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Ink

Be careful what you wish for...

A short story

By Ella Zundel

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When all seems lost

And you are ready to lose,

Listen, learn, and live on.

_____________________



The sound of shattering glass and heavy, angry footsteps assaulted the ears of a young girl, huddled by her bed to hide from the man that raged behind the closed door.

“I’ll find you, girl!” The bellow made her whimper, “and when I do, you’ll regret everything you’ve ever done!”

The girl closed her eyes tight and gripped the bed frame, willing her paralyzed legs to move through the fear of her father’s drunken rant.

“Sulu!” The man screamed her name horribly.

“No,” the whisper was choked out her chest and she crawled to her bedside table, reaching with shaking hands to grip her late mother’s locket necklace, the small hum of magical power inside of it pulsed against her palm.

There was a Wish stuck in between the walls of the locket, left there by her mother, Marie for her own use whenever she had a need for it.

She had been keeping it safe until the right moment, and always brought it out when her father started to threaten her.

The door rattled as something glass shattered against it, and the handle shook even more as something strange bagan to turn it at a desperate pace.

Sulu’s heart raced in her ears and she pushed herself against the floor, rolling underneath her bed. There it only made her claustrophobic but she didn’t dare roll out again. He was too close.

With a crash, the door ripped open and the picture of two very large boots stomped into the room, the floorboards creaking with the weight of the beast that had just entered.

“I’ll kill you!” His bellow shook to her core and Sulu had to press her fist, the one with the locket inside of it, into her mouth to keep from crying out.

“When I find you,” he was tearing through her small room, the crashes and sounds explained that much, “I’ll kill you!” The worst part, Sulu knew he wasn’t lying.

The bed moved an inch. He would find her.

Then there was the distinct picture of her ceiling. The same one that Sulu stared at every night.

She could remember when her father’s drinking started, he would come home and yell at her mother, so Sulu would hide, curled up in a ball and watching the white ceiling above her like it was the last thing she'd ever see.

Sulu screamed, unable to keep it in anymore as the towering figure of her father appeared over her, the bed tossed away, into the small window where the glass had broken, decorating her pillow like diamonds.

“There you are,” his growl was followed by spittle.

For a moment it was as if the world had frozen, and Sulu couldn’t move. All she could feel was the Wish pulsing against her hand, the small faraway voice of her mother came to her ears.

“Close your eyes and count to ten, open your eyes to feel brave again.”

Her eyes snapped shut, not wanting to see his face anymore.

One.

Two.

“You lying, deceiving, terrible little girl!” Her father seethed, raising a sharpened knife above his head.

Three.

Four.

“You will pay for what you’ve done,”

Five.

She hadn’t done anything.

Six.

Seven.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you, you little-” He cursed.

Eight.

The wish seemed to have a heartbeat that rocked against Sulu’s palm, each beat saying the same thing: please, please please.

Nine.

She took a deep breath.

Ten.

Sulu’s eyes opened, and as she watched the downfall of the knife, the fear eased away.

Her hand opened.

“I wish! I wish to write my own story!” She screamed.

The locket glowed white and then everything went dark.



50 years later…

_____________

Beeeeeeep.

Beeeeeeeeeeep!

“Yo, Jen! Wake up Sleeping Beauty!” I groaned at the voice of my best friend filtering in through my open window, and his car annoyingly beeping every few seconds.

“We’re gonna be late because of you!” The second voice was my other best friend; both boys and equally irritating.

Saturdays. My least favourite day.

“Coming!” I croaked and stumbled out of bed, ignoring my clock with it’s glowing red numbers: 5: 06 AM. Most people would wonder why anyone would wake up so early, but ever since three weeks ago when my friends, Noah and Benjamin got me into some trouble, it was normal. And I’m not talking about just some trouble, but like police cars, flashing red and blue lights kind of trouble.

Every Saturday we woke up and helped clean up the older part of the neighborhood that had been abandoned for forever. Community service sucked.

I threw on some leggings and a purple T-shirt that smelled like a hotel pool, and slipped into some shoes.

Beeeep!

I ran to the window and leaned out as far as I dared, “Hey! Ben, quit your honking before you wake my family!” I hissed and Ben, whose face was barely illuminated by a street lamp, grinned from ear to ear and beeped again.

I muttered something unladylike and hurried out of the house as silently as I could before he continued his chorus of car sounds.

Noah hopped out of the front seat and opened the back one, bowing awkwardly, “After you M’lady.” I swatted at him and slid in, immediately hit with the smell of Windex and Chinese Food, a weird combo but familiar to me.

Ben immediately began to sing Calvin Harris’s song Let’s Go as he drove, but changed the lyrics to, “Don’t make the police mad and we wouldn’t be here!” instead of “ Make no excuses now, I’m talking here and now.”

I punched him from behind, “You got us into trouble remember, doofus?”

“Iiiiiiiiii don’t know what you're talking about!” He sang to a random tune, dragging out the ‘I’ more than he should have.

Noah whistled. “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”

“Actually,” I said, smiling, “Some idiots in a white Sedan woke me up at five A.M.”

Ben jerked the wheel and the car took a sharp turn onto Old 24th Street, where he came to a screeching halt behind a few other cars. A group of about a dozen people stood in a circle, all wearing work gloves, and looking about as happy as we were to be here.

Once the car was off, the three of us climbed out and joined the others.

“Alright, now that everyone is finally here,” the manager pointedly spoke to us on the last two words and Ben shrugged innocently, muttering, “car trouble,” for an excuse.

“We’re just going to clear rubble and anything salvageable inside any houses that are safe to enter. Kioski and Anderson, you two are with me…” He began to assign jobs, “You three, you’re on that house,” he pointed to a two story white Victorian house at the end of the street, “and please, try not to get into any trouble.”

“Um, sir. That house is supposedly haunted, can we maybe-” Noah began.

“No!” The manager said, “you will do the work you’re assigned without complaint.”

One of the other workers snickered, “You afraid of a ghost story?” He said.

Noah turned pink with anger but I put a hand on his arm, “We’ll do it,” I said, and pulled the boys along with me towards the “haunted house.”

I had to admit, the house was creepy enough to be in a horror story, but there was no way any rumors Noah had heard were true. With the news and Internet, everyone loved to talk, and 50% of the time it was all fake.

“Let's check inside first and then deal with anything out here, okay?” I said as we approached the porch.

“Lead on, Oh Wise One.” Ben said and I made a face at him.

“So, what’s the story of this place?” I asked Noah, who’s face had gone white.

“The old owner was Willian Smith, a scavenger. He bought things that we’d call useless and filled this house up with them. Story says that he bought something, a book or whatever and didn’t come out for days, weeks even, like he was trapped inside the house. Then his library caught fire one night and his body was found underneath that window there,” Noah pointed to the broken window on the top floor, “everyone said he jumped, killed himself by trying to escape.”

“Huh,” I said, not really paying attention as we carefully made our way through the door and into the house.

“People used to say that the crap he got was cursed, and that last thing was the last straw. And to this day, no one knows how the fire started.” Noah whispered.

“And, how long ago was this?” The house was very old, and it seemed to creak and move at any hint of wind.

“Some odd twenty years,” I picked my way towards the spiral staircase only a few feet from the door that would lead to the top floor.

“And they haven’t torn it down yet? Wow.” I breathed, slowly ascending the creaky stairs.

Noah stayed silent, so I shrugged and continued on until we were all standing on the top layer.

Everything was burned. From the looks of the burned pages and old shelves, this was the library. Ash covered every inch of the top floor.

“How did the fire not burn through the floor?” I wondered aloud.

“Cursed maybe. Ohhh!” Ben grinned and made a terrible ghost sound.

“Guys, look at this,” Ben and I turned to see Noah crouched next to a single, untouched book. Ash circled around it but didn’t touch it, and the book looked good as new.

“What book is that?” Ben asked, trudging over and sitting down on his haunches next to it. He reached out a hand to brush off some dust when Noah made a terrible noise.

“Ben! Don’t touch it!” He practically screamed, “C’mon guys, nothing’s in here. Just ash and sadness, let’s go.” He stood, taking my arm with pleading eyes.

“So you are afraid of a ghost story?” I teased and pulled my arm away.

“Jen, please,” His eyes were filled with pure terror, “I don’t have a good feeling about this place.”

I frowned, “Lighten up, Noah. Two more minutes, ‘kay?”

Woosh! The sound of papers turning all at once made both of us look back at Ben, whose hands were wrapped around the now open book and was flipping through the pages.

He looked up, “blank.”

That’s when everything went wrong.

The book began to shake in Ben’s hands and he dropped it with a yelp. It glowed white and hummed like a heartbeat.

“What the- Demon book!” Ben scrambled to his feet and backed up to where Noah and I stood.

The book opened itself to two empty pages around the middle and glowed more brightly, winds whoosed from nowhere, colliding with our backs and pushing us towards the book.

“What the crap! Maybe it is cursed!” Ben yelled.

That was the last thing we heard until everything went black.

Scorpions Here,

Wolf- Men There,

Crazy Blue Magic Everywhere!

We’re dead.

___________________________

I opened my eyes to see the blue sky.

Where was I?

“You dead, Jeno?” Ben’s annoying face interrupted my beautiful vision of blue.

“Don’t call me that,” I groaned, and sat up, then jumped at least two feet when I saw what I was wearing.

“What the- I could’ve sworn I had been wearing leggings and a t-shirt, what happened?” I yelped when I saw that Ben was wearing the same color.

I wore a dress. Cream colored and with a flowy skirt, and a brown belt delicately looped around my waist. From where I sat, the skirt rested against my lower leg.

Ben wore a flouncy cream shirt like pirates in movies, and black jeans.

“Yeahhh, woke up like this. But seeing you in a dress was more of a shock.” Ben said.

I ignored his comment and pushed myself to my feet, “Where are we exactly?”

“Dunno. I think that we might have hit our heads and maybe we’re having a dream?” Ben said hopefully, but from his voice I could tell he didn’t believe it.

I pinched myself, “ouch!” Not a dream then. I looked around, we were in the middle of a lush green field.

“Where’s Noah?” I asked, suddenly realizing he wasn’t here.

“Again. I don’t know,” Ben sounded a little desperate, like he’d already been asked that.

I blew out a breath. Maybe this was a dream where you could feel pain, that was an idea.

“Well, the only thing I think we can do is look for him,” I took a step and was painfully aware that I was barefoot as well.

“You look…” Ben started but I stopped him with a look.

He raised his hands in the hair, “Just gonna say like a gorgeous killer field nymph-” He shut up with another pointed glare.

“Let’s just find Noah and a way out of here,” I grumbled, ignoring how good the grass felt against my feet and how much I wanted to lay down and wiggle my toes into the gorgeous strips.

As we walked, I felt like I was on a treadmill, walking but not moving anywhere. I glanced to my right and noticed that the sky kept rippling weirdly, like a scroll feature.

I winced as my foot landed on a small rock, digging into my arch uncomfortably.

I blinked, trying to clear my eyes, and looked back at the sky. It was still rippling.

Once we’d walked for what felt like hours but had probably only been a few minutes, nothing had changed and I knew that something had happened.

“Ben?” I asked.

He looked over, “Yeah?”

“We aren’t moving anywhere are we?”

“Nope!” he replied. “Must be a field that never ends,” he joked, but I had a sinking feeling he was no doubt right.

I rubbed my temple and stopped moving, trying to comprehend what was going on. Mostly of where we were, and what we were going to do.

“So…. what do we do?” Ben asked annoyingly, as if reading my thoughts.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out… so shut up,” I snapped and continued to massage my head, in which a migraine had started to bloom in. “We have to find Noah, before we do anything else, that’s for sure.”

“Naw, we can just leave him,” Ben said nonchalantly.

“Please quit joking around, Benjamin Walker!” I rolled my eyes in exasperation and slapped him.

“I wasn’t joking,” He said, trying to contain a grin.

He earned another slap.

The grin soon faded though, and he agreed that we had to find our friend.

“I guess the only way is forward, right?” I asked.

“Technically-”

“Rhetorical!” I shouted before he said anything.

We kept walking.

Even though it seemed like we weren’t going anywhere, something was changing. Something large and black was coming into view, like it was being rolled onto a scene. The thing was at least ten feet tall and had a large gaping mouth, with cracks covering its body.

As it got closer, I could see that it was only a cave, but something was shifting in the inky shadows of its belly.

Swish. Swish. Swish. The sound of something breaking the still air, followed by small clicking noises reverberated from the cave’s inside. Then a whimper that sounded human.

“Noah.” I breathed, “That sounded like Noah!” I almost shouted it.

The swishing and clicking stopped.

“Jen?”

That was definitely Noah.

“Hold on! We’re coming, where-”

“NO!” His scream was horrible, “Don’t come! It’s a-”

The thing that emerged from the cave’s mouth made my blood turn cold. Swishing in the air above its head was a long, ugly tail. Its pincers snapped together menacingly, making that ominous clicking sound.

“Giant scorpion!” Ben yelled, “RUN!”

My head screamed run with him, but my legs had other ideas. They just wanted to stand there and shake, too frozen to do much else.

The scorpion advanced, and my head did a little hiccup as a fact ran through my head.

It’s said scorpions snatch their prey at lightning speed, while its tail delivers paralyzing blows.

And that’s when my legs decided to move.

The field’s tall grass parted for me and I ran, not knowing where I was going. Just knowing that when the sound of six heavy legs stopped pounding behind me, I’d probably be okay.

But the sound didn’t stop.

“Jen! Behind-”

Suddenly, I was sprawled on the grass, and a hissing sound assaulted my ears from above.

I rolled over, and immediately wished I hadn’t. The ugly face of the monster was right above me, its two evil eyes glittering straight into mine, hungry and terrifying.

“Hey! Hey, over here, you ugly beast!” Ben’s voice was like music to my ears. Definitely a first.

The dumb thing turned its head, and promptly scurried towards Ben.

“Jen! Hurry!” He screamed, “Get Noah and get out of here! I’ll deal with this!”

The scorpion hissed at that, as if annoyed about being called a “this.”

I scrambled to my feet and made my way back towards the cave, but the stupid field made it hard.

“Noah! Come out of there, we need to get away from here!”

There was no answer.

“Noah?” I called again, desperately trying to work past any... dare I say it? Magic that kept the field from letting me actually move.

“NOAH!” I screamed.

Where was he?

“I’m here!” His voice came back to me, and my heart stuttered in relief.

He sounded a little weird though.

“Come out then,” I said.

“I will, I just don’t want you to be scared,” He said. A shadow of a figure appeared, but I still couldn’t see him.

“Why would I be scared?” I asked, hesitating slightly.

A low chuckle was heard from Noah, and I could see him shake his head, “Humans, so gullible,” Then he came into the light.

It was a man, well, kind of. He had the body of one, but the head of a snarling, grey wolf with a sickening grin.

The wolf-man lumbered casually towards me, while I remained unmoving, though I tried to move. Away or forward, I wasn’t sure yet.

“What did you do with Noah?” I asked, ignoring the shout from Ben to hurry up.

The wolf-headed man snickered, and shook his head, his canines protruding from his grin.

He didn’t say a word.

I could hear the distant sound of the scorpion's pinchers snapping together and with that, something inside of me snapped. If this wasn’t a dream, and if this was truly real… well, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

The wolf man was close enough to smell now, and it wasn’t a pleasant thing. He reached out a hand and curved a single claw down my cheek, making me shiver.

“Don’t touch me,” My voice was shaky.

“Ah, I do love when my prey is fiesty,” He purred, but it sounded more like a growl and it chilled my insides. “But when they stay still like that it’s not as much fun.”

“JEN!” Ben screamed, and I squeezed my eyes shut.

I wish we were anywhere but here! I shouted in my mind.

Blue light crept into my closed eyelids, and I opened them with a gasp. Three words had appeared in front of me, so bright I could only barely stand to gaze at them. Blue appeared around them as the wolf man stepped back in alarm.

As you wish.

The words seemed to melt and swirl around me like chocolate being mixed into one smooth movement. It lifted my hair into the air, tugging at it with seemingly magical fingers. My dress rippled in waves around my legs, swaying against my ankles.

And then the light increased, forcing me to look away. I felt like I was being lifted upside down, and my head felt like cotton had been stuffed into my brain. All of my nerves tingled, and I felt like I seriously had to sneeze… And then everything stopped, and I crumpled to the ground.

Trust girls who name scorpions Scruffles,

Also don't walk into a house and get sucked into a book…

Taking notes?

__________________________________________________

A weird memory hit me while I lay on the ground. I remembered the early days when Noah, Ben and I were crazy eleven-year olds. For a reason I didn’t remember, we had all asked for the same bike for our twelfth birthdays, and we all got one... except me.

I had screamed and cried and gotten jealous of my best friends. And of course Ben made fun of me for acting like a stupid girl. That’s when Noah had stepped in and gave me his bike, warning Ben not to yell at girls.

I promised to never forget what Noah had done for me that day. He not only stood up for me, but also gave me something I really wanted and that he had.

Being stuck in this strange dream reality, or whatever it was, I was prepared to think back on all of those sweet memories. Because you never really know which one will be the last that

you remember.

_

“I don’t know if you can hear me or not… But I’m really sorry about what happened back there,” A girl’s voice interrupted my thoughts and I realized that my eyes were closed. I tried in vain to open them, and the voice continued.

“I never in a million years ever wanted this to happen, you got to believe me,” The girl’s voice cracked a little, “I just… you know I used to think that they came willingly. The people, like you. How foolish, how foolish indeed…” The voice trailed off.

There was the sound of scuffling and a small groan.

“Your friends are okay, by the way. The Wish wouldn’t let them die after what you did. What you wished back there, I mean.” There was a little laugh. “Ah, I’m talking in jumbles, and you probably can’t even hear me, Jen.”

Surprised filled me. How did she know my name?

“So you are awake. Can’t open your eyes?” The girl’s voice was soft and melodious and sweet, “That’s okay, it’ll take a little time. And as for why I know your name, well, I know everyone’s name who comes here.”

Again, I was taken aback. She can read my mind.

“I can indeed,” She said.

Why can’t I open my eyes? I thought, trying again to force my lids open.

“Give it a minute,” She replied and I flinched, or maybe just in my head I did, as I felt a cool hand touch my cheek. A small hand.

How old are you? Why are you here alone?

The hand was jerked back. “I’m fifty-nine. Well, I would be,” There was a humorless laugh, “I’m alone because…” She didn’t finish.

“Okay, open your eyes now,” She said instead.

My eyelids fluttered open and a girl’s face filled my vision. She had long brown hair, a pale complexion and large blue eyes as clear and innocent as the sky, but it seemed that behind there were deep pools of long suffering.

“Who are you?” I breathed, finding I could speak now too.

The girl’s mouth lifted in a corner smile. “I am all of this.” She waved a hand around.

My eyes slipped past the girl and looked in confusion at a stone wall, curvy and uneven. Then the confusion cleared.

We were in a cave.

“You’re a… cave?” I asked.

She laughed. The laugh was light and tinkly, but also hiding something else.

“No. I’m…” Her face became guarded again, all traces of laughter gone. “Sulu.” She said abruptly.

“Sulu? You’re name is Sulu?”

She nodded, then turned to a small fire with a little pot with boiling water in it, the smoke rising through a hole in the cave ceiling. “You’re friends are in the next room over,” She pointed to a tunnel that must’ve led to another chamber. “Sleeping,” Sulu smiled at me. “Snoring actually.”

I smiled back. “Loudly?”

“Very.”

“Sounds like them, but they’re guys, they all snore.”

Her smile vanished again.

What did I say? I thought then remembered that she could read my mind… weird.

“My father…” Sulu whispered. “He didn’t snore.”

Oh.

“Did you… lose your father?” I asked gently, prepared to comfort the girl.

She stiffened visibly. “No.” She said in another harsh whisper, “He lost me.”

I changed the subject. “So, Noah’s fine then?”

“Fine. Few bumps but not enough to really hurt him, he’ll be fine. Ben was the one who needed tending to, you left him in the company of Scruffles too long,” She dumped something I couldn’t see in the pot.

“Um, Scruffles?” I asked, not really sure I wanted to know the answer.

“Giant scorpion,” Sulu said lightly.

I blinked, staring at her back. “You named that,” I choked, “thing?”

Sulu nodded. “When your friends wake up, I’ll explain everything to you over dinner.”

At the mention of food, my stomach made a very whiny sound and I realized I haden’t eaten all day. “Sounds great,” I said.

_

An hour later, with all of us sitting with soup bowls in our laps, Sulu looked to the ground and flicked a pebble. “You guys are in my story,” She mumbled, sighing as if she was tired of saying it, “Fifty years prior, I was nine. My father…” She swallowed, “Tried to kill me.”

I looked up. Her father. That’s what she meant by “he lost me.”

“I wished to write my own story, using a magical Wish locked inside this,” Sulu pulled a locket from her shirt and opened it. The picture of a beautiful woman who looked like an older version of Sulu was inside, “And the Wish turned me into a book, a book that would be passed down from father to son, travel around the world until it fell into the fateful hands of a man named William Smith-”

“Wait, “ Noah interrupted, “Do you mean… you’re the thing that made the house burn?”

Sulu looked like she was going to cry, “I didn’t mean to! I liked William, he was so kind to things he found, kind to me. So I wanted company for real. When people started showing up here, I thought they came willingly! I was so lonely,” She wiped her eyes, “But monsters started to attack them, and I could only save them if they wished it away. I discovered that they had been sucked into my book’s pages, so to save them I transported them out-”

“You can get us out?” Ben’s turn to interrupt.

“I- I can’t. I condemned all those people! Once I sent them out, they turned into a book too and couldn’t get out ever again,” Sulu looked away, tears dripping down her face. Red tears, like blood. “I killed all those people… I killed William by accidentally making it so he couldn’t leave it house and he went insane… he tried to burn me, thinking I was a curse, but it only burned all the other books with all those people inside them. Then I… I never heard from William again,” She started to tremble, “I am a curse!”

I reached out to comfort her but she pulled away and stood up, “I-I’m sorry. I can’t help you, goodnight everyone.” Then she disappeared down the tunnel and was gone.

I sat there, numb. We were stuck here.

Forever.

Too many things giant when they shouldn’t be,

You’d put the Monster Under My Bed to shame.

______________________________________



I was shaken awake when it felt like I’d only slept for a few minutes.

“Jen,” Sulu’s voice was soft, “Jeniline!”

“What?” I rolled over, looking at the little girl who was really much older than me.

“Help me.” She pleaded, her face covered in tears.

I sat up, taking her hands. The small hands. “Of course, Sulu.”

She looked so broken and undecided, biting on her lip and blinking like she was trying not to cry. “I really want to help you. I get to feel a special connection with the people who come inside my book, and I feel really close to you for some reason, that’s why I chose to show you me, to tell you all of that instead of hiding like I used to do.” She took a deep breath, “I’ll- I’ll try to get you out.”

“I thought you said that we’d be trapped-”

“Not if I come out with you… at least I don’t think so,” She whispered the last part.

“You don’t think so?” I asked, trying to be patient, “these are our lives, Sulu,”

“I know! But I think… I think I can do it!” She sounded only half confident.

I thought about the memory thing. Sleepovers with my cousins, eating a dozen doughnuts with Benand then throwing up afterwards, fireworks on July 4th under the full moon.

“Well,” I said, looking into her eyes.

My family and I bursting out laughing when we tried to take a good family photo. Memories I would remember for however long I lived.

“What do we have to lose?”

“I’ll get the boys. Oh and by the way, this won’t be easy,” Sulu stood, a half smile plastered to her face, “I’m really sorry that you were dragged into this.”

_

Only two things totally freaked be out in the world. Heights, and spiders.

With my luck, “won’t be easy” would mean we’d have to run into one of those fears.

We did.

The spider was at least ten feet tall, with eight hairy legs, and eight shining eyes. Too many eyes. A Black Widow.

My whole body went paralyzed this time, not just my legs. A scream tried to claw its way up my throat but wouldn’t sound.

Ben grabbed my arm, “Really time to run, Jen.”

I barely heard him.

Sulu grabbed my other arm, “Scruffles is one thing, but this old guy does not like my visitors,”

The spider regarded us with its sets of eyes and took a crashing step forward, his legs slamming down on the ground and shaking it more than it should’ve.

“Come on, Jen.” Noah pressed into my lower back but I still couldn’t move.

“What’s wrong with her?” Sulu said.

“Fear of spiders,” Ben explained, swinging me into his arms and running, not waiting for the other two to catch up.

The spider ended up being fast and pick up the pace as we did. The terrible sound of its legs keeping Ben’s moving faster and faster.

“Make a wish! I can get you out of this moment if you make a wish!” Sulu shouted.

“What do we wish for?” Noah asked.

“Anything!”

“Uh, I wish for this giant thing to, like, not EAT US!” Ben screamed.

The blue light retuned, this time coming from Sulu herself. She stopped running and squeezed her eyes shut, her lips moving in a small chant. The light increased like it had before and wind blew, surrounding Sulu and us in a sheild of wind that knocked the spider back, its eight legs making a swishing, crunching sound as they buckled from beneath the creature.

It swiveled one of its legs forward, pushing against Sulu’s wind, the hairy body part coming dangerously close to my body, making a small whimpering sound emanate from inside my throat.

The winds died and the light faded. “Shoot,” Sulu muttered, “Hurry now.”

“Hurry to do… what exactly?” Noah asked.

Sulu swallowed, and took a deep breath.

“I need to knock you out,” She said smoothly.

“Excuse me?” I asked, standing on my own now.

“Sorry. It’s part of it,”

She waved her hand and all three of us collapsed.

When you’re careful what you wish for,

You’ll be just fine.

Right?

_______________________________

People say that when you die, you see a light in front of you. And that once you walk into the light, you’ll die.

But the light in front of me was like when my brothers would turn on my overhead light before I was fully awake, blinding me immediately because I was so used to the darkness of night.

It was a light that made me know I needed to get up and move, not walk into it and be done.

But like when I woke up to a flip of a switch, I felt no reluctance to stand on my feet and walk…

_

This time when I woke, for like the fifth time in two days, I was awoken by a loud woop.

“Now THAT was the craziest dream I’ve ever had!” Ben said, sitting up from the ash covered wood of the attic in the house on 24th Street.

I sat up, rubbing my eyes groggily. “Dream?”

“Yeah, man. Something with huge spiders and phycotic old girls who still look young.” He said, rubbing the back of his head.

Ben stopped moving, “Wait, you had the dream to?”

Noah was just now sitting up, and his yelp made both of us look over to see the book laying in the same position it had when we had first come in. And it was glowing blue.

“Sulu?” I whispered, gently touching the cover with my fingertip.

The book exploded open and the sound of a girl’s scream protruded from it. Dark hair appeared first and then a head, and then a body, all coming from the book’s pages.

The girl was lifted into the air, her hair sweeping in a flower like pattern around her head, her closed eyes framed by freckles that I hadn’t noticed before. Words swirled from the paper, merging with the girl’s skin like tattoos, then dissipating to show a healthy glow of her complexion. Once her feet touched the wood, her eyes popped open, the blue pools full of confusion.

Then something amazing happened. She aged.

The little nine-year old girl transformed to a well aged woman, her hair grew so long it brushed the floor and the blue light around her settled to a faint aura.

Her eyes landed on me, and the smile that she gave me made me smile back.

“Friends,” She whispered.

And then her eyes landed on the book, her book, and a sad look crossed her face.

She walked over and knelt by it, a tear slipping down her cheek. “Hey there,” she whispered and chuckled a bit as it made a humming sound, blue light pulsating “I can write my own story now, old friend.”

The book and all of its blank pages crumbled to ash like they should’ve fifty years ago, settling gently like feathers in a small pile with a sigh.

Sulu sighed with it and then stood, turning around, and froze. A small mirror reflected herself and she stared in awe.

I thought for a moment that she was surprised to see herself older but I was wrong.

“Mother?” She whispered brokenly. Another tear fell down her cheek and I could see she realized it was only herself.

Sulu closed her eyes for a moment, then took a deep breath and opened them, looking back at us, smiling sadly, “I’ll see you again soon I suppose,” She turned to go then seemed to stop, again realizing something else. She had no where to go.

“Come with us,” I said.

But Sulu was already shaking her head, “Oh no, I’ll go and start anew. Thank you for believing in me,” and then just like that, she was gone.

_

As we walked away from the old abandoned house on 24th street, arm in arm, Noah looked back only once.

“You know, if we had been trapped in a book, what do you think it would’ve been called?” Ben asked, matching his step with ours.

“Now that’s a mystery for another day, my friend.” I replied, silently wishing Sulu luck for her new life.

What we didn’t noticed as we continued down the sidewalk was the faint blue glow that emanated from a single almost-blank page among the ashes, illuminating five words that were just now fading…

The End.

Or is it?

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About Ella Zundel

Ella Zundel started writing at the age of 7, and started reading much before then. Even today, she's more of a reader than a writer when it comes to finishing anything, but that doesn't stop her from coming up with even more stories she won't be able to finish.
She progressed in the work of words and is still coming up with ideas today, getting inspiration from numerous things like her friends, staying up late in the rain, looking at pictures online, dreams,sitting and staring into space, and, yes, pasta.
She lives in Missouri with her family, 4 murderous cats, 3 dogs, and a bunch of good-for-nothing chickens, who she talks to whenever she's sad.

Find her on Allpoetry, Goodreads, and email her any questions!
Allpoetry: https://allpoetry.com/Second_Chance

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