.
“If we jump the plane's falling faster than us! The air that's being pulled into the blades are going to suck us up and chop us up into smaller pieces than diced tomatoes!” I yelled as she placed the helicopter on autopilot.
“That's why we're jumping now!” She yelled as she pulled open the side door. Rain and wind pelted through the opening giving me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“Jump!” My body screamed at me. The helicopter lurched and I tumbled out of the door.
The raindrops pricked my face as I fell head over heels through what seemed to be an endless fall. I couldn't scream or barely breathe as the wind rushed past me. I pulled at my rip chord to the parachute desperately. It was stuck!
“No! No! No! No!” I screamed. I yanked down hard on the cable and felt the jerk of the parachute escape.The chords became entangled causing me to fall into a spiral, making me both dizzy and sick. It was then that I knew I was going to die, when I hit something hard and everything went black.
I moaned. I felt as if I had a huge crack in my skull. I didn't open my eyes in fear of what I would see. I could hear jumbled words around me, and a cool cloth was wiped across my forehead. Thank god. I'm alive.
“She doesn't belong! She's a threat!”A woman's voice whispered in a strange language. I couldn't understand a word she had spoken! Did I land in a different country? What language were they speaking? It was unlike any language I had ever heard in my lifetime. If they couldn't understand English how would I ever get home!?
“We cannot kill her. It is against our beliefs.” A male whispered. I heard a chair scrape across the floor and a pair of footsteps leave. I forced my eyes open and looked over to see a young man sitting near the foot of the bed I was laying on.
He held a leather bound book and sat in silence reading. I blinked a few times wondering if perhaps I was seeing his appearance wrong. His skin was white as new fallen snow, and you could see the blue blood veins branching out like trees beneath his almost translucent skin. His hair was just touching his collar was, just as his skin, shockingly pure white. His brow was wrinkled as he appeared to be thinking and was very concerned. I watched as he ran his thin fingers through his hair and stood. His tall, thin frame blocked some of the light from the fire and cast a shadow over my bed. He was pure beautiful, and for some reason he didn't frighten me.
I don't know what I had expected when I opened my eyes, but I most definitely had not expected the odd looking man. I was staring at him trying to figure out if the blue veins on his face, hands, arms, and neck were indeed veins or tattoos when he stretched, adjusted his t-shirt, and closed the book he had been reading. He turned and glanced over at me. I stared back even more shocked and amazed.
“You are awake,” He said in English with a thick accent. I opened my mouth, but no words would escape me. His eyes were unexpectedly the color of beautiful, delicate, orchids. “My name is Oblenik. Do you remember how you got here?”
“There was a crash. I was in a helicopter. My English teacher! Is she okay?” I mumbled.
“I'm sorry, I cannot answer that question. I don't know who, My English Teacher is. That's a strange name for a person...” Oblenik replied a look of confusion on his face.
“What? English, she's teaching me English!” I replied.
“But you speak fine.” He said with his right eyebrow up.
“Never mind, where am I?” I asked.
“The Island of Aterdon. How did you get here?” Oblenik repeated.
“I fell, well jumped. We were going home in the helicopter and a large storm hit, the copter went down and we were forced to jump. The last thing I remember is jumping, I don't remember anything else.” I said slowly sitting up.
The room I was in was lit by a small fire in the fireplace. It cast a dancing orange glow around the deep red walled room. A large mirror over the mantle of the fireplace gave me a whole view of the room decorated in Edwardian era furnishings. Oblenik and I looked out of place in this room with our t-shirts and jeans. I looked at the girl staring back at me in the mirror, and noticed I had a bandage wrapped around my head.
The door behind Oblenik burst open and an equally odd, but beautiful woman like Oblenik appeared.
“She is awake. She will be seen now.” The woman said in her native language. Oblenik looked to me with a worried glance.
“You must come. Elder Enzari wishes to see you.” Oblenik whispered.
“Elder Enzari?” I asked whispering, gripping the blanket laying over my lap closer to me. The woman glared at me with her large orchid eyes.
“Do not keep Elder waiting.” She hissed running at me. I noticed that unlike Oblenik, she was dressed almost as a Amazon Warrior woman. Deer skins served as a top and skirt but reveled her strong and toned arms and legs. Her white hair fell in large curls to her waist, braided with flowers and vines. She looked so wild but so beautiful. Her piercing eyes were burning a hole through my skin. I had somehow made her angry and I didn't know how. She kept a stern, angry look on my face as I didn't move. She walked over to my bedside and pulled me by my arm out of bed. Her grip on my arm made me cry out in pain.
“Stop Arzen! Stop! Look at her! She's injured and harmless! I'll take her! She's already scared out of her wits.” Oblenik demanded helping me up from the floor.
“She has put our people in danger! With the spell broken we are vulnerable!” Arzen whispered harshly, making me wish I could understand her words.
“Back off Arzen. You're strong but not strong enough to disobey me.” Oblenik hissed. I was completely lost, but I was hoping that Oblenik had won this battle... because the big warrior woman Arzen did scare the crap out of me.
Oblenik lead me past Arzen and into the outside world. It was unbelievable, unlike anything I had ever seen. Oblenik looked around and then watched my face with an amused expression.
“Wow. “ I whispered. I took a step out into the green world. It was as if I had stepped into the lush Irish countryside. Clusters of wildflowers fluttered in the winds that blew across the small yard. I turned back to look at the building I had come out of to see a small cottage. I blinked a few times in shock because I swore the room I had been in was much larger than the size of this cottage. It was made of gray stone and had two small windows with white shutters. A small path with flowers growing on each side lead to the front door. A cool mist descended onto the green plants and the people outside giving the air a chill, but nothing that I couldn't handle. I took a step and inhaled deep, taking in the musk of the dew, the fragrance of the flowers, and the bitter smell of smoke that puffed out from the small chimney of the cottage.
“You see what you believe to be paradise...” Oblenik stated before continuing down the path and conversation, “It's been rumored some people see a rainforest, some the depths of the sea, some the comforts of home, and some the garden of Eden, but you... you're a bit strange...” Oblenik chuckled as he shoved his hands into his blue jeans pockets.
“Because I see the Irish countryside...” I whispered. I looked down the path we were walking and felt the rest of my sentence catch in my throat. Along the sides of the path stood about fifty more people. All looking like Oblenik and Arzen, but not dressed like Oblenik. I looked at one of the warrior men as we got closer. They were bare-chested, aside from bows slung onto their backs and the blue vein branches running all along their skin. Many of the men had a large black tattoo of the waning moon on their arms and wore medallions around their necks. They stared at me coldly their eyes fixated on mine and I suddenly began to fear the worst.
“Are they going to kill me?” I asked looking at Oblenik.
“No,” He replied quietly. The people began to walk along with us once we reached the head of the group, their faces remaining like stone.
I heard strange noises as we walked along. I couldn't see over the heads of the people that guarded us on both sides, but they sounded of strange animals mostly. At one point I heard what sounded like a hybrid of a sheep and a dog, strange birds, and insects. The wind blew violent suddenly blowing my short brown hair into my eyes and the warriors long hair into theirs. I brushed it away with my shaking hands. I finally got the courage to speak again to Oblenik quietly.
“If they dress like this... why don't you?” I whispered.
“I'm a bit more modern... how you say... classy.” Oblenik smiled largely. I smiled back but he was suddenly ripped away from me and two large warriors in white robes grabbed me by both arms.
“No!” I screamed. The two men dragged me into what looked like a large white chapel. I tried to look over my shoulder for Oblenik but he was lost in the crowd. They slammed the two large wooden doors behind us. They placed me at the bottom of an older man's feet. I looked up at him. He sat in a pure white throne, and like the two men wore a white robe decorated with silver thread. His face was aged and wrinkled and when he smiled his wrinkles folded and formed even more wrinkles making him look ancient. His eyes were different from the rest, they were a darker violet, perhaps darkened with age. This had to be the man they called Elder Enzari.
I looked around the one roomed church to see stained glass windows of the moon and the sun. However, it was one window I was particularly was shocked by. A girl in a white robe like the warriors falling from the sky with lightning shining behind her. The old man cleared his throat to grasp my attention.
“Stand my child.” He whispered in a hoarse voice. Why couldn't these people understand I didn't know their language? The two white robed warriors rushed at me when I didn't do what he had asked and dragged me to my feet forcefully.
“Please I'm just trying to get home!” I sobbed.
“How did you come here?” The elder asked. I shook my head.
“I don't understand! I don't know what you are saying!” I cried. I was becoming more terrified by the minute upon noticing there were even more white robed warriors guarding the room. Oh god, I'm going to die.
“How did come here?” The man asked in broken language.
I began my story pleading for my life.
“Calm my child,” The Elder replied. I did.
“You will not die. We will get you home. You have however, caused one slight problem.” A voice said from behind me.
“Ah, Oblenik, my son.” The Elder smiled as Oblenik knelt next to me.
“If we are to fix our encounter with Faith then we need to keep her happy father.” Oblenik replied. I didn't even question how he had known my name since he was after all saving my life... hopefully.
“And you suggest?”
“The moon rise ritual?” Arzen snorted from the doors.
“Yes Arzen. It was no accident that Faith landed here. In her world we don't exist.” Oblenik said standing. He walked over to the window of the falling woman and touched the glass.
“Are you implying she saves us from Phaeton? Helios's son?” Arzen laughed. Oblenik nodded.
“Who else? How many women do you think are going to just fall from the sky Arzen? The Prophecy clearly states a woman from the sky.” Oblenik said pointing to the window.
“You said it yourself Oblenik! She's a human! She's injured and harmless! Your words not mine!” Arzen laughed.
“Quiet!” Elder Enzari shouted.
“Father, please. Forgive me but we might not have much time. She's already been here a day. Phaeton could be here and we not know it.” Oblenik replied.
“The girl is not to be harmed.” Elder Enzari said, “The girl is not to be harmed.” he added in his native language. Weapons were dropped and once threatening stances turned relaxed.
Oblenik lead me from the building once my frightening first encounter with his father and village had ended, and my life had been spared.
“What's going on? What is all this talk of the prophecy?” I asked.
“You are like a key to Aterdon. You can make our island viewable to humans. It's an ancient story of the beginning of our race.” Oblenik replied.
“You have to be kidding me! I'm on an island of lunatics.” I yelled stopping. Oblenik chuckled and his orchid eyes looked at me amused.
“Come, it's almost moonrise.” Oblenik said taking my arm. He didn't seem that crazy... possibly the most sane person here.
“Moonrise?” I asked.
“A long time ago, before your people or my people were given life it was just Helios, the sun. and Selene, the moon. They weren't how they are now in the sky. They looked like us. Well, Selene looked like me, meaning pure white. Helios looked like a man but dark skinned, tanned if you must, and he emitted his own glow. Selene became lonely with Helios since they could only see each other during a few hours of the day since he was out in the day, and she in the night, so she made us. Selene made her children, the Aterdoni. Helios found out and grew jealous and angry, and made a son to kill us. Selene felt the only way to protect us was to exile her and Helios to the sky, and hide us on the island of Aterdon. So, our mother was forever to be in the sky, and Helios's son wanted revenge for exiling his father to the sky with her, so he's been searching for thousands and thousands of years for us.” Oblenik said looking up at the darkening sky.
“That's a beautiful story, but no offense, what does it have to do with me?” I asked.
“Selene needed to have a key, because even the island was hidden from her, encase she could ever escape her place from the sky and return to us. She told us that one day a woman would fall from her arms when she was to return. When the woman would land only she could defend the people from Phaeton until Selene could see our island and get to us.” Oblenik said pulling a medallion from his neck, and showing me the waning moon with a falling woman just like the window.
“And that's me... I'm the key.” I asked, “I open the door for Phaeton?”
“As long as you are here, the door is open for Phaeton...” Oblenik whispered.
“What happens if he finds you?” I asked.
“I don't know. Some have said he just kills us, but some say that he sells us into slavery. For punishment to kill us wouldn't be as pleasurable for him. Death would be too simple, but to be torn from our home, forced into your judgmental society looking as we do, forced to work hard labor, and to never see our friends and family ever again... having no say over our lives... it's worse than death.” Oblenik replied staring at the rising moon.
“Of course.” I whispered. I looked as shadows of the night began to form around us. “Where are we?”
“We are under the tree from which we were created.” he said smiling touching the large trunk, “Figuratively.” He added. I walked over to the tree and examined the bark. It was possibly the oldest tree I had seen. There were beautiful symbols carved into it's bark, and the branches were covered in beautiful orchid colored leaves.
“It's the place where we hold our moonrise ceremony.” Arzen said from the path. She stood with the light of the moon behind her, but her glowing eyes staring at me fiercely.
“At ease my children.” Elder Enzari said behind her. He came forward and sat at the roots of the tree. “Let us begin.” The rest of the Aterdoni people suddenly were there, a thousand or so. The pale moon light reflecting off of their beautiful skin.
“Selene, mother...” Arzen began until Oblenik interrupted.
“Oh, so sorry to interrupt but we probably should use English for this ceremony. After all, it is for Faith.” Oblenik said.
“Oh look, feelings for the human.” Arzen said.
“She's apart of this story. She knows all... now.” Oblenik replied.
“Selene, mother of Aterdon, please grant us the insight through your love and light.” Arzen cried out, fire almost burning in her wild eyes.
“Well, look what we have here, just in time for the party.” A man said emerging from the woods. Arzen reached out and blocked Elder Enzari, while Oblenik grabbed me and put me behind him. It had to be Phaeton. His bronze colored skin shone even under the pale moonlight and under the setting sun. Phaeton had short, black, curly hair that curled at his ears and collar. He had an arrogant walk as he stepped forward from the shelter of the trees. He smiled largely with his cleft chin stick out farther, and puffed up his chest like he was filled to the brim with testosterone. His eyes were a staggering shade of yellow that met mine and winked. This man oozed ego, if I wasn't careful I might get some on my shoes.
“Ah, so you are the key. Hello darling, you do know you're quite beautiful.” He said with a British accent, and winking at me once more.
“ Phaeton, we've been expecting you.” Elder Enzari said from behind Arzen.
“Oh of course! It has been quiet some time since we last seen each other hasn't it? I have to say, I've aged much better than you have Enzari.” Phaeton replied.
“Oblenik.” I whispered softly.
“Not now...” He whispered back.
“But, Oblenik... I just thought of something.” I whispered.
“Not now.” Oblenik snapped.
“Listen, if this is my paradise and it changed when I fell here... shouldn't it change again? Since Phaeton’s here now... this isn't my paradise anymore, or it shouldn't be!” I whispered. Oblenik blinked and I could almost see my thought turning around in his head. He reach back and grabbed my hand and squeezed.
“Can you do it?” He asked.
“I don't know... I don't even know if it will work.” I whispered. Oblenik squeezed my hand tighter turned his head and looked at me. His orchid eyes looked into mine before he did the unthinkable. He jumped and landed on Phaeton. They fell to the ground in a fight. I heard the struggled and I closed my eyes.
“What?!” I heard someone scream. I opened my eyes and seen that my paradise was completely gone, and in place was a vast desert.
“Desert.” I laughed. It worked! I couldn't believe it!
“What is this?!” He asked.
“The closest thing to the sun on earth.” I said looking up at the large hot sun, and feeling the heat roll over the ground.
“What?!” Phaeton yelled.
“You're in your paradise Phaeton. You're stuck on earth, but you want more than anything to be back with your father.” I said thinking quickly still in disbelief that it had actually worked.
“Take me back!” He screamed at me. He tugged at the red flannel shirt he wore as the heat had already begun to take a tole on him.
“I can't. It's your island, not mine. Since you hate the Aterdoni more than anything there are none here. They're okay! It worked! You can't leave here forever!” I laughed in shock.
“If I am, then you are stuck too.” Phaeton said sneering at me. I suddenly began to panic. I looked around. There was nothing in sight but sand and Phaeton.
“No... wait. No, if I'm the key... I can unlock doors... but I can also lock them back up.” I whispered. Phaeton’s face blanched and he began to run at me. I watched as Oblenik appeared out of nowhere and pulled me back from Phaeton, and we disappeared.
I sat up straight, with rain pouring down around me. My head hammered in pain but I looked around. I sat in the middle of a road. Beside me in a ditch was a helicopter.
“Faith! There you are! Thank god!” Ms. Currier yelled. She looked at me with much relief and began to thoroughly check me over for injuries. I noticed she looked in order and still had the not deployed parachute on her back.
“I'm fine. I'm fine!” I said as she rushed over. Had it all just been a dream? Had I simply bumped my head in the helicopter?
“The helicopter... it just malfunctioned! I don't know, but after you jumped it was fine, like everything had been fixed. I thought you were dead.” Ms. Currier said. I tried to stand and I noticed my hand was clenched. I opened my hand to find a necklace and a strip of paper. I looked at the small writing on the page.
I flipped the medallion over to see the waning moon, and a woman falling through the sky... Oblenik's medallion. He must have pressed it into my hand when he pulled me from Phaeton's paradise and back into mine. I felt my heart sink slightly. I had grown to like Oblenik, he was wonderful. I didn't even get to say goodbye... But it hadn't been a dream... it had been real, all of it.
Ms. Currier ran over to the ambulance as it pulled up and I looked up through the falling rain in the sky. The moon shone down, with an almost warm glow. Would anyone believe me if I even tried to tell them? I put the necklace on around my neck and let the paramedics place me on a stretcher. No one would ever know the secret... and it would never ever be told to anyone, until now.