I trudged up the sidewalk to my school, my messenger bag backpack bouncing to the rhythm of my steps.
It was 6:50am, but in early June down here in the Jasik basin it was sweltering. The sun rose around 6:00, and set around 8:30.
I couldnt figure out why anyone could possibly want to live here.
Later that day, I was sitting under my palm tree when I heard a slight ping. Even with my exceptional hearing I couldnt tell what it was.
The next thing I did I would later regret many times, but also sometimes I agreed with my decision. Although Id have to say I mostly regretted it.
But youll figure that out yourself later.
I put my book away and started walking towards where I heard the sound. I was in what locals called the grove because it was the densest vegetation within 10 miles of the city. In the beginning some people called it the palm forest, since it was 90% palm trees, but it just didnt cut as a forest. Another strange thing was that nobody knew why the trees grew there. My scientific mind found this interesting and I did a test. I dug down five feet inside and way outside the grove and compared what I saw. It looked identical. It was my favorite place because I loved trees and grew up with them at the foot of the Festin Mountains. There were huge forests of pine and lan trees there. We had to move because dad had business here, and that we would probably be back in 6 months. But I still struggled leaving to the very end even though it was only going to be 6 months.
It had been a year.
Thinking about this made me sigh and took the edge off the excitement of the strange noise. I was starting to think I hallucinated it, even though I had never heard anything wrong in my entire life. After all I heard somewhere that when youre too hot, your senses start to fail on you.
I kept walking through the grove. By now I was past the point that I had ever gone before, my curiosity not exactly peaked by the stories of people going in and finding endless palms. Most of them got lost amongst the trees and ended up picking a direction and sticking to it until they got out. Then they would get their bearings and go back to town. A couple of people never came out.
I was tired and tempted to put my bag down, but common sense told me that Id probably never find it again. All the trees looked the same, so I couldnt tell how far in I was. I had already left the red flag far behind. My mom set the red flag up when we first came here because she was scared of me getting lost.
But that was a year ago, I scoffed out loud. The echo of my voice bounced through the trees and came back to me many times.
I sat down finally. Even though I was shaded by palm trees, this was only about 4:00 and it was still blazing hot out. I swatted some flies away, but they were very persistent in their attempt to annoy me. I took my water bottle out and drank.
I decided that if I were going to continue, Id have to get up. It would get dark in a couple of hours, so if I were going to investigate, Id have to hurry.
I got up and started walking again. I noticed the palm trees changing first. They seemed luscious and they had no dead leaves. There seemed a familiar plant-like smell to the air that I probably smelled in Sard, my mountain city. I was very captivated, since no one ever saw this.
At least no one that came back.
I noticed that the grounds texture was different. I looked down and saw grass. Real grass. You probably wouldnt understand my reaction, because youve probably never gone for a whole year with the only plants in sight being palm trees and cacti. I knew that this is what I was smelling earlier. I rolled around in it gleefully, the perfect picture of a tall five year old with a couple pimples added.
Then I heard growling.
I froze on the spot.
I tried to recall my old knowledge of animal sounds, but this was completely new and strange. It was mostly wolfs growl, with a touch of snakes hiss and bear growl.
I looked towards the sound. It was coming through a thicket of palms so thick it was like a wall. I figured I could just barely squeeze through.
Although the growl was terrifying, it had a certain energy that made it seem not directed towards me.
I looked through a hole in the palms. What attracted my attention immediately was a wolf like thing. At first glance it looked like a navy wolf with grey fur streaks, but if you looked closely you saw that its tail was a blue snake and its ears were those of a rabbit. This is what was growling.
Then I saw 3 men in some special uniform. It was a whole body suit, and you could hardly tell one from the other. They were holding tools that they seemed to regard as weapons, telling from their stance. They had a logo on their chest. It looked familiar, so I searched my brain for the memory. I found it.
It was on bring your son to work day when I was eight. I was really excited because my dad didnt let me go the year before, claiming I was too young (also because I got out of school that day). We pulled up to a regular looking office building. In the front it had the logo (an eagle carrying a stone). Under the logo it said Cynsi, which is where my dad works. It turned out to be really boring because everything seemed to be confidential or advanced research that you couldnt possibly understand.
The men were measuring the beast, trying to find the best approach. Their weapons seemed to flicker with high energy stored in the metal. Radioactivity? That was my first thought, since for some reason that energy always came to mind second, right after electricity.
Their weapons looked like 5-pronged trident, which, at further thought would make it a quindent. It all looked very high tech.
The Cynsi men were circling closer, testing their limits. Then suddenly they all struck.
Then many things happened at once.
The snake tail struck at the man lunging from behind with a blue light and lightning-quick speed. The beast shot blue energy out of its mouth at the second man.
But there were three men.
The third man hit the beast in its side.
The beast then made an expression incomprehensible to humans, and also one that we dont have the facial muscles to make. It befuddled me at first, but in a couple of days I theorized that it was probably a mix of fear, pain, startledness, and mostly confusion.
The beast then made a roar so intense it is extremely hard to describe with this insufficient language of ours. It conveyed such a strong emotion of rage and power that any human would cower at the sound immediately. I would have cowered in fear, but I didnt have time to.
With the roar came an energy shockwave that sent me and presumably the men flying backwards into a palm tree.
The last thing I felt was a screaming tear in my back before slipping into an inky unconsciousness