Cataclysmic (middle section)

So I decided to show you guys part of what I’ve been working on for my novel. If you guys remember, I have been working on this novel called “Cataclysmic.” The name actually started as a placeholder, but then as the story progressed, I realised that it was perfect for the story I wanted to tell. So here is the middle part.

***

‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I exclaimed.

Not only were we in a dark, underground jail cell, but I was trapped with Aaron. The guy who, for all I knew, wanted to roast me on a pit and eat me. We had been previously on a hill next to our high school in San Rafael, California, when the creature approached. After seeing the creature, Aaron had grabbed me from behind and thrown something at the beast, sending us to this cave. After the sensation of popping from one point to another, I was faced with more versions of the creature. Each one was identical to the other, with green scales surrounding its body, red eyes, and a blue horn on top of its head. They each carried some kind of metallic object in their hands. The objects reminded me of the Grim Reaper’s scythe, except they didn’t look old.  As soon as I wrestled my body away from Aaron’s, I was grabbed by an invisible force and thrown in the jail cell; Aaron along with me. The creatures disappeared from view.

There was nothing I could see outside of the bars. No indication of where we came from and no sign of the creatures anywhere.

Inside the cell, there was nothing except for the small orb in Aaron’s hands, which he took out of his pocket. It didn’t cast enough light for me to see the entire layout of the cell, but I could see the rust on the wall next to the cell door. The walls were made of metal, but the torches hanging around the opening of the cave entrance were lit by fires instead of electricity. I tried banging on the door, in a futile attempt to break free. To my surprise, the doors sparked beneath my hands, shooting electricity through my body. I hastily withdrew my hands and took a step back

‘Where the hell are we?’ I asked.

‘Trisha, this might be hard to hear, but you’re in the same spot we were just in,’ Aaron said.

‘That can’t be right. We were just on the hill, not in a cave. Now really, where are we? And what do you want from me?’

Aaron looked at me like he was pained, but I didn’t let him speak. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say.

‘And you know what? I wouldn’t have been in this cell if you hadn’t been following me. What is your problem anyways? I don’t even know you –,’

‘You do,’ Aaron interrupted. ‘you do know me.’

‘What?’

‘It’s just…’ he started while looking at his hands.

His expression reminded me of when Tyler would eat the last of the chocolate candy. Tyler always felt sorry afterwards, but I knew he was only saying that to make me calm down. Looking at Aaron at that moment, I rethought of everything that I knew of Aaron. Maybe I judged him wrong.

‘Don’t you remember me?’ he asked.

‘No…should I?’

‘This is hard to explain. I never thought I would have to explain it to you hear, in the parallel world.’

‘A parallel what? Are we in some form of Doctor Who episode?’ I asked, jokingly, hoping that it wasn’t the case.

I remembered nights staying up late with my Dad watching episode after episode of Doctor Who. We would wait till Mom and Tyler went to bed before tiptoeing into the living room to watch the Doctor save the world from an alien attack. When Rose got trapped in the parallel world, away from the Doctor, Dad had run to the nearest 7/11 a few blocks away to grab two pints of ice cream for both of us, and a beer for him. We stayed up all night crying over Rose. To this day I can’t eat ice cream without thinking of the Doctor and the way I clung to Dad’s shoulder after the Doctor put the device around Rose’s neck, sending her to the parallel world, forever.

‘Sort of. Look, do you remember this?’

He took out this small round object from his pocket. It was the heart pendant that my imaginary friend Leonard gave me when I was 6 years old. It was something Leonard and I used to fight away the bad guys in my stories. It served as a protection amulet to ward off any evil doers in my backyard. Somehow I had lost the amulet once I was 8 years old and stopped believing in Leonard.

‘Where’d you get that?’

Aaron handed the amulet to me. It was exactly how I had last remembered it. It was cool to the touch and a bright red light seemed to glow from within the pendant. I knew this was the amulet because of the marking I made on the right side of the heart. ‘T and L forever.’ I remember the day I put it there. We were in my backyard, under the big Camphor tree.

‘What is it?’ I had asked Leonard, as he handed me the amulet.

‘It’s an amulet to ward you from the bad guys.’

‘Cool!’ I had thought any kind of adventure was cool back then.

‘You should write something on it, so that it can be a message for future you. Like in Doctor Who.’

‘Like Doctor what?’

Leonard looked at me like I was missing a head.

‘You haven’t watched Doctor Who yet?’

When I shook my head, he let out an exasperated sigh.

‘You have to watch it. You never know…’ he trailed off.

After I scratched in the engraving, my mom had called me in for dinner.

I started watching Doctor Who that night.

‘I kept it after your parents told me to leave you alone.’

‘Why would they want you to leave me alone? Wait,’ I said, fully realizing what he meant by that statement. ‘You were,’ I started, unable to process what was going on. I didn’t know how to phrase what I wanted to ask.

Aaron nodded. The light from the orb in his hand was moving in a circle around the cell. The light made the gold tint in Aaron’s hair more prominent.

‘My real name is Aaron Leonard Rodgers. I didn’t want you to leak my real name to your parents. But that backfired once the elders figured out what was going on.’

‘My parents? What have they got to do with ANY of this?!’ I asked, upset that he would even think about bringing them into what was happening here.

‘They are guardians, like me,’ Aaron hesitated, ‘Like you.’

The walls seemed to cave in on me when he said that. My parents were guardians? This didn’t make any sense. To lighten the mood, I said, ‘Oh, you mean like the Guardians of the Galaxy?’ I remember my parents took me to see that movie when it came out. Just them and me. Tyler was at a friend’s house and my parents were both off for the weekend, which was a first in months. Mom wasn’t into the whole Marvel franchise, but she came anyways to spend time with me. It was always my Dad and I who spent most of our time obsessing over the Marvel comics. I was happy to have them both to myself, since that rarely happened ever since Tyler was born. After the movie, in the lobby, my dad had tried so hard to beat me at a dance off,             but he couldn’t get his footing right. He kept falling on the floor, which made everyone in the theatre’s lobby turn to look at him. I didn’t mind at the time, since it was nice to be spending some quality time with my dad.

Aaron gave me a look that told me he was getting tired with my little quips.

‘Trisha, this is serious. Your parents were..’

‘I know this is serious, Aaron. Or should I say Leonard. I’m finding it difficult to believe this is really happening.’

I turned my back away from him.

‘I’m sorry if I got angry. I understand how this might feel –.’

‘No you don’t. You’ve had this knowledge prior to this moment and I’ve been the one in the dark. And now we are literally in the dark. I’ve kept it together when my parents died and when I thought I saw that thing. And even when we first met, I kept my cool. Now you tell me that my parents were some kind of guardians and you expect me to just accept that? Aaron, there is only so much I can take before I break.’

In a futile attempt to escape, I grabbed on to the door, hoping to somehow break free of this imprisonment. Electricity ran through my body, causing me to jump backwards, straight into the wall behind me. As my head hit the wall, a couple of startling memories of the past few months came to me.

It was two weeks back and Tyler was asking me to play blind man’s bluff with him. I didn’t want to play, but he kept insisting. To shut him up I put a blindfold on him and told him to wait thirty seconds. With his eyes covered, I made my way to the small shed outside by the pool. There was a hammock in there that I claimed as my own when we moved in. After ten minutes, I heard Tyler open the back door. It was a hot day out and I was sitting in the hammock in my bathing suit. The next door neighbor’s backyard was being renovated so every now and then the sound of a jack hammer could be heard.

I tried to crouch down below the Bay windows, but this didn’t seem to work.

‘Trisha, I know you’re there,’ Tyler said.

After a moment, I heard Tyler sigh.

‘Okay, so you don’t want to play with me. I get it. But do you really think that hiding yourself in your room will change the fact that our parents are gone? I kind of thought coming to San Rafael would bring us closer together, but all you’ve been doing is moping. I’m going inside to watch Netflix. You can come join if you decide to stop hiding away.’

I heard the distant sounds of his footsteps as he went back into the house.

As quick as I heard the backdoor slam close, I was pushed from this memory into the next. It felt as if I was slowly floating in the space of nothingness. It was neither hot nor cold and the only feeling I had was of just being in my body. After a few scary moments of me wondering if this was the end, I saw a trickle of light ahead. I started to move more closely to the light, like a bug drawn to a lightbulb.

Next thing I knew I was back in my house in San Francisco. Except everything was in boxes and we were moving out. The back of the house had been boarded off because of the fire. Tyler and Aunt Kristy were fighting over what they should bring back to Aunt Kristy’s place.

‘But I want this blender,’ Tyler was saying.

‘I have the exact same blender at my place. We don’t need another,’ Aunt Kristy argued. We all knew who would win this fight. Tyler, once he set his mind on something, always got his way.

The front of the house looked nothing like it once did. All of the pictures of Mom and Dad were packed away and the only picture that adorned the shelf above the couch was the one of Tyler and I at the Marin County Fair. We were sitting on the benches in front of the merry go round eating our ice cream cones and looking at the new iPod mom got me for my birthday. It was the day Dad had gotten that promotion at his work. He had been working tirelessly to get the promotion at his law firm, and when his boss had fired one of the other lawyers, they decided to finally give him it. We woke up early that morning to make it early to the fair. It felt like luck was on our side that day when we missed the traffic getting out of San Francisco and gotten free upgrades to cut in line at the fair.

‘Oh I want this,’ Tyler said.

He had walked in to the living room while I was checking out the picture.

He was starting to get taller, like dad. He was already almost to my shoulders. I unfortunately took after my mother and stopped growing when I was 12, five years ago.

‘Well too bad. I’m taking it. It’s going to stay in my room,’ I said, hoping to put some older sister authority to my voice.

‘That’s not fair. I called it first. You were just staring at it. So there,’ he said, while sticking out his tongue.

‘You got everything that you wanted. I just want this picture,’

‘I got the frame, so it’s mine,’

‘You can have the frame. I want the picture.’

‘That’s not how it works,’ I half yelled, grabbing the picture.

‘Yes it is. You don’t know.’

He grabbed the other end.

We continued to fight over the picture when the doorbell rang. It surprised me enough that I jumped, causing the picture to fly out of both our hands, smashing against the wall.

Tyler’s eyes started to well up with tears.

‘You couldn’t let me have this one happy memory, could you?’ he asked, stomping down the hall to the bathroom that wasn’t taped off by the fire department.

The doorbell rang again.

I rubbed at the tears threatening to fall from my eyes.

When I opened the door, Jake was standing there wearing his work uniform. He worked at a movie theater and they made him wear these horrendous black polo shirts with a movie title on the back. His hair was still as floppy as I remembered it the last time I saw him, in the hospital.

‘Jake? What are you doing here?’

‘Well I hadn’t heard from you since the hospital. And I was worried about you. I didn’t get a chance to talk to you at the funeral. You left before I could say anything.’

I didn’t know what to say. I had never been that great at confronting people. Even telling him how I felt about him four months ago was the hardest thing I had to do.

‘Um… we, ugh…’ I began.

‘Look. I get it. What happened was horrible. I care about you and would hate to see you shut yourself up for the rest of your life.’

I was reminded of the look he gave Jenny in the hospital weeks prior. The look I wished he would have given me. Even in the hospital, she was the one he was looking at with tenderness. I had spent so many years pining over him, only to be rejected; and for my childhood best friend, no less. Looking at him then, I realised that it was useless to chase after a guy who would never see me as more than a friend. But I couldn’t stand a future where we would be friends without the pang of heartbreak. I had to let him go.

‘No,’ I said, after a few moments, ‘I don’t think you get it. I don’t want to be friends anymore.’

I went to close the door, but Jake pushed back.

‘Trish, you don’t mean that. You’re just—’

‘I do mean it. I don’t want to see you again.’

With that final statement, I slammed the door closed.

‘Trisha,’ a voice called from somewhere.

‘Trisha, wake up!’

‘Wah?’ I exclaimed.

‘That’s it. Breathe. In. Out. Good.’

‘Aaron?’

‘Oh thank God! I was worried the shock from the bars had killed you.’

When I opened my eyes, I could see Aaron crouched down in front of me. The orb with the light was in between us, illuminating our faces.

‘Am I really a cold hearted bitch?’ I asked.

Aaron furrowed his brow.

‘No. Why would you think that?’

‘It’s just,’ I began, ‘I didn’t care to hear you out and I’ve been distant with everyone.’

‘That’s normal. You’ve gone through a lot in the past few months. I would have been more concerned if you didn’t freak out.’

I nod, not knowing what to say after that. Aaron offered me his hand. When I stood up, I felt as if the world was spinning around me. Aaron steadied me with his hands.

‘Your hair looks like it’s trying to do the wave,’ Aaron joked, trying to lighten the mood.

‘What do you mean?’ My hands went up to my hair.

‘It’s just from the electricity that you touched. Don’t worry about it.’

There was an awkward silence.

‘So, what were you talking about earlier?’ I asked.

‘Well, as I was saying before you touched the bars,’ Aaron started, ‘Your parents were never supposed to be together. But, because they are, things are getting crazier by the minute.’

A sudden chill ran through me. What did that mean, that they weren’t supposed to be together?

‘Why weren’t they supposed to be together?’

Aaron bit his lip.

‘Well, it’s complicated. They are from two different worlds, for one. The other reason, well, I can’t tell you.’

Aaron looked at me, pleading with me not to pry. As much as I wanted to figure out the other reason, I let that one slide. If I was going to get anything out of Aaron, I would have to start trusting him to give me the information I needed.

‘Okay, I’m not going to pry about that last one,’ I began, not particularly fond of dropping the subject. ‘But why do you look different than when I was little?’

The amulet, heavy in my hand, brought back memories of Saturday nights playing around the garden in the backyard, facing off faeries and ogres. Leonard had always had freckles and brown hair in the memories brought back by the amulet. He didn’t have the golden blonde hair and green eyes that Aaron has. These two images clashed with the solid form of the amulet. If Aaron wasn’t Leonard, then why would he possess the amulet?

‘It’s the machine. Watch.’ Aaron said.

He pressed a button on the orb in his hand. Suddenly, his appearance started to change. His image was pixelating, like when a picture on Facebook is loading. There was a bright light that came, as if, from around him. I covered my eyes. When the light seemed to fade away, I uncovered my eyes to find Leonard standing before me. We were silent for a minute as I took the sight of him in.

I babbled a few incoherent questions, unsure of how to respond in this situation.

‘Just think of it as a holographic projection. The machine can make you think what it wants you to think. It’s a lot of science stuff, but I’m sure you’ve seen enough Doctor Who, which I convinced you to watch, to imagine what is happening. I’m not sure myself on the mechanics of it, since the elders only told me which buttons to push.’

‘But that doesn’t explain how you were only visible to me and no one else. And how we ended up in this cell.’

‘It’s complicated. Lets just say that there are two worlds connected by a big machine, that must be protected at all costs. That’s really as far as I can tell you now. We will have to wait till we see Ada to give you the full scope of what this is.’

‘Who is Ada?’ I asked.

‘She’s my tutor.’

I didn’t want to believe a word he was saying, but the evidence was staring me in the face.

‘But why create such a device?’ I asked.

‘The elders in my world believed that by connecting the worlds, we could end the reign of the darkness that was coming over us. Look, we can sit here all day and discuss this, but it’s useless without Ada here to explain it. We need to think of a way to get out of here.’

‘But that doesn’t explain –,’ I began to say, as the cell doors opened.

Going unnoticed as Aaron and I talked, the lights had gone on in front of the cell. I could see more of the cave wall illuminated by the torches carried by the two people in front of the cell.

One of them was one of the creatures, and the other was…Jake.

Instead of the clean shaven face I was used to, here was a guy I barely knew. His face was painted with cuts and bruises, and his right eye was barely staying open. His clothes were tattered and he held his right arm close to his chest. I wondered if he had been following us from the hill.

‘Hurry. We’ve got to go!’ Jake said.

Aaron had taken a step back.

‘No. There’s no way I’m going with you,’ Aaron said.

I turned a questioning gaze at Aaron.

‘Why shouldn’t we?’

‘Trish, you don’t know him. He is a robot created by Baltazar and his only objective is to take you to his master and torture you.’

‘That can’t be—,’ I started.

‘It’s true Trish,’ Jake said. ‘I was made to befriend you and take you when Baltazar gave the signal.’

‘See, I told you,’ Aaron said with a smirk.

‘But, I’ve changed. When I met Jenny, something clicked for me. It’s not something I can really explain. Aaron here probably knows more about it since he was your imaginary friend.’

I was in shock. I had thought that Jake had somehow gotten through the parallel world, or wherever we were, and came to save us. But as I looked at Jake, as if for the first time, I realised that I didn’t really know him at all. I guess my brain had filled in what it thought was a reasonable story for Jake. But none of this explained the creature next to him.

‘If you are here to help us,’ I asked, while pointing at the creature, ‘then why did you come with that?’

As if he anticipated this precise question, Jake got something out of his pocket. It looked like a remote control.

‘I found this in the laboratory down the hall, after I went against the other mutants. It’s still in the prototype phase, but it works pretty well. It’s a Hypno Ray. Look.’

Jake pointed the device at the creature, or mutant as he called it. Jake pressed a button and said, ‘turn to your left.’ The mutant actually moved to the left.

‘Now, do the Macarena.’

True to the gadgets’ scientific properties, the mutant actually started dancing! I started to walk towards the opening when Aaron grabbed my wrist.

‘Stop. This might be a trap. Jake was made to do one thing only. And that was to gain your trust to bring you to Baltazar so he can have you destroyed.’

I was starting to get tired of their bickering.

‘Explain to me this. Why does Baltazar even want to destroy me? What have I ever done to deserve this?’

Aaron’s grip on my wrist loosened and I could see in the periphery of my vision that he was biting his lip. Obviously, this was something I wasn’t supposed to know about.

‘Well, uh…it’s complicated–,’ he began.

‘Come off it Rodgers. She has a right to know. Look, if you don’t believe that I’m on your side, look at this.’

Jake turned around and grabbed the hem of his shirt. The shirt was then pulled up and on the bottom of Jake’s spine was a hatch door for what could have been a battery. The hatch door was the same colour of Jake’s skin. Inside was a bunch of muscles and a few wires, which didn’t seem to be in any coherent order. They were a jumbled up mess, save for the few wires that looked to have different coloured wiring strung together.

‘See? I’ve rerouted the instructions to my system. I am my own man now.’

Not having been too familiar with standard robotics, I was still equally confused. Aaron, however, seemed to find this an acceptable response. After a moment’s silence, he walked outside of the cell doors.

Following suit, I got out of that cell.

Aaron was busy studying the door on Jake’s spine.

‘But how? I mean…’

‘I guess what Baltazar never counted on was his pets getting real human feelings.’

I continued to stare at the two of them.

‘So Trisha, you were asking about why you were important to Baltazar.’

‘Jake, don’t,’ Aaron said.

‘She should know why they want –,’

Before he could continue, there was a long piercing shriek. It was inhuman in nature and seemed to make Aaron and Jake tense up. The mutant started getting more animated next to me.

‘Shit!’ Aaron exclaimed.

‘Trisha, we need to go. Now!’ Jake barked.

The noise had come from the tunnel to our left, so Jake turned to go out the right one, Aaron following suit.

I turned to follow them, but the mutant grabbed my arm; its claws digging into my flesh. Jerking my arm back and forth, I tried yanking myself away from the mutant, to no avail.

‘Trish!’ Jake yelled. He tossed something small into the air. I extended my other arm out and caught the object. It was the Hypno Ray.

‘How do I use it?’

‘Push the green button and tell the mutant what to do.’

I pushed the button and told the mutant to let go of my arm. It didn’t budge.

‘It’s not working!’

‘Keep doing it. Baltazar’s voice is getting through his circuitry. The Hypno Ray will need extra power to work because of the pull of Baltazar’s voice.’

I kept my finger on the button and repeated what I wanted it to do. After a few minutes, the resolve on his face was breaking. Its hands started to lose their slack on my arm. Eventually I broke free of the mutant.

‘Go to sleep,’ I told it. Lucky for me, it followed my command.

As I followed Aaron and Jake, I began to feel a chill creep onto me. I hadn’t expected to enter chilly weather when I woke up that morning. The corridor we were running through was dark, save for the torch on the wall every five feet. I could still hear the noise from behind us, but it got fainter as we got further in the cave.

After a good ten feet, Jake yelled back at us.

‘Found it!’

I was so focused on getting farther from the cell, I hadn’t realised that they had stopped, causing me to bump into Aaron.

‘Oomf! Sorry! What did you find?’

From the faint glow of the torch a few inches next to him, I could see Jake’s hand go towards a chord in the wall.

‘This.’ A hatch opened up in the ceiling, revealing some light.

‘How did you know that was going to be there?’ Aaron asked. With the light above, Aaron’s expression was visible. He clearly didn’t believe this stroke of luck that led us to safety.

‘I stole one of the cave plans from Baltazar’s desk before I came to rescue you.’

‘You made it into his chamber without detection?’ Aaron asked.

‘Well he hadn’t figured out I went rogue till just now, when he discovered the bodies. The room’s security system okayed me entry because of my DNA.’

In the distance I heard barking, growing nearer and nearer.

‘Guys! Let’s figure this out after we get above ground!’ I yelled.

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One thought on “Cataclysmic (middle section)

  1. Wow Jillie! This is really something. I don’t think that I have read this much of your fiction writing in a long time. The story has me hooked — what happens next? Love, Gigi

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