I’ve written plenty over the past two days, but I have decided that I will be trying to get the stories published elsewhere. The sites that I’m going through require for the stories to not be published anywhere else, so it makes it hard for my blog.
So instead, today, I’ve decided to post up a really really old story I wrote around 10 years ago… It’s one that I posted on Wattpad. I haven’t edited this story since I first wrote it. There’s a slight nostalgia with it, as well. It was the last story I gave my dad to read. I remember it was received very well from him, but he was also always my biggest fan. I know now, looking at it, that it’s really rough, and it could use a big edit. But I almost feel its appropriate to keep it the way it is, as a tribute to Daddy.
Nevertheless… here it is!
Caty opened her eyes to find herself laying down in the backseat of a car. The interior was very odd, and she couldn’t recall seeing anything like it before. With purple seats and a black veil from ceiling to floor down the center, she felt as if she was in a confessional. However, there was the low rumbling a car makes while in use, that she could hear, and the small breathing patterns of the person driving. The doors to her right and left weren’t at all a dead giveaway either. Caty sat up and tried to get a glimpse out the window, but it was completely black, nothing to see whatsoever. She glanced down and noticed she was still in a nightgown. She was perplexed, to say the least.
“Eh…excuse me,” she said rather timidly.
No answer was received.
“Hello?” she spoke again.
The car came to a screeching halt. Before she could even react, she found herself sitting on the pavement. There had been no exit on her part, nor was she thrown out. She was simply sitting on the pavement as if she had been before this point and time. The car started driving away, and Caty’s heart began to race, pounding away through her chest. “Wait! Don’t go! Where am I? Who are you?” she cried out.
The top half of the car started rising from the ground as if going into flight. With that, the little girl knew the brilliantly colored exterior. Deep purples were splattered among yellows and pinks and blues. Very psychedelic. As the car drifted off into the horizon, she heard softly, yet clearly, in her own ears, “Call upon me when the need is there. A simple whistle will do.”
The car disappeared, and all Caty could do was restrain herself from bursting into tears. What had the voice meant? She tried whistling, but the note would not come out. She was too frantic to blow right.
Not getting up, Caty just looked around at her surroundings. Where was this place? She was sitting in the center of a deck and all around her was the woodworkings you’d find in a colonial style port. Not more than fifty feet away were homes, buildings. The style was completely uniform, though. All of the same build, all with cedar, unpainted, wood. The only difference was contents within, some had curtains and others had displays. Hence Caty’s observation that some were homes and some shops.
She tried to whistle again, but still nothing came out. She was getting increasingly nervous. The sound of footsteps behind her didn’t help the anxiety either. She was startled onto her feet.
“Do not be afraid, little dear,” a man said from behind her.
Whirling around, Caty tried to hide her incredulity.
“You are in Port City,” he said smiling.
His smile was hard to read- neither cold nor warm, which frightened Caty just as much as the cold one would have.
“I have seen your like before. You are called a child, right?”
Caty nodded her head.
“There’s something different about you, though,” he said pondering.
“All children are different. Just as adults are,” Caty announced, still growing progressively anxious.
“No. Those are superficial. In difference, I mean inward. In fact you are very different. I have not seen anyone with the Strength you have. Not even the sorcerer,” he continued.
Blinking, Caty asked, “The who?”
“You must not be from this world, little one. The sorcerer is the meanest man to ever appear in this time. He has the Strength to make what he wants to happen happen. If he touches you in any way, he can kill you or banish you from this world. Any number of things, cuz it is totally up to him. You do not have to fear him, however. He has already come unto Port City, so he will not return unless compelled by some other force.”
Caty somehow, surprisingly, felt more at ease now. In some remote sense of it all, she was beginning to make heads or tails of her current situation. “What is he looking for?” she asked.
“A youth,” the man said solemnly, “Some one with more Strength than he. It is fabled that this New Strength could either destroy or enhance the sorcerer, dependent only upon his attaining it.”
Caty was hardly a dumb girl. She had already figured out that strength had nothing to do with physical attributes. Rather, it was all about a mental ability, perhaps even a form of magic, if she dared call it that.
“He’s looking for me, then,” she said nearly trance-like.
She hadn’t intended to speak or even say such things. It wasn’t even the main focus on her mind. Her thoughts were carried along the route of how she got here and how she was to get back home.
“How old are you, little one?” the man asked watching her as she spanned the view of the town.
“My name is Caty, sir. Well, really it’s Catelyn, but my little sister can’t pronounce it right, so I go by Caty. And I’m eight now,” she answered nearly in a ramble.
The old man smiled warmly, “You have a lot of enthusiasm for someone so nervous.”
Giggling, Caty extended her hand, “I’m not so nervous now. Thank you.”
The man shook her hand, saying, “My name is Miguel. And if ever you have a question, I am the man to answer it for you.”
“Then you can tell me how to get back home,” Caty said quite seriously.
“I can tell you how to find out,” he answered.
“I guess beggars really can’t be choosers, as my mom says,” Caty said.
Laughing, Miguel continued, “In the city, follow the dock along that way (points to his left where the dock curved to an invisible destination) until you have passed four curves and you see a shop labeled ‘Treena’s Predictions’. Treena is a beautiful, tall woman, I have been told. She’ll help you in some way, but I do not know what way. She is solely a guide.”
Caty nodded her head.
“I guess you will be on your way, then,” Miguel said dishearten.
“Yes, but I thank you, sir. You have helped put me at ease. I will not soon forget you,” Caty said, nearly speaking lines directly out of a book she had recently read. The words were true enough; just, as you should know, normal eight-year old girls don’t normally talk this way.
“I was glad to be of service,” the man said, obliging her form of speech.
Caty smiled and started her trek down the path directed. It was a good mile hike, but after observing all the stores and people, she came to a conclusion that this entire town was surrounded by water. There were no streets, only the dock that you had to walk around to get anywhere you were going. Still, no one spoke to the other, except all did seem to recognize her presence. With nods and smiles, no ill will were harbored in her direction. A few boats were floating in the water to Caty’s right as she walked the pathway, but they looked as if they never left their post.
Caty arrived at Treena’s twenty minutes later, although, she was not aware of the time. Glancing around at the exterior, she couldn’t see a single person in the whole expanse of the establishment. Reluctantly, she placed her hand on the doorknob and turned it very slowly. It opened right up after it was completely turned, and it did it so fast that Caty felt herself lurch back.
It was rather cloudy inside, with only one light on that she could see. The one light was nearly extinguished itself. Smote by the smoke that inhabited the room.
Caty gathered her courage, and stepped inside suspiciously. She completely turned around to close the door and quickly realized that this could be a grave error.
“Oh my,” she heard from behind her. Forcing her feet to move slower than her heart proved most disastrous, though. Her feet twisted to meet the building’s occupant, but they did so incorrectly in the act of overcompensation, and she quickly found herself on the floor.
Laughing, the woman walked across the room and extended her arm. Caty took her hand and was lifted back onto her feet.
“I was just surprised, little girl. Not only are you the first person to walk through that door in ages, but you’re also the first child I’ve seen. I have only read about your kind in books,” the woman smiled warmly.
Stepping back, the woman seemed to understand Caty’s need for a little space. Caty nodded her head, and spoke, “That seems to be normal here. Everyone I’ve met has been surprised in some way.”
“Everyone?” the woman asked confusedly, “who is everyone? I had long believed I was the only one here.”
“Well, that’s just not true,” Caty said. “I’ve seen tons of people, and Miguel was the one who sent me this way.”
“Miguel, eh?… That’s interesting…” she said discontent.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I… I’m looking for Treena,” Caty finally said.
“I am she. And by the way you’re acting, you need some questions answered,” Treena said repressing the sadness in her face and eyes.
“I was wondering how I can get back home,” Caty asked bluntly.
“Ah, yes. Why, of course, since clearly you are not from here. Whereabouts is your home?” Treena asked.
“I…I…. I can’t remember,” Caty said, eyes suddenly brimming with confusion.
A look of understanding swept Treena’s face. “Nor will you again, my poor little dear. Soon you many not even remember your name, so you had best give it to me.”
“I’m Caty. Well, that’s short, actually for… for…”
Tears welled up in her eyes. She couldn’t even remember that. Panicked, Caty started to breath rapidly, hyperventilating.
“I don’t understand. Who am I? Where am I? I just want to go home, but…. how can I not knowing where home is?”
Treena tried to get the young girl to calm down, but before she knew it, Caty was laying on the floor, having fainted from lack of sufficient oxygen.
Caty awoke minutes later in a chair sitting across a table from Treena.
“I’m sorry,” Caty said. “Did I faint?”
“Yes, Caty. You did faint,” Treena smiled.
“That is my name, right?” Caty asked hoping she was right.
“Yes, it is. Now you cannot forget it. Although it may be the only thing you remember.”
“No. Your name is Treena. Miguel sent me here, and I still want to go home,” Caty said in her somewhat trance-like state again.
Again, as before, she hadn’t intended for those words to escape her lips, but it didn’t matter. She was relieved that some of her memory was intact.
“Very good!” Treena said happily. “You have the Strength, that is quite obvious now.”
“But what am I supposed to do now? How do I get back home?” Caty asked anxiously.
“Well, you have to figure out where you live. Once you know that, then I will be able to help you,” Treena said.
“How come I can’t remember?” Caty asked.
“It is the curse of the sorcerer. In order to rule us, he forces submission, by blanking our memories and giving new ones. However, you will not have that fate because you know your name. Just that stops the curse in its tracks.”
A smile swept Caty’s face. At least she had her identity. Now she just needed a destination.
Suddenly a ton of bricks placed themselves on her shoulders. A destination… How would she know? How could she figure it out? As quickly as the smile had appeared, desperation crossed her face.
“I’m sorry, Caty,” Treena said apologetically. “I hate to say you have to accept your fate, but it’s true. Just be thankful that you have people to talk to. That’s more than some of us.”
Without speaking another word, Caty stood up and walked out the front door. She had no desire to talk anymore about fate or desires. She was quite tired of this place and it’s new discoveries around every corner.
It seemed Treena was well aware of this fact as well, because she never spoke another word upon Caty’s exit, nor did she leave her seat to chase after the poor girl.
Caty walked along the dock again. Water to her left and buildings to her right. It seemed a never-ending trek, turning corners that just looked exactly the same as the last ones. Still people smiled and nodded in her direction, all quite curious-looking, but none bold enough to speak. It was the same look of surprise from each person too. Reminiscent of Treena’s reaction. Miguel seemed to have been the only one that was even remotely different in his reaction, having had none.
After what seemed an hour, Caty found herself back where she started where the mystery hippie cab had left her. Walking over to the edge, and laying her hands down on the fence top, she stared out into the ocean. It was really bright here. The water was crystal blue and the horizon was so clear, she couldn’t tell where the water stopped and the sky began. Now more than ever, she felt homesick. Wherever home was.
Placing her head between her two laid hands, she began to hum an unfamiliar song. It was quite beautiful, but awfully sad. Without warning, the sky started to turn grayish-blue. The sun was completely quenched out, and the sounds of cries all around her filled Caty’s ears. Something desperately wrong was happening, and Caty didn’t know what she could possibly do to escape this impending doom.
A ship came into view just barely, and immediately a sense of cold dread grasped Caty. Crying out, “Miguel!”, Caty fell to the ground shaking until she lost all consciousness.
When she awoke, Caty felt as if the whole nasty ordeal had completely unfolded before her eyes. The ship docked and all manner of being fled into their homes and shops. There was a clear whistle made and Caty was swept away in the mystery hippie cab with another occupant. The cab flew off towards the houses and came to a stop in the dead center of Port City. A patch of grass surrounded on all sides by the establishments that had lined the port deck.
Immediately Caty propped herself up and cried out, “Miguel!” again.
“Quiet, child!” Miguel said in a harsh rasp.
Toning her voice down, Caty simply nodded and said a soft, “Sorry.”
Glancing around her, Caty felt like a prisoner. There did not seem to be an entrance or an exit.
“What is happening?” Caty asked nervously.
“The sorcerer has returned. You are in the safest place in Port City. As long as you do not leave or make any noise, you should be safe…” he said, stopping short.
“Except for what?” Caty asked, seriously finding his explanation to simplistic and only half-true.
Grinning, Miguel said, “Of course… you would require more.” Then his face grew grim, “Unless…the sorcerer has brought his imps.”
“Imps?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes. They were once men, but the sorcerer placed a curse on them all, and now they are tiny men with no concept of human life or sympathy. They are filled with a little bit of Strength, just enough to help them find who or what they are looking for. If the sorcerer brought the imps, then it won’t be long before they find us. Then the only thing you can do is run.”
The same cold sense of dread past over Caty as it had before.
“What brought them here?” she said, trying to forget the cold overwhelming her.
“You did. You couldn’t have known it, but your singing brought them here. It has been long since anybody has heard a child’s voice, and music holds more power than speaking or acting ever will. It is a force nearly completely forgotten here, and I’m sure that’s the same for any of the other lands ruled by the sorcerer.”
Miguel reached into his pocket and pulled out a blanket. Through his short dialogue, Caty had grown only colder. Shivering more uncontrollably than she had ever imagined she could. “They are almost here,” she said, taking the blanket and wrapping it around her shoulders.
Standing up, Caty waited to see from which direction they would come, quite ready to run.
“How will they get me to the sorcerer?” Caty asked, carefully watching as much as she could.
“They have to take you, physically. They could easily put you to sleep, but still, they must touch you to do even that. They do not have voices due to their curse.”
Caty nodded. The longer she was here, the more she believed the unbelievable. This, of all things, was what scared her the most. A distinction between fantasy and reality is very important for a child; even an adult, for that matter.
Without any notice, a door that did not seem to be there two seconds before popped open to Caty’s left. Not leaving any more room for discussion, Caty dashed to her right. Suddenly a door appeared before her, and she opens it without a second thought. Forcing it quickly closed, Caty continued to run. She had no concept of whether or not the imp who had found her was still on her heels; all she knew was that she had to keep running.
She was in someone’s home, she soon realized, snaking around all the rooms till she found the front entrance. She didn’t even bother to see if there were other people, they stayed out of her way, which was all that mattered.
Thrusting open the front door helped to create a multitude of events. She shrieked as she saw another imp, not realizing till impact, that she had hit him with the front door. He flew in the air and landed on the opposite side of the deck’s fence. He was struggling to keep his fingers on the surface as waves splashed his legs endlessly, and quite clearly, painfully.
Not really thinking about what she was doing, Caty raced to his rescue. She took one of his hands and slowly lifted him upward, until his feet reached the surface. He made his way on her side of the fence before she ever realized what she had done.
With fear in her eyes, Caty looked at the sad looking imp. He was her height, but well worn, with dark black hair speckled with whites. His brow was wrinkled and his eyes had the sparkle that comes with old age. “You deserve to take me to him. I could not let you die. Nobody deserves that fate,” she finally said to him.
His head shot to his left, as if he had heard something. And then without notice, he grabbed her hand and ran with her in the complete other direction. Caty’s heart was racing, what was the sorcerer going to do to her? She was reluctant, but she had said to the imp that she would allow him to take her to the sorceror. And if that was his wish, so be it. Into a shop they went, after traveling twenty feet along the rail; never once did they come across another imp, she discovered. She figured that was because he didn’t want someone else to take his prize. Nobody was in the shop either, though. The imp closed the door behind him and sat on the ground, pulling her down with him, since he was holding her hand.
Caty looked at him straight in the eyes, and a new revelation came to her. Those eyes spoke volumes. They had the slightest look of fear. Fear of his own life. He was doing something that could get him killed.
“You’re helping me, aren’t you?” Caty asked almost innocently.
The imp nodded his head in desperation. Caty knew she shouldn’t have talked even that much, so inaudibly, she said, “Thank you.”
With a slight nod and a smile, the imp went back to listening to the sounds of the outside. Caty knew that eventually they would leave to run again. It would be never-ending, yet for some reason, with him there, she did not feel half as afraid. Though, the situation did still seem as hopeless as ever.
It wasn’t long before Caty found herself running with the tiny imp again. Every so often they would find themselves inside another store or home, only to be on their feet running again moments later. It grew increasingly harder each time, until Caty felt downright exhausted.
Their last flight ended not far from the dock Caty originally had found herself at the beginning of this very odd day. They rounded the corner and before entering the first house, Caty caught a true glimpse of the port for the first time. She had come to realize that after every corner in this queer-shaped island, there were a total of six doors before the next corner came. However, the dock in which she was quickly getting closer to was lined with a twenty-door expanse. More than three times more than the ret. The significance of this plagued her as she entered the house.
She had, however, refused to look upon the ship, which she kicked herself for after taking a seat on the floor. Knowledge of one’s full surroundings is indeed important when formulating plans.
It was literally seconds before the imp jumped back up and pushed her through the door more forcefully than ever before. Gaining balance outside the house, Caty understood the sudden need of quick flight. Man, tall and gaunt stood not more than a few feet away, at the corner she had been at not more than a minute before.
“You, my dear, have caused me a lot of grief today,” he said hauntingly.
Caty gazed into his eyes and could only see malice- deep, impenetrable malice. Fear gripped her, and she felt that cold dread fall upon her in an instant.
“Y…you can’t do anything to me!” she said shaking on every inch of her body. “I…I… I have more strength than you!”
“Aye, but do you know how to use it?” he asked, deviously.
Her defiance had been short-lived, but Caty refused to give up. Unfastening the only button at the top of her gown, she allowed the full thing to fall to the port deck.
The sorcerer’s face contorted into confusion and before he knew what was happening, Caty had stepped away form the gown. Putting her foot into the small pile, she kicked her leg up, sending the gown straight at him. It hit his face before he truly understood the chain of events.
Caty had no time to lose after that. She ran, panicked and naked, but still free- free from whatever it was he was going to do with her. His scream came at her as she past the thirteenth door. The diversion had never meant to be a permanent one, after all, and she was quite pleased it had even lasted that long. She could hear his hard footfalls behind her. The pursuit had begun, and she wondered how good a runner she really was. She finally turned the first corner, but felt no safer then, or any other corner after that. Three corners later, as she passed the first door, she heard his foot hit the deck, the sound ringing in her ears that awful note of doom.
“You’re mine, little one,” he said, his voice chiming with such truth.
Disobeying her own conscience demanding her to turn and accept that fate, she screamed a vibrant “NO!” and took off at top speed.
A split second later, she heard the sorcerer cackle something that sounded like, “Fool!” A door opened behind her, and the helper imp emerged, taking on the impact of what was meant for Caty. The terrible blow sent him flying till he landed a few feet away ahead of her. Crying out, Caty ran to him. Tears flooded her eyes as she gazed upon his misshapen body.
A small voice entered her head at that moment, “Call upon me when the need is there.”
Frantically Caty tried to whistle. Just like before, though, nothing would come out. She was just far too winded and exhausted, not to mention afraid.
A look of peace swept the imp’s face as it lost its life. It was all Caty could do not to sob. He died for her, and still she could not get away. Standing up, Caty twisted around to face the sorcerer. A clear whistle sounded as Caty stepped forward, coming closer to her demise. Someone had done what she had wanted.
“Do you yield?” the sorcerer asked.
A smile swept Caty’s face, as she knew what could happen next. The mystery hippie cab was flying above them heading towards her, the person in need. Closing her eyes, Caty imagined the car hitting the sorcerer and killing him.
“What are you smiling about?” the sorcerer asked with a note of apprehension in his voice.
Stepping back, Caty said, “Nothing… What’s that?”
Pointing above, Caty attempted to warn the sorcerer of his own demise. He didn’t even look to see the car dropping several feet onto his head. The car crashed his flesh to deck floor.
In that same instant, the world around Caty started spinning in circles, and she fell once again into unconsciousness.
A flood of memories came rushing to her as she slept. Her mother’s laughter, her sister’s first day home, her first bike. It was the best dream she ever had.
When she came to, she was on the port dock again. The mystery hippie cab was sitting beside her. And all around Port City’s inhabitants were standing over her. They were chatting among themselves until she heard a gasped, “She’s awake,” from one of the women. They all turned towards her. Their faces and eyes no longer held sadness. There was a feeling of glee and relief circulating in the air.
Getting on her feet, Caty turned a full circle, seeing all the faces of the people looking upon her.
“Please, someone tell me… What is this place?” she asked.
“A world between worlds,” a voice said in the crowd.
Stepping out to reveal himself, Caty suddenly recognized that the voice had been Miguel’s.
“A what?” Caty asked, perplexed.
“Call it a purgatory. It is a punishment for those like us, or at least it was. You delivered us from it.”
“What? But how?”
“Patience, child… Port City is a division of purgatory for people who commit suicide in your world. We’re not blessed by any means. Our curse has been solitude for an eternity. Upon entering Port City, you immediately forget the things you knew, and quickly forget who you are or where you are or why you’re here. The sorcerer was the one who held us captive. A form of manager, so to speak.”
“But why were you and Treena the only ones to talk to me?”
“The sorcerer’s second cruelty was the act of hallucinations. No one could believe you were real, because then that fake expanse of land in the horizon was real too.”
“Then what I did was wrong,” Caty said disheartened.
“No,” Miguel answered.
“But you killed yourselves. This is the choice you made. Death and freedom from all the things you love, desire and hate,” Caty said.
“We still have free will. The ability to choose gives us that. The sorcerer had robbed us of free will, thus what he had done was evil. With his death, you regained your memories and we regained our freedom of choice.”
“But that doesn’t explain why I’m here. How did I get here if I didn’t kill myself?”
“There is only one other way to enter Port City other than by boat. Your taxi there… it brings coma sufferers. Before you woke, he took flight at least ten times, sending home all those who had been trapped here by the sorcerer’s evil curse. He awaits for you only now.”
“So I can go back home?” Caty asked quietly.
“Yes, you can.”
Caty had no more desire to be here. She had dealt with more than she ever wanted to again. Stepping into the taxi, she didn’t even wave or say goodbye as she closed the door.
The cab rose into the air and flew upward before Caty even spoke another word.
“Why me?” she asked.
“Oh to be young again,” the driver said, still invisible to Caty. “Fear and strength, my dear. You are stronger now than you will be as an adult. Because, in innocence, the world protects you from the harms of doubt and regret, or fear of regret.”
“I still feel I did a disservice setting all those people loose,” she said.
“You protected those who needed it. The men and women who were trapped because of comas are free again… Because, you see? This is a cycle. You are not the first to do this, nor will you be the last.”
Suddenly the veil between seats lowered, and Caty recognized the face on the other side. It was the sorcerer, but a kinder, gentler version, lacking malice. She still gasped despite herself.
“I am not he,” he said, smiling. “And upon your return home, I shall be no more as he has become. For when you wake, you will see me to your right- as the driver who crashed into you… I apologize for that. I do hope your mother is okay. I received news of my brother’s death, and so grief-stricken, I failed to look both way. I shall take whatever punishment I get. You have my word on that.”
With that, the veil lifted and Caty lost consciousness for the final time. When she opened her eyes, she knew she was back home.