Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kallista's Birthday Story, Part 2 out of 3!

Hey.

I'm going to do two things in this post. 1, I'm going to quickly respond to things people said in the comments of the last post. Then I'm going to give you all the next part of my dearest Kallista-sista's Birthday Story. "But Hellboy," you ask, "Wasn't her Birthday, like, 6 months ago?"
And to that, I have only one thing to say. Laziness and procrastination, kids. Don't ever think that you can play games and do homework AND  write stories at the same time. You just end up playing games and forgetting everything else.

Right! So. Moving on. 

@Skyril I saw the Lindsey Stirling thing a couple of days before you posted that and I loved it. Fantastically done, the dusty white with those graffittied buildings- just awesome. The goggles and steampunk gear were cool too. 

@Kal Noogies and hugs for you. I'll be wanting those pants back soon, tho.

@Rosella! Haven't spoken in ages. What's up?
Just quickly- HOW COOL IS WALKING DEAD FDSLIEFJKSDULAIKJESLAIJKFE
ADAM SAVAGE IS AWESOME AND HE READS HEAPS OF STUFF THAT I LIKE AND HE COSPLAYS AND MAKES REPLICAS AND ALL FDLSJIOEJKSLIJKEFLAIJKLSEIJR
Eh, I don't like their other songs, but Radioactive is awesome! :D

Noooo, I've never been to Tasmania, but damn, I wish I could have seen a pic of this dashing man. Maybe it IS me, and I've just found the Doctor and gone back in time to a different place or something. That means that in the future, when I do find the Doctor, I'll have to remember to be at that exact time and place.

Oh god, guys, the DW 50th anniversary is coming up soon. I'm more excited than I should be.


Ok. Onwards. I want you all to enjoy this next part as I'm afraid I don't know when the next one will be released. I think this is the longest piece and will most likely stay that way- the next piece will be remarkably shorter. Oh, and, uh, I know the test numbers didn't really work out, but it looks a lot better in the word document, ok? XD Enjoy.



~Prologue...thing~


They were in space.
If she had looked over the edge of the ship, she would have seen the dreamworld stretch out beneath them, remarkably similar to the earth. She would have seen the strangely shaped continents and the islands and the swirling clouds.
If she had time to, she could have tried focusing on the lake they had lifted off from, or anywhere else in the dreamworld but here, where there was no air and no salvation and nothing but emptiness and the promise of distant stars...
But she couldn't think of anything other than space. Israel passed out, still clutching the wheel of the ship, and Skyril tried crying out but couldn't. Michelle's mind raced as she still held the Nightmare's heart. She knew something was missing but even at a hundred miles a minute, she couldn't work it out. A huge white sphere, her mind offered, pockmarked with thousands of scars from the work of asteroids.
The air left her and she didn't try to keep it. Her body began to convulse and shudder for the need of oxygen, and suddenly, her mind focused that tiny bit more and she remembered what was missing.
The moon.
And with a whumpf of sound that shouldn't be there, a moon just bigger than their ship appeared before the Albatross and seemed to grin wickedly. Was it their doom, or their salvation?
Michelle's vision faded. Before it went completely, she saw the bow of the boat splinter as it collided with the moon. She felt herself jolt forward and then jolt backward again; the rope she had tied around her waist earlier kept her close to the deck of the ship, and safe.
The ship fell away from the miniature moon slowly, drifting towards the huge blue world below. Michelle looked up at the stars, and the faintest of smiles showed on her lips.

Her eyes closed, and the world went black beyond them.




Part 2:



Everything was dark at first, and Michelle relished in the darkness, enjoying the cold feeling it gave her. And then the darkness was taken from her like the quilts being whipped off of her body early on a school morning. She squinted and cried out from the sudden light that shone from the windows.
“Michelle!” someone called impatiently. Her eyes adjusted to the glare and she started to see forms in the light, shapes of people sitting and staring at her, all on identical plastic chairs at identical wooden desks. The windows of her classroom filtered the dull light into a yellow triangle on her arm.
She was in her classroom.
“Well? Been daydreaming long enough?” said the voice from before. She raised her heavy head off of her arm and blinked, finding the source standing at the head of the class. Mr Harrison had one eyebrow raised and still managed to give her a scornful glare.
“If you drift off like that once more, Miss Pendragon, I will have to give you a detention. Now, pencil out like the rest of the class. Get ready to begin the test.”
Test? She had no idea they were doing a test today. She scrambled for a pencil and broke the tip in the process. Her mind had a heavy fog over it, and all she wanted to do was sleep. As she finished sharpening the end of her pencil, the test papers were handed to her by her classmate to the left.  She went to thank the classmate, and then stopped, eyes widening.
Skyril nodded to her and then resumed working her way through the test.
Michelle shook her head, and the fog over her mind convulsed. Why was she shocked? Skyril had always been in her class, right? They were best friends, in fact. Michelle had always admired the purple streaks Skyril had worked into her hair. That, and Skyril’s cool denim jeans and sky blue tee.
“The test, Miss Pendragon,” the teacher at the head of the class said with a stern glare.
She looked down at the paper and scrawled her name at the top of it. Her eyes drifted to the first question and she frowned.
1.        HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S REALLY REAL?
She looked around the classroom to see all of her classmates hurriedly scribbling answers down on their page. The teacher was copying some words from a textbook onto the chalkboard with his back turned to her.
Her eyes were drawn to the question again. What kind of test was this? In clear print it said ‘Science Test’ at the top of the page, but she didn’t know how the first question had anything to do with science.
On her right, a student was filling out the questions with a determined look. Michelle squinted at the answer he had put down for the first question.
1.        HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S REALLY REAL?
The valency of Sodium Carbonate allows it to easily be paired with…

She shook her head. It was almost as if he was seeing something completely different. How could that be? Maybe she wasn’t feeling too well.
Either way, she wanted to get at least a bit of this test done. She looked at the second question and tapped her pencil on the number ‘2’.
2.        YOU KNOW SOMETHING’S WRONG. YOUR MIND IS TRYING TO TELL YOU. CAN’T YOU HEAR IT?

She shook her head and felt her heartbeat increase. She felt eyes watching her but she didn’t know where from. The teacher was still writing on the board in sharp chalk strokes. The students beside her still madly scribbled answers to questions that weren’t there. Michelle scanned over the rest of the questions.
3.        YOU’RE NOT REALLY HERE. REMEMBER.


4.        FOCUS, MICHELLE. LOOK AROUND YOU. THEY AREN’T REAL.


5.        THE TEACHER ISN’T REAL.


6.        THEY’RE FACSIMILES OF PEOPLE YOU’VE MET, BUT ONLY ON THE OUTSIDE.



Her eyes widened in fear and shock. What the hell was going on? She glanced at the other students and realized they had stopped writing. They all stared blankly at the pages in front of them. Their wrists were frozen in mid-air, poised to strike and finish the test.
Michelle slowly returned her gaze to the test paper, reading the last question.
7.        LOOK AT THE CHALKBOARD.
There was the sound of chalk snapping at the front of the class. In contrast to the silence her classmates were making, it was akin to someone clapping their hands. In her face. Naturally, her eyes were drawn to the teacher, whose glasses reflected the sun’s dying rays. The chalk that the teacher had been using was snapped into two pieces; half in his hand and half by his feet. He stared at the book clutched in his hands and then stared at what he had written on the board.
“Hmm,” he muttered. “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”
Written on the board in long, scratchy strokes that could have never been Mr Harrison’s were the words “Get out. Get out now.”
In unison, ever student stood up. Their pencils made the same sound as they clattered to the floor. Michelle was the only one not standing. Well, not the only one.
“Skyril,” Michelle whispered. “We have to get out of here. Hello? Sky?”
Skyril didn’t answer. She was staring at the test paper still, pencil frozen in mid-air. She was scanning the paper over and over again, and her eyes darted to and fro in panic. Michelle didn’t know it, but Skyril was fighting with all her will to see the words on the paper. She was sure that there were other words there, but… all she could see was questions on chemistry. Some part of her was denying this, though, shouting at her that something was very, very wrong.
And then Skyril won.
She suddenly saw the words that Michelle had seen. She read the last question and she lifted her head to look at the chalkboard. Where she had previously seen a chemistry equation, there were the words “Get out. Get out now.”
Michelle gripped Skyril’s arm and she seemed to snap out of it. Skyril jumped to her feet, toppling the chair over. She led Michelle through the tables and the other students suddenly reacted, reaching out to grasp at their clothes and arms and try to pull them back.
“Go, go!” They were four metres from the door. Two metres. The students moved as one and pushed in on every side. Skyril was still leading the way and pushing for the doorway. Michelle held onto Skyril’s hand as if her life depended on it. In a way, it did.
One metre. They burst through the crowd and out into the corridor. It was empty but wouldn’t be for much longer. The schoolchildren spilled into the corridor as well and struggled to get to their feet. Skyril and Michelle sprinted down the hallway, passing closed classroom doors and graffitied lockers. They turned a corner and halted at the view before them.
It was an identical corridor to the one they were just in. But white paint had been dashed over almost every surface imaginable. The lockers and the classroom doors had been covered in graffiti on a monumental scale. The white paint was everywhere, and the white paint read “Follow the white rabbit…”
It was the same thin, quick strokes that had been used on the chalk board.
To the left side of the hallway by some lockers was a green-clad janitor, mop in hand. He was slowly trying to clean away the paint, and had his back to them. When they turned the corner, he stopped mopping and rotated to stare at them. But with what eyes? He had no face. It was like a giant had gotten an eraser and just wiped his features away, leaving a pale, expressionless expanse where his eyes, eyebrows, mouth and nose should have been.
He began to slowly move towards them, mop raised.
“Not this way, then,” Michelle decided for the both of them, and sprinted in the opposite direction. They turned another corner, and another, and paused by a rusted water fountain, gasping for breath. They could no longer hear the students’ relentless footsteps.
“Where…where are we?” Michelle asked, panting. “Did we lose them?”
“Dreaming already?” came a hoarse whisper from behind them. The janitor’s mop handle cracked against the back of both of their heads and they cried out. Skyril twisted around and let loose a kick that splintered the mop in half. The janitor’s head tilted to an unnatural angle and he dropped the mop pieces onto the floor and advanced towards them.
“Just a dream,” Michelle sobbed, crawling backwards. “That’s all. I just need to wake up.”
The whisper sounded again. But it wasn’t from him. It came from somewhere behind him and yet, somehow every direction at once. “Not just a dream.” The other students rounded the corner behind the janitor, and slowly started to walk closer to Michelle and Skyril. “A nightmare,” the voice finished, and it all came rushing back.
Michelle remembered the Nightmare, and the forest and the lake, the Albatross’ decking and the storm high above the clouds, and the crazy captain that had saved her from the Nightmare before Michelle used the heart to accidentally transport them to space, when Israel and Skyril passed out and Michelle’s own consciousness slipped away-
White text suddenly appeared scrawled onto the roof above Michelle, in the same scribbled handwriting as before. Finally, it read. I didn’t think you’d ever remember. The bathroom! Go!
Michelle leapt to her feet, dragging Skyril up with her. They sprinted away from the janitor and the students, who picked up speed again. There were white footprints on the ground in front of them and Michelle laughed suddenly as she understood. The oversized white rabbit footprints lead around a corner and…
Skyril stopped just in time, reaching out and grabbing a nearby fire-hose bolted to the wall with one hand and Michelle’s jacket with the other. Around the corner, the corridor simply…ceased to exist. For at least three metres, there was nothing but an empty black expanse stretching out across the walls, on the roof and even the floor. And then, after those three metres, the hallway continued merrily along as if it was pretending to not notice the gaping hole in its wake.
“Oh my God,” Michelle breathed, peering over the edge. “How are we going to get across...” She trailed off. She walked away and looked back around the corner; the students and the janitor were once again walking towards them, the inevitable gruesomely obvious. They weren’t going to make the jump. And she didn’t know what would happen if the students and janitor got to them. Israel said that if you died in the dream world, you died in the real world...
“Micky,” Skyril called from back around the corner. “I have an idea...”
Michelle walked back and did a double take at Skyril. She was floating almost a metre off the ground with a smile on her face. “We can do it, Mick,” she spoke. “Jump upwards. Go on, try it.”
Michelle shook her head in wonder and did a little hop. And then she was floating, too. It was like someone had switched the gravity off just for them.
“I don’t think it affects that gap in the corridor, though,” Skyril advised. “But if we jump a little bit before the edge of the corridor, we might be high enough to make it.”
Michelle used the fire-hose to pull herself back down to the ground, and Skyril followed suit. They backed up and flattened themselves against the wall, putting as much floor in front of them before the big jump.
“Ready?” Skyril asked Michelle, eyes fixed ahead.
“No,” she laughed nervously. She looked to her right; the janitor and co were almost upon them, walking that slow and unavoidable gait. “Alright. Let’s go.”
They kicked off from the back wall and raced down the corridor. The world whipped by and the only focus inside Michelle’s head was to put one foot in front of the other over and over again. They leapt a metre before the edge and were instantly taken up by the lack of gravity to the top of the corridor, and still moving at the speed they had been running. And then there was no ground beneath her and she felt herself falling through the air, the gaping hole grinning at her flailing form as it went to swallow her.
But then the floor on the other side of the gap rushed towards her and her body smacked into it. Her hands gripped anything but the floor was polished smooth and every doorway was out of her reach. Her legs kicked into the void and she was filled with a feeling of calm and cool...death. Her struggling stopped and her legs stopped kicking. The void whispered up at her. It offered a never-ending limbo, where problems and worries were null. She was reminded of when she fell over the ship’s edge, but this was different. More peaceful. The only thing that mattered was the void and her spinning endlessly into it. So just...let go...
Two brown-sleeved arms gripped her own and hauled her back over the edge. All feelings of serenity disappeared the instant she felt herself on solid ground again. If the floor of a school’s corridor in an elaborate dream could be called solid ground at all.
She looked up at her saviour and shouted in surprise. “Where the heck have you been?” she asked Israel, and wrapped her arms around his neck. He held his hands high in the air and attempted to back away, but gave up eventually and returned the hug.
“Trying to get us out of this mess,” he replied.
Michelle disentangled herself and grinned. “Ok, so how are we going to escape? What brilliant plan have you got up your sleeve?”
“Uh,” Israel said, embracing Skyril too. “None so far. The plan was just to lead you guys away from the janitor and all...”
“So that was you?” Skyril asked him. “The questions in the test, the writing on the chalkboard, the ‘White Rabbit’?”
The janitor rounded the corner with the students in tow. He stared without eyes at Israel, and Israel gave him a middle-fingered salute in response. “Yeah,” he chuckled. “I have, like, this thing with theMatrix and Alice in Wonderland. That and dancing...”
Michelle frowned. “You dance?”
Israel looked mortified. “Did I say dancing? Dirt-bike racing. That’s what I meant. Manliest sport on earth.”
“Oh my God.” Michelle kicked his foot as they started to walk away from the gap and down another hallway. “You really do dance. Look, Sky, he’s got dancing shoes on!”
“Hey!” Israel barked as they both laughed. “These are boots. Just because they are shiny and in good condition, does not mean-”
“Alright, alright,” Michelle said, raising her hands up and backing off. They walked in silence for a few seconds and she muttered “Don’t get your tutu in a twist, jeez...”
“That’s it!” Israel rounded on them.
“Look, the bathroom!” Skyril pointed at the door beside them before Israel could start his previously prepared lecture. At the end of her accusing finger was, in fact, the door to the girl’s toilets.
“So what?”
“You wrote on the roof before, when we were being attacked. You told us to go to the bathroom.”
“Hmmm...” Israel was inspecting the door’s logo, as if he expected the mini-figure to procure a suicide belt and detonator and run at him wildly. “I did, didn’t I?” He nudged the door open with his boot and they walked in.
He frowned instantly. “Is this really what the girl’s toilets looks like? Why does it feel like this is so much bigger than the guy’s toilets? And where the hell are all the urinals?” He pointed at Michelle. “The window. Quickly, they’ve cleared the gap in the hallway.”
Skyril ducked outside of the bathroom to look back into the corridor. She brought her head back straight away, and a hand swiped by where she had been moments before. Retreating back into the bathroom, Skyril shut the door and put her shoulder against it. “I didn’t even hear any footsteps. No idea how they cleared it so fast.”
Michelle ran to the window and undid the latch hastily. She peered outside and her eyes bulged at the amount of space between her and the ground. There was a pipe next to her, running along the outside of the building, and she gripped it and shook, testing how well it was attached. It barely moved an inch, and she grinned.
Inside the bathroom, Israel’s head snapped up all of a sudden. “Oh no,” he said aloud. “Feel that? Hear it?”
Skyril shook her head, still leaning against the door and holding it shut. She waited for Israel to continue, and in the pause, she did hear it. It was wind, the sound of wind rushing past her ears and screaming as if she was moving a hundred miles an hour, and yet only faintly playing its song.
“The wind,” she murmured. “I don’t understand.”
“Yes, you do,” Israel said, and turned to the first toilet stall. He kicked it down, revealing nothing but a porcelain toilet and cistern.
Michelle called over her shoulder to them. “Come on! There’s a pipe here, we can climb down!”
“Climb up!” Israel shouted. “You can’t climb down. Don’t even try.” He kicked down the second stall as Michelle began to climb through the window and up the pipe.
“No, I…I really don’t understand…” Skyril was still pushing back against the bathroom door, but the attacks were with less strength now, almost as if the faceless ones on the other side of the door wanted Skyril and Israel to escape. Wanted them to reach the roof.
“Think about it, Skyril,” Israel said. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
Her eyes seemed to glaze over for a second. “The ship. We were going to hit the roof of the dream. Michelle transported us into…space?”
“That’s right.” Israel kicked down another stall door. Inside was the same white tiles and spotless toilet. “Then how did we get here?”
“The nightmare?” Skyril offered.
“No. The nightmare’s putting all of its effort into maintaining the changes he has in the first dream. Sure, he can screw around with this one too, but create it? No. I don’t imagine any nightmare would be that powerful.” He took a breath. There was one stall left. “Every time Michelle has been in trouble, dreamworld or not, you’ve been there for her. The subconscious makes those split second decisions that save people in dangerous situations when there is no time to think rationally. So when Micky accidentally puts us way out in space and she starts to pass out, the subconscious- you- makes a last-ditch effort at saving us.”
“No,” Skyril whispered. “But I don’t even remember-”
“And that’s one of the more confusing things to note about this whole shindig. The subconscious subconsciously created a dream. And while this dream’s taking place-” Israel gave the last stall door a sharp kick, and drew a small breath; what he say before him confirmed his suspicion. “-the other one is still going. And it’s bleeding through.”
Skyril walked forward, away from the door she had been holding and towards Israel. They both peered into the cubicle.
There was no toilet bowl or cistern. It was an empty cubicle. But in the place of the tiles were lacquered wooden boards that could have only come from one place.
On the wall were the painted letters ALB, cut off where the stall’s side met the wall. It was all Skyril needed to understand. The sound of rushing wind was growing louder now, and both their eyes had begun to stream, although there was no gale or even draft inside the bathroom.
The door finally burst open and the faceless puppets wasted no time in launching their attack. Skyril went to help Israel but he called to her to start climbing. She gripped the window sill and pushed herself outside, being careful not to look down. Michelle was not too far ahead of her and Skyril began her ascent with determination in her eyes.
Inside the bathroom, Israel grabbed the janitor’s wooden mop and used it as a barrier between him and the students. He backed up all the way to the window sill and lodged one end of the mop between a sink and paper towel dispenser and the other end against the stall’s metal lock. It would give him just about two seconds if he was really lucky.
He ran to the window and swung out of it, grasping the pipe tightly and racing upwards. The mop snapped in two and they surged forwards, fingers curling around air. Israel kicked the window shut beneath him and grinned as he went to catch up with his friends.
Michelle reached the roof and slowly pulled herself up the railing. She peered over the edge to see Israel and Skyril within shouting distance below. Michelle looked back at the roof and started forwards when her entire vision lurched. She stumbled and went to steady herself when she found metal railing where there wasn’t any before. She frowned and gazed around her at another world.
Within seconds of observing it all, she knew what was before her. Michelle stood in the crow’s nest of the Albatross. All around her drenched grey clouds whipped by. The wind was a deafening roar as they flew- no, fell- through the storm. The bow of the Albatross was completely smashed; torn apart from when they collided with the moon before.
Far below, Michelle glimpsed the crashing waves of a furious sea.
She went to the other side of the crow’s nest to look down at Israel and Skyril- still climbing, but climbing the giant mast she sat atop.
And then the vision abruptly ended. She was back on the roof of the school again, looking down at her friends as they pulled themselves hand-over-hand up the pipe. They reached the edge of the railing and in seconds were standing next to Michelle. She sat back onto the ground and shook her head.
“Ok,” she began. “What the hell just happened?”
“Short version?” Skyril asked, and Michelle nodded. “This dream’s collapsing. And all the time that this dream has been going, the other dream has been too. Except that one’s the important one, because we’re still falling in the Albatross.”
Michelle nodded again, and Israel offered her a hand up. “Alright. That makes sense. How are we going to stop it? Shouldn’t we go down there and pull the ship up before it hits the water?”
Israel simply shook his head. “You saw the front of the ship as clearly as we did. And the side sails were completely torn off. There’s…there’s nothing we can do.”
Their vision shifted again and they were atop the crow’s nest once more, the wind screaming in their ears like it was provoking them with a blood-curdling war-cry. The waves below were much closer now as they started to home in. They were close enough that they could see a land mass protruding from the chaos beneath them, dotted with trees, both upright and broken, their stumps hidden by a thick fog.
Michelle’s hands went to the rope tied securely around her waist. She knew that the other end of the rope was still knotted at the base of the mast, a lifeline that would stop her going overboard. To her right, Israel was testing his own rope, making sure it was ok. He turned to Skyril as the dreams switched once more, and they were atop the school’s roof instead of the crow’s nest. The ropes didn’t exist in the school dream, but other aspects were already bleeding through.
The blue sky and wispy strands of cotton fluff had been replaced with the dark and menacing clouds that threatened rain and worse. The wind was still howling madly at them. The ‘buildings’ set around the school, previously just background noise to the real focus, were slowly falling in every which-way, revealing themselves to be simple 2D backdrops.
“The dream is at a fragile point,” Israel spoke just loudly enough for Skyril and Michelle to hear him. “Just be careful with what your thoughts are directed towards. Ready yourself. The ropes should keep us centred on the Albatross. Maybe sitting at the top of the main mast isn’t the best place to be, but…”
Michelle nudged him. “You’re rambling.”
“Just never done this before.” He put a hand on the railing behind him and gripped it tightly. No longer was it the dull metal railing that skirted the edge of the school roof, but was the curved brass railing of the Albatross’ crow’s nest. “The Albatross and I have been through a lot. I don’t know if she’ll make it this time.”
Skyril frowned and looked him up and down. “Who are you, really?”
“Not now,” Israel muttered, gripping the railing tighter. The school dream finally collapsed and they were thrust completely into the real dream, the only one that mattered. “I’ll tell you another time,” Israel shouted to Skyril.
Lightning danced wildly around the three of them as the Albatross dived towards the thrashing waves. Michelle looked at Skyril and hugged her, keeping her eyes shut.
Israel glared straight ahead. “Come on!” He yelled. Lightning cascaded down, leaping from droplet to droplet and striking the edge of the Crow’s nest with a shower of sparks. Thunder boomed in laughter, but Israel was laughing right back at it. And then the Albatross hit the shallow depths of the water near the island and they were all thrown forward, out of the Crow’s nest.
Michelle saw it all as if it was slowed right down. The already-ruined bow of the ship splintered once more into the ground, barely slowed by the few metres of water in that shallow part. The sudden stop catapulted Israel, Skyril and herself forward and into the air. The lifelines unravelled their length and then began to snap back in a fast whip-lash motion.
Except Skyril’s.
Her lifeline broke at the last second, before it could bring her snapping back to the boat. Michelle screamed and lost sight of Skyril as her body disappeared inland, flying among the rain.
Their lifelines swung them to the edge of the land but before either of them could do anything, the mast which they had been standing atop groaned and began toppling down like a great oak in any forest.
Their feet touched the ground and Israel yelled to run. Michelle got two steps before she knew the mast was bearing right down on top of her. She leapt forward, something hit the back of her head, and she blacked out.

It was an obtrusive sound that sucked her from the dreamworld and caused her to awake. Her klaxon-like alarm forced Michelle to sit up and slap it into submission. Her breath was surprisingly short and a frown crumpled her face. What had she been dreaming about?
She subconsciously pinched her skin and twisted. Real enough. And then there was the ever-familiar sound of her mother thumping around the house in a hurried rage. There was nothing dreamlike about that.
Reluctantly, Michelle let her feet take her up and out of bed, making a tired beeline for the kitchen. Sunlight filtered through the glass doors leading to the backyard, the sound of a presenter on the news waffled on about the economy from the direction of the lounge room, and Michelle felt like she had just ran a marathon.
She snagged some toast for breakfast and gathered her school bag and its contents to get ready for the day. She caught the bus on time and headed into school with an expressionless face.
Michelle passed by the janitor and her heart beat just a little bit faster. He turned his head to look at her, and she had the sudden image of a faceless man in her mind. But the wrinkles creased around aged, kind eyes. His face was all there. What had she been expecting?
Her locker jammed but opened eventually and she dug inside for her schoolbooks. Eyes unfocused and mind far away, she moved to her designated classroom and sat down with a seat near the window at the back of the room. Even as the lesson begun, she was wishing she was elsewhere.
“Settle down, class,” Mr Harrison called from the front of the classroom. “Open your textbooks to page two-hundred and forty-six. Start copying down what I write on the board.”
It was the scrape of chalk on the blackboard that first jolted Michelle’s memory. It drew the memories out slowly and all a shambles, starting with the school and her escape from that classroom. The chalk Mr Harrison was using snapped, and a few students giggled. He apologized with a smile to the class, but Michelle wasn’t focusing on anything around her. The snap of the chalk had been a moment of clarity, and all her memories sorted themselves into regular order again.
“Israel…” she said out loud. A girl in front of her turned in their seat and gave her a weird look before turning to face the front of the class again.
Her mind raced. She needed to get back. And Skyril! Michelle needed to help her friends. But she couldn’t sleep. There was nowhere to do it. The teacher would catch her for sure if she tried daydreaming in class…
A mobile phone rang. The teacher frowned and fished the thing out of his pocket, thumbing the biggest green button and holding it to his smallish ears. “Hello? Oh, God. That’s terrible. No, I’ll- yes, but I can just… Ok, ok. I’ll do that. I’ll be there soon.” He closed down the phone and threw his jacket around his shoulders.
“Sorry, class,” Mr Harrison said in a rush as he gathered his things. “My mother’s in the hospital. I’m going to have to leave you lot in your own compa- Jayden, stop throwing paper planes! I haven’t even left and already you… alright, you, you and you- you’re now in charge. Remember what we’ve been learning about Dictatorships and Democracies? Put it to the test!”
The three students he had chosen at random wore bemused expressions and one opened their mouth to object.
“No objections!” Mr Harrison called out as he left the room. “Follow the work in the text book and it’ll all be fiiiiine!”
The class waited a full ten seconds after he had left to make sure he wasn’t coming back. Then everyone relaxed, turned to the person next to them, and started idly chatting away. More paper planes were thrown and a couple of troublemakers got up to stand in the teacher’s position to pretend they were the head of the class.
Perfect.
Michelle dragged her table back a few inches and closer to the window. She dug her headphones out of her pocket and put some quiet music on to try and drown out the sound of the students in the room talking casually to each other.
She bunched up her school jumper and put it in a bundle under her head. Her gaze rested on the clouds through the windows. Already, she could feel her eyelids drooping and her mind slipping into sleep. She willed her body to slumber and it was peacefully compliant.

And in a swirling rush of semi-darkness and muddy-blues, she was standing in the midst of the Albatross’ wreckage. The wind howled madly and waves crashed persistently against the unclean beach.
Something warm trickled down the back of Michelle’s neck. Blood showed on her fingertips when she brought them around and remembered the mast that had hit her on its way down. It was beside her, now, like a great tree that had reached the end of its journey and finally lay in defeat, accepting that it could go no further.
Up ahead, there was the sound of someone or something scrabbling around.
Michelle started forward on wary feet. Every part of her wanted to call out to whoever was there, but the call chickened out on its way up her throat.
“He…Hello?” Michelle gulped and whispered into the twilight and debris.
The scratching stopped. It skipped a beat, and started again.
Michelle was almost on top of it now. She was deep within the rubble of the Albatross- smashed lanterns and an overturned cooler inhabited the wreckage to her right, and half the rudder sat on a pile of wooden planks and brass fittings to her left.
Finally, she could pinpoint the sound. The scratching was now accompanied by haggard breathing and curses that didn’t make any sense. Through the frame of a doorway with no wooden wall to back it up, Michelle finally saw Israel.
On his hands and knees, he was buried in a pile of the Albatross’ innards, searching madly for something. He threw piece after piece of his own possessions behind him, not satisfied at anything he picked up. Where is it? He whispered, as if after enough self-interrogation he would reveal to himself the location.
There was a faint beat coming from somewhere. At first, Michelle thought it was her own heart, but she took a breath and held it; the beats were not in sync together. There was another hearbeat coming from her person. And her pocket was feeling unnaturally cold and heavy…
She knew what Israel was after. Her fingers curled around the diseased organ and she shook away a squeamish shudder. Her feet decided to back-peddle ever-so-slowly, back out of the doorframe and-
Her shoe knocked into the cooler, and a few Butterbeer bottles clinked around inside.
Israel froze. The object he had been about to throw away- a workman’s wrench- stayed secure in his grip as he rose to his feet. He cleared the doorway and spotted her.
“Oh,” he said, and whatever madness had been in his eyes cleared away. He lowered the wrench immediately. “Michelle. You’re here! How did you…” He saw her hand in her pocket. “What have you got, Mick…?”
The madness returned, and the arm holding the wrench was raised upwards.
Michelle took off, spinning on one heel and pushing herself into the maze of boat pieces. After her, Israel called out, “Michelle! Come back! Look, I’m fine! I’m alright! I’m ok, I’m ok, you can give me the heart now!”
There was a clang behind her and she instinctively ducked to the side, pushing herself further into the wreckage. There was still a slightly intact piece of the hull that was unlit, and that was where her feet led her.
“See? I’ve dropped the wrench! I’m ok now! Please, Micky, come out- come on, it’s me! It’s your friend! I’m fine!” As each call got more and more frantic, Michelle sped up in her attempt to get clear of him. More crashes sounded, and she knew he had followed her to the hull. There had to be another way out. She looked around, but saw nothing in the darkness. She recognized upside-down doorways, though- the entire ship had been flipped on impact. She climbed through the nearest one, breathing fast.
“You don’t understand!” Israel called from somewhere above her. “I need it! I haven’t gone this long without it before. Anything could happen! Just please, Michelle, come back. I’m alright. I’m under control.”
Ahead, a small triangle of light from a keyhole. Her fingers fumbled with the lock but the upside-down door was jammed anyhow. She backed up and kicked the door in solidly until it swung open, a portal to the nightmarish beach. Michelle hit the sand running and seconds later she heard a thump and grunt of a body landing some way behind her, followed by more reassuring calls.
Ahead, more sand until beach became the sea. To her immediate left, a marshland obscured by gloom that continued until a forest sprouted out of it, further up the hill. And even further was a tall rock formation that reached up to the stormy heavens.
Her legs veered towards the marshland and in seconds she was surrounded by a dense fog. Her sprint slowed to a jog, and then a brisk walk that eventually halted. She could still hear Israel’s calls, but even though he had been right behind her it seemed like he was miles away. And even though she had just entered the marsh and the beach should be right behind her, she could have been in the middle of the place and not known it. Everything looked the same. Everywhere was drunk with the thick fog. There was a path, though it was on sodden ground and guarded by twisted branches that sought light from the marsh. The branches stood like pleading hands, urging Michelle to grab hold and save them.
She walked on.
In her pocket, the heart grew heavier. It liked this place. Maybe it was the hopelessness of it all. The whispers started up again, yet Michelle had grown to ignore them by now. The fog swam around her but couldn’t get any closer than a few feet, giving her a bubble of space. Tendrils of faded ebony snaked from the heart down paths to her left and right, always disappearing before she could see what lay at the end of them. The only path the wisps didn’t venture down was the one Michelle was following. She took this as a good sign and continued onwards.
Behind her, Israel had stopped calling her name. For a brief moment she wondered if she’d become lost in this fog forever. It was a creation of the Nightmare, she could tell. An arc tiny pinprick L.E.Ds gazed from the mist, unblinking but constantly watching.
There came a groan of pain from a ways in front of her, and she quickened her pace immediately.
The moans became more frequent and Michelle’s fast walk transformed into a sprint. “Skyril!” she screamed, pushing the pleading branches aside and stumbling through the fog. It was all around her, now, the groans and cries of pain. The whispering voices mimicked the sound for harmonious effect, but it was a pathetic attempt to hide the real voice. It wasn’t a fruitless cypher of the Nightmare’s design, not some twisted skulduggery to confuse Michelle. It was real. Skyril was here, she knew it.
Her feet carried her forward more than a couple of metres into the clearing before she got them to halt. The first thing she noticed was the lack of fog. The second thing she noticed was Skyril.
She lay back against the great trunk of a tree that Michelle couldn’t see the top of. To her right, the broken lifeline looked like a dead serpent. Sharp splinters from the wreck of the Albatross littered the clearing, measuring from a ruler’s length to half a metre.
As Michelle approached Skyril, it dawned on her that she wasn’t laying against the tree trunk. She was pinned there. Three large splinters were piercing Skyril’s chest and ran right through her ribcage, embedded into the trunk on the other side. A trickle of blood ran from the corner of her mouth, and she shuddered with her mortal wounds.
“Sky,” Michelle said, horrified and transfixed. Her legs finally began to move but collapsed beneath her once she reached her friend’s side. Her body bent over Skyril’s and wracked with sobs. The sounds of pain were quieter now. Skyril opened her eyes weakly and gazed at her surroundings. Her eyes met Michelle’s and they stayed there. They held each other’s hands, one grip tight, the other growing rapidly weaker. Minutes passed. The ragged breathing slowed. And gently, Michelle lowered Skyril’s cold arm to the ground.
Slow footsteps behind her. She didn’t care. Her hand dug into her pocket and held the heart to her side, waiting for him to take it. When he didn’t, she looked up. The madness was gone in his eyes. He just stood there, mouth open ajar, staring at the body pinned to the tree trunk.
“Oh, no,” Israel whispered. “No, no, no, no…” his legs gave out when he reached her, yet she was already gone. He brushed a strand of purple-streaked hair away from her unseeing eyes. “No, meimei, no…”

The two of them sat there, shocked into silence. Eventually, Israel gazed around. He reached for the heart, but there was no insanity in his eyes. The brown leather reappeared and let him tie the heart around his neck, where it belonged. He shuddered as he lowered it around his head. Michelle eyed him warily, but there was no danger. She realized that now. It was just like an addiction. Just a bad addiction that he couldn’t rid himself of.
Israel put a hand on the largest of the wooden shards and black vapour ran down his arm towards it. It disappeared in a moment, and he did the same to the other pieces. The wounds were still there, though, red and raw and-
Michelle turned and threw up around the other side of the tree trunk. Her mind was sluggishly slow. When she turned back, Israel was ever-so-gently lifting Skyril from the base of the trunk. He took a deep breath to control himself and started forwards, firmly putting one foot in front of the other. Michelle didn’t know where he was going. She followed him anyway.
“Can’t you bring her back?” Michelle asked without emotion. “With the heart?”
“It can do many things,” Israel replied. “But not bring back the dead. Even in this place.”
The path he chose through the marsh led them far away from the tree. The voices were no longer there, although Michelle didn’t think she could have heard them even if they were there. She was numb.
They exited the marsh and entered the small forest. And on they walked, for God-knows-how-long. The sky showed from amidst the tree tops, but the sun was completely hidden from sight by the clouds. The fog didn’t venture into the forest, and retreated sullenly behind them.
The trees didn’t thin out like they should have. Abruptly, Israel exited the forest, and Michelle stumbled along after him. The path Israel walked was a steep incline, heading towards the towering rock formations that Michelle had spotted before.
“We’re going to kill the Nightmare,” he finally said over his shoulder. “It caused this. The Albatross to crash, Skyril to die. Everything that has happened has only been a game. Not anymore. We’re going to kill it, and be free.”
Michelle stopped walking. There was a faint voice, one she couldn’t quite put her finger on the origin of.
Ahead of her, Israel halted too. “Mick? You ok?”
The voice was growing louder. It was calling her last name, she worked out. Drawing out each syllable slowly, yet speeding up.
“Can’t you hear that?” Michelle asked. Israel turned fully to face her. He was still holding Skyril’s crumpled form in his arms. The overall details of her face were little more than a slight smudge in her vision. Michelle frowned at that, but the voice was demanding her attention.
“Hear what?” Israel said.
How could he not hear it? It was booming now, everywhere at once and still shouting her name. MISS PENDRAGON. MISS PENDRAGON.

WAKE UP, MISS PENDRAGON.
Michelle gasped, and the world blinked away as she awoke.
























*winces* Sorry, Sky. Had to happen. Don't kill me.
Final part will be coming soon, but probably not for a while.

6 comments:

  1. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH THIS IS SO BLODDY FANTATIC! It's BRILLIANT! It is breathtakeing in imagery and description; intense and exciting with fast paced action, and so very heartbreakign but I LOVE IT!
    *hugs HEllboy tightly* It'w wonderful and well worth the wait! I really enjoyed reading it and just marvel over your magnificent ability to work magic with your story writing!
    BRAVO HELLBOY!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also, THNAK OU SO MUCH FOR PSOTING THIS an for writing it as a girt to me. It's one of my greatest treasures: the writings I get from beloved sibs. :D
    *hugs tight* :'D

    ReplyDelete
  3. *runs around with Hellboy's half eaten pants on her head*
    WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    ReplyDelete
  4. Joe.
    You need to write a book.
    Because I am dying to read it!!!

    Oh, my Goodness..... That was AMAZING!... ING-ING-ING-ING!!!
    You're definitely a natural! It's utterly perfect. Epica-ly written, brilliant characters, totally awesome storyline- It's just... WOWWWWWW!!!!!

    I totally loved it! [Can you tell?]
    Even though I died xD.
    If there's anyway to go, it's by being impaled by bits of a flying ship in the storm of a dream world.

    So, so cool.

    “Yeah,” he chuckled. “I have, like, this thing with the Matrix and Alice in Wonderland. That and dancing...”
    Michelle frowned. “You dance?”
    Israel looked mortified. “Did I say dancing? Dirt-bike racing. That’s what I meant. Manliest sport on earth.”

    Some of the best lines ever. >.<

    "It wasn’t a fruitless cypher of the Nightmare’s design, not some twisted skulduggery to confuse Michelle."

    ~high-fives~
    SKULDUGGERY!
    I caught that too!
    I am so going to use that word when I write a book...

    And Hellboy! When you finish this, you MUST try to publish it as a short story! People would be ridiculous NOT to!

    Wonderful, awesome-sauce, epica-ness!!

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  5. My God, Hellboy. This...

    ...this...

    I don't even know what to say. My mind is still a few paragraphs behind of what my eyes are reading. This, Hellboy, is exceptional. Really, truly, something amazing indeed.

    And Skyril, you are a genius. Hellboy should write a book. This is just... such a good idea. I will be the first in line for it and going to Adelaide for him to sign it (and, of course, to meet the Awesomeness Personified).

    Hellboy:

    KDFJVs dGiosdHFGxdCVFG ZXCVJG NsdIFG a DKIFJ giz sdifvb zasdfiog sdgif rgio fbzdpvbzoxdfigjs brgtSLDvIOSDg zasdg trsS FRglzDSFg bfg.

    That is all.

    Actually, no. That is not all.

    Adam Savage is so cool! He's incredibly intelligent, and I think that adds to his easy humor. And I didn't know he cosplayed. Interesting.
    Actually, at the moment I am watching Mythbusters. They're testing if you can cook a meal with C4, and also if you can make a chinese flying guillotine.
    Favorite line of Jamie's:
    "When in doubt: C4"

    Walking Dead is all O.o at the moment and... yeah. :P

    I really should join the chat or something... I feel I need to talk to you all properly. Its been so long! ~sighs~ That makes me feel old. But still. :3

    Anyway, straying from the point a bit there. But the point is:
    This is an amazing piece of writing. You should really keep this up. I don't understand how you are not ridiculously famous by now.

    Oh! And are you excited for the holidays? I am! :P

    Got distracted. Anyway, good job! Thank you for posting, and it was wonderful to hear from you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Umm.... uh... what do I even say?

    This is wonderful. It's perfect. This should definitely be published as a book. This should more than just a story on the internet.

    It's so UNREAL in it's realness.

    The descriptions are marvelous and the pace is so intense and the ideas are just beautiful.

    I am so incredibly excited for the last part.

    ...

    Just brilliant.

    I don't feel as if this comment is long enough.

    We should definitely talk more.

    This story is just mind-blowing and breathtaking.

    Wonderful to read more from the epica Hellboy.

    ReplyDelete