My Ranking Points
Murphy’s Law. It was the only possible solution to the mess of mistakes. From being kidnapped to ending up in police custody for a few weeks with Tasman dying and Piper and Jared injured, it was the only solution Cali could conceive of. And now, to end up stranded in to middle of nowhere instead of where they wanted to be so that he could at least see his family or friends…
It hurt, the way Tasman seemed just okay with all of this. Cali was sure it was for her benefit and the others, but she almost would have felt better if he was crying and flaming mad. He must be feeling some of those things on the inside, at least. No one could watch their body slowly die like this and be at inner peace.
Their first task was to figure out where they were. Trees surrounded them everywhere, gentle green leaves casting soothing shadows on the ground as sunlight got filtered in in little beams. Brantler and Andros were the first to go off and explore, of course, leaving the others all behind. They came back after almost no time at all, talking about a sandy white beach and crashing waves. That was when the scariest idea of all was mentioned.
That beach could be it. It could be the whole circumference, surrounding them completely on all sides like a cage or a picket fence. If so, that was it. They would have to just wait there trapped in the middle of the ocean and waiting for nothing. Tasman would be a doll laid out for the termites, and Jared and Piper’s wounds could be infected. Brantler and Rachel were the only ones who had actually
seen a boat, so there was no way any of them could possibly build one.
They were doomed.
But as Zathreen reminded them, like the perfect, pristine princess she was, they didn’t know for sure that it was an island. The roommates had reported water as far as they could see, but that was just one side of the island. Who knew where they really were. This could be in Camelot, they could be hours away from the school or Tasman’s home.
Where, Cali reminded herself, nothing would change. The odds were so low that his mother had found something. Based on the date in the letter, Tasman’s father had started transforming before him. And if she had started searching for a cure a little after that…that was still under a month of looking. Even as a well educated queen, her Majesty was probably doomed. Tasman would become inanimate and spend the rest of eternity in a shell, watching other people and listening to their boring old conversations without being able to act in any way shape or form. Probably before summoning up enough courage to tell Cali he had feelings for her.
Cali just couldn’t wait for the Snow Ball.
So Jared and Piper stayed where they were with Tasman, and the others paired up to see how far the island lead.
“Before the sun sets,” Jared reminded them. “And stay in a perfectly straight line. No drifting or zigzagging. Try to time you walk as best you can so you’ll know if you get lost on the way back.”
“And most important of all is to stay together.” Andros grabbed Brantler’s arm and towed him a little to the left of where they had found the beach.
Bree walked over to Cali, and they marched off towards a rather large oak tree. They were silent for just a little bit, marching along wordlessly through the thick undergrowth, looking down at their feet to make sure they were on a straight path.
“What are you going to do when you get home?” Cali didn’t even glance at Bree as she spoke.
“What do you mean?”
“Will you go back to school with us and leave Adam right after you got him back? Will he come with you to Good so soon after everything he went through? Will you leave and just stay at home where you were before all of this happened?”
Bree sighed, finally looking up at Cali instead of her feet.
“I don’t know. I’m going to spend a while at home, and try to figure things out. I want to come back, though. Maybe I’ll talk to Adam about it, and we’ll come back for next semester.
“Anyway, we should be talking about you.”
“There’s nothing to say about me!” Cali was still drilling holes into the ground with her gaze. They kept pace, striding over and over again through the thin grass and thick bundles of leaves. It seemed impossible that the woods would ever end, much less give in to an environment fit for an ocean.
“Of course there is! Your boyfriend-”
“Tasman is not my boyfriend! Are you five?”
“-is turning into a puppet. You have to have some tough feelings now. Spill.”
“I gave you about 5 minutes to think and that’s what you come up with?”
Gazing at the ground, Cali shrugged. “What else is there to say? It really, really, really suc*s. Just watching him here, so normal and happy like it doesn’t bother him at all. I just sort of wish it would happen, now, so I didn’t have to keep thinking about it and being afraid of how I’ll feel when it does . But on the other hand, I wish he would just stay like this forever and nothing would even happen. And what if I’m rushing this whole love thing because I think he’s gonna die soon and never come back so it doesn’t really matter if we are actually compatible as a couple or really feel that way about each other because this is the only part of the relationship we really have to deal with, the bittersweet tail end of unestablished love?”
Even more walking.
“My name is Agnes, you know?”
“Of course I know, I’m your roommate. I thought you wanted to talk about my relationship drama like a phycologist.”
Bree sighed. “I did, but then I realized how always that would be. I’ve only known you for a few months, him for less, and I really have no experience when it comes to love outside of what I’ve read about. I’ve never even liked a boy, come to think of it.”
“Oh.” Cali was beginning to think that they had died and landed in some time loop where everything was trees. The boys had found a beach in minutes, and all they had was boring old wooden sticks coming from the ground. “So why were you telling me about your name?”
“Because Bree is actually my middle name. I wanted to be a princess like in all the stories when I was a little girl in Adefis, and Agnes wasn’t a pretty name that a princess would have. It wasn’t even a villain name, it was just…a name. So I started going by Bree because that was something a princess could be called.”
She paused for a moment, and the sound of crickets rushed in. Sunset was fast approaching.
“Adam never stopped calling me Agnes, though. He wanted to be a prince,a nod we would play together, pretending we were royalty already. That was always his problem, I guess. He could never be anything except for what he was. It got him bullied so much at home, I’d never thought it could be a good thing. Now, I’m jealous.”
Cali felt sympathy for the girl. Life might have been hard for her, always running away from the police and whatever monster happened to be patrolling the woods at the time, but at least she had been free. She was just about to reach out and comfort her when-
Cali looked up for the first time since they had left.
Sure enough, a thick gray cloud was spiraling up I to the sky in a thin column, not like the mass of smog that comes from forest fires.
Forgetting the straight line rule, Goldilocks’s daughter picked up her heels and sprinted towards the smoke. Branches reached out and tried to pull her down to the dirt, but she kept going as they raked across her bare skin. She could hear breathing close by, and knew her roommate was close behind her.
Then they came to a stop. Cali had been right, there was no random fire in the middle of the woods.
The dark smoke was spiraling from the chimney of a cozy wooden house, a house surrounded by many others just like it.
They weren’t on an island after all!
Terrific. Amazing POV and choice of words. If I had one critique, it would be that some of the sentences seemed to stumble over each other, rather than flowing smothly. Really good though.
WOAH!!!! That is seriously like the longest chapter I have seen yet. Pretty good, I say, pretty good!!!