Main Body

Catherine W., 12 years old

July 22nd, 2021

Wild Ideas Writing Contest

Something Wild This Way Pulls

            Ten minutes before everything went wrong, fifteen-year-olds Luke and Anisha were running home from school, just having finished plastering posters on the walls about the environment.

They had barely managed to avoid Jacoby and his posse, the worst thugs in school. Anisha especially hated them, for their horrible attitudes, no concern for other people’s feelings, and tendency to beat up anyone when adults were scarce. Worst still, they had absolutely no love for the environment. They wrecked the school gardens. Threw trash everywhere. Broke off bark from the trees. Luke had to hear Anisha’s rantings almost every day. However, recently she had been less angry and more… depressed.

“Thanks for your help, Luke.” Anisha smiled, yet it didn’t reach her eyes, and she stared wistfully off into space.

“No prob. What’s wrong?”

“It’s just… no one cares about the environment anymore! All everyone does care about is the latest video game or the newest technology! It makes me sick to see that this amazing, beautiful world is being disregarded and taken advantage of!”

She led Luke over to the nearby park and plopped down on a bench overlooking a small lake. At first glance, nothing but the pristine, picture-perfect nature occupied the park. Upon closer examination, however, there was litter and trash in all the nooks and crannies. Some were higher up in the trees, others twirled lazily on the surface of the lake. Still others were splayed out on the grass, dropped carelessly without a second thought.

The strangest thing about the landscape was how the air remained fresh, without the slightest trace of smog, the water a clear, calm blue, and the grass a healthy green. There was no pollution and no global warming, which was saying quite a bit, with the amount of smoke and the burning of fossil fuels in factories being so grandiose. Anisha fingered her necklace, a habit she often exhibited whenever she was upset, a long, silver chain that had a pure white crystal entwined in the middle. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have had such an outburst.”

“Anisha, you shouldn’t be sorry,” Luke tipped her chin up and looked into her dark eyes, blocked slightly by her honey-colored hair that flowed down to her waist. Brushing his own black hair out of his chocolate-brown eyes, he said, “The world is going to waste and nobody is really doing anything about it but you.” Luke grinned. “If anything, Jacoby and his little posse should be sorry for not putting deodorant on after gym.”

Anisha laughed, and was just about to respond when Luke felt himself get shoved hard from behind. He toppled off the bench and slammed into the ground before he could stop himself. Pain shot through his body, and Luke shakily stood up, his vision blurred from tears of pain, nose bleeding. He saw Anisha struggling against the grasp of one of Jacoby’s cronies, an ugly red-haired boy with blotches that must have been at some point freckles, named Peter. Before Luke could move to help her, Marco, a squat figure whose hair looked more yellow than blond, had Luke’s arms pinned behind his back. Standing in front of them was Jacoby himself, arms folded across his chest with a look of grim satisfaction on his face. His posse seemed to have grown, for behind him were three identical yet indescribable things that did not look entirely human.

“Well. Well. Well. What do we have here?” Each syllable, Jacoby took a step closer to Luke until he could smell his rancid breath. “Two environmental nerds talking trash ‘bout us? Didn’t know you were that brave.”

“Didn’t know you were that smart,” Luke snarled, fighting Marco’s grip. “Knowing how to say ‘environmental.’”

Jacoby set his jaw, his eyes flashing angrily. But instead of lashing out like he usually would have, he turned to Anisha, his sights focused on her necklace, which upon hitting the light glittered emerald green, sapphire blue, and amethyst purple.

Anisha was oblivious to Jacoby’s gaze, and instead her terrified stare was focused on the three strange triplets, and she seemed to be fighting harder than ever before. Jacoby nodded toward the triplets. “Get me that necklace. It would look good in my collection.”

They stalked forward, and the middle one snapped the cord off Anisha’s neck so hard it left angry red lines.

“NO!” she shrieked, thrashing.

Jacoby smirked. “Bring it here,” he commanded, holding out his hand.

Instead of listening to him, the middle one threw back his head and laughed, a primal screech that sounded anything but human. His comrades joined him, and they all started rapidly morphing form. Their ears grew and peaked like wolves, fur sprouted all over their bodies, and fingernails and toenails sharpened and grew into claws at least six inches long. Their noses turned up and pointed slightly like a bat’s, teeth turned to fangs, ugly black wings sprouted from their broad shoulder blades, and muscles that could crush a grown man with a single squeeze rippled across their backs, arms, and legs. The most terrifying part were their eyes. They were a horrible blood red, and where in a normal animal’s eyes there would be an inhuman look, there was instead a human intelligence; a knowing of the exact way someone can be broken, not just physically.

“What?” Jacoby sputtered, shocked. “What are you things?”

Anisha used that moment to elbow Peter in the chest, who promptly released her. Luke did the same to Marco, and he rolled toward her, and hoisted her to her feet.

“Wolfyons,” Anisha gasped. “We need to get my crystal back!”

Before either one could take a step, the middle wolfyon made a bark that seemed almost like a laugh and raised the crystal. It glittered in the sunlight for a moment before the wolfyon threw it down and it shattered.

            And the whole world exploded.

Luke drifted weightlessly, in a nice, cozy sea of darkness.

Maybe this isn’t so bad after all, if I’m dead, he thought, when suddenly he plummeted down and hit the ground hard.

Luke wheezed, gasping for air, and rose slowly, leaning against a nearby rock for support. He heard a soft groan, and almost cried with relief upon seeing Anisha curled on the ground and okay, if not slightly dazed. Unfortunately, so were Jacoby, Peter and Marco. The wolfyons had disappeared without a trace, which gave both a sense of relief and a foreboding aura.

Suddenly, Anisha shot to her feet in a blur. She glanced around quickly, looked as relieved as Luke felt upon seeing him, and generally had the exact same response Luke had to seeing Jacoby and his friends, though hers was far more violent.

“Hey! Ow!” Jacoby cried, rolling a few feet so he could get away from getting kicked in the ribs by Anisha. He rose to his feet, where Peter and Marco joined him. “What was that for?!”

“For being an absolute rooster-brain and not realizing that the new additions to your group of thugs weren’t human!” Anisha growled in frustration. “Couldn’t you have at least realized they weren’t really looking to join your little crew?!”

“We’ll worry about their ineptitude in a second,” Luke nudged her shoulder with his. “For now… where are we?”

Anisha sighed, her anger fading. “It doesn’t really have a name, this world. It’s sort of like a replica of our world, but with pollution to the water and air, and dying grass. What our world would look like if the crystal weren’t protecting us, which thanks to Jacoby, is now broken.”

“What does that mean for us, then?”

“That we only have a couple hours until the wolfyons, the demonic residents of this place, invade our world and made it look dead like this one. Unless, of course, we manage to restore the crystal before that happens. I think we just met the alpha and his second and third in-commands.”

“How do we restore it, then? Why did you have the crystal in the first place?”

“So many questions,” Anisha smiled sadly. “I acquired the crystal when I was a baby, given to me by the three spirits of this world. The only reason I know anything about what’s going on is because I was informed by the spirits a few years ago, when I was old enough to know and understand. Since the crystal is broken, then the spirits must be trapped, as they put part of their souls into it. They can replace it, of course, but we have to free them first, which is what I don’t know how to do!” By the end of the sentence, Anisha was practically shouting and looked like she wanted to kick something again, prompting Jacoby, Marco, and Peter to shrink a step back.

Suddenly, a warm breeze fluttered through the smoky air that rippled the dead grass. It carried the sounds of farther away places; a pond sloshing, as murky as the rest of the world, and the smell of fumes from a faraway factory.

The breeze carried a few dry leaves and a slip of yellowed paper that drifted over, which Luke caught.

“A glimpse of the past is what you need,” Luke read. “That started with a simple seed.”

Peter froze at the last word. A look of realization crossed his face. “I-I think I know what that means. Does anyone have a shovel?”

Luke was about to retort that they were in a wasteland, and there was absolutely no way there could be a shovel when Marco handed Peter one that had been leaning against a nearby tree. Peter picked a spot a few feet away and started digging until the hole was about a foot deep. He reached inside his pocket and pulled out a small brown seed.

“My sister gave me this right before she went to college. Told me to plant it, an’ all”. He shrugged. “I was so mad that the dumb thing was her parting gift, after a shared childhood, that I broke contact with her and didn’t plant the seed. I kept it in my pocket and wrecked all forms of nature I could, especially plants, trees, and flowers. Now, though… I think we should plant it.”

Peter gently placed the seed inside the hole and buried it.

“Do we have any wa- “

Suddenly, the ground started shaking. A huge tree shrouded in green light burst from the ground magically, growing a sturdy trunk and limbs that were a pearly white. The leaves came shortly thereafter, light green and heart shaped, with dozens of beautiful rose-pink flowers scattered among them.

The glow faded, and right in the section where the trunk met the branches a girl sat, looking a couple years younger than the others, around twelve, yet her eyes shone with wisdom that could only be gained from centuries of experience. Her earth-toned skin contrasted the pale bark, and through her black, braided hair her emerald green eyes shone gratefully.

“Thank you for freeing me,” she breathed, her voice clear and high. “I am Sarsu, the life spirit. Since you have shown past connections to your life and my trees, the spell that trapped me is now broken. Though I cannot offer much, please accept this.” Sarsu held out her hand, where a glowing shard sat, the same emerald green as her eyes. “This should be able to help you restore the crystal that protects your world from any harm done by our world. My friends-the other two spirits-are trapped just as I was. You must rescue them.”

Sarsu snapped her fingers, and a portal smelling of fresh spring flowers popped into existence. “This should take you to where the water spirit is trapped. And I must add one thing before you go,” Surprisingly, she locked eyes with Marco as she continued. “Look deep for a place of the past, where you will find peace from a hardship at last.”

Just like Peter, a look of recognition crossed his face, and Marco nodded. Peter strode over to Sarsu, and gently took the shard from her hand. Almost immediately, a distant howl shattered the eardrums of everyone within a mile radius.

“The wolfyons and MaulFang are after you,” Sarsu warned. “Go!”

            They didn’t need more than a second’s consideration to conclude that MaulFang was the alpha they had met. Anisha, Luke, Marco, Jacoby and Peter raced towards the portal, and were quickly rushed away.

The group ended up at the banks of a murky pond, dark and uninviting. Marco waded farther in until he was knee-deep. He pulled out a small locket from his shirt pocket with a picture of a smiling woman that looked a lot like him. “This looks like what used to be my favorite place in the world, this pond, and I loved it. When-when my mother had cancer, I must have thrown hundreds of coins in that pond, wishing she would be all right. But in the end… she died, and I’ve been taking my anger out on my surroundings since. Now, though… I am finally at peace with my mother’s death, an’ I know that the pond had nothing to do with it.”

Marco closed the locket, and hurled it as far as he could into the middle of the pond.

Slowly, the pond started to bubble. A sudden blast of water exploded from the surface. Another girl, around the same age as the four boys and one girl, sat on top of the geyser, tanned, golden-haired, and sapphire-eyed.

“Thank you,” she nodded her approval at everyone “I am Ruta, the water spirit. I wish I could stay and express my gratitude to you more, but as you know, the wolfyons have gotten wind of your plans to thwart theirs and are dangerously close to bridging the worlds. I apologize for ushering you on your way without even any advice to guide you, but I can give you this.”

Ruta spread her arms, and a deep blue shard fell from the sky and landed in Luke’s palm, which he quickly stowed in his pocket. She raised her arms yet again, and the smell of the ocean filled the air as the scenery glittered away…

            …When Luke lost his balance and plummeted off a ledge.

Miraculously, Luke managed to find a wire that was not all the way attached to the ledge to grab on to, which was not a ledge but a crude metal bridge that was barely wide enough to put two people side by side. Looking around, he realized he was inside of a huge factory, gears pumping, nuts and bolts clanging together, wheels and axels whirring and rolling. The bridge ended a few feet away from the other side, where a huge lever connected to the largest pipe Luke had ever seen, spanning dozens of feet into the air where it went through the roof into the world outside and at least ten feet wide. No doubt this is the cause of all of the smog in the air, Luke thought. He turned his attention downward, where it was at least a twenty story drop into depths too far to see, but undeniably a certain, swift death awaited him should he let go. Just thinking of it made his hands scream in pain, threatening to let go at any moment. Luke was about to slip and plummet when two pairs of hands grabbed his and hauled him up onto the bridge. One was Anisha’s. The other, Luke was surprised to see, was Jacoby’s.

Anisha threw her arms around Luke’s neck and hugged him briefly. “I’m glad you’re all right,” she whispered, her voice barely audible. She pulled away from him and smiled. Luke turned to Jacoby, unable to form words.

“You… saved my life.” Luke settled on, stunned.

“Of course. That’s what friends are for.” Jacoby grinned.

Luke felt his heart soar from both reactions; Anisha hugging him, and Jacoby calling him a friend. I’ll worry about them later, Luke decided, focused on the task at hand. “We need to make it to the other side and pull that lever, which should stop the smog and free the spirit. Luke turned toward the others, and saw Jacoby’s expression change into one of pure fear.

“I-I’m afraid of heights,” Jacoby stuttered, backing up from the drop.

“Don’t worry. I’ll go with you.” Luke stepped toward Jacoby and offered his hand. Jacoby took it, and the two boys stepped backward, far enough away to get a running head start, yet still close enough to the ledge that the hairs along Luke’s arms stood up on end. He turned his head back, looking at Peter and Marco, but most of all Anisha. “Stay there. Assuming we make it to the other side, we’ll turn off the lever and come back to you.”

Taking a final deep breath, Luke counted. “One… two… THREE!” They ran across the bridge and leapt. The boys were suspended in the air for a moment before slamming into the side of the opposite wall. For a moment, the breath was knocked out of both the boys, then they regained their sense and scrambled up onto the safety of the ledge. Gasping for breath, Luke took the left side of the lever and Jacoby the right, and they pulled it down. There was a whirring sound as all of the machinery died down, stopping the release of smoke into the troposphere, and all was silent for a moment. A small breeze whipped through the hair of the entire group, which gained power and streamed over to the area right in front of Jacoby and Luke. The wind turned into a whirlwind, and Jacoby and Luke took a step back until they were a couple feet from the ledge. The wind slowed, and then stopped completely. A seventeen-year-old boy with silver hair and purple-gray eyes, neither one color nor the other, floated a few inches above the ground. “I give you my sincerest gratitude,” the spirit smiled, his cool eyes looking at each of them in turn. “I am Medali, the air spirit. I- “

A familiar howl interrupted the air spirit. The rusted metal door that stood on the other side of the bridge from Jacoby and Luke squealed as it was ripped off its hinges and thrown over the side of the bridge. It had, of course, not stood a chance against its attackers. Luke and his friends, hairs on the back of their necks prickling up in dread, had found themselves face to face with the three wolfyons from before.

“Hello, humans,” MaulFang snarled, his voice ranging from a growl to a high pitch screech, and then back down a few octaves in a matter of seconds. “We meet again.”

Without waiting for an order, the wolfyons on either side of MaulFang rushed across the bridge, lunging for the throats of Anisha, Peter and Marco. Luke felt a wave of fear wash over him at the thought of any of them, especially Anisha, plummeting over the edge or worse. The fear was replaced with a wave of anger, making Luke leap over the drop without thinking and threw himself in front of the wolfyon that was surging toward Anisha with frightening, inhuman speed. Luke planted his feet, waited until the wolfyon was only five feet away, and threw his fist forward and connected the wolfyon in the chest. The wolfyon stumbled, and pitched face-first off the ledge, falling down to the ground below. It screamed the entire way down until it was too far to hear. The other wolfyon whipped around at the sound of its fallen comrade, and snarled with anger. It was about to attack Luke when a gust of wind knocked the wolfyon off balance and it, too, suffered the same fate as its friend. Luke turned toward the direction the wind had come from, and saw Medali frozen, with his hand still outstretched. He locked eyes with Luke before shouting, “GO!”

MaulFang shrieked in fury, distraught at the sight of seeing his allies killed. He shot Luke a murderous glare, putting new meaning into the expression, ‘if looks could kill,’ and threw back his head. The sound that came from his fang-infested mouth was a horrible combination of nails on a chalkboard, the squealing of car tires, and the screeching of a broken CD.

“He’s calling for reinforcements to come here!” Medali yelled above the noise. “I’m not going to say so again: GET OUT OF HERE!”  he tossed the final crystal shard, this one amethyst purple, into the air. Jacoby barely had time to catch it before Medali exhaled, and the five blew away like the wind.

The group found themselves in the exact field they had started in. Sarsu’s tree was still in the clearing, gently swaying, but the life spirit was nowhere to be seen. Something was wrong.

Anisha gasped, and clutched Luke’s arm. “Look!”

Medali had only been partially right. The wolfyon had been calling reinforcements, but not over to the factory. Surrounding the field, obviously knowing they would be there, were hundreds of wolfyons, MaulFang leading the charge, all clamoring forward for the five’s inevitable end.

“We need to unite the shards. NOW.” Anisha gestured for Peter, Luke, and Jacoby to hand her them. They did so, and she quickly placed them on the ground next to each other, then stepped back. They all held their breath and…

Absolutely nothing happened.

“We’re doomed.” Marco and Peter groaned in unison.

“Why isn’t it working?!” Anisha cried.

Luke wanted to fall into the pit of despair that war forming in his stomach and never come out. They had failed. Try as they had, they would all fall at the hands of the bat-wolf demons. Just as Luke was about to sink, something in his mind clicked.

“We’ve been thinking at this from the wrong angle,” he murmured.

“What?” Jacoby asked.

“This entire time, I’m sure we’ve all been thinking that one person was going to solve this entire problem,” the wolfyons were closing in, barely one-hundred yards from where the group stood. “But we were wrong. We were ALL pulled into this, not just one of us. So, we have to ALL solve this together, not just one of us. Everyone holds hands around the shards. We need to work together, despite our differences, our quarrels, and our opinions.”

Nobody objected, as there was no other thought-of way to try to escape their doom. Luke linked arms with Anisha on his right and Jacoby on his left.

At first, nothing happened. The wolfyons were closer than ever before, no more than a few dozen yards away. Close enough that everyone could hear their triumphant cries at finally being able to catch their prey at last. Luke’s spirits sunk yet again. We’re going to die.

Suddenly, a flash of light circled the shards. They were lifted gently into the air and magically linked together, forming the same pure white crystal Anisha had worn around her neck before the crisis ensued, and flashed with purple-gray, deep blue, and shining green facets. Beams of light, as pure white as the crystal itself, exploded in all directions, disintegrating each wolfyon it touched or went within a few feet of. The last one to go was MaulFang. He tried one last attempt to lunge for Luke’s throat, but was unsuccessful. He screamed profanities, curses, and threats as he was diminished to nothingness, gone forever from both worlds.

The crystal stopped glowing, and seemed to be satisfied that all of the wolfyons were gone. It drifted slowly to the ground, where Anisha unlinked her arms and stowed it carefully in her pocket. As she did so, a gentle breeze flew through the air that carried Ruta, Medali, and Sarsu.

“Congratulations, heroes, for defeating the wolfyons,” Sarsu started in her clear voice.

“Over time, the land shall return to its normal state, and it shall be peaceful at last.” Ruta continued in her softer tone.

“We all wish you could stay a longer time,” Medali concluded in his husky tone. “But it is time for us to escort you home.”

The spirits all raised their hands, and yet another portal appeared. It showed an image of the same park, with its sprawling fields and cool waters. It refreshed Luke more than anything ever had before.

“Wait.” Jacoby caught Luke’s arm. “Before we go home… Marco, Peter and I just want to say that we’re sorry for being such jerks, or as Anisha put it, absolute rooster-brains.” They grinned at each other. “What I’m saying is… I want to be your friend, not your enemy, and I’m sure Marco and Peter feel the same.” The two boys nodded asset.

“We also want to make up for our mistakes,” Peter added. “You know… fix the environment. Pick up trash. Make amends with my sister and everyone else we hurt.”

“Ditto.” Marco agreed.

“So… can we be friends? And hang out?” Jacoby questioned.

Anisha and Luke looked at each other, their minds already made up.

“For sure.” They grinned.

Together, the new friends walked into the portal, and were for the last time rushed away.

This story, while fiction, is actually what may happen to our world should we not take better care of it. Brick by brick, stone by stone, tree by tree, animal by animal, we will tear our world apart until it looks no healthier or more beautiful than a replica of Luke’s world, only occupied by the wolfyons, or more specifically, us. And just like the wolfyons, instead of trying to fix our mistakes on our current planet, we are running away and are trying to occupy another world that we have not yet wrecked, but will in due time, should the escape to another planet be successful. In the end, we are no more than the antagonists of this story. However, while we may not have a crystal to protect our world from pollution and global warming, we have the ability to make better choices and show we are greater than the average wolfyon. If the wilderness really, truly pulls at us, then we should follow willingly, which we have been neglecting to do.


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