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The Fountain in the Meadow
It’s December and a mother and father are celebrating their new entrance into parenthood with their new baby girl. The happiness is kind of spoiled, though, because the mother has developed an illness.
The child is small, almost too small, with big lime green eyes and pink skin tinted slightly orange. She’s a pantaña; a living, breathing, walking, human-like plant whose species reigns only in dimension four and a half.
The regular human world is in dimension twenty-seven out of a total number of forty-five dimensions in the universe. It would take a lot of energy and power for humans to try to get to dimension four and a half because they work in a circle. Starting with one going all the way around to forty-five. They would have to go through dimension thirty-eight, to thirty-nine, to forty and so on until they get to four; and then they’d jump to five. Only those with the Sight can see dimension four and half and make it through. No humans have it; it’s impossible. Only pantañas are able to have the Sight.
The month is December. Pantaña’s act just like regular plants. Plants are at their weakest point in the winter, there’s not as much sun to get energy from and most of the water is frozen. The mother needs to use a lot of her energy to care for the child, but she isn’t getting enough sleep or sun. She develops an illness that doesn’t allow her to convert any sunlight into energy, so she is often tired and can only drink water hoping it will get her through the day. Although water is good, she needs sun light. She is dying slowly, too slowly to relieve the pain of it and her suffering.
The father and child are being told they have to leave the hospital for a little while because they are in danger of getting the mother’s sickness.
“No, please let us stay!” the father pleads to the doctor. “She needs someone to keep her happy. Please!”
“I’m sorry sir; we can’t risk someone else getting sick, especially the child. Her immune system isn’t fully developed yet, we can’t risk it. Think of what Nerine would want. What would she want?” the doctor asks him.
“She would want us to leave and stay safe,” he sighs in defeat. Why couldn’t it be me, not her? She’s so precious. So very precious…
“May! Time for school!” Aster calls from downstairs. He kind of tall and is very strong. ‘I used to be the captain of my school wrestling team,’ he used to brag. He has dark brown hair, almost black, and has lime green skin. His eyes are the color of sapphires, ‘your mother used to say they are dark and mischievous, but beautiful at the same time,’ he would say to May.
“I’ll be right there!”
May takes one last look at herself in the mirror. She’s wearing her school uniform, a light brown skirt with a light lime green blouse. ‘It matches your eyes so nicely. Really makes them pop,’ her dad used to say to her whenever she complained about it, which was often. ‘You really do have your mother’s looks’ he also said. Which was very true; she looked nothing like Aster with her lime green eyes, bright red hair, and pink skin tinted slightly orange. 16. Almost sixteen. She walks to her bed and swings her backpack over her shoulder about to leave when… Wait! I can’t believe I almost forgot it!
She runs into her closet and grabs her favorite necklace her aunt gave her for her birthday last year. It is a silver pair of butterfly wings with a big diamond in the middle. The diamond takes in a lot of sunlight and always keeps her more energized than she would be without it. She fastens the clasp, adjusts it so the charm is in front, and runs back to the mirror to look at her hair.
“MAY! You don’t want to be late!” this time Aster sounds annoyed and rushed.
“Sorry Dad, coming now.”
May bolts down the stairs and into her dad’s black SUV where he’s waiting for her. She throws her backpack onto the floor of the front seat and hops into it, closing her door just as her dad starts backing down the driveway.
“What took you so long?” he asks.
“I almost forgot my energy necklace aunt Aurora gave me last year,” May replies and she fiddles with the radio to tune into her favorite station. “I haven’t missed a day without it.”
“I see,” is all Aster says to her as he pulls into the driveway of Septora’s house, May’s best friend. “She better be ready today. I’m not in the mood to wait.”
I can tell, she wanted to say, but she kept it to herself. She didn’t want to upset her dad anymore than he already was.
Septora walks slowly down her front walk and down the driveway into their car. She never seems to be in a hurry. She’s also wearing the brown skirt instead of pants, but is wearing short brown boots opposed to May’s sparkly dark brown flats.
“Hey May.” She says as her backpack falls to the floor of the truck with a loud thunk.
“Hey,” May replies, but her voice was drowned out by the sound of the car door slamming. She sees her dad wince slightly. Why can’t she just be careful for once?
“Here ya go kids. Have a good day at school. Call me when you come home, May.”
“Alright Dad. Love you.”
“Thank you Mr. Feverfew. Have a great day.”
“I’ll try. Bye.” And with that he drove away, just as Septora grabbed her backpack from the truck; she barely had enough time to close the door.
“OMG. You’ll never guess what happened to me yesterday.” says Septora as the two of them walk over to the front doors of the school to wait until they can go inside.
“What happened?” asks May with little emotion. It must be about Luke.
“Luke asked me out! Ahhhh!” she screamed. “We were texting yesterday, real late, and then—“
“Whoa, how much sugar did you have this morning?”
“Phlox!” both girls shout in unison.
“You totally surprised us!” says May as she punches him in the arm playfully. This is just what I need to get me out of this strange bad mood.
“Ouch,” he replies, totally faking it. He is just over six feet tall, with dark brown hair, he dyes it, which ends just above his ears and swooped to side so it’s away from his eyes. He’s wearing their school uniform, brown pants with a light green button-up shirt. His eyes change to a different shade of blue with his mood Right now they’re dark blue, he’s anxious or excited about something. Hmm…
“What cha lookin’ at?” Phlox asks May as he puts his hands in his pockets.
“Oh nothing,” she replies, slightly embarrassed, and turns her head away, “Just lost in thought. What were you saying, Septora? You were texting late…”
Septora, slightly confused with the whole May-staring-at-Phlox thing was eager to return to her happy story. “Oh! Yes, he said, ‘I’ve liked you for a while and was wondering if you’d like to go out…’ He seemed almost embarrassed to say so; he had a lot of ‘ums’ and periods in there. I said yes, of course why wouldn’t I, and then we talked for a while longer.”
“Weren’t you tired? I mean the sun wasn’t out and….wait, how do you have so much energy?” questioned Phlox.
“I, um, let’s just say I had some of my mom’s coffee?” Septora replies, guilt in her voice.
“Septora! You know that’s not good for us, especially not you! Only three people in the whole country, no whole dimension, grow coffee beans for a reason. IT’S NOT GOOD FOR US!” shouted May. I know I shouldn’t be yelling at her, but she just can’t get it through her head. Auggh! “The next time I hear, or even suspect, you’ve been drinking it again, I will personally tell your mother.”
“May!” Septora shouts, hurt in her voice, “You wouldn’t do that!
“Yeah, May, give her a break…”
“No! I’ve given her enough breaks. I’m done. I will tell your mother next time, if there even is a next time, and you better pray on the Holy Flower that there isn’t.”
With that, the bell rang and Septora walked, surprise and anger all over her face, to the front doors. May and Phlox turned in the opposite direction and went in the side doors, closer to their locker.
“May, why did you blow up in her face like that? You—“
“No, please,” May said gentler sighing deeply, “I don’t want to talk about that anymore. I feel bad already, and I’m not in good mood because of my dad. Do you think Luke will sit by us at lunch? I haven’t talked to him in a while.”
“Probably, can I sit by you guys today?” Phlox asks turning to face her. “I’m just not in the mood for my friends today… and I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“No, not here, I need to go. See ya at lunch.” And he walked away, leaving May with a thousand questions.
May walked into the lunchroom and went to stand in line for hot lunch. Why is the line always so long? I just want some nutrients, she asked silently.
“Here you go young lady,” said the lunch lady as she gave May her packet of nutrients ten minutes later.
She replied, “Thank you,” and walked away to take her seat by Septora.
“What’s up, May?” she asked as May sat down. Clearly she’s gotten over this morning. Thank goodness.
“Oh, nothing much. I have a lot of homework in science. Ms. Gupta still hates me, and…where’s Luke and Phlox?
“Oh, Luke doesn’t want to sit over here at lunch, so we agreed that we would meet outside during recess. I don’t know where Phlox is. Did he say he’d be here?
“Yeah, he said he had to tell me something and that it had to wait ‘til lunch.”
“Oh, well I don’t know where he…Found him!” she somewhat yelled getting a few strange looks from nearby tables, and pointed towards the lunchroom door where, sure enough, Phlox was stalking in.
“Hey guys, sorry I’m late,” he said when he reached their table. “Anyone seen Luke?”
“I talked to him this morning,” Septora answered sounding worried. “He said he couldn’t wait to see me at lunch.”
“Well, I saw him get off the bus, but I didn’t see him in first or fourth period. He wouldn’t have been in the office that long.”
“Hmm.” Septora turned away, apparently ready to drop the conversation, but the look on her face said otherwise.
Brrrriiinnggg. Beep Beep. Brrri—“Sorry about that,” Septora exclaimed a little shocked that her phone went off. She took it out of her pocket and gasped. “It’s from Luke. It says—
We have him and soon will have your other friends too.
Where he’s gone is a mystery to you.
We ask you one favor to do.
Hurry or your friends will miss you.
“Oh my God. What should I do? I want Luke back. Do I—“
“Reply back,” May says hurriedly in a hushed tone, “Ask her what it is she wants from us. Then we’ll decide our plan.”
“Ok,” Septora starts punching buttons on her phone and thirty seconds later she closes it. “Done. Now we wait.”
“Yes. We wait.”
But inside, May was just wondering, why Icis, the ice queen, the arch rival to pantañas, was texting Septora.
“I got a message.” Septora flops down on May’s bed that night.
“What’s it say?!”
Ah. I see.
This is a game for three.
You and May must meet me and one of my Icicles at
The Meadow of Darkness tonight at midnight.
Make sure no one but the two of you know what you are doing
or where you are going.
It is to the health of your little friend this depends on…
“The Meadow of Darkness? I don’t even know where that is.” Septora says.
“I guess we have some research to do. Too bad Phlox can’t help. He’d be really good at these things. Thinking up plans and stuff…ugh!”
There’s a knock at the door and May’s dad shuffles in looking so tired and disgruntled he could almost fall asleep right there in May’s doorway standing up. “Good night girls. I’m going to sleep. Don’t stay up too late,” he mumbles with his eyes mostly closed.
“Dad, it’s only nine.”
“I know. Good night.” He kisses May’s head and shuffles back through the door and down the hall. The girls stay silent until they hear the soft click of his bedroom door closing.
“Ok. That is luck. Now it will be easy for us to sneak out.”
Septora shifts uncomfortably, “Are you sure we need to go now? We have three hours until we need to be there—“
“Yes, but we don’t know how long it will take us and we’ll need some food and different clothes, preferably black just in case.” Why did she have to choose midnight? She asks herself, but she already knows the answer, it’s the point of our greatest weakness.
“Alright,” Septora sighs, “Where do we start?”
May slowly closes the front door to her house making sure her dad won’t hear anything. She grabs her house key, locks it, and replaces it in their hiding place so she can get back in when they return.
“Ok,” she whispers, “which way do we go?”
Septora takes out her phone and opens the navigation app. She points to the right, “That way until we hit Elmbrook Road. Should be about a ten to fifteen minute walk.” So glad I’m wearing comfortable shoes.
They walked on in silence until they saw a street light and a sign that read Elmbrook Rd.
“This is it. Now we have to turn right again and follow this road until we hit Never-ending Meadow,” Septora explained looking at her phone once more. Strange name.
Ugh. More walking. “Ok. How long should this take?”
“Only about three to five minutes,” she replied.
Ok. Not that bad.
Five minutes later Septora, staring at her phone once more, says, “Stop! We need to go through those woods and in a few minutes should arrive on the other side to a big clearing with a fountain of dark, black, evil water. Don’t touch it or get to close, it will burn our skin. Only demons can use that water.”
“Great. I don’t want to die from weird, cursed water.” May pats her on the back, “Thanks for watching out for me, man!” and she continues walking through the forest. Clearly I’m over tired.
When they finally burst through the forest, the last thing they expect to see is…nothing. There is literally nothing there; at least that’s what they saw. The low, eerie fog-like mist that hovered just above the ground was all they could clearly see everywhere unless they lay down and looked under the fog, but that was silly. They picked their way slowly to the far away black blob they somewhat prayed was the fountain, and when they reached it, it was the fountain, they looked at the clock; five minutes to midnight.
“You’re early” a voice says, its sound reverberating throughout the clearing eerily.
The girls look around to find the source of the voice, but to no avail.
“Ha ha ha! You can’t find me. I told you midnight, so that’s when my body will be here.” The voice continues, sounding eviler by the moment.
“Ok,” it’s just and illusion, it’s just and illusion it’s just and ill—
“May. Whatever you do, don’t turn around.” Septora looked totally stricken by whatever was there, and May didn’t want to know; it would only make her panic more. She flinches, still fighting the urge to look.
“Don’t tell me what’s there because then I’ll have to look. Just GET RID OF IT!” she shouts.
“I’m trying to find something to hit it with! I’ll be right there.” Septora runs to where they left their backpack only to find the space empty.
“Ha! You silly girl! Did you really expect me to let you keep your bag of weapons and what not? You truly underestimate my power. At midnight, well, good luck! Ha ha ha ha…” and the voice fades to the night leaving the girls alone with the strange creature behind May and a million questions.
“May! They took our bag! What do I do?” Septora shouts back while sprinting towards her friend.
“You took karate in grade school right?”
“Yeah. Four years, I’m a blue belt.”
“Well, KICK SOME KARATE BUTT!”
Septora charges toward the strange creature. It looked almost normal, but then you saw its eyes, its pupiless, empty eyes. She punches its right arm and jump kicks it in the stomach; the creature doesn’t seem to notice the impact. Now she throws more punches here and there trying to push it to the ground or just distract in whatever way she could, until she misses one and the creature grabs her arm and flings her toward the fountain. A very loud noise pierces the strange silence of the night, Septora’s scream. This is it, she thinks. I’m done, and from a stinking fountain of curse water. But she flies over the fountain and, surprisingly, lands on her feet. She starts to run, but is held back by…icicles. Ugh. More strange creatures. Then she thought about it. It must be midnight. Icis is coming.
“You! Girl! Yes you! What is your name darling?” Icis emerges from the dark shadows of the forest. She’s actually quite pretty, besides the fact that she’s evil. Right now she was wearing a long black dress that floated around her and flowed behind her as she walked. She had very pale skin and eyes the color of the night sky. They even had a small twinkle as if there really were stars. Her hair was waist length and extremely straight. It was the color of midnight. She didn’t really look so much evil as she did Goth because we wasn’t glaring, but sort of smiling showing a mouth full of celebrity-white teeth.
“Why should I tell you?” there was some edge and a hint of fear to Septora’s voice and she was failing to hide it.
“Because,” and Icis steps aside to show Luke being restrained by four icicles with handcuffs keeping his hands behind his back and a black eye, he was still wearing his school uniform “your friend will be hurt more and I’ll force you to watch.”
“What did you do to him? Why can’t you just leave him alone?” she shouted back.
“I won’t tell you, he can do that…if and when you give me what I want.” Icis walks forward, grabs Septora’s head with her pale bony fingers and inspects it moving it from side to side, looks at Septora and says, “Nope, not the right one and too ugly. Bring the other one!”
Septora, muchly offended, retorted with all the strength she could muster, “Hey! You’re one to talk. It seems to me no one likes you by choice! I actually have friends because they want to be my friend.”
Icis snapped around to look at her, scowled and nodded. One of icicles proceeded to slap Septora in the face. Ouch. And she slapped him back, only to be slapped again, this time harder.
“Ok,” she whispers to the icicle, “I’m done.” That will leave a bruise. How am I going to explain this to my mother?
The icicle just stood still, not acknowledging the fact that she spoke at all.
May watched this in a huge blur, the fighting, the restraining, the shouting up to the slapping, and then she lost it.
“Hey! Leave her alone. You said it yourself, not the right one. How about me?”
Icis was suddenly standing right in front of her and was studying her intently. “Yes, yes you. Icicles! Grab her, but keep the other two secured.” She laughed evilly.
“Wait! I just have one question,” May said letting the icicles grab her.
“One? I have just about a zillion!” questioned Septora back, just to be grabbed harder by the icicle behind her.
“Why did you take Luke if he can’t give you what you need?”
“Oh, sweet child. I took him as bait. To lure you. You silly plants believe in keeping friends, quite difficult might I add, so you felt that you felt obligated to come and ‘rescue’ him. However he didn’t need any rescuing at all. His injuries are either spells I put on him or simply just makeup. Makeup never goes wrong. I’m not actually going to hurt him, unless you don’t do what I tell you to.”
“So nothing really happened to him?” May asked in disbelief.
“Nope. He’s fine. You’re lucky that I can’t touch him or he wouldn’t be fine.”
“Can’t touch—what are you talking about?”
“For this task, technically I could’ve used anybody. But because of a curse your mother,” she pointed to May, “put on me nearly sixteen years ago, I can’t touch anyone except you.”
My mother? “Wait, why would she make it so you can only touch me? Wouldn’t it be you can’t touch me?” This is getting stranger by the minute. How does my mo know her?
“I suppose. Your mother always had weird logic to what she did. But we’ll never find out why unless you come with me to the fountain.”
“That fountain?” May pointed to the black fountain with difficulty because the icicles were pulling her back.
“No, the other fountain,” Icis answered rolling her eyes, “WHAT OTHER FOUNTAIN IS THERE YOU FOOLISH PANTAÑA!”
May just stayed silent and looked at the ground. Icis snapped twice and then May was being carried toward the fountain.
“All you need to do is put your hand in this fountain and think really hard of your mother.”
“I never knew her so how am I supposed to think of her?”
“Think of pictures, what her name is, maybe even what you think she’s like. This is your one chance to see her again.”
“Ok. So what exactly am I doing? Like, what’s going to happen after I do that?” she was wondering if she was going to burn.
“Let’s say, you’re raising your mother from the dead. Now go on and start thinking really hard. You don’t want to bring up the wrong person.” Icis backed away, and icicles let go of her and May was truly alone for the first time that night.
Think of your mother. Think of your mother. Think of your mother. She dipped her hand in the fountain awaiting the burning sensation, but it didn’t come. Instead, memories of her mom poured into her brain. Mom on a boat. Mom with Dad at a baseball game. Mom with Grandma and Grandpa. Mom, Mom, Mom.
Suddenly the fountain stopped flowing as if time was frozen and something, no, someone was rising out the top of it.
“Mom?” May asked hopefully. But the creature wasn’t fully out yet. I hope I did it right.
“Mom?” she asked again, and this time it replied.
“May?” the creature, now resembling a woman, floated down to the ground.
“Yeah.” A tear ran down her cheek as her mother walked toward her completely dry and gave her a huge hug.
“Oh, baby I’ve missed you. I’m so glad to be home.”
“Well, now isn’t that cute. Enjoy it while you can because I came for answers!” Icis said angrily. “Your daughter helped me get you and now you are mine.” Icis went to grab her hand, but went right through her.
“How…what? What did you do?” Icis screamed as she slowly started to melt into the ground along with all her icicles.
“My spell is going into effect. I used reverse psychology to trick you really. Something of your creation touched my daughter, so now you die. End of your story. Bye Icis. Have fun with fire in the afterlife.” And with that the ground seemed to suck her up, along with all her icicles and the strange creature.
Septora and Luke ran over to where May and her mother now stood.
“May,” Septora started, “That was amazing.” Turning to her mother she said, “And nice to meet you. I’m Septora, May’s best friend. And this is our other friend Luke.” They shook hands and said ‘Hi’ and ‘Nice to meet you.’
“Sweety,” Mom said turning to May. “It’s really late, do you know how to get back home because, frankly, I haven’t been around to know where you live.”
“Yeah I know how to get back. But one question, how are we ever going to explain this to Dad?”
Mom giggled and the four of them walked home, talking the whole way.