Hydro

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A young man's reality is turned upside down for the second time when he discovers a shocking secret about himself... and the world.



(Entry for ShadaStorm120's The One That Binds Us contest — 5000 words)

Submitted: November 12, 2017

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Submitted: November 12, 2017

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Part One

 

It never ceases to amaze me how many different colours bromeliads can be. Orange, red, purple, every shade of green imaginable, speckled or plain. Gran cared for the garden right till the end, though as I head down the track toward the beach the encroaching weeds become more and more evident. The garden eventually gives way to the natural vegetation growing amongst the trees. I hated the thought of her being alone on the island. I tried to visit as often as possible, and I'm sure Joe the ferryman did so too. 

"Jared!"

I turn to see my sister Saskia half running after me. 

"What?" I ask as she catches up.

She wipes sweat off her forehead, "You need to come back inside, it's disgusting out here."

The humidity is awful — I wouldn't be surprised if a storm cropped up sometime this afternoon. Yet even though I can feel some sweat threatening to run down my face, no amount of air-con can entice me back into the house.

"No," I say, "not while those vultures are there. It's only been a week for goodness sake!"

Saskia holds her hands up, "I know, I know, I'm not happy with mum and dad either. But you can't stay out here in this heat, you'll d—"

She stops short of saying it, bringing a fist up to her mouth as her eyes water over. The sight of it causes tears to prickle up in my own eyes. I bring her into my arms as she begins sobbing, despite her best efforts to hold it back.

A childhood memory stirs in my mind...

I give Saskia a pat on the back, "You know, this reminds me of a similar occasion — except it was Gran hugging you, and you were a lot smaller."

A shudder marks the end of her sobbing. She's listening.

I go on, "You'd fallen off your bike and cut your knee on a rock. Gran bandaged it and hugged you till you stopped crying. Then she took the offending rock and threw it in the bin for being a naughty rock."

Saskia pulls back, a smile now present among the cascading tears.

"It was the wrong rock."

I stare in disbelief, "But... I remember, it was the only rock with blood on it!"

She shakes her head, and even lets out a tiny laugh, "It was the rock that the blood dripped on. The rock that cut me was clean, I remember it took a couple of seconds for my knee to actually start bleeding."

So, it turns out I was living a lie all these years. 

"Come on," I say, "let's head to the beach, it'll be much cooler there."

Saskia sniffs and wipes away the tears before following. If we can just get down to the beach, let the water wash over our feet, and clear our heads of the predicament that we're in. I mean, I spent more time with Gran in the past few years than anyone else in the family, though Saskia would always come over here too when she was on school holidays. 

That doesn't mean I expected to be left the entire island in the will. 

I may be an adult, but I still live with my parents and am totally not ready to own a property, much less an island. Turning it over to mum and dad would be the logical thing, except they want to sell it, and I... well, not only is it a nice house on beautiful land, but it holds so many memories. Not to mention the length of time it has been in the family. Gran was born here. Even I was born here! Let's just say that mum didn't expect to get stuck here with storms and to have her baby a couple of weeks early. As to why she decided to come here while heavily pregnant, I guess it was a time when our parents and grandparents were a lot closer. 

Add that situation to several aunts and uncles in the same house feeling left out of the will and you get a deliciously toxic air-conditioned atmosphere. It's probably only a matter of time until they find some legal loophole that'll let them take the property anyway. 

The breeze that greets us as we step onto the sand helps wash away some of our concerns, until we realise that while the air is moving, it still feels as thick and water laden as it did up near the house. We continue to walk in silence in the shade of the trees growing at the edge of the beach.

"Gah!" Saskia retracts her foot from a section of sunlit sand, "It's lethal!"

I pause, looking out at the waves, "Think we can make it to the water?" 

The tide is in, so the water's only a few metres away — a few metres of near molten sand. 

Saskia hesitates, then springs out of the shade onto the beach, making high pitched squeals whenever her feet make contact with the sand. 

I follow suit, regretting my decision every time my feet hit the ground, that is until I reach the wet sand and a wave washes over them. There's just something about that feeling of the water running around your feet and partially burying them in the loose sand. Gran and I used to stand here all the time and...

Why did she have to die? Everything was so... perfect, before. Why did she have to go and leave me in this position? 

I'm broken from my brooding when I notice the lack of scorching sunlight. Looking behind us reveals a massive cloud with a wispy top has obscured the sun. A storm. As if on cue a rumble reaches our ears.

"I figured that with all this heat we'd have to get something," Saskia says, looking at the mass of grey lit up from behind, "but the forecast said we weren't supposed to get any rain for the next couple of weeks."

"Not unusual," I reply, "this island always seems to get rain, even when the mainland is in drought. Besides, we are heading into November, maybe the storms are just coming a little earlier this year?"

Another rumble, but this time from behind us?

We turn in the direction of the sound. 

"That wasn't there before, was it?" my sister asks.

"No, it wasn't." 

There's a developing storm sitting in what was previously clear blue sky. It's younger than the one in the west, it has more of a 'cauliflower' look to it. As we watch, the cloud expands before our eyes, growing much faster than a normal storm should. Soon the entire eastern sky is filled with an ominously green dark mass. More thunder.

Saskia and I exchange glances. 

Suddenly our knees are drenched by an abnormally large wave. We move back up the beach but the water seems to follow us — instead of the waves retreating like normal, they pile on top of each other and march further up the sand. 

Saskia tugs the sleeve of my shirt, "We should go inside." 

I barely nod. I've never seen a storm develop that fast before. Of course, I'm no meteorologist, but I've seen my fair share of storms, and this one...

The gust of wind nearly bowls us over. Saskia even windmills her arms slightly.

"Jared, come on!" she shouts through the howling wind. 

We turn to head back to the trai—

White flashes in our vision at the same time an explosive roar surges into our ears. This is immediately followed by an intense downpour, the rain flying into us almost horizontally because of the wind. We're instantly drenched from head to toe.

The rain drives us into the nearby trees in a vain attempt to find shelter. Which way are we even going? We're nowhere near the trail as far as I can tell. 

"Wait!" I shout as Saskia presses forward into the lush undergrowth, but my cry is drowned out by the rain crashing down on the leaves above. She's heading the wrong way! I run after her, through the water pouring down through the trees.

A quick glance over my shoulder causes me to stop. There's water all around the trees that we've been running past. Is this a storm surge or something? I thought they only happened during cyclones?

Saskia.

I turn back. The trees ahead of me do little to stop the rain pouring through. I can't see her at all! I scream out her name, but even I have trouble hearing it. This is bad. 

Charging forward into the rain, I hope that she's been going in the same direction. I'm already soaked, and now the raindrops feel like needles of ice hitting me as I try to avoid tripping over. My arms and legs sting every time they're whipped by stems of various plants. I call out again, though there's no way she'll be able to hear me. I just wish his blasted rain would stop!

In the distance, Saskia is standing in front of some boulders, looking at me. Wait, how can I see her? The rain is still roaring around us amidst the thunderclaps, but there's a straight line between us where there's no rain at all, just drops falling off the soaked trees. 

I cross the distance between us, without a single drop of rain hitting me. As I get close, Saskia giggles?

"Wait!" I cry as she runs between the rocks. Following her reveals a small doorway into the side of a hill, cut into the stone. What on earth? The rain resumes in the space behind me. Weird.

The doorway leads into a corridor that I can't see the end of, or maybe it takes a bend somewhere?

"Hey!" I shout — the sound would have to reach her ears this time — "What are you doing? We have to get back to the house before this place floods!"

No response. Since when did my sister turn into an idiot? Surely she wasn't close enough to that lightning strike to get her brain fried? If the water keeps rising she'll be trapped in the cave with nowhere to go.

"Sas!" I try one more time. Nothing.

Damn it. 

She's not coming out, which means there's only one thing for me to do. Looking behind me, I can just see the rising water in the forest through the rain. Hopefully this cave doesn't run too deep and I can get her back out before the water floods it. 

I enter.

The wind is still howling through the tunnel, pushing me deeper into the blackness. I won't be able to go much further anyway if I can't see.

"Saskia!" My throat is starting to get sore with all this shouting. Why the heck would she run into some random dark tunnel?

Unless, it wasn't my sister at all — it was some evil apparition leading me to my death!

I shake my head slightly, ridding myself of the ridiculous thought. Though was it as ridiculous as a storm growing instantly, and the rain parting between us until I caught up? Maybe the rain parting was just a weird wind thing going on in the sk—

Dripping water. To my left? I move forward some more, groping in the darkness until the wall disappears. Through the new doorway I can see a faint blue glow. 

Stop, stop now! my brain screams. But curiosity gets the better of me and I walk in. Besides, I can't leave without finding Saskia 

The glow gets stronger as I get closer and my eyes adjust. It's coming from a large stone bowl sitting on a solid rock base in the centre of the cave. I walk up to the bowl, it comes up to my hip and is full of blue glowing water. What is this place? It's definitely been deliberately built, but this island was uninhabited before Europeans arrived, or so I was told. There's a tiny stream of water piddling down from the ceiling into the basin, the excess water flowing out of four evenly spaced notches in the lip of the bowl into small grooves in the floor, carrying the light blue glow around and draping the room in its eerie light. 

And still no sign of my sister.

I fill up my lungs ready to shout, "Sas—"

"Your sister's not here," comes an almost playful, yet silky voice. 

I spin around to see a feminine silhouette standing in the doorway. The hairs on the back of my neck prickle up and my heart begins thundering louder than the storm outside.

"W-wh-who are you?" I manage. There's nothing around me that I can use as a weapon.

The figure emerges into the dim light, "I am Dawn."

She's a young woman, with a head of lustrous black hair containing a streak of white, skin that looks like it's never seen the sun, and wearing a ruffled black dress. How did she get on the island?

"Where is my sister?" I ask. 
 
Dawn slowly moves around the room, almost twisting as she places one black ballet shoe in front of the other, her heels barely touching the floor.

"Probably back with your family by now."

"What?" my face wrinkles up, "I followed her in here!"

Dawn cocks her head to the side, "Did you?"

I open my mouth, but no words come out. 

She continues, "That lightning struck awfully close before, perhaps your mind was hurt, could be playing tricks? "

"I get the feeling my mind's not the one playing tricks here," I respond.

Dawn giggles. Just like Saskia did, but it seems it hadn't been Saskia at all. It was this Dawn.

Wait, no, that's impossible! They look nothing alike, and I hadn't been that close to the lightning before. I'm pretty sure if it had damaged me I would've noticed. 

"You are clever," Dawn says, twisting past the basin and trailing her fingers across the water, "But are you clever enough to halt the coming tide?"

I fold my arms, "And how am I supposed to do that? Last I checked I can't control water."

"Can't you?"

That same mocking tone. 

She nods several times, as if understanding, "You have no knowledge of what you are. It's understandable."

"What?" I ask again, confused even more. I glance at the door, but an echo of thunder seems to caution me against trying to escape during this weather. I look back at Dawn, "I'm sorry, but I'm totally not following here."

Dawn smiles, "You're extremely rare, you hydrokinetics, almost as rare as your pyro cousins. Fitting, the two polar opposites."

I have no words. Is she saying what I think she is?

"To help you understand better, during which of the following is a baby least likely to be born? An earthquake, a hurricane, a wildfire, or a tsunami?"

"Uhh..." I trail off, giving it some thought. Earthquakes happen all the time in some areas, and I've heard of babies being delivered during cyclones. I don't know how a baby would be born during a bushfire though, maybe in a town near a bushfire? As for tsunamis... maybe in Japan they have tall hospital buildings?

"The latter two I guess," I offer weakly. 

Dawn nods, then gestures to the bowl of glowing water. 

I walk up to it slowly, hoping that she won't cut my throat over the top of it in some sort of satanic ritual. 

"Put your hand near the water," she orders. 

"Why?" I ask, looking down at the shimmering blue glow, distorted by the droplets from above. 

The pale girl twirls her hair with a finger, "Do you wish to verify that what I'm telling you is the truth?"

"Don't even know what you're telling me," I mumble, holding my hand over the bowl.

"Closer," Dawn says, "But not touching."

The latter part of the command somewhat allays my fears of some monster coming out and biting my hand off as I lower it. 

The water moves.

Ever so slightly, a dip forms in the surface of the liquid underneath my palm. I stare enamoured, then move my palm closer. The dip grows larger, forcing the water away from my hand the lower I go. When I lift my hand slightly, the dip decreases. 

"See?" Dawn whispers, leaning closer, "You have the gift."

I continue experimenting with small hand movements, making the dip grow and shrink. 

"It's just a static trick, isn't it?" I ask, then push my hand down further "There's no way I'm actually controlling the w—"

The water overflows onto my feet as I push my hand down. Only my hand never touched the water.

"Impossible," the word ghosts through my lips as my jaw begins to gape. 

My hand is near the bottom of the bowl, surrounding by water standing up like a circular wall around my wrist.

Dawn chuckles, "I beg to differ."

I withdraw my hand and the water sloshes back to its original state, albeit at a lower level than before. With no water overflowing anymore, the grooves in the floor run dry and the room darkens. 

"No, that's impossible," I back away, "This can't be real, I must be dreaming!"

Yeah, I have to be. That explains this whole storm fiasco and chasing after a strange girl masquerading as my sister.

And Gran dying.

Relief washes over me as I let out the biggest sigh in my life. Then I start laughing. She's not really dead! It was just one of those super vivid dreams.

"Oh my goodness," I say admist laughter, "time to escape this nightmare!"

I squeeze my eyelids shut, then force them open.

Only to see Dawn's sombre expression staring back at me. Okay, that didn't work. I try again, but I'm still here, with Dawn.

"Why can't I wake up?" I ask, exasperated, "This is all just a dream!"

Dawn shakes her head. 

No, this is a dream, it has to be. I try to resist the realisation that this is real, but everything is too crisp, my memories are all intact. 

I drop to my knees. I've got a superpower, but couldn't be any less excited. My one hope that this was all just part of a horrible night's sleep has been dashed to pieces. If only I could trade it in, ask the universe to take back my ability in exchange for Gran to live.

Water sloshes in through the door. The tide has risen all the way up to the tunnel.

I get back on my feet, "We have to get out of here!"

Again, Dawn shakes her head, "There's nowhere to go."

"What do you mean, there's nowhere to go?" though I have a feeling I know what she means. I just hope that I'm wrong.

"The tide won't stop, the whole island will be submerged. Thanks to you."

"Thanks to me?" I repeat.

She nods this time, "Yes. You're hurting. The storm inside of you is drawing all the surrounding water in the sky and the ocean."

More water floods in through the entryway, flowing across the floor.

"Well, how do I stop it?" I ask, a tremor in my voice, "You asked before if I could stop the tide?"

"Why are you hurting?"

"Why do you think?" I bite back. She seems to know so much, surely she'd know what's just happened.

Dawn looks at the floor.

I hold my palms up, "Wait, look, I'm sorry. It's just, not only did I lose someone I loved, but other people I love are so quick to swoop in, to try and take their share like squabbling carrion feeders! How can they be so heartless?"

Tears escape my eyes as water surges into the room, flooding it up to our knees. It's accompanied by a strange feeling, like I'm pulling it in here?

"Yes!" Dawn exclaims, "That's it! Let the storm out. Don't let it fester inside of you. Let it all out."

"I-I," my bottom lip quivers, and a lump forms in my throat. 

"Go on," Dawn prompts.

"It was my fault!" the words burst forth, "I delayed my trip to go see a movie, and..."

More tears. I force myself to finish, "... if I had been here she wouldn't have slipped over!" 

Hollowed out, I let myself drop, my hands and knees hitting the stone as my body shudders. 

Feeling Dawn's hand on my shoulder, I look up, blinking the tears clear. The water surrounds us in a meter high wall. 

"You can't change what happened," she says, "but there are others here, that you love, and that love you. You can save them."

"How?" I ask. Moving water in a bowl is one thing, but an entire storm surge?

Dawn gestures to the water standing around us, "You have the power — you created the storm, you can end it. Tell me, do you want to see your family again? Do you want to save them?"

I nod.

"Then save them!" she points to the door.

Standing again, I flex my fingers, testing my control. The water ripples and moves about in response. I gently push my hands forward, sending the water flowing back out the door until the floor is dry.

Dawn nods approval as I stare at my hands. It feels amazing, but hard to desrcibe, there's just some kind of connection to the water as I control it. Renewed, I storm across to the door and out of the tunnel into the rain. The water from the ocean has receded, but is still pouring from the sky.

Taking a deep breath, I lift my hands up either side of me. Every single raindrop halts, bobbing mid-air. I close my eyes, allowing happy memories to flow into my mind. With Gran, on the beach, picking up shells and sand dollars, in the garden, trying not to kill earthworms as we dig, munching on corn that we had planted together, the bike incident, with Saskia.

I open my eyes again, bring my hands together, then spread them apart again. Above, little changes at first in the sky, but I can feel otherwise. Soon light bursts through the grey clouds, which spread apart, getting smaller and smaller, their edges fraying into nothingness. 

The sky is blue again, insterspersed with puffy white clouds. I release the suspended raindrops, resulting in a brief sunshower.

"Well done," Dawn says behind me. 

"Thanks," I say, looking around at the debris left by the surge, "But there's one other thing. You mentioned babies being born during tsunamis, is that how hydro...kinetics are born?"

"There is a chance, yes." Dawn responds.

"Well, I was born here, and as far as I know there was no tsunami."

"Perhaps it was your proximity to the temple?" Dawn offers, "Of all the water temples, this one seems the most ancient."

So this is one of many temples? Interesting.

"One last thing," she says, "do not show anyone your power. In fact, it would be best if you only use it on this island. Others of your kind have been disappearing, but I don't know why. For now, go be with your family."

I turn around "Any ideas why they're disap—" 

There's no one there. 

 

 

 

 

Part 2

 

The next day is better. I help dad cook pancakes for breakfast, and thankfully, no one brings up the will at all. I think they're just all glad that I didn't die in the storm. When I got back to the house they were all both incredibly relieved and confused. Saskia had to explain herself for leaving me behind, and I just said that the lightning strike freaked me out so much that I hid under a tree for the rest of the storm. It was easier to paint myself as a scared fool than to try and explain my adventure into an ancient temple, but I didn't enjoy lying.

Do not show anyone, the words ring in my ears. 

During breakfast, I made the water level in my glass tilt slightly without anyone noticing, just to confirm that yesterday actually happened. Once we had finished eating, I got Saskia to meet me outside.

"I'm going to the beach, wanna come?" I ask.

"After what happened yesterday?"

Fine, time to play the serious card.

"Look, there's... something, that I have to show you."

Her expression changes to one of concern, "Is everything all right?"

"Yeah, of course, just please come. It's important."

She glances back at the house, then follows me down to the western beach. The tide's out, so we walk across the damp sand until we come to an area of large puddles. I quickly scan the ocean to make sure there's no nearby boats.

"Okay," I turn to Saskia, "Please don't freak out."

"Um, sure." she says, obviously confused.

Do not show anyone.

Hopefully my ability doesn't stop working at this critical moment. I flex my fingers, focus on the puddle in front of us, and raise my hands slightly.

A bulge grows in the middle of the water, expanding and moving upward until it separates entirely. A floating sphere of water.

"Viry imprissive."

I drop the sphere at the sound of the voice behind us. 

Saskia's look is one of shock, but she says nothing as we turn to face the stranger.

It's a guy with firey red hair, wearing a wetsuit bottom and a belt with a knife in a scabbard. Did he swim here? His upper right arm and shoulder have a weird, plastic look to them, like a burn scar.

The man catches us staring, looks at his arm, then smiles back at us.

He speaks with a South African accent, "Ah yes, back in Congo, first time I encountered a pyro, first time I encountered any of your kind, actually."

He walks closer, fiddling with a necklace. A tooth necklace. Saskia looks at me — she has no idea what is going on. 

Do not show anyone... except this guy has clearly seen me demonstrate my ability.

"Um, hi," I say, "I don't believe we've met?"

"No, we haven't, but it's an honor to meet you. Never thought I'd see another hydro again. I thought I was lucky to find that girl in India. Apparently you're more common in Japan, but the Americans always get to you first. Thankfully ASIS is a bit easier to dodge. I was actually chasing down rumours of an atmo in Townsville — you can imagine my surprise when all the clouds in the area got pulled to one little island, a similar phenomenon I'd observed in India, a little village never affected by drought."

I nod slowly, wondering why this guy is telling us all this. He speaks as if...

"That girl was the only one who ever made me hesitate, a shame. I'm sure she would have grown into a beautiful woman."

He grabs a particular tooth on his necklace. An eye tooth, like the rest. 

Saskia grabs me by the hand as the man pulls out his knife.

"Run!" she screams. 

I need no further encouragement. We take off, but the man is fast. I twist out of Saskia's grip, take control of a nearby puddle, and hurl the water at his face.

Only the force of the water travelling through the air reduces it to a spray by the time it reaches him. He shakes his head and laughs. 

I resume running. Saskia lets out an ear splitting scream. Unfortunately, the house would be shut up to keep the air-con inside. They wouldn't hear us, not this far away.

The man is gaining! I push my legs harder, my feet hammering against the sand. I've never run this fast before in my life, but it's still not fast enough.

My shoulder is grabbed from behind and I'm thrown into the sand, landing on my back.

"Jared!" I hear Saskia shriek. 

The psycho guy stops above me, draws back his arm and sends the knife flying out of my field of vision.

And I hear the most sickening gasp in my life.

No... Saskia! 

I lunge up at him, but he grabs my throat and pushes me back into the sand. I try to claw his eyes, but he holds his head up out of the way. My body screams for oxygen, but receives none. 

He smiles down at me, "It's the good old fashioned way for you."

His smirk disappears when I launch a fistful of sand into his eyes. He releases my neck, I wriggle free and kick out at his stomach with both of my legs, sending him backward. 

Saskia! She's lying in the sand, groaning, the knife in her abdomen surrounded by red, but perhaps the knife is helping prevent the bleeding. 

I can stop the bleeding. Blood contains a lot of water, if I can keep the blood from leaving her body—

I turn just in time as the attacker lunges at me, holding my hands up.

He freezes mid-air, his face centimeters from mine. His expression is pained, and confused. The green eyes suddenly become bloodshot as the vessels expand.

And burst. 

A blood curdling scream erupts from his paralysed form as red tears stream down his cheeks. The cheeks themselves become blotted with red and purple, as does his neck, chest and arms.

I've connected with the water in his body. The liquid interior of every single cell.

I thurst my arms outward — the bruised body tumbles across the sand like a ragdoll, coming to rest in an unnatural heap.

... I just... killed a man.

Turning my attention back to Saskia, I place my hands around the wound, staunching the flow. 

"Jared! Saskia!" 

I look up to see my parents, aunts and uncles all running down onto the beach. They must have heard the scream.

Do not show anyone.

But how else am I going to explain all this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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