Saturday, 15 March 2014

ACT 3 SCENE 3: The Ark (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6

Parting is indeed such sweet sorrow.
Time passed slowly. The boys mentioned her sometimes. They both knew that they think of her but they don’t say it out loud. When will Piscine come back? How long will her hair be the next time they see her? Wasn’t she blonde the last time they saw her? No, it was the light from the sun, you doop! She always had green hair. Oh right, like seaweed. Or grass. And more time passed, another two years have gone. How slow has the days felt but it went on. The boys grew taller, taller than your usual ten year olds in the cities. They became better swimmers, faster runners, trying to learn as many things as they can. Soaking up knowledge like a sponge.
One of the things that Piscine taught the boys was whistling. They’d whistle when they work, when they wait for fishes to bite or when they wait by the rocks at night, hoping that Piscine will show up.
By the time they are eleven, they got into more trouble, especially when they go to the Labs at Pelee. Alder always loses his head whenever they are given low prices for rare items – items they’ve swam for, of course. People usually ask questions but they don’t dwell on it. There are bottle openers, bottle caps, straws, containers, just to name a few of the many things that float around the waters at the deep end. They don’t always sell what they get and people of Krakatoa keep to themselves. Or so they would like to believe. The people of Krakatoa do not dislike the Wilnoix. They just think they are quite strange but since they are a well-liked family, they don’t question their odd behaviour.
Oak’s fascination with history peaked around this time. He would study about it more and ask all his family members for stories they can remember. He even took lessons on how to take care of the Wilnoix gallery so he can read the books that are part of the collection. He wasn’t allowed to take any of the books out in the collection but he is more than welcome to read it there.
He read about Cthulhu, the dreaded sleeping god of the seas, which frightened him immensely. He asked his father about it and he told him that this was just a story or maybe it was not. You can never be too sure about history. This gave him nightmares and when he told Alder about it, he started sharing his nightmares too.
Oak was not allowed to read any of the books in the collection after that, not until he is ready and is a man.
But by the time he was twelve, they allowed him to go back. Alder developed an interest in different things as well like knitting, cooking, the art of seaweed tea making, how to make fried ice lollies to name a few.

It’s been another four years; they thought Piscine would show up soon…but she didn’t.

‘You think she’s coming back?’ Oak asks his older brother, as he threw a stone at the water, skipping several times.
‘Who knows? Maybe she got lost?’ Alder replied coolly.
‘Maybe…do you think anything happened to her?’ Oak asked.
‘Like what?’
‘I don’t know…had a…no, I shouldn’t say that,’ he said and he slaps his mouth.
‘Don’t say such things. It’s not very nice. She’s one of the Freedom tribes.’
‘That’s true.’
‘Remember, these clans have lived out there in the waters for centuries. Only the red knight can take them away.’
‘Brod, who is this red knight you speak of all the time?’
‘I could tell you…but you will have nightmares.’

Thirteen came and went.
Piscine still did not show up. The boys have stopped thinking about it so much and continued salvaging things from the deeps, as far as they can go.
One day, Oak was taking a nap on the reed boat and it was Alder’s turn to go look for ‘schtuff’.
Oak opened his eyes suddenly. He sensed something and he didn’t move a muscle. He felt something moving around below his feet and it’s certainly not Alder. He looks down slowly, trying not to show that he is awake. A bunch of tentacles is feeling around the area below his feet. Oak closes his eyes again. The colour from his face has completely drained.
This is the day I die, he thought to himself. The tentacles, he’s alone, the weather looks grim; it’s Cthulhu. He is going to take me down to the very depths that no one can come back from. Even further down to where those cities float and are eternally asleep. He will take him and Alder will not know what happened to him, maybe his parents will find this out that he’s missing because of Cthulhu and curse that book that gave them nightmares as a child.

The red knight is Cthulhu and this is what will take you or anyone away from the world of the living.

Oak opens his eyes and one of the axesaw is just right next to him.
If he lets Cthulhu take him now, he will never see Piscine ever again and he will not be able to tell her about the history that he learnt, how faster he is at swimming, how quickly he can determine what kind of current is good, where they find new schtuff and the songs he’s been practicing since she was gone.
He picks up the axesaw and gets up. The tentacles are still feeling around the boat and as if on cue, it started to wrap its tentacles on the sides of the reed boat.

It’s going to bring the boat down, Oak thought. He looked around and Alder is nowhere to be seen, probably still in the deep end. He hopes that his older brother is safe. A large slimy head started to surface on the water and Oak can now see its large red rimmed eye.

‘Not today. Not today.’ Oak said before he ran towards the creature, holding up the axesaw over his head, determine to hurt Cthulhu.

Alder resurfaces and has a large grin on his face. He found some colourful things in blocks and when you press them together, they stay together and then you could take them apart. They can probably make schtuff with this and couldn’t wait to show Oak. He’d love these. Alder looks around and the boat is nowhere to be found. He looks around confused. He may have wandered off too far but he is certain he can’t be too far and he knows he’s at the same area. But where is the reed boat?

‘Brod!!!’ he calls out. Everything is quiet except for the sound of the calm waters and the wind.
‘Brod!!!’ he calls out once again.
Nothing.
He looks up at the sky. He can’t have been gone that long. Where the hell is Oak, he thought, annoyed and worried at the same time for his younger brother. Suddenly, something resurfaced a few feet away from him. He swims towards it and he realized that it’s part of a reed boat. He decided to swim to it for closer inspection.

‘What the derp?’ he says a little too loudly, perhaps trying to comfort himself to the sound of his voice. He swims towards the boat as quickly as he can and he is surprised at the massive damage. It finally dawned on him that it’s their reed boat because of the flag that came along with it. He went up at the side, wondering if he’d find anything and what he saw did not make him feel any better.

He saw blood on one side of the boat. 

This shocked him and he didn’t know what to do or feel. He was a jumbled mess of emotions and he didn’t know why he couldn’t move.

The next thing he knew, he jumped back in the warm, calm waters. Oak, his brother, where is he, he thought. He must find him; he must not have gotten that far. He swam as fast as his legs can take him and he dived as deep into the waters as he could go. This has never happened before. They have never been attacked by anything in their life. This is the first time he’s ever seen an all-out attack. The creatures never attacked them, why now?
He kept swimming and swimming.
Just as he was about to turn around, the colour of the water is different from not too far off.
It was red.
He followed the flow of the blood and he saw several different creatures were doing the same thing. They were after the blood and they were going to eat whatever it was. Alder swam faster and faster. He cannot lose to these things. He must find his brother now. It was the only thing in his mind. How can he face Piscine when she comes back? How can he tell her that he wasn’t a fast enough swimmer to save his younger brother again? How can he show her what he and Oak practiced? The singing and the swimming games they thought of?
Just as he got closer, he saw a figure moving.
Is that Oak, he asked himself, not stopping to think. He unsheathes his own axeknife. If any of these creatures attack, he will not hesitate to fight.
As Alder got closer, he saw that Oak is alive! But something is holding him down and it was gigantic. He swam towards his brother and slashed the tentacles that are holding him down. He grabbed Oak by the collar and swam up, knowing that Oak had probably been under for quite some time. They both gasped for breath, not stopping to swim away.
‘Don’t stop! Go! Go! Go!’ Alder shouts at his brother.
Oak, looking quite exhausted, but kept swimming even if he was struggling. ‘Brod, it’s gigantic! It’s the red knight! It’s Cthulhu!’
‘Talk later! Swim away!’ Suddenly, Alder felt something take a hold of his leg and the next thing he knew he was flying above the waters.
‘Toot!’ he screams.
‘Toot!’ he heard Oak scream right next to him.
Alder grabs his brother and shouted, ‘Hold on! Don’t let go!’
They landed pretty far from where they were swimming and when they landed, they sank quickly.
Oak and Alder didn’t waste any time and kicked with all their might. They need to survive. The creature was not letting them go no matter how far they swam. If they swim any further out, they may not be able to get back. The day is expiring and they have never spent time out too far away from the city, especially not without a boat. Alder still had his other axeknife and Oak still had a large axesaw with him. There is no way that they can get away without a fight. Alder stops swimming and Oak understood, not needing to be told anything.


They will have to kill the red knight.

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

ACT 3 SCENE 3: The Ark (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5

The second time they saw her, it was four years later. The boys were eight and their swimming skills have greatly improved. Their parents were relieved that the incident did not sway them from learning the basic survival skills that they need. In truth, the boys wanted to see Piscine again and they wanted to show her that they can swim better and faster – if they ever see her again.
The boys were sitting by the rocks where Piscine left them, watching the sunset, Alder absent-mindedly throwing small pebbles on the side and Oak doing the same on the opposite side when they saw a silhouette not very far from them. They couldn’t see who it was because the sun was in their eyes but the figure swam closer towards them.
‘My water babies! How much have you grown?!’ the figure says as it swam closer.
The boys stood up from the rocks quickly, looking around the area for anyone.
‘Piscine!’ they both call out. Piscine swims closer to them and she’s changed quite a bit the last time they saw her. Her hair is much longer, her goggles look more industrial and she certainly doesn’t look like a child anymore.
‘Piscine! You didn’t stay the last time!’ Alder tells her as she sits by the rocks next to them.
‘We…we didn’t even know where to find you!’ Oak tells her, blushing so much, he can’t even speak properly.
‘I’m sorry. I had to leave because my family was already moving and I had to catch up.’ Piscine says as she squeezes the water from her long, thick green hair.
‘Moving?’ the boys ask in unison.
‘I don’t live around here,’ she tells them, smiling at them. They notice that her teeth are small but sharp which would normally scare anyone but she saved them – why would she want to eat them? ‘Did you tell your parents about me?’
‘We wanted to but Alder said that they wouldn’t believe us anyway.’ Oak tells her a little defensively, not sure whether she was relieved or offended that they did not tell their parents.
Piscine shrugs. ‘As a matter of fact, they probably would think you both were just in the water too long.’
‘Are you mad at us?’ Oak asks, sniffing.
‘What? No! No, why would I be mad?’ Piscine laughs.
‘Because we did not tell them about you,’ Alder answers.
‘Oh, my water babies! It is better that they do not know of me. I feel better that they do not know anything.’
‘Really?’ Oak says, wiping his face.
‘Yes. Truly. What are your names, water babies?’ she asks them, braiding her already dry hair on one side of her head.
‘Alder,‘ pointing to himself, ‘and this is my younger brother, Oak,’ he says pointing to a much stockier Oak who is giving her his biggest smile.
‘I finally know your names!’ she says excitedly. ‘I wasn’t sure if you are both still going to be here. I’m not very accustomed with the ways of the city. My people stay away from the cities and we don’t associate with anyone outside. Maybe now, except me. I wasn’t supposed to be here but here I am!’ she tells them, her arms flailing around.
‘Will you get in trouble?’ Alder asked, quite seriously.
‘If I get caught, yes, I will get into heaps of trouble,’ she replied coolly. ‘But I wanted to see if you are both okay. It’s been a while since we passed this area.’
‘How long are you going to be here?’ Oak enquired.
Piscine thinks for a moment, absent-mindedly cracking her abnormally long fingers. ‘If I remember correctly, father mentioned that we will be here for three sunrise and three sunsets, just like the last time.’
‘Where will you go after?’ Alder asked this time.
‘I don’t know,’ she lied. ‘We know how to go to places but we just never stay too long at one. My family think it is better that way. All Freedom clans move around all the time.’
Piscine knew very well where they are going but she would not want to get the twins in trouble. She’s already caused too much trouble.
‘Is that what you or your people are called?’
‘Yes. That’s what we are called. Sea or Waters Nomads – sometimes they even call us water sprites because we can disappear very quickly in the sea. The sea is our home.’
‘When you leave again, how long will you be gone?’ Oak asked sadly.
‘Perhaps another four years or longer, it depends on the destination or the salvage…’ Piscine looked at the fascinated faces of the twins with amusement but sadness because they are unaware of her journey. ‘I’m sure you’d love to go out there and do some exploration but believe me, there are days when I wish I was just in one place, probably in land. But you know what? I can tell you about the stories! I have many stories! I wish I can show you both what is down there, it’s a whole different world altogether,’ she says with a hint of sadness. Piscine looked up at the night sky, now completely littered with stars and the Milky Way prominently in view. She sees a falling star and pretended to catch it. She holds up her closed hand closer to the twins and opened it slowly to reveal a large white pearl. The twins gasped, amazed by this. Oak pointed to the sky and to the pearl and to the sky and to the pearl again. Alder couldn’t keep his mouth closed. Whatever she did, he wants to know how she did it.
‘How did you…?’ Oak managed to finally ask.
Piscine giggled at their naivety, she thought the boys were so zheng, also known as ‘cute’ in the old world. ‘These are one of the things we find down in the waters but it’s too far deep for you both. It’s called a pearl. Back in the old world, they used to harvest them and make them into jewellery.’
‘Woah…if you actually deal in the cities, that would probably fetch a good price but then again, don’t. They always cheat.’ Alder tells her, disapproving of the ways of the Labs.
‘I can give this pearl to you both, and you can give it to your mother if you like, as a nice token.’
‘Really?’ the twins said in unison.
‘Yes, our clans like to give gifts. This one is for a proper token of our friendship! Piscine says to them, smiling. ‘Now you both have to hold out your hands and take it together.’
‘Thank you, Piscine!’ they both say as they take the pearl together. ‘Mamu will love this!’ Oak tells Alder excitedly. What the twins didn’t know was in the Freedom clans, tokens like this are given to men by the women who want to marry them. You would think that Piscine knows about this tradition as well but she doesn’t. She just thought it would be a nice gift. She always thought the idea of one man separated into two is magical.
 ‘Alder? Oak?’ she calls to them, the twins looking up in attention, ‘when I leave on the third sunset, please don’t cry okay? Because I don’t want to feel heavy when I go back.’
The twins look at each other and promised her that they wouldn’t cry or show sadness when the time comes for her to leave so she won’t feel heavy like a Chutah because the heaviest creature they know is a Chutah and Mamu. But they won’t say that because Mamu will stop feeding them and they love her too much to make her angry.
‘Now…’ she is going through her bag and takes out a triangle and a stick, ‘I have a few more moments before I need to go. Do you both know how to sing?’
So, in three sunrises and two sunsets, the old but new friends spent as much time together as they can before it was time for Piscine to leave. She taught them the basics of singing – which the boys find odd that they don’t have it. They find singing and music quite relaxing. Piscine tells them that music, a new word to them, is everywhere; they should follow its beat and follow the beat of their hearts. She taught them ways on how to swim faster with the currents and how to get an extra breath when you feel like you are running out of air while still far from the surface, how to lure fishes faster, what can be used as supplies, materials, and many more things. She told them stories of cities that used to exist in the old world, how fascinating it must have looked. She told them sometimes, she pretends to the waters weren’t that deep and she imagines people walking down those pathways, along with those metallic squares. She told them of monuments that are below the waters. Naturally they don’t know what monuments are and she drew how they looked like on the sand. Oak developed an even greater interest in history because of Piscine. He was already interested in history with Mamu’s fascination with history and maps. Piscine told them the Pyras, and she drew it on the sand. She told them where even older gods used to live and was buried, the Great Bridge of Chine which stretched so far that they found themselves in different charters in the waters. Piscine tells them that often, she thinks that the cities are just asleep below. That maybe one day the waters will eventually go down but she quickly dismisses it. The twins are obviously curious why she would take it back. They believe that she and Mamu would get along very well with their knowledge on history and maps but they don’t tell Piscine that because she might feel sad since they did not tell their parents about her. Alder and Oak look at each other in mutual agreement that they will somehow introduce these two ladies to each other. One day.
Alder and Oak’s imagination is in high gear thinking about all the things that you can see in the deep. How high up would they find themselves if the waters did go back to the levels of the old world!
Three sunrises and two sunsets felt like just one sunrise. When the third sunset finally came, the twins waited by the rocks for Piscine to come by to say goodbye. Piscine jumps out of the water to the rocks and shook herself dry.
‘This is it, my water babies. I have had a very happy three sunrises and two sunrises,’ she says, tearing up a bit.
The twins, beaming with smiles, look at each other, stood up and saluted at Piscine. Alder looking like a Y and Oak like an M. They switched positions and Alder now looks like a C and Oak like an A.
‘Thank you for saving our lives, Piscine! You’re our best friend forever! We’ll always think of you and we shall wait for you to come back!’ Piscine’s ears go red which doesn’t happen all the time and squealed with delight. Did they practice this, she asked herself, completely moved. She took the boys in her arms and hugged them tightly.
‘You are very welcome. We will be best of friends forever!’

At that moment, Piscine felt for the first time, what ‘warmth’ meant.

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

Friday, 7 March 2014

ACT 3 SCENE 3: COMIC - POST-IT

Here's a short comic strip that Lindsy and I did way back in 2012 for Indie Ladies' Comic Anthology.
I'm a little baffled how it's already two years old.
Hope you guys enjoy! :)



Tuesday, 4 March 2014

ACT 3 SCENE 3: The Ark (Chapter 4)

Chapter 4
The twins look at each other and cross the room, going towards the decapitated kowfish. Oh, the adventures that could have been. They carry the dead carcass to the backdoor where the outdoor kitchen is located. They set the kowfish on a large cutting knife table.
‘Tonight is your turn, right?’ Oak asks Alder.
‘Yes, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of this.’ Alder replies and picks up the large axeknife next to the table cutting board.
‘You sure?’ Oak asks worried. ‘Don’t forget to hide those - most of it,’ adds before he turns around, heading back to the direction of the house as Alder brings down the axeknife down to cut the kowfish in half.
Oak stops in his tracks and Alder stops midway from bringing down the axeknife again to the carcass. Not too far away from them, they hear a voice, no, it’s not talking – the person was singing.
Oak and Alder look at each other and their expressions strained, trying to locate the melody. Their expressions both form sheepish grins. Alder sets the knife down the cutting knife table and wipes his hands on his pants, following Oak who was already on the way towards where the singing voice is coming from.
‘We’ll just say ‘hi’,’ Oak tells Alder, looking a bit distracted.
‘Of course, brod. I am just coming along, just to make sure you don’t get in trouble,’ Alder teases him.
‘We have to take the long way,’ Oak tells him but continued walking along, not waiting for an answer.
‘That’s always the plan,’ Alder replied, amused.
They go down the hill from their house as quick as swimming fishes, past three rows of reed houses, past the water condensation well, past another five rows of houses, crossing the bridge – Lug still asleep on the ground, still drunk and if anyone sees him, would take him for dead if he didn’t occasionally snore here and there. They make it back to the pier and there at the rocks, a silhouette of a person can be seen in the dark. The twins could have gotten there much more quickly by just going straight down the path from their house but they didn’t want to be seen by anyone – as always.
The singing stopped and the silhouette looks back. It is holding something with both hands. On its left hand a triangular shaped object and on the other, a short stick. It strikes the triangle with the stick and it made a nice tingling sound.
‘Let’s dance…put on your red shoes and dance the blues…’ it sang then hitting the triangle with the stick again.
‘Let‘s dance to the song they’re playing on the radio,’ Oak sings, who is not so bad. If he was in the old world, they would use machines to manipulate his voice and autotune it, even if there isn’t anything wrong with his voice and a few singing lessons would suffice. Another hit on the triangle with the stick, followed by a giggle.
‘Oak, Alder!’ a voice of a girl playfully calls out their name but kept her tone in whispers.
‘Piscine! Where have you been?’ Alder asks as they make their way closer to the rocks. Oak is blushing beet red but he is saved by the darkness surrounding him – or so he thought since he keeps forgetting Piscine can see everything in the dark….in colour.
Piscine is not from any of the cities. She is part of the Freedom clans. The Freedom clans are the sea nomads of the new world, they keep moving around and as they do, their makeshift cities change almost every time. If you try and pinpoint the origins of these clans from the old world, they will be from all over the world with the same collective thought that they had a better chance at survival by moving all the time. They get by collecting different things you can salvage in the waters, the Warm waters or from the Other waters, it doesn’t really matter. They are many of them, some in smaller groups, and some in larger groups and are scattered all over the waters. People from the cities would most likely tell you that these people are savages and that they would attack you but they don’t find any interest in any of the city people. They keep to themselves and there is nothing that they would need from neither the city people nor the smugglers. Smugglers do not dare associate with these clans either. One of the reasons that they are not very well liked is because they developed a mutation. Nobody knows when it started, how it started or where it started. They spend so much time in the water, fishing and salvaging in deep waters that they have developed lungs that can hold breath longer than the city people or the smugglers or anyone in known history. They can dive much deeper in the waters too. They can easily walk on land, with a little difficulty but swim faster than the fastest cold blooded creature you can think of. Their limbs are a little longer and instead of being stocky like the rest of the population on the remaining land surface, they are quite tall and very lean. They’ve also developed a resistance to weather changes. They cannot feel heat or cold. Often, this is their downfall because they do not have that kind of sensitivity to temperature change in the waters. Many have ventured too close to volcanoes without realizing the intense heat that has surrounded the perimeter. The city people can think of a number of things they don’t like about the water nomads but they are the best navigators and weather predictors. If they don’t want to be found, you will never find them. The clans will find you instead.
Also, they don’t cook their food. They eat it as it is. But they are not savages, they will share their food – you just have to like to eat how it is, there is absolutely no cooking allowed.
The twins met Piscine when they almost drowned.
They were four years old and their Uncle Blueberry, Mango’s cousin, was in charge of teaching them swimming. Oak did not take to the waters very well and was terrified, crying the entire day. Alder did not have a problem which was a huge relief for Uncle Blueberry. At the end of the day, Oak unwillingly swam and managed to swim towards the port, which was a feet away. As Uncle Blueberry concluded the end of the lesson, they were walking away from the port when Oak slipped and fell off. He managed to enter the water without screaming and he went in so cleanly that there was no splash. When Alder turned around, his younger brother is gone and is nowhere to be seen. Oak, on the other hand, panicked. He sank deeper and deeper, unable to move. He knew he won’t be able to get to the surface if he did not move so he moved his feet, and then both his arms. He was moving! He kicked and kicked but what he did not realize is that he was going deeper into the waters.
Uncle Blueberry instructed Alder to stay on the port and dived into the waters. Alder watched the water surface with so much concentration, his heart beating faster than he can remember. His eyes started clouding and tears started falling from his eyes. Uncle Blueberry resurfaces and he was empty handed. He tells Alder to look for his parents right now and he dives back down. Just as Alder is about to run, he sees bubbles on the other side of the port. He screams at where his Uncle dived, calling out to him. He runs to where the bubbles are and he knows for certain that Oak is there. Without thinking, he dived in.
Alder kicks and swims deeper, remembering what his Uncle taught him. He must be faster to get to Oak and he kicks faster and faster. And then suddenly, he feels a pain on his left side. This makes him stop and he realizes he needed air! He was going to drown but if he doesn’t continue, Oak will drown too. His started seeing black dots and he started to struggle.
Suddenly, he felt a large slimy hand take hold of his chin and he felt as if he was falling backwards. The next thing he knows, he was on the surface! He took a large gulp of air and his lungs was pumping air so fast, it felt it was going to burst.
‘Slowly…slowly…’ a girl’s voice. Alder turns, still a little dazed and a girl of about ten years old, wearing a large safety goggles with green hair is smiling at him, holding an unconscious Oak.
She looks at Alder confused and looks back at Oak and then back to Alder. ‘You look the same!’ she says, giggling. She swam to the rocks by the pier and let Alder resurface. Alder felt his face go hot because he’s never seen anyone look like her. Alder realized that Oak wasn’t moving and was about to say something when the girl interrupted him.
‘Don’t worry about your brother, he just needs air,’ and when she said that, she put her mouth on Oak’s mouth and breathed into his mouth. Alder was wide eyed and did not know what was going on. She did it several times and then, Oak started coughing and spitting out water.
‘He will be alright,’ she tells Alder. Oak started crying, reaching out to Alder and hugging him. Alder was crying as well.
‘Be careful next time, my water babies!’ the girl said. When Alder and Oak looked up, she was already in the waters, waving to them.
‘Wait, what’s your name?’ Oak asked his voice still coarse.
The girl giggles and said, ‘Piscine’ and she dives back into the waters.
‘Let’s be friends!’ Alder shouts but the boys weren’t sure if she heard them. When they went back to the main port, Uncle Blueberry was still in the waters with other people also swimming. Their father saw them first and the boys can’t remember what happened next. There was a lot of screaming, hugging from everyone and crying from their mother.

That was their first encounter with Piscine. 

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

ACT 3 SCENE 3: The Ark (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3

‘Plastic?’ Mango and her twins say in unison.
‘Yes. Plastic. The old world used to mass produce them. And we’re talking massive that it actually affected the overall climate of the Earth. It was quite a time back then. But it was very useful actually. It was easy to clean, durable, kept things contained. They even used them to protect small items. There were millions of things you can do it. The eco system was also affected but then they didn’t realize how bad it is until everything started to change. It was not as easy to dispose like paper or metal. They tried to regulate manufacturing and usage but that took quite some time too. They were still in the process of doing that when the waters rose. It created a great number of problems for mankind then. But as you can see, Mother Nature has her own way to fix things. Come over here, amore. I should be able to help you take it out with the soap.’ he says as he motions to her to come closer to where he was standing.
‘No! It will ruin the map!’ Mango protests.
‘Amore, you don’t even know if it’s really a legitimate map,’ he counters.
‘I should know and you of all people, should know that I know if it’s legitimate or not.’
‘Ahhh…then, would you like to have your finger stuck in the dreadful plastic bottle mouth then?’
‘I will just have to be smart about this,’ she tells him in a huff, not wanting to sound wrong, even defeated in any way. Her fingers are a little longer and a little tubby than your usual human back in the days. She turns around from them and tries to pull it out, her face reddening, huffing and puffing but still unsuccessful. It’s starting to hurt a little bit so she stops pulling – why didn’t she just use the forceps on her table, she asks herself, in her mind. She starts arguing with herself and shaking her head disapprovingly.
‘Are you alright, Mamu?’ Alder asks concerned.
‘Yes…’ still pulling the plastic bottle, ‘…just fruity!’ Her face is beginning to grow beet red from the task. So approaches her and meowed.
‘Not now, So!’ she commands the chutah.
So meows again and sticks her tongue out. She licks Mango’s whole arm, including the plastic bottle and before Mango can protest, the plastic bottle slid off easily from her finger and fell to the ground, tumbling several times and rolls off to where Orange is standing.
Mango was surprised and relieved. She grabs So and hugged her. ‘Good Chutah!’ Always looks after your Mamu, aren’t you? Aren’t you? Who’s the good, Chutah??’
Orange picks up the saliva slime covered plastic bottle and heads over to another area of the room. He picks up one of the many small forceps and fishes for the map carefully. He slowly pulls out the paper, holding his breath and hoping it doesn’t disintegrate into the air, just like many of the maps they have found do. He holds the paper with the forceps and throws the plastic bottle behind him which shoots precisely into the makeshift rubbish bin they have in the workshop. He slowly makes his way to his work area. Trailing closely behind him, Alder and Oak follows him with curiosity.
‘Looks more colourful, doesn’t it?’ Oak says to no one in particular.
‘The Ark?’ Alder says as he walks around his father, squinted eyes, trying to read the rolled up paper, reading the bold letters written on it.
The Ark?’ Oak exclaims. ‘Which ark? The ark of the cove or Noa’s ark?’
‘Brod, you are such a hipster…’
‘I don’t even know what that means…’Oak replies, shaking his head. ‘Anyway, both are myths. Which one would you like to hear first?’
‘Something about cove.’ Alder replies, checking what his father is doing. ‘What are you doing, Papi?’ he asks his father who is searching for something through piles of things on the wall of his workshop.
‘I…am…looking…for something….to hold this paper down properly…’ he answers, not stopping from searching the piles of things.
‘The ark of cove is also known as the ark of test. It’s written on stone and there are fifteen questions on it. You have to answer them all correctly or else.’
‘Or else what?’
‘You have to write letters to everyone, your friends, family and neighbours!’
‘What? That’s impossible! There’s no way you can do that.’
‘And they have to do that within the day.’ Oak tells him wide eyed.
‘Toot!!’ Alder exclaims.
‘Your language, young man! Remember, not in this house,’ his mother warns.
‘My bad, Mamu! What if they don’t manage?’ Alder asks his younger brother, obviously feeling terrified but hiding it, his voice clearly showing his real feelings.
‘Bad things will happen….bad things…’ Oak says, looking grave.
Alder is shaking his head in disapproval. ‘That is not hot. Not hot at all. And you only have one day to send all that letters out?! Where would they get all the paper? And how will they send it over to all these people within a day? How can you answer all those questions in the first place? Papi, if it’s that ark of cove, I don’t even want to do anything with it.’
‘It’s very tricky, it is!’ Oak nags him.
‘How do you even know about this story? Who told you?’ Alder asks, a little agitated at the story.
‘Grandma Plum,’ Oak says, shrugging. ‘You know, you’d know all these stories if you’d just sit down and listen for once. They always have stories to tell and I think they are interesting.’
‘Well, I don’t want to be rude and fall asleep. You know I’m not really into it. So, what about the other ark? Noa’s Ark, is it?’
‘Yes. That one you will find interesting.’ Oak says excitedly.
‘And who told you about this story?’ Alder asks, curious.
‘This one, Grandpa Melon since he likes these kind of stories more,’ Oak replies, a matter-of-factly. ‘It is said that Noa made a vessel, an ark…a large boat,’ Oak explains, ‘…made of gopher wood to save the mythical beasts of the Old World and become a legendary circus trainer.’
‘Wahhh…serious?’
‘Yes! He needed to get out there and catch them himself. He went around the world, using the ark to find them. He has to – catch them all,’ Oak concludes with seriousness.
‘Brod, that’s a homerun! So what happened?’
‘According to the legends, he managed to get a Hercules beetle first.’ Oak tells Alder, super impressed.
‘No way…’ Alder says, amazed by this legendary circus trainer, Noa.
Now, when you mention ‘Hercules Beetle’ in this time, it’s a gigantic swimming beetle that can snap a kowfish into three easy slices. But back in the old world, it’s a beetle that is the size of a small adult hand. Of course, they don’t know this.
‘And then, what did he catch next?’ Alder asks Oak, who finally managed to get around the idea of a Hercules Beetle being caught by a seemingly ordinary man called Noa.
‘He caught a warseal,’ Oak tells him, nodding slowly for effect.
‘There is no way he can catch that.’ Alder tells him, unbelieving now.
‘He got warseals, unicorns, narwhales, dragoons, dogpups, rabids, puncheroos, hamstores, pigeutes, ligers, crocobiles – all those animals that are extinct, he caught them. Even Nemo.’
‘Nooo…’
‘That’s right, brod. The man has talent. He found Nemo. Remember how there was this myth about that klown fish that they couldn’t find? That is quite a feat.’
‘So if he did all that, what happened after? Did he manage to train them all?’
‘No one knows.’
‘What do you mean no one knows?’
‘That’s what Grandpa Melon told me. No one knows what happened to him because he got lost.’
‘What doesn’t get lost anyway? Who knows, he probably ended up in the Canada Square,’ he tells his brother, nodding. Oak agrees with him by nodding back.  ‘Papi, have you figured out what that is?’
Their father crouched very low, holding the large magnifying glass with both hands. ‘Hmmm…’
Their mother joined them and puts her head right next to her husband’s so they look like they have two heads and one body. ‘It is a map alright but it looks like a land map.’
The twins groan in unison. What are they going to do with a land map at this time? If you must really know, the world as they know it and as you will know it is now almost a hundred percent covered in water. A great many things happened. Humanity was doing well – everything was peaceful then, politically and socially. All that dream of unity and peace is becoming a reality. And all is well with the blue planet.
But let’s face it. Life is more or less like a soap opera – which the twins’ mother would probably enjoy back then.
One day, the water started rising. Actually, no one really knew when or how it started. No one can give you a precise date.
It just happened.
There were many things that were lost and there were as many that were remembered. Perhaps not as accurate as one would like but the intentions were good. It was enough and humanity did thrive again, no matter what you throw at them.
The three main cities are the only ones left standing.
If you are wondering where these cities are located in the old world, Krakatoa and Vesuvius are in upland spots near the Equator. Krakatoa is located somewhere in the old country called Bolivia and Vesuvius is somewhere near the Peruvian Andes. The climate is eternal springtime which just suits the people of those cities. Pelee is located somewhere in Ruwenzori. The journey is always long and as always, dangerous – even if you are a good swimmer. The controlling influences of the world can never be predicted. There is one remaining temperate zone but like the old world, the cold discourages man from living there permanently since it snows on most years and it’s difficult to carve a living even if humanity’s physical built also changed through time to adapt to the new environment.
Adapt or die – that’s how it is.

Or something like that.

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

Friday, 21 February 2014

ACT 3 SCENE 2: The Ark (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2

‘A map?!’ their mother exclaims excitedly. Alder and Oak’s mother loves those old maps. She loves them so much that it was part of bedtime story, every other night, since the twins can remember. She will tell them about lands that existed hundreds of years ago. Continents of land, low sea level lands and mountains that are thousands of feet high that explorers tried to climb but mostly failed. Rivers, large cliffs of land, lands with only sand that goes on and on. She told them stories of different cities – different cultures and many variations of people. She says the world used to be a total of seven billion people and counting. There were different languages and along with those languages, there were thousands of dialects that came along with it. She told them that some languages died along with time as well. That information used to send shivers down Alder’s spine – the romanticism of it all. Were there THAT many people back in the old days? How could they fit in such a small city and survive? She also told them about how man used to have techs to navigate through space, the sea and on land. They have ‘social networks’ which caused problems with real life communication. Apparently, families did not speak to each other but used these techs to communicate with each other instead. They thought this was rather amusing and sad at the same time. A box that shows what’s going on around the globe, all up to date not like their news now that is about, give or take, a week or so old. But one of the best tech stories that they heard from her was about ‘hover boards’. They said that people travelled around in hover boards and have flying techs which carried a number of people. These techs will take people to places that are too far and they will get there so quickly because they used the sky instead of the water to go to another city.  When they were younger, Alder and Oak had a favourite story. It was bout a certain man called Doctor who liked to take companions and time travel all over the time and space. Til’ today, they wonder if that ‘Doctor’ exists and if he would one day show up in Krakatoa and take them both as companions. How they hope he would show them these techs and speak different languages. Such adventure! Their mother tells them there is documentation but they have yet to find proof. It is probably one of those ‘myths’ but that doesn’t stop the brothers from dreaming. Oak loved the myths. He remembers all the stories from his father. Orange used to tell the boys about the old world myths. Their favourites would be about a struggle with the ‘One Ring’ and how a group of different people from different tribes would come together and destroy the evil ‘One Ring’, a certain forest god called ‘Totoro’ who lived in large forests along with other creatures that helps people who are in need and a woman called Carmen San Diego that no one can find. Their father tells them that if he ever was in that point in time, he will surely find this Carmen San Diego woman and marry her. Of course, he will not say this in front of their mother. She once caught him talking about it and she threw a jar at him. This also serves as a lesson to never talk about another woman in front of the woman you love. Jars will be broken and it’s expensive.
There are many other things that the boys learnt from their relatives, about different influences and ‘religions’. There were many gods and sometimes, it led to a lot of confusion and disagreement which the boys think is ridiculous.
Oak loved these myths so much that he used to draw them and to this day, his drawings are prominently displayed on the walls of their houses and some are at the Wilnoix artefacts gallery. Alder writes the fanfic – that is what it’s called when you write about it, his father says. Writing is a little bit different nowadays. It’s difficult to maintain if you don’t have a garden. Their father writes a lot of fanfic so the garden is always filled with different writings every week. Alder has a small space but he gets more space in the garden as he gets older. Remembering them is easy enough for the twins. Oak loves to tell them to the children in Krakatoa. He’s so popular with story time that they have it once every full moon at a bonfire. Alder will help tell the story as well, along with other groups and they will act it out. The last one they did was called Godrizza. It was about a creature from the waters, at the deep end, which crushed the old cities, looking for something that it lost but at the end, saves humanity from other creatures that want to completely destroy the world. Oak feels a connection with Godrizza, that when he plays the creature – he ‘becomes’ the creature and he accidently knocked down Lug’s hut. Oak explains to Alder that he was ‘feeling’ it. The crowds of people were pleased but Lug was too drunk to actually care at all. He always slept by the bridge all the time anyway. The twins rebuilt the hut for Lug right after the story time and Alder had to endure the whole night of Oak talking about his ‘connection’ with Godrizza. Of course, when the twins were younger, this caused a lot of talk and the world that we now know of thought the family was a little bizarre but who wasn’t. Everyone was different and that’s okay.
And the world we know now is so much different from the history and myths that they hear of.
People all looked different. Some are blonde, some have red hair, some have all sorts of hair colour and some have different coloured eyes, different shapes and sizes. But they are stockier than the people we are used to, a little taller and live a little longer. Orange used to tell them the average age for humans in the old world was sixty. Nowadays, it’s two hundred, minimum. Some pass away at three hundred at least. Back in the days, they aged so quickly and got sick easily. Their father tells them it is probably their lifestyle and they stop growing at eighteen when humans nowadays stop growing at least fifty. He talks about diseases that kill quickly, some slowly. It was an odd time to live. People rushed too quickly with things they do not understand. Perhaps, it’s the choices they made. It may be even the techs that they made. It was a chaotic world. According to some documentation, many were sad and felt alone even if they were surrounded by so many people, another bizarre trait. Even chutahs live until one hundred human years; their ancestors only lived until eighteen ‘cat years’ or one hundred and twenty six human years. 
There are only three main cities: Krakatoa, Vesuvius and Pelee. Pelee is the city that never sleeps. It never sleeps because the smugglers gather in the city to trade all the time. Even if it is the most guarded, it is certainly the liveliest. The Labs are located in Pelee. All large scale trading are done at the Labs. If you are lucky, you will get treasures that they consider rubbish. A large wall of figurines is lined up at the Wilnoix home. There’s a woman with long blonde hair with a rather small waist and big eyes; a bird like creature with a mask; a man with a white robe holding onto a ship mast and a man in all black, wearing a mask and his back that glows, to name a few. Their father assumes that this may be old gods that people pray to – and often, the boys will ask the figurines for a safe journey whenever they go out to the waters.
Vesuvius is a smaller island, just like Krakatoa. Smugglers don’t go to Krakatoa or Vesuvius because the people who live here don’t really have anything they can take and besides, both islands have different smugglers’ protection because it used to be their home. You would quickly assume that these kinds of people would be power hungry but there is a certain respect among smugglers. The twins’ mother would tell them that this time is probably the most peaceful timeline in the history of man. She tells them stories about war against countries. How the more powerful countries ‘colonise’ different areas of the world. This is a sad story, of course and rather preposterous. Their father tells them of weapons used during these wars; cannons, laser guns and glowing sticks, just like one of the figurines is holding, flying birds, large whales and large houses that has cannons. As a boy, Alder would sometimes dream of these wars and he’d wake up in the middle of the night, crying. He used to have nightmares of being in a flying bird, falling from the sky very fast and he did not know what to do. Oak would dream of the hover boards. How quickly he could get to the cities without having to wait for good winds.
Mango is inspecting the cylinder.
‘It’s a bottle,’ she concludes. She looks at her boys and her husband with a serious expression. Orange starts to smile and everyone in the room give each other a goofy grin.
‘Let’s open it?’ Orange suggests.
Mango looks at the stopper on the bottle and pulls it off. It makes a popping sound which surprised Orange and the twins. She puts a finger in the mouth of the bottle, trying to reach paper inside. Her expression changed from excited to dread all of a sudden. Oak looks at her with concern.
‘What’s wrong, Mamu?’
‘I’m…’ Mango looks pained and starts pulling the bottle from her finger, ‘I’m stuck,’ she says and makes a quick swipe, hitting the bottle on the table but it just creases and goes back to its original shape.

‘Oh no…’ her husband says, pointing at the bottle, ‘…it’s plastic.’

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

ACT 3 SCENE 2: The Ark (Chapter 1)


Chapter 1

Oak is lying down inside the houseboat. He has to lie down sideways because he can’t actually fit because of his stocky size. He’s waiting for the fishing lines to take bait but it’s taking a while…perhaps, a nap of five minutes, he concludes, as he takes a peek up at the sky to estimate the time.
The sound of the calm waters of Krakatoa lulled Oak to an easy slumber. Five minutes became fifteen.
‘BROD!! BROD!!’ a voice starts yelling not too far from the houseboat.
Oak doesn’t flinch. He has a smile on his face and is probably already having a good dream.
Alder is walking towards the houseboat with stilts on. ‘BROD! It’s huge! It’s a kowfish! Hurry! Get the stilts! I need you to…’
A large shadow looms over Alder, he looks up and sees the gigantic kowfish with three horns, a rare kowfish – if I may add, with its gigantic mouth open and he opens his mouth to scream but nothing comes out. He’s going to be its dinner, Alder knows this. The kow is too fast and he can’t react on time, even if he could be as fast as it is. Suddenly, dual stilts went flying towards the kowfish’s mouth and it falls into the water as fast as it came up.
‘Porbida! Go after it, brod!’ Oak yells at Alder, half awake. Half of Oak’s body is out of the houseboat and it’s tilted horizontally.
Alder quickly loses the stilts and dives into the water. Oak slowly slides backwards into the houseboat.  After a few minutes, he hears a splash of water and a loud thud at the other end of the houseboat. Alder comes up from the side, looking exhausted but smiling.
‘Brod,’ Alder says, coming up slowly to the houseboat, ‘This is good. Look at this! We can sell this for a lot! Three horns!’ Alder sits next to the kowfish, pointing at each horn, as if he is counting them for Oak.
‘They might think it’s a mutation,’ Oak says, shrugging.
‘They always say it’s a mutation and then you see it in the Labs at a high price. We’ll take the meat, we can eat anything anyway.’
‘It’s up to you. I will do the talking since you always lose your cool,’ Oak tells him as he inspects the horns, feeling it on his finger.
‘Of course I will lose my cool, they’re always cheating us.’ Alder is standing over both Oak and the kowfish and wondering how they’re going to smuggle this into Krakatoa.
‘Maybe we should cut it up now?’ Oak suggests, already on the same train of thought as Alder.
‘This is going to take a while. I don’t want us to get stuck out here at the waters so late.’
‘Who’s in the post tonight?’
‘Probably Roxas but I can’t be sure. But if it is, I know how we can just go past without inspection,’ Alder says, grinning widely at his brother.

The winds carried them easily and soon enough, they found themselves home just as the sun sets at the horizon.
Krakatoa has been their home all their life. The twins, Alder and Oak Wilnoix. Twins are very rare at these times but it’s not unheard of. Very uncommon, just like a third nipple or a second pinkie finger. They were named after trees that are as rare as the three horned kowfish. People reports that they still exist but there is no proof.
Perhaps it’s only a myth.
Perhaps it isn’t.
The twins were born three minutes apart but they were born on different dates so you can imagine how different these two are. Alder Wilnoix is the older twin. He has a certain charm to him that many young men have too but he is more gregarious about it, so to say. He is very popular with the young ladies and he likes to lead them on playfully but he only has eyes for one – but he will not admit this to anyone but his younger brother, Oak – if he cared to ask. Oak Wilnoix is a little stockier and taller than Alder. Kids always ask him to carry them over his shoulders and he doesn’t mind it. You can always see him around town helping the townsfolk with chores. While Oak is indeed the stronger of the two, he is more calm and understanding of the morons around town. He does not get into fights because they don’t dare fight him. Alder on the other hand, does the physical fighting for both of them.
As they arrive at the port, Roxas waves to them from his post.
‘The Wilnoix brothers…’ he says a little loudly, looking back, checking the reed house nearby where two of his male senior officers are probably getting frisky with each other. ‘…hey guys! Why so late?’ he whispers.
‘We got something for you!’ Alder says in half whisper, winking at Roxas. Roxas blushes, smiling widely, as he anticipates what Alder is taking from the large sack.
Alder presents to him a bunch of chocolate crabs tied together. Chocolate crabs are a delicacy around in Krakatoa and this makes Roxas blush even more. ‘Tha…thank you, guys!’ looking at both twins in surprise. The truth is, Roxas always feels this way whenever he’s being given chocolate crabs by the twins. It’s not as if they are making fun of him, it amuses them that he’s always genuinely happy about the gifts, even if it means that they did it, just so they can go through the port gate with smuggled goods and late entries because of more smuggled goods.
‘Go now before they’re done with their er, break,’ he tells them protectively, whispering urgently. ‘Alright, Wilnoix brothers, you clean and you can go through. Quickly now!’ he commands them as he winks at them. This sends shivers down Oak’s spine but Alder winks back – just to make the guy happy and who wouldn’t be happy with a successful smuggling?
‘I don’t know how you do it,’ Oak tells Alder as he alights from the houseboat.
‘There’s nothing wrong. You think too much into it.’ Alder tells him.
‘You know, five hundred years ago, that would not be allowed.’
‘Who are we to judge these things, brod? Let’s not get into one of your history lessons. There’s a reason why it’s called history too, you know.’
‘I suppose.’ Oak shrugs and helps Alder unload the kowfish carefully. ‘How are we going to carry this home without being seen?’
Alder looks around and there are still a number of Sigur bottles turned on. ‘We should be able to carry it quickly across the bridge without being seen. Its dinner time and the only person out right now is Lug, who is – as usual – drunk. I still don’t get how he gets drunk on those parries.’
‘We’ve smuggled so many things back home that if Lug wasn’t always drunk, we’d probably be regulars at the Cocoon.’ Oak whispers to no one in particular.
‘Let’s go.’ Alder says and the twins carry the rare three horned kowfish past the drunkard Lug, into the cover of the night, back home.

Their mother, Mango and their father, Orange, stare at the rare three horned kowfish, that is now on top of the worktable.
Their parents were named after fruits that used to grow in the old world, according to history records. Unlike the norm, both their entire families were named after fruits and they both have rather unconventional childhood – both families like to collect artefacts. It’s very unusual for that time because the entire population felt the survival is always important. Their ancestors before them collected all sorts of ‘treasures’. A plastic stool from the island of ‘Ikea’, an entire CD collection of a man called Kenny G, to name a few. Mango and Orange had a mutual understanding that they can do what their families do and learn how to ‘survive’ and ‘adapt’. Most of their family ancestors and relatives have been in unfortunate circumstances – unable to survive a storm or getting eaten by a gorishark. Some can’t even swim. Mango’s ancestor recorded that once there were only four seasons in a year – whatever that means. Weather changes are like moods – how can they say such silly things? It rains, then it snows, then it’s sunny and then it’s summer again. That’s normal. The old world sounds so silly to them sometimes.  Orange’s ancestor talked about animals called cats – which is most probably an ancestor of their pet chutah, only much much smaller. Chutahs can be as large as a houseboat but they’re gentle and can be used as transportation. They like to live indoors so you need a big reed house if you want to obtain one. It’s also part of Krakatoa’s law. They have four chutahs and their name is Do, Re, Mi and So. It is quite a childhood for their parents. Also, their parents proudly call themselves ‘hipsters’. The brothers think it’s one of their quirks.
Orange has tears in his eyes. ‘I can’t believe this, boys! A three horned kowfish! We can’t cut it up…’ he says with such pain in his voice and his expression just magnifies the feeling because of his bottle butt thick glasses.
‘It is dead, Papi. You can’t keep it on my worktable.’ Mango says to her husband as she shakes her head in the dead kowfish’s direction. I can’t make harnesses for So if you don’t get rid of it.
‘But it’s a three horned kowfish!’ he says again, trying not to say it too loud, in case the neighbours hear it. ‘We can preserve it. Put it in the Wilnoix artefacts gallery!’
Alder moves the kowfish to its side and pokes it. Oak, with a knife in hand, is standing next to him. ‘It’s not pregnant and it’s certainly very dead. We can sell the horns, Papi. It should sell well.’
‘We can eat the meat. We’re all hungry, aren’t we? We can share it with Do, Re, Mi and So,’ Oak added, thoughtfully. ‘We can use the bones for fertilizers for the herbs.’
‘They’re going to give us such a low price for those horns at the Labs. We might as well keep it,’ Orange says sadly. Before he can protest, Oak slams the large knife on the kowfish’s head, decapitating it cleanly from its body. Oak hands the large kowfish head to Alder, ready to retrieve the horns for their collection.

‘Wait…’ Oak says suddenly. All four of them stare at the glinting light being reflected inside the kowfish. They all look at each other and look closer. It’s shiny and something is inside it. Oak pulls the cylinder out slowly and looks inside, his eyes squinted. Alder, Mango and Orange looks at Oak’s magnified eyes which are as big as the cylinder. ‘Is that a map?’

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)