Author Note:

As a good portion of you know, most of my stories take place in a small Japanese city, named "Thaiti". People who live there believe it's just a small, quiet area, but we all know the truth. The citizens don't really want to admit to this, but no matter what, Thaiti has, and always will be, the centre of the imagination, no matter what the cause is: A young girl chosen to slay Monsters, A kid magician trying to make a living in the normal world, A secret police force that uses giant robots, or even a lonesome, quiet girl, who just wants to find her way back home.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you my newest book, "The Land of Far Away". My story is about a young girl, named Nicol, who moves with her father from Tokyo, and soon finds herself trapped within the extravagant confines of her own imagination.

Creatures, elves, and large blobs are what our timid heroine encounters on her quest to find a way back to her own world, but can she do it, or will her own shyness keep her trapped forever in... The Land of Far Away?

1

A Girl From Afar

It was a very warm, summer's day in the small city of Thaiti, and all three-thousand of its population would have to agree. Summer break was ending, and everyone seemed to be coming back from their perfect vacationing, vegging at home, and cottages.

A young girl of the age of 14, who had beautiful, fair skin, and long, reddish/pink hair sat back against the passenger seat, gazing out the window. Her yellow eyes seemed to be glued at the many houses and buildings, and was actually very surprised at how small the city was, compared to Tokyo, her initial home.

"Are we there yet?..." she asked in a quiet voice that led on that she didn't feel all that comfortable in a new environment.

"Almost!" said her father, who was a slight man, with large round glasses. His short brown hair was matted against his head from sweating. "You're going to love it here, Nicol!" he exclaimed. "A new school, a house with possibly many stories..." Nicol sighed, and closed her eyes half way as she slunk down against her seat. "I doubt it..." she muttered to herself.

Nicol's father, Yuu was a typical Nine-to-Five, Seven-Days-a-Week kind of guy. He worked as a graphic designer for a major newspaper in Tokyo, but the company went bankrupt mysteriously, and Yuu had decided that it was a sign to start fresh. So, he packed his bags, and his daughter, and bought a small home on a quiet street in Thaiti. He planned to work out of his den, as a "mercenary graphics designer", if you will; someone who is hired by major companies to design ads, and logos for them.

Nicol, on the other hand, was totally opposite from her father. She was very quiet, and basically kept to herself all the time. She enjoyed sketching the odd thing, and she wrote many stories that she hoped that maybe sometime in the future, someone would actually give a care about her, and maybe publish one or two of her ideas.

Nicol had no friends, and she was basically invisible at school, so it was easy for her to let her father take her along on this trip, though she didn't really want to move.

Yuu smiled warmly, gazing at the road with pride in himself. "I tell ya, Nikki, this place is really going to change us. Such a quiet, calm little city... Nothing exciting ever happens here, I bet!" Nicol sighed at her father's remark. "Great..." she muttered, trying to show at least a little bit of enthusiasm.

The yellow car that the Miyazaki family owned sped by Castle St., and made a turn at a corner, and drove down another long street of beautiful, but quaint homes. The car turned left, and Yuu smiled. "Here we are... Strabane Avenue." he said with a bit of a strain, turning the steering wheel.

Yuu drove until he met a small redbrick side-split, which looked like it was made in the '70s. The lot didn't have much of a front and backyard, and even had its own little shop off to the side of the house, which Yuu planned to turn into a garage.

* * *

Nicol sat on her creaky bed, with her legs crossed. She gazed around her room, which had the ugliest flower print wallpaper. The few boxes she had with her were scattered around the room, and the large window that was behind her let a bright light shine in, making the young girl's hair and back feel tingly with warmth.

Nicol sighed, and picked up a black, hardcover sketchbook, and opened it to a blank page. She leaned in, and slowly began to sketch in a new idea that had been nagging at her for the longest time. A perfectly rounded circle, a large oval...a few sketch lines, and some clothing creases... there! In ten minutes a new work of art was completed.

She tilted her head to the side, and gazed at her new idea, which looked exactly like a large hooded cloak, that covered an invisible man, and instead of the hole for the hand to fit thru at the end of the sleeve, they were just long, slithering tendrils.

Nicol sighed, and looked over at her clock, which said 4:30. She was very tired from the move, so she laid down, resting her precious head on her big, soft pillow, and almost immediately fell asleep.

Flashes of brilliant red lights and the sounds of agonizing screams shook up Nicol. She slowly awoke, to find herself surrounded by brown sand, and a red sky. She slowly sat up, and rubbed her eyes, groaning a bit. A homeless lady who was rolling a cart narrowly missed Nicol, and wasn't shy about showing her anger at some girl laying in the middle of her way.

Nicol gasped, and looked around her to see buildings made out of scrap metal, people with pointed ears and scruffy clothing walking around, as if it were a normal day.

The girl's attention was turned to people screaming, and pleading for help. She got up, and walked forward a bit, seeing a large, cloaked figure floating towards people, and whipping its tendrils at them. Nicol watched helplessly as the tendrils latched onto the people, and literally drained the colour out of them.

The figure quickly noticed Nicol, and tossed away its victims, making its way to her. Nicol cried out, and backed up. She tripped over her feet right as the figure stood over her in a menacing manner, looking like a large tower that kept the sun away from a village near by.

"Nicol, wake up! You're going to be late for your first day of school!" Yuu called up to his daughter. Nicol slowly awoke, and sighed, gazing at her ceiling with tired eyes. "Okay..."

Nicol made her way downstairs, too the kitchen to see her father reading the morning newspaper. "Jeez... look at this layout... All messy, and so unprofessional..." he muttered to himself in disgust. "Hey, Daddy..." Nicol said softly, and sat down across from him. "Oh, hey, pumpkin!" Yuu said with a warm smile. "Sleep well?" Nicol shook her head, and groaned softly, still not quite awake.

Yuu gazed at his beautiful daughter, who wore the elementary school's uniform for the girls, which was a tight dark gray sweater, and a gray and black plaid kilt. She lazily kicked her left foot slowly, which was dangling off the chair.

"First day of grade nine... My little girl is growing up so fast!" Yuu exclaimed! "Soon she'll get herself a lovely boyfriend, and become the world's greatest writer!" Nicol blushed lightly, and said in a timid voice, "I doubt it..."

Yuu looked up at the stove clock, and smiled. "Hurry up, darling... the bus will be here any second." Nicol slowly slid out of her seat, and slid her backpack over her right shoulder. She went to the front door, and slid on her shoes before leaving for the driveway, which where the bus would pick her up.

The day seemed to go by very slowly for Nicol, and really, all she could think about was the dream she had that morning. What place was that? What was she doing there? And most importantly... who was that figure?

Unfortunately, Nicol wasn't paying very much attention to where she was walking, and she walked right into another boy. They both fell onto their bums, and Nicol dropped her binders, and sketchbook.

"I'm so sorry!..." Nicol kept apologizing, over and over as she went on her knees to gather her things. The young boy whom she walked into got down on his knees, and began to help her.

"It's fine..." he said in a strong, but gently tone. Nicol looked up at who she bumped into. The boy had long black hair, and soft, gray eyes. "My name is Hayato." the boy said, putting his hand out to the girl. Nicol could feel her face grow red as she took Hayato's hand. Hayato stood up, pulling Nicol up with him. "Sorry..." she apologized again. Hayato smiled softly. "S'okay... I wasn't watching where I was going, either."

Hayato bent down, and picked up Nicol's sketchbook, which was opened. He looked at a picture of a nude angel, with long wings, which were spread wide. "Hey... did you draw this? It's very good!" Nicol blushed deeply, rather embarrassed. "Y-yes..."

Hayato tilted his head, reading the signature at the bottom right corner of the artwork "Nicol Miyazaki..." He looked up at her, handing back the sketchbook. "Well, Nicol Miyazaki, I have to be going. I hope to see you later." Nicol nodded, holding her binders close to her chest. "Y-yeah... see you later..." she said, and watched Hayato walk away, down the hallway.

Nicol slowly got off her bus, and crossed her arms loosely across her chest as the bus closed its doors, and drove away. Nicol made her way up the porch, and into her house, before seeing that boxes were absolutely everywhere! "Dad?" she called out, sliding off her shoes. "I'm in the den, sweetie!" Yuu called out from the basement..

Nicol took hold of the rail, and began to walk down the stairs, which was quite dark. Nicol despised the dark with a passion. Ever since she was small, her imagination would run wild when the lights were off in her house, and she'd become so frightened that she'd have to have her desk lamp turned on to be able to fall asleep.

Nicol timidly peeked around the corner of the basement when she got to the bottom of the stairs. All she saw, though were a few boxes, and a desk. The rest of the room was just carpeted, and had wood paneling. "Daddy?..." Nicol whimpered.

Yuu came up beside his daughter, and placed his hand on her shoulder, which scared the life out of her. "Aaaghhh!! Daddy, don't do that!" Nicol cried out, and hugged Yuu tightly. "You know I'm scared of the dark!..." Yuu rubbed the back of his head slowly. "Sorry, hun... How was your day?" Nicol sat down on a couple stairs. "Fine..." she said in a timid voice. Her father smiled softly. "Dinner will be ready at six, alright?"

Later, Nicol sat on her bed, wearing a long, white nightgown. She sat up against her pillows, and had her sketchbook open, and of course, she was drawing. She sighed softly, and gazed down at her finished work, which was actually a drawing of Hayato!

He wore a long, black trench coat, black knee-high boots, that had three bars on each boot that glowed yellow, and his pants were dark purple. Probably the only light thing about him was his fair skin, and the white tank-top he wore.

Nicol could feel herself blush deeply, and she hugged the page against her chest, and sighed as she closed her eyes. That Hayato boy seemed so nice to her... and actually noticed her, instead of just getting up and leaving her with the job of picking up all her stuff, like many other people have done in the past.

Nicol suddenly felt a swift wave of sleepiness coat her eyes, which made her slowly lay down against her bed, and drop her sketchbook against the floor. Nicol sighed softly, and wrapped the blanket around herself, gazing at her sketched version of Hayato that lay flat on her wood floor. "I love you..." she whispered before falling asleep.

The black covered sketchbook lay silently on the floor, as if laying in wait for something. A cold wind had quickly picked up, and since Nicol had left her window open, because it was so hot that day the wind blew thru the window, and the pages of the sketchbook began to blow back and forth mercilessly, and quickly opened to the page of the cloaked figure.

The picture began to make a slight humming sound as the wind died down, and the moon's light began to shine on it. The picture suddenly began to glow an eerie light of yellow, and a long, white tendril from the figure's picture slowly rose up, and skimmed along Nicol's bed. The tendril made its way to the young girl's forehead, and latched on to the middle.

Nicol's forehead began to glow, and a wet, sucking sound could be heard from the tendril, as it consumed whatever it wanted from the girl.

Nicol's door slowly opened, and the tendril stopped dead. It saw that Yuu was peering inside, and quickly began to slither down Nicol's bed, and back into the sketchbook as her father came in to say good night.

Yuu smiled at his sleeping daughter, and sat on the edge of her bed, stroking her lush, pink hair. He turned his head, noticing the sketchbook on the floor. Yuu sighed, and got off the bed, and bent down to pick it up. He gazed at the picture of the cloaked figure, and smirked. "My daughter, the artist..." he said to himself, and closed the sketchbook, setting it on Nicol's dresser.

Yuu slowly made his way out of his daughter's room, and left the door open so that the hall light would shine in for Nicol to sleep better.