HI! Ninja1234! Sorry that I haven't been on in SUCH a long time. But I have a new story!
This was written for a Creative Writing Project at school, and I got all A+'s on it, so I'm pretty confident that you'll like it.
So, without further ado, here is Lost. By me.
The girl turned this way and that in a frantic chase for an exit, only to discover that darkness was everywhere, making it impossible for her to navigate through the thick black.
But wait! There was light, a bright orange flicker growing brighter and brighter, drawing nearer and nearer-
Oh, snap. Those were flames.
High cackles echoed throughout the zone. Cloaked figures advanced toward her, pale bony hands outstretched to grab.
She felt the heat of the fire as it came closer. Beads of sweat trickled down her forehead as she took deep, urgent breaths, hoping desperately that, by chance, she would make it through the ordeal.
The girl used her small hands to feel the distance behind her as she inched carefully backwards. They hit solid wall in mere seconds.
The hooded people were a mere foot away now.
She flung her head everywhere wildly. There was no exit. She was cornered.
A skinny white hand snatched her wrist.
Thirteen year old Hero July threw over her covers, shrieking, holding her right arm. Breathing steadier now, she examined her wrist. It was normal, the skin smooth, not at all scraped, bloody, or stark white like she'd imagined it.
Puzzled, she dropped her hands limply down to her sides, analyzing her surroundings. She was in her shelter, a small, one room place with chipped wooden walls and a dirt floor.
Her gray eyes darted to the left. Her books sat on the shelves, a fine layer of dust coating the bindings. They didn't appear to be moved or touched by anyone.
She switched to the right. Her bow and arrows were still hanging on rusty hooks on the wall. Her knives had remained where she'd left them after her search last night: on the floor.
"It was just a dream," Hero murmured to herself. "Just a dream."
But her paranoia refused to leave.
It had seemed so real! She couldn't have imagined the vivid orange, or the pulse of her thumping heartbeat, or the pure fear that had consumed her when she'd seen the cloaked group emanating wave after wave of darkness, worry, and every other feeling that Hero always tried to avoid. Ever since she'd lost her mother to the epidemic…
Brushing the thought aside for later contemplation, she dragged herself out of the blankets. Raising a sluggish hand, she lowered it onto the ground next to her, flailing her hand in a haphazard manner, trying to find a certain object. She soon found it: a black cap. Hero jammed it onto her messy braid.
She remembered when she'd first gotten it, a gift from a mysterious old woman. She'd been out looking for more plants and traps when she'd run into this lady.
"Whoa!" Hero scrambled backwards in surprise. "Sorry."
The woman raised her head, and Hero had a good look at her for the first time.
She was old, with pulled, wrinkled skin, gnarly hands, and coarse, tangled hair. The woman smiled, revealing her loose yellow teeth. "Well, hello there!"
Hero frowned. That was most certainly not the reaction she'd been expecting. "Um…hi?"
The woman remained, her large bloodshot eyes boring into the girl's forehead.
Hero squirmed under her intense gaze. "Erm, what do you want?"
The hag bared her chipped yellow teeth. "I've been waiting for you, my dear."
The girl considered making a run for it. If a person said something like that, it usually wasn't a good thing. But she found herself staying and asking, "What?"
The old hag cackled, producing a black bundle behind her back. "Someone told me that you would need this." She dropped the heap into the other girl's arms, who hastened to catch it before it fell. "A baseball cap, they used to call it."
Hero glanced at the heap warily. A what? She looked up to speak. "Hey! What-"
The woman was nowhere to be seen.
The items in the bag were later revealed to be an unfamiliar black hat, with an odd shape protruding out at the front, and two knives, carefully wrapped in layers and layers of thick cloth.
Not knowing what else to do, Hero had used the knives for hunting, and grew fond of the hat, wearing it regularly.
The dark-haired girl quickly spooned some meal into her mouth for breakfast, then, brushing off the leftover marks and stains, stood up, adjusted her cap, swiftly reached for her weapons, and swung out the door.
Going to the forest was routine for the thirteen year old. Without any family, she only had to get enough for her. And that was fine. It was what she was used to.
It was required where she lived that, once you turned ten, you were to leave your current place with your siblings or parents or whatnot, and create a place for yourself in some unfamiliar region. This, the government had said, was for regulating the population. Survival of the fittest, it was called. Many children didn't survive. Hero was one of the fortunate ones.
The past three years had improved her skills outdoors greatly. With experienced agility, she quickly darted to and fro in the forest, stopping where she'd set her traps. Good. She'd caught another squirrel.
Taking the limp body, she carefully put it in her sack with dexterous hands. That was enough for today. She rose from the snare and moved to finding her plants.
It had rained a couple days ago, and the ground still hadn't recovered completely yet. The water still ran in her usual paths, causing the dirt to turn thick and murky, making it increasingly difficult for Hero to walk around.
As she trudged along in the mire, slowed down by the weight of her boots and the mud clumping onto them, she scanned the forest for yet another time, silently creating a mental picture.
Tall, knobby trees ensconced the foggy gray of the sky above, and the grass rustled from the faint blow of the wind. Her acute hearing senses, having sharpened over the three years she'd been in the area, could catch the stirring legs of the creatures around her.
Except for these animals, the forest was uninhabited by any human being, thankfully. Hero liked having this massive expanse of green all to herself, doing as she pleased in it and not having to care about anything, except for attaining food, which, with her training, was simple enough.
As she went around on her usual business, she felt that something was awry about the forest today. If there was one thing she'd learned fending for herself, it was that it was best if she always followed her instincts.
So, to ascertain her hunch, she scoured the expanse with her sharp gray eyes, closely examining every nook and cranny of the woods. Everything appeared to be in order: trees, some rocks, trees, insects, trees, more rocks, a cave-
A cave? Hero's head flew back to check that she wasn't hallucinating. She'd heard that the wilderness could do that to you.
But she hadn't been seeing things, for deep into the shadows, almost invisible from the tall, wild trees guarding the entrance, was a huge, hollow boulder with smoke slowly pouring out a hole in the top.
What? The girl frowned. Never, in the duration of all her regular hunts in the forest, had she noticed this before. Had it always been there?
She shrugged. It probably had, and she'd just ignored it.
A voice still nagged in the back of her head, "But you should've- you would've noticed it. You've trained for this sort of thing."
It was most likely nothing. Hero turned around to head back, only to rotate to face the cave again. Shaking her head, she again tried to go in the opposite direction.
Her body whirled backwards involuntarily. She hadn't planned for it.
Soon realizing that her efforts would be unsuccessful, she eyeballed the mass of gray rock warily. It looked gloomy, mysterious, and ominous. The type of place she'd never want to go, but would want to know what inhabited it, at the same time.
She turned to leave, only to whirl around to face the cavern again. She tried to head off in the other direction another time, but a pull in her gut brought her back around.
Realizing that her attempts weren't going to work, Hero squinted into the cave. Not much could be seen past the tangled mess of vines and the piles of sediment, washed away from repeated erosion.
Smoke appeared to be billowing out of the top of the hollow boulder. Hero hesitated. Then she looked around one last time.
She walked in.
The interior was much different than Hero was expecting. She'd pictured cracked, rough walls, heaps of mysterious sludge, maybe even a bone or two, accompanied with a hunched cloaked woman stooping over a black cauldron, cackling as she sprinkled powder into the mixture.
Instead, she saw a clean floor that looked like it had been swept just recently. Plants and spices lay scattered across it in place of the imagined slop and bones. The cauldron was actually a small pot on a stove that was currently steaming as it prepared a meal for the inhabitant of the cave. The only strange thing was a bright green jellyfish hung from the ceiling.
Who was the inhabitant? Hero wondered. She glanced around the hollowed out rock again, taking in every inch: edible plants, edible spices, non-edible kindling, pots, pans, silverware, and-
"A Christmas tree?" Hero blinked.
Sure enough, there was a tall, massive wintergreen tree propped at an edge of the place, draped with glittering stones, dripping candles, and colored streamers. But the most shocking part wasn't any of this.
A girl stood on her toes at the top of a long narrow ladder, holding another candle. The wax was creating a river down her slender pale arm, but she didn't seem to notice. Holding her hands up, she wriggled around, struggling to set the last light on a candle-holder at the very tip of the tree.
Hero looked on uncomfortably. Did the girl know that she was there?
"Um…" Hero cleared her throat nervously. "Hello?"
The girl turned around. "What- oh!" Her surprise caught her off balance, sending her down from the rung and tumbling to the floor, the candle falling with her.
Hero winced, shutting her gray eyes. "Sorry."
When she opened them, the girl that had fallen was brushing herself off, seemingly unharmed. The melting wax lay abandoned behind her.
This girl couldn't have been more than twelve, and was still on the smaller side. Her short auburn hair danced around her face, and her sneaky green eyes reflected Hero's curiosity.
"Who are you?" the redhead asked, peering closer.
"Uh…" Hero squirmed. "I'm- Hero?"
The girl nodded. "I see…oooh!" Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped. "You're the one Granny meant!" She smiled. "I'm Brooks."
Hero was lost. "Granny?"
Brooks nodded. "She gave you knives and a baseball cap?"
The old hag was her grandmother? How strange could things get? Hero said this, though she worded it more nicely.
"We're a special dryad family," Brooks explained. "We look super young when we're, well, young, and our age speeds up around our hundreds or so."
"Dryad…" Hero murmured. "You mean a wood nymph?"
A tree nymph named Brooks? Today was just full of surprises. "So…what's your tree?" Hero questioned her.
"The wintergreen," she said, her green eyes piercing into Hero condescension.
"Oh. Right." Hero felt increasingly stupid by the second. Hoping to still not look too embarrassing, she asked, "So you're Granny. What did she want with me?"
Brooks stared. "You don't know?"
The dryad sighed. "You know about the recent epidemic?"
The gray-eyed girl nodded. "Yeah." She'd heard about it the times she snuck into town to pilfer supplies. "Tons of people died." Including my mother, she added in her head.
"Are dying," Brooks corrected. "It all leads back to a source. One thing is causing all the destruction."
"What is it?"
The ginger nymph looked at her. "All the power is coming from a new plant, somewhere in Fire Forest."
Hero had heard about Fire Forest. At the edge of the region, it was rumored to nest dragons and have random fire bursts, hence the name. "Are we being serious here?"
"I'm perfectly serious!" Brooks protested. "That's why I have these roots everywhere." She gestured to the plants arranged haphazardly on the ground. "Normally, I wouldn't dig these up, as I am a nature spirit and all, but-" she spread her hands helplessly. "Desperate times call for desperate measures."
The thirteen year old girl nodded dumbly, still not getting it. "But what do I have to do with anything?"
Brooks' head rotated to look at Hero, the redhead's face unusually solemn. "Years ago," she said, "long before I was born, in fact, there was a prophecy." She paused, waiting for another interruption.
When Hero stayed quiet, Brooks continued. "It said that an adolescent female would break from tradition. She would enlist help and find the very thing that was causing the calamity."
"Uh-huh." Hero snorted incredulously. "I'm supposed to believe that?"
Brooks nodded. "Yes."
"I've seen people die in front of my own eyes," she insisted. "Perfectly healthy one moment, collapsing the next. This is the only conclusion I've found. If this isn't real, I don't know what is. Granny knew it, and she tried to fulfill the prophecy. And she found you." Desperation laced her words. "Please." She pulled her lip into a trembling pout looked at the other girl with wide puppy-like eyes.
Hero groaned. She couldn't say no to that face. And a part of her wanted to believe it. She wanted to blame something for the cause of her mother's death. She wanted to avenge her loss.
The thirteen year old sighed. "I'm in."
"Great!" Brooks grinned.
Reaching the Fire Forest wasn't hard if one traveled with a wood nymph. Using some sort of nature-forest-teleportation power, Brooks was able to transport both her and Hero to Fire Forest in a matter of seconds.
The bad part was that they landed headfirst onto a bed of bristly pine needles.
"Ugh!" Hero spewed out the strange long leaves. Definitely not edible.
Brooks had fared better. Getting up and dusting off her green dress, she pointed to a small clump of gray in the distance. "That's where it's kept." She started walking. "Come on."
Hero followed. "And just how do you know about this?"
"Granny," was the dryad's answer. "Now hurry up."
After a long while of walking, in which, surprisingly, no lava spewing creature crossed their path, the two girls stood in front of a large, gray, cracked, old-
"Cave?" Hero groaned. She'd had enough with those. "Not another cave."
Brook pursed her lips. "It's the only way in." Spotting a narrow crack in the wall, she wriggled through, with Hero following shortly after.
The inside was dark. No light or flickering shadows were anywhere until Brook whipped out a lit candle.
She grinned. "Always be prepared."
This cave was actually a labyrinth of corridors, the turns were twisted and complicated, though they all lead to one location. Nevertheless, it took the two quite a bit of time to find a sense of direction.
At last, they stumbled into a domed room, illuminated with a faint golden light. And it wasn't Brooks' candle.
Hero's brows furrowed as she looked around for the source of the light, but a large mass blocked her way.
Her jaw dropped. "Oh. My. Dragons."
For the thing in her way was, in fact, a dragon. Its length and width rocketed to behemoth measurements, and smoke sputtered out of its nostrils. Its snores were deep, rumbly and altogether terrifying.
Hero made a strangled sound in the back of her throat. "How are we supposed to defeat that?" she hissed.
"I don't know!" Brooks hissed back furiously. "Granny never told me about this!" She looked back at the creature, and, weirdly, brightened. "Look at the hands!"
Hero followed her gaze, and found a faint glow emitting from the dragon's…hands? Paws? Whatever they were called, they shifted to reveal-
"A magic mushroom?" Hero snorted in disbelief. "That's what we were so worked up about? A magic mushroom?"
Brooks sighed in exasperation. "It's magical." She slowly walked toward the dragon. "If we destroy it, we can save lives."
"Well, what are we waiting for, then?" Hero darted forward, hands outstretched. "Let's take it."
"Wait!" Brooks cried. "The slightest touch can-"
Hero's hand brushed the scaly dark vertebrae in her pursuit. She grabbed the mushroom and pried it out. "Got it!"
Grinning triumphantly, she didn't notice the towering figure behind her, growing taller. And taller. And taller. Until-
Fire erupted from the dragon's snout, consuming the room into flames.
Hero flailed wildly around, still holding onto the mushroom. "Brooks!" she called for the dryad.
The redhead was nowhere to be seen.
It took all of the dark-haired girl's willpower not to hyperventilate. This scene was so familiar! The fire… being all alone…
Oh, please, please, don't let it be like what I think this is, she muttered fiercely. It couldn't… then there would be…
High cackles pierced the air.
Hero shivered. She was right.
"Brooks," she clamored. "Brooks? Where are you?"
The laughs were louder.
Hero whirled to and fro, desperate to find an exit. Her head revolved in every which way. There should be a way. There had to be a way!
Her eyes focused on a dark crevice in the corner. It was the only visible exit.
She scrambled towards the crack, ducking the oncoming chunks of rock and fireballs in a frenzy of panic.
Sweat flooded down Hero's face. She was almost there. Just a few more feet.
A blast of fire sent her into a frantic race. She squirmed into the fracture, working as fast as she could to make it to the other side.
The screeches were getting closer. She saw a flash of white underneath a black cloak.
Just five more seconds…
Hero zipped out and rolled onto the floor, sprinting down the corridors.
Pale bony hands clawed at the fissure, the wails getting louder and louder.
Hero didn't care. She just ran until she was out the cave, and out the forest, and in civilization. Only then did she realize that she'd lost the mushroom.
DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUN! GASP! Hero lost the mushroom!
Yeah, this was kind of a "Ooh, I have an idea, so I'll write!" thing.
But, how was it?