Beth Walker #2

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My mouth still hangs open from the sudden awareness of my world being turned upside down. I mindlessly file through the gates of the ship and stare at Cameron’s back. Wondering if he has the same look on his face right now. Wondering if he is questioning all of this, or if he is actually believing this crap. The weird part is that I sort of believe it. In fact it doesn’t seem like crap at all to me now, it sorta makes sense and at least seems possible. Possible enough to make me almost believe what these kidnapping creeps are saying.

I’ve always been like this though, and I still am. Until I was six years old I believed in mermaids. My mom would always tell me that mermaids ‘weren’t real’ or that they ‘didn’t exist,’ but I would just laugh and say, “Silly human, you think your so smart! You have explored five percent of the ocean on Earth, we have discovered twenty.” To answer your question, yes, I was one of the weirdest kids in my class.

As soon as I stepped off the ramp, a light breeze caught my hair and a sweet fragrance filled my nose. But I wasn’t focusing on that for long. As the line made a turn onto a dirt pathway, a great dome filled half of the sky.

It resembled the ship I had just been on. It had a polished white surface that was sparkling in the sunlight. It also had white hexagons covering the dome making it look like an all white soccer ball.

Soccer. I played soccer with my dad when I was little. I close my eyes and my eye sockets fill with tears. I quietly cry to myself and let the people control me for the rest of the way to the dome.   

When we get to the dome, the tears had already subsided. I rub my dried out eyes and look up. Now that I am closer to the dome I realize that there are four others. The domes are in a circular position and have doors with pathways that lead all the way to the horizon. I squint and try to look where the paths lead but am soon looking at a white wall. “Hmph,” I say annoyed. I look forward and am met with something I would have never guessed I would see.

Everywhere around the dome is a civilization of creatures. These creatures vary in colors, from red to purple. And let me just tell you, they look strange. They sort of look like humans, except for the huge heads, the enormous black eyes, and the fact that they look like they’re made out of Jell-O. Each creature was slightly transparent, and had spects of other colors everywhere too. With their skinny bodies and egg shaped heads, I can’t see how they even walk without toppling over. Hopefully inside those big heads they have big brains too.

“These are your fellow Zemainiens. Everyone can turn into either a human or a Zemainien these days because of years of mating with your kind,” says our guide. “As you can see I am in my human state right now. If I focus…” All of a sudden he was one of them, his color was red. He stayed there for about ten seconds before moving on.

As we walk across the dome the guide mentions some other things like where the bathrooms  and where the sleeping quarters are. But I’m not paying attention, I’m paying attention to the noise coming from the door parallel to the ones we just came out of. There was screaming and chanting of things I could not understand. But I noticed that as the guide walked along the stretch of the dome, we were getting closer and closer to the double doors.

The door is white, except for a little space in the middle that was slightly transparent. If you looked close enough, you could see silhouettes of people laughing and screaming and chanting. What were they chanting about?

“And now you will be taking the test to see which element you will get into,” she says smiling. “But before we go inside let me just say, the konkurencija, can be intense.”

Um…

“What does konkurencija mean?” asks Cameron (eager to learn as always).

“It means competition.” She opens the doors and pushes our group inside. “Good luck!” The doors slam shut and the entire room goes quiet to look at us. The empty silence gnawing at my conscience. Then someone in the crowd stands up and screams, “VODA!” That entire section of the room screams it too, and everyone is back to cheering. In the back of the stadium, a woman rises from a throne. She takes the microphone and says, “Welcome,” I think I see where this is going. “TO THE KONKURENCIJA OF ZEMJATA!”

I walk forward to Cameron and he puts his arm around me. “Well this is not going to be fun,” he says, his voice cracking.

“Everyone get into lines!” says the woman at the end of the stadium. “Hello! I am your loving Queen Tamika! I welcome you to going our world and full fill your destiny in your element! There will be five tests, a test for each element. When everyone is in their lines we will begin, but as we all know…”

Everyone in the stadium starts joining in. “You would rather be safe, than sorry!”

“Good, good! So let’s get on with some rules: one person in the test at a time, you may not harm another person before they go into the test, and last of all if you don’t pass the test move on to the next one know one likes a drag.” She laughs politely with her subjects. “Okay ready, set, go!”

“The Voda or should today I say Water test takes place in a pool. As you can see everyone is getting our specially modified wet suits. After they put those on, they will jump into the middle of the pool. People will surround the pool. The test takers task, oh! A tongue twister everyone! Say it with me! The test takers task! Ah! I just love those tongue twisters! Anyway, the test takers task, is too try to get out of the pool but any time they come to the edge, one of the people surrounding the pool will push you back in. If you are a Water element, you will use your water powers to lift you up from the pool, and knock down the people who are pushing you around. You have ten minutes to complete each test. Now onto the Life element…”

I gulp, knowing that I’m the sixth person in line for the Water element test. I get handed a wet suit, and shakily start to slide my legs into the cloth.

The ten minutes for the first person had ended, and he moves on to the life element test. The next person does a cannonball into the pool and makes a splash. He attempts to pull one of the people in the pool with him, but they just let go and he falls in again.

Four more people to go then it’s my turn.

The wet suit is hot and sweaty by the time the third person goes. After five minutes, he surprisingly passes the test by making waves on every side of the pool leaving him standing there in the empty pool. The Water Zemainiens welcomed him by hugging him and screaming “VODA!” in his face.

Three more people left.

I am unzipping the wet suit, longing for the cool breeze that I saw earlier. The Voda fill up the pool with their powers. I fluff my shirt as the fourth person awkwardly sits on the edge and falls in. She goes to the middle of the pool very slowly, and then walks to the side of the pool really slowly. She gets up and tries to grab onto the person’s hand as they try to push her out and hangs there struggling until the timer runs out.

Oh god, Cameron’s turn.

He walks to the edge of the pool and jumps in. His head bursts through the top of the water. “Good luck,” I say to him. He responds with a simple nod and swims to the middle of the pool. He swims to the right side of the pool and looks the person standing above him in the eyes. Then as quick as lightning, he grabs the person by the ankle and yanks him into the pool. He gets out and cheers for himself.

Oh sweet, innocent Cameron.

“Um, you did not pass the test. The task was to use your powers to get out of the pool, not your mind,” says the Queen.

“Dang it!” he drops his arms and starts walking towards the life element line. My arms are shaking.

It’s my turn.

My face hits the water when I dive in the pool, my sweat dissolving in the liquid. The ice cold water a shock at first but then soothing after a while. I open my eyes and see that the pool is surprisingly deep. I keep swimming till the middle of the pool. I slick my hair back and settle it on my shoulder blades when I come up for air.

Okay how am I going to do this?

I guess I could try to go direct, I could try could go back and forth and back and forth and try to wear the people out. I think I’ll try that.

I move quickly to one side and try to get out. They push me in, I try the other… they push me in. I try again, and again, and again, and again, and again… they push me in every single time.

“Argh!” I scream, frustrated at the fact that I’m not home right now, my parents are dead, I’m in a parallel universe, and there is no way to get back home!

I start to cry but as soon as the first tear rolls down my cheek the Queen says, “You’ve passed the test!” I look down and notice I’m floating on water, and the people surrounding the pool have been knocked down and soaked with water. I let out a laugh and then try to focus.

I close my eyes and imagine the water moving towards the surface, and placing me softly on the ground. I feel the water on my legs slowly untangle itself from my body and set me down on the edge of the pool.

When I open my eyes, I’m sitting there. With my legs in the water just as I had imagined.

Some people lift me by the arms and walk me to the Voda section, like the guy before me they welcomed me by patting me on the back and screaming, “VODA!” in my face.

 

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