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The Old Riverbed
We walk slowly down the old riverbed. It is long dried up now and holds many secrets of the past. It seemed so familiar, but I knew I had never been there before. An old man was sitting not far ahead. He silently stared at the odd sphere that he holds gently in the palm of his hand.
I stop walking, mesmerized by the sphere. I want it. He finally looked up. His eye sockets were empty; his face void of any emotion. Consumed by horror, I fell to the hard, dry earth, and the world slowly went black.
I woke to the sun shining in my face. My alarm screamed at me to get ready for yet another boring day at school. Sighing, I rolled out of bead and started my morning routine.
“Hurry up, you’re going to miss the bus again,” my mom yelled down the stairs.
“I’m almost done, calm down!” I shouted back.
“Don’t you dare tell me to calm down,” She screamed just as I reached the bottom of the stairs. “You know how much I hate that.”
I reached the bus stop as the bus was pulling out.
“Cr*p.” I whispered, “Not again.”
Luckily Frank saw me in his mirror and stopped. I always knew he liked me.
“Morning Frankie,” I said smiling. “Thanks for stopping.”
Frank is one of the youngest bus drivers I know. His soft, brown hair fell over the brightest green eyes any of us have ever seen. He was covered with tattoos of dragons, skulls, and other things of the sort. It was as if he was trying to look all tough, but he was way too nice for that.
Alex, my best friend and Frank’s cousin, sat in our usual seat in the back. He had almost the same eyes as Frank, but they weren’t near as bright.
School went by painfully slow. All I could think about was the dream I had. It seemed way too real to have just been a dream. Did it actually happen? Surely Alex would have mentioned something about it on the long bus ride. In English class, I was digging through my backpack for my favorite pen. It’s the only one I ever use while writing. As I was rummaging through all of the crumpled up pieces of late homework and other handouts, I came across a hard, round sphere. I didn’t even have to look at it to know exactly what it was. Just to make sure my mind wasn’t playing any tricks on me, I pulled it out from the bottom of my bag. There it was; the sphere from my dream. It shone brilliantly in the light that came through the window behind me.
“Ever, are you paying attention,” asked the snobby teacher, Mr. Anderson. “What have you got there?”
“I don’t really know, sir. I found it in my backpack.” I mumbled.
“Give me it and see me after class.”
Something deep down inside urged me to say no to this man. It screamed for me to run away from this place I have come to trust. I felt nauseas. I listened to that voice deep within and ran. My feet slammed against the cold, white tiles. I ran as fast as I could until I reached the riverbed from my dream. There he was.
The old man sat in the same stupid place, holding the same stupid sphere. “I see you have been chosen as well. You are a bit younger than I suspected, but you will do.” He stated with a cracking voice. It sounded like he hadn’t talked to anyone in years. “Come my dear, I will explain everything.”
I walked up to him and sat down in front of him, “What are these spheres?” I asked him in a shaky voice. “What am I chosen for?”
“All of your questions will be answered.”
That is when I noticed the color of his eyes. They were a light grey, almost silver, speckled with white and black. They looked as if someone poured salt and pepper on them. There was a pain in those eyes; a sorrow that I could not fathom. He was once quite hansom, and the way his face wrinkled led me to believe he had a happy life. Though that happiness is long gone now, a glimmer of it shines in the very depths of his beautiful eyes.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“My name is Oliver. I found my sphere at the age of 30. Soon after that, my wife was murdered by those who are trying to take these from us.” He answered looking far off into the distance, “What’s your name?”
“I’m Ever Moore. I moved here from San Diego about a year ago. It’s too cold here for me. I just want to get out of here and go back home.” I whined as the sky unleashed the first snow of the season upon us. That is when I realized that I forgot my winter jacket at school.
“Come with me, we’ll get you warmed up.”
“Ever! There you are. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” A voice called out from behind me. I turned to see Alex running up the bank carrying my jacket.
We followed Oliver down the riverbed. In the distance, a black shape emerged from thin air. “Run!” Oliver and I screamed together.
We ran as fast as we could, but we were no match for him.
“Stop running all of you,” a voice I have heard so many times before yelled. “I can’t believe it was you all along. I see you almost every day, but I still couldn’t tell it was you. Why didn’t you tell me Ever? I thought we were friends.” He said to me.
“Go away Frank. Leave us alone.” Alex yelled as he moved so that he was between me and Frank.
“Wrong answer,” he smiled and lunged at us. “Give me it, Ever.”
“No,” I shouted and tried to run again, but he tackled me.
Oliver showed up and pulled Frank off of us. Just then everything except me, Alex, and Oliver froze. He walked away and motioned for us to follow. He led us to a small cabin in the middle of the forest. An old mutt was lying in the front porch. It looked up as we walked closer to the house.
As we got inside, I realized the house wasn’t as small as I thought. It had two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen. The hard wood floors gleamed under our feet, and I immediately took off my shoes because I didn’t want to ruin it.
“Ever, your training begins now. Have a seat on the sofa and get warmed up. I will tell you our history when I get back upstairs. Make yourselves at home.” He said as he walked away.
He emerged from the stair case carrying a heavy book. He grabbed a chair from the kitchen table and brought it to sit in front of us. Opening the ancient looking book, he began to read. His voice seemed to float through the air and dance in our ears. We were almost hypnotized from the first syllables he muttered.
After he had read the last sentence, he slammed the book close and broke the trance. We all went to separate rooms to sleep. I was out before my head even hit the pillow.
I woke in a cold sweat. I had no idea where I was, so I frantically searched the dark, dusty room for any hint of my location. Finally I realized that I was still in the old cabin in the woods. I relaxed a little until I realized I was utterly alone in this building. There wasn’t the snoring of the old man, and the lullaby of Alex’s gentle breathing had gone painfully silent. I knew something horrible was about to happen. The worst part about it was that I didn’t know what was about to come.
“H-hello?” I called into the distance not expecting a reply.
Alex moved into my room and covered my mouth. He whispered in my ear, “Shh. Ever, we need to leave. Oliver isn’t the man you think he is. He has you brain washed, so you think that those who are trying to help you are the evil ones. You must come with me, please trust me.”
We ran silently out of the house until we reached the riverbed. Alex took my hand and led me to a hidden cave. I hesitated at the entrance and looked at him.
“How can I trust you?” I asked desperate to understand what is happening to me, “How can I trust anyone anymore?”
“Ever, I know how confusing this must be for you, but I have been sworn to protect you. It is my purpose to keep you safe.”
“So the only reason you even became my friend was because you had to? I thought you were supposed to be earning my trust?”
“At the beginning yes, but after I got to know you for who you really are no. The truth is I love you, Ever.” He said staring at the ground.
Cornish, New Hampshire
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