Author’s note: Alright, so, by the way, this story isn’t a brand-new one. I originally wrote this a few months ago and posted it on an alter account--so some of you may have already seen this. Seeing it perfectly matches one of the current prompts, I decided to freshen this up and resubmit on my main page. And...yeah, enjoy!
Nobody ever tells you about the awful secret agents.
I mean, movies and books have painted this image that secret agents are these super-cool spies with fancy constumes, ninja moves, and the perfect luck. Well, bad stuff is thrown their way, but they look heroic and beat the challenge, then BOOM! Successful agent.
Seriously, though, have you ever watched a movie about a screw-up spy?
Maybe I’m just rambling. Maybe all secret agents are these über cool people that fight crime in a neat outfit. Maybe most really are amazing spies.
My name is Trig Atkinson, and I’m a twenty-year-old secret agent who’s a hot mess. I live in the bustling United City, where there are plenty of times I should sport my ‘cool outfit’ (cough, black raincoat and my little sister’s combat boots, cough) and go bust some bad guys.
Instead, I sport my PJs as I go to the gym at two am.
My phone cheerfully sings my texting ringtone as I continue jogging on the treadmill at United Gym. The ringtone is called ‘typewriters’—reminding me of my dream to become a journalist. Alas, I have nothing interesting to write about. The only reason I joined the United Spies was to witness something worth taking to a publisher.
Double alas, life hates me and the most interesting thing I’ve seen as a spy is an orange watermelon at my Nana’s house (hey, secret agents need to have breaks, too!).
I sigh and snatch up my phone. The harsh lights of the gym hammer against my eyes as I check my texts:
ᴡᴀɴᴛ ᴛᴏ ɢʀᴀʙ ɪᴄᴇ ᴄʀᴇᴀᴍ ᴀᴛ ᴜɴɪᴛᴇᴅ ᴄʀᴇᴀᴍᴇʀs?
It’s Kokika, my hilarious friend who’s my partner in late-night ice cream visits.
I sigh again. I sigh too much but hey, sighing was invented for a reason. Life is worthy of sighs.
My fingers hover above my keyboard as I silently reply in my head:
ᴏʜ ᴍʏ ғʀᴇᴀᴋɪɴ’ ɢᴏᴅ, ʏᴇsssss! ɪ ʟᴏᴠᴇ 𝟸 ᴀᴍ ɪᴄᴇ ᴄʀᴇᴀᴍ!
Instead, I type out:
sᴏʀʀʏ, ʙᴜᴛ ᴡᴇ’ᴠᴇ ʜᴀᴅ ɪᴛ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏ ᴅᴀʏ ғᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴀsᴛ ᴡᴇᴇᴋ. ʜᴏᴡ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ, sᴛᴀʀᴛɪɴɢ ɴᴏᴡ, ᴡᴇ ɢᴇᴛ ɪᴄᴇ ᴄʀᴇᴀᴍ ᴀs ᴄᴇʟᴇʙʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ғᴏʀ sᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ, ɪɴsᴛᴇᴀᴅ ᴏғ ᴀs ᴀ sɴᴀᴄᴋ?
Ugh. I hate being responsible for my sugar intake.
My brow is slick with sweat. My non-existent muscles are screaming at me. My logic is, if I did ten push-ups before I hopped on the treadmill and I’m still not seeing any 6-pack abs, the gym is useless.
In my tank top, shorts, and healthy layer of salty sweat, I abandon the gym. I walk right outside and—
Typical. It’s raining. Like, a full-on downpour: the street has a coat of water at least an inch thick, and sheets of liquid are still pouring down from the sky. God, the sky must be really sad.
The jet-black sky forms a dome over the silent United City. There are hundreds of thousands of residents in this place, but I’m the only one crazy enough to be outside, while it's raining, at two am.
My eyes drops to the ground. So. Much. Water. I’m not quite ready to leave the sheltered entrance to the gym yet. No umbrella, also typical. (I guess I inherited the bad luck of a ninja, but not the skills [i.e. being responsible and prepared] to fight it.) I guess I’ll have to make a run for it.
I’m about to let out a war cry and dash to my car when I notice something:
The water on the streets.
It’s not sliding towards the gutter.
Even though it’s a sharp slope down to the gutters built into the sidewalk, the water isn’t dripping down.
Instead, all of the water is moving up.
My gaze follows the moving water, and I finally see where the rainwater is going: up the United Mountain (by now, I’m sure you understand how creative the United Government is at naming things…).
A small mountain, more of a giant hill, is in the center of United City. The buildings are built around the wooded mountain, and the place is free for all to explore.
Nobody goes because god, United Mountain is freakish.
I shake my head to make sure I’m not hallucinating as I study the rainwater. As lukewarm rain attacks the streets, everything that hits the ground starts retreating up the mountain.
It’s a very, very creepy sight. A layer of water just casually inching up the mountain. Where the water is going, I have no idea. The United Mountain is covered by a thick forest, so I can’t see far.
But, you know? I’m Agent Trig, who’s supposed to be investigating this kind of stuff. Besides, while the humid air isn’t the only thing making me sweat (gravity-defying water going up a spooky mountain at two A.M. while it’s raining? Not freaky at all….), I’m in need of an adventure.
“Agent Hot Mess reporting for duty,” I whisper under my breath as I start to twist into a runner's stance, then remember I’m going to get soaked anyway so the pose is useless. I walk into the rain and start towards the Mountain.
Anytime I trip, I curse then proclaim, “The ground is trying to make me fall.”
Cue the Boy-who-called-wolf (not that anybody would believe a magic ground, even if it was just said once). Kokika would always just snort and say, “Suuuure.”
But now, the ground really is trying to trip me.
As I hike up the Mountain, it’s hard enough to advance as it is. The huge hill is steep and slippery, so I need to sprint from tree-to-tree and clasp onto the trunks as I make my way up.
But, of course, it gets worse.
The ground is moving.
The restless soil shifts under my feet, and I don’t mean normal squishing-in-rain. The ground is legit moving, clumps of soil sliding around on the ground, rocks changing shape as they roll down the mountain, and craters magically appearing in the mountainside.
The hill is alive with the sound of pouring….
Also, yelling. Roaring and pouring are the sounds echoing in my ears as my sweaty body continues climbing. Up ahead, I hear deep hollers.
Magic water? Check.
Moving ground? Check.
Giant roars? Check.
Need of a change of pants? Check and double check.
Nearly half an hour of sweaty climbing later, I’m almost there.
To the summit.
It’s crazy windy by now, too. I’m fighting against wind, steepness, the ground, and an insane amount of rain as I continue my ascent. But I see it! The tip of the mountain!
One, two, three more steps, and I reach the top of United Mountain.
It’s a flat space, maybe the size of half a football field. Trees ring the clearing, and now all the elements are in on the let’s-be-magic action. The harsh wind whips around me as my eyes trace the path of the fire. Flames, dancing along the trees, not stifled in the least by the downpour.
And, standing in the center of the clearing, is a...water demon?
The monster could easily haunt my nightmares. The size of a small house, the figure made of water towers thirty feet over me. The bottom half is just a trunk of liquid, while the upper half of the beast is a muscular humanoid, its giant, chiseled face staring up into the storm.
Standing here, in the center of the mountain, my mouth falls open.
The tip of United Mountain at three am. is like nowhere I’ve ever been before. The wild wind. The moving ground. The flickering flames. And, of course, the water, straight from the streets of United City, pouring into the base of the monster.
The demon slowly grows bigger and bigger as my mind widens bigger and bigger, trying to expand to match the pace at how fast my world is growing.
That’s what all this is.
“Magic,” I croak, my mouth dry but my body soaking as I scan my surroundings again. “How is this possible?”
WHY DID YOU JUST TALK?! my mind screams at me.
I clasp my hands over my mouth as if to keep the words from escaping, but the damage is done.
The demon turns to me and…grins. A large, toothy grin of water, although it’s terrifying on lips the size of a bed. “Hello, young mortal.”
My next action proves how brave I am.
I black out.
I wake up by hacking, hacking, hacking.
I’m lying on my side, in a pool of soupy mud. Some gets in my mouth and yuck. The mud looks like melted chocolate, but it tastes like trash.
Luckily, I’m in the midest of Water Central.
I’m sweating, wetting my pants, and being rained on all at once. I turn to the one clean water source: the sky.
A minute passes as I rinse out my mouth. Then I remember the demon.
He’s right next to me, smiling again. I jump and land in the mud. “Holy Christ on a cracker!” I cry, delivering the expression that always pops out of my mouth when I’m startled.
“Hello,” the monster booms.
Big grin, but huge teeth and frightening features. Scary.
Panting, I start to back up. A rock juts out of the stupid magic ground and yeets me onto my butt. In more mud.
I groan. “I hate this magic.”
“Oh, it’s not magic,” the monster says, his water-eyes flashing yellow as the upper half crosses his arms. “It’s called the elements.”
My eyes dart around. The crazy wind, air. Unstoppable flames, fire. Annoying ground—earth. And, of course, way too much water. “Last time I checked, the elements weren’t alive and magical,” I say nervously.
The water demon chuckles. “The elements aren’t alive. And not magic, boy. No, the elements are just out of hand, at this time on the United Mountain.”
“Can’t you see, boy? Water.”
“Yeah. Lots of water.” I gesture to the downpour, which hasn’t eased since the gym. “What?”
“I’m doing great things to the water,” the beast says. “I’m manipulating it so I can be all-powerful. Because of all the water magic, the other elements will be—are currently—thrown out of balance.”
“Why?” I make out. “Why do you want to be all-powerful?”
(*Insert every book villain fainting dead away.*)
The giant figure laughs and ‘paces’—the stem of water that makes up his lower half gliding around. The demon continues growing as even more water adds to his body. “The same reason everyone does, boy. Starting with United City, I’ll rule the world.”
He ‘steps’ closer. “You seem like a smart young man.” More like a secret agent catastrophe, I think. “Care to join me as I march down and conquer this city?”
I gulp. Why did I ever follow the water? “No! No, of course not!”
“I won’t destroy the city,” the beast assures me, raising an eyebrow.
I meet his eye then rip my gaze away. I walk to the edge of the summit and stare down. From up here, I can see the entirety of United City—and the whole United Mountain.
Flames lick the trees as the fire makes its way down the hill. The ground is even more restless, sending trees flying into the air. The wind is forming mini tornadoes here and there. The elements are making their way down the hill, where… “They’re destroying it,” I say, my voice ragged. “The elements. They’re out of whack with you and your water business. They’ll destroy the city, the people, everything if you don't stop.”
I turn back to the monster. “I’m not going to join you.”
“Really?” He picks at his nails. “You should. I’m unstoppable. I don't even need you, boy, but you’re good company. If we join forces, I can be entertained by an other-species comrade as I conquer everywhere. Nothing stands in my way. As a powerful freshwater water demon, the only thing that can stop me is saltwater, and there’s none of that here.”
“No.” My voice is hard as steel as I glare at the demon. “I’m not joining you.”
“Alright. Your city will be destroyed by the elements then I’ll conquer the remains, and you’ll be destroyed by me.”
A wicked smile painted in his face, the monster advances on me. My hands are clammy with sweat, and my face is even damper. I’m about to wipe off the sweat when I remember:
Sweat is salty.
The freshwater demon said saltwater is his only weakness…well, buddy, you’ve got some Trig bodily liquids coming your way.
“Wait!” I yelp, pretending to be terrified of the monster. I mean, I am pretty scared, but after my lightbulb moment, I’m resisting a grin.
“Yes?” The figure studies my face.
“I-I’ll join you,” I make out. “I’ll help you. I pledge my allegiance. Trig Atkinson at your service.”
A smile graces his lips. “Knew it.”
“But one more thing,” I say. “Can I, er, have a hug before we conquer the world?
That surprised him. Then the demon’s watery face softens. “Um, sure.”
We awkwardly embrace.
I’m covered in sweat from the humidity. Salty sweat.
As soon as my body touches his, the monster starts to melt.
“No,” the demon snarls as he glances down. His body is shrinking, the water on the ground switching directions and pouring down the mountain. “No, no, no!”
He glances at me, his eyes full of panic. “Bro! You betrayed me!”
“You can’t destroy the world,” I say. I give a final, exaggerated wave, sending one last droplet of sweat onto the (now pretty smol and pathetic) monster. With that, the freshwater demon dissolves completely into a small puddle.
I smile, water still streaming down my face. The earth settles. The fire vanishes. The wind suddenly calms, and soon, I’m just one young spy at the top of a mountain, in the midst of a storm, wanting to go home and change into clean clothes.
I begin my walk down the mountain.
As soon as I get to my parents’ apartment, I shower, change into fresh clothes, and collapse on the bed.
It’s four am. Just two hours ago I was at the gym. Now, I’ve saved the world and the elements are at peace once again.
What an epic story that would be. Trig, failed spy, beats water demon. I can almost see it on the headlines of United Magazine, but I know I can’t submit this to a publisher.
Magic exists. Maybe not movie-magic, as in superpowers, by a water demon? Balance of elements? That stuff’s weird.
But not information that everyone should know.
I open up Messages and stare down at the latest text from Kokika. In response to my ice cream turn-down, she said:
I smile. I may not have completed my journalist dream—that’s what I had in mind when I said something to celebrate—but I saved the freakin’ world. That sounded worthy of ice cream.
My thumbs get to work:
ʜᴇʏ, ᴅᴏᴇs ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴏғғᴇʀ ғᴏʀ ɪᴄᴇ ᴄʀᴇᴀᴍ ᴛᴏᴅᴀʏ sᴛɪʟʟ sᴛᴀɴᴅ?