Copperoton

Copperoton

A Story by Luke Steed
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This "short story" is written purely for contests. The book version is much better, and it's on my profile. There's more to the book version than the short story version.

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Episode 1 - Town of Obscurity ~ Nossrunn Village

The locations and events mentioned in this story take place on a distant planet called Copperoton.

Upon speculation of Luke Edwards the penguin, this is his story.

(Some of the words here are wrong, but I drew this before I knew what I was writing.)

Years ago, I remember being lulled to sleep by the crackling sounds of a warm fire. The heat from the fire covered me like a blanket, and I slept almost too well under this cloak. The hearth’s stone pattern and the decorations upon it were lit a golden orange. In the doorway, snow concealed the welcome mat which was always left inside. I, alone, had managed to dig myself through the snow and out of my cabin and expand my home to the world of rooftops. A draft of cold air waltzed into my cabin from the rabbit hole, making one side of the house cold from the outside and one side warm from the fireplace. The two temperatures fought quietly for dominance in the house, giving me a comfortable environment to nap under my blanket of firelight.

I had fallen half-asleep listening to the nightly reports on the Copperoton World News Channel (CWNC for short). But something was different about what I was listening to. It wasn’t the usual lady speaking, but it was a man’s voice- evil and dark in tone. I cracked my eyes open a bit to see what was going on. I saw a dark figure standing in front of a burning news studio with a man on his knees behind him. I don’t remember what exactly he said, but it was something about the doom of humanity…” Shortly after, he said something to his cronies and the camera zoomed in on the man.

“Remember humans... this is what you did to us.” The figure gave another command to his men and they began pouring the gasoline. The kneeled man was quickly drenched, and my eyes were now wide open. They lit a match and threw it upon the poor man. The screen was now fire and screams- an example of the suffering that apparently the humans had inflicted upon the arsonists.

To say I was disturbed was an understatement, at best, so I grabbed the remote from under my feathery body and turned my TV off- diminishing a usual light source in my house.

I slowly rose from my specially built rocking chair (which was made specifically for penguins) and blinked my eyes up and down. I was in disbelief. I shook the terrifying feelings off of my head with a series of violent jerks. I looked up and around my house, trying to remember what I was going to do after I finished my nap.

Through the shock, my eyes scanned toward my laundry room, where my fishing hole was. I could’ve stared at the fishing hole in the laundry room for a whole minute before I remembered what my idea was.

My fishing hole was a necessity, and not just for food, but for social reasons. The hole was cut straight through my floorboards and through the decently thick ice and into the ocean cities below.

I have a friend who lived in the ocean cities beneath the thick glacial ice. He was dubbed Jed by myself because his full name is somewhat of a mouthful (Jedediah Smith). Jed is a blue-ringed octopus. He’s not very social, he likes weird food, and he’s also poisonous. Normally, Jed wouldn’t make a very good friend. Nonetheless, Jed was my friend. A beloved friend. He provided me with company through the long Arctican storms and I provided him with social skills. It was a healthy relationship.

Still in a shudder, I dove through the hole in the ice and dark indigo waters were soon gliding off the oily green feathers of my flippers. As I swam, I marveled at the beauty of the ocean city that rested beneath our village. I still am not sure how ocean cities are formed, but I guessed at the time that some sort of hot magma cleared it out and melted the ice, creating the strange atmosphere. It was like I was under the ocean, but only in a bubble of it, and the water wasn’t salty. Finally, I saw the lights of his cave down about four hundred yards from where I was in the water. I sped through the freshwater like a torpedo- excited to tell Jed that I had finally made it out of my home.

Jed’s home sat on a small reef at the bottom of the ocean city. The reef was colorful and blooming with life, giving it a bright, ambient tone to the dark water that surrounded it. It was peaceful, and if I could only breathe underwater, I would’ve stayed down there for hours. I passed under large monuments of coral and swam alongside schools of fish. I had completely escaped from my shock. The environment here was therapeutic, blissful.

Jed’s cave was easy to spot. It was the only form of artificial light in the whole ocean city, and it gave a little humanity to the dark yet beautiful world that it hid in. I sped closer, and his indistinct movements from inside the cave became clearer.

Jed is, as already explained before, a blue ringed octopus. His original color seemed to have been a dandelion yellow, but it looked like he was attacked by a horde of blue rings. The rings scattered all the way down his eight tentacles and stopped when the rings reached the tips of his appendages. The tentacles were an eight-man army, mercilessly sapping the life away from his prey, with the help of his beak. The beak was hidden under his tentacles, shaped like a parrot’s and as strong as an alligator’s maw. Even through all this, Jed’s appearance was warm and welcoming.

We had to communicate through Morse code because we obviously couldn’t speak underwater.  He tapped the letters for “Welcome!” to which I tapped reply, “Thanks!”

Jed’s cave was quaint for underwater living. It managed a tank for keeping the weird fish that he caught and a small lounge (really a rock that was ergonomic for his shape) where he could rest his invertebrate body. My shock kicked back in, and I hesitated to tell Jed to come up, remembering what I saw on the TV. He either wouldn’t understand, or he’d get overly stressed, and maybe even both. Jed noticed and looked at me concerned. I shook the thought back off my head and beckoned for Jed to come up to the surface. He complied and we swam back up and through the hole in my floor.

“Soo, what are we up here for?” He asked as the brisk water from our bodies dripped on the sturdy wood floors.

I groomed my feathers from the oily water and took a moment before I answered Jed. I glared over at my television in the other room, worried. Worried that the problem on the TV would get worse.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Jed better noticed my timid attitude.

I rubbed my crest feathers stressfully and paced the floor. My worry only got worse. People were dying over in Escloeopia City, and there was nothing I could do about it. My family had always made a strong influence on the humans, and it would be a damned tragedy if the planet’s natives were to kill them. I exhaled, trying to expel the anxiety from my body.

“We’ve gotta do something.” I turned my focus back to Jed.

“Do what?” Jed was beyond confused, now almost as worried as I was.

I stopped before I told him about what was on the news. Jed probably couldn’t understand what happened, and I doubted he knew much about the humans living on Copperoton. I switched back to my old plan- “we have to go dig out the other houses.”

“That’s it?” Jed was skeptical. He looked through the living room at my open front door and reverted his focus back to me.

I hesitated again, and I sensed Jed knew that I was hiding something from him. He wasn’t very social, but he knew my personality very well. “Yeah,” I said, avoiding eye contact.

Jed didn’t bother to ask any more questions. He knew that it probably could’ve stressed me out more. “Let’s get started then,” he said.

I opened the closet where I kept some of my random belongings and reached to the back, grabbing a shovel. I took the shovel out and tossed it to Jed, who snatched it from the air with ease. I reached back into my closet and grabbed the only article of clothing I owned- an ugly orange hawaiian shirt.

Jed looked at me patiently, but puzzled. “What’s that?” He asked.

“Oh, this? This is just a shirt.” I said, slipping my flippers through the sleeves.

“Why do you wear it?”

“My dad wore something like it. Blind admiration, I guess. It’s probably because my parents left me, so I really don't have anyone else to look up to.”

Jed seemed to step back in his mind, because he froze in thought as I walked back over to pick up my shovel I left by the door. (A/N: Hopefully this is appropriate. I’m open to suggestions) I started heading out of my rabbit hole when Jed raised a question that I hadn’t even considered- “wait, does this mean I’m meeting your neighbors?”

I paused grimly, which I shouldn’t’ve done. I should’ve said Oh sure! It’ll be fun! But I hesitated once again and turned back towards him. I needed to give him the same motivation I had for doing the task at hand, but I still didn’t want to push Jed out of his comfort zone too fast. “Yeah, uh… You know the humans?”

“You told me about them once.”

I lowered my beak. “The snatchers are slaughtering them in Escloeopia.”

Jed spiraled deeper into worried confusion. “W-what? I don’t understand.”

“It’s a long story.”

“Oh…  Could it be about what you told me just earlier? With your dad getting involved with that kind of conflict?”

Now, Jed knew that my family was separated, and I had told him before that my mother was probably killed in a village fire and that my sister lives on the wayside of town. I had also told him briefly about my father, but in vague detail. I only told him that he got involved with the snatchers and the humans. I was afraid to overwhelm him with who he was, because I knew that deep down he was the catalyst that sparked what I saw on TV.

My dad, Montgomery Edwards, was the one who set out to make a change for the life of the penguins. At that time, the penguins were an obscure species. It wasn’t until he found a way to get into Escloeopia City that he became famous for who he was. To the humans, he was a bird that was as smart as themselves, and he could talk. Monty had adopted human culture into his own life, and became the center of humiliation. People laughed at him and thought he was foolish. The only way he could prove his worth to the humans was by saving them from the snatchers, who at the time were threatening their presence on Copperoton. Eventually, he fought the leader of the snatcher army, General Clawson, and went missing in action. A few humans reported his heroism to the president of the Mesopotamian Colonies, and was given high praise, but the people presumed he was dead. General Clawson was weakened and driven back to his homeland, and up to this very moment, he still ruled the Danger Isles. Because of my dad’s actions, their grudge’s reaction was sped up dramatically, and there I was- seeing humanity spiral back into turmoil.

Now seemingly mother died when I was still being incubated in my egg. She was caught in a slash-and-burn raid of her and my dad’s village. Apparently, due to my father’s godsend courage, the snatchers decided to destroy these villages and brutally murder its inhabitants. This was perhaps the darkest time in Arctica’s history, but even though thousands of penguins died in this holocaust, some made it out and started up a nomadic life. I liked to think that my mother was one of these penguins, but my thoughts soon became pessimistic, and with those thoughts went that certain hope that my mother was still alive.

I met back with the present. “Yeah… A little bit,” I inhaled and exhaled a bout of cold, fresh air. There was an awkward pause… “Look, I feel like I should do something about it. That’s why I went and got your help. I know it might seem hard to talk to new people, but I need you to be strong.” I sounded like his dad.

I could tell Jed was trying to look confident, attempting to wipe away his nervousness with a face of determination. It was a mask, but it was a start. Jed was going to have to learn to overcome the hurdle that was his anti-social instincts. He would soon find that this challenge would be his greatest one, and his most life-changing.

“Let’s head out.” I finished.

~////////////~

We had finally stepped out into the brisk Arctican air, which seemed to creep into our senses, like a burglar breaking into someone’s home- abrupt and violent. The cloudless, light blue sky covered the cold expanse, and there were no suns to make the expanse warmer. Surrounding us, the roofs of the cabins jutted out of the ground. The snow concealing them seemed to linger like a bad odor.

“How are we supposed to dig everyone out of their houses now?” Jed asked.

“I dunno. I guess we just dig and predict where their front porch is.” I planted my shovel into the snow.

I scanned the village of rooftops until my eyes passed over my neighbor’s house. I stared at the roof for a second and came up with an idea. The roof belonged to my neighbor, Jack Gibson. Jack was a strange guy who liked to help his neighbors out. This was all I knew about his personality. I had seen him help the other neighbors out with big projects or with carrying in heavy supplies, but other than that, I had only met him a few times. Every time we met, he would just shake my flipper firmly and say “How are you, mate?” as he looked me straight in the eye. He seemed strong, and we needed him.

“Hey Jed, let’s dig this one out first.”

Jed turned around, “which one?”

“This one right here- the short one.” I pointed towards Jack’s humble metal roof. “It’s Jack’s. He’ll be able to help us.”

Jed responded with a humble “okay,” and we began our digging excursion.

I planted the wide shovel into the thick snow to mark our starting point, and we soon found ourselves working. Working on something we didn’t typically work on, that is, if we did any do work at all besides basic housekeeping. On and on we dug, and a banana-shaped tunnel was soon beginning to take shape, and as it took shape, we had to literally work like ants and back all the snow we dug back out of the tunnel and to the surface.

As we would be crossing ways to throw more snow on top of the mound we had made, I noticed Jed bore a different face than mine. His was expressionless and left no traces of any complaining thoughts, while mine was urgent and anxious. Anxious to do something about what I saw- anything. All the more, I dug vigorously, making sure to find Jack’s door as quick as penguinly possible. (AN: Yes, that did sound corny, but I can't have said “humanly.” It would’ve sounded just as weird.)

One of the many stabs I took at the snow ended up being one of relief. As I struck the white soil, a poor, frozen wooden board felt the shovel’s blade, making a small chip in its woodwork. Although this meant we were only halfway done, it meant progress- and progress meant we were dangerously closer to our goal.

“Jed, come take a look at this.” Jed was just finishing up throwing a load of snow out of the hole when I made the discovery.

Jed hobbled back over tiredly, “uh… what’s that?” He said in a daze.

“That right there, is progress.”

“Yeah… but what is it?”

“The floorboard to his porch.”

Jed piped back up. “Woah, really?

“Yeah, but the real challenge is just ahead. We’ve gotta find the door. Let start trying to find the opening of the railing and figure out where the center of the porch could be.” I made certain gestures in order to visually convey all that in Jed’s aquatic mind.

And so, on we worked. Worked until we finally gained a sense of direction. It could’ve taken twice the time to clear out his porch than to make the rabbit hole itself, but I could remember that his door was centered right in the middle of his porch. This knowledge did wonders for us as we dug. Not only could I use Jack’s roof as a reference, but I also was able to consult my visual memory and track down the amount of snow that was needed to be pulled out. In total, all this might’ve cut off a good five hours of straight manual labor.

The final chink in the wood was made on Jack’s door, a door that was hopelessly frozen over. It seemed like we didn’t actually hit wood- we just hit solid ice.

“Alright, we made it,” Jed remarked as he threw aside his shovel.

I walked back over to the door, leaned my shovel next to it, and examined it, brushing off the excess snow that lingered still. I rubbed my flipper against the ice, unfazed by the scorching chill that emanated from it. I stepped back and said, “We could try busting up the ice, but even if we manage to get past it, I’m not even sure that the door itself will be unlocked.” I paused for a moment to think. Jed looked back up at me, confused. “I think we should try it anyway. It’s worth a shot.”

I picked my shovel back up and began spearing the door, trying to chink its cold armor. The ice wouldn’t budge- not even a crack. My shovel seemed ready to give out, being as dented up and dismantled as it was, and stabbing the ice was proving to be futile. I stopped, slightly disappointed, leaning back on the slanted wall of snow. Jed’s big, exhausted eyes followed me.

“I need some water,” Jed said, feeling equally as exhausted as I was.

“Say no more.” So I headed back into my house, got us each a cup and returned to the scene.

I walked into the hole, handing a cup to Jed. “Thanks… Hey, I found this weird button beside the door. You know what it is?” Jed pointed one of his tentacles at the doorbell as he casually poured the water on his back. My eyes suddenly sparked with energy. The idea of ringing Jack’s doorbell hadn’t even crossed my mind, and at this moment, it was a huge revelation.

Bursting with a newfound hope, I sprung toward the doorbell. I brushed off the excess powder and I put my ear hole against the door of ice. I rang the bell. Nothing. I pressed it again. Still nothing. I tried a few more times, but heard absolute silence fill the cave. Jed didn’t want to interrupt with any questions, so he, too, remained silent.

I turned around and put my back against the door, slumping downward in discouragement. My feet gave out from under me, putting me in a very uncomfortable sitting position. I didn’t care, though. My exhausted brain told me to give up on this stupid plan and go back to sleep in my rocking chair. What was even the point?

That was when I remembered. Remembered the TV. Remembered the man being burned alive in Escloeopia City. It all came back. I stood back up, motivated by the ghosts of my father’s past. I wasn’t responsible for it, but I felt it. My father did the right thing, but did his efforts make everything worse? It sure seemed like it, and I wasn’t going to sit idly by while the world spiraled further into division. It wasn’t right.

Behind me, the door began to bang repeatedly. As if Jack wanted out. As if by pure motivation, Jack magically showed up and finally realized the situation. Jed and I backed away from the door, confident that he would break through its hard, icy armor.

The door slammed open from its hinges and skidded across the floorboards. Jack charged out and stumbled over, disoriented and surprised at the mysterious tunnel and the two idiots who had the good idea to dig it. “What in bloody hell is goin’ on here?”

To describe Jack’s appearance accurately would be like trying to shoot a dart at a target while riding on the back of a speeding snowmobile. It isn't easy, but for starters, I guess you could say that he looked like a parrot from one of those old books called Encyclopedias. His crest feathers were a spectrum of green, yellow and blue, and his face was a circle of white with thin, black streaks streaming from his eyes. It always looked strange at first, but everyone who knows him got used to his wild look.

Jack didn’t know where to start. He was absolutely confused. He stood up and looked at us both. Jed looked terrified while I looked excited. Jack looked at this new environment like he had just woken up in the wrong bed last night.

“Jack, it’s been awhile!” I said, shaking his flipper. Jack still wore a look of bewilderment, “you were the first one we dug out. We thought you’d be a good helper with our little ‘mining excursion’ to get people out of their houses. What do you think?”

Jack blinked his eyes up and down to regain his social equilibrium, “Well sure, mate. But who’s this bloke?” He shifted his focus toward Jed.

Jed’s social anxiety kicked in hard, making him freeze up and begin to ooze melanin from his ink sac. “Jed… introduce yourself.” I nudged him in, trying to ease him into a foreign setting- a social setting.

As Jed began to speak, his tentacles started curling up and knotting with themselves. He struggled to maintain eye contact with the confused Jack, and he stumbled upon his words. “Hello, uh… My name is uh…” he trailed off casually, “Jed.”

Jack remained puzzled as to why there was an octopus on his porch, but he felt reassured that whoever was digging his porch out wasn’t intending to rob him. “Well, mates, let’s give it a fair go. I’m interested.”

Jack disappeared for a moment into his house and returned with a shiny new shovel. Our’s looked like war veterans compared to his. We followed Jack out of the rabbit hole, planted our shovels into the snow, and surveyed the village of rooftops.

Jack spoke up, “I know a bludger down the street. He’s a bit dodgy, but he has the whole place mapped out. I say we dig him out and make ‘im join us.”

Jed glancing at me was the signal that it was my turn to talk. “Okay. I don't really know this guy. What’s his name?”

“The bloke’s name is Jacen Robbins. I rarely see ‘im. Always working on some crazy contraption. Nobody ever really knows what he’s mucking around with in his cabin.”

“Oh… Huh.” I grunted in reply. We paused for a moment before my recent motivation sparked an urging curiosity. “Hey Jack, did you see what was on the news this morning?” I spoke in a grim tone.

Jack shifted expressions from a relaxed look to his own worried look. He started towards Jacen’s house, with us in close pursuit. “Yeahh. What was that? Bloody terrifying.”

“I think I might have an idea of what it was, and I don’t know why, but I feel somewhat responsible.”

Jack looked back at me puzzled, wearing a tense expression. “Well, spit it out mate, let me hear it!”

“The snatchers are trying to destroy Escloeopia, and I don’t know much else, but what I do know is that my dad may have provoked it.”

“That’s not really anything you could control, is it?”

“Well, no, but I know that what my dad did was right, and it’s all going to waste.”

“Seems like you up your ol’ man a lot.” Jack sighed, as if his memory called upon a past experience. “Look, mate, that’s not how the world works. You can’t just fix whatever you saw on the idiot box by going and making everyone see how you see. You’d be rippin’ society off!” Jack turned around and looked me in the eye. “...But what you can do is learn from the world’s bugger-ups an’ let it see how you’ve turned out… That make sense?”

I was surprised by the heavy meaning behind what Jack said. “Yeah, sure.” I hadn’t thought about this before. It opened up my eyes to a whole different way of thinking- Jack’s way of thinking. He was right. I couldn’t just go headlong into whatever was going on in Escloeopia City. I wouldn’t fix anything, and I sure as hell wouldn’t do anything smart. There must’ve been some other way…

We finally approached Jacen’s roof and begun our hard day’s work, stabbing at the snow monotonously for hours on end. Whenever I made one scoop of snow, Jack was making two- working twice as fast and three times as hard. Jed and I trembled and strained at each scoop, only scratching the surface of the work ahead. It was discouraging for us that we were so worn out, but looking at how fast Jack was working gave the journey a new hope, and it wasn’t long until Jack hit Jacen’s concrete porch.

“Jack, we’ve been going at this for hours. Can’t we take a break?” Jed moaned through his exhaustion. Frankly, I felt the same way, but I thought it would be rude for me to quit on Jack, who was giving it his all trying to clear out all the blasted snow. Jed was more socially awkward than I was, so he lacked basic knowledge of hard work ethic.

“Breaks are for wusses! We’re almost there mates, c’mon!” Jack cried out.

Jed and I pushed through and continued digging until we finally made the door visible. The door, much like Jack’s door, was frozen over, but it wasn’t long until Jack decided to break it down too. I thought that was a terrible idea, so I tried holding him back, but it was already too late. The door was already ripped from its hinges and sliding across the inside floor. Jack stood in front of our stressed selves and peeked his head inside curiously.

Once I worked up the courage to follow Jack’s movements, I also peeked my head inside the house. The inside of the house was dark and gloomy; candles contained in glass jars dimly lit what had to be seen and the darkness concealed the rest. We stepped in and observed the atmosphere, Jed staying behind. Papers cluttered the desks around the candles and scrap metal leaned against the drywall. The air was dry and cold, as if the AC stopped working and Jacen relied only on the heat of the candles to stay warm.

“Hello!?” I called out into the darkness of the house, expecting my effort to be meaningless. For a moment, there was no response, but then, from the corner of the room we heard a bounding- a startling explosion with each step. The bounding noise grew exponentially louder, and exponentially more frightening as the figure lunged at us.

“WHO ARE YOU?!?!?” Jacen boomed as he cocked his shotgun. He shined his blinding flashlight straight into our eyes, as if we were a pair of bears.

We froze, and not by the scorching cold. Every feather on our bodies stood up and our eyes winced shut by the excruciating wrath of the light. The clicking of his gun was enough to send us into submission- our flippers in the air and our faces comically frightened.

“Easy, mate... easy… We ain’t trying to rob you.” Jack’s cool charisma proved futile.

“Who are you two?!?” he said in a gruff voice, trying to sound intimidating. He leaned in closer with his shotgun.

I managed to spit it out before Jack could, avoiding any kind of eye contact in fear that I might scorch my eyes out. “I-I’m Luke and this is Jack-”

“What are you doing in my house?!” He yelled louder.

“We just dug your house out. That’s all we did! W-we wanted to do the same to everyone else’s, and we heard you kept the locations of all the houses in your records-”

“Does that explain why my door has been ripped from its hinges?!” Jacen boomed, interrupting me again.

He sighed and tried to cool himself down, stepping back and lowering his portable floodlight. He set his gun down on a nearby cabinet among an array of tools. Our eyes soon found themselves following Jacen to a rope in the middle of his living room. Jacen grasped the rope and yanked on it, setting off some contraption in the ceiling. We heard a few clicks and a gurgling of some bizarre liquid. Our eyes soon focused on a chandelier in the center of the ceiling, bursting ablaze with fire and illuminating the whole room. It seemed that Jacen didn’t even use electricity in his house, he just found new ways to light things.

Jacen’s house was no longer a mystery. Everything was cluttered. Couches and coffee tables were strewn with tools and papers. Posters crowded the walls, acting as his wallpaper. Cans of food and crumpled up paper filled his trash bins and leaked onto the floor. It could’ve been a dump, but everything that seemed cluttered was either inevitable or productive. Jack and I could both tell that Jacen was a busy penguin.

Jacen was a short penguin. Possibly adelie. His back feathers had a dark blue tint to them, and his beak had this same color until it hit the tip, then it was a pinkish-orange. His eyes were coldly white with drops of black that resembled pupils, and he wore a forest green bathrobe that was covered in blotches of oil and stains of grease.

“Look, I’m sorry I got a little heated… I can’t just automatically trust two idiots who thought breaking into some random penguin’s house was a good idea.” Jacen rubbed his eyes and exhaled profusely, “But I guess it’s ok. You two don’t look like burglars.” He looked back up at the mess we made. “Though, this would be the perfect opportunity to rob someone. I mean, just who’s going to expect it? And who’s going to find out?!” He let out a hearty chuckle.

Jack and I lowered our flippers and wiped the scorching pain out of our eyes. I felt a little safer now, even though there was a giant blurry spot at the dead center of my vision. I blinked my eyes up and down and winced between each one, trying to cure my blindness. I peered back at the door laying on the ground, noting it’s questionable nature, “At second glance, it does look kind of sketchy.”

“Anyway,” Jack butted in earnestly, “...Like Luke was saying. I remember ya charting the locations of the houses in the neighborhood. Do you have ‘em with ya, mate?”

“Yeah, I have the whole village mapped out.” Jacen turned around and started upstairs where his charts were kept, his voice muffling in the dark as he ascended. “I’ll be right back. I’m gonna go get my surveyor.”

“Okay mate, we’re goin’ to head on out. I have a spare shovel for ya.” Jack hollered into the second floor.

We found ourselves back on top. Jack went back into his house to retrieve a spare shovel for Jacen, and Jed and I waited patiently, leaning on our shovels. It didn’t take too long for Jack and Jacen to get sorted out, and they were soon standing in the snow with us, their equipment organized and ready.

“Hey, I don’t think we’ve had a proper introduction,” Jacen said, looking up from his equipment. “My name’s Jacen.” He held out his flipper at Jed and I both, expecting some formal gesture of greeting.

I reached out and grabbed it, giving it a firm shake. “Cool. My name’s Luke, and this is Jed.”

Jacen nodded. “Say, what is an octopus doing hopping around on the surface?” Jacen mused at Jed, wondering how he survived that way. “Shouldn’t you be in the ocean city?”

Jed forced out a response, “Uhh, well, if I keep pouring water on myself periodically I can survive.”

Jacen pushed the unimportant thought aside and shifted his attention towards his theodolite. Jacen positioned the contraption on a tripod and spread his record papers out on a platform that was attached to the tripod’s legs. Jacen peered through the instrument and calculated the position of the buried houses whose roofs didn’t jut out of the snow. Our first house was positioned right next to Jack’s- a buried time capsule. If someone were to walk by this house without any recollection of where it was, it could easily be overlooked as an empty lot. Jacen pointed out where we should dig in order to get to the front door the quickest, and then we dug- dug until the day was done, releasing more penguins and more working flippers with each house. Looking out over the horizon of the village at dusk, it seemed that most people’s houses had been cleared.

As the planet made its rotation, the nebula surrounding it loomed large over the surface of Copperoton- a spectacle of color so unique, any refugee from Earth would be dumbfounded by the sight. The invisible sun’s icy blue rays peeked over the horizon while I stood beside Jed, making sure he was well watered.

“Hey Jed, you want to go with me to see if my sister’s out of her house?” I said, willing to give Jed another chance at meeting other penguins.

Nervousness filled his beady eyes. “Ah no, I’m good. I think I’ll just find somewhere to relax.”

“Okay well, see you later. Keep that water on you.” On that note, I left Jed and headed for Air’s place. I didn’t want to push Jed anymore that day. I could tell he had enough.

As I strolled closer to Air’s house, dragging my shovel in tow, other penguins could be seen carrying waste and food in and out of houses. Penguins hollered at each other from rooftop to rooftop, checking on each other to see if they made it out of the storm that happened just a few days prior. The community had been resurrected from its obscure, isolated state. Was it inevitable that this town had been brought back to life? It sure felt like it. I didn’t feel rewarded, but instead I felt like this was just a harbinger- a precursor to something greater. Any other idiot could have started the digging excursion. It wasn’t really a matter of who, it was a matter of when. (A/N: might need work. suggestions??)

“Oi, Luke! I heard you were the one who started all this!” A cheery voice called from a nearby rooftop.

“Yeah, good job man! I don’t know what I would’ve done except wait around to be dug out!”

Another voice yelled, “Hey thanks! My chicks were half starved to death!”

I felt the praise building within, humbling and empowering my motivations. “Oh, it’s nothing. Glad to help!” I smiled from my beak, taming my inner pessimistic thoughts. I felt a little better about myself.

I continued onward toward Air’s house, approaching the humble abode with gusto. Several workers were still digging. Her home must’ve been one the last houses being dug out. I quickly pitched in and helped, repeating the monotonous job until the door was struck. Surprisingly, her door wasn’t frozen over, so one of the workers knocked on the door and waited a few seconds. The door opened.

Air opened the door wide, not surprised, but almost relieved. Air was a nurse, but she did not look taken care of. Her eyes drooped lazily and her long yellow crest feathers were tangled in greasy knots. Her pink feathers looked almost pale, as if they themselves weren’t hydrated.

She took one look at us and fainted. Her body dropped like a corpse, half dead from the lack of food and water. We didn’t let her hit the ground. We caught her and hoisted her up onto each other’s flippers. (This syntax seems so off. Suggestions would help.)

One of the workers couldn’t respond, so he stood by. “Hey you. Go grab some water from another house.” One of the other penguins told him.

We headed inside and carefully set Air on a sofa. The penguin rushed back in with a huge cup of water, sloshing and spilling it on the stone tile floors. I stood up and took it from him. Leaning Air’s head back and opening her beak, I poured the water down her throat- surely a relief from her lack of water. I took my time not to drown her in it, only pouring in little bits at a time.

I eventually told everyone who pitched in that I could handle the rest. They were relieved and left without another word. Probably to go to bed for the night. I, too, was exhausted, and I had only just realized it. I stumbled back on one of Air’s leather chairs and nearly crashed before Air began to cough herself awake. I sat back up. (More help with syntax errors?)

Thinking she had regained all of her strength, Air tried sitting up. She groaned between intervals of coughing, rubbed her head and looked around. Her eyes winced nearly shut trying to see me rush over to help.

“Hey, easy. Don’t overdo it.” I urged Air, not knowing if she had done anything else to put her in her current state.

Air coughed again, “How long was I out?”

“Eh, about thirty minutes. You okay? You look terrible.”

“Thanks… Yeah, I’m okay. My water heater broke down a few days ago.”

“That explains it,” I said almost to myself. “What happened to it?”

“I honestly have no idea,” Air shrugged. “Around the time when it broke down, it started making a bunch of squealing noises. Since then, my pipes began to freeze up, and water stopped coming out of the faucets. I had to make do with my IV bags I filled up with water before the storm.”

“Did you ever take a look at the heater?” I pressed, confident that I could probably figure out what happened with it.

“No, I actually didn’t,” Air sat up on her sofa. “Sometimes it would make these terrifying noises in the middle of the night, so I was scared to even get close to it.”

“I’ll go take a look at it. You stay here and rest.”

I opened the door to the utility closet only to find that the floor inside was flooded. Something wasn’t right at all. It seemed as if these things were foolproof; dedicated not to break down in the event of a terrible storm. If it were to break at all, it probably shouldn’t be anything too major- a small interference at best. But this? The whole heater would have to be replaced! Holes gouged the sides of the unit, the metal was icy cold to the touch, the pipes were dented in, and the vents were covered in ice.

I examined further around the back of the heater. Expectedly, more holes bored out of the metal, but something was off. I peeked inside one of the holes and found a small, flashing, and beeping device resting on one of its inner mechanisms. I walked out of the closet and picked up a pair of tweezers that laid inside one of Air’s medical cabinets, and I went back to pull it out. Looking in the same spot, it appeared that the device stopped beeping and flashing altogether.

Time stopped. Not really, but it seemed so. I completely froze up once the bombs hit. Three successive blasts- BOOM…  BOOM…  BOOM… resounded from below the surface of the glacier. The house shuddered, and so did we.

“AIR!!!”

“Yeah?! I’m alright!”

“Get your things! We need to get outta here!”

The three blasts that shocked our glacier not only shocked us, but would soon shock the planet of Copperoton to its core. Even though I was far from ready, my journey started here.


Episode 2 - Escloeopia City ~ A Sudden City of Ruin


Told from the perspective of a resident of Escloeopia City.

~////////////~

A muffled BOOM!! resounded in and through the apartment buildings on the Eastern 74th street of Escloeopia City- an alarm clock so disturbing, even the dead could've woken up for their early morning breakfast. The alarm clock sitting on my nightstand shuddered, and the clutter lying around the room rattled and shuffled around under the boom’s shock.

I can’t say that my alarm clock wasn’t very disturbing, but I have to admit, this explosion was only a little worse. My eyes jolted open violently and my body sprang up from my bed. I bolted for the window.

Before my eyes, I only saw carnage. Fire flooded the shops on the street level and bloody bodies lay strewn about on the sidewalks.

Then came the parabeasts. Those cursed, awful parabeasts. The beasts were like a cross between a crab, a spider and a turtle. The crab part, as bizarre as it may sound, consisted of fastening massive claws to its mouth and feet, capable of smashing a car into a pancake. For its feet, they looked like a half of a crab claw had been stuck in replacement so that they could stick into the ground- or even on buildings. Its legs took the role of replicating a spider’s. The bonelike legs arched up and down in the form of an upside-down V shape. The legs lurched forward sluggishly, yet powerfully, crushing the pavement beneath its weight. Over the poor creature’s eyes, a super-sized bandana was placed. They probably blocked off its sight so that it wouldn’t get spooked by all the treachery its masters made it inflict. They sulked around aimlessly. That is, unless they had a driver. Upon its back, a caravan was held in place over it’s impenetrable, turtle-like shell, which held and protected about five or six riders and made way for a driver to steer the beast. Some of the beasts that contained the riders were armed with gatling guns, but some roamed free without any drivers, free to take out their anger on innocent people. Why were they angry? Probably because the beasts were being used as big, stupid, poorly fed, poorly treated tanks. They weren’t animals- they were weapons.

What followed suit was an army of Copperoton’s violent natives- the snatchers. It was just about everyday that I might’ve seen a snatcher acting like a normal person on the train or walking around on the streets. Now, they marched around in shady groups and threw molotov cocktails into whatever store they hadn’t already ransacked. They clothed themselves with a leathery material that derived from the awful creatures of their homeland: the Danger Isles. They, like their parabeasts, wore bandanas over their mouths and sported a bulletproof vest over their leather coats.

I managed a closer look and caught a glimpse of their weapons. On some of their backs, generator rifles hung, most likely unneeded until a longer range target crossed their paths. They didn’t use those. The real weapons they were holding were their ginormous knives and machetes. Every one of them was skilled with their melee weapons of choice. The terrorists tackled their targets and brought them down stabbing and ripping, splattering blood all over the pavement.

I pulled away from the window and hurdled over my bed to my closet. Panicking, I ripped open my closet door, grabbed my revolver and my jacket, and frantically bursted through the door of my apartment, leaving all of my belongings behind. I had to get to higher ground- quick.

To the right of the hallway was the stairwell. I couldn’t take the stairs because the top floor would be a dead end, and I couldn’t hide on a balcony because I would be spotted without a second glance, but when I heard a sudden TMP TMP TMP-ing of the terrorists running up the stairs, my panic turned to adrenaline. There was one more option- the fire escape. I raced furiously for the window at the end of the hall, out of pure fear for my own life. As soon as I began turning the latch of the window that opened to the fire escape, I heard a shrill screech.

“OVER THERE! SHOOT HIS HEAD OFF!” There could be no delay. I had to smash through the window instead.

Diving out, I took cover under the window. Bullets phased through the wall, barely grazing my arm and shoulder. This couldn't shock me. Without stopping, I scrambled for the ladder and bounded up the steps.

Upon reaching the roof, I jerked my head left and right looking for a route of escape. All that surrounded me was disappointment. All of the buildings around my apartment complex were a few stories higher and none of their windows overlooked my building. Any and all escape routes had been blocked off. I broke down. There was nothing I could do.

I had to find something I could do. A thousand thoughts seemed to race around my brain all at once. In the midst of my panicking, I glanced down at my jacket pocket. My revolver. It seemed like so much had happened since I stuffed it in there, so I had completely forgotten about it.

I pulled it out. I popped the cylinder of the gun out and checked the ammo.

Only one bullet left.

There was no way I’d survive with the only bullet I had. There could’ve been at least twenty of them running after me for all I knew.

I stumbled to the fire escape, bracing myself for a fight. Any fight. I’d do anything to defend myself. In this moment, I thought I had everything to lose, but I didn’t know what ‘everything’ was. I couldn’t remember anything, which was the weird part. What was I trying to defend? I had no idea. It was only a premonition of myself- a self that I didn’t even know.

I peered over the side of the building and down the fire escape, ever so slowly and carefully.

Nothing.

Nobody climbed up after me, which meant that I was probably safe for now. But knowing the things they were doing on the street, there was no telling what they would do next. They could’ve been plotting another way to corner me- a way to corner me without losing any of their men. Somehow, I knew they were up to something else.

Silence with the distant cacophony of screams and fire… Then, dread broke the night once again.

BOOM. Windows shattered. The building shuddered.

Another BOOM. The tremors kept on, like steps.

BOOM.

BOOM.

BOOM.

And there it was- the parabeast. Its huge pincers peeked over the horizon of the building, opening for a terrible screech. The beast lurched upward with another BOOM, and let out it’s mighty roar, a shrill one, but definitely a roar. I faltered backward toward the edge of the building, now standing face to face with the creature in all its awful glory.

I raised my gun and cocked it, ready to fire once its mouth reopened, but as it boomed closer, its mouth wouldn’t budge. I inched backward as the parabeast inched forward, my heel bumping the back ledge of the building, and finally, I was cornered. Checkmate. I glanced down to the alley below and looked back into the face of the parabeast, now within range of smashing me within its pincers. It opened its mouth, and I had no choice but to shoot.

I pulled the trigger the only way I knew how- progressively and carefully. My last pitch effort had to work. I had to take this thing down. And, in the blink of an eye, and before my finger fully released the bullet, a screaming howl seared through the air from my right.

The missile slammed into the parabeast’s left side brain, sending it flying into the next apartment building and tumbling into the concrete below. The blast blew me back too, and too far. I, like the parabeast before me, tumbled into the alley below.

Falling isn’t like some may think. It’s quick, scary, and you can see everything happening before your eyes. Death. That’s what it feels like before your body slams into the pavement. But I was lucky.

My body cracked into the wooden scaffolds sitting in the back alley, breaking the plywood boards in half with every impact, and breaking my fall.

One. I fell to the next level.

Two. My head spun.

Three. The last board broke my fall, splintering under my weight. The impact had crushed me, knocking me out.

There I laid on the pavement, half dead…  

~////////////~

Black. I gaze at it for a few minutes, and all of a sudden I’m somewhere else. As my eyes creaked open, they passed under a series of lights. The lights seared themselves into my eyes and made my head throb. But that was not the only part of my body throbbing, it was also in my shoulder and all throughout my back as well. Not to mention that my ears still rang from that terrible roar. I also couldn’t move my head around to see what was going on. It hurt too much. No, everything hurt too much.

My first attempt to lift my head was met with one of the sharpest pains I had ever experienced. My head plopped right back down on the soft pillow, letting out a violent yelp, and almost triggering the rumbling. The whole bunker rumbled, which probably meant I was underground. Small pebbles fell from the ceiling and onto the floor, and some fell on my face.

“Sir, don’t move! Your shoulder’s in pieces!” A voice said from above. A nurse, perhaps.

My head would remain on the pillow. I glared at the ceiling, and my eyes showed little emotion. As more of the lights passed before my eyes, I pondered the situation I went through before I blacked out. I mean, it had to have been real. My body was hopelessly broken, and, not to mention, I had been taken to this mysterious hospital by someone who cared enough to pick up some random, half-dead nobody out of a dark alley. My main question was why?

Why was this happening so suddenly? I remembered my walk to work being just fine the day before, so where did everything go wrong? If there was an attack on the city this big, there would’ve been a warning… right? … Right?!

I was pushed into another hallway guarded by two doors. The end of my bed barged through them. My bed rolled past rows of groaning soldiers who, also in their beds, were against the wall of the corridor. Suddenly, the nurse sped up, and behind me I heard several men trying to barricade those doors. A lot of yelling and frantic shuffling went on, but these noises began to echo softer as we traversed further down the tunnel. But through the muffled chaos, something began banging on the doors. Something wanted in.

Something about that banging felt methodical, almost familiar. It was only as startling and violent as before, but something was different. It wasn’t feet this time…

Eventually, even the banging grew dimmer as we delved deeper. At the finale of the journey, the bed stopped. The head of it was twirled around and positioned against the wall. I was only limited to my peripheral vision, so my surroundings weren’t clear. Out of my pathetic line of sight, I saw two doctors running toward my bed. Neither of these guys looked qualified for their job. One had on a pair of broken glasses and donned a bloodstained coat, as if he performed experiments on people instead of treating them. The other was abnormally tall and muscular and barely fit into his coat- the stereotype of a muscle-brain. They began investigating me like another of their incapacitated soldiers, too quick and not thorough enough.

The first doctor beckoned for the nurse to leave, “I can take it from here.” The doctor turned to me, avoided eye contact, and leaned over the bed to take a closer look, “where does it hurt?”

I noticed that his eyes were very glassy, and he had a nasty bruise surrounding the eye with the broken lens. My attempts to speak came out only as moans and grunts, reacting to the painful pressure he applied to the different parts of my body.

“Hmm, I see.” He shifted his focus to my shoulder, as if he understood my grunts.

He tapped his finger on my shoulder, lightly. The pain of a thousand suns shot up my neck and my upper arm. I screamed and almost passed out.

The doctor clicked his tongue. “Not good. He’ll need surgery within the next 24 hours before his whole left shoulder gets paralyzed.” His brutish assistant scrawled something on his clipboard.

“The left clavicle and the upper spine are his weak areas,” said the larger doctor, sighing. “This one’s a goner unless we can get him better treatment at an actual hospital.” The buff doctor was blunt, yet sounded surprisingly smart.

The next BANG set the bloodied doctor off. “We’ve gotta move,” he said. “If we don’t get to other soldiers, we’ll be risking more lives.”

I could sense the bigger doctor hesitating, then following his comrade down the hall. Not being able to save everyone was a tough thing to wrap his mind around, but that was the harsh reality.

The banging was monotonous, but each pound was more terrifying than the last- until I heard another roar. The doors slammed open, flying and tumbling down the hall. The metal doors skidded across the concrete and stopped in front of my bed.

Screams were heard.

The snatchers were ready for blood.


Episode 3 - A Rock in a Lake! ~ The Glacier Falls


As soon as the giant explosion occurred, I hit the deck immediately, terrified about what was to happen after this. We were living on a glacier, after all, which was already very dangerous. The booming died away and as I laid there, I began to shakily rise to my feet, terrified about our situation.

“AIR!!” I called out, “we need to leave this town immediately!!!”

Suddenly, the ground below us began to rumble, and the breaking of glass and the clattering of metal objects could be heard from within the shaking cabins. This same rumbling also cued many to start screaming in confusion and horror.

Air yelled from inside her house, “OK!!”

I had read in an old book left astray in my cabin for ages that was about a distant planet’s icy continent, and how it had glaciers much like ours. This place had moving glaciers that would break off over time due to gravity, only to produce more of the same icy structures again over a very long period of time. This was definitely not the same as what we’re familiar with on our planet, because our glaciers are formed by a different kind of ice that contains many strong minerals to keep the ice from moving.

“We’re about to crash into the ocean! Come on!” I yelled again at Air being logically impatient.

Immediately after I yelled at her, she popped up out of the rabbit hole leading to her house. At this, Air and I quickly dove into a swift slide toward Jack’s cabin. Luckily we found him along the way trying to rally people from their houses, so I stopped and jumped up to my feet. As soon as my feet landed upon the thick snow, the glacier began to rumble again and a violent cracking sound began to resonate in and through the cabins of Nossrunn village. Jack made eye contact with us after he regained himself and yelled amidst the penguin’s cries of terror: “We need t’ get these sheilas ‘n’ blokes off the glacier b’fore the bloody thing falls off!”

“You don’t say?!” I yelled in ironic agreement.

Jack ignored my sarcasm, “Start rallyin’ these chooks ‘n’ get ‘em outta this bloody hell!”

On Jack’s orders, we immediately started getting people out of their houses and into the snow-paved streets, where we could rally them out of the village quickly and efficiently.

Once I finished up leading a middle-aged couple out of their home, I looked across the street to a neighboring cabin, where Air was seen leading a young family from their doomed home. They wore a look of utter horror while their chicks poured out tears of the same feelings.

I started toward Jacen’s cabin. And so, I dove on my belly and slid through the snow-paved streets in the direction of his home. Amidst my sliding, the ice once again began to crackle and rumble under our village, comically making me roll over into the upper wall of a nearby cabin. I was getting used to this procedure, so I got up on my feet to gain a faster pace going down the streets. I was unfazed by any more disturbances in the glacier as I raced through the town center. Here, I found Jacen leaving the grocery store with a heap of frozen fish.

“OI, JACEN!!!!” I yelled from across the street.

Jacen’s head took a sudden jerk into the direction I was standing and yelled in reply, “Hey!! Just grabbing some provisions before this town goes under!”

“Good! We’ve gotta hurry! Everyone’s gathering at the outer rims of the village to migrate outta this place!” I had almost finished my thought when a feeling of dread dawned upon me. “Hey, Jacen, any idea where Jed went?”

Jacen paused for a brief second. “That’s a no from me! You’ll have to try your house, that’s the last place I saw him!”

Without any further questions, I immediately sped to the northern part of the village where my house was buried. To my fortune, Jed laid buried in the collapsed rabbit hole leading to my house. I could only slide carefully toward him because a bitter south-Arctican wind picked up out of the blue, whipping and taxing my body all the more. Eventually, I managed to stumble toward Jed and make my first attempt to pull him out.

Jed, being the mighty octopus that he is, was very difficult to pull from the thick snow. I strained my muscles and planted my feet as I tried to wrap my flippers around his large, sleek, invertebrate body. As I pulled upward, my flippers slipped from my grasp and I fell over onto my back, flailing to get back up. After stumbling back onto my feet, I noticed Jed’s tentacle sticking up out of the snow. So, I hurried over to it to make my second attempt at pulling him out.

I stood before his wriggling tentacle, almost afraid of it. I was unsure of whether it was poisonous or not, and me having been my cautious self, I considered reverting back to my first plan. This fateful dilemma tested my thoughts. It was futile to pull him out like the first attempt, because no matter how hard I tried, he wouldn’t budge. It was like trying to pull a tree out the ground - roots and everything. It was also futile to try and dig him out because the snow was far too icy and thick, not to mention that it would take a very long time, and time was not in mine or Jed’s favor. So, I decided that taking a risk was the quickest yet rockiest path I could take.

With immense hesitation, I shook my head in a jittery nervousness, took my flipper and latched it onto the suction-cupped side of his tentacle, while taking the other flipper and grasping the smooth part of the member. Almost instantly an intense stinging sensation bursted up my arm. I cringed in pain as I felt it spread throughout my flipper. Shortly after this sensation, the feeling changed from stinging to burning. I gathered my willpower, persevered and pulled back on the tentacle until it wouldn’t stretch any more. Jed tightened his grip on my flipper and I no longer felt any venom entering into my flipper. Dreadfully still, I felt the poison’s awful wrath. Eventually, I managed to ease him out of the snow. Chunks of thick ice rolled away from his snowy tomb and Jed stumbled out. Again, I fell over onto my back squeezing my arm and crying in pain. My life before this was pretty mundane and laid-back, so I certainly wasn’t used to this kind of hell.

Jed had ignored the fact that he had been freed, and turned his concern towards me. He empathetically tried to hobble over to my side and help somehow, even it it was for moral support.

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were trying to help at first!” As much as Jed wanted to help, he simply couldn’t, and he felt useless to do anything at all.

My head shuddered as I turned it towards him, intimidating him with my grimaced face. “J-just get on my back!” I figured that carrying Jed on my back was the continuation of the rocky road we now traveled on.

Promptly, Jed hopped onto my back like a surfer and positioned himself to where he could maintain a safe grip. I began to paddle my wings on the icy floor and painfully started toward the outskirts of the village, where we would be safe. At that moment, we were positioned on the edge of the glacier, overlooking the horizon of the Arctican Ocean. If we were going to make it off, we were going to have to slide for our lives, and even then our escape was going to be way too close to call. This rocky road was labeled as extremely dangerous, after all.

The glacier shuddered under its own crackling weight once again, but this time a new loud noise emerged from the once mighty body of ice. It was like another explosion, but followed by a roar of a violent waterfall. In Jed, this sparked fear in his already horrified eyes. He knew what this was, and it meant nothing good for us at all.

Jed positioned his beak toward my ear and yelled over the whistling wind and the breaking glacier, “The ocean city is emptying back into the ocean! This glacier is falling apart too fast! We must hurry!”

I had no response, so I kept on, timid and fatigued by the burning pain in my flipper. Loose snow flew up behind my trail as I rushed past, over and between the cabins and shops that lined our overthrown neighborhood. As I flew, I found a large mound of ice ahead of our path. This was perfect, for I could make a jump and possibly gain enough speed to make it to the outskirts unharmed. But doubt struck my mind in an instant, and it was clear that Jed was probably less confident about this decision than I was. All the same, we needed the speed if we wanted to live another day.

Again, Jed positioned his beak in a way that I could hear, “Don’t tell me you’re gonna jump! We could crash!”

“Shut up! We need this!” I yelled in pain and annoyance over the calamity. I doubted that he heard this and thought he took it as another act of ignorance.

We very soon found ourselves zipping up the slope and bracing ourselves for the peak of the stunt. It was like a roller coaster at the very tip of the lift, not hesitating to send us flying through the air. As we finally slid over the top of the mound, we soared across the white street, letting the harsh wind catch us and send us forward. I heard Jed yelping at his loss of breath, and I immediately had my air kicked out of my lungs as well. I had felt my flipper go completely limp as we flew, and I tried to maintain focus as we fell with style and keep our course. I had to land on my belly, or else this idea would have ended as a wrench in our initial plans.

We found ourselves diving back downward toward the village, and to our fortune, I foresaw a slanted metal roof that would work in our favor to more safely land. It was right within our flight path, and I only had one chance at angling my trajectory accurately. We weren’t that high above the ground, but it would injure us severely if we didn’t find a safe way to land, such as in this way. Very swiftly, we impacted upon the roof, sending loose powder flying everywhere in our field of sight. My belly felt the weight of the impact and it ached in yet another pain that replaced the numbed pain of my limp flipper.

I felt the bitter wind biting again at my battered body as it streamlined over Jed and me. I could feel that we were going infinitely faster this time. I saw a ray of hope for us even though my eyes were stinging in the pain of the wind. My body swayed right and left, nearly losing control of our speed as we crossed bumps and potholes in the dense snow.

The rumbling mysteriously stopped for a scary moment as we kept on. Silence ensued and fear, once again, suffocated our souls. The only sound that we could hear was the loose snow trailing behind us making an endless ‘SHHH’ noise.

A stuttering and long BOOOM haunted the glacier once more, as we felt the mass finally start to fall into the ocean, making this the loudest one we had heard. The violent rumbling and the horrible noise were what made me truly lose control in our escape. All too soon, I started to shift and sway in the commotion and crash and burn into the street. Jed and I rolled and tumbled, and the cabins around us began to cave in and crumble within their tombs of snow.

Jed was abruptly flung off of my back as I tumbled and crashed into an attic window. Luckily, I wasn’t sliced in half by the jutting piece of metal roof that was about a meter away from my trajectory zone, and in my relief, the frozen glass of the window shattered on impact, and I found myself tumbling onto the splintery wooden floor of the cabin’s attic. I stopped tumbling when a large piece of machinery had caught me from crashing into the inside of the roof. On impact, there was a loud CRASHing sound of my body hitting the machine that could even be heard over the chaos. I got up, pumped with adrenaline and burning in poison, and realized that what I had crashed into was an old, dusty snowmobile.

A new hope shone down on our fates, for I knew that this thing, almost rendered worthless, could be our salvation. I managed to pry the vehicle from its position and throw it out of the window from where I came in, and I swiftly followed it.

Now outside, I screamed for Jed, “JED!!! C’MON, I FOUND A SNOWMOBILE!!!!!”

Immediately, I saw him hobble over after me. So, I hopped on the vehicle and started its engine. I was met with a sickly sputtering and smoking as it started, but alas, the engine slowly rumbled in readiness. As soon as I felt Jed hop on and wrap his tentacles in place, I violently twisted the gas, and we were blazing toward the outskirts of the town.

We neared closer and closer to the crack where it was falling off and saw a growing wall of ice in its place, which was good because this meant we were close to escape. But both mine and Jed’s eyes widened at the sight, and I knew that I would have to take another leap of faith in order to avoid sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

Now, one may guess that it wouldn’t be a huge deal if we just fell into the ocean because we are both more than capable to swim on our own, but one must consider the near infinite amount of dangers that await in the Arctican Ocean. One, the large, broken chunks of ice could hold me under and drown me (this wouldn’t be much of a problem for Jed). Two, many humongous predators scan the area close to a glacier’s edge to find fresh prey to feast on, which would be a hazard for both of us. And three, there could be tons of debris from the wasted village that meant our gory demise.

I swerved the vehicle toward another steep roof jutting out of the ground and sped the old piece of junk up to its fastest speed. I began to estimate our trajectory zone amidst our last ditch effort. I looked in violent desperation at the ramp and the growing wall of ice. It was ambiguous to my mind of whether or not we would make it, and more doubt and hopelessness flooded my mind.

I closed in on the steep ramp of someone else’s roof and leaned way back in the seat. This shifted the vehicle’s weight upward so that it wouldn’t flip over and send us crashing clumsily into the glacier. Uneasily, the ungraceful vehicle found itself ironically flying through the air. My doubt and hopelessness could’ve influenced our luck while making this second jump, because the head of the snowmobile was set on crashing into the wall of the glacier.

Instinctively, I stood up on the seat of the snowmobile and made sure that Jed was latched onto me. I was going to jump yet again, for I had no intentions of going down with the old vehicle, anyway. I heard Jed curse behind me at my reckless action, but I hoped he knew that he had to accept this increasingly rocky direction.

I felt a newfound power growing rapidly within me; I could feel my legs loosen and build strength. As the snowmobile closed in on the wall, I made my third stunt. I sprung up from the seat, carrying Jed on my back. I was jumping on my own.

Through my quick bewilderment, and through the air, I felt Jed’s tentacles quickly lose their suction. One by one, I felt each of the cups on his tentacles pop off of my feathery hide. I clearly did not offer a very steady grip for him. Jed had to fall first if I was ever going to save both of ourselves, so I almost unconsciously grabbed onto a jagged edge of ice while at the same time snapping back and grabbing ahold of another one of his perilous tentacles.

Jed dangled unconsciously and limply. He probably fainted because of the adrenaline and peril. I looked toward the village below and saw the old yet reliable snowmobile finally meet its end and crunch against the glacier wall. Still looking down, I witnessed our home crumble into the sea, ocean city and all. The houses splintered in on themselves, the ice below them fragmented and separated, and the ocean city finally emptied its isolated waters back into the ocean. In that moment, I saw my memories burn in the fireplace of fate, and a swift feeling of grief overtook both my pain and my focus.

My poisoned arm just barely held onto the ledge, keeping both of us from falling into the sea. The poison crept down my arm and immediately flooded my body, making tunnel vision close my eyes and drift me off to a deep sleep.

It seemed that we could not win the race against fate.


© 2018 Luke Steed


Author's Note

Luke Steed
Enjoy! (the third chapter hasn't been fixed yet. It still suffers from bad sentence structure and bad diction.)

My Review

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You’ve obviously worked hard on this and put a lot of yourself, emotionally, into the story. So what I have to say isn’t going to make you happy. But on the other hand, nothing I have to say has to do with your talent, your potential as a writer, the story, or even good/bad writing. And, the problem you face is one you share with just about 50% of hopeful writers. In short, it’s serious, but not your fault. And, it’s the result of a misunderstanding we all leave our school days with: we think we learned how to write. And since writing is writing, and we have that part of it under control, what we need is a knack for storytelling, some practice, a good story idea, and a bit of luck.

If only…

Remember all the reports and essays we wrote in school, and how few stories? We did that to prepare us to be a self-supporting adult with skills that potential employers will value. In fact, the entire purpose of public education is to provide employers with a labor pool already possessing useful skills such as reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic—the traditional three R’s. But the key words are, “general” and “useful,” not professional. Learning the skills and knowledge of a trade or profession comes later, and is specialized knowledge we acquire as part of our preparation to work in that field.

The short version? We learn nonfiction writing skills because that’s what our future employers need us to know. And having learned only those we leave our schooldays exactly as well prepared to write fiction, be a journalist or screenwriter, or perform an appendectomy. But though we know we would have to learn to be a screenwriter, journalist, or doctor, we somehow assume that writing fiction uses only the writing skills learned in high school English class.

But who’s to tell us of the problem? Not our fellow students. And because our teachers learned their writing skills in the same classrooms—we come to writing with a few gotchas:

1. When we tell a story aloud, how we tell it provides the emotional content while the words provide the facts. Take a simple statement, like, “You truly are a b*****d, Jack.” How did you read it? As deadly insult? As high praise? It could be either, depending on the situation and the characters. It could also be a DNA report if a doctor is saying it. Were you to say it as part of telling a story in person I would know how it was meant, were I able to either hear or see you. But on the page? Unless you make the reader know either how it was spoken via a tag, or by making that reader know the speaker’s state of mind, it cannot mean the same thing to the reader as to the writer because intent never makes it to the page. It’s the words, and what those words suggest to a given reader, based on what the words suggest to each reader—based on their life-experience. But in reality, we want the words to mean what they do to the protagonist, because it’s their story. And it can’t be their story if every reader takes a slightly different meaning from the words.

You might want to read the article, Inside Out for a more complete explanation. You’ll find it among the articles in the writing section of my blog.

A lot of words, I agree, to boil down to one statement: Better to show than to tell, because our medium demands that.

2. Our medium has a severe limitation that must be taken into account: it’s serial, while life is parallel. In an eyeblink we see an infinity of things. We glance at a scene and know who’s in it, how they’re dressed, their age and condition, their mood, their status in society, and much more. We see a picture. But on the page we see nothing but what the writer mentions, one thing after another. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So to give even a static picture would take four standard manuscript pages. Several minutes reading to learn what a viewer gets in milliseconds. And worse yet, over 75% of what’s described would be something the protagonist is ignoring.

And did I mention that sound is a parallel sense, too?

The short version: every medium imposes its own set of imperatives and restrictions, so skill in one medium does not transfer, and transcribing the words of a storyteller cannot work.

3. Story matters, but only in retrospect. What makes the reader turn to page two, and onward is the writing. And what matters there is if the writing entertains. Facts are for reports and history books. So having the character remember something so the protagonist will know it is boring. For example. If your protagonist must escape something via acrobatic skills the temptation is to stop the story and have the character remember the summer he spent with the circus, and the details of his learning the skills he needs now and in the future. But that’s a report, and kills the scene’s momentum while that report is given. Instead, we append, “Giving thanks for having spent a summer with the circus as a teen, Jim reached…”
- - - - - - -
So why did I go into so much detail on all this? I wanted you to fully understand why you need to add skills, why those we leave school with aren’t adequate to the task, and why it’s something we all go though.

Nonfiction has a solid goal: inform the reader clearly and concisely. And in service of that goal the writing is fact-based and author-centric. We TELL the reader the situation and facts. An example is a history book. It’s full of intrigue, love, betrayal, and everything we love in a good story. But it’s told in overview by a dispassionate external observer. So there’s neither uncertainty nor emotional content.

But fiction’s goal is to entertain by giving the reader an emotional experience. Readers feed on uncertainty and worry. And that can only come if the future is uncertain for both the character and reader. Not unknown, as in a history book we’re reading, but uncertain, placing the reader into a, “What in the hell do we do now,” situation. So fiction, to accomplish that, is character-centric and emotion-based, which is an approach to storytelling that’s not even mentioned in our school days. And THAT’S what you need to address.

A simple, though not easy, solution. Simple, because it’s a matter of picking up the tricks of the trade, the things the pros use and take for granted. Not easy, because learning any profession takes time, study, and practice.

You mentioned in your letter that friends weren’t much help. They can’t be. First, they can hear your voice as they read, and so have an advantage the average reader doesn’t. But of more importance they have a relationship with you that precludes honesty. So they may say, “It’s not my kind of story,” or, “I couldn’t get into it.” Ben Bova hit it right when he said, “Forget giving your writing to friends. If you can make someone who doesn’t like you say they like it you may have something.”

So…how do you fix the problem? You treat writing as you would any other profession and master it, adding to your knowledge day by day. Writing isn’t a destination. It’s a journey that never ends. And how quickly you move is a function of your needs and time available.

You can, for example, begin with Debra Dixon’s, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict, available for download at any bookseller, or in hard copy from her site. It’s a warm easy read, like a sit-down with Deb to talk about writing. The only down side is that there are books that go into greater detail, like Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer, or Jack Bickham’s, Scene and Sequel. So, depending on your mood, I’d choose one of them as a starting point. They won’t make a pro of you. That’s your job. But they will give you the tools and knowledge to get there if it’s in you.

But whatever you do, hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 2 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

JayG

2 Years Ago

• I want to show their inner struggles over the course of their adventure.

That ha.. read more
Luke Steed

2 Years Ago

(Before I start, I would like to tell you to go to the book version of this same exact story and rea.. read more
JayG

2 Years Ago

Much improved, especially in viewpoint. Well done.

As a suggestion: Wait a few months.. read more



Reviews

You’ve obviously worked hard on this and put a lot of yourself, emotionally, into the story. So what I have to say isn’t going to make you happy. But on the other hand, nothing I have to say has to do with your talent, your potential as a writer, the story, or even good/bad writing. And, the problem you face is one you share with just about 50% of hopeful writers. In short, it’s serious, but not your fault. And, it’s the result of a misunderstanding we all leave our school days with: we think we learned how to write. And since writing is writing, and we have that part of it under control, what we need is a knack for storytelling, some practice, a good story idea, and a bit of luck.

If only…

Remember all the reports and essays we wrote in school, and how few stories? We did that to prepare us to be a self-supporting adult with skills that potential employers will value. In fact, the entire purpose of public education is to provide employers with a labor pool already possessing useful skills such as reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic—the traditional three R’s. But the key words are, “general” and “useful,” not professional. Learning the skills and knowledge of a trade or profession comes later, and is specialized knowledge we acquire as part of our preparation to work in that field.

The short version? We learn nonfiction writing skills because that’s what our future employers need us to know. And having learned only those we leave our schooldays exactly as well prepared to write fiction, be a journalist or screenwriter, or perform an appendectomy. But though we know we would have to learn to be a screenwriter, journalist, or doctor, we somehow assume that writing fiction uses only the writing skills learned in high school English class.

But who’s to tell us of the problem? Not our fellow students. And because our teachers learned their writing skills in the same classrooms—we come to writing with a few gotchas:

1. When we tell a story aloud, how we tell it provides the emotional content while the words provide the facts. Take a simple statement, like, “You truly are a b*****d, Jack.” How did you read it? As deadly insult? As high praise? It could be either, depending on the situation and the characters. It could also be a DNA report if a doctor is saying it. Were you to say it as part of telling a story in person I would know how it was meant, were I able to either hear or see you. But on the page? Unless you make the reader know either how it was spoken via a tag, or by making that reader know the speaker’s state of mind, it cannot mean the same thing to the reader as to the writer because intent never makes it to the page. It’s the words, and what those words suggest to a given reader, based on what the words suggest to each reader—based on their life-experience. But in reality, we want the words to mean what they do to the protagonist, because it’s their story. And it can’t be their story if every reader takes a slightly different meaning from the words.

You might want to read the article, Inside Out for a more complete explanation. You’ll find it among the articles in the writing section of my blog.

A lot of words, I agree, to boil down to one statement: Better to show than to tell, because our medium demands that.

2. Our medium has a severe limitation that must be taken into account: it’s serial, while life is parallel. In an eyeblink we see an infinity of things. We glance at a scene and know who’s in it, how they’re dressed, their age and condition, their mood, their status in society, and much more. We see a picture. But on the page we see nothing but what the writer mentions, one thing after another. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So to give even a static picture would take four standard manuscript pages. Several minutes reading to learn what a viewer gets in milliseconds. And worse yet, over 75% of what’s described would be something the protagonist is ignoring.

And did I mention that sound is a parallel sense, too?

The short version: every medium imposes its own set of imperatives and restrictions, so skill in one medium does not transfer, and transcribing the words of a storyteller cannot work.

3. Story matters, but only in retrospect. What makes the reader turn to page two, and onward is the writing. And what matters there is if the writing entertains. Facts are for reports and history books. So having the character remember something so the protagonist will know it is boring. For example. If your protagonist must escape something via acrobatic skills the temptation is to stop the story and have the character remember the summer he spent with the circus, and the details of his learning the skills he needs now and in the future. But that’s a report, and kills the scene’s momentum while that report is given. Instead, we append, “Giving thanks for having spent a summer with the circus as a teen, Jim reached…”
- - - - - - -
So why did I go into so much detail on all this? I wanted you to fully understand why you need to add skills, why those we leave school with aren’t adequate to the task, and why it’s something we all go though.

Nonfiction has a solid goal: inform the reader clearly and concisely. And in service of that goal the writing is fact-based and author-centric. We TELL the reader the situation and facts. An example is a history book. It’s full of intrigue, love, betrayal, and everything we love in a good story. But it’s told in overview by a dispassionate external observer. So there’s neither uncertainty nor emotional content.

But fiction’s goal is to entertain by giving the reader an emotional experience. Readers feed on uncertainty and worry. And that can only come if the future is uncertain for both the character and reader. Not unknown, as in a history book we’re reading, but uncertain, placing the reader into a, “What in the hell do we do now,” situation. So fiction, to accomplish that, is character-centric and emotion-based, which is an approach to storytelling that’s not even mentioned in our school days. And THAT’S what you need to address.

A simple, though not easy, solution. Simple, because it’s a matter of picking up the tricks of the trade, the things the pros use and take for granted. Not easy, because learning any profession takes time, study, and practice.

You mentioned in your letter that friends weren’t much help. They can’t be. First, they can hear your voice as they read, and so have an advantage the average reader doesn’t. But of more importance they have a relationship with you that precludes honesty. So they may say, “It’s not my kind of story,” or, “I couldn’t get into it.” Ben Bova hit it right when he said, “Forget giving your writing to friends. If you can make someone who doesn’t like you say they like it you may have something.”

So…how do you fix the problem? You treat writing as you would any other profession and master it, adding to your knowledge day by day. Writing isn’t a destination. It’s a journey that never ends. And how quickly you move is a function of your needs and time available.

You can, for example, begin with Debra Dixon’s, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict, available for download at any bookseller, or in hard copy from her site. It’s a warm easy read, like a sit-down with Deb to talk about writing. The only down side is that there are books that go into greater detail, like Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer, or Jack Bickham’s, Scene and Sequel. So, depending on your mood, I’d choose one of them as a starting point. They won’t make a pro of you. That’s your job. But they will give you the tools and knowledge to get there if it’s in you.

But whatever you do, hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 2 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

JayG

2 Years Ago

• I want to show their inner struggles over the course of their adventure.

That ha.. read more
Luke Steed

2 Years Ago

(Before I start, I would like to tell you to go to the book version of this same exact story and rea.. read more
JayG

2 Years Ago

Much improved, especially in viewpoint. Well done.

As a suggestion: Wait a few months.. read more

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Added on January 30, 2017
Last Updated on April 23, 2018
Tags: epic, adventure, sci-fi, penguins, suspense, suspenseful, fun

Author

Luke Steed
Luke Steed

Fort Worth, TX



About
My main project right now is Copperoton: the Snatcher Saga, a long sci-fi adventure book. The first couple of chapters are still being worked on, with the first being the most heavily focused on. My o.. more..

Writing