Reads: 195


Gabriella wakes to the sound of crickets and the moon shining through a gap in her curtains. It takes her a moment to realize where she was. She was in her grandmother’s house in East Aurora. They arrived late last night.* Gabriella sighs and tries to go back to sleep. She tosses and turns but eventually gives up and gets up to get a drink of water. She tries to be as silent as possible as she crosses the house. 

When she gets into the kitchen, she opens the cupboard and cringes as it lets out a wail. She quietly takes out a glass and turns to the sink to fill it. The glass falls to the ground with a CRASH!  The glass had slipped through her fingers at the sight in front of her. Gabriella was not looking out the window to East Aurora as she expected to be, she was looking at a forest in who knows where. She backs up, not bothering to be quiet anymore.

“Grandma?” Gabriella calls. She races down the hallway to her grandmother’s room. Her silhouette could be seen lying on the bed. “Grandma?” There was no answer. Gabriella reaches over to shake her awake but her hand only meets a pile of blankets. She hastens to turn on the light. She blinded for a moment, but when her eyes adjusted, her grandmother was nowhere to be found.

Gabriella rushes around, calling for her. She looked in every room but her grandma wasn’t in the house. She rushes to the front door and flings the door open and searches the ground for any clues that might tell her where her grandmother was or where she was. But she finds nothing. Not a footprint. Not a fallen watch. Nothing. She was so focused on finding something, that she didn’t notice the glowing figure until it was ten feet away from her. Gabriella jumps back startled and makes way for the door.

“Are you Gabriella?” Says a woman's voice. It takes Gabriella a moment to realize it was the glowing figure that had spoken. The figure was a woman with dark brown hair and warm, chocolate brown eyes. The woman was like a ghost, but fully colored like a mixture between human and ghost.

“Who are you?” Gabriella demanded. “How do you know my name?”

“My name is Essie,” She says. “And I know your name because your grandmother talks about you a lot.”

“You know my grandmother?” Gabriella asks, beginning to trust her.

Essie smiles. “Almost everybody knows your grandmother around here.”

Gabriella gives her a puzzled look. “How?” she asks. “My grandmother has been here before? And where exactly is ‘here?’”

“You are in a land called Andomijiya,” Essie says.


“Andomijiya,” She repeats. *“It was quite a beautiaful place once.”

“What do you mean ‘was?’” Gabriella asks. “I think it is still beautiful. Look at all the different plants.”

Essie gives her a gentle smile. “Not beautiful, beauiaful,” Essie says. “The word beautia is a word from the ancient language. It means safe, protected, powerful, fortress, beautiful, good, unique. It was what represented us.”

“What happened?”

“Alkadoma,” Essie replied, her expression turning dark. “He came here about two years ago and this land has been in peril. He wreaked havoc on us all,” She sighs. “Oh, and I remember when he was a boy. Doing no worse than putting bugs in Amelia Hansons hair.” She manages a small smile. “Come inside, I have a story to tell,” She and Gabriella go inside and settle in the living room. “Alkadoma’s childhood wasn’t good. I was his school teacher. I was fresh out of the academy and was considered a joke around the town where I was teaching. I got no respect out of anybody and the children never listened. I was believed to be a failure because none of the children trusted me anymore than they listened to me. I was beginning to believe I was a failure too.

“Then one night, I was on the verge of giving up and moving to a different town to begin again, when I heard a knock at the door. I was very surprised because it was pouring out. At the door was little Alka. That of course was what Alkadoma was known as at the time. He soaked to the bone and there was a nasty gash across his nose. I asked him what had happened but he ignored the question and just asked if he could stay the night. I, of course, let him. And though I tried to get him to tell me what happened he never said a word. I knew then, I could never leave the poor boy alone. I decided to give the school teaching in Whitebridge another try. 

“Many times after that, he showed up on my doorstep. And many times I asked what was going on. But no, he never said a word against his father. His mother had died a couple of years before but sometimes, when he was staying the night he would call out for her, and it broke my heart. When he was younger he was wild and he was always teasing the girls. But as he got older he became more reserved and more dark. 

“When I thought the beating had finally stopped because he hadn’t come by in nearly three months. Oh, how wrong I was. He showed up for school one day both his eyes were black and blue and he was cut up on the arm and through his eyebrow. But that’s not what startled me the most. Before, whenever he got beat up, he would have this hopelessness in his eyes. It was sad. But this time, he had hatred so deep and an anger so fierce it scared me. He walked to his desk, took all his things and threw them in the trash and walked out saying nothing. After that day, he was never the same again.

“He left the town completely and no one knew where he went or did while he was gone. But we all knew that wasn’t the last we would see of Alka Winston. He came back a few years later. He was nothing like the fifteen year old boy he was before. He came back with a wicked look in his eyes and an aura of menace. He went straight to his fathers house and dragged him by the hair to the town square and in front of everyone beat him up. A few people, including myself, rushed to hold him back. I will always remember the look he gave me that day. He had said, looking in my eyes, ‘One day I will be back and you will pay. All of you! This is not the last you’ll see of me!’ and he disappeared in a cloud of black smoke leaving us holding on to nothing but air. 

“He was right. That was not the last we saw of him. But it was a long time before then. The next we saw him was two years ago. He moved back and killed his father. None of us could stop him. Then he retreated to the mountains and didn’t interact with us until about a week ago. You see, Alkadoma has a little sister. He came down to the orphanage where she was kept and “visited” her. After he left, she started acting weird. She looked and felt completely solid but was transparent. Much like myself. But at night, as soon as the last of the sun's rays were out of view, she went wild. She attacked the kid next to her. Then next thing you know all the girls that were in the room with her looked like her. Everybody in the village was turned into souls or whatever you want to call them. But as soon as the first rays of the sun touched the village, the children regained control again. 

“The adults didn’t lose their minds when the sun went down. I could guess it was because they have more mental stability than children. But nevertheless we were in the same state as the children were. But knowing what could happen, we kept the children under lock and key during the night well before dark. But two nights ago, one of the kids escaped and this whole land is in peril. I could guess you have at most a month to save this land before the enchantment wears off because of too much chaos.”

“I’m sorry, did you say, me?” Gabriella asked, her eyes widening.

“Oh, I have forgotten to mention the most important part,” Essie said, putting a palm to her forehead. “You are the only one who has the power to end Alkadoma’s rein over Andomijiya.”

“And you know this, how?”

“There is a prop—” Essie stops mid-sentence. “I’m sorry, I have to go. They are calling me,” She begins to fade. “Head east. And stay hidden in the night!” As soon as she said the word “night” she disappeared. She left, leaving Gabriella more confused than ever.

“Wha-?” She says. Neither her eyes or her ears seemed to have processed what had just happened. It was as if she completely forgot how to understand. She decided it would be best to sleep on it. Maybe she would wake up and find it was all a dream. She would wake up and find she was at her grandmother's house in East Aurora. Not in Andomegea or whatever it’s called.

Oh, how wrong she was.


Submitted: January 25, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Lei Belanger. All rights reserved.


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