Tuesday, 17 June 2014

:EPOCH Files turns 3!

Before I go to bed, I would just like to express my gratitude and love to everyone who's always supported me with my dreams.
And to my creative partner in crime, Linds, I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am that she understands my over the top weirdness. You will go places and I am glad you let me drag you into this! *high five explosion*

You can find the webcomic here!
Or here!

Stay safe! *fistbumps, highfives and hugs*

Here's a crewfie!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

ACT 3 SCENE 6: The Ark (Chapter 10)

Chapter 10

Piscine opened her eyes.
She blinked several times and she felt relieved. She finally saw the sun shine through her window for the first time in four years.

She looked outside and she has never seen friendlier waters or skies since. It felt good to be back.
They should be almost there. She gets off the bed quickly and goes into the exercise room where her sister and two of her brothers are working out.

‘Good morning,’ she says, greeting them, a small hint of excitement in her voice can be heard. She went straight to the sink to wash her face.  

She picked up two weights and started working out.

‘Excited?’ Un asked her, not stopping his push ups.

‘A little nervous, I suppose,’ she answers, smiling, not stopping her count.

‘I wish we could meet them. They sound wonderful, Piscine. We still haven’t seen anyone that look alike,’ said Neuf, the youngest of her brothers.

Mer sighed, ‘If only Pop will let us but I doubt it. It would have been nice.’

Piscine had so much going on in her head, even if she was focused on doing her weight lifting. The biggest question in Piscine’s mind is if they would remember her?

Piscine’s family knows about the twins.
It was not long after they arrived at the Other Ocean. When they arrived, they wasted no time to gather the older clan members. And as their usual routine, they started to reminisce about memories from the old world. There were crazy stories about how people idolized other people called ‘pop stars’. The people offer everything they have even if the ‘pop stars’ give very little in return. Old tree names, old animals, birds, religion, customs, cultures, the way of life is terribly different from what they know now. Some clans talk about how people were terrible then.

Piscine was filled with guilt. She didn’t want to be terrible! Everyone is so good with each other and here she was, lying to her family. She was carrying the burden of her rescue from her family for seven months now and she felt that the guilt she is carrying will not feel lighter any time soon.
Piscine thought and thought of whom she should speak to about it first.

Mer knew a little about it but Piscine knew that she wouldn’t tell her parents about it. So she went to work on hinting to her brothers – hopefully one of them would tell her parents. But subtle hints did not work for her brothers. She had to face up and be brave. She will tell her brothers directly.

She started with Un. She went up to the navigation bridge where she would usually find him.

‘Hey Cine! Did you bring me food?’

The question caught her off guard because she was so focused on how she should hint about the twins. ‘No! I won’t bring you anymore!’ she answered him. ‘Mom said you eat too much.’ Un laughed and slapped his stomach. ‘Welp. It can’t be helped. It’s so cold around here.’ Un, is the eldest of the brothers and is twenty-eight years old. He eats so much that he’s gained more muscle and is not as lean as his brothers anymore. They sometimes joke that he’s so stocky that he could live in one of the three cities with no problem. He’s got blond greenish hair, two toned, just like Mer, and with friendly smiling brown eyes. He’s a bit of an obsessive compulsive disorder because he likes to keep everything clean. Even his eating habits are completely different from all his siblings – he likes to use a knife, a fork and a spoon. He is also in charge of the cleaning roster which he rotates equally among himself and his siblings.

Piscine looked at the maps on the table absentmindedly, determined to say something about her guilty conscience. ‘What if I told you that I helped some people when they were drowning?’

‘That’s good, Cine. You should always help people when they need help,’ Un answered without missing a beat.

‘Yeah, Cine. Helping people is a good thing,’ a voice said behind her. It was Deux with Trois and Quatre following behind him, joining them in the navigation deck. Deux is twenty-six, a little taller than Un, bespectacled with gray eyes with two toned curly hair that dominates all over his head. He  likes instruments but is not much of a singer. He can play whatever instruments you put before him with no problem whatsoever. Trois is twenty-four, with two toned bed hair with the prettiest blue eyes you will ever see in the land, he has a hawk nose which makes him look a little scary sometimes especially when you disturb him when he is reading. He does not like being disturbed in his me time Quatre is twenty-two, lean with muscles, the usual two toned hair that are short and spiky and eyes that so small that it looks like there are no whites in his eyes, just black. He is the most skilled hunter among The Nines, being able to study creatures weaknesses and behaviour quickly.

Piscine wasn’t prepared to have four of her older brothers in the deck, at the same time, discussing this.

‘Hey Un, Pop decided to go to Brooks Range to check the area there.’ Quatre informs his older brother.

‘We’re not too far,’ Deux said as he checks one of the maps on the table.

‘I hope it’s not too cold for swimming or food, the last few areas was harsh,’ Un says as he checks the buttons and needles in front of him.

Piscine unconsciously chose the ‘flight’ option and was about to bolt for it when Trois asked her a question she dreaded to hear.

‘Cine, what’s the matter?’ Trois asked his sister who looked so troubled. ‘You can tell us – ‘

‘I saved two boys who looked alike and they live in the city! You can tell Pop. I am ready to be punished!’ Piscine said as quickly as she could, not stopping to even breathe. There, she finally said it. They can tell their father and she will just have to face whatever punishment that is going to be given to her.

Her brothers started to look like they’re struggling. She wasn’t sure about the expressions on their face. It was Trois who snorted and then there was laughter. They were laughing. Piscine is quite confused. Are they laughing because of the punishment or it’s because she’s doomed? Her brothers are quite tickled and they haven’t stopped laughing which just made Piscine a little mad.

‘What’s so funny?’ she asked them, hitting Quatre in the arm because she felt annoyed and mocked.

‘We believe you!’ Quatre said to her.

‘You don’t think I’m serious?’

‘No, we do!’ Deux said but he still won’t stop laughing.

‘Then, what’s so funny? I broke the rules and I should be punished!’ Piscine’s voice is demanding punishment for redemption. Trois wiped the tears in his eyes from laughing, went to her side and kneeled so he can look at her.

‘Piscine, if you did save two boys from drowning, isn’t that a good thing?’ Trois asked her, his blue eyes looking at her which made her relax a little bit.

‘Yes, that’s what Mer said too but we’re not allowed to have contact with anyone outside. And that was my first swim outside the perimeter and I feel like I did a bad thing when I saved them but I don’t regret it either because they looked so happy and they said they wanted to be friends and….and…’ and Piscine started crying.

The door opened with Neuf coming into the room and the rest of her brothers, Cinq, Six, Sept and Huit.

‘We brought food!’ Six said happily then saw his sister was crying. ‘What happened?’ Six is the tallest of the brothers. He always has to crouch everywhere he goes and he has not stopped growing. He’s got a shaved head and yellow eyes that mesmerize you in if you look too long. And his favourite past time is dancing. He studied all kinds of dances: ballroom dancing, the Macarena, the Cha cha, belly dancing, disco, flamenco, even Gangnam style which he does not like to admit to like. Once every full moon, The Nines would have a sort of dance that many of the clans think is quite unique but if you are in the old world, they would have a term for that dance and it’s called interpretive slash bboy dance. It is always different and unique.

‘She saved two boys from the city,’ Quatre tells his younger brothers who just came into the deck.

Cinq, Six, Sept, Huit and Neuf went quiet, looked at each other and shrugged at each other.

‘Anything bad happened after that? Or what?’ Cinq asked, concerned. Cinq’s distinct feature is his large mouth. He’s got huge blue green eyes and hair that seems to just flop down on his head. If he was in the old world, he would have been hair commercial perfect and when he walks into the room, time just slows down and you see every strand of his hair flip from side to side, perfectly. To this day, the brothers use this to their advantage to defeat creatures.

‘No. She just feels like she did something bad.’ Un answered, his attention back to the wheel.

‘Stop being a baby!’ Neuf teases his sister. Neuf is the youngest of The Nines. He’s got red tinted eyes, his two tone hair tied in a ponytail and he’s pretty tale for his age. Perhaps he’ll be taller than Six. He is quite quick on his heels and everything that he does is lightning quick. If he was in the old world, they would think he’s like a ninja.

‘I….am….not…’ Piscine said between sobs and started to cry again. Trois hugged his youngest sister to console her.

Sept went over to Neuf and hit him lightly on shoulder. ‘Don’t make her cry even more!’ Sept is the shortest among The Nines. His two toned hair is the straight and long, reaching his back. His eyes are the colour of the beautiful sunset and he could be quite serious. His hobby is mainly juggling which does not match with his personality. He juggles anything he can get his hands on. Wrenches, fishes, babies, anything he can carry, and he will juggle.

‘What??? She is!’ Neuf answered back.

‘Piscine, saving a life is not a bad thing,’ Huit tells her, his small colour purple eyes reassuring. His hair is parted in the middle. Huit is the sarcastic one among The Nines and he loves to sing. He will sing opera, pop, jazz, metal, he will know how to get it right.

‘She thinks she should be punished,’ Quatre tells his brothers amused.

And then, they all started laughing which made Piscine cry even louder.

‘Ahhh we’re making too much noise,’ Un tells his brothers, taking control of the situation.
‘Can anyone care to explain to Cine why she would not be punished?’

‘Can I sing it to her?’ Six asked.

‘No!’ the rest of the brothers say in unison and more laughter followed.

‘Cine, Mom or Pop will not punish you for saving lives. Why would they do that?’ Sept assures her.

‘Because…because…they’re…from the…city…wahhhh!’ Piscine continued to cry.

‘We would do the same thing if we saw that,’ Huit assures her, nodding in agreement with his brothers.

‘What…’ Piscine looked up to look up at her brothers.

‘It really doesn’t matter, Cine. As long as we’re not trading, I guess.’ Cinq said, shrugging.

Piscine stops crying and wiped her face with her shirt. ‘Did you ever have friends from the city?’ she asked.

The brothers looked at each other and shook their head. Sept spoke, ‘It just never happened to us. Not that we won’t do the same thing that you did. If we saw anyone drowning, we’d save the person if they need help. But there are other cases to think about but those are grown up things. Eventually, you will learn and experience this. We will not tell you what you need to learn but we will guide you. All of us will. Now, if Pop or Mom gets mad, which is likely to happen, but believe me, little sister, they will understand you.’

‘But…but I want to see them again.’ This surprised the Nines. They didn’t expect this.

‘Well, sister,’ Huit answered this time, ‘you just made it a little more complicated.’

In the course of a few months, Piscine managed to get up the courage to tell her parents about the brothers that looked the same. She made several attempts to tell her father about it. Sometimes, an accident will occur or a meeting with the clan elders were called. There was even a time when she thought she had finally told him about it, only to find out that he’s been asleep the entire time due to a long week.
But this day was different. It was after lunch and her whole family was there. They have been having their meals together with the other clans that were gathered here but this time, it was different. Her sister and her brothers have been giving her looks the entire meal. Meal times are quiet so the only way to communicate is to give out subtle facial expressions at each other and they do it quite well too.

‘Pop, Mom, can I tell you both something?’ Piscine starts off nervously.

‘Yes, what is it bunso?’ her mother asked.

‘I managed to deadlift today!’ she tells them excitedly but her expression tells another story.

‘That’s great! You should teach her more, Mer. She still has a long way to go,’ their father says proudly, taking a large bite on his raw fish. Their mother smiled at Piscine, nodding in approval.

‘Also,’ she starts, taking a deep breath, ‘I saved two boys,’ Piscine told them.

‘Oh, that’s very nice – ’ her mother said.

‘They’re from the city,’ Piscine continued, interrupting her mother. ‘They were drowning and I had to save them.’ Piscine felt so much weight from her shoulders disappear but she can feel her insides fall on the floor at the same time.

Piscine’s father did not say a word but he was looking around the table at her siblings. They were all watching their mother, not saying anything and looking particularly attentive. ‘Nines, secure the room.’ And with that, the brothers got up from their seats and checked outside the room they were in.

‘It’s clear, Pop,’ Neuf reports back to their father.

‘Trois, Quatre, Six and Sept, stay outside and let us know if anyone is coming.’ The boys shuffled out of the room and the rest of the brothers stayed watch inside. ‘Next time you want to tell me something, please let me know if it’s going to be like this,’ their father sighs, ‘Anyway, do go on, Anak.’

‘And I want to see them again,’ Piscine says finally. She looked as if another huge weight came off her shoulders but her expression is as worried and nervous as it was in the beginning.

There was a moment of silence before her mother said anything. ‘Is that all?’ she asked gently.

Piscine nodded and couldn’t look at her mother in her eyes, just staring at her half eaten raw fish.

‘It seems that your sister and brothers know about this already because they don’t seem surprised at your little adventure,’ her father finally began to talk. He got up from his chair and went to the water tanks. He poured himself another glass of water and drank it completely.

Mer looked unfazed by this observation but the younger of the Nines looked a little nervous.

‘When did this happen and why would you want to see them again?’ her father asked, his voice booming in the room.

‘This happened about ten months ago and I want to see them again because…because I’ve never seen anyone like them before. They look alike!’ Piscine bravely answered her father. She felt she might as well say everything before they disown her.

Her parents look at each other in surprise. ‘Twins?’ her father said and he started to laugh, ‘Count on the Vember clan to find rare things in the world indeed.’ He sits back on his seat and drank from his cup. ‘And you gave your friendship to these boys so freely?’

‘No, I did not. They asked me for my friendship. I didn’t have time to answer because I had to come back before the anchor went up.’

‘To be honest with you children, this is dangerous,’ their mother answered this time. ‘Cine are putting yourself at risk for this friendship,’ she concludes.

‘But that’s not fair,’ Piscine protested.

‘Nothing is ever fair in this world, anak,’ her mother concludes.

‘Me and your mother encourage friendships of all kinds but the city people is another thing. We know a great deal about them already.’

‘But they are still children, like me,’ she protests.

‘What if we teach them some of our ways through Cine?’ Mer suggested.

‘And what would we get from that?’ Un asked, finally speaking.

‘Human behaviour study subjects? It would be great to see if the city people can actually do what we do if they try,’ Mer said, shrugging. Piscine wants to hug Mer for being on her side on this but she does not understand why she would be so willing to get herself in trouble but it did not matter, she had an ally and it was Mer, the voice of reason.

Their parents looked at each other. Their father nodded at their mother who doesn’t look too satisfied. She sighed and looked at Piscine straight in the eyes. ‘Perhaps it can be done. They are children and there’s no harm if Cine becomes friends with them – as long as no one else knows,’ their mother concluded.

‘You told us before that it was quite dangerous. Won’t other city people take her if they see her?’ Deux asked, worried.

‘There’s a possibility. We are as extinct as the breeds of animals from the old world. Though she will blend in quite well since she does not have two tone hair like all of you,’ her mother reasoned, her thoughts overclocking.

‘Piscine, this is not an experiment nor is it a game. Your mother and I encourage you to have friends, even if they are from the city but since it is going to be dangerous, we are having second thoughts about this. We are breaking the rules as well,’ he added. Piscine knows very well that this will not go very well with the main Freedom clan leader. And the possibility of the Vember clan being cut off completely is also quite likely.

‘I understand…’ she tells them. She can feel her vision blurring and her face feeling hot. She felt better telling her parents about this but at the same time, she wished she did not.

‘Piscine,’ her father called out to her.  Piscine looked up and smiled her toothy smile even if she felt tears coming down her face. ‘Don’t cry, Anak. I will think about this situation throughly. If you improve by the time we come back to warmer waters, then I’ll consider this friendship that is important to you. Now, your mother & I are tired. We are going back to our rooms.’

Piscine looked at her sister and her brothers with wide, surprised eyes. Mer winked at her and her brothers gave her the V-sign, smiling with their toothy grins.

She will get better, faster, and stronger.
She will see them again.

After an hour of working out, she went back to her room and got ready for the day. Just as she was about to leave, she looked back at her reflection and saw that much has changed since she came back. Piscine is now fourteen, taller, hair thicker and much longer and looks more mature.

Will they remember her?

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

ACT 3 SCENE 5: Updates from the Ringmaster

Oh, it's been a while, hasn't it?
High fives, fistbumps and warm hugs from me!

I've been quite preoccupied with life.
And I have been keeping up with work and comic work at the same time - which is a good thing.

I believe I may have found a steady area to stand for a bit...for now.

I will be updating everyone with a project that I've been working on with Elleoser/Shenli in a few days.

For now, I must sleep. It's another early morning and another late night.

Til next time! :D

Much love,

ACT 3 SCENE 5: The Ark (Chapter 9)

Chapter 9

Piscine woke up slowly. She did not open her eyes but she could hear the sounds of her family’s voices, above.

‘Morning has broken, like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird. Praise for the singing, praise for the morning…’

One of her brothers was singing. It was probably Huit. He has the best soothing voice for her. The one playing the guitar is probably Deux. He always likes to strum these kinds of songs. She finally opens her eyes and she takes in the morning light coming in from the large window of her room.

The first thought she had was the twins. She wished she could see their faces.

Her attention wandered back to reality. She wondered if her sister, Mer, was already awake. She listened carefully and she knows the exercise room is either empty or she’s still asleep or she’s done. Besides, Mer wakes up early every day, just to prep. Prepping takes her hours. She doesn’t mind it and Mer sometimes offers to help her but she doesn’t force anything on her. She is quite laid back and Piscine appreciates her.

Mer is an exercise freak. She loved working out with the equipment that they’ve salvaged way before they were all born. Mer could deadlift one hundred and twenty kilos of weight with no problem. That’s how she starts off and then she adds more plates every half hour, depending on her schedule. She does this every day since she was ten. If you see Mer in person, you would not think she has the strength of twenty large men. You will actually know that she likes a boy when she tackles him. It was her way to show affection, her family figured. She is lean, like the rest of the family. She’s got two toned hair, green with blonde streaks with green cat-like eyes. Actually, all but Piscine has two toned hair colour. Piscine’s got her father’s hair and her mother’s sharp features. Mer and the rest of her brothers are a good combination of her parents’ looks and personality.
But Piscine was quite different but this doesn’t mean she was loved any less. It was a strong unity of a unit.
Piscine pondered whether to stay in bed or get up now. She didn’t want to move. Maybe dreaming a little about swimming with the siblings will be nice.
So she closed her eyes again.
In her dreams, she swam towards a bright area, and she knew where she would find her water babies there. Suddenly, she stopped swimming. Not because she did but she was stuck on the spot. She kicked and she moved her arms but she stayed in one spot. She felt a sudden change in the waters. She looked around her suspiciously, her awareness on high alert. Then she saw it.

A body of a child, falling deeper into the deep waters.

She unconsciously kicked her legs to swim towards the child but she still stayed in the same spot. She started to panic and felt as if something is holding her in place. She looked back at the falling body and it was disappearing from her sight. She noticed another body of a child falling into the deep waters and she knew it was the second boy.
Her water babies are drowning.
She kicked and kicked and she stayed in one place.
No, she told herself, this is not what happened. It can’t be happening. She needs to save them.

She woke up with a start. She was covered in sweat and covered with blankets.
She shook off the worry and got off her bed. She shouldn’t have thought about the twins.

Piscine went straight to the exercise room and opened the door.

Mer was already in the room, she looked back at her when Piscine opened the door, went inside and closed the door behind her. Mer was tying her long braided hair up. She’s thirty years old but looks younger than her years.

‘Good morning,’ Piscine said to Mer, her troubled mind can be sensed from her voice.

Mer turns around to look at Piscine and a look of concern crossed her face. ‘What’s wrong, doll?’

‘Nightmare,’ Piscine says as she goes straight to the toilet sink to wash her face. She goes back out and looked for something she can use to shake off the nerves. She took the skipping rope because it seems like the only thing she can use right now. She started skipping and she kept thinking, ‘just a nightmare, just a nightmare’ in her head.

‘Do you want to talk about it?’ Mer asked as she sat on one of the benches right opposite her.

At first, Piscine was wary whether to do so or not but maybe it would make her feel better. ‘I dreamt that I couldn’t save two people drowning…actually, children younger than me,’ she told her, hoping not to show any kind of emotion.

‘That’s rough, doll,’ Mer said sympathetic, a look of concern on her face, ‘it’s just a nightmare,’ Mer assures her, shaking her head and smiling her toothy smile at Piscine.

‘Yeah, it’s okay,’ Piscine says as she continued to skip rope without stopping. Mer went over to the weights. She took one in each hand and started to work out again.

After a few minutes, Piscine can feel stress on her legs and she feels better. ‘See you later, Mer,’ she says as she goes towards the door.

‘Did you manage to save them, doll?’ Mer asked her suddenly. Piscine felt her stomach churn. ‘You don’t have to explain anything. As long as they are okay, then it’s fine. It’s a life, after all. It’s more important,’ she continued.

‘Yes. Yes I did, Mer.’ Piscine confessed without holding back. She turned to look back at her older sister.

‘Good,’ she said, nodding at Piscine. Mer lifted the weight over her with no problem. ‘Glad to hear it,’ she said, smiling her toothy smile. She put the weights down on the floor and breathed out. ‘Go shower, you’re filthy.’

‘Yes!’ Piscine says, smiling at her older sister. She closed the door behind her and went straight to the showers. Piscine felt better and she knew that the brothers will be okay.

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

ACT 3 SCENE 5: The Ark (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

And so, that is the story on how the boys got back Piscine in their life. But what they don’t know is, Piscine has a secret from them.

Piscine ran away from home.

But with the blessing of her immediate family so it’s not really running away from home but perhaps, you can say that she’s ran away from the Freedom clan.

This is not the first time this happened. Many who have tried have met different grim fates.

Will Piscine meet the same fate?

Piscine is twenty-three years old. Tall, lean with green hair and multi-coloured eyes. She has a very charming smile and a very tooth grin. Piscine is one of the many children in the small clan of Vember, one of the many groups that form the almost mythical Freedom Clans. If you look back to the very beginning, when the world started to change, you will find that the Freedom clans are made up of a diverse group of people, and with prominent occupations. Among the ancestors are pirates, scientists, navigators, ship builders, teachers – talented geniuses, they all sound very promising but the one thing that the people of the Freedom clans did not excel on is cooking.
Not one of their ancestors cooked. Or learnt how to.
It’s not that they did not try. They did.
They have tried very hard and once, they managed to burn an entire city – just for trying. They can make chemicals, mix them and be quite successful but cooking among the Freedom clans is unheard of.
Hence, they eat all their food raw.
Their diet consists of seaweed and seafood that is not cooked.
This would probably explain the toothy grin. Over time, evolution will play its part and their teeth change over the course of hundreds of years, stronger and able to bite even the toughest leather in whatever land that is left in this new world that they know.

Piscine has an ordinary Freedom clan family. Piscine has an older sister and nine brothers that followed and then, there was her. They are all two years apart in age. But it was not like she felt left out with them. The siblings were actually close, rare these days in this new world where sibling rivalry runs nigh. The clans even gave her brothers a group name. They call her brothers ‘The Nine’.
Her sister’s name is Mer. Her brothers are named, Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre, Cinq, Six, Sept, Huit and Neuf, in that order.  

Her parents have very ordinary names of Ariel and Eric. One of the best things about her parents is that you can see that her father clearly adores her mother, another rare display of affection among the almost indifferent ways of the clans. Once in a while, their father would sing her mother a song about kissing a girl ever since she can remember. Her mother loves to sing. She sang old songs from the old world which was passed on from her ancestor. There is never a time their household didn’t sing. The Nines like to sing a song about being men and Mer’s favourite song about being crazy in love.

Most of the Freedom clans love to sing. It was a way of life.

When Piscine saved the twins the first time, it was out of curiosity. Or perhaps, it was finding another person, at that age, not knowing how to swim - at that age - that got her curious in the first place. She just turned ten years old and she is finally allowed to swim out of the perimeter of the ship docks. She also got a new pair of safety goggles which was large enough to cover half her face. She swam faster than the fishes around her and even if this was the first time she is outside, she knew where everything is around them. It was the last hour of the swim and she knew that they will not go back to the calmer Warm waters for another few years. Just as she was heading back, she saw an odd boy falling down like dead weight and turning clumsily, swimming the other way, down to the deeps, instead of the surface. At first she thought that the boy might have just made an honest mistake and will double back and swim back upright.
But he didn’t.
He kept kicking and going deeper.
She thought that he’d be fine – he will eventually realize it.
She turns to swim back home but she felt compelled to look back and when she did, she saw bubbles around the boy.
He is drowning.
He was in so much trouble.

But she can’t save him.
It’s forbidden. She will get into so much trouble. The clan will disown her. Her parents may even disown her.
The clans have no contact with the cities whatsoever, not even trade.
But then he will die if she doesn’t do anything.

She can’t and she starts swimming back.
She can’t.
She won’t.
She shouldn’t.
He will die. He will die. He will die.
He is a baby.

She turns around again and she sees a second boy, swimming down, towards where the boy was falling.

Someone is going to save him, he will be okay.
She swims towards them, just a little bit. She noticed the ‘rescuer’ is slowing down. She saw the bubbles and she knew.
He’s going to drown too.

The next thing she knew, she was swimming towards them as fast as her legs can take her. She goes for the first boy she saw. When she reached him, he was unconscious. She grabbed him and shot straight towards the second struggling boy, grabbing his chin as gently as she could. She held them close. She will rescue them, there is no turning back.

When they resurfaced, the second boy gasped and gasped for air.

‘Slowly…Slowly…’ she tells him, surprising herself. She’s never talked to a person from the city before. She wonders if they speak the same language, if he didn’t, she could always try the ten other languages she’s learnt over the years.
The boy looked at her, still dazed and very confused. She smiles at him and she looked at the first boy to check to see if he’s alright. She blinked. She turned to look at the second boy again and turned to look at the first boy again. They look the same, she exclaimed. She’s never seen anyone like this before. Is this normal for the city people?
She swam towards some rocks by the island’s pier. She had to be careful – she knew she was very close to a city. No one should see her. She let the second boy climb up the surface and checked the first boy as he did. She told him that he need not worry about his brother and she gave him air.

Soon, the first boy started to cough. She felt relieved. He will be okay and she felt great. The first boy started crying and ran for his brother. They hug each other and that’s when she realized that she had to go back. If she was late, they might ask her too many questions. She started to swim back and she felt that it would not be nice if she did not say goodbye. So she turned back, watching the brothers with new affection. She told them to be careful and called them water babies because babies from her clans swim like them. She waved to them, because it is the nice thing to do.
The second boy asked her for her name which genuinely surprised her. She did not assume anything nor did she not think that they would ask her for anything, let alone her name. This made her feel good. She told them her name. Then, she heard the second boy asked for friendship as she dove into the water, swimming back home.
When she got back to the ship, her family was anchoring out and ready to sail out. She was glad she made it on time and that she did not have to explain herself in any way. Her sister, Mer, is showing her mother some items she’s salvaged earlier and the Nines are comparing things they’ve salvaged nearby. Her father mentioned about going to the other side of the ocean. The clans are meeting there and there’s something about some Ark. The details were not clear because all she could think about is how she has to pretend that nothing happened to her. She had to act natural. Nothing happened. Talk to your sister. Help with the ship checks. Talk to your brothers. Talk to your mother. Help your brothers. Help with the engine room checks. Talk to your brothers again. Help around. While she was doing this, she’s practicing on how she would tell them how her swim went. All she did was swim. And salvage. Snacked on some fishes then salvaged whatever she can and swim some more. She practised as she checked the barometer. She practiced as she sang with her family about a whole new world. She practiced as they ate the large fish they caught for dinner. She practiced as she got ready for bed. She can do this, she can do this, she kept repeating to herself and she felt as if her heart is going to escape from her chest.
It’s not that Piscine didn’t love her family. She loved them with all her heart.
She just did not like lying to them or keeping secrets. There were no secrets in the family. But no one asked her about the swim so there was no need for her to lie.
All was well.

As she lay in bed that night, their ship flying towards to the other side of the ocean, she could not hear the loud snores of her brothers nor the waves of the water nor the winds whistling or the creaks of the boat. She could hear echoes of the boys’ voices.

‘What is your name?’

‘Let’s be friends!’

It was all she could think about and she fell asleep to the memories of their voices, singing in her head, replaying the moment all over and over again. She hopes they will meet again one day and when or if they do, she will ask them for their names. And they will be friends.

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.) 

ACT 3 SCENE 5: The Ark (Chapter 7)

Chapter 7

‘Are you hurt, brod?’ Alder asks Oak as he looked around the waters. There are only waters around them.
‘I’m not hurt, just bruised maybe.’ Oak replies, concentrating on the waters and looking around them, ready if anything would attack them.
‘How did you manage to find that thing?’
‘It found the boat and it took me down with it. I’ve never seen anything like it, brod.’
‘I’ve never seen those other creatures before either.’
‘What other creatures?’
‘Just like this one! Incoming!’ Alder shouts out and a creature with a large rock on its back and large teeth jumps out of the waters, attacking the twins. ‘Ready!’
Oak takes Alder by the arm and waist and threw him up towards the creature. Alder shot up, made a clean cut and decapitated its head. The only noise it made is when it fell back into the waters. The twins swam back towards each other quickly, and continued to watch the waters attentively, listening for any different noise, feeling the waters for different currents.

‘We have to keep moving’ Alder says as he looks around him, ‘if we stay in one place, we might get surrounded.’
‘But where will we go?’ Oak says, also looking around him.
‘Can you see the reed boat anywhere? I’ll take guard.’
Oak wasted no time, looking around as far as he could see. ‘Nothing. We’re too far out,’ he says, shaking his head.
‘Toot!’ Alder swears, disbelieving their bad luck.
‘Brod, we have to keep swimming,’ Oak tells Alder, worried.
‘But where will we swim?’ Alder asked him.
‘We can’t stay here…look out!’ A large fin is swimming towards them very quickly.
Alder took hold of his younger brother’s shirt and held on to him. They both go under and Oak waited for the creature to get closer. The creature had long ears and large teeth. It’s got a long pointy nose and it’s not stopping. When it came closer, Oak punched the creature with all his might. The creature shot back and it didn’t move for a moment. A few seconds later, it regained consciousness, but it was a little disoriented. It recoiled back, swimming in the opposite direction in retreat.

They swim back up and just as they resurface, they notice a shadow of another creature, it looks like the fish is burnt to a crisp and its teeth are large, bared and sharp. Its gigantic mouth is wide open and are scattered inside like sharp broken glass and it’s landing on top of them. Even if they move, they will still be caught in its fangs.
There is nowhere to swim.
Alder unconsciously puts an arm in front of Oak, defending his younger brother.

Suddenly, a large spear shot up from the water and into the lower jaw and out of the upper jaw of the creature, which made its mouth snap shut. Another spear went through its body and the creature fell back into the water, and it sunk as quickly as it appeared.

Alder and Oak was too stunned to move. They did not know what just happened – all they knew is that they were saved but by whom? Or is it another creature? Another predator?

Suddenly, something appeared on the surface of the water, not too far from where they are. The boys got their weapons ready.

The figure became bigger and it was green in colour. Alder and Oak looked at the incoming creature intensely, watching its every move.

It moved sideways at first, it doesn’t seem like its sure where it was going or what it was looking for.

‘Maybe it’s a little…’ Oak says, whispering to Alder. Alder shushed him before he could finish and creature stopped pacing.
‘Toot! It heard us,’ Alder said, his teeth gritted.

The creature turned around, wearing what looks like green rimmed goggles and the twins gasped.

‘My water babies!!!!’

It was Piscine.

‘P – Piscine?’ Oak says, unbelieving his eyes. They said that if you are in the waters for too long, you start seeing things that you want to see. Once it takes you, you can never come back.
‘Is that really you?’ Alder shouted.
‘What if she’s not real?’ Oak asked Alder.
‘Toot! That’s a possibility.’ Alder was worried. ‘Wait!’ he tells Piscine, holding out his hand. How would we know you’re the real Piscine?’
‘Ahh…clever boys! I am glad you both remember,’ she tells them as she swims closer to them anyway. ‘I will start and you have to finish…or you want to start?’ she asked them.
‘I’ll start,’ Oak tells her, looking at Alder for any signs. ‘Okay, ready?’
‘Whenever you are,’ says a smiling Piscine.
‘Won’t you come see about me? I’ll be alone, dancing you know it baby...’ Oak sings, remember the lyrics by heart. These are one of the songs that Piscine taught them six years ago.
‘Tell me your troubles and doubts, giving me everything inside and out and…’ Piscine sings in perfect pitch.
‘Love’s strange so real in the dark, think of the tender things that we were working on…’ Oak continued, his eyes started to cloud, so is Alder’s.
‘Slow change may pull us apart…’
‘when the light gets into your heart, baby…’
They swam towards each other and they all hugged, laughing, screaming and crying.
‘Don’t You forget about meeeee….don’t don’t don’t don’t!’ they continued singing in unison.

‘There are no more creatures, my water babies. Don’t you worry!’ Piscine tells them when they finally pulled apart from each other.

‘What were those creatures? We’ve never seen them before.’ Alder tells her, amazed and shocked at what happened to them.
‘You’ve never been in this line, that’s why.’ Piscine tells them as if she already knew where they go.
‘But we should be in the same area; we don’t wander off so far because of our age. We are only allowed certain distances as we grow older.’ Alder informs her.
‘And that thing, the red knight, Cthulhu! He attacked our reed boat! Oh no! Wait! Isn’t he…?’ Oak suddenly felt a chill up his spine.
‘Don’t worry; I told you both, they are all gone already.’ Piscine reassures them. ‘Give me one moment,’ and she dives down quickly.
All the boys could do was wait and keep a look out for anything, just in case.

After a few minutes, Piscine came back with something on her hand. ‘Here Oak, blow air into this over here, in this tube,’ she tells him pointing at it. Oak did as he was told and the yellow material became more solid. Oak’s eyes went wide. ‘Don’t stop or you won’t be able to make the boat. Alder, help me get something quickly.’ Alder did not think twice and dove after Piscine. She was very quick. He also noticed how her hair is actually shorter and she’s gotten much leaner and taller. Before he could reach her, she was holding out two large sticks and she pointed up, handed him one of the them which was quite heavy and they both swam back to the surface. Oak is almost done with their makeshift boat and is just amazed at what he’s seeing, still wide eyed with fascination.

‘That should be sufficient. Oak, put the cover on the tube so the air won’t come out.’ Piscine instructed.

‘It’s a boat!’ Oak says happily.
‘Now get on it, both of you but slowly or it will topple over. I will hold the other end,’ she tells them. But it took the boys longer than they anticipated. They were not used to inflatable boats.
Oak tried it first but he toppled over with the boat. Alder thought he would be able to do it more easily coz he thinks he’s much more agile but the same thing happened to him. Piscine watched in amusement how they struggled to get onto an inflatable boat, even if she was already helping them.

When the boys finally managed to get onto the boat, Piscine taught them how to use the wooden oars since they have only used sails all their life.
‘Will you not get on?’ Oak asked.
‘No, there is no need. Besides I am fine here.’ Piscine says, swimming next to their inflatable boat.

‘Where have you been, Piscine? Again, you saved us!’ Alder says, finally. He’s wanted to ask her questions since she showed up.

‘Many things have happened since we last met. Too many to mention now but it doesn’t matter! Look at how you’ve both grown!’ she tells them happily as the boys blush beet red.
‘We’re better at swimming’ Alder boasts.
‘And singing!’ Oak tells her excitedly.
‘I’m very proud! I thought you may have both forgotten the songs I’ve taught you! It’s been years!’ Piscine tells them, her turn to be amazed.
‘How long are you going to be here this time?’ Alder asked, dreading the answer as much as Oak.
Piscine smiled widely. ‘I’m going to be here for a while!’
‘A while?’ the boys asked in unison.
‘Yes. A while. Weeks. Months. Years.’
‘That means you’re staying?!’ Oak asked excitedly.
‘I will still be going out but I won’t be gone so long anymore,’ she tells them happily.
‘You must have a lot of stories!’
‘Indeed I do!’
‘So, does that mean we get to meet your clan?’ Alder asked.
‘No,’ she answered flatly, ‘they’re too busy but you know, maybe one day you will!’ she smiles at them, swimming gracefully next to them like fabled mermaids you read about from fairy tales. The sun is setting soon and they paddle more quickly. ‘Oh, turn here so the current will be faster,’ she instructs them and they paddled towards Krakatoa.

And soon, before night fell, the boys made it back home to Krakatoa. They did not go through the main port, managing to sneak in at the other side of the island. Alder thought it was fascinating how a boat can be so compact.  They had to hide the inflatable boat by deflating the boat again. They would not know how to explain to anyone about the boat. Some people might even think they stole it at the Labs. Better to hide it, and use it only when necessary.
What a day.
Newfound creatures in the deep waters – something their parents might take an interest, a new emergency boat, Piscine back in Krakatoa, more stories, more singing, more adventures! 

They say goodbye to Piscine by the port and head back home happily.
As they stood at the front door, they realized that they have to still explain about their missing reed boat to their parents.

They both sighed. ‘It’s going to be a long night, brod,’ Alder tells Oak as they go into their house.

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

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.
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.)