Spirit of the Season (sample)

Spirit of the Season (sample)

A Story by Haeshin

The spirit of nothingness must band with the four seasons to stop humans from losing all memory of their children.


Kai entered his section of the Four Corners of the Earth, and immediately put himself knee-deep in a drift of snow. He crunched his way out of it and the soles of his boots slid with a faint squeak across a frozen pond. Kai tilted back his head to see over a gray stone wall to the moon shining brightly in the sky.



The milky white light rose from its reflection on his frozen pond. Grooves of water and moonlight curved into spiral lines before they transformed into glowing drapes, wrapping around the slender body of a woman. A slim-fingered hand parted the drapes to touch Kai's face.



“ Hey, Mom,” he said. “ How you been doing?” His mother smiled gently in reply.


“ He did what?” Flames whooshed over the heads of golden wheat. Cyrus stalked through the field that was his Corner of the Earth, stopping short at the small stretch of lake shore. “ Did I hear that right? He erased a girl's memory? HOW!”


“ Turn it down, will you?”


Cyrus was quick to be mad and loud, but he held back his fury while accepting an embrace from Mother Nature. Her gossamer robes were briefly washed with sheets of gold.


“ Kai!” Flower buds burst open as Laverne leapt through a wall of green vines. She giggled with sheer happiness and twirled a few times with her arms outspread, whacking a few of her flower fairies without meaning to. The small creatures whose wings were the petals of peonies, larkspurs, orchids and peach blossoms tumbled over and over in the air. “ Mom!” She leapt forward to get her own hug. Kai wafted a lazy hand in a wave.


“ Hey, Big Sis.” It was a joke to call her that, because Laverne, the spirit of spring, was the oldest sibling of the four as well as the smallest. Green eyes sparkled from the face of a girl that was four feet tall and not a inch more. But spring symbolized rebirth, hope, and life, so Laverne took the form of a human child.


Brilliant colored leaves rustled over stony ground. Elegant and tall, much like her mother, Emer caught the tip of a red-brown leaf as she stepped out of a swirling wind. She was the only one who had the body of a grown human being. Trailing brown sleeves and gray skirts exaggerated how much taller she was than the rest of her siblings, and how much she liked old-fashioned clothes.


“ Hello, everyone,” she said in a soft voice. Emer released the leaf to brush a heavy brown braid over her shoulder. The kiss she gave on her mother's cheek was as light and soothing as a cool breeze.


“ I don't understand. Who has that kind of power?” said Cyrus. “ Nobody we know can erase things like that!”


Mother Nature patted the air with both hands in a 'calm down, calm down' gesture. She would explain if he would just--


“ Kai, wake up!”


“ I'm not sleeping,” he muttered. Kai floundered upright in the snowdrift. Cyrus pinched the skin between his eyes, doing his very best to calm down.


“ All right,” he sighed. “ So some guy...what'd he do with the girl's memory again?”


“ He took it and made it disappear,” said Kai.


“ That's it?”

“ That's it.”

“ HOW!”

“ I don't know. He just...popped the bubble. Then it was gone.”


Four faces turned toward their white-clad mother. Her fine lips moved and spoke in a voice no one else could hear. What they were told made Cyrus's jaw drop.


“ So technically I'm...the middle child?” he gasped. Cyrus stumbled backwards through the wheat. He was too stunned to snap at Kai, who was silent but shaking with held-back laughter. Cyrus had been dethroned as Big Brother!


“ That's not the point,” Laverne snapped. “ The important thing is that I'm not the oldest child!” she wailed. Thunder rumbled close by. Kai raised his arm in a circular motion above his head, creating an arc of cold air as the lightning flashed. The Laverne-made raindrops passed through the air and came down as snowflakes. Emer sat close to a tree that sheltered her from the pelting rain, drawing both feet under the hem of her skirts to keep them out of a puddle. Cyrus just crossed his arms and blinked up at the storm. Each raindrop sizzled into steam before it could touch his head.


The flower fairies were quick to take shelter with Kai or Emer, having done it many times before. They darted from spring branches to hide in the stalks of summer wheat, preferably the dry ones around Cyrus. It always poured rain when Laverne felt suddenly and particularly miserable, making it a whole lot better when she exploded in happiness and flowers.


“ Well, I'm still the youngest,” said Kai. “ Huge change for me.”


“ Well, lucky you,” Laverne said with a pout. She was distracted enough to stop the rain from showering the Four Corners of the Earth. Emer was silent, deep in thought, resting long fingers upon her amber cheek. Kai stepped from his corner to settle down with her in a nest of dry leaves. Emer blinked and turned to him with a smile.


“ So we have a fifth sibling,” she said. “ That's wonderful to know. But why didn't we know before?”


“ Wha...wh...technically he isn't a sibling either!” cried Cyrus. He was just shouting blindly. “ I mean, sure, he's...he's technically family...sort of...but only like a distant cousin, like the stars! Stupid gassy airheads.... What kinda name is 'Nil' anyway!”


Nil was and wasn't one of her children. When the world had been created for the very first time, Nil was also born like a second twin. The world had been planned but Nil was a complete surprise. It could only be assumed that he was born to even out the scales, sitting on one side while the world sat on the other. Beyond that no one knew what to do with Nil until chaos threatened the balance of the world. Nil erased any and all troubles like they were pencil marks on paper. For him it was easy as pie.


But Nil hadn't been fast enough to save the world from serious damage. Mother Nature and Father Time had no choice but to push the reset button, wiping away all life on Earth to start over. This time they also gave birth to the four seasons to protect the balance of the world. Nil couldn't hope to do the job alone.


What did Nil do after these events? He disappeared. Nil went away on his own and was never heard from again. During the few times he had been found, Nil had made it clear that he wanted to be left alone.


“ Wait, so...he's more like an uncle then?” said Laverne. She was getting confused. “ Or a cousin? An older cousin? But wait! If he's like a twin brother to the world, and we're its guardians...but we were all made by Mother and Father, so technically.... Wait. Which is it!” she howled. This was too frustrating!


“ Regardless of how exactly he's related to us, he remains family,” said Emer. “ We have to reach out to him.”


Laverne wailed and thunder clapped, making Kai jump. She wasn't the oldest anymore!


“ And he was last seen...what? Millions of years ago?” said Cyrus. The raindrops burst into tiny puffs of steam before they touched any part of his body. “ What's he back here for? Was he just biding his time for something?”


Mother Nature shook her head. She didn't know, but Nil wouldn't do anything to harm the world. He never had before.


“ What if he's just playing around?”


“ Playing around with what, the memories of humans? He can't be doing that. I mean...it can't be healthy for the humans themselves,” said Cyrus. “ ...Is it?”


“ Before we anything drastic, we should find out exactly why Nil has appeared,” said Emer. “ After all, this could just be a misunderstanding.” Their white-draped mother nodded in agreement.


“ And if he's not doing anything to hurt the world or the humans, then what do we do? Throw him a party? Welcome him into the family? We don't even know if he's an uncle or a brother!”


“ Does that detail even matter?” said Kai. He was already tired of the question. Like Emer said, how exactly Nil was related to them didn't matter. Only the fact that he was family did. They had to connect with him somehow.


“ And if he doesn't mean any goodwill towards humans?” Laverne insisted. “ What then? If he's evil, then even if he's family....”


“ It's our duty as his family to take him in,” said Emer.


“ Or out,” Cyrus said grimly. “ If he goes around messing with the memories of more humans who knows what's going to happen! We don't know,” Cyrus had to admit, “ but we can't risk anything going on when the year's about to end. Every little thing has to be in order before the world turns.”


“ I'll find Nil immediately,” Emer promised. “ Kai should go talk to him when I do.”


Kai raised his head. “ Say what?”


“ You're the one most likely to talk to him calmly. Cyrus would only blow up.”

“ Would not!”

“ Kai? Please?”


There was no way he could refuse his sister. Kai's pale head bowed once to agree. Then the frozen pond under his feet broke apart to plunge him into cold, dark waters only he could survive.





Towns with the word 'Junction' in their name always had something else attached to it. Nil didn't understand why this one didn't. Sunset Junction, Essex Junction, White River Junction, Boulder Junction. Every 'Junction' town he knew of had another word attached to the Junction half. Why didn't this one?


“ Weird,” Nil said to himself.


Well, it didn't matter. He should be wondering about more important things, only the humans were losing memories that weren't all that important. They forgot where they put their keys, did they buy that book already, how long ago did they take a shower, is it two PM or two AM, what's the difference between Diet Coke and regular Coke, and so on, so on, so on. It was nothing that really impacted their lives or tripped them up for more than two seconds. They were all things that the humans could have forgotten on their own. They often did when they were busy or distracted.


“ This is so not worth my time,” Nil muttered, but he hated to think that someone or something was making more work for him. As if he didn't have enough already!


But there weren't a lot of clues to lead Nil anywhere, much less to the cause of the memory losses. They were taking place everywhere. Nil lay flat across the roof of the car and groaned, “ I'm BORED.”


“ You wanna play?”

“ And play what?” Nil muttered.

“ I've got a sled!”


“ Oh, congrats,” Nil said sarcastically. He raised his upper body to sit upright, then he let his spine droop so that he was leaning over his knees. Nil's eyes went down, and met a brown-eyed gaze beneath a cap of knit wool. The boy was smaller than the red plastic sled he stood on one end.


But then, more importantly, the boy was staring straight at Nil.


Just to be sure, Nil looked over his shoulder. There was nothing but blue sky and the rooftops of local stores lined with snow, nothing strange enough to attract a boy's rapt attention. Turning his head back around, Nil looked into the boy's round staring eyes.


“ You can see me?” he said.


The boy mutely nodded. Nil was absolutely sure that he wasn't supposed to be visible to the human eye.


“ Can you hear me?” he asked.


Again the nod.


“ You can?” Nil and Tyler swooped their heads around to see Kai staring at them both. “ He can see you? ...Me? No way!”


“ It's okay. I can see you too,” said Tyler.


That wasn't really a good thing. Kai looked around the intersection and saw the children staring at him. ...Him and Nil. Nil and him. Neither of whom should be seen by humans. The kids stopped playing altogether and were dead quiet instead.


Without warning Nil leapt off the car, but Kai was tense and ready. Nil landed on a slab of ice that froze over the asphalt.


“ Sis, we got a problem!” Kai shouted.


Nil's feet went flying towards the sky and his back slammed to the icy road. He was zipping, spinning, and racing away (completely against his will) down the path of ice and he couldn't stop. Kai gave chase on the crest of a wave that billowed out clouds of snow and carried him away.


'Kai? What's wrong?' Emer could hear all things but she couldn't see them. The children had begun shouting again. Why?


“ The kids can see me!” They were chasing him through town as he was chasing Nil through town. “ And him! Nil's here!”


'What? But they can't! Did you...'


“ No, I didn't flip the switch! They're not supposed to be seeing us!”


Kai looked over his shoulder and saw the kids giving chase. The boy that had been staring at Nil was at the forefront, but they all wanted to see more of Kai's ice magic and why he was chasing after Nil.


Turning his head around, Kai windmilled his arms to come to a halt. He stared down a street flanked by mom-and-pop stores and occupied by no one except human citizens. Where was Nil? The icy layer on the street dissolved when he saw that it was empty. There were no footprints, no scrapings, no sign of anyone having touched the sleek white path.


“ He didn't honestly think slipping me up would be enough.” Nil shook his head and brushed the white frost from his clothes. At the edge of the roof he turned sideways to look at the humans below. Kai was there too, looking for him in a state of confusion, while the pedestrians slipped through him like water. None of the adults seemed able to see the spirit of winter, and that's how it was supposed to be.

© 2013 Haeshin

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Added on February 18, 2013
Last Updated on February 18, 2013
Tags: nil, season, spirit, fantasy, comedy, family, chaos, seasons, gremlin, kids




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