A Story Untold
By Brad OH Inc.
Copyright 2015 Brad OH Inc.
A Story Untold
A Short Story by Brad OH Inc.
“Myra is a damn cheater!” hollered Todd. He ran a hand through his dirty blonde bangs to keep the sweat out of his eyes.
“Watch it Todd,” warned Bruce, “don’t you remember we’ve got Zeke with us today?” Bruce was Zeke’s older brother, which made it his solemn duty to protect him. Usually, Zeke didn’t come out with Bruce and his friends, but their parents had something important to do that afternoon, so Bruce had been appointed as his deputy caretaker. “He’s only six you guys, watch your mouths.”
“I’m not a cheater, you stupid jerk!” yelled Myra. The stout, red-haired girl stood resolute at the far end of the playground, her hands on her hips as she turned her wrath upon Todd. “You didn’t touch me cause you’re not fast enough!”
With that, Todd tore off in pursuit of Myra, the two of them burning a path across the field and into the big forest out back.
“C’mon Zeke, we’ve gotta keep up,” said Bruce. A soft hand on his brother’s little shoulder led the way. Whenever they were out together, Zeke found some way to slow Bruce down. But their parents had told him that big brothers had big responsibilities, so he tried his best to live up.
“Let’s go!” Zeke squealed. He always acted like everything was just one big adventure, which left Bruce to worry about staying safe, and getting home on time, and all the important stuff. But these were distant thoughts in Bruce’s busy head as he guided his brother across the big grass field, following after his pals.
Myra and Todd were best friends. Always had been so far as Bruce was aware. They were an odd pair to be sure—Todd’s aggressive attitude had isolated him from nearly all their other classmates, except for Myra, whose tomboy nature and rough-around-the-edges demeanour found their welcome counterpart in his company.
When Bruce started at their school early last year, none of the other kids had seemed very friendly. Neither had Myra and Todd for that matter, but they weren’t unfriendly either, and accepted anyone willing to keep up and play along with their endless competitions.
“Why are they always yelling at each other? Aren’t we all having fun?” Zeke’s eyes lit up like fireflies whenever he spoke, as if all the same sorts big ideas and thoughts Bruce had were locked away inside his head, waiting patiently for the day Zeke would have the words to set them all free.
Bruce increased the pressure on Zeke’s shoulder, hurrying him along at his side. “That’s just the way they play. One always wants to be better than the other.”
They dashed to the end of the grassy field and ducked into the woods. The forest behind the school where Bruce, Todd, and Myra would enter the sixth grade at the end of summer was off limits when school was in. But that was still three weeks away.
“You’ll never catch me!” Myra’s voice came from just ahead.
“That’s what you think donkey-brains!” was Todd’s answer.
Their banter continued as Bruce carved his way through the bramble, checking back dutifully on Zeke every few steps. “Hurry Zeke!”
“Whoa!” Myra’s high-pitched yell startled Bruce. He’d never heard her express much beyond frustration, or the determination to rise to whatever absurd challenge Todd had placed before her.
Continuing along, Bruce waited for the teasing he could only assume would be Todd’s reply, but none came. The sudden silence of the forest made Bruce’s skin crawl, and he redoubled his efforts, rushing ahead through the trees to find his friends. “C’mon Zeke, hurry up!”
Pushing his way through a cluster of bushes and dodging under a low-hanging branch, Bruce finally burst free of the trees into the small clearing beyond.
There, Myra and Todd stood shoulder to shoulder, their arms hanging limp by their sides. Neither said a word. Neither shoved the other, nor issued any sort of challenge.
Bruce felt a big knot forming in his stomach.
Glancing back and forth at each of them in turn, Bruce was certain he’d find some clue of what they were up to. Todd wore his camouflage shirt…as if it would make him invisible. Myra stood lazily in torn up jeans and a bright orange shirt—she got to wear her ‘old’ clothes almost exclusively over the summer.
Bruce sauntered up cautiously. “What’s going on you—?”
Then he too fell silent.
Just in front of his two friends sat the strangest object he’d ever seen. Bruce hadn’t noticed it until just that moment. In fact, it almost seemed to shudder into being as he approached—just the opposite of the desert mirages he’d learned about from a Sunday morning TV show a few days back.
Shaped like a tear-drop on its side, it could have fit one…maybe two of his bedrooms in its fat end. It was shiny white—almost like a toilet bowl—save for a strange shimmer rippling over its surface, playing with its colours like wind passing over a still lake. ‘Iridescent’, Bruce thought his teacher had once called the effect.
Its surface was smooth, with no sign of paint or lettering—not even a single screw was visible on its long, flawless frame. At the very back—near the wide end of the tear-drop—a thin black space opened, with a white ramp leading up into it. Bruce saw no evidence of a shadow beneath the ship’s gently curving underbelly.
It didn’t make a sound. Rather, it seemed to Bruce that it may actually be gobbling up all the nearby sounds. No birds could be heard, no traffic in the distance. Bruce couldn’t even hear the sound of his heart, although he felt it pounding in his chest like a marching drum.
“What is it?” Todd’s usual bravery gave way to an uncertain murmur.
“Is it…” Myra ventured, before trailing off and staring silently, a queer look on her face.
Bruce just stood in silence, watching his reflected image wobble along the surface of the mysterious bulk.
“It’s like some kind of gnarly submarine. Remember we talked about those last year?” Todd’s voice was low and somber, and Bruce noticed that his hands trembled at his sides.
“It’s not a sub you dolt. Those only go in the water.” Myra always put on a bold front, but Bruce was certain her rough voice shook a bit as she spoke, and the competitive snarl she usually gave Todd was nowhere to be seen.
“A Spaceship! Wow!” Zeke broke through the woods at a gallop, and his excited screech shattered the fragile quiet of the small clearing, shocking the group out of their solemn considerations.
“I think he’s right,” said Bruce, turning to check on his tardy little brother. Zeke pulled up alongside, busily pulling at the legs of his khaki shorts, which had bunched all up as he ran.
“Oh boy! C’mon!” cried Zeke once he’d finished, and before anyone could say a word, he jockeyed around the older kids, jumped in the air with a clap, then sprinted across the small stretch of grass, up the ramp and into the dark interior of the imposing craft.
“Zeke, no…” Bruce’s protest got caught up somewhere in his throat, and came drifting out limp and stale. He took half a step forward and stiffened his lip, but then stumbled into a pathetic slouch. “We’ve got to go after him you guys!” he finished, failing to convince even himself.
“I’m not going near that thing,” said Myra.
“Me neither,” Todd agreed.
Bruce gazed up at the ship, which remained entirely still. Looking at it made him shiver—it felt so out of place, and sent a strange chill along his spine. He closed his eyes and wished more than anything that he and Zeke were back at home, curled up on the downstairs couch drinking root beer and watching all the shows their parents wouldn’t let them watch upstairs.
When Bruce opened his eyes, nothing had changed, and a terrible hollow opened up in his guts that made his face scrunch up and his eyes itch. “Well, we have to…” he said, but his conviction suffocated in the warm, still air.
“You guys, this is so cool!” Zeke’s voice trilled out from the black space at the back of the machine, fresh and jubilant and so full of energy it succeeded in shaking the three friends from their terrified state. If Zeke could handle it, how bad could it be?
“Me first!” Todd gave Myra a hard shove and raced towards the ramp. Todd had always maintained that he was the bravest boy in town, and was certainly not willing to risk Myra beating him inside.
“You jerk,” shrieked Myra, hot on his heels.
Bruce was already moving, peeling away from the spot which had held him entranced a moment before and off to the rescue of his foolish little brother.
The ramp made no noise beneath his feet. Bruce felt a light breeze on his back as he walked; cool and fresh, like the wind off the ocean he remembered from a family vacation before Zeke ever came along.
Suddenly inside, Bruce stood blinking like he’d just been startled out of a deep sleep. Everything within the craft was the same pearlescent white as without, and the gentle curve of the room kept its exact dimensions a hazy guess. The floor was lost in this same confusing effect—a thin layer of smoke made firm beneath his feet—never obvious, but always there where it was needed.
There was no smell, and the air no longer had any feeling on Bruce’s skin. Not like the chilly breeze from his window at night. Not like the muggy heat of his cramped classroom. It was like the air in dreams, he thought.
Myra and Todd turned in circles next to one another. Now around this way to take in the eerie scene, then back around again. They locked eyes each time their orbits met, making vaguely menacing faces at each other as they did.
Bruce saw Zeke at the far end, where the tear drop shape must have made the space narrower, although it was hard to tell. He had a big grin on his face—the kind he’d wear every time he got some treat their parents assumed Bruce would be too old to want.
“Wait till we tell everyone about this,” Zeke cooed, and the fireflies in his eyes were dancing now. Stepping aside, Zeke turned and pointed to a small bulge in the far end of the ship. It glowed—a warm, red egg sitting nestled in the clouds.
The red called to Bruce. A burning star in the murky white all around him, it spoke in words Bruce had never heard but always knew—an eager, urgent compulsion which he’d been trained to despise and resist ever since the time he’d been trying to sneak snacks when his parents were out, and managed to let Zeke fall down the stairs.
“You’re so scared, look at you.” Todd’s voice came from behind them, but seemed muffled and distant.
“You’re scared!” Myra’s retort was accompanied by the thud of a small fist into a chubby arm. It was all worlds away, unimportant and uninteresting.
All that mattered to Bruce was the big, dumb grin on his brother’s face as Zeke reached out and touched the red bump. “This will be great, I can’t wait,” he cheered, then giggled at his accidental rhyme.
Bruce’s jaw dropped. There was an odd hiss, and the red light disappeared. Then, the incandescent white glow around them faded, and the walls vanished like they’d never been there at all. Bruce could see the short trees just outside, and on the grass a few feet beneath them four shadows drifted alone in the clearing.
“What’s happening?” asked Todd. The tremor in his voice scared Bruce more than he could understand.
“What did you do kid?” Myra demanded, whirling about to face Zeke angrily.
“He didn’t know…” Bruce started to explain, but fell abruptly silent.
The world around them began to shift. Like an image on a screen drawing slowly back, the ground fell away underneath them. The now transparent craft carried them up along the lengths of the trees, leaving no shadow as it passed above them. It was a strange movement, with no starts or stops, no feeling to it at all.
No one said anything. Todd and Myra stared at each other with shocked expressions. Both clenched their fists tightly at their sides. Bruce gasped for breath as he gaped at the joyous expression on his little brother’s face. Zeke never understood the weight of his choices, and it always seemed to be Bruce who was left to clean up the mess.
Gazing down, Bruce could see the forest they’d been playing in moments before. From the playground, the forbidden forest had been a thing of rumour and dread. But from this height it appeared merely as a small cluster of trees. Barely a forest at all, it was more like an overgrown parking lot filled with ragged old pine trees and the occasional ash, with a small clearing in the middle just big enough to give the impression of natural solitude for anyone young enough to tune out the sounds of nearby traffic.
The forest rocked back and forth now like a still picture floating on a turbid sea, growing slowly smaller until it was nothing more than a green speck in the little town Bruce was still struggling to navigate. It didn’t seem that big from above either. A few streets, a couple of buildings…then it was too far off to focus on.
“We’re flying!” The glee in Zeke’s voice made Bruce’s blood boil. It was like the time he’d gotten into all of their mom’s fresh pineapple squares, ruining them for the impending staff party. Bruce had tried frantically to put them back together for half an hour. Zeke had just blathered about how happy he was—his entire face covered in whipped cream and pineapple chunks.
“Get us down!” screamed Todd.
“I’m not doing it!” Myra tossed her hands helplessly above her head.
“I wasn’t talking to you!” Todd wrapped his arms tight around his body, gently rocking in place.
“Everyone calm down,” Bruce’s breath came in short, thin gasps.
“I can see a lake down there. Do you think there’s fishes in it?” asked Zeke.
“Be quiet Zeke! We’re in real trouble now!” said Bruce.
“Bruce is scared,” Myra teased. Her voice was distant and empty.
“He’s going to cry!” Todd joined in. He was staring straight ahead, a bright sheen over his eyes.
“Shut up you guys, what’s going to happen to us?” Bruce resented the truth in Todd’s words.
“We’re going on an adventure!” Zeke explained.
Below them, the world was a patchwork quilt. Greens, browns, and grays all lined themselves up in neat little rows. Then, they disappeared for a moment, and the room turned white as the children tore into a thick layer of clouds.
Then they were through.
“Wheee!” cried Zeke.
“Oh geez, oh geez,” said Bruce. “We’re supposed to be home soon Zeke, this isn’t funny.”
“Do you think we’ll meet the aliens?” asked Zeke. He placed his hands against the translucent curve of the walls, pressing his nose flat to get a better view of the clouds and fields and little splotches of water so far below.
“Oh damn—aliens?” The fear in Todd’s voice was undeniable.
“They’ll eat you first, cause you’re the slowest,” said Myra.
“They’ll eat you last, cause you smell the worst.” Todd shoved her gently, then followed as she stumbled back, maintaining their proximity. The cabin was growing dimmer, and a quick glance down showed Bruce the curve of the earth as its warm glow shrank away beneath them.
“We’ll see aliens, and animals, and stars, and maybe some giraffes.” Zeke counted the highlights on his fingers as he spoke.
Bruce stared at his watch, but the numbers and hands were meaningless to him now, and he chewed his fingers nervously while Zeke prattled on.
“…and we’ll get to make a bunch of new stories to share with our friends.” Zeke stared straight out into the stars as he spoke.
Bruce looked down at the ever diminishing Earth, its blues and greens—they’d never looked so incredible in his textbook.
“It’ll all be ok Zeke,” Bruce whispered.
“You really think so man?” asked Todd. “I don’t know what the hell is happening!”
“Watch your language dude, my brother’s here!” said Bruce.
“Yeah moron,” Myra agreed.
“Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds,” said Zeke. He sat cross-legged now in what was presumably the small end of the ship. With the walls entirely transparent and a sea of blackness all about, it looked like little Zeke was playing amongst the stars—the shining arm of the Milky Way wrapping around him like their mother’s would each night before bedtime. The countless stars reflected amongst the fireflies in his eyes as he gazed out in wonder.
“It’s just like any other star now,” Myra sounded distant, and somehow like she was asking a question. She stared down towards the back of the ship, where the Earth had indeed shrunk down to just another point of light among so many others.
Bruce had to squint to be certain he was looking at the right one.
“We’ll never find our way back,” Todd said.
“Don’t scare Zeke,” replied Bruce, still watching the tiny shining dot he’d once called home.
“Maybe they’ll give us some nice gifts to bring back.” Zeke mused merrily to himself, the way he used to rehearse his Christmas list as he laid awake beside Bruce on Christmas Eve.
“Wait…” mumbled Bruce. The distant Earth had begun to move sideways now, sliding off to the right with the gentle grace of a leaf on a smooth flowing river. All the other stars were doing the same, and Bruce fought to swallow down his impending conclusion. “We’re going really fast.”
“How do you know?” Myra asked. There was an empty note of challenge in her tone.
“Remember science, and how far apart all the stars are? Look at them go by, we’re going fast.” Bruce tried to swallow again, but failed, “…and straight. We turned back there, that means—”
“We’re going to a brand new place,” sang Zeke, clapping his hands to a rhythm no one else could hear.
“What does it mean?” Todd turned towards Bruce menacingly as he spoke, but his eyes drifted downward, and his chin bounced up and down in sync with Bruce’s racing heart.
“Zeke’s right. It means we’re being taken somewhere.” Bruce finally swallowed the doubt in his throat, and nearly gagged for his efforts.
“Taken where?” Myra’s rough edge had broken entirely now, and her words skittered through the room like breaking glass.
“To a planet probably,” Zeke was bouncing up and down. He still faced directly forward, and his head wagged back and forth in a frantic effort to ensure he missed nothing. “Or maybe another spaceship. Or maybe a big space-whale that makes ships to bring him friends.”
“Jesus! A space whale?” Todd yelped.
“Be quiet, you’ll frighten him!” growled Bruce.
“You be quiet punk!” Todd didn’t turn to face him, but rather took a half-step towards Myra, who stood at his side.
“Everyone just shut up,” Myra whined, and moved a step towards Todd. Their hands brushed together, but neither said anything about it.
“I can’t wait to tell mom about this. She won’t believe it,” said Zeke.
“Don’t you get it?” Bruce finally snapped. Zeke never got anything—Bruce always had to watch out for him and solve all his problems, and he never even understood what was happening. “We’re not going back! No one will ever hear this story!” he wailed.
The stars stretched back forever behind Zeke as he turned to face Bruce, who saw them also shining in his eyes. They gleamed out as his mouth hung open, and the fireflies danced among them a few seconds longer before drowning in a rush of tears.
-Brad OH Inc.
‘A Story Untold’ is the tale of four young children who share in an incredible adventure. Taken against their will on a ride through the stars, the children all process the experience rather differently, and as the full weight of their situation dawns on them, it is up to each to find the meaning and sense behind it in their own individual way. This short story was written as a quick foray into the sci-fi genre, and may mark the first of several to come. We certainly hope you enjoy this new style as much as we enjoyed creating it.