80 comments

Sep 21, 2020

Science Fiction Fantasy

The Mountains look shorter today. Perhaps this means hope, but maybe not.

"Grass."

I look to my left and see my friend tumbling down a Hill nearby.

"Grass," he calls again as he climbs the small Hill which I am sitting on top of.

"What's the matter, Tree?" I ask the tall figure that now looms over me.

"Look what I found," Tree says and holds up a circular object covered in vibrant greens and blues, and flecks of white.

"What is that?" I take the object from his hand and hold it up to take a better look.

"I asked Owl and she said that it's Earth. It's the place we live on," Tree says in an excited tone.

"Earth" I whisper and lower the sphere.

I look at the Mountains in the distance with blurred texture. The sharp and round edges of electronic boxes both small and large create a jagged ascent to the top of the Mountain which no one has yet attempted to reach. At least, not to my knowledge.

"Isn't it neat?" Tree says in awe as he takes Earth back into his own hands and cups it between two palms.

"Neat?" I test the word in my mouth, "Maybe not," I conclude.

Tree looks up from Earth and meets my eyes with confusion but remains silent.

"Where is Flower?"

Tree and I turn to see Owl scaling up the Hill. As she nears us, she leaves a trail of dirt and shoes tumbling with every step she uses to propel herself upwards.

"Eating, I suppose," I say after a moment.

Owl frowns. "At this rate, she will finish the Fill by herself."

Tree snorts and laughs. "Are you sure she hasn't already?"

I stifle my laughter.

"Crow should be with her," I answer the silent question that Tree does not ask.

"Great, they won't leave us anything good," Tree says and suddenly jumps up.

He blocks the sun that is beginning to scorch my jaded skin.

"Stay there," I say.

"I'm not going to shade you all day." Tree rolls his eyes.

I shrug. "Couldn't hurt to try."

"Come on," Owl hoots. She is already descending the Hill; this time she is following the trail of tumbling worn heels, sneakers, and broken sandals in her descent.

Tree and I follow, careful not to entangle ourselves in the loose laces and straps, and the occasional string of connected Velcro footwear that had lost their other half. I look back to see the abandoned sphere of green and blue on top of the shoe Hill before catching up with Tree who now is carrying Owl upon his shoulders. Owl turns her head to make sure I am still there.

Upon arriving at the Fill, we hear the tinkling of high pitched giggles. I roll my eyes but stop in my tracks to duck as something whizzes over my head. A rotten apple rolls to a stop a few paces away. Tree and Owl laugh, but I shake my head in dismay. Flower can be such a child and though Crow is supposed to be a good influence, this is not the case. 

"Hey!" Tree calls to the two that are hidden from sight on the other side of the Fill.

The top of a head appears and Crow's sleek black hair follows as the rest of the head and the body emerges. Two slender arms appear immediately after, stretching before revealing the rest of Flower's flexible limbs as she jumps up from her spot.

"Save us anything good?" Owl asks as she takes large strides up the Fill towards Flower and Crow, ruffling Crow's hair once she reaches him.

Crow frowns at his sister while he straightens his hair that now sits askew on the top of his head. Flower pulls a dusty, half-eaten cob of corn from her pocket and hands it to Owl and then tosses two bottles of dirt speckled water to Tree and I. This water is cleaner than the bucketful that Flower found last week. I take a swig and marvel at clumps of damp mud that run down my throat.

"Cheers," Tree says as he extends his crumpled, plastic bottle towards mine.

I smile. "Cheers."

I watch as Crow skitters around the Fill, snatching up bits and pieces of food scraps between his slender, claw-like fingers and then tossing them into the air before catching the pieces in between his dry lips. I begin to walk over to him to offer my water but Owl stops me.

"Don't bother," she says.

I shrug and sit where I was standing The sky is darkening as we finish our meal. Though we cannot see the sun, we know that it is setting behind the grey smog that covers the sky. 

As the first drop of rain reaches the uneven ground, the five of us scramble for cover. Under a canopy patched together by Tree using pieces of tarp and duct tape, we sit huddled against one another in a line, watching as the rain drenches the Fill, the Hill, and the Mountains in the distance. 

Crow is the last to make it under the canopy and before he sits he tries to shake the water out of his hair. Owl glares at him as he splatters water on her clothing but chooses to remain silent rather than lecture him the way she usually does as lightening flashes beneath the thickness of the grey sky above us.

I retrieve the buckets from the back of our canopy and place them in front where the tarps end. When I sit back down, I notice the small ball of green and blue in the distance on top of the Hill. I try to focus on its colours but when the rain starts to fall quicker and heavier, the Earth tips over the edge of the Hill and tumbles down, rolling out of sight as the rainfall draws a curtain over the landscape in front of us. 


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80 comments

I really liked the flow and the way the plot rises in the story! I had a lot of fun reading it! 😄✍️

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Ai Jiang
16:39 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:54 Sep 22, 2020

I thought this was such a cute story, and I mean that in a good way, not in a condescending way 😅 The animal/plant names really helped to tell who’s who because their mannerisms reflect their name, and it was such a cool concept to begin with. And I love that there is an implication of a massive, sprawling world to be explored and yet the characters are only concerned with one another. Really keeps things grounded, which is nice. Keep it up, anyways! 😙

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Ai Jiang
16:30 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much for your feedback! This is actually very helpful in terms of letting me know how my idea comes across to others!

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Lina Ozz
04:29 Sep 28, 2020

Wow. This is a story that made me sit back and think. I'm a fan of dark humour, and you accomplish that wonderfully here. This is so creative; they way you use child-friendly titles/capitalization and imagery to convey a dark theme is enticing and disturbing (which I LOVE). I'm super excited to read more of your work! :)

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Ai Jiang
01:43 Nov 18, 2020

Thank you so much! :)

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Patricia Adele
19:15 Sep 24, 2020

When young, I'd carry a book of 50 fairy tales around with me. It had a "Watership Down " kind of vibe in reverse. I read this on my phone and when I got to the end I turned by phone around as if looking for pages to turn. I wanted to read on!

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Ai Jiang
16:33 Sep 26, 2020

I was debating on making this a longer piece but I thought about and decided to have it more as a flash piece! I might later turn it into a short novella 🤔

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Andrew Krey
02:24 Sep 23, 2020

I thought this was a brilliant take on the prompt, and I loved the names you used. I especially liked the fact Tree was casting shade :) It's a vivid world you create, and I liked the relationships between the characters which you were able to get across despite it being a short story, very well done. Happy writing

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Ai Jiang
16:37 Sep 26, 2020

I’m currently working on packing in as much meaning and character develop into fewer words so I’m glad you see it that way!

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Andrew Krey
00:15 Sep 27, 2020

Oh great, I love it when someone notices something I've focused on improving in my writing...so you're welcome lol

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Yolanda Wu
06:35 Sep 22, 2020

This was a really interesting story that really got me thinking. You described everything so well, your writing is vivid and has a nice, surreal feel that is different from what I usually read. I love all the names, it adds so much depth to the story. Amazing work!

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Ai Jiang
16:29 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much! I have a habit of giving my narrators either no names but when I was writing this one the names really jumped out at me!

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Charles Stucker
06:13 Sep 21, 2020

I shrug and sat where I stood. - you shift from present to past tense with your verbs. Try "I shrug and sit where I was standing." Or even, "I shrug and sit where I am." Even, "I shrug and sit down." All of these retain present tense throughout. This comes across as surreal, like it was written by Kurt Vonnegut. Maybe it's the names, which imply sentient animals genetically engineered to be capable of human speech. Perhaps it is the absurdity of seeking food at a landfill after the collapse of human civilization. The humor is very dark, b...

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Ai Jiang
16:32 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you for pointing it out! I’ve made the adjustment. I find that I’ve been dabbling in a lot of writing that uses dark humour lately and I find it very fascinating to write! I’m trying to refine my writing but of course, I understand that might take some time! Thanks again for your feedback:)

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Ryan Dupont
22:53 Oct 09, 2020

I loved the way you described the actions of the characters in such a way as to relate them to their own names. A few of the many examples I liked - "Crow's sleek black hair", "Two slender arms appear … revealing the rest of Flower's flexible limbs", and "Come on," Owl hoots - Tree shading Grass and the latter's jaded skin. I am still left wondering at the end what the characters really were. Very creative!

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Ai Jiang
06:37 Nov 01, 2020

Thank you so much! At first, I intended for the characters to be children, but as the story continued I discovered that their identities became quite interpretive!

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Claire Jennings
16:41 Oct 08, 2020

I really enjoyed your story, especially the descriptions of the characters. This is something that I would like to improve myself.

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Ai Jiang
06:40 Nov 01, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm still working at it myself. We can work towards improvement together :)

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Drew Lane
10:19 Oct 08, 2020

Very nice work Ai, I really liked the story. Your writing is smooth and gave a fable flavour to it. I really liked how you introduced the characters, their names and the symbols contained in a few words. The images were vivid and fresh which made it a pleasant reading - somehow like a metaphor for nature - and also raised interesting questions (hence the fable flavour). I really enjoyed the efficiency in your writing - the right words at the right place. I saw you had liked one of my stories, could I ask you for a couple of feedback...

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Ai Jiang
06:42 Nov 01, 2020

Thank you for your kind words, Drew. As I was writing, I imagined it would be quite ironic to have such lively descriptions of nature within the dead of landfills and thought the juxtaposition might be interesting to work with. Of course! I always like to help where I can and I'll be sure to pop over and offer my thoughts as soon as possible. I apologize for the delayed response.

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Tvisha Yerra
20:07 Oct 04, 2020

Love your story! Just one thing... I go to the U of T too!

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Ai Jiang
06:44 Nov 01, 2020

Ah, a fellow UofTears student! How do you like it there so far?

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Tvisha Yerra
20:54 Nov 02, 2020

Love it! :)

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Bob Ivey
13:53 Oct 02, 2020

Thanks for liking my story "The Cabin."

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Ai Jiang
06:44 Nov 01, 2020

No worries!

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Cynthia Scott
00:31 Oct 02, 2020

Very inventive story from start to finish. Awesome job!! 🙂

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Ai Jiang
06:44 Nov 01, 2020

Thank you!

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I . H
14:40 Oct 01, 2020

I really liked your use of capitalization for important words, and how Earth was treated almost like a name (at least, that's how I read it). Nice story!

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Ai Jiang
06:45 Nov 01, 2020

Thank you so much! I actually contemplated for a while about whether or not to capitalize it but since I capitalized most of what was relative to nature I thought it would be fitting to capitalize Earth as well, especially because of how she is known as a mother or Gaia in Greek mythology!

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I . H
17:23 Nov 01, 2020

Capitalizing specific words can really add a lot to a story. There's actually a Gaian philosophy in climate sciences in which Gaia (named after the greek titan of course) is the term for Earth as a whole. Our seas, our atmosphere (which has been beautifully nicknamed The Great Aerial Ocean), and the ground of the planet itself is all viewed as one organism: Gaia. That thinking is just a reflection of the theory that everything is closely interconnected, like organs in a human body. If one fails, it takes the rest of the creature with it. Gai...

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Kevin Broccoli
23:57 Sep 30, 2020

I love that you're able to maintain brevity while still putting so much emotion into the story. Well done.

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Ai Jiang
02:07 Oct 01, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Aubrey Maria ✌
21:14 Sep 30, 2020

As I can see, you've already been told how good your story was! But, in my honest opinion, I found it enlightening. I felt like I was looking into a whole new world that I completely missed. It was like looking through a new pair of lens to see something new but had been there the entire time. Anyway, you have talent in your writing skills -- don't ever give up because that would be such a waste!

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Ai Jiang
02:08 Oct 01, 2020

Thank you so much! Your comment actually made me look at my story again in a different light!

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Jamie Schmitt
16:05 Sep 30, 2020

I love your story! Your first line is so engaging. I also wrote a fairytale-inspired theme for my story!

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Ai Jiang
02:09 Oct 01, 2020

Thank you!

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15:29 Sep 30, 2020

Very entertaining.

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Ai Jiang
02:09 Oct 01, 2020

Thank you!!

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Simon Walter
02:46 Sep 29, 2020

I enjoyed this one a lot. Keep it coming

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Ai Jiang
02:09 Oct 01, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Tammy Pieterson
18:49 Sep 28, 2020

Such a delightful read. I love how it carries so much depth with such ease. Lovely!

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Ai Jiang
02:11 Oct 01, 2020

Thank you!

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