10th January 2010, 4:13 AM
The Bearer of the Key
If the idea seems familiar - it's because I'm rewriting an old story of mine I never finished. Rating: PG/PG-13 (violence may get more descriptive as the story progresses, but never more than is actually needed)
The ships were in formation, ready to strike. They seemed to stretch infinitely into the receding blackness of space behind them. They were a force so great that nothing this backwater planet had to offer could ever hope to throw against it. Earth would fall, and would serve as a base to invade the worlds beyond. The commander was shaken from his vision of what would soon unfold by the sound of his crackling intercom.
"All ships ready, sir. The last have arrived."
"All ships, stand by ready to attack on the signal."
All of a sudden, five ships broke from formation, plummeting straight towards the blue surface below.
The commander reached for the intercom: "Return to formation, return to formation." Only silence answered him. He repeated the message, but silence still answered." A corporal spoke up first: "Sir, they appear to be firing up at us from the atmosphere."
Those blasted traitors. "Return fire and destroy them. They must not jeopardize the attack. The traitors must die."
Ten ships left the formation in pursuit of them, firing as they approached the ships. One by one, all but one of the rebel ships crashed to the planet, but so did all of the Commander's ships. Somehow, the final ship lost control and plummeted into the ocean.
That resolved, the invasion was ready to begin. "Approach the planet now," he ordered. The ships began to move, but were repelled by an invisible force. Confused and angered, the commander tried to approach again, but was again repelled. The intercom crackled again: "I presume I am speaking to Commander Grentzin."
"No, he died seven years ago. Who is this?"
"A pity for us both. For you, because he would have been skilled enough not to have ships break formation and give us time to redirect power and fire up the sheilds, for me because I wanted the privilege of killing Grentzin myself."
"Who is this?"
"The man who will defend Earth from you and all your Kenonian brethren. Goodbye." The intercom clicked again. What in Jendel's ear was going on?
The commander steeled himself, knowing he would have to report back to a very displeased emperor. Four Kenonians dead in Siberia to kill that human wretch and bring down the shields, only to have them brought back up just before we attacked.
Suddenly the intercom cracked again: "Tiger reporting: safe landing on the surface, commander. Location is called by the locals Mt. St. Helens." The commander found the location on his maps. He replied, "You know where you need to get? Blend in and gather information first, then safely approach the destination. Soon we shall attack again." "Yes, commander." A soft click followed, then another burst of static. A man's voice called, "Hawk reporting: safe landing. Location appears to be called Sydney. I see a large building that looks like four sails." The commander called "Found. Blend with the locals and try not to be noticed. Make your way to the meetingplace when you can." Click.
A third time, the intercom turned itself on: "Lioness reporting: I have landed safely on a small island. The locals say it is called the land of fire." Just as before, the commander located the site and repeated the instructions. He gave the order to return home, thinking about how happy he was that none of the rebels had survived and that the mission wasn't entirely for nothing: three more operatives had reached the surface.
A log cabin sat alone in the icy wilderness, isolated from nearly all humanity. A young, determined-looking man sat calmly inside at a fire, warming himself. An older, yet still spry, man spotted the cabin and began walking towards it. He knocked softly on the door, almost as though afraid.
The man inside called "I'm in here." He entered and sat next to the fire. He paused, almost dreading the words he was about to say, then spoke softly, "Sir, I think my time is nearly up. Before long, I will pass from this world. Have you chosen a successor for me?"
The reply came as expected, "I have."
"Is it my son, Stephen?" he asked, almost hopefully.
"No, I have chosen a young girl by the name of Rebecca. She should be arriving at the door any moment."
Almost as if on cue, the old man saw a thin, short young girl with dark brown hair tied up in a ponytail walking past the window. She knocked and was told to enter.
He could hardly contain his surprise at this frail creature being chosen for such an important mission. "But sir, her?" he exclaimed.
The younger man ignored the question, and motioned the girl to him. When she came closer, he said, "This is Rebecca, who attends the school across from the library. She has been chosen. I have contacted her once before by dream, and I pulled her by dream into this room as well. The ancient power of this house still lingers. She will be the next bearer of your key."
He motioned to the man, who removed a key from a small chamber within his watch. The key seemed at once to be wonderful and otherworldly, shining in a thousand gleams of silver, gleams that seemed to encapsulate the entire room.
The younger man turned back to Rebecca and handed her the key, saying "You know the significance of this key. Guard it, with your life if necessary. Your friend Rachel is your Knower; you must not tell anyone else that this key exists. Beware the Kenonians, and never forget that they can shape-shift, for if any of them find out that you are a Bearer, they will kill you to obtain the key. The chamber is below the library across from your school. Trust no one and keep the key on your person at all times. Go now, it is not wise to linger in the place for long, some mind might sense the power that holds you here."
She walked out the door, and everything vanished.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" the old man asked again.
"As sure as I can be about anything," the young man replied. "She is young and pure and will not easily be fooled."
Rebecca woke up in bed with a start. Even though it was mid-August, she felt a certain chill that had nothing to do with the weather outside, and she pulled her blanket up closer to her neck, clutching the key in her hand. She felt like a shadow along her wall was watching her, but she gradually sunk back into sleep.
"There she is!" a voice yelled, interrupting the silence of her sleep yet again. "I've been looking for you."
10th January 2010, 4:45 AM
You asked, and here I am:
First of all, you've created an interesting paralell Earth (or is it our Earth in the far future?). While you've done some setup to the beings and places we may see in the story proper, I still have a lot of questions (that may or may not be answered in the story proper): What does Rebecca look like? What does a Kenonian in its true form look like? What do the ships look like? Why do the Kenonians want this key so bad? It's details like these that make the story come alive.
You have a good start, but this has potential to be so much more--keep working at this and you may earn yourself a Raichu
11th January 2010, 12:06 AM
Ch. 1 - The Preparation
"It's not like you to sleep so late. What's the matter?" the voice continued.
Rebecca breathed a sigh of relief. It was only her brother Alan. Pesky, annoying, three years-older brother Alan. Not some monster, boogieman, or shapeshifter trying to kill her. She shook her head and her long hair lightly danced across her cheeks. She looked around and saw still the same old room and same old bed she had gone to sleep in. Nothing had changed (unless you counted her brother Alan standing rather impatiently in the door frame). Home was still home.
"Hurry up and get showered and dressed - it's almost noon," Alan complained. "Why is the first one up every morning suddenly sleeping in past sunrise? We've all been wondering where you were." He looked over at the clock on the table in the corner, then continued, "I'm going back down to finish my breakfast, but hurry up little sis, Mom's waiting to take you school shopping and she needs to be home before six so she and Dad can go to that dinner at seven with Dad's new employee."
She mustered up the strength to say, "I'm moving, leave me alone" just before his figure receded into the hallway, and she heard Alan's footsteps down the old wooden stairs. She slowly lifted the covers off her bed and opened her clenched left fist. Inside was the key the man had presented to her yesterday. She slid slowly onto the floor, gradually beginning to feel more awake. Being even shorter than most other 8th grade girls, she took up almost no space and easily was able to roll herself under her bed and began rummaging through the assorted items she kept under there to avoid Alan's mischievous side. After five minutes that seemed like an eternity, she found a small black box which contained a ring her godmother had given her five years ago. She slid the key inside next to it, and went to shower to get ready for shopping.
As the hot water ran over her, she took to thinking about everything. What was there about her that made that man choose her as the Bearer? She knew her school was one of the reasons, but that couldn't be all, could it? What was so special about her? She was simply a normal 8th grade girl who loved to ride horses and had once been an aspiring gymnast, short for her age, not famous, no more popular or unpopular than average. It just seemed that there must some better candidates out there somewhere for this all important mission than little Rebecca Janerski. She shook her head to clear it - there was no reason to wonder why, no time to question. She had her mission, and whatever the reason she had been chosen, it was hers now.
As she hopped into the passenger seat of the car to begin the yearly ritual of school supply shopping, a strange thought began to cross her mind: how different would this year be for her? No one else would know about the key, except Rachel of course, but still she somehow knew that the key would make everything seem different. Now, though, she was confident. Three days ago when she first woke up in the dream with the man in the log cabin and he told her for the first time about this battle fought below the surface, without the knowledge of people, the military, or even the government she was frightened. Now she was a Bearer, called to be a part of this battle. Now she had come to accept reality, or so she liked to tell herself. Nothing could ever make life the same once you were always afraid for it, but she must've been chosen for a reason. She must have.
As she walked between endless aisles of folders, pencils, pens, and pointless little red buttons that yelled "That was easy!", she tried to put the whole thing from her mind. Now was the time to get ready for the new school year. It was her 8th grade year, her last year before she left many of her old friends behind and went off to high school, her last year to feel on top of the world, so she might as well enjoy it. As she came to the aisle with the highlighters, she saw a tall, balck-haired hockey player she knew from school walking her direction.
"How's it going, Reb?" he said as he too came to look at the highlighters. "I guess if I had to pick one place I'd expect to find you, it was looking at highlighters. Have a million yet?"
"Very funny, Alex," she replied, "Just getting a new set for the school year, and how many times do I have to ask you not to call me Reb? How's life treating you?"
"Same old, same old. You want me to reach up for you and get that 10-pack off the top shelf?" he joked.
She rolled her eyes; that punk always joked about how short she was. "Can't a girl shop in peace?" she asked.
"Alright, alright, I'll leave you alone. Catch you Thursday at school." He turned and walked toward the checkout.
"Not if I can help it," she muttered under her breath, then used the little hook next to the shelves to grab a 24-pack of highlighters from the top shelf.
When Rebecca and her mom got home, her dad had just got home from work. After she and her mom unpacked their purchases, her parents were ready to leave for the dinner.
Her dad turned to Alan and said, "Son, take care of your sister while we're gone and get to bed at a reasonable hour. We'll be home a little past midnight. Be good and stay safe. There's leftover spaghetti in the fridge for you both." After they exchanged good nights with the children, they left.
They had only been gone a few minutes when Alan turned to Rebecca and said, "My buddy John's having a party at his place. You can take care of yourself, right? I'll be back home before Mom and Dad get back, and just make sure you don't do anything to get me grounded. TV's yours, I don't need any of the food."
"But Mom said..." she pleaded.
"Aw shut up, sis. You'll be fine. Who'd have any reason to mess with you anyway? See ya," he interrupted.
The sound of the car's engine was audible even from the kitchen. Rebecca sighed and dug the spaghetti out of the fridge. As the spaghetti was cooking in the microwave, she flipped on the TV and compulsively ran upstairs to check on the key. Still safe in its box. She had to find a better place to keep it. She slipped it back under her bed, resolving to find a solution in the morning. The microwave beeped as she was coming down the stairs, so she pulled out the still steaming bowl and sat down on the couch. Some travel show about Argentina was on. Click. Rappers making fools of themselves dancing. Click. Gluck's Iphigenie et Aulis live from the Sydney Opera House. Click. Some movie about aliens shooting people. That was real life now, not entertainment. Click. Professional dominoes. Professional dominoes? What in the heck made it to TV these days? Click. A reality show about people on a desert island. Click. A documentary about volcanoes. Click. Monday Night Football. At least it was better than that other trash on. It was just time for kickoff. She began eating the spaghetti and the game began. As the empty spaghetti bowl was rinsed off and slid carefully into the dishwasher, she began to feel tired. She lay down on the couch, half-watching the game as she slid into sleep.
Tip. Tip. Tip. Soft footsteps echoed over her head. Where was she? Rebecca found herself in a nearly dark room she had never seen before. Taking a quick look around, she saw the room had a small desk with a computer and was otherwise filled with many large filing cabinets. Tip. Tip. Tip. The footsteps sounded again. She walked around to the other side of the desk and looked at the screen. It was showing the live feeds from four security cameras. Three of the four contained nothing, and the fourth showed a man of about forty sitting in a chair. Where was she? Then all of a sudden, she thought she saw the shadow of a boy come onto the screen next to the man in the chair, but suddenly, all four cameras went black. The footsteps hurried overhead, then stopped. A faint sound came from above, a sound that almost sounded like a cackle, but didn't exactly sound human in origin. The camera clicked back on after a few minutes, but the man was gone! In one of the other three screens, something seemed different, but she didn't know what. She raced out the door, hoping to see what had happened. She saw what appeared to be two men struggling, but it was too dark to make out any details of either man. One raised what looked like a brick and struck the other. Everything went black.
Rebecca awoke back on the couch with a start. She half-noticed that the game was over, half-listened to the news report about a bank robbery in which some night guard was murdered under strange circumstances with no suspects. She shut off the TV, feeling an indeterminate sense of dread. She listened as the front door creaked open, listened to a pair of feet tiptoe inside. The feet were getting closer, closer, closer. Soon, the feet were walking right past the couch on which she lay, still appearing asleep. The feet stopped. She barely had time for a shriek before a firm hand clapped across her mouth and another grabbed her by the ankles.
"Gotcha, little sis!" Alan said mockingly, then took his hand off her mouth.
"Don't. Ever. Do. That. To. Me. Again." She paused after each word to let the full effect sink in.
Alan just sneered, "What, think I'm some bad guy come to take you away? Get real, little sis. It's just me."
"You have no idea."
21st January 2010, 3:55 AM
Chapter 2 - A Return and a Vanishing
Brrrrrrring. Brrrrrrrring. Rebecca awoke to the shrill sound of her alarm. It had been so nice not to have to set the alarm for close to three months, but school went back today. Her eyes still closed, she reached to her left to shut it off. After stumbling blindly out of bed, she found her way to the shower from memory and gradually awoke with her customary hot shower.
As she pulled her hair back into a ponytail with a blue hairband, she thought she noticed something on the floor looking different than usual. As she looked more closely, she realized there was a sheet of paper there she had never seen before. It appeared to be a computer printout of a series of numbers, but she had no idea what it meant or even what it was from. Resolving to scold Alan when she got home from school for snooping in her room and leaving his stuff behind, she folded the paper neatly in eighths and stuck it in her shirt pocket, then went downstairs.
As she walked into school that morning, a voice behind her said "Nice day, huh?" Turning around, she saw a guy named Paul filing in the door behind her. Looking outside, she noticed that it actually was a nice day and agreed. Funny how you didn't notice those things when your world had been turned upside down in less than a month.
"Do anything much this summer?" Paul asked.
"Nah, not really," she lied, "How about you?"
"Well, my team went to a tournament down in Orlando, but not much else. Soccer all the time, but you'd know that without me having to say it."
It was true; soccer did rule Paul's life. She chuckled and said goodbye, then turned and went to find her new locker. She turned and went to find her new locker, only to run into Rachel.
"One more year left, Rebecca, and we're gonna make the most of it. Doesn't it feel good to be back?" her friend asked
"All of me except the part still sleeping agrees," she quipped. "Did you get your schedule yet?"
"Nope, I was waiting for you to get here. I figured we'd get our schedules together and compare. I'll let you unpack and I'll see you in Mrs. Trenell's room."
"Ok sounds good. Have you seen Nicole around? I've been dying to hear about her Houston trip."
"She's in Mrs. Belma's room now, but I'm sure we'll see her at lunch."
Rachel went into the room, and Rebecca started to set up her magnets in her locker.
When she got her schedule, she saw that she and Rachel had five classes together: 3rd period Math with Mrs. Belma, 4th period Special (a class that rotated between Phys Ed, Art, Music, Spanish, and Computer by the day of the week), the 6th period lunch all 7th and 8th graders shared, 7th period History with Mr. Keben, and 8th period Literature with Mrs. Trenell.
As third period rolled around, Mrs. Belma sat her class alphabetically, which meant Rebecca ended up next to a guy named Mark Jones, who she'd known for a long time without ever really knowing well. At the end of Mrs. Belma's explanation for how her class would work, a few minutes were left in the period. Mark asked how her summer had gone, and she replied, "Nothing much, just the usual. How about you?"
"Um... nothing too much," he replied with an odd sad-sounding sort of pause.
"Is everything fine?" she asked.
Jones paused a long time, then finally said, "I knew him. Mr. Nellin, that is. My aunt worked there, so my parents would drop me off sometimes so my aunt could take me over to her place. Nellin was usually on duty when I would sit there."
"Who? What?" she asked, confused.
"The guard at the bank who died last week; didn't you hear? It was all over the news! They found his body in a back vault of the bank and the autopsy showed he was dead over a week - poisoned by a poison they've never seen before - but the security cameras show him alive and on duty that day. The police don't know what to make of it." Mark explained.
"Oh yeah, I did hear about that on the news, but I never heard the name," she said. "Sorry to hear you knew him." As the bell rang and she filed out to the computer lab, she began to wonder if her dream had anything to do with Jones's story. Was Nellin the man she saw get hit over the head? If not, what had she seen?
After buying a chicken sandwich, Rebecca looked around the cafeteria for Nicole and Rachel, then found them sitting at the end of a table and joined them.
"Hey Nicole. Long time, no see! How was Houston?" Rebecca asked immediately.
"Oh my gosh, it was amazing! You would have loved it! One day, we even went out to an old ranch about an hour from the city and got to ride bareback."
"That is so awesome!" Rachel exclaimed. One of the things that drew the friends together was their shared love of horseback riding, and bareback was the truest and best form of riding.
As Nicole continued telling the story, a girl named Jessica came up to the three friends and asked, "Have you heard about Alieada?"
"No, what?" Rebecca asked
"She switched schools - she's not here anymore. Nobody knows why, but I hear she didn't move far away. I wondered if you'd seen her and if she'd said anything."
The rest of the day passed in relative normalcy. As Rebecca crawled into bed, she kept thinking over the odd dream she had had the night before and wondering whether it somehow tied in with Mr. Nellin.
As she slipped into sleep, another image began to form in her mind.
There was what looked like a silhouette of a young boy running. Rebecca felt a sudden tug in her mind to follow, so she did. She was having to run as fast as she could just to keep up. Two men seemed to be chasing him. The boy reached a phone booth and dialed 9-1-1, then locked the door behind him. Rebecca saw as the men drew near to the door of the phone booth, heard as the boy yelled into the phone "There's a break-in at the Tenulli place on Hollow Street! Somebody help! I'm being attacked!"
Rebecca tried to run to the booth, tried to keep the men from reaching it, but the men passed through her as though she were a ghost. She screamed, but neither the men nor the boy seemed to be able to hear her. She watched in horror as the men broke the glass door with a brick and then smashed it on the boy's head. Everything faded into darkness.