By K. Weikel
Published by K. Weikel at Shakespir
Copyright © 2016 by K. Weikel
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To the ten-year-old that wrote this, thank you for having an imagination and helping me keep it, unlike several people now a-days. Thank you for keeping me different.
To my parents, thank you for all the encouragement over the years. It’s helped me blossom into who I am today.
To my fourth grade English teacher, thank you for boosting my confidence about my writing. Without you, I’d have probably given up long ago.
And thank you, God, for giving me a way with words early in my life. I hope I can use them to tilt the world some day.
I was running down my street, my bare feet slapping the gravel hard. A monster was chasing me.
I ran on and on along a road that never seemed to end. The grass had burrs all in them and I had to run into them to dodge the cars parked on the side of the street, not to mention the ones headed down the gravel in my way, and I would have to dart into their thorns and pricks and back. I’d had no time to grab my shoes.
My eyes caught a sign that made me skid to a stop. My feet have left trails of blood on the hot road. It said:
Welcome to the End of All Roads
A howl crackled in the distance.
Actually, three loud ones.
I spun and saw the mythical creature clawing the ground as it ran and all three of its ravenous heads faced toward me. I turned to run but stopped short to find there was a thousand foot drop at my toes. That hadn’t been there before.
The water was churning and smashing against the step rocks on the sides and I felt my heart leap into my throat as I let out a gasp and began to sway from the height.
Suddenly, something floated up from the lip of the cliff. I’d seen it before, but only in my dreams.
It was the figure of a man with an old face, wrinkly and shaggy. He was tall and skinny, with a long black tattered cloak around his body. His fingers were skinny and seemed frail, and looked as if they had been put to rest for years.
Because they had.
“Hexinoide,” I gasped, fear making my bones tingle.
“Precisely,” he spoke from his cold, grey lips. “Step over the edge with me, Krystal…”
“No. No, what do you want with me?” My voice cracked as I began to shake. “You’ve tortured me enough by taking control of my dreams!”
He smiled, his gash-like mouth sending shudders up my spine. “I want your life!”
His yellow teeth were revealed from behind his death-riddled lips and I screamed. I needed to get away.
I turned around—and came face-to-face with the monster that had been chasing me. It’s a mystery to me how no one else saw him, he was huge.
A three-headed monster he was. He was very tall and long, and around each collared-neck danced several snakes. Another one jutted out from its spine, creating its deadly tail.
I pushed past my terror and sprinted straight past its three snapping jaws, past the snake-of-a-tail, and kept running, somehow. I’d made it alive past the beast. I give a small victorious smile as my blonde hair sticks to the sweat dripping down my forehead and neck. Now I’d have to outlast the two of them, and that wasn’t going to be easy.
To top it all off, I came to a fork in the road. Awestricken, I realize that the road I stand on seemed as if every road led to each other and stopped at one point. I stopped, gazing at the roads, and then remembered myself.
“Which one is home?”
I lock my eyes on the middle road, hoping my gut instinct is right. I didn’t look back as I ran, my feet burning and bleeding. I hoped they wouldn’t follow me, Hexinoide and Cerberus.
I fainted from exhaustion somewhere outside and woke up in my bed. How did I get here?
I scanned my room, looking for some explanation. What I didn’t expect though, was the dark figure that looked like a shadow hovering beside my door. I sat upright and my side cramped up painfully.
“Ohhh,” I moaned.
The shadow moved, darting through the doorway and out into the hall. Ignoring my pain, I ran quietly out of my door, following it. I tiptoed past my twin sister’s room and quietly down the stairs.
I jumped. I was only halfway down and the stairs all ready made a sound. So much for sneaking up on whatever that was.
I sprinted down the last bit of stairs and watched as the shadow disappeared into a cereal box, the pantry door swung wide open.
I ran over to her room and flung open the door, shouting, “Mom?!”
But her room was empty. I searched the whole area, not even her bathroom had a sign of life.
I staggered back out into the kitchen, unsure of what’s happening this morning. Am I dreaming again? And yesterday, with the road, was that a dream too? It’s getting harder and harder for me to tell reality from my imagination.
Quietly, I grabbed the cereal box and brought it down to eye-level, my stomach grumbling. I shook it. It’s full. I don’t know if the shadow is still inside of it and if it being in there is an illusion of the object’s weight, or if we really do have a box full of Lucky Charms.
I take a deep breath and get down a bowl and went back over to the counter. Craziness is a notion tugging at the edge of my mind, and just to be sure this is real, or not real, I begin to pour the cereal into the glass bowl.
Only one marshmallow falls from the bag inside.
My stomach growled, but my mind was elsewhere.
“Ooooh,” I breathed, my rapid beating heart drawing my voice from my vocal chords.
The black figure came out of the box and hovered above the counter. It had no face, no eyes… but somehow it spoke as it rose to the ceiling.
“Get out, or it will get you too!”
The shrieking voice made me cover my ears. Maybe this isn’t a dream.
It flew to the stairway again and I followed, determined to not let it get away. I wanted to know what it was and why it was here. And if yesterday was real or if it was a story made up from my subconscious as I slept.
The figure darted into my room and hid under my bed in the shadows. I creep forward.
My stomach growled once again, almost aching.
“Ohhh,” I complained.
The shadow flew out once again, barely brushing me, my skin tingling with pain where it had touched. I grimace and stand up after it, the being dashing into my sister’s room.
I peered into the doorway and saw my sister sleeping in her bed, completely at ease with her wonderful dreams. She never had nightmares, not like I did. I’d be jealous if I didn’t love her so much.
The figure slithered from under her bed and hovered above her, holding out its hand. I started to creep nearer. I didn’t know what I could do to help, but maybe if I could pin it down, maybe I could get some answers and save my sister from whatever he was getting ready to do on her.
Its hand raised higher and I inched closer. Once I was close enough, I stuck my own hand out to the figure to try and grip it and tug it down, but my fingers went right through and didn’t stop until my wrist was covered in the transparent blackness. The figure screamed out in pain and I gasped, my fingers starting to itch wildly. My sister opened her eyes and shouted.
My hand was bleeding now. I tried to pull my hand out of the figure, who’s body seemed to heave, but the being grabbed hold of my wrist and held on, an awful grin from its no-face slithering across its face and it laughed, it’s foul breath striking my nose.
As I stared at it, it seemed to transform into something more… pretty. The smell faded away and the smile seemed calming. It was almost peaceful.
My mom had barged into the room and ran over. She tugged at my arm and slowly things began to come back to me. The figure floated out the window and disappeared into the daylight, darting between shadows faster than the eye can keep track of.
“Are you okay?” She asked. Rivers were flowing down her cheeks. “Never touch those things… ever again!”
When I walked into the kitchen, I was able to pour a bowl of cereal, finally, and let the milk raise the pieces. But suddenly, the milk stopped pouring.
My stomach stopped in mid-growl.
In shock, I cautiously let go of the milk jug, only to find it frozen in place, as if time had stopped all around me. Why is today so strange?
The clock stopped ticking.
I glance back at the jug as it stands completely still, floating in mid-air. Not really floating, though, more like it’s stagnant where I’d let go of it.
I walked outside to find things like balls and birds and water droplets from sprinklers stand completely still. A kid was walking down the street (but frozen), and a car was close to hitting him. I run over and push him out of the way. Out of the way as in on the opposite side of the road. The good deed took more energy from me than I thought.
In annoyance, I walk over to the idiot who would have hit him.
Inside were two men in black suits, both with dark ski masks on. They were holding bags full of money, glancing down to see how much they’d robbed. I pulled one of the masks off, the man’s in the passenger seat.
I knew who he was.
I’ve seen him before.
Every day of my life, actually.
I was in shock. Not that I wasn’t from the shadow and the time freezing earlier, but this just helped my anxiety increase. This must be a dream. The father I knew would never do that.
I stumbled backward and tripped over a curb.
“Ugh,” I groaned as my soft hands hit the jagged ground. So many things were happening, and I couldn’t keep them straight. What’s happening? This all seems so random, so weird… like a dream. So it must be.
My thoughts were cut short.
“Run!” Someone yelled.
I stood up and a blur pulled me into the shadows, trees blocking out the early sun. I glanced back to where I had been and saw Cerberus sniffing wildly. Was he looking for me?
“Don’t breathe,” the voice whispered in the darkness. My brain screamed stranger danger, but something in the back of my mind told me I could trust whoever it was that was helping. Or that seemed to be helping.
I held my breath. The monster stepped up toward us; it was four feet away. My heart pounded in my chest. Can he not smell my scent? Can he not see the heat my body gives off (I know snakes can, he has a lot of them)? What would happen when he found me? And why is he chasing me? Is this one big dream, one where every monster I’ve seen in my dreams are coming to torture me? I’d never seen the shadow before, though. Could he be a new one?
I was close to screaming, when a hand covered my mouth. Cerberus sniffed once more, then took off running in the other direction. The hand released me.
I let out a long sigh and stepped out of the darkness. I ran over to the car my dad was in, saying a quick thank you to whoever it was that had saved me, and just stared at his face in disbelief.
My dad would never steal something. He’d be the one to reprimand me when I did something wrong, how could he possibly find the will to rob somewhere? Doesn’t he know good from bad?
We don’t need the money. Mom never talks about us struggling, ever. So what’s he doing with all that money?
“Sad, isn’t it?”
I whip around to see where the voice was coming from.
No one was there.
“Stand still,” two voices said at the same time. It sounded like there was a boy and a girl.
I turned around, and there, I saw Hexinoide. I gasped and covered my mouth, more or less hoping the no breathing rule applied to him as well. But I couldn’t see my hand move to my mouth. I came close to screaming once again, but I could feel my hand there. Was I turning invisible? What kind of dream was this?
I felt cold fingers grip both of my arms and drag me back off into the dark. I would have shouted for help if it weren’t for that voice in the back of my head telling me to trust them.
My hand was almost yanked from my mouth by another, the shadows thicker than ever wherever I sat. It’s like all light had been closed off from this area completely, aside from what I see of the street. I think I was inside a building of some sort.
My fingertips began to tingle. A breeze blew through the room and ruffled my blonde hair. Has time started back up again?
“She doesn’t know,” a voice exclaimed.
“Know what?” I croaked to the shadows around me.
I walked back into the light, a chill working its way through my body as I stared back into the small building. Its double-wide entrance was large but the doors were broken from their hinges, the structure long abandoned near the end of the road.
A flame flickered in the darkness. Two figures stood by it, their frames illuminated slightly by the warm glow. Then something happened.
The light was blown out and a low growl rumbled from the shadows. It coursed through my body, shaking my bones, and rushed through my veins, making my head light.
A tiger and panther came out of the blanket of darkness. A memory flashed through my head. I was sitting at the desk in my room, dreading a tiger and a panther. Between them prowled a cheetah. If this was a dream, and if they’re two of the beings I’d dreamed up, then where was the third wild cat?
“She still hasn’t figured it out yet, brother,” the panther said.
“You think, sister?” the tiger growled.
I staggered back on my inferior feet. I wanted to run, but something made me stay, that voice, wherever it’s coming from.
“I’ll go first,” the panther shouted with glee as it came closer.
The black cat slowly changed. The ears slid down its head, and the fur on its cranium grew longer while the rest shrunk and shifted to a tan color, a color like skin. Its long tail slurped up into the spine as a pretty face formed from the whiskers, fur, and nose, and the body shifted to that of a girl. A black dress covered her figure and stopped just above her knees, a panther draping itself along her side.
I stared in awe and fear.
The tiger shifted as well, but his transformation was opposite of hers, and his orange shirt was covered with black stripes, much like the tiger he’d been moments ago.
I am unable to form words.
“We’ve been watching you,” the boy said to me. “I’m Tigre and this is my twin sister, Lilaysh.”
“They call me Lola, though,” she smiles, her long black hair shifting in the mysterious wind. Everything was moving again; everything was back to normal.
“Who’s they?” I asked, the only words I can manage from my mangled mind.
“People! Sort of,” she said, digging a boot into the grass she stood in.
“What?” I exhaled, confused. “What’s happening? Is this a dream?”
Tigre shook his head. “You wouldn’t be aware of the dream if you were. Listen, we’ve come here for you and we seriously need your help.”
“And I seriously need glasses,” I counter, fear slipping into my voice. “I can’t believe what I just saw!”
“You should,” Lola shrugged.
“No! Don’t tell her! Not yet,” Tigre demanded.
“Fine!” Lola stamped her foot and stuck her tongue out at her brother. “But I’m not doing what you say because you’re older. And by the way—it’s by five minutes, so…”
They were twins. They obviously argued a lot.
Tigre turned toward me, his brown eyes focusing on mine. “Did you draw this?”
He held up a piece of paper.
“Yes,” I confessed at the red and green markings. “But I don’t see why it matters. I mean, it’s just a flower tilted sideways.”
“Look closer,” Lola hissed. Her eyes sparkled with excitement.
I was looking as close as I could without—
And then I saw the tiny figure poking out from the leaves. I gasped.
“I don’t even remember drawing that!”
“Well, we have to find her. Or Lilaysh and you will disappear.
“Why not you?” I ask, suddenly, and strangely for the first time, fearful for my life.
“You’ll… figure it out later.” Tigre folded the paper and tossed it to me. “But we need to get there before the week is up…”
Lola sighed. “Or else.”
“Morning mom,” I most likely yelled as I jumped down the stairs. Once again I wonder if what had happened was only a dream. I glance around for proof of it being real as I walked to the kitchen where she was cooking.
“Good morning, Krystal,” she said in a monotone voice.
Something was up. Something about her voice… It sent a chill down my spine and a rock landed with a thud in my stomach. Something was wrong.
“Where’s dad?” I ask as I stop by the back door, knowing the answer.
“Your father is… away, on—on a-a, um, trip.”
“Uh huh,” I nodded. “Mom, I’m going… outside.”
She looks at me for a moment, sadness tinting her eyes. She knew something was up with me too, and I could tell she wanted to ask. But whatever suspicions she had, perhaps she decided she didn’t want to talk about it. She knew I’d be safe. And, if the dream was no dream, I knew I had to be too.
“Okay, honey, just be careful. Oh, and put some bug spray on—and don’t forget—”
“Sunscreen?” I finished as I opened the door.
“Feed the cat?” I cut her off again. “Bye, mom.”
I fed the cat in the back and cut around to the front through the gate. This was the moment of truth. They’d told me they would meet me in front of my house at exactly ten. I pinch myself. Yup. I’m awake.
And there they were.
“What took you so long?” Lola asked, picking at her cuticles.
“I have a cat,” I said, my voice shaky. This is real. Those things that have happened really happened and I’m not dreaming. My blood ran cold.
“Speaking of cats—”
Tigre hushed his sister and she stuck her tongue at him.
“What did you mean yesterday about the week thing?” I ask him. He waves the question away.
“Tell you later.”
“Let’s go,” said Lola, and she began to skip away. Tigre gave me a sideways glance, showing his exasperation, and urged me to follow.
We walked a good ways down the road, and it seems like I always head in the direction Cerberus had chased me down to that first day. I almost can’t believe that was real too. No, I can’t believe it.
I fall to the ground, holding my forehead.
“Ungh, what the heck was that?” I cry, trying to stand up through the sudden throbbing headache I’d acquired.
A door stood there, the twins gaping at the sight of it. It was just a door—no house, no windows, no anything. Only a frame surrounded it, its hinges golden like the sun. The dark wood seemed to call out to me with all its secrets.
“The Seceraterly door! No one has been able to find it. No wonder you had feelings and—”
“The door to the underworld,” Tigre said, cutting Lola off. “Do you know the words?”
“What words?” I asked, my eyes wide.
“The words. The words. The ones you saw in your dreams, those words!”
Tigre’s fists clenched in frustration and his teeth began to point. He roared out in pain, and literally roared. His sister had her fist up and looked like she punched him square in the back.
I was breathing hard, terrified, but suddenly it felt as if my lungs had opened and expanded. I could breathe deeply without worry.
My best guess was, that by the way Lola was staring at me wide-eyed, that I had a worried look upon my face.
“OMG, no way!” She exclaimed, suddenly appearing as if she knew this would happen the whole time, but tainted with excitement and sadness for whatever was happening.
Tigre finally woke up, yawning, and he asked, “What happened?”
“You passed out.” Lola gave me a look as if to tell me not to let him know about what she did.
I rolled my eyes and they landed back on the dark, wooden door. We were on the other side of it now, in a boat and drifting down a huge body of water, trees with moss standing at our sides and swaying as if they were live animals. I still didn’t know what words Tigre had told me I should know from my dreams, and I was puzzling over them constantly, ignoring the nonsense chatter Lola used to take up the eerie silence surrounding us.
I still didn’t really understand where we were; this isn’t what I expected the underworld to look like, all the trees and fog down here, so I asked.
“We’re headed to the end of the road,” he said simply. “Actually, to the end of all roads.”
“I think I’ve been there,” I said, gaping out at the trees, their roots anchored to the ground beneath the blue-grey water.
The twins look at me like I was crazy.
“It’s true,” I explain, nodding furiously as my heart rate increases. It wasn’t a dream. “Really.”
“No one has ever been there and made it back alive,” Tigre said.
I went on. “It’s where I met Hexinoide and Cerberus—well, I met them in my dreams before then, but… I met them for real, at the end of all roads.”
I’m telling you guys, I did go there!”
“Well, if you did, then you would know the words,” Tigre grumbled.
“Oh, man, a wall!” Lilaysh groaned.
The head of the boat bumped against it, the water seeming to still around us. I stare at it and see some words poking out from beneath a collection of dirt settled about eye-level.
“Wait, there’s something engraved on it,” I said. I began to make my way to the front of the boat, careful not to tip it over, and rubbed the dirt from its home.
“The fangs of yellow,” I read aloud, “and the claws of a creat. That’s what makes the transformation complete.”
“What the heck is a ‘creat’?” Lola snorted.
A flash of a memory appears to me. Hexinoide flashing his teeth, Cerberus’ claws digging into the ground…
“The fangs of yell, and the claws of a creat…” I repeat. “Creat… could it be short for creature? A creature like Cerberus? And the fangs… Hexinoide’s sharp teeth. If so, then what’s this about the transformation?”
“Would they be able to merge in any way?” Tigre asked, startling me. “It’s possible for any creature with abilities like them and us, but we can’t do it; we aren’t strong enough.”
“Transformation…” I murmured. “Together they would make…” A word manifests itself in my brain, a word from a dream long ago. “Hexerbrus!”
The wall split in two, the water we float on pushing us into the second half of the trees behind it, and slamming shut as we slip through. On the back, I notice more writing, only it was glowing orange, as if it had just been engraved into the stone with the flame of a blowtorch.
When thirteen, A girl in blonde will be Transformed,
A set of double takes Close to her Heart.
She will face Two beasts Merged into a Single body,
A possible betrayal etched from the start.
The words echoed in my mind. Could it be talking about me?
I turned just as we came across another wall in the process of opening. I dedicated the words to memory on the previous stone wall, and searched this moving one for words. Only one.
The next wall we came across stayed shut, a key hole under the words.
Take your key and Put it in,
And you wIll be There again
“What key?” I asked aloud. The twins shrugged, Tigre’s face shadowed with sadness, almost. Why do they need me? I’d never got a straight answer.
I felt something cool in my hand before I could ask, but when I picked my hand up, there wasn’t anything there. Suddenly something appeared slowly. It was a golden key, shaped in a strange, wavy way, with random shapes sticking off its neck and for the teeth. Two large swirls wrapped around each other at the other end, the end I should hold when putting a key in its hole. My name was engraved into it in strange lettering.
KrysTal AnN LivInGston
I stuck the key into the door and turned it, and bells began to chime all around us. A screaming whisper blasted in our ears, the random wind hitting us like in a storm, as I make out the words.
My eyes darted around everywhere to find its source, but the wind died down and the echo of the voice disappeared, the dimness clarifying as if clouds had uncovered the sun I couldn’t see. Green grass plated itself down a road as it crept up from the misty waters we traveled on. Trees were an icy blue and algae green, while the trunks were purple and light brown. Birds were chattering with crickets and frogs hopped on lily pads, giving their own melody to the beautiful world around us.
But it all changed when the bird’s beaks curved downward like a waterfall.
The Road’s Revenge
The frogs turned black and grew fangs from their nonexistent teeth. Ugly faces appeared on the trees and darkened as their leaves changed to shades of grey. The grass melted away, leaving behind soggy black soil. It turned from beauty to terror as the wind picked back up again and the fog thickened. The bird’s melodies began to haunt the air and moans pressed against our bodies as they drifted through the cracks of the bird’s songs. Goose bumps lined my arms as owl’s hooted in the distance. Lola whimpered behind me as she tucked herself deeper into the boat.
The head of our vessel crashed into something and we were flung backwards. I stood up carefully and saw a frog almost as big as I was holding the point of the boat.
“Don’t go any farther,” it whispered around its fangs.
“Why?” I asked.
“Shhh!” It hissed. “Be quiet, don’t let them hear you.”
“Why?” Lilaysh whispered, her voice trembling. “Who’s out there? Is it Cerberus and Hexinoide?”
“The Revenge of the Road,” the frog breathed. “In the year 1800, Cinder Lake, your home, wasn’t safe. Your great-great-great-grandfather, Gregory Lest Livingston, came here and picked a flower for his love. The trees poisoned the air and the birds feasted on his flesh as he died, his last moments drowned in agony and torture as he choked on the poisonous air. The frogs sucked his blood like vampires—the surroundings eat everyone and everything that comes by and disturbs their slumber.”
“That’s where the missing people went!” Tigre shouted.
The frog and Lola shushed him, the forest seeming to stir for a split second. We stayed silent until the birds went back to their haunting tune.
My breathing came a lot easier then inside the panic surrounding my lungs. Black spots appeared on my skin, but they were faint. As faint as shadows in the light of a full moon.
Cheetahs have humongous lungs and gorgeous body patterns. The cheetah that I drew alongside the panther and tiger came back to the front of my mind. It was only a dream. Too many stories. But right then, it seemed as if all of my dreams were coming alive in ways I couldn’t describe.
And I figured it out.
I ran, jumped out of the boat, and landed on the black tar of the road. My surroundings stirred the tiniest bit at my loud landing, but it quieted down again after a second.
“A curse was placed upon him and his family,” the frog went on, “that the first female born in his family would be transformed.”
“Into what?” I spoke. I recall my twin; I was born only a few minutes before her, like Tigre and Lola. I was the first female born to my great-great-great-grandfather’s side of the family. His sons had sons, and then his great-great-grandson finally had twin girls.
“No one knows.” Its eyes were trained on me. “Don’t go any farther, unless you are an animal.”
I train my eyes on it as its own darken and a shivering smile creeps across its long face.
“Are you one, Krystal Ann Livingston?”
“We are,” the twins said in unison and leapt out of the boat, transforming in mid-air.
The spots on my skin grew darker while my skin changed to gold and a fur pattern appeared before becoming three-dimensional. A long tail sprouted from my spine. I could breathe better once again, and, now that I understand why, it didn’t freak me out. My ears slid up the sides of my face and rounded, as my light blonde hair became spotted and melted to complete the fur on the back of my neck. My teeth became sharp and my mind filled with mischievous thoughts, mixing with instincts from the animal I’d become.
I let out a growl, the second one louder as the panther and tiger standing behind me join in. I was the cheetah in the picture I’d drawn. Literally.
The animals returned to normal around us, everything once again becoming beautiful. The trees sighed a “Welcome,” as the birds chattered once again. Their words clarified in my brain and I understood them.
“It’s her, so it must be time!”
The frog called after us as we walked down the road, unable to leave the water.
“Wait!” it called. “You don’t know the whole curse and prophecy!”
The fog thickened as we walked, and soon we are unable to see ten feet in front of us. Lola complains about this, but Tigre and I stay silent, listening for any signs of the two monsters I’d faced at the beginning of all this.
There it is. It’s only a claw in the greyness of the fog, but I know what’s waiting there. Tigre and I creep closer, ready to attack, while Lola stays behind, whimpering. Cerberus comes into full view, growling at us as Tigre and I disappeared into a shadow on either side of the road, casted by the trees. The creature turned his heads to focus on Lola, frozen in her place.
Everything inside of me screamed at me to turn and run the other way. But something inside of me told me I needed to kill this beast, as if I were meant to. As if it was my destiny.
I ran toward it and clamped my jaws on its neck. A few snakes fell off, hissing and jerking with the remaining life in their blood. Tigre and Lilaysh bit too, and we did that over an over, focusing on one head each, and all the snakes were finally off.
Except for one. The tail.
We ripped and tore at the throats and necks of Cerberus, something taking over me I’d never felt before. The animal’s instincts had kicked in and the human part of me seemed dethatched, as if I were just cheetah and not Krystal.
My animal body grew exhausted and I backed away, the twins waiting for me. Horror filled my body with what I had done, the dog beginning to chew on his bleeding wounds, the want for blood taking over. The snake in the back whipped with fury, unable to help its master in any way. It knew it was close to death.
We changed back.
I could hear the loud whisper from the trees.
A pain shot up my leg. I pulled out the notes that I had stuffed in my pockets before heading out this morning. All but one, it seemed, tumbled to the ground, my eyes darting over them. The animals, Hexinoide, Cerberus, the figure, the flower… they were all there and more. But which one do I hold? And why did it hurt me?
I opened it up, wincing and dropping it as it slices through my skin. Paper cut.
I pressed against my thumb with my tongue, tasting the earth and stench of Cerberus. I cringed at the bacteria entering into my body. Oh well. Can’t be any worse than turning into a cat.
I opened the paper the rest of the way, my eyes eagerly reading the words as the twins guarded me from Cerberus, who was no threat at the moment.
ThrEe heads aRe better than Two,
and Definitely better Than onE.
Let it eAt familIar Flesh
That’S how the FeAst is dOne.
My eyes traveled up to Cerberus, who was still gnawing at his wounds. One of the heads begins to tear a bit of muscle from its chest. The other two cried out and attacked it, blood splattering the ground as the other two attempt to crush it in its jaws.
I turn away, sick to my stomach.
The beast exploded, sending blood and gore all around and miraculously missing us three. I dry-heaved—I hadn’t eaten anything this morning.
Clap… clap… clap…
I looked up, wiping my mouth.
“Bravo, Brava!” The deathly smile let a chuckle slip past its lips as the body it belongs to drifts forward, nothing touching the ground. “You destroyed the clone of Cerberus.” He stops right before me. “Now let’s see if you can beat Hexerbrus.”
He backed up and rose into the air, his arms outstretched.
I nearly collapsed from the pain that shot through my leg again. One last paper, a small one, was wedged in the top part of my pocket. I pulled it out and opened it as the wind picked up once again.
HexerbRus is Dangerous
Betrayal is cominG fast
Make the Source turn to You
Force its bow to Last
“Yes, I will,” I grimace, ready to take on the creature about to be thrown my way. But the question is: will I last?
“It’s time,” Lola whispered fearfully.
Hexinoide grew larger and his fangs extended as a long tail melted from his clothes. Cerberus came lunging up from the thick fog and collided with Hexinoide, a bright blast shaking the earth. Once the light disappeared, the morphed beast stood ten feet tall, its body made of green scales, grey skin poking out in places like joints and where the beast needed to move. The body was like Cerberus’ with three heads and it’s dog-like build, but a face peered out from its chest, the one that belonged to Hexinoide. He laughed loudly and, in a booming voice, with each head’s mouth moving, he said, “Come.”
Lola stepped forward.
“Lilaysh, no!” Tigre pleaded, his eyes filled with shock and disappointment.
Red wings with black holes sprouted from her shoulder blades and she cried out in pain.
“Stay away, Tigre,” she growled, peering over her shoulder, malice in her eyes.
“What happened to you?” I gasped.
“Remember the frog’s curse?”
I nod. “But I thought that was for the oldest daughter—no, you guys can’t be—are you—”
Tigre nodded. “You catch on quickly.”
I swallowed my heart.
“Come,” Hexerbrus said again, “and join me. make my transformation complete, first daughter of Livingston.”
She opened her wings and flew upward. She landed on the creature’s back and melted into it, leaving behind her wings as they grew and grew, becoming large enough to lift the enormous beast from the ground.
I knew what It meant. I understood the words.
I transformed back into the cheetah and jumped on Hexerbrus’ back, clawing at its muscles.
“Lola,” I shouted, “I know you’re in there. I know how you feel, listen to me.”
Her voice. I hear it intertwining with Hexinoide’s words and Cerberus’ growl. She’s in there. I need her to get out.
“Lola, we can fight him together, but Tigre and I can’t do it ourselves. I don’t want to hurt you. I’m going to find a cure for the curse. I didn’t know you were my—”
“I said silence!”
“Sister!” I cried over the voices.
It seemed like everything stood still. A burst of air threw me off he back and I hit the ground. I knew today would be the day I would win, this nightmares wouldn’t control me, and I saw the light.
Lola’s curse was history.
She landed on the ground and shrunk back to her normal size as I returned to my normal self. She thanked me and, once we morphed once again, we charged him. But then I stopped dead in my tracks. I remembered the clues, the figure, my dad, the animals… the curse. There was more to it. We didn’t stay to listen to the frog.
“What are you doing?” Tigre shouted as he lunged past me.
I stood there.
“He’s like a foot away,” Lola gets closer to the animal.
I bared my teeth.
This is for you, dad.
I was furiously scratching him and tearing his skin with my jaws, the human part of me disappearing once again. Hexerbrus moaned aloud as we began to win. I jumped off, feeling him sway. His blood covered me like a coat. A gag built in my throat, but this time I kept my mouth shut as it ran over my face and dripped on the gravel below me.
“You’re finished,” I grumbled, and slammed a paw on the drop of blood.
He shouted as his body exploded, gore flying everywhere. Once the smoke cleared and the fog disappeared, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The figure, Cerberus, my mom, my twin… my father.
I returned to normal, most of the blood falling to the ground beneath me, and I slowly walked toward them.
Their eyes were wide and filled with fear, and they embraced me, Cerberus darting off into the trees. Their tones were anxious and quick, flitting by my ears too fast for me to understand them. The shadow floats up and disappears into a nearby tree. Tears fell down my face in joy as Tigre and Lola introduced themselves. My parents were overjoyed. They’d no idea what had happened to their first set of twins, and were surprised with another.
The last figure, which I hadn’t noticed in the beginning, stood off to the side. She was very pretty, but very strange looking. Her dress was a red flower, with a green stem as a belt. On her eyebrows, the words Nice or Evil were written. Her irises were the same on the bottom and top. Her pupils were red and the whites of her eyes were black.
“Hello, Krystal,” she said. Her voice was soft and sweet, and almost hypnotizing.
It’s Not Over
“Krystal,” the strange woman spoke. “It’s not over yet.”
Time slowed as I turned to look at her, all of the sounds warping and decreasing in pitch. Her eyes flashed blue and the wind shifted her long red hair. Time quickened again and she smiled.
A ghost appeared behind her, appearing from the ground at her feet. Hexinoide.
I pounced at him, my huge lungs breathing and my spotted fur becoming reality all the way to the tip of my tail.
I passed right through him and stumbled over myself, landing on my side.
“I thought cats always landed on their feet,” Hexinoide laughed, his eyes gleaming with darkness.
I growled. I was mad. Something told me he was pulling me towards him, like he wasn’t really there floating behind the lady.
Cerberus reappeared from the trees, and jumped after a few bounds. Like I had just moments before, he sailed right through his master.
A whisper slithered from the bushes on both sides of the road.
“It’s not over!”
I woke up. Check my hands, my face, my everything. I’m a human. Not a cheetah.
“So it was a dream after all,” I whispered incredulously to the room around me. Then I recalled the first time this ‘dream’ occurred and I woke up in my bed. Or was that a dream too?
“It’s not over!”
I jumped at the whisper, the one that had been in the last part of my dream. It seemed close yet… far.
A car alarm went off outside my window.
Something crashed into another, as if it’d been thrown.
“Thanks for saving us,” a voice said. It was familiar. Too familiar. A voice only in my dream.
I turned from the open window and back to my room. In the center stood Tigre and Lilaysh, grinning.
“Yeah,” Tigre joined in. He took his sister’s hand. “Thanks a lot.”
I smiled. I had a brother and sister. Fellow twins. My sister—
I heard a jiggle. My doorknob turned and the door swung open.
“We didn’t want to tell you until your birthday but Cerberus chased you anyway,” my dad explains as he and my mother take up the entirety of my door frame, my sister pushing through.
“You know Krystal! You know!” she shouted excitedly.
“So… not a dream?”
My dad smiled and my mom opened her mouth to answer, but a different voice did that for her.
The voice had three intertwined, creating one giant booming sound. I turned around, the voice coming from behind me. Drool plopped down onto my shoulder. I grimaced and flinched at what my eyes laid upon.
Cerberus, poking his head through my window.
A scream began to bubble up inside my throat and my breath quickened.
“No, don’t scream, you’ll alert Hexinoide. Now, before you try to destroy me, or run away, he is on his way here. You and your friends are the only ones who can destroy him,” he said.
“Family,” I corrected, wincing at my snappy comment.
“Right.” He cleared his throats. “Did you write down all those poems you saw behind the door?”
I shake my head, still shocked to see him half-way in my room. “But I memorized them.”
“Write them down,” he instructs.
I nod furiously and dart around the people crowding my room to grab a notebook. I scribble the poems as if the paper was on fire and I could only put out the flames with my words.
“I didn’t get the last one,” I admit, feeling a bit ashamed.
“Ah,” he nodded. “Here it is. The town is lonely and full of stones; Yellow fangs will destroy it. And what’s left standing will be bones, enchanted just a bit. Don’t worry, for it will not happen, unless you take control of it.”
I finished scribbling them down. Take control? Of what, the town?
“Speak these words aloud and you will defeat him, but put your soul into it. Otherwise everything you’ve ever known will be destroyed.”
He began to duck out of the window.
“Wait—you aren’t going to help us?” Lola asked, pulling forward.
“Krystal, we can defeat him,” my sister interrupted. “I know we can. Together.”
She took my hand and smiled at me, the same smile as mine.
I nodded. “You’re right, Megg. We can destroy him.”
We all made our way outside as Cerberus disappeared from my window. We transformed, every one of us, as a family. Lola, a panther, Tigre, a tiger, Mom, a spotted leopard, Dad, a clouded leopard, Megg, a lioness, and, finally, me, a cheetah. We were a strange bunch, for sure, but we were family.
“Come out and play, Hexinoide!” I shouted. “We’re ready to face you once and for all.”
Hexinoide came up from the ground, a long smirk on his loose face.
“The girl who thought she was important. Come on, change back, I want to see your pathetic face.”
A chorus of growls lifted from our morphs. I open my mouth to recite the poem Cerberus gave me, but Hexinoide speaks before I can.
“Or not,” he giggled. “Follow me then.”
He darted off, down the road, the same way I’d ran the first day. I caught up to him easily, but I was running out of stamina. Cheetah’s can’t run distance, only sprints.
Luckily, we stopped. I inhaled, the taste of soggy earth filling my lungs as I changed back to myself.
“The town is lonely and full of stones; Yellow fangs will destroy it. And what’s left standing will be bones, enchanted just a bit. Don’t worry, for it will not happen, unless you take control of it,” I shout, hoping I actually did put all of my heart and soul into it.
Hexinoide gasped at my words and grabs ahold of his throat, choking. I tried to turn away, unable to watch, but something kept me watching.
He sunk to the ground, reaching to the sky.
His chokes changed into laughter as he sat up and rose above the ground.
“You really thought you could destroy me that easily? Ha!” He smiled. “You tried to do what that hound told you, but you failed! You’re nothing special. The curse wasn’t even for you, it was for her, your long lost sister. All that you’re good for is memorizing poems, nothing enchanting about—”
The ground rumbled and he fell silent. I looked around us. The graveyard.
The dirt began to rise on top of the graves, bone-hands poking up and reaching for the life they no longer possessed.
“Stones,” Lola whispered. “Headstones. The poem was talking about the graveyard.”
I glanced back at her as the skeletons begin to come from the ground. They were transparent and some are even chipped or incomplete. They staggered with each step, our cat claws protecting us from them. They were endless, still rising from the dirt. I grew exhausted, the cheetah fading away.
My eyes lazily slid over to where Hexinoide was staring me down, smiling. If I wasn’t important then why does he go out of his way to take me down? Why was he in my dreams?
This was a distraction.
I jumped past two skeletons reaching for me.
“Where are you going?” Lola called after me.
I didn’t respond, just kept walking toward Hexinoide, staring him down.
“Well, look what the cat tracked in,” he said, something like fear covering his eyes, but only a thin layer of it. The rest was confidence.
“Look what the dog dragged in,” I counter breathlessly. “If it wasn’t for you—”
“If it wasn’t for me, your life would have been wonderful and you would have lived happy ever after. Your nightmares would eventually fade away and you would die peacefully with ten children… But I just had to come into your life. I had to ruin it.” His wicked smile made me growl. “If I didn’t, what was to come of your brother and sister? Would they have been left in the wild, abandoned by, not just their parents, but you as well? My, well, I thought I didn’t have a heart.”
I leapt, but said right through him. He caught me by the tail and yanked me back, my snarl ripping past my vocal chords. He yanked at it again, laughing in utter enjoyment of himself.
I transformed back to myself, my tail free and gone, and my blonde bangs sticking to my forehead. I was sweating. My breath was too rapid to get a satisfactory amount of oxygen into my lungs. I’m struggling
Suddenly, Hexinoide said something in a different language, anger rising inside of me as the animal pulling itself forward this time and taking over, pouncing before I could process what’s happening. I saw myself tearing him to shreds.
Everything went black.
I wake once again, Lola and Tigre standing above me. I didn’t know that I had changed back to myself.
“W-what happened?” I asked, my heartbeat hitching in my chest. Did I kill him? Or—well he was all ready dead.
A smile spread across the twins’ faces.
“You destroyed Hexinoide!” They shouted. “You did it.”
“Yeah,” they responded. They showered me with hugs.
I felt sick.
Suddenly, we heard a roar. Everyone, my mom, dad, brother, and sisters all transformed, jumping out the window. I watched as they did this, feeling the guilt inside of me. I’d saved the day… Why am I not happy?
As I stare at the road in the distance, I realize my job isn’t done. It’s just begun. There’s more to the curse, more to the road’s revenge than just destroying Hexinoide and befriending Cerberus.
Something contorts itself in the setting sun, another roar coming from it.
I push myself out of my window, my family all ready on their way to take care of whatever it is. I transform too, afraid the animal will take over, and begin to run.
To be continued…
Thank you for reading!
I wrote this when I was ten, and, now nineteen, I’ve tweaked it up a bit and is now, I think, one of my best works. It’s aimed more towards children—more or less. Maybe older children would be the correct word.
This is the first. I started writing a second a few years back because I loved this story so much, but I never finished it. One day I will write another one, though. I promise you that!
Look in the back for more books by yours truly, as the list gets longer each month, not to mention the waiting list ready to be written. That gets longer each day!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this and you read all the way through it. I also hope you find more books of mine you enjoy, I try to do different things that haven’t been done before. Of course, I’m not always going to hit that mark—everything’s all ready been done. The challenge I give myself is to twist it into something of my own.
Like R. L. Stine does, I like to do something like this, whether it be subtle or extreme: I like to have
And a Twist.
If you liked this book ,check out
by K. Weikel
By the time the full moon returns, we have received about three babies. Most of the time we gain no new children, and when we do, they don’t live long. We protect them as best we can, but accidents and incidents do happen, especially when you’re on an island encircled by nothing but water.
Most of my tribe has grown numb to the losses of the little children, but I never want to be used to it. I don’t want to lose that human characteristic. It’s too sad not to mourn over all of those potentially great lives gone forever…
Tonight I walk along the tree line at the bottom of the mountaintop, water in every direction around me. I’ve always pondered two aching questions; one of them is if there is another island somewhere and if it holds more people like me. The second is why we aren’t allowed to touch the water. The Tribe Leaders tell me to wait until I’m of eighteen years to learn about these things and anything beyond survival.
Few children live as long as I have. In fact, for a few years no one has survived past year two besides Lily-flor. She’s turning five in a few days. She’s the toughest little girl I’ve ever seen, but she still needs someone to watch out after her. That would be me. The Tribe Leaders assigned me to that job to teach me something about the importance of family and of the tribe. I don’t have to provide for her or anything. Instead, I’m a role model to her. The food part is Tani-mah’s job. For me, until I’m eighteen, it’s Nan-ah’s. Or it used to be before I decided to hold my own.
When I was a baby, just received, Nan-ah, the woman who raised me, claimed me as hers. I have no idea how old she was at that time, but I know she was young. Her and my relationship with each other is much like how I am with Lily-flor. Protective. Loving. Caring. Gentle. And then I started learning how to do things on my own and I drifted away from her. I hardly ever talked to her. I was always busy hunting or trying to study what the Tribe Leaders would do so I could become one of them some day. Tani-mah was the person I would always try to impress, and most of the time I never succeeded. And still to this day that notion is true.
In two days it’ll be my seventeenth year. It will also be a full moon.
I hold my spear in one hand and my bow is strung across my shoulders. Arrows are placed in a hollow wooden quiver held to my back with twine.
I step into the woods. It’s feeding time.
My ears have adapted to listen for sounds of animals. Many of them roam through here, however they’re mostly birds and squirrels. I’ve just got to keep my eyes peeled for the bigger animals.
My bare feet are silent as I weave between trees like a basket, and I can hear the rustling of leaves, of animals bustling about. It’s all so quiet and peaceful. Between the trees has always been my favorite place to be.
A graceful, four-legged animal jumps out into the parting of the trees where the moonlight stream down. It’s almost as if the air is filled with magic. The light spots on its back seem to glow as it bends to eat the grass below its hooves.
I crouch down low and place the spear on the ground. Quietly, I slide my bow around to the front of me and place an arrow inside of it. I line up my shot, one eye closed as the arrowhead points to the animal, ready to meet its mark.
Suddenly, a larger version of the animal steps out in front of the smaller one, unaware of my presence.
For a moment, I switch my aim to the older animal, excited that I’d bring back food to the Tribe Leaders. But then they look at each other. It’s a baby. A baby can’t be without a mother.
I lower my arrow and watch them, the moon rising higher in the sky. My stomach growls once, and I suppress the hunger. I can’t take away her baby, even if they are just animals. Mothers need their babies, just like babies need their mothers.
Then where is mine?
Nan-ah isn’t my biological mother, but she could be. She acts like it anyway. The only problem is that I don’t talk to her much anymore. I’m always busy with everything else… But she’s not my mother. And seeing her makes me wonder where mine is and if I even have one, which makes me question about all of our mothers.
I walk back out into the trees, the bottom of my legs itching. As I reach the rock that has turned to sand over the years, I look out at the never-ending water lying before me, once again wondering if there really is any other piece of land out there. It’s a big ocean. There has to be more land somewhere.
Something silver shines bright from under the water. It catches my attention, my head following my eyes as I pinpoint the source of the light. The water ripples. I stare at it for the longest time, wondering what could be out there.
“Hello,” I hear. The voice had come from a rock about one hundred feet away, the sudden sound of it making me leap into the trees. Nothing comes from the sea, nothing. Ever.
“Don’t be afraid,” the voice says again.
Then there’s more movement.
A boy’s head pops up from behind the rock, his hair dark in the moonlight and his skin seeming paler than it most likely is. I stare at him for a moment, confused. I had never seen him in my life, and he doesn’t look like he came from one of the other tribes. And why is he in the water?
“You’re a boy,” I blurt, a little scared.
“I guess you could say that,” he smiles. It’s a beautiful smile. I feel my eyes widen and my heart pick up its pace.
“Well, why are you in the water? We aren’t allowed in the water.”
“I live in the water,” he says, amusement shining in his eyes.
“You can’t [_live _]in water, boy,” I say as I step from the shield of the trees.
“Well I do,” he laughs, that curiosity and glint of familiarity settling back into his stare. “What’s your name?”
“Cressa-la.” I take another step forward, drawing dangerously close to the beginning of the sea. “What’s yours?”
“Tamir,” he says simply, as if what was happening at the moment isn’t at all strange. “I know your face.”
“What?” I’m taken aback. “What do you mean?”
I’ve certainly never seen him before, and he doesn’t like he belongs in either of the tribes here. What if he’d been hunting me and he followed me, ready to eat me? Cannibalism isn’t new; it’s actually part of the island’s history, but do people still practice it?
He shakes his head, ignoring my question. “How old are you?”
“Sixteen years,” I say, realizing I probably shouldn’t be giving out this information. I don’t know who he is or where he comes from. What if he’s from a distant island? What if when he says he lives in the water he and his tribe have been traveling to find another island to live on? And how could my face possibly seem familiar to him when I haven’t even seen him myself? A chill runs down my spine, but for some reason part of me cries out in such a way, as if to tell me I’m completely safe around him. Could it be deception I’m feeling?
He smiles. “Me too.”
“Did you live on another island? Are you trying to find a new home?”
He bursts out into laughter. “No. I told you, Cressa-la, I live [_in _]the water.”
“But you can’t live in the water.”
He shrugs, a smile tugging on one corner of his mouth. My brain swarms with thousands of questions that won’t from. Who is this boy?
After a short pause of him watching me stand dumbfounded, he speaks again. “Well, goodbye.”
“Wait!” I cry before he turns away. “Will I see you again?” The question feels strange on my lips as it slips past them. Did I want _]to see him again? Would I get in trouble for talking to somebody in the water? [_I’m not touching it…
He turns back and smiles. “Of course… on the next full moon.”
With that, he disappears behind the rock, and I’m left standing alone on the shore, staring at the mysterious black waters of the sea.
Other books by K. Weikel
Trapped & Wiped Bundle
Hiding Behind A Mask
Hiding Behind A Name
Hiding Behind A Face
The One-Hundred (Parts 1 & 2)
The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Band Room
The Vampire’s Carnival
Tamir (The One-Hundred)
The Blood Room
Nightmares have visited her every night for as long as she can remember. She would draw them out, hoping they'd disappear from her mind. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn't. And then, one normal day, the characters from these dreams of terror materialize, making Krystal question both reality and her sanity. When two of these characters reveal themselves as friends, they ask for her help, quickly earning her trust. They stumble across an old curse cast on Krystal's great-great-great-grandfather that will soon be bestowed upon her own shoulders. Can Krystal break the curse and dodge the prophecies appearing, or will she get caught up, destroying her town and, soon after, the world?