Friday, 6 March 2015

The Ark (Chapter 18)


Chapter 18

‘Bad chutah! Bad chutah!’ Alder shoos So out of the workshop, and at the same time, trying to catch the chutah to open its mouth to get the map out of its mouth.
‘Brod, wait! Don’t!’ Oak tells his older brother, trying to stop him from driving the chutah away. It manages to get out of the house and it runs faster. 
‘We’ll catch him!’ someone yelled and a man with a bowl cut came out of nowhere from the bushes but he misses and another man appeared out of nowhere, this time a bald one and he completely missed the chutah. A man with a bald top and hair on the sides of his head stood in front of the running chutah, looking terrified but standing his ground. So jumps over him and using his back as a leverage to jump higher. Alder and Oak doesn’t waste time and runs after the chutah as this was happening. Then suddenly, So stopped in his tracks. There was a faint sound of a bell. The twins heard it coming from the shade. 
‘There’s a good chutah, So. C’mere, here’s a toy and a treat,’ a man’s voice says. He appeared under the Sigur and So was more than happy to see him. The Chutah started to wag its tail.  ‘Who’s a good Chutah, c’mere, give that back and I’ll give you a treat,’ the man says, holding up a carrot the size of his arms. And his arms were quite large. So spit out the map and sat down obediently. The man threw the carrot towards the shade where they stay. ‘Go fetch!’
Alder and Oak stood there, bewildered at what is happening.
Alder: Who is that guy?
Oak: He looks familiar.
Alder: He does?
Oak: He does.
Alder: How does he know So? 
Oak: He knows about the carrot.
Alder: Where did he get that carrot?
Oak: You noticed those three guys, right?
Alder: Where the derp did they come from?
Oak: I don’t even know if we’re in trouble.
Alder: Oh, not again, brod. 
‘Boys? Is that you?’ Alder and Oak looked at each other in dread. It’s their father.
Oak: What do we do what do we do what do we do???
Alder: Calm down, you’re making me feel panicky too!
‘Mr. Wilnoix! Good to see you!’ the man tells their father. He is apparently not alone. Another man walks alongside him, with a stern look and a white Mohawk.
Their father adjusts his glasses and squinted his eyes. ‘Nay? Brick?’
‘Mr. Wilnoix!!!!’ the bunch of men from earlier shouted in happiness.
‘Moe, Larry, Curly! What in the two seas are you all doing here?’
Alder: Nay? Brick? (shaking his head at Oak)
Oak: Moe, Larry and Curly? (shrugging at Alder)
Captain Nay picked up the worn slimed up map. ‘This,’ he lifts it up for Orange to see it a little more clearly. ‘We need to talk.’
Alder and Oak look at each other in disbelief. What is going on and where is Piscine?
‘You’re that man!’ Piscine says as she struggled to stay balance. 
‘Ah, it’s the Freedom clan girl,’ Captain Nay tells Brick, pointing at her.
‘How do you…?’ Piscine says, her face as confused as the twins and at the same time, she’s trying to balance herself. 
‘Please. Everyone – get in the house. Now,’ a voice boomed from behind them to which Alder and Oak obediently obeyed. They went straight to Piscine, helping her to walk and enter their house.
They settle in a large handmade carpet that Mango made by herself and small throw pillows were scattered about. The walls are lined with statues that the family salvaged for the last hundred years or so. The twins would not have expected Piscine to be amazed by the design or the collection but her face tells a different story. Piscine has never seen such a clean collection of things. She has so many questions. And she remembers that the twins mentioned that their parents were well versed with mythology and the world as they know it. She couldn’t take her eyes off the figurines. They were preserved and cleaned with so much love that the Freedom clans would even be amazed to see this spectacle in front of her. She had no words and she could not keep her mouth closed from all the feelings that she is feeling right now.
Mango coughed and Piscine looked around embarrassed at the people around her. She should kick herself for being so na├»ve.   
‘First, I would like to introduce to you boys, Captain Nay, First Mate Brick, and the infamous trio of the Jupiter crewmen, Moe, Curly and Larry,’ as their father introduce them, they give a little nod which they both return. They have to show respect to their parents’ friends. They hardly have any friends so this is quite new to the twins. ‘They live in Krakatoa and they are responsible for keeping the island safe from other smugglers that get a little greedy,’ their father explains. ‘You don’t usually see them here but they do come home. Oh, and we got our chutahs from these men and they helped us train Do, Re, Mi and So.’ Alder and Oak nod in understanding. No wonder So was responsive towards Captain Nay. ‘Nay, Brick, Moe, Curly, Larry, you all know my boys.’ The crew nod and smile in agreement. 
‘It’s been a while, seeing them now makes me feel much older,’ Brick says as he absent-mindedly fiddled with his white hair Mohawk to which Captain Nay laughed at good naturedly, patting him on the back.
‘And this girl is?’ their mother asks Alder and Oak.
‘This is Piscine,’ Alder introduces Piscine to his family for the first time; he might as well tell them how they met. ‘She was the one who saved us from drowning when we were just four years old.’ Oak smiles at his parents and Mango covers her mouth in disbelief. 
‘Is it true?’ Mango asked, taking Piscine’s hand with hers.
‘Yes. I did. I…’ 
‘You have our eternal gratitude, child,’ Mango tells her, squeezing her hand gently. ‘I can finally say thank you to the person who saved their lives,’ she tells her. 
‘She’s from the Freedom clan, Mamu,’ Oak tells her, hoping that there isn’t anything wrong with it.
‘Yes, Oak. Captain Nay here was very helpful for pointing that out,’ 
Piscine is blushing. The twins’ mother has not let go of her hand. She remembered her mother’s tenderness and she wondered if will ever find her again. ‘You are welcome but I just did what is right,’ she tells her honestly.
‘Thank you again,’ Mango tells her, full of gratitude. ‘Now, you say that you know these men?’ Mango asks Piscine, waving a hand to the Jupiter’s crew’s direction. 
‘Yes. I see them every fortnight, killing unknown marine creatures with such efficiency that I can’t even believe my eyes when I watch them,’ The Captain and Brick high five as if on cue. Moe, Curly and Larry nudge each other, mouthing ‘good job’ at one another. 
‘Why would you be outside the lines of Krakatoa, Nay?’ the twins father asked. 
‘Will it be too crazy if I told you that we’re killing the marine creatures that could potentially destroy Krakatoa and turn it into a nesting area instead?’ Captain Nay asks sarcastically.
‘Everything is extravagant with you. All glory and guns blazing,’ Mango tells Captain Nay, shaking her head at him disapprovingly. 
‘Just sometimes,’ Captain Nay replied defensively. ‘The reason that I know there are larger creatures outside the lines is because of Sebleng,’ he said, shrugging.
Alder and Oak look at each other, they know the name sounds familiar. Piscine looks very confused. ‘You know who Sebleng is?’ she asked him
‘Yea, we’re bros. He asked me for help,’ Captain Nay replied casually.
Piscine’s eyes grew wide in surprise. ‘Since…how…when did the clan leader as you to help?’ 
‘Three years ago?’ Captain Nay answered Piscine, as he counted his fingers, trying to remember how many years has it been since Sebleng approached them about the Ark’s unconventional marine lifeforms. 
‘I thought that was against the law? Being in contact with city dwellers?’ Piscine tells them, looking at anyone who would actually know the Freedom clans’ law. In all honesty, Piscine did not know how to feel about what just happened. She wasn’t sure if she was living a lie or if the whole clan were just taken for a ride. 
‘Maybe the ordinary folks were not allowed but the leaders were?’ Oak said, trying to helpful.
‘It is not easy being a leader, little lady. Sometimes you have to make decisions based on what you think is right at that time even if it means doing it against what you believed in. You know the whole greater good scenario and such. It’s no big deal,’ Captain Nay tells her as he looks around his crew for instant approval. 
‘Yea boss! Listen to her little lady!’ Moe said to Piscine.
‘The boss is right! It’s no big deal!’ Curly said to Piscine, pointing at her, his mouth upturned and he’s nodding his head.
‘Yeah….woooo…’ Larry says, waving his hand over his head, ‘I can’t think of anything else to say coz they already said it…’ he told Piscine sheepishly.
Piscine looked at them strangely and nodded her head slowly. 
‘Tales is at Pelee!’ Captain Nay tells Orange, looking like he almost forgot to tell him about Tales. 
‘I haven’t heard that name in a while.’ Orange’s eyes are squinted but there’s a determined look on his face. ‘The last time I saw him…’ and a flashback can be seen with Orange in front of a table with piles of thick dry seaweed. Orange is probably in his teens, smiling and waving shyly at the crowd of people gathered in front of them. 

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

The Ark (Chapter 17)


Chapter 16


‘What was that?’ Oak asked Piscine as soon as they regrouped. Coupe resurfaced as well but Piscine made a signal which to the twins surprise, the creature understood. Piscine made Coupe only resurface with only his head floating out. 
‘Iron birds but I have not seen one before, ever,’ Piscine confessed. ‘My mother told me to be aware of them and the only ones I know who has them is Sebleng,’ she looked worried as she was thinking of what to do next. Too many things happening at the same time, what is going on?
‘Do you think they saw your ship?’ Alder asked, concerned.
‘I can’t be certain. Perhaps they have,’ Piscine said. ‘I wonder where they are going and most importantly, why are they flying over here. But we have a grave task to deal with,’ Piscine said becoming quite serious.
‘What is it?’ Alder asked while Oak looked on, unsure what is happening.
‘Coupe is evolving.’ Piscine tells them.
‘Pardon? Evolving?’ Oak said, unsure whether he just heard Piscine correctly.
‘He’s got four webbed feet right now. Earlier, he had two,’ Piscine holding up the two symbol with her hand. Coupe beeps. 
‘Didn’t he meep before?’ Alder asked this time. 
‘Yes he did.’
Alder and Oak dives down to check the coconut duck’s feet and lo and behold, it had not two but four webbed feet and it beeps instead of meeping. The twins resurface and nodded at Piscine.
‘He’s got four webbed feet, alright,’ Oak said, ‘Is it…’ he trails off because he realized the coconut duck is watching him and it seemed to be listening intently to what he is about to say. ‘Is it a bad change?’ he whispered to Piscine. 
‘I don’t know,’ Piscine confessed. ‘I know what these creatures are called but I do not know about how they evolve. He came from the Ark. That is all I can tell you.’
‘Coupe came from the…? Why do I feel like this isn’t a good thing?’ Alder says as he looks at the coconut duck that also turned blue and purple instead of orange and yellow that it was previously. ‘Can he still swim?’
‘Yes, of course! I am just worried that his temperament might be a little off and I don’t want anything bad to happen since we are using him to go back to Krakatoa,’ Piscine explains.
‘Use him to go back? I don’t get it,’ Oak said, confused.
‘Just do what you did before. Hang on to his back and I’ll instruct him to swim back to Krakatoa. He’ll be tall enough to reach your house without having to step onto the land. We have to hurry. I am feeling restless seeing those iron birds,’
The twins agree and swim onto the evolving coconut duck’s back. This time when it beeped, its voice seems a little deeper and stronger. When Piscine held on to its neck, she signalled to the twins to hold on tighter and once they held on tighter, the evolved coconut duck shot through the waters like a bullet. Alder held on to the coconut duck as tightly as his hands can grip, the same goes for Oak whose face looks flattened by the intensity of the coconut duck’s speed. 

Not too far from them, the Jupiter floated on its own, remaining incognito. 
‘Any news from Moe, Larry and Curly?’ Captain Nay asked Brick as he continued looking into the periscope.
‘They’re at the Wilnoix house, Captain.’
‘The kids are going back home it seems,’ he turned to go to the wheelhouse, Brick quickly follows him. ‘Tell them to stay there as a precaution. The iron birds are a rare sight but it is quite disturbing to see them out in the open. Let’s go home, men. To Krakatoa!’ the crew burst in shouts and the stern trawler called Jupiter came back to life, engine roaring to the direction of Krakatoa.

Suddenly the coconut duck came to a halt and it started to resurface from the calm waters. They look up and they see Krakatoa just a few miles from them. 
‘Which way is your house?’ Piscine asked the twins.
‘Over the hill, we can go around easily,’ Oak answered.
Piscine managed to instruct the coconut duck on where to go next. Alder and Oak thought it was an impressive skill because she’s just met the creature. Soon, they were facing the hill with their house on. The twins climb up on its neck and onto its head to get them to the back kitchen area where they caught Re eating part of the kowfish. Re notices them but only saw the coconut duck. Its eyes widen in fear and start to back away slowly from the kowfish. It runs away as quickly as its legs can take it. 
‘Oh no. I hope it doesn’t wake up the rest of them,’ Alder says as he watched the Chutah run like the wind.
‘Ate our fish…now we know who does,’ Oak says, shaking his head. Oak looks around and realized he couldn’t see Piscine. He looked back and she was still standing on top of Coupe’s head. ‘Er…what are you still doing there?’ 
‘Nothing, just standing here, please do not mind me, really,’ she tells Oak.
The truth is, she is scared. Many people from her clans have said that when you step on land, there is no turning back. The feeling of coming back to solid earth is a different feeling. You will feel the earth move around you, the waves of the water will be sensed in a different way, the way your feet will feel when it finally touches the earth, proper land, will be intoxicating that whatever you do, you will keep wanting to feel the stability the land gives you. And she doesn’t want that or maybe she does. She’s quite conflicted. 
‘Don’t be silly, Piscine. No one is here. The Sigurs at the workshops have all been tapped off, that means our parents are asleep or are in the upper quarters so it’s fine. C’mon here so we can show you the map,’ Oak tells her, trying to reassure her.
‘No, I’m good here, seriously. I will just wait right here so I can look after Coupe, you know, just in case,’ she explains. She hopes that Oak won’t ask any other questions. 
‘Okay, we’ll bring it out here. C’mon, Oak.’ Alder tells his younger brother, signalling him to follow.
They both go in the dark workshop and even if it was dark, they remember where everything is so it was quite easy for both of them to go through. The Sigurs are still swimming around their large bottles which would probably look like an aquarium from the old days but now, it’s just a plain bottle where you keep the Sigurs. 
‘Do we leave a note if we ever do decide to go with Piscine?’
‘No. We won’t. We’ll come back, hopefully with something good to sell, who knows.’ 
‘Oh no…’ Alder looks at the direction his younger brother is looking at and there was So, munching on something old and something beautiful. 
‘The map…’

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)

The Ark (Chapter 16)


Chapter 16

‘Are you guys talking again?’ Piscine asked the twins. Piscine lost her train of thought and she hated it when it happens but everything being said is important right now.  Alder and Oak both looked at her, guilty expressions on their faces.
‘N..no,’ Alder says, stuttering.
‘We were…we were trying to stretch our facial muscles. You see…’ Oak demonstrates but does it so badly that Piscine couldn’t help bursting out laughing.
And she wouldn’t stop.
Alder and Oak had to wait for a while for her to stop. She would look like she is going to stop and but then she starts to burst out laughing again. 
‘I’m sorry. I can’t breathe. Goodness. You both are so zheng, you don’t even know it,’ Piscine shakes her head, still smiling. ‘You don’t have to give me excuses. I’ve read that twins,’ she points at them one by one, ‘can talk to each other without really speaking. Something similar to mind speaking. They are not aware of it but of course, it’s different for us. To twins, it’s an everyday kind of life thing. It’s normal for you both.’
Alder and Oak turned to look at each other.
Alder: I don’t get it.
Oak: Me neither.
Piscine sighs. ‘Hello, you are doing that again!’
Alder and Oak look at her with confusion, shaking their heads. In all honesty, they don’t understand what Piscine meant. For them, what they do is as normal as speaking to another person. 
‘Piscine, we are still trying to understand what you mean but let us tell you something. Earlier on, we told you that there’s this road map we found earlier today when we were fishing. We found this kowfish that has three horns, very rare.’ Alder says nodding, impressed with the find.
‘Inside that kowfish, is a plastic bottle,’ Oak tells her, nodding at her as well, his face completely serious. ‘And in that plastic bottle, is the road map, according to Mamu anyway.’
It was quiet for a moment and it seemed that it didn’t register to Piscine’s mind what they had just told her.
‘Your mother told you it was a road map?’ Piscine finally said.
‘Yes!’ the twins exclaim excitedly.
‘She must know more?’ Piscine asked, curious. 
‘She didn’t say much about it and we lost interest because it’s a road map that we can’t use,’ Alder tells her, his right eyebrow arched. Piscine wasn’t sure if he was trying to look serious because he looked kind of funny to her but she does not say it.
‘And we don’t know how to read it!’ Oak tells her honestly, Alder’s face went from serious with an eyebrow arched to rather annoyed that his younger brother told her that they didn’t know anything about it. So much for having the hot factor, Alder thought.
‘Where is the map?’ Piscine asked, hoping for the worst. They might have torn it to shreds or thrown it into the water. ‘And why are you telling me about this map again? You both mentioned this map twice before.’
‘Because, it has the word ‘Ark’ on it,’ Oak told her, looking at his older brother for support. ‘Mamu said it was a road map to the Ark. We figured you may know something about it and the roads which we have no clue of. Anyway, it’s with Papi. I’m not sure what they did with it. I’m sure they still have it.’

And just as Oak said what he told Piscine about the map, their parents are at home, looking at the very map that has the name in big bold letters, ‘Ark’ on it.
‘What do we do with it, Orange?’ Mango asked her husband.
‘This map is cursed. Best not tell the boys.’ Orange tells his wife.
‘I heard about this…,’ Mango looked behind her, listening for her sons, ‘Ark from my father,’ she tells her husband, whispering this time. ‘He says that so called legendary circus trainer is actually a mad man. He collected all sorts of animals, insects, anything you can think of, cloned them, put them together,’ she tells him, disgusted at the thought. 
‘Yes, mi amore. My father told me stories about it too. In the beginning, I thought it was just stories to tell the children to behave and not swim at night, which is forbidden, but you know how children are and rules. Anyway, as I grew up, the myths of the Ark became more and more real. I am seeing creatures in the sea that are not something we’ve seen these years. It’s not a good omen.’ 
‘But there are always new creatures, Orange. Surely it’s not because of that.’ Mango tells her husband, feeling a little worried but trying to stay positive.
Orange sighs. ‘Maybe. I guess we do have to be positive. Right! Let’s just throw it away. We don’t need it.’
‘No! I want it! I want to keep it!’ Mango protested.
‘But you just said it was cursed!’ Orange replied to his confusing wife.
‘Yes, but you don’t come across maps like this all the time.’ Orange nods towards his wife. ‘Fine, we’ll send it to the family’s collection – will that be alright?’
‘That’s good. Let me at least have a look at it before you do,’ Mango tells her husband who agreed with her. 
‘It’s late. The map is not going anywhere. Let us go to bed and study it in the morning.’
Orange and Mango tapped various large bottles which housed a creature that looked like jellyfishes. It gave off a bright light and when you tapped the bottle, it switches off its light but it doesn’t stop swimming around. These creatures are called Sigurs. They are easy to find but you have to travel a long way to find them. They live in between the Warm Waters and the Other Waters which makes it a very long, arduous journey. They also live a very long time and they don’t need to be fed. Unless they feel threatened, they would attack but these creatures are actually peaceful creatures in the wild. Outside the reed house, three shadows can be seen standing outside. 
It stopped snowing at the spot where Piscine’s ship is floating. The trio are sitting on the floor, contemplating their next move. 
‘We could just go and get it so you can see it, Piscine,’ Alder suggested.
‘We can just take it from home or you can come along with us,’ Oak gave Piscine a big smile. Oak thought it would be nice if Piscine saw their home. She’s always stayed close to the water because she always thought it is safer. ‘It’s night time, Piscine. I don’t think anyone is awake and we’d take the long way. It will just be for a while and if you feel the need to leave, we’re just right next to the waters anyway – if it makes you feel any safer.’
‘I know what you’re thinking Oak, but I know how we can get to your house without having to sneak up on land.’ Piscine says, grinning with her toothy grin. ‘Are you both warm enough? It seems to be warmer again,’ Piscine said as she pointed outside the ship. Alder stood up to look. Oak took a little longer to stand because he is still on the floor of the ship. 
‘I’ll check,’ Alder said and went towards the door. He opened the door with slow caution and he started to feel the air come into the deck. It was not as cold, just a little breezy. ‘Ahhh, it feels better now, brod,’ he tells Oak who is still on the floor, looking cautious.
Oak crawls like a caterpillar towards the door. As he felt the warmer air, he rolls out from the blanket and jump stands. Oak forgets that they are floating and it shakes the ship which makes them both a little disoriented. Piscine smiles at the twins’ mortified faces. 
‘It’s alright, you will both get used to it,’ she tells them as she makes her way outside, passing them both. Alder and Oak follows her and she stands at the edge of the ship. ‘Follow me, water babies,’ she adjusts her goggles as she says that, she falls down to the calm waters, not making a splash or sound that they can hear. Alder and Oak looks down at where she fell and they felt a little dizzy. They have never been this high before, ever. 
‘C’mon Oak, we can do this,’ Alder tells his brother bravely, even if his knees feel weak. Oak does not reply and is holding on to the rail at the edge of the ship. ‘We can’t jump this high, I don’t think adventure is for us,’ Alder tells him as he slowly makes his way up the edge of the ship, adjusting his goggles.
‘What are you doing?!’ Oak asked his older brother, flabbergasted with panic.
‘C’mon, Oak! If I can make the jump, so can you!’
‘It’s a little too high, brod,’ Oak says still not letting go of the rails.
‘We have to jump!’ Alder’s voice has changed. Oak looks behind him and a little further away, he can see figures that look like birds. But it can’t be birds because it’s much too large to be a regular flying creature. It was gigantic and it made a lot of noise.
‘Let’s jump, brod. No more thinking,’ Alder says as she gets down from the edge to pull up his younger brother to him. ‘That doesn’t look good and we have to get out of here.’
Alder jumps, holding on to his brother’s arm, who doesn’t make a sound. The feeling of falling is indescribable to the twins. It feels like everything of your insides is going out of your mouth and your feet won’t stop tingling as if it’s being tickled and scratched at the same time and there is nothing you can do about it but wait for it to stop. Alder and Oak felt like it was the longest time of their lives and when they finally hit the water, there was no splash or sound. Alder opened his eyes and Oak is looking at him. They saw Piscine holding on to Coupe signalling them to stay where they are. The twins look up and they can’t see what is going on but they heard the muffled sounds of something passing. They did not even swim towards Piscine and Coupe in fear that they will be seen or heard by those things in the sky. They noticed Piscine swimming towards them and she signalled for them to resurface. 

(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)