Written for the May 2009 Staff Challenge.
Story updated June 3, 2009
Image by silv3r_ic3 at TDA.
It's impossible to say when the chaos started. Midnight approached, and I was asleep in my bed, enjoying dreams from a world not quite like my own. I dreamed of flying over mountains and adventures through deep and dangerous swamps, things outrageous and unbelievable for anyone who wasn't in slumber. Yet there was something foreign in the air that I couldn't quite understand. I rustled in my bed, my unconscious mind not liking the stench that was invading my room.
Somehow, I knew that I was about to be thrust into an unknown world that even my wildest dreams could conjure…
It sounded like fireworks. Insistent booming and popping littered the town in a noisy confusion, sending many into an instant panic. Peeking from behind my curtains, at first I thought they really were fireworks exploding among town. Great colors of green and blue and even a red so bright it nearly blinded me lit up the midnight sky. But the screaming and running confused me. Who would need to run from something as innocent as fireworks?
Another vast bang of bright green, however, caused me to rethink my reaction to what was taking place. There were no fireworks. In fact, what I had just saw pushed me into such an intense panic that I stumbled backwards and fell over my dirty clothes that I had piled uncaringly on the floor. With my eyes huge and a sudden cold sweat making my night clothes cling to my body, I heard my mother run into the room.
"Alison!" she whispered urgently, her voice shaking with fear. She rushed over to me quickly. Her hands found mine and pulled me up from the ground "Alison, we have to leave! There's something…strange going on."
"Mom, did you see that…that thing? It was like a giant!" I said in a quick voice. "What's going on! Am I dreaming? Oh, please let me be dreaming!"
"Shh. Come on Alison, we can't stay here!" Mother lead me toward the door, but I stopped her.
"You want to go out there with that beast? Are you nuts?"
"I just got a call from Carol, she's up at the police station." Carol lived across town. Her daughter, Sara, and I had many 'play dates' when we were younger. I disliked both of them immensely, though I never let my mother know that, she was crazy about getting me friends. "Something is going on. Her house was robbed by strange men in black clothing. They started her house on fire. They-" She took a deep breath, as if what she was about to say was difficult to even think about. "They killed Sara."
I was at a loss for words. Sara, the strange girl from across town, the one I had been forced to spend many painful hours with to please my mother, the girl who had been my only 'friend' since grade school. She was dead. I found her despicable, and I truly hated the way she laughed, but to think that she was gone from this world forever was almost unbearable to even think about.
"It sounded as if Carol had gone mad with grief. We have to go, Alison," Mother whispered again, her voice cracking with fear. "If we stay here, we'll have the same fate." I didn't argue. I slipped my shoes on and followed Mother out the back door, all the while hoping my heart wouldn't explode in my chest. I had never had a heartbeat so fast and painful before, and though I hated to admit it, I was truly and uncontrollably frightened about the events that were taking place.
The creature I had seen only minutes before from my bedroom window loomed even closer to my home. Its face was malicious, pointed teeth protruded from his oversized mouth and a roar similar to a lions erupted from its throat. It was laughing. Every step it took shook the ground, making it feel as if an earthquake was taking place. I didn't stop to examine it, but from the place I was at, it looked as if it held two rag dolls in each of its hands. I knew they weren't rag dolls, but that thought sounded much better than the creeping reality.
I gagged at the site before me. The stench radiating from the beast was enough to make me hurl, but I held in the sensation and continued running with all my might after my mother.
"Not so fast!"
The voice was loud, almost abnormally loud for any normal human, and it obviously belonged to a male. Gasping, both my mother and I pushed ourselves faster. A rush of fear so intense brushed through my body,
I felt the world around me start to blacken. I pushed the feeling away as best I could, and kept my mind on running.
Without warning, however, both my mother and I tripped over a same unknown force. I hit the ground, and almost instantly a white hot pain shot out from my leg. I quickly turned onto my back, using my arms to hold me up from the ground, and examined the new wound. Blood trickled down my leg from my knee.
Laughter. Obnoxious, sickening, and vicious laughter erupted from the man's throat. He towered over me, his black cloak swaying around him in the gusty wind. His eyes were alight with deranged delight. He enjoyed my pain, and I hated him for it.
"Ah, but the party's just begun! You can't leave now," he said loudly. Silently he drew out, what appeared to be, a stick. I nearly choked out a laugh at the ridiculous movement. A stick? What was he going to do, poke my eye out?
"What do you want with us?" Mother choked out. Her voice hard and determined. "We've done nothing to you! Let us be!"
"I can't do that," the man said with a chuckle. "You see, my master has ordered that we-" he waved his hand at the chaos behind him, a smug smirk spilling onto his face, "-get rid of a little problem in the Muggle world."
"Problem? There's no problem with us!"
"You are the problem. Muggles are the problem. Every single one of you should be vanquished!" His once smug face now held a new look. He looked angry, and even a little frightened.
"As my mother said," I yelled out, foolish courage rushing through my veins. "We've done nothing! Can't we live in peace?"
"Muggles have done everything!"
"Muggles? Look, I don't know who or what you think we are, but we're regular people, just like you!"
The man scoffed, a look of amusement now on his face. "Regular people? I am no worthless Muggle like yourself!" We raised the stick so it pointed squarely at my nose. "Can a regular person do this?" A blinding flash of red light flooded out from the end of the stick, hitting me directly in the face. A pain so intense sprouted from my nose and poured through my body. I screamed out in the sudden pain. It felt as if I was being engulfed in red hot flames, and there was nothing that could drench the flickering heat. Then, as if nothing had ever happened, the pain stopped just as suddenly as it had started.
"Stop it! STOP IT!" my mother screaming, her voice on the edge of hysteria.
"I am no Muggle," the man said, ignoring her. "I am much, much more than you!" He chuckled at the tears spilling from my eyes. I shook uncontrollably with fear.
"Gibbon!" Another man donning a great black cloak approached. His face was noticeably pale, and he was very tall for such a young man. He couldn't have been much older than I was, or that's the way it looked through my water filled eyes.
"Malfoy, yes?" Gibbon, as the boy called him, turned around, looking annoyed at the interruption. "I am a little busy, so on with it." The boy looked down at my mother and I. His eyes were hard, they showed off no sign of emotion. Something about him terrified me.
"The Dark Lord has new orders," Malfoy said. "He said there's another plan he wants to set into motion. Something about a bridge? He sent me off as messenger before I was able to hear it all. You will know when he wants you."
"Why would he send you to tell me that?" Gibbon wondered loudly. "I need no warning before I'm needed, so why has he sent you to tell me this?"
"So I-" he looked looked down at his left arm before continuing, "-could see what it's like to be part of this…side." Malfoy slowly shoved the sleeve of his left arm up, exposing a dark tattoo. I couldn't tell what it was, but it looked as if it were moving. I gulped in fear again. Who were these people?!
"You've finally joined our ranks," Gibbon stated, a stale smile on his face. "Well, for the occasion, I guess I can share my toys." He pointed at us, his long slender finger looked jagged as if it had been broken before. My mouth went dry as the Malfoy looked us over. "Go on. If you wish to prove yourself, you must do this."
"I-" Gibbon looked at him with glistening eyes. "Okay." Slowly, almost unwillingly, Malfoy drew out a stick, similar to what Gibbon had. My eyes widened and my lips trembled. If my life was going to end, I hoped it would end painlessly.
"Don't you dare touch my daughter!" With a scream, Mother jumped up from her spot and ran straight toward Malfoy. Jumping to the side, Malfoy missed her flying fists and instead, she ran straight into a shocked Gibbon.
She wrestled him to the ground just as I hopped up to help her out. I wasn't going to watch my mother be killed, and there was no way I was going to die without a battle.
"Crazy woman!" Gibbon shouted, reaching for his magic stick that was just out of hands reach. "Get off me!"
"Mother!" I shouted, but before I could reach her the boy, Malfoy, caught me between his arms.
"You have to go," he whispered, looking back at Gibbon. "Go now! I'll make sure your mother is alright." I was too shocked to even move. This boy was trying to help me? Was this a cruel and sick joke? "Please listen to me," he pleaded. "It will do you no good to stay here. Hurry, go now before he gets his wand back!" He turned my around and pushed me forward, and without thinking I ran off into the distance, praying that he would, as he said, save my mother.
Malfoy watched as Gibbon pinned the girl's mother to the ground. His heart raced with pity for both the girl and her mom.
"Malfoy, I think you should do the honors." Gibbon grunted, his wheezing lungs almost too tired to talk.
With a plan in mind, Malfoy pulled out his wand and pointed it at the girl's mother. Without a word, a flash of red light emitted from the tip, leaving the woman motionless. Gibbon laughed and pulled himself confidently from the ground.
"Good job, boy," he said. "Now, where is that other worthless pile?" He gazed off into the distance, hoping for a glimpse of the girl. He rounded on Malfoy with an expression of sudden hatred. "She got away! You allowed that pile of filth to get away! Oh, I will report you to th-" He stopped suddenly, his face going ridged with sudden pain.
Malfoy felt it too, his arm burned as if fire had replaced the blood in his veins. Then, slowly, the pain died off.
"The Dark Lord needs us," Gibbon said. Without another word her vanished in thin air with a pop.
Before disappearing, Malfoy waved his wand at the girl's mother one last time. As if coming back to life, the woman sat up and stared at Malfoy with a horrified expression.
"You saved me," she said.
"Your daughter should be fine," Malfoy said, ignoring he statement. Then he, too, vanished from sight.
Months passed, and as the days grew darker and gloomier, I was glad to be alive. That one night had changed my life forever.
Mother didn't remember what had happened. She had returned home after her rescuer vanished. I remember watching from a short distance when Gibbon and Malfoy disappeared into the night. I had to wait at that spot, however, because the giant had stood only feet from where I was hiding. I knew that if I was to move, I would be seen by the beast.
I returned home hours later to find that my mother had no memory of what took place. She told me about a woman with strange clothes who talked to her about the supposed hurricane that had destroyed the town. She told me softly of Sara's death from a fallen tree. I told her about the giant, and the strange powerful humans, but she told me that I was only dreaming. It wasn't until weeks later that I finally quit trying to make her believe in what had happened.
Everything was different now, though. I was seeing things that I had not before seen. For a class fieldtrip nearly two months after the incident I went to a museum, and I was sure I had seen a painting move. Walking home from school one day, I had seen a man disappear in thin air at the end of the street. I saw figures in the sky and saw owls with letters grasped in their claws. Everything was so new to me, even my dreams were different.
I had often dreamed of that Malfoy boy. I wanted nothing more than to thank him for saving my life and my mother's life. He was my ultimate hero, and I vowed that I wouldn't rest until I saw him again…