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Friends (part One)

by Euna Park (Age: 24)
copyright 08-09-2005


Age Rating: 7 +

NOTE: THIS IS A NEW NOTE AS OF 12.11.06!!!

DO NOT READ THIS STORY. GO READ MY BOOK "JOURNEY AFAR". IT'S THE EXACT SAME STORY, JUST MORE EDITED AND IN BOOK FORMAT. YOU MAY READ THIS STORY IF YOU LIKE, BUT IT IS LESS DEVELOPED AND IS REALLY LONG.










“Oi Jenna! Stop sneaking the popcorn!”
“I am NOT sneaking the popcorn! This is a free country anyway Amber. I can do what I want.” defied the redhead, despite the telltale butter smudges on the corners of her mouth.
“Oh come on guys. There’s always more popcorn in the cupboard. I invited you guys to a sleepover and a movie, not a popcorn fight.”
“Aw Karen, you party pooper,” chorused the twins.
Three girls were snuggled on the maroon couch, huddled in front of an 18 inch television set with a currently bright blue screen. There were numerous pictures on the walls of the girls swimming, racing, or just having fun together.
They were all in almost identical pajamas consisting of their dads’ humungous T-shirts, and comfy yellow shorts. Karen had dirty blonde curls, with friendly hazel eyes sling with mischief and fun. She was the one who saved the twins, Jenna and Amber, from arguing with each other when they were all together, most of the time. Though Jenna and Amber were twins, they did not look alike at all, but neither of them strongly resembled one parent either. Jenna had their mother’s alert chocolate brown eyes, and their father’s absurdly red hair, freckles, and curved nose. Amber on the other hand, had their father’s vividly green eyes, their mother’s silky brown hair and button nose, as well as a light tan complexion, and a stubborn chin. All of them took fencing, and had spent many hours trying to beat each other with one of them aside as a referee. It was something that they had spent many happy hours doing, with the mock duels sometimes ending up with swords being tossed aside, and then the matches would turn into a brief wrestling match, with the referee joining in, and ending in a bundle of tangled bodies and laughter on the floor. It was storming outside; a summer shower with thunder and lightning.
“So what are we watching anyway Karen? I forgot,” said a red Amber. The other two groaned.
“You know Amber, for the twin of one as so refined as moi, you are a nincompoop. This must be the fifth time you’ve asked!” retorted Jenna.
“Shaddup Jenna,” said a scarlet Amber, throwing a cow face pillow at Jenna, who gave a fake, miniature scream of horror and did an exaggerated movement of diving under the blanket, shouting “Take COVER!!” The pillow bounced off the blanket.
Karen shook her head. “Always the drama queen, aren’t you Jenna.” It wasn’t a question.
Jenna made a face at Karen. The three girls had been best friends ever since third grade, to middle school. They had all applied for the same school on purpose.
“Anyway Amber,” said Karen. “I forgot the title of this movie, but it’s supposed to be about this girl whose sad life has made her go crazy, and she lives with this wolf demons.”
“Grammar check! THESE wolf demons,” cut in Amber.
“Whatever. Anyway, there’s this handsome guy who comes and coaxes her back into sanity.”
“Okay…” said Jenna undecidedly.
“And he has to get through all these dangers like other demons and magical barriers and stuff in order to get to her.”
“Sounds okay, I think,” said a doubtful Jenna.
“Well, let’s watch it and see!” cried the ever optimistic Amber.


~*~

In far off London, a different scene was taking place.
Wailing sirens on the suburban street, where a small two-story house was burning. It threw glowing flames brightly into the night sky, as onlookers and spectators screamed. The family of four stared at the house, waiting for the baby. The nursery was a completely different room, so the baby slept alone, when the gas leak in the stove met an exposed wire that powered the small night light in the kitchen.
But the family didn’t know that.
They wanted the remaining member of their family safe with them.
A chunk of roof fell in.
There was the mom and the dad, clutching each other. There was the 13-year-old sister, staring at the house. There was the two-year-old toddler, sobbing in his mother’s pajama pants. They all waited, listening to the crackling walkie-talkie as the firefighter in the house reported to the fire chief in the burning house.
“The doorknob’s melted! *crackle crackle* …ax through, sir.”
“Don’t,” said the clear voice of the fire chief behind them. The parent’s turned around and stared at him. The sister remained staring at the house, and the toddler continued to protest the night’s adventure.
“If you knock down that door, you’ve lost your last support for the roof. The house is as delicate as a newborn kitten. If you knock down that door, the whole building’s going to come down on top of both of you. I want you out of there NOW.”
“Right away sir.”
The lady started to scream and sob with rage, and then halted abruptly. The firefighter stumbled out of the building, coughing, and was supported by two comrades.
She had halted because the girl, her daughter, was no longer staring at the house, but running full speed toward the house. The firefighters sprayed her with the hose, to try to knock her down and stop her, but she turned and faced it with amazing endurance, getting herself soaked, before facing her back to them, to become as wet as possible, pushed through the last few restraining firefighters, then she ran inside the flaming house.
The lady began screaming again. The baby inside woke up, and started screaming.
The girl looked frantically for the stairs, and found they were blocked by fire. She ran through the flames, heedless toward her smoking bunny slippers and singed coal-black hair. The baby’s cry led her to the nursery, with the outer wall beginning to collapse. She rammed through the wall, and it gave away like a thin icicle under a heavy boot. In other words, the wall shattered, and the house started coming down. The infant’s cry grew, and intensified into shrieks of terror and fright. The mother outside was shrieking louder than ever. Dodging the burning sections of ceiling and avoiding the holes in the floor, she hurriedly made her way toward the crib, running for everything. She started coughing; the fire was eating all the oxygen in this room. Tears streamed out of her eyes, protesting the irritation from the smoke. She reached the baby, and placed the screaming infant under her sodden dressing robe. It was too late to run back to the front door; the floor would cave in; it was already caving in. Bigger pieces of ceiling came crashing down, destroying the floor between the girl and the door, and so left with no other choice, she smashed the burning shutters out of the way, and threw herself out of the second-story window. The girl held her consciousness in an iron-tight grip until she was sure that she would not fall on the baby when hitting the ground, before allowing herself to black out, her mother’s screams ringing in her ears. She couldn’t remember hitting the ground.
~*~

Back at the happy sleepover, the movie had started. The girls were transfixed as the ‘handsome guy’ faced a huge monster with four dripping fangs, six gleaming yellow eyes, a black body with crawling worms and glowing ooze dripping off it’s three legs, and a long tongue like a frog, but as sharp as a sword. The ‘handsome guy’ faced this monster with no armor, and a sword given to him by the holy temple earlier in the movie.
The girls stared intently at the screen as first, threats were exchanged, and now, they were locked in a deadly combat.
The sword now proved to have some surprising magical qualities. It glowed white, and then summoned a lightening bolt and struck the monster on its head, killing it instantly. The girls cheered, and then laughed at their silliness. They were cheering on a person that didn’t even exist in reality.

~*~

The girl felt wiggling on her chest, and opened her eyes to firefighters standing around her, looking worried. She gently drew out the baby, and passed the wailing bundle into her mother’s arms, before blacking out again.
She half woke up some hours later, or minutes later, she had no comprehension of time at the moment, to open her eyes in the hospital, but she could not comprehend a single thing that she saw. White was all over the place, and she seemed to be in a small room with cloth for walls. She only understood pure, unchanging white, and then fell into a coma.

~*~

The movie had ended with the satisfying ending of the tearful farewell of the main characters, and the girl walking away into the sunset. The ending music tilted to a high note as the camera filled with the star-studded sky with a golden moon. Jenna sighed, “I hate it when movies can’t go on forever.”
“Yeah, but then we’d be sitting here forever, missing out on the chocolate-chip pancakes tomorrow, and the carnival next week, and the—“
“Alright Amber, we get your point,” yawned Karen. She heaved another huge yawn. “Oh man, I’m pooped. Light’s out anyone?”
“We have to brush our teeth, unless you’d rather sleep with popcorn husks in your mouth all night,” Jenna pointed out. Amber laughed.
“Okay. Last one to the bathroom is a rotten egg!”
There was a sudden scramble for toothbrushes and toothpaste. The pounding of slipper-covered feet on carpet was heard quite clearly through the quiet house. Even though Karen didn’t have to get anything, weariness and fatigue made her the rotten egg.
Several minutes later the girls were hanging out in their sleeping bags with muffled laughs and fun in a silent pillow fight.
Amber was once again in possession of her prized cow face pillow.
Karen got up to stretch, and received two couch throw pillows in the face.
“Alright guys, I think that’s enough for tonight; it’s like 11: 59 PM. Light’s out?”
“Sure,” said Amber with a huge yawn, not bothering to cover her mouth. She would pay for that.
“Oh my gosh! Somebody call the ambulance! Amber’s got tooth decay!” yelled Jenna.
“Ha ha Jenna,” said Amber. “You’re just a riot, aren’t you?” Another huge yawn. “Oi, I’m so sleepy…”
“T-minus five…four…three…two…one…BLAST OFF!!” yelled Karen before deftly flicking the lights off, making the twins jump.
“Aw Karen,” they chorused, before grinning at each other. They could do this frequently, unrehersed.
“Whenever you do that, you remind me that you’re twins. It’s sort of hard to remember anytime else,” remarked Karen.

~*~

White light blinded her. When her eyes adjusted, there was a faint silver glow where the light had come from. She looked around, but didn’t look around. She was still asleep. Then how am I here? Am I dreaming? Do dreaming people know that they are dreaming? There was a faint creak behind her. A woman, tall with a fine, white tiara and white robes entered the room through large, elaborately decorated wooden doors that the girl would have sworn were not there a moment ago. Looking more closely, she saw the woman was amazingly beautiful, seeming to have come from heaven, an angel from above. Suddenly the woman stopped, and stared straight at the girl. Emerald green eyes held the girl’s in a deadly strong hold. The girl tried to look away, and found she was immobilized in an icy cold hand. She was frozen to the spot. She found that this woman was not a friend, though she had never seen her before, but she was terrible to see again. If this is a dream, how is it so cold? Why is she staring at me? Why can’t I move? She’s so scary. Why can’t I remember anything? How did I get here? What? Who? What’s that pain? It’s sucking everything away…my memories…my feelings…it hurts…
Suddenly, the woman did completely the unexpected; she laughed. The girl screamed as the invisible, icy hand wrenched an ocean of memories from her head, her mind, her heart…memories that she did not even know that she had before now…but it was pain beyond pain crushing her…choking her…killing her…blackness engulfed her…what happened to all the white…darkness poured down her throat…I can’t breathe…
The woman laughed again as the unconscious girl fell to the cold marble floor, wrapped in a cocoon of darkness with her body immobilized, breathing heavily.
“Foolish Pantia,” the woman sighed. “Did you honestly think you could hide from me for that long?”
A dark s flew from the woman’s index finger to her captive’s forehead. The girl’s body raised about six feet into the air, and was released from the darkness, before she fell limp into the woman’s waiting arms.

~*~

“Goodnight,” called Amber, for the tenth time, or what felt like it to her weary twin and friend.
“Man Amber, would it kill you to say ‘goodnight’ just once?” asked Karen, stifling a yawn.
“Not if you guys keep moaning every time I say goodnight, then I feel that it’s my duty to say goodnight again as a final word, but then you guys start moaning again,” Amber replied quite frankly.
“Can you believe I get any sleep at all at home Karen?” asked Jenna.
“Nope. If Amber were my twin, I’d rather sleep on the couch.”
“We ARE sleeping on the couch Karen.”
“You are Amber! Jenna and I are on the floor, if you need reminding!” retorted Karen.
“Stop arguing people. Morning and the chocolate-chip pancakes will come quicker if we could just go to sleep you know.”
A brief pause, then…
“Goodnight then,” said Amber.
The other two groaned. Karen checked her glow-in the dark watch…12:33. This was going to be a very long night, just like every other sleepover that the girls had before.

~*~

Ouch, my head really hurts. Was it really a dream? Maybe the fire gave me a hallucination. A very realistic one…Do hallucinations hurt? That one really did. Was it a hallucination at all? Wait a minute…all my memories are back, but they were…I don’t know…wrenched out of me? Then how come I remember all of these memories? Most of them aren’t even mine! Or…are they?
I don’t want to open my eyes. I want it to all have been a hallucination. Wait a minute…I can’t! What’s going on? I can’t move at all!! Am I alive?
Fear, and Panic.
Calm down. Are you breathing? Yes. Can you hear your heart? Yes. Can you hear yourself think? Well, not literally of course, but yes. Then you’re alive. What’s wrong with my body? Why can’t I move? Everything is so black. Well, of course it is, your eyes are closed! But deeper than that; I should be able to see colors in my eyelid from light outside, but it’s just black. What happened to white?
The Lady of the Land looked into the ball of Darkness thoughtfully. She could hear the girl’s thoughts echoing within the ball, as well as read the thoughts written out by a pen on an endless scroll of cream colored parchment, that was writing all by itself.
“She seems to be conversing with herself, as if she were two separate people. Interesting trait Panita. Did you pick it up from your time among the common folk? I hear it is something that they like to do often. Why did you run away? You deleted your own memory so you would not be found, and here you are. You stumbled straight into my castle, having wandered into the one place you did not want to come. Your powers are too great for you to control now, because you deleted your memory. That must be reversed. By forceful means, if necessary.
Now I must find your sisters. I’m sure that they would be very glad to see you again, even though I am certain that you, with their permission, have deleted their memories as well.”

~*~

“Amber?”
“Yeah Karen?”
“Don’t say goodnight anymore. Let’s just go to sleep.”
Silence, then…
“Why’s everybody so tense?” a questioning Amber asked.
“Because we’re waiting to see how long you can hold out on saying goodnight,” drawled Jenna.
“Okay, let’s just go to sleep then,” said Karen in her don’t-argue voice.
“Yes Mother,” said Jenna, in a honey-sweet little child voice. Karen wasn’t offended, because Jenna was always a little bit stingy when she was tired.
A brief pause, then…
“Goodnight.”
“AMBER!” exclaimed the other two girls.
It was 12:56 by Karen’s watch.
Finally, following about six or seven similar scenarios, at about 2:30 AM, the girls were asleep.
A dark hole appeared next to the sleeping bags, and something crawled out. It made a fast hand signal to whatever else was inside the hole, and then it disappeared.
A bug climbed on Amber’s sleeping bag…or what looked like a bug at first sight. If you looked closer, there was a tiny person, about five inches tall, hidden in the shadows. She was dressed in odd clothing: brown trousers, brown short-sleeved shirt, tiny brown shoes, and a funny Santa Claus brown hat without the little white puffball at the end. Her ears were pointed, and her hair was as black as the night sky, reflecting little lights, like stars. She was looking around carefully, as if digesting her surroundings, then found Amber’s sleeping bag was really slippery. She slid down, and landed face-first on the itchy carpet. She swore into the carpet. Standing up and rubbing her back, she saw a thin rope that lead up to the black head. (It was nighttime, so everything looked like black and white.) She seized it and began to climb…or tried to.
A scream that almost made her go deaf sounded, and the next thing that she knew, she was imprisoned in a large hand.
Karen turned on the lights, while sleepily rubbing her eyes.
“Wonderful Amber,” she muttered, “just when I was about to win the National Fencing Tournament. Your timing couldn’t have been more perfect.”
Jenna’s response was to wiggle her way deeper into the sleeping bag until her head was covered.
Amber was staring as the little person in her hand mutely, while Karen came to see what she was staring at, and nearly screamed herself.
“Oh my gosh Amber, what is that thin—“
A light clicked on at the top of the stairs, before Karen’s mom called out, “What’s going on down there?”
“Nothing Mom,” Karen called back. “Amber had a bad dream.” And I’m not so sure myself that I’m having a bad dream as well. Well, this is sort of a good dream, I think. Do people know that they are dreaming when they are dreaming?
“Alright. Try to go back to sleep girls. Goodnight.”
The light on the stairs turned off with an unnaturally loud click.
“Jenna?” Karen whispered. “I think you better come see this.”
Jenna didn’t move.
“C’mon Jenna, I’m not kidding.”
Jenna didn’t move.
Karen got annoyed, and poked the lump under the blanket. Jenna didn’t move. Karen poked harder. Jenna didn’t move. Karen poked even harder. Jenna still didn’t move. Karen lost her patience and slapped the bulge that was Jenna’s head. Jenna squealed, and a voice under the blanket groggily said, “Gee Karen, you didn’t have to do that.” The voice was husky and carried a sleepy tone.
“C’mon Jenna, be serious. Amber found a really weird little –“
“I don’t want to see the ‘really weird little’ thingie. I want to go to sleep.”
“HEY!” yelled a shrill, indignant voice. “I, for your information, am not a ‘really weird little thingie’, I am an elf, and proud to be one. I am not an animal to goggle at either,” she stated hotly, pointing this last comment at Amber. “And now if you will let me go, I will explain why I am here…in the morning,” she added as an afterthought when a loud yawn came from inside Jenna’s sleeping bag. “Humans have such odd habits.”
“Wait a minute, you don’t sleep at all?” inquired Karen.
“No.”
“Do you at least eat and drink?”
“What do I look like to you human? An eLNot? Man, those jerks really do get on my nerves. They eat alright, but only every other day, and that’s only if they’re not fanatic that day about their shape.”
“A…what?” asked Amber.
“eLNot. They’re really annoying, and think their so ‘all that’ with their flashing neon colored wings. In the day of course, their wings become transparent, like ours, but at night, shesh, they glow so brightly, it lights up the Hollow like full daylight.”
“Huh? You have wings?” said a disbelieving Karen. All this sounds fishy, like something out of a fairy tale.
“Yeah, but we can hide them, if they’re going to be in the way.”
The elf put her hand on her hips and carefully looked Karen over. Karen felt as though she were being x-rayed.
“You don’t believe a single word I’m saying, do you human?”
Karen flushed, and replied sharply, “And if I don’t? This could all be such a big dream that I’m having. I really think that this is a dream, even if it’s a good one. And for the record, my name is not ‘human’, it’s KAREN.”
Amber stared at Karen. It wasn’t like her to be so sharp.
“Karen huh? That’s sort of a pretty name. That reminds me, we never got a proper introduction. My name is Anaticrui of the Taellymarian Hollow, or for short, Rui,” said the elf, giving a little bow.
“Hi Rui, I’m Amber.”
“You already know my name,” said Karen with a small smile.
“Who’s the big talking boulder?”
“What boulder?” asked Amber, confused.
Rui pointed to Jenna’s form concealed in her sleeping bag.
“Hey!” yelled Jenna, popping out of her sleeping bag. The way she did it reminded Amber of the Whack-a-Mole game. “For your information, I am no more a boulder than you are a ‘weird little thingie’. And hi, my name’s Jenna.”
“Jenna, Karen, and Amber,” said Rui. “Pleasure to meet you, and Amber,” she said, pointedly rubbing her ears, “please don’t scream like that again. It really hurts a person’s ears.”
Amber laughed, as Jenna heaved a big yawn.
“People, I’m loosing my beauty sleep hours here,” said Jenna, trying, and failing to cover another huge yawn.
Rui shook her head. “Humans have confusing rituals.”
“It’s not a ritual,” explained Amber, as Jenna wiggled back into the comfort zone of her sleeping bag. “It’s what humans do in order to be energized and awake when the sun rises.”
“Oh. What was that really odd sound you were making?”
“What do you mean?”
“She means your light snoring. You were doing it tonight, for the first time since I can remember,” called Karen.
“Ha Karen,” retorted Amber, covering her flush by throwing her cow-face pillow in Karen’s face.
“Well, you have about four hours until the sun comes up. You better…what was that word again?...oh right. You better go to sleep,” said Rui. Jenna was already fast asleep. Amber got into her sleeping bag, and Karen threw the cow-face pillow back in Amber’s face, and closed her eyes.
Amber sighed oblivious to the pillow on her face, and said, “I wish I could sleep like Jenna, and then I’d be in Heaven.”
“If you were in Heaven, you’d be dead,” replied Karen.

~*~

After waiting awhile, Rui thought that the girls wouldn’t wake up, so she summoned her wings, and flew out the window. A raven was waiting for her, and she gave the bird all the information she knew about the girls, but it wasn’t very much, seeing that she had been in their awake-selves for less than an hour. She assured the raven that more information would follow for the Master soon; but the Master would have to be patient, for there was no way to acquire a large amount on information in a short time as the Master needed, and asked for a month before having to report again.
Her Master, listening through the raven’s ears, told her that a month would be allowed, and the information must be in order by then.
Rui understood, and gave an affirmative. The raven flew off in the gray dawn of early morning.
A fierce light burned in Rui’s eyes. Soon, her sisters of the Hollow would be free; soon, she could go home at last; if she did this one job well.

~*~

The Lady of the Land smiled with pleasure. Soon, very soon the Plan would be in motion, thanks to Rui and the three other girls.

to be continued....






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