There Once was a Girl…

It all seemed so real, yet so impossible, at the same time. She stood on a platform high above the city, it seemed. It wasn't very clear. She was wearing some kind of medieval outfit – a change to the contemporary attire, which hung in her closet at home. A strong wind picked up, which seemed to want to knock her off the platform, yet she kept her balance.
As the girl looked ahead of her, she noticed something. Floating a few feet in front of her was a frightening looking man, who wore a black cloak, which covered his entire body. She squinted to make out the man's face, but his hood provided nothing but an endless black abyss.
Who was he? Why did he seem so familiar to her?
Eri Seruma awoke with a start. She sat right up in her bed, a cold sweat overpowering her fair skin.
"That dream again…" she murmured to herself. It was the same dream she had for as long as she could remember. It haunted her mind every single night; no matter what she would do, whether playing soft music before bed, or even taking sleep medicine.
Eri's breathing became steady after a few moments, and she slowly pushed strands of orange hair out of her eyes as she looked over at her alarm clock, which told her it was 11:00 in the morning. Outside, Eri could hear the birds chirping, and some kids on her street playing somewhere nearby.
"Sunday…" the girl said to herself, falling back onto her pillow. "I wonder if Mackenzie finished that history project for Miss Youse." She stared up at her blank ceiling for a long time, before finally deciding to get out of bed.
Eri was pretty much your average thirteen-year-old girl. She enjoyed hanging out with her friends whenever possible, and was quite self-conscious. Though she really didn't care about what people thought of her, Eri was her own worst enemy – mainly about her figure. She stood at 5'3, her body was toned and athletic. Her straight, orange hair went down to below her neck and really helped to bring out the white of her skin. Though, strangely enough, Eri's eyes were the shade of blood red. Her doctors never could explain the phenomenon, but she grew to ignore other peoples' shock by them – Eri had other things to be concerned about.

Being a part of the female gender was hard for her in some aspects. She was more of a tomboy than anything, and while other eight grade girls were already wearing bras, Eri's underwear drawer was still filled with undershirts. If somebody dressed her in boys' clothes, she could have flawlessly passed as a feminine-looking male.
"You're up early," Eri's brother said flatly when she entered the kitchen. He was sitting at the table, reading a comic book, while eating a ketchup sandwich.
Eri plopped down in the chair across from him. "Where're Mom and Dad?" she asked, eying her brother's sandwich in disgust.
"Mom's gone to sewing class, and Dad went out to do groceries. He should be back in twenty minutes."
Noah was a tall nineteen-year-old, with lightly tanned skin, and long, brown hair. It was his life-long goal to be just like Lars Ulrich. He had a drum set out in the garage, and he always kept Eri up at night. But before he could play out his dream, Noah had to find a career to establish him. For this to happen, Noah enrolled in a university in Toronto, and was taking science courses so he could work in a lab.
"Mackenzie called while you were asleep. She wants you to call her back," Noah said, not looking up from his comic book. "She said something about the stock market crashing."
"It's our project," Eri informed him. "We have to do a twenty-minute presentation about the stock market crash of 1929."

Noah looked up, an appalled look in his eyes. "That teacher's working you kids hard!"
"She may be strict, but she has her reasons," Eri said, sighing. "She claims she's getting us ready for high school."
"Next thing you know, she'll be keeping you in at recess to do work."

Eri yawned as she stepped out of the house and stretched her legs. It was the perfect day to go out for a jog: the sky was blue and cloud-free, and though some snow still occupied the ground, the air wasn't as cold as it had been the last few weeks. Spring was just around the corner.

Eri said goodbye to her brother and closed the door before she took off down the street. Other than getting exercise by running to school every day, she had joined as many school sports as she could: soccer, track, basketball… anything she could to get stronger and healthier. Oddly enough, Eri wasn't really a sports nut. To be honest, she didn't really enjoy watching sports on TV, and she didn't know why people got so hyped up over the Grey Cup and the playoffs.

Mackenzie lived in a small plaza of four townhouses, on the main street of downtown Shorebrooke. When Eri arrived, she saw her friend waiting on the veranda.
If you could describe Mackenzie Thompson in one word, it'd be "Popular". She had a lot of friends at school, and was very much into the partying scene. Mackenzie was an inch or so taller than Eri, and had long blue-black hair, which she often left flowing behind her as she walked.
Eri walked up the street parallel to the townhouses and crossed over to the girl, whom smiled warmly, and sat up straight.
"Hello, Eri-San," Mackenzie beamed.
"Mackenzie," Eri said simply, "I've told you a hundred times… You don't have to add 'San' to my name just because my name is Japanese."

Eri's father, Ken, used to be in the reserves, and was sent over to Asia for a year before he met and married Helen Ferguson. When stationed in Japan, Ken had heard the name, "Eriya", off the radio, and it stuck in his mind until he and Helen gave birth to a girl.

Mackenzie's smile grew. "I know. I just like how it sounds!"
"Well, I don't," Eri replied. "You sound like an Anime-obsessed freak when you add stuff like that to my name."

"Eri, you're so sensitive!" Mackenzie laughed. "It's so cute." She got up off the veranda and held the screen door open for her friend.

"Mackenzie, who's there!" A harsh, raspy voice came from the living room.

"It's just Eri, Mom…" Mackenzie sighed. She shut the door behind her friend. They crossed the kitchen and up a flight of stairs to get to her bedroom.

"Is your mom okay?" Eri asked as she plopped down on the bottom mattress of Mackenzie's bunk bed.

"She's fine," Mackenzie muttered, digging around in her backpack for the assignment. "She's been on the couch all week, making a big deal about her stupid leg. I know she's fine, though. Ah, here they are." She pulled out a few stapled papers and stood up to pull a large, red Bristol board out of the closet. "The Dirty Thirties" was written in a large font on the top, and information and pictures were placed randomly around the rest of the board.
"Do you have the movie clip?" Mackenzie then asked. Eri nodded, and pulled out a copy of The Grapes of Wrath from her backpack. Mackenzie grinned. "I smell an eighty!"
Eri laughed. "Our only competition is Timoshi and Evan, but knowing them, Timoshi probably did all the work while Evan goofed off."

"Oh, they'll definitely get a fifty."
Eri slid down to the floor beside Mackenzie and read over the information on the Bristol board to make sure there were no spelling errors. She frowned, and looked over at her friend. "I think we forgot something, Mackie."
"The Dionne quintuplets aren't anywhere on here."
"Oh… I didn't think they were important, Eri."
"They were! The Dionne quintuplets were probably the only highlight of the Depression."

Mackenzie blinked slowly. "I guess back to the library for us, then."
Mackenzie literally lived right around the corner from the public library. It was a five-minute walk from the short row of townhouses, and was tucked in beside an apartment complex and a Scotia Bank building on the next street.
"Have you noticed anything weird lately?" Mackenzie asked as the two girls got out onto the street.

"What do you mean?" Eri asked, deciding to walk backwards so she could face Mackenzie.

"Well…there was that horrific snow storm a few weeks ago - and then that huge pile up on the 401 the other day…"
Eri blinked. "Mackenzie, that isn't weird at all. Sure, that snowstorm was nothing we've ever seen before, but we did get a whole week off of school. And collisions happen every day."
Suddenly Eri and some boy bumped right into each other.

Mackenzie laughed. "Speak of the devil."
Eri groaned, and rubbed her head. She looked over to see a brown-haired boy in her class who wore round, wire-rimmed glasses which made his eyes seem bigger than they really were. He was sitting up, rubbing his own head.
Eri noticed a pair of black running shoes next to the boy, and her eyes trailed upwards to the owner's face. He also had brown hair, but it was tidy, except for his long bangs, which fell over his cold, half-closed eyes.
"You should watch where you're going!" The boy with glasses said irritably. He looked at Eri, and blushed. "…Eri!"

"You're an idiot, Evan," the boy with half-closed eyes said calmly. "It was your fault, too - talking about the sky. Maybe you should stop looking at it when you walk." He stepped forward, took Eri by the hand, and pulled her to her feet. "If you were a real gentleman you'd immediately help the lady up."
Eri blushed deeply. "Timoshi…"

Timoshi was half-Asian. His father was Korean, and his mother was German – something Evan would often jokingly comment about – stating Timoshi's mixed culture was the reason why he seemed angry and bitter so often.

"Timoshi Izuma and Evan Hess…" Mackenzie crossed her arms. "Are you two just coming back from the library?"

Timoshi looked to Mackenzie and nodded. "Yeah, but Evan here forgot his notes. We have to go back to his place and get them."
"You'll be back at the library though, right?" Eri asked quickly.
"Yeah - we can go out to lunch after," Timoshi replied, eyeing her.
"Sounds good," Eri said, smiling. "We'll see you in a little bit then."

The group split back into pairs, and went their opposite ways. Mackenzie made sure the boys were a good distance from them and smirked. "You blush too easily, Eri."
Mackenzie winked. "I said you blush too easily. Your feelings for Timoshi are so obvious. I don't know why he hasn't caught on yet."

Eri's cheeks reddened and she stuck her nose in the air. "I don't know what you're talking about.

What Mackenzie said was the truth though. For as long as Eri could remember, being around Timoshi made her feel like there were butterflies in her stomach, and her heart was going to explode. She and Timoshi had been friends since Kindergarten, but these feelings she had for him only started to develop over the past year.

Once the girls reached the library, they headed to the historical section, found a large book on Canadian history, and then went to a table so they could take notes on the quintuplets. Fifteen minutes into their research, Timoshi and Evan entered, and Eri waved them over.
"Did you know WWI was the first war to use Trench warfare?" Evan asked.
"Really? I didn't know that!" Mackenzie said, enthralled.

Timoshi looked up from his research to see Eri rubbing her temples in discomfort as she tried to focus on her reading. "Are you all right, Seruma?"

Eri looked at him and nodded. "Yeah… I just have a headache… It's probably because Noah plays his drums every night; I can't get to sleep until late…"
"Hey Timoshi," Mackenzie asked suddenly. "Have you noticed anything weird going on lately?"
Timoshi tore his eyes from Eri to look at Mackenzie. "What do you mean?"
"I dunno… Weird things like that snow storm a few weeks ago. It's pretty much spring, and it suddenly snows a mountain."

"So?" Timoshi blinked. "It's April. We usually have at least one snow storm near the start of the month."

"Yeah, but I thought I saw this large dog near Grover's Mill Park during one of the snow days! Well… I couldn't tell if it was a dog, but it was huge and its fur was slicked back like spikes!"
Timoshi flinched uncomfortably. "You were just seeing things," he said quickly. "It was probably nothing."

"Maybe." Mackenzie shrugged and went back to her work.
"Mackie, do you have any Tylenol? My head's really starting to kill me." Eri groaned. Mackenzie nodded and pulled out a bottle from her purse. Eri unscrewed the lid, tapped a pill into her hand, popped it into her mouth and swallowed. "Thanks…" she mumbled.

"Ow!" Evan cried out. "Tim, why'd you kick me!?"

"Shhh!" someone nearby chided.

"Sorry," Timoshi murmured. "Just come with me, okay?" He slid out of his seat and headed out of the room. Evan narrowed his eyes at Timoshi, and slowly got up, excusing himself from the table. His friend soon followed.
Timoshi and Evan headed to the public bathroom, and made sure no one else was there by looking under the stalls. Timoshi turned, and locked the door.
"What's this about?" Evan demanded.

"Mackenzie," Timoshi said.

"What?" Evan's eyes grew wide. "Do you think she – She could be her?"
Timoshi gripped his chin as he began to pace. "I don't know."
"She saw Shiara, Tim. She has to be her." Evan said. "She has to be his daughter."
"Yeah, but she could also just be another descendant…"
"Tim, stop pacing. You're going to wear a hole in the floor." Evan said matter-of-factly. "If Mackenzie is his daughter, we're going to have to do anything and everything in our power to protect her."
He paused for a moment.
"What is it?" Timoshi asked slowly. He stopped pacing.
Evan looked up at Timoshi with a worried look on his face. "The Monsters will be coming for her, Tim. Mackenzie and Eri are stuck together with crazy glue - They're inseparable."
Timoshi's eyes went wide. "Eri…" He slapped a hand against his forehead and swore. "It's so obvious! Why didn't I think of it before?"

"What is it?" Evan blinked.

"Eri's eyes are red. No one else I've ever met has red eyes. You know what that means, right?"
Evan opened his mouth to reply, but a sudden explosion came from somewhere in the library. The two boys cried out, and fell to the tile floor as the force of the explosion shook everything around it.
At the same time, Eri and Mackenzie were leaning over the history book, writing out their last sentences. The entire library shook with violent rage from the explosion, causing everyone in the main area to topple in random directions.

Mackenzie slowly sat up, and rubbed her head. "Are you all right?"
Eri nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine…How about you?"
"I'm okay…" Mackenzie said quietly. She looked around to see that books were knocked off the shelves, the electricity was out, tables were flipped over, and the few people who were around lay unconscious on the floor.
Another explosion erupted at the front hall of the library, and the two front doors flew against a glass cabinet, smashing it completely.

After the dust settled, the two girls could hear a low rumbling, sort of like a giant cat breathing, followed by a large, snake-like shadow, which slithered against hall's floor. The shadow reached the end of the hallway, and loud sniffing sounds could be heard getting closer to the entrance of the library's main area.
Mackenzie began to whimper, and clung tightly to her friend's clothing. Eri wrapped her arms around Mackenzie's quivering body, as they both stared wide-eyed at the shadow.
Slowly, a large, snake-like creature began to slither through the entrance. Its massive head very much resembled a lizard's skull, and the rest of its body was made up of jagged boulders.

"W-what is that thing?" Mackenzie whimpered.

Other than the fact that the creature looked like a giant, petrified snake, Eri didn't know. She only hoped that maybe whatever that thing was, it wouldn't notice them.

The snake slowly turned the corner, barely fitting through the arched doorway leading to main room of the library, and began to sniff the air once again. Slowly, the creature's head directed itself at Eri and Mackenzie, and its body began to slither towards them.

Eri glanced around to see that bookshelves had fallen around them like dominos, and tables were flipped over top of one another; the two friends were cornered like rats.

The creature slowly arched its back, raising its large head into the air, sniffing constantly. It seemed that this rock-like snake could only smell. Its eyes were useless, and it didn't seem to have any ears.
Mackenzie shuddered against her friend's chest. "Eri…" she whispered. "I think - I think I wet myself…"
Eri looked down to Mackenzie's skirt, and cringed to see a small trail of urine pass down her friend's thigh. "Just stay still, Mackie. Close your eyes and think of those romance novels you read. Your knight is coming to save you."
Mackenzie took a deep breath, and closed her eyes tightly, repeating what Eri had just told her in a hushed whisper. It was no use though. She broke down into heavy tears. "We're going to die…we're going to die…" she sobbed.
The creature took a deep sniff, and realized where the two girls were. It let out an ear-splitting screech, and reared up for attack, but before it could do any damage, a large, orange ball of energy struck it in the side of the head.
"Hey, you pile of rocks, leave them alone!" Evan cried. He held a blue handled trident. Its three sharp tips had a strange, orange glow to them. "Didn't your mother ever tell you to leave defenceless girls alone?"
Timoshi stepped out from behind him, holding a green-handled sword. "That's a start for learning how to be a gentleman, Evan," he remarked.
The large creature instantly forgot about Eri and Mackenzie, and turned its head sharply to face where the energy-based attack came from. Timoshi patted Evan on the shoulder. "Keep Snake-Stone busy." With that, he ducked away, and headed towards his two friends.
"Timoshi, what's going on? What is that thing!?" Eri demanded.

Timoshi helped the two girls up, and got them to safety behind a now-empty bookshelf. "It's a Monster, Eri. It's sent to try and find someone very important," he said.
Evan leaped backwards as Snake-Stone tried to dive its massive head into him. Evan's trident began to glow again, and he fired a dozen smaller orange balls of energy at the Monster of Rock.
Timoshi dug around in his pockets, and pulled out a small flame-shaped pendant. He opened Eri's hands and pressed it into her palms. "Here, this will come in handy from now on, Eriya." He promised.

Eri opened her fist to see what was given to her. "Timoshi, what's going on? Why do you and Evan have weapons now?"

Mackenzie wanted to know the same thing.

Timoshi shook his head. "I'll explain everything to you in due time, but now you have to fight."
Eri's eyes widened. "Fight? Timoshi, I - " but before she could finish, the Monster smashed through a row of shelves beside them, sending the three friends flying.

"Sorry!" Evan shouted. He fired more of the orange spheres up under Snake-Stone's jaw. The Monster screeched and dipped its head down for an attack.

Timoshi helped Eri and Mackenzie to their feet and pulled them away from the fight.

"This is just a dream," Mackenzie trembled. "Just bad dream…"

"I'm afraid not," Timoshi frowned. "Seruma, are you okay?"

Eri held her head and closed her eyes. "No … my head hurts so much…"

"Did you hit it on anything?"

Eri shook her head. "No, it's just my headache. It's worse now."

Timoshi frowned. "Nice timing. Mackenzie, keep Eri safe. I'm going to go help Evan." He jumped over some fallen books and dashed to the front of the room to see Evan being overpowered by the hulking Monster.

"Don't use a Mon-Orb!" Timoshi shouted. "Your trident is the element of Water, Evan!"

"You know, instead of lecturing me on how to Slay a Monster, you could help me out a bit, Tim!" Evan ran around a corner and muttered an incantation. His weapon's glow dissipated and an orange liquid poured out from the tips of the trident, and onto the floor, forming a small, tennis ball-sized orb of the same colour. Engraved on the front of it, was a hand with a circle in the palm.

Timoshi zipped up and around to the bookshelves opposite his friend.

"So what now?" Evan asked.

"Now you go in and just stab at it," Timoshi said, nodding to the Monster.

"I … just stab at it," Evan repeated. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. No, that's not just stupid – that's suicide."

"Trust me," Timoshi growled.

"I mean, seriously. Look how tall that thing is compared to me - "

"Trust me! Water defeats rock, Evan!"

"Where'd you learn that from? Pokemon?"

"Evan, do you always have to be so difficult? Fine, I'll do it myself!" Timoshi grabbed his friend's trident, then dashed out into the aisle, where Snake-Stone was sniffing the air, trying to find them.

"If you die, I get your TV, okay?" Evan called to him.

"Shut up." Timoshi ran at the Monster and struck at its body. Snake-Stone let out a sharp cry and came down upon the boy, just as he rolled out of the way. Timoshi climbed to his feet and started to strike relentlessly at the Monster's head before it arched to meet the ceiling once again.

"Quick, Evan! Call out your element!" Timoshi commanded.


"Just do it!"

Evan peeked out from behind the bookshelf and gulped. "Okay… Element, Water!"

Suddenly a blast of fluids shot from the tips of the tridents. Timoshi heaved the weapon into his arms and aimed it up at the Monster, striking it right under the jaw. "Snake-Stone, Monster of Rock," he yelled, "I order you to surrender your power to me!"

Monster let out a long scream of defeat and unwillingly started melting down into a form, much like the orb Evan held in his hand. Timoshi let out a deep sigh. "It's over!" He tossed Evan's Water Trident to the floor and picked up the ball that the Monster had turned into.

A sudden flash of light filled the room, and the damage that had been done started to reverse, like someone was rewinding a film. Timoshi ducked a pile of floating books and crossed the area to find Mackenzie holding Eri in her arms.

"What happened?" Timoshi blinked.

Mackenzie looked up at him and Evan, who was putting a pendant around his neck. "Eri just … she just fainted."

"I just want to wake up …

this is all just too weird to be reality…"