Rae laid down, his weight resting on his small bruised elbow; he flipped through a colourful comic book. The words were big and highlighted and each blurb was full of action and heroics. It was a superhero comic. Today he was reading Superman. How he wished to be like Superman- brave, courageous, and with a scintillating smile.
He had been laying in his rooms for hours now, re-reading the new debut of Superman over and over. Rae's mother had entered his room many times- asking if he wanted to go on a walk to enjoy the glorious Swedish weather, or if he wanted to taste her apple pie. But he kept on saying, "Mommy, this is far too good."
So, Rae's mother nodded and left; time after another.
It was approximately one o'clock when he heard his window shatter. It was so cacophonous and petrifying that poor Rae lept of the carpet and to the window to check outside.
The view from his gable window was absolutely breathtaking. Rae's family lived up on a big hill so the whole family had quite the view from their windows. Rae could see the bumble bee-yellow hills that rolled like ocean waves beneath him. Very far ahead was a big mountain full of shrubs that looked like small green dots to Rae. The mountains dipped down, so he could see small fragments of rich farmhouses, coloured in yellows and reds.
But he still couldn't figure out what produced the hair-raising sound. He opened up his window, slowly with the tips of his tiny fingers. The wind rattled his face. Then, he peeked his head to the side, a small emerald scarf was hidden behind the roof.
Slowly and carefully, Rae lifted his toes out of the window and crept onto the roof like a fox. His scream of excitement was stifled by a pale hand. Rae looked up. Her hair was a common gold, but in the wind, it looked like sunlight. So pure and yellow. Her face was clear and pale and her eyes were grey as a cloudy thunderstorm. She was wearing a suit that stuck to her skin tightly. It was black- a velvety one with spots of yellow. She also had two wings, one emerald and one-midnight black.
"Hello. How do you do?" Rae didn't know what to say, his lips were quivering and his voice was shaky.
"Go back inside, boy. I have urgent things to accomplish."
"Which superhero are you?"
"Wow, like the butterfly?"
The sun seemed to shine softer as a veil of cloud fell over it. The winds were hushed like naughty children and the trees began to stand still like tall metal pipes. A faint silhouette shined in the faraway mist. The shadow was ominous and changing.
Monark crouched down and held Rae's thin wrist. Then she crouched her legs like a frog and soared into the sky. Rae dangled by Monark's wrist as she flew above the clouds. The speed that Monark was flying at was nimble and rapid, Rae's cheeks went inside out like hollow lakes. The clouds looked like ovals of smoke, they were so big that only glimpses of liquid pink evening light were visible. The sight was so accelerating, it made Rae think differently. His smile creased up to his eyes. He felt so powerful, glimpses of the yellow Swedish hills send delightful shivers up his spine.
He was invincible...for a few seconds.
Rae had been laying for hours now. He was subconscious, his head was resting on a thick piece of moss and his legs were sitting on the purple rock.
Monark was pacing in front of him. She was trying to weigh her options. She needed so desperately to finish off Strife once and for all. But she also needed to guarantee that the boy would stay untouched. Monark sighed.
"Boy." Monark nudged Rae's head with her wrist.
"Mommy," Rae muttered, his eyes still closed.
"I'm not your Mommy, boy."
Rae slowly lifted his head from the moss and rubbed his forehead with his palm.
“We need to start going now, okay?” Monark smiled, her hair was shining like pure gold in the cool breeze.
Rae couldn’t believe his eyes, the altitude of the mountain was so high. Down below he could see splotches of inky black lakes and a ribbon of stone that looked like a pathway.
“I’d like an explanation, please,” Rae demanded.
“Strife is back.”
CHAPTER - THREE
Monark and Rae were sitting on the purple rock, their legs dangling off the cliff’s edge. Monark’s face was absolutely calm with not a hint of fear but Rae’s was pale and ghostly, his arms were dotted with goosebumps and he stared down below.
Monark began to explain, “Strife is all the bad things you can imagine. He hides in the shadows and feeds off of light. Think about moths- like them. I’m sorry but we can’t talk about him, he sees and hears everything.”
“We should get going now, boy."
The two launched into the sky; with faces that looked fearless. Seemed fearless; but were really brimming with dark shadowy consternation, anxiety, and fright.
Monark and Rae stood at the edge of a deep hole that led straight into an endless abyss. The land around the hole was grassy and rocky, filled with yellowed bushes and ladybugs.
“The dark-” Monark paused, “He hides in the dark. Strife is in there.” Monark pointed to the big black hole, “If he comes to you, boy, you’ll be okay. You're safe - he cannot hurt you.”
“Because- there’s no time to explain. Now hop on!”
Monark soared into the unknown, her colourful wings shimmering like a radiant spotlight in the whispering black darkness.
CHAPTER - FOUR
The cave was as dark as a cold starless night. The wind made loud howling noises as it travelled throughout. Monark and Rae stood, two figures trying to use their courage to illuminate this overwhelming feeling. Being in this cave was an odd sensation. Your mind would become dizzy; lose its purpose. Feel lost and without a compass.
Rae stared into Monark’s eyes. Monark’s stark grey eyes were soft and glazed in tears. Her sturdy frame was slouched and her bones seemed weighed down by sadness. Rae was about to ask what was wrong with Monark when he heard a loud thump that rattled the cave floor.
“Guess how Daddy was feeling when he fell?” The guttural noise bounced around the cave walls, “He was feeling offended. Because it was you who killed him - it was you.”
Monark’s courage seemed to fade, drop by drop, she sank down onto a rock. Her face was damp and red.
“If you weren’t so dumb, drinking all that scotch. He loved you, you know. But he’s probably in his grave now, plotting his revenge.”
Rae stood, his blue lips were quivering and his eyes were twitching. A tall shadow of a man fell upon Monark and Rae. Then a pale figure slipped out of a crevice of the grey-stoned cave. He was tall with pale skin and big bulgy eyes that carried a yellow glare. His skin was patchy like it had been cut and sewed back up again several times.
“The world is a scary place, Monica.” He whispered, “Very very scary.”
“Stop!” Rae began to shout but the sound shrunk like a popped balloon.
“Stop, Ha- stop. So so pathetic.” A shadow of a hand tightened around Rae’s chest.
Rae felt his lungs tighten and de-inflate. His breathing became more laboured and laboured until his lung was rock and each breath was a gasp.
“Look. Look at the power I have over you. Rae.” Strife sunk back into the crevice.
“We have to go now, Rae. We have to-” Monark moaned; a wavering moan.
“You. Weak. Pathetic things.” Each word came out like a drop of water.
Strife’s words echoed behind them as they left the cave.
CHAPTER - FIVE
Rae was wordless. Monark was sitting, her eyes directed into the unknown territory of mists, slopes, and mountains. Her facial expression was hiding something - it was sad but wary. Rae’s mind was hurting, everywhere he looked he could make out two yellow eyes staring at him. Rae desperately wanted to ask Monark everything but she didn’t seem...right.
“Monark, who’s Daddy?” Rae assumed that “Daddy” was Monark’s father but he still wanted to know more.
“He’s my father, boy. Strife knows everything, he’s always watching."
The sun brushed the peaks of the grassy hills like a delicate paintbrush, casting a faint circle of yellow over the humming sea below. The fragrance of the sea fluttered around the cave. Soon after, the sun sunk like a deflated balloon below the hills and the moon began to shine brighter and the star darkened and dots of yellow stars pushed themselves out into view. Rae's subtle snores were soft but loud to Monark as she huddled herself into a ball. The word hero wandered through her mind.
Heroes would defeat the villain at all costs with not a hint of fear. But Monark was scared; she was crying like a helpless toddler. A hero would put the world before themselves. But she was being so selfish; letting her past affect the present. Monark wiped away her tears with her thin thumbs and cloaked herself in "bravery", a mask that would do her little good.
The rain pounded down onto the hard tarmac harshly. The street was lined with rows of spiky-barked trees that cast shadows onto the soaked cracked road. The trees had thick leaves that created a canopy over the entire alley, so thick that no sunlight would shine on the alley. The street was ribboned with minimal buildings and all the buildings that were there were old and short like a club of grey-haired seniors. The unmistakable scent of asphalt drifted through the street.
This dark gloominess frightened Rae very much, so he leaned his curled head to the side of Monark’s arm and Monark held Rae like he was her very own child.
“This is where-” Monark gasped like she was short of air, “my father died.”
A shadowy silhouette slid from behind a tall brown tree. Strike’s hands moved up and down; the gloomy place became even darker like a light was switched off.
“I really really like you Monark.” Rae squeaked, it didn’t seem like the right time to say it but he wanted her to know.
Monark looked down at the small boy. His flaxen-coloured brows arched up above his eyes like two concerned rainbows. His eyes seemed so beautiful up-close. They were jellyfish-blue, vibrant and glimmering. His wispy lashes swept over in intervals. She wanted to save this boy, this brave brave boy. But she couldn’t. She tore her eyes away, painfully.
Strife slowly walked forward. Rae shivered and Monark tensed.
“What is the name of someone who kills another person?” Strife sneered, a shadow was cast on his smile, but his yellow eyes glared brightly like two fireflies.
No sound was made.
“A murderer.” Strife answered, “And one of you two are murderers. Do you know who it is?”
The silence continued.
“You.” Strife pointed his pale finger at Monark accusingly.
Strife began to step closer and closer until a dark veil fell upon both of them once again.
CHAPTER - SIX
Monark looked around her. Everything was dark. Except for the glare of yellow in the distance.
The darkness was shifting, a box of white light appeared before her eyes. A smell of fresh popcorn fluttered around the room. Monark felt the ground beneath her, it was black cement and a few pieces of popcorn were sitting on the ground. Her back was resting on a cushioned red chair. In front of her were black and white figures. A movie.
Monark felt a hand grip her wrist, warmth flooded her. It was her dad. Right there. In flesh. Monark wanted to cry, she wanted to hug him until her shirt was soaked in tears. But she smiled and continued to nibble on popcorn. His hair was black and dark as ebony. His face was alive but his eyes seemed dead. Two dark pools of black. The world around her seemed...filmy and wavering. The heads in front of her swayed like trees on a windy day.
Monark stood up and touched her father, her finger poked right through his skin. The realness of the moment began to fade; the light became more blurry. The two dots of bright yellow glowed brighter.
Monark yelled up at the movie-theatre ceiling, “This is not real.”
Nothing faded. The smell of popcorn was still floating through the air. It was all an illusion. Because Strife was the creator of illusions and darkness. He manipulated reality.
This was all fake. Except- except her father. Her father still made her want to sob. But he wasn’t alive. If this was all fake, why were her feelings real?
“You killed him.” Strife’s words echoed throughout the theatre.
My dad would want her to be happy- Monark shook her head.
Monark tensed her face muscles, trying to look as firm as possible.
“You are dead. And it wasn’t my fault.” Monark stated.
The man who she called father began to fade.
“I love you but you’re gone. And one day I will see you again. But you’re gone. You. Are. Not. Real.” Monark's words were bullets, shooting into the air.
The father faded. The whole movie theatre disappeared into blackness.
A boy appeared. Rae.
“You’re more like superman than anyone I know.” He smiled, “In fact, you’re even better.”
A bolt of courage shot through Monark's chest like electricity. Like adrenaline.
She stood up. Back straight. Eyes focused. The two balls of yellow light faded. Strife disappeared.
The street appeared again. The canopy of leaves was letting in golden sunlight and Rae’s hand was tucked tight into Monark’s. Strife shrunk into a small little globe of black and then dissolved into the stone pathway.
Monark began to walk and Rae followed her; their steps echoed across the tarmac road.