Not the best lighting for a photo, but it’s the best I could do for now. I’ll post a higher resolution pic later!
It’s those rare occasions when people come across something I’ve published on Wattpad and they turnout to like it. Seeing that I got votes in the notifications is just awesome : ) It’s like a golden moment that just makes a day perfect- and I feel like the stuff I publish isn’t just a ghost that no one pays attention to. Everyone should get to experience the joy of this : )
If you’re a serious writer and you’ve got a Wattpad but have trouble getting reads, tell me in a comment- I’d really like to read your stuff! I’ve seen a lot of amazing writers getting overlooked in the Wattpad community- and they deserve votes that they can’t seem to get : )
And if you’re a writer and don’t have a Wattpad- seriously- get one and tell me : D I’d absolutely love to be your first reader and follower!!
She swallowed hard, her eyes set on the great black figure that lay helpless on the dark beach. Its ivory-black scales glinted in the moonlight with the soft rise and fall of the beast’s breathing. She couldn’t see its head, only its back and wings that lay limp in fatigue.
“Andreas,” she murmured, and then in the soft Irish accent she had inherited from her mother, “Andreas, come here…”
A young boy hurried from the shelter of the dark forest and to his sister’s side, “Julian… What is it?” he whispered, his eyes wide in fear and wonder.
“It’s a dragon,” Julian whispered and took her little brother’s hand.
“But mum said they weren’t real, she said–”
“But what do you see?” Julian looked down at Andreas, “mum never saw a dragon…”
“What do we do?” the little boy whispered.
Julian looked about the open beach, trying to fathom what she was to do. She couldnt go back home, mum would kill her for being outside–and even more so for being by the water. With a glance up at the full moon and a crystal clear sky of stars, she gave a light smile. They were alone; no one could keep them from the beast that lay on the beach where the water glided over the sand. This was her chance to do something. Seeing a dragon wasn’t enough for her; she wanted to touch it. She had been kept away from this outside world too long, but now that she and Andreas had run away, she was free to roam it. Mum was wrong, this land wasn’t cursed, it was beautiful. The walls around the city were far away now, she was liberated from all of that, she was free at last.
By now she had slipped out onto the open beach, no longer lingering by the dark forest’s edge. The moon shone softly on her jet-black hair, cut short so that it could stay out of her face when she was working. It was customary for a Agmarian girl like Julian to work in the kitchens, age fourteen was when they were hired to do such, any younger and the child would still be in school.
“Julian!” Andreas hissed, his young voice urgent as he struggled to figure what he should do; stay in the safty of the forest edge, or follow his big sister to the fallen dragon.
He was young, and he didn’t understand what could happen. In the deep chambers of his heart, he felt fear, but this kind of fear was not something that the walls of Agmaria had not allowed him to feel. He didn’t recognize it, and so he followed Julian out onto the open beach, his little legs carrying him as fast as he could go.
“What are you doing?” Andreas whispered, watching his big sister’s trembling hand held out to touch the sleek scales of the beast.
She didn’t answer him, only set her hand softly on the cool scales that shielded the body of the dragon. Lightly, she ran her hand along its shoulder for a moment, feeling the glassy texture of the scales beneath her skin. It took her breath away, the awe of such a magnificent beast right there before her. She rested her fingertips on the sheet of scales, letting the dragon’s breathing move her hand.
“He’s beautiful,” she murmured, a kind of wonderment sparkled in her dark blue eyes.
“Can we go?” Andreas urged, glancing at the limp wings that lay not too far away from him that seemed almost ready to lift and bat him to the ground.
Julian shook her head, “No,” she whispered, “why don’t we stay here for the night… The men from home would never find us here…” her voice faded into a soft breeze that drifted through the salty air. She smiled as she felt it run through her short, dark hair; no, she wasn’t leaving this place anytime soon. She had to stay with this fallen beast; she had to.
“Julian,” Andreas persisted, unable to tear his eyes of the sleek wings that began to slight slowly along the sand, “Julian, what if he wakes up?”
Julian ignored him, fixing her gaze on the head of the beast that lay lifeless in the sand. The ivory-black scales armored its sleek jaw and angled face, the dark elegance of a flare sharpened above its closed eyes. Its nostrils flared with every breath it took to stay alive, and in the silence, its great body began to shift.
Andreas stood in fear, watching the body turn in the sand, and he stepped back. His young mouth formed over lost words as he fell to the ground looking up at the rising body of the beast. Julian stumbled back, shielding her face from the sand that the dragon wisped into the air as it fought to reclaim the skies.
Its wings beat at the night, its body blocking out the moon and scattered stars. The low moan of a call escaped from its throat as it threw the children against the ground with gusts of ocean air. And then a screech that split the sky, ripping the night in two, in agony of the effort to conquer flight once again.
Julian stared, stared at the beast that took to the skies in a rush of fury, fighting the forces of gravity until it was free. She watched it fly, the low rumble of great wings that faded into the dark with the dragon’s majestic figure… and it was gone; the moment of fear had passed and they were watching oblivion.
“Where did it go?” Julian breathed, studying the scar-dusted sky as if it would answer her in its own voice.
“Julian,” Andreas scrambled to his feet amidst the thick of the sand, “he went over the ocean, why did he go over the ocean?”
Julian ignored him once again; she had more important things to think about right now, as her gaze had dropped to the prints and ditches in the sand that the beast had left behind. Quickly she got to her feet and ran to the rip in the beach where great claws had struck the ground. There she fell on her knees, and brushed the sand away to reveal the glint of silver.
“What is it?” Andreas came and stood beside her, leaning over with his hands on his knees and studying the light, metal chain.
“I don’t know,” she murmured. With a delicate touch she lifted it from the sand and studied its luster. Her gaze followed the chain, slow and curious, until she met the small metal tag that hung loosely a single link.
Andreas frowned, trying to make sense of the letters that he had not yet learned to read, “What does it say?” he asked in a whisper.
His older sister let her eyes wander over the letters, reading the beast’s name over and over. She had heard it before, in the fairytales they told the children. They were fairytales of war, victory, death, curses, men, and beast… but they were only fairytales… weren’t they? Closing her eyes she strived to remember those tales she had been told back inside the walls of the city. They wouldn’t return to her, though, not now.
The girl looked back down at the tag and read in a low whisper, “Gogmar.”
Stamped, my wrist had been stamped and I had been sat down in this chair, this smooth white chair. They had told me not to move from here; I might get lost. They wouldn’t want me lost, would they? Then, I’d be just another unit gone from beneath their watchful eye. All of us were all held under that eye, tracked across this maze-like world like a child let out to play.
None of us dared to step out of line, for fear to break the balance. We were here to be contained, to be controlled; we were all merely in storage. That’s all this place was; it was one large storage unit to keep us in place in our network. Not one of us wished to stray, that would be a violation of the code as well as a disruption of the flow.
I looked up to meet the cold gaze of a young man. “Hello.” My voice returned his curt greeting and I turned my head back to stare at the wall across from me.
“You, you have been chosen, have you?” he murmured from next to me.
I didn’t wish to engage in conversation with him, I had to focus on the task ahead, whatever it might be. It would be polite, though; it was a polite thing to carry on conversation no matter how mentally distant your converser was.
“I believe I have,” I spoke coolly, “And so have you, I see.”
“Are you nervous?”
I looked back up in front of me at a young girl, her sleek, dark tresses falling over her shoulders. Frowning at her question, I refused to answer. The moderators always urged us not to fear the day we were chosen, but it was difficult not to fear the unknown. I lied, shaking my head and then looking over to the young man in the chair next to me. “Are you nervous?”
He shook his head as well, “This is my destiny; it is all of ours. We were born for this moment, were we not?” He looked at me, mouth set in a thin line and arms crossed over his broad chest, but his eyes betrayed his composure.
“Did you ever know anyone who was chosen?” The girl who stood before me asked, “Have they ever come back?”
“No,” I told her, “None of them have ever come back, but the moderators have always ensured us they were fine, living in a different place.”
“Do you suppose we’ll see them there?”
I shrugged simply, “That is what I have always believed; it is as if to be chosen is a rite of passage.”
“So why us?” She asked me, “There’s no one else in this hallway, we must be the only ones chosen.”
“You ask so many questions,” I muttered, flashing an irritated gaze in her direction, “I honestly don’t know. We’ll have to find out when we get there.”
She shifted her weight to one hip and sighed, sensing the rudeness in my voice. She was young, so I understood the fear that she felt, but she had to toughen up. We were facing change and she needed to be strong enough not to buckle beneath that change; it was required.
Her posture riveted with the crackling sound sent over the intercom. A clear and smooth voice broke through, flowing into the hallway, mechanical and cold; “Mellissa Higgins, serial number 00612B, please report to the eighth floor desk, the eighth floor desk…”
The message continued to repeat, whining over the intercom and causing me to look up at the girl. “That’s you,” I told her shortly, “Get to the desk on this floor, I believe you are about to find out what happens when you’re chosen.”
She glanced down at her stamped wrist and then at me, unable to blanket out the fear she stored inside, “Wish me luck?”
I nodded, as did the young man next to me, then we watched her walk along the silky-white hallway to disappear around the bend. That is where our gazes strayed for a moment longer, wondering to ourselves what sort of destiny or what kind of fate awaited her. What awaited us?
“You know, I had nearly forgotten what my serial number was until now,” He said simply, “when they labeled us with it.”
“Maybe that’s why they do that for us; most of us have forgotten it by now. They always called us by name in the city network.”
We were interrupted by the sizzling of the intercom and I looked at him, my eyes narrow. One of us would be next and the other would be left alone to wait. To be honest, I didn’t know whether I was ready to get up from this chair and walk down the hallway; it seemed so sudden to disappear from the network like that. I was still young; then again, all three of us chosen were young.
He looked as distraught as I felt inside. What would he be leaving behind him here? He was just as afraid as that girl, Mellissa Higgins. He wanted to know, yet at the same time he didn’t. He listened hard to the voice over the intercom.
“Percy Hathowitz, serial number 00673H, please report to the eighth floor desk, the eighth floor desk…”
His eyes were wide now, hearing his name come over the system in that cold, indifferent voice. All the thoughts he had just poured into this moment were coming back to stab him in the back, setting his nerves on fire. He didn’t know, and nothing was worse than not knowing.
I stood with him and offered my hand, “Good luck, then,” I sighed, putting aside my frost-laced voice, “Nice meeting you for these few moments.”
He took my hand and shook it firmly, then letting go to force a smile, “See you there, I hope.”
I nodded and watched him turn down the hallway to disappear behind the bend. Then I slumped back down in the smooth white chair, feeling more alone than I had in a long time. In a few minutes they would call my name and number and I would be walking down that hallway. I would disappear behind the bend and come to the eighth floor desk.
Running my thumb across the stamp on my wrist, I read the digits one by one in calm silence, waiting. 00692R, it was my unique serial number, the name I came into the network by and the name I would leave the network by. It was who I was, and this was what I knew. It would be strange leaving here, but it was my duty and my destiny; I had to carry it out. The moderators had always told us so.
I closed my eyes as the intercom came online again, crackling in its usual fashion. Then, the voice greeted me, seeming even colder now than it had before.
“Bartholomew Malcolm, serial number 00692R, please report to the eighth floor desk, the eighth floor desk…”
I closed my eyes, saying my inaudible goodbye and then standing up to face the bend of the hallway. The illuminated white walls and floor reflected in my dark irises, and I walked steadily away from the safety of the chair behind me. When I glanced back for the last time it had disappeared behind me, and I had, to it, disappeared behind the bend.
Looking ahead again my gaze met the sleek white surface of the eighth floor desk. It wasn’t like the other floor desks in the central building; it was set in front of a dead end that cut off the hallway. Behind it stood a young woman, her eyes clear like glass and smiling in a way that I hadn’t expected.
“Welcome to the eighth floor desk, how may I help you?”
I frowned; didn’t she know who I was? There was only one purpose for the eighth floor; it was for this. “Yes, I was told to report here,” I said flatly, “What do I need to do here? I was chosen…”
“Oh,” she nodded and her expression dropped, smiling eyes going a shade darker, “yes, that’s right.” She ran a hand along the desk to slide the center of it away, then ushering me through. Her eyes were then focused on the wall behind the desk. “Sir, we have a chosen…” she grabbed my wrist and read the numbers off, “…00692R.”
I ripped my wrist back and glared at her, but she didn’t seem to notice. Instead she had her gaze set on a new opening in the wall; a narrow doorway. There was nothing I could see past the opening, it was thick with blackness. “Right this way then,” she nudged me forward and I stumbled into the darkness, left to listen as the wall closed in behind me.
My hands went out in front of me, trying to figure out what could be there. My mind was half terrified of what it might be, but I felt nothing; there was nothing there.
“Hello?” I took a tedious step forward, my eyes straining in the darkness. I wasn’t just going to be left here, was I? That was unconventional, nothing like the network I had come from. No, I was still here, still here in the network. I had hardly left it at all.
“Hello, is anyone here?” I screamed, letting my voice echo out. No reply came for me, just my own breathing as I stepped back, trying to find the wall I had come through. Nothing was there, though, nothing at all. I was trapped and alone.
Collapsing on the floor I sighed heavily, realizing how lost I now was. I was eternally caught in here, I would die in here. I placed my head in my hands; I had been born into the network and I had been raised here. Every day I lived with the knowledge that one day I would be chosen. Then I would be brought here to fulfill my purpose. I couldn’t be destined to rot away in this room, it just didn’t make sense.
“What’s the point?” I asked the darkness that accompanied me here, “Why would I be brought here to die?”
“Why? So that others may live…”
“Who’s that?” I shouted out, tensing my arms over my head. Was I to be eaten in here by some sort of monster? Was I simply to be consumed? Was that the function of all in the network?
Around me white lights flickered on, revealing to me a small white room. It was vacant but for me and a man, his eyes a distant gray and his long, bleached hair pulled back and fixed. I didn’t know him, I had never met him before, but the voice he spoke with sounded familiar like those the moderators used.
“What do you mean?” I placed the stress on my legs as I stood up, studying him intensely. I then opened my mouth to ask the one question that every unit in the network wanted answered, “What happens now?”
“You give life to those who are not yet alive. This was what you were born for; this is your destiny,” He told me with a smile spreading across his lips. On seeing such a smile from him, I wasn’t sure what to make of it; he seemed so emotionless, so indifferent. What kind of smile could he give me but a smirk?
“So I’m here to die,” I frowned icily, “we have all been raised like livestock to be murdered here.”
“Not murdered, you are simply being recycled.”
“But I’m not old,” I cried, looking down at my body, “and I’m not broken.”
“Every unit in this network has been born with one purpose; they all bear a soul,” The man told me, “A soul is what links your body together, it is what gives you life. You are brought up to live and learn and your soul grows with you. Where I am from, my people are not born with souls; we are empty.”
At my sides my fists clenched; he had no right to steal my soul, even for the sake of a soulless race. “So I’m a product—you lied, I am going to die.”
“You will still be ‘alive’,” he told me, “You will simply be a link; you will be the structure of a soul within a new life.”
“What new life?” I asked, “What body are you going to force me inside of?”
“Come with me,” He turned to the wall behind him, letting it open into a hallway and then walking through. I doubled my steps to keep up with him, my eyes fixed on the room ahead. Thousands of small, glassy chambers lined the walls of this new room. Each was illuminated from inside, every tank containing its own infant curled into a gentle sphere.
My eyes studied the endless array of dormant children floating in thick fluids and fed by an array of wires and tubes. None of them were alive yet; they were all waiting, waiting for their own soul. They couldn’t function properly without one; they would never survive outside of their tanks in such a way.
“So this is where all of us go;” I looked up at the man, “our soul is stuck inside of the infants of your race so that your history can carry on… how did you survive before you found us and bred us inside of the network?”
“We simply lived without souls, but we were dying out that,” he said as his eyes scanned the walls of glass chambers, “Then we came across your race, one that felt and carried on with a mind. We took your existence to our advantage.”
“And you expect me to comply with this?” I glared at him.
“I don’t need you to comply; your soul will be harvested no matter what you choose to comply with,” he said solemnly, “but if you wish, you may choose the body you will become part of, the one you will channel life to…”
Each infant was so still; they were so quiet and motionless in their tanks. None of them stood out, none of them caught my attention; they all seemed the same. So I stepped up to the wall of glass chambers, setting my eyes on the one nearest to me. “This one, I’ll give him something to live for,” I looked back at the man. “I won’t be myself once my soul is his, though, I won’t remember anything…?”
The man shook his head and I set my gaze downcast. What would it be like to not be myself but only this young alien boy? How could I ever forget who I was? Would it be like a constant amnesia, never being able to recall what had happened? Would I not care how I got trapped inside of a foreign body? No, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t remember that I was ever human. This was it; I would no longer be Bartholomew. I would be simply a link between the body of this young alien infant and a new mind, just a soul cultivated and sent away. I was Bartholomew Malcolm’s soul, serial number 00692R.
“It’s time for you to go now,” I heard his voice and felt his hand on my shoulder. I closed my eyes; there was nothing I could do now.