It was midnight, and a crowd had gathered around Big Ben to watch the fireworks. Hands in his pocket, sixteen-year-old Danny Boyle walked under the colourful sky lit up, arm in arm with his childhood friend, Alice May toward his home. His eyes followed the cracks in the pavement and the evening shrouded them in darkness. He gave up and glanced at Alice. She had picked him up earlier from the convenience store where he was responsible for handling the customers at the till. Danny rubbed his eyes and sighed, squeezing Alice’s hand in the crook of his arm.
"The fireworks were wonderful! I wished we stayed for the whole event!" Alice leaned on his arm and craned her neck to look at the still-lit sky behind them.
The booms of fireworks quietened. Alice’s foot caught in a pavement crack and she lost her balance.
He caught and righted her. "Steady, there, princess."
Alice balanced on her feet and caught his arm again, stepping his sync next to him; the night breeze battered her dark locks and pushed them in her face."I’m hungry, " she said. "Didn’t you say you were a good cook?"
He grinned. "Anything you’ve heard about my cooking skills are lies. Trust me, if I even step foot in a kitchen, something catches on fire."
Alice laughed, throwing her head back. "It can't be that bad."
"No, I'm dead serious. I couldn't even cook even if there was a gun pointed at my head, " said Danny sarcastically.
Alice smiled. "I think you would be good at it." She rubbed her chin. "So, I'll have chicken soup."
Danny snorted. "What colour do you want your casket to be?"
Alice squeezed his arms. " I'll think about it. But, I must tougher than that if dad’s cooking didn’t kill me so far."
Alice held onto his arm and her skin brushed his. Her smile shone even in the dark shadows of the evening, though, he couldn’t see the colour. Danny recalled her hot-pink lipstick perfectly well. The intoxicating strawberry perfume she wore made him wish summer were closer. He swallowed hard. What if he baited her? Alice was always two-no three steps ahead of him all the time, so catching her off-guard might do the job.
"He’s not good for you," Danny blurted out.
"No, " said Danny. "Ethan."
She sighed and looked down. "We’ve been over this. He’s a good boyfriend. Even if he’d try to use me—like you claim without a shred of evidence, what makes you think I’d let him?"
Danny sighed and looked down too. He had ruined their moment
"Look," Alice said, "if he gives you a hard time, tell me and I’ll talk to him."
Danny averted his eyes. "That’s exactly what I was worried about. What if he slaps me when I invite him to the spring dance?"
Alice threw her curls back over her shoulder. "I’m not kidding. if Ethan hurts you, he won't get away with it—"
Danny raised a palm to stop her. "Don’t make this about me—"He paused when something that sounded like a faint voice called out to him.
Help! Someone help me!
Danny whirled around. The streets were empty just cottage facades looming in the dark. A quiet neighbourhood.
Danny leaned and whispered in Alice’s ear, "Did you hear that?"
Alice shook her head, watching him with large eyes that reflected the little light available. He held his breath and she cocked her head, both straining to hear.
Cars were parked down the street but no one else walked the pavement. The busy bustle of Central London during a firework event was now replaced with a strange silence. It was almost too quiet. Danny peered around. Across the street, someone was closing their blinds. This time the voice repeated barely audible then trailed off.
Anyone, please help me!
Heart racing, Danny grabbed Alice’s hand and rushed down the street, following it to the end of Drury Lane. In front of them, from the darkness emerged the hulking black wreck of a van. It was turned on its side, wheels on the ground. Yellow tape with block letters surrounded the vehicle.
Squeezing his hand, Alice whispered from behind him, "What on earth is that?"
The van's windows were shattered, shards were strewn across the street, and the front of the vehicle was crumpled up to half of its original size.
Could the police have missed someone inside? Alice’s father was a police officer and Danny could hardly imagine him being clumsy enough to miss a whole person.
Faint scratching came from inside the vehicle.
That was it, police or no police. Danny ducked under the tape and stepped inside the perimeter.
"Wow...it almost looks like it could be a spaceship!" Danny answered. "I've never seen anything like it." He heard a faint voice calling him. "Why did I hear a girl call me?" Alice held her hand against her mouth and froze in horror as she pointed toward the steps of the spaceship.
"I think someone's there," she whispered. "Is that blood?" Danny edged towards the craft and gasped. A tall girl lay on the craft's steps. As Danny drew closer, he saw she had bruises all over the body, white shirt and black shorts drenched in blood; There was blood leaking from her forehead too.
What if she hadn't eaten in ages? She could have been running from the people who had chased her to Earth? Danny tried calling out to her.
Hello, can you hear me?
Then silence again.
"We should help her, " he said quickly. He took off his coat, wrapped it around the girl and picked her up, then called Alice. She didn't respond, so he startled her out of her head, "Alice!"
She walked towards him. "I wonder if dad is aware this is here. Let's take her to my house."
Danny protested. "That's a bad idea. You stole a bottle of his beer and came back home from James' party drunk." He pointed at the yellow tape. "He’d be pissed off if he found out we trespassed the crime scene."
Danny continued. "I'm going to double-check inside. The girl must've come with something that'll help us figure out who she is." He gave the girl to Alice and climbed up the steps inside the spacecraft. The first noticeable thing was chill on his skin. At first, Danny thought it was because he didn't have a coat, but everything was icy, lit in a violet glow. Maybe the girl came from an ice world or something. He thought. He spotted smashed controls behind him and walked toward it. He wondered if there was something the girl had left behind. Something that could help him figure out who she was, then lowered his eyes and spotted a small, black and dusty book
"This is intriguing," said Alice, coming inside. "It's freezing in here as well." She carried the girl on her back.
"Can you melt the ice?" he asked. "Don't be afraid of hurting me. Don't let the fire control you; you must control it." He walked towards her. "I have faith in you." She nodded as Danny took a step back, making sure he wasn't in the way.
She placed a hand on the controls and shut her eyes. Danny was amazed at her concentration. Alice didn't look afraid of her abilities at all. She used her powers when she played the lead role for Romeo and Juliet as kids. At first, Danny thought her powers trigged because Alice was nervous about reading her lines aloud in front of a large audience. Every time her powers triggered, there would be a pentagram surrounding her as fire erupted out of her hand. Alice injured one of their classmates and she hadn't used her ability from then. This time, Danny didn't know whether Alice could control her fear or not. Something was wrong. There was no pentagram, emerging from Alice’s feet. Danny peered around and caught the ice began melting on the controls and the walls. Then Alice letting out a yelp startled him.
"What's wrong—" A fire that formed itself into a ball erupted out of Alice’s hand caught him by surprise as Danny ducked in time. The fireball blasted thought the wall, creating a huge hole.
"I can't control my magic!" she exclaimed. "We have to get out of here." Danny grabbed the book and hurried with Alice down the steps. Danny distanced himself from the fire, but Alice was unable to catch up to him. The fire encircled Alice, blocking her way to him. Danny hurried to her and stretched out his arm when she pushed him away from the fire.
"Stop worrying about me and move your ass!" Alice screamed. He pulled her hand as they dove away from the spaceship. Danny watched as it went up in flames and parts of the spacecraft scattered around the ground, Alice, shielding the girl's body from any harm.
"Is the girl okay?" She scanned her body for more injuries. "I hope I didn't screw up."
"Yes, she's fine," Danny said, unable to control his breath. "Let's head to my house." He stood up, carried the girl on his back, then headed back home.
Danny and Alice stood in front of his house. They went inside, creeping up the stairs and inside his bedroom. Carefully, Danny placed the girl on his bed. He took a moment to admire her beauty. She was the most gorgeous girl he had ever seen; her jet- black hair smooth and silky. When he touched her skin, it felt numb as if the girl already died from the cold, but he felt a faint pulse on the tip of his index and middle fingers, gradually increasing. It was like she was between life and death. Danny held onto her hand. A sensation coursed through his body like an electric shock startled him.
He found himself, floating in a frozen wasteland, ice angles sculptures on each of the path. To Danny, the world looked as if it made out of ice, but violet patterns were painted on the path. He caught children with ice-horns, running towards a humungous, ice palace, and someone he can only see dimly beside the mansion.
Danny moved closer, and his mouth fell open as he caught someone who looked like his mother. The woman looked like an inexperienced teenager, holding onto a sword made out of ice, eyes with devotion to protect the castle. "Mom, is that you?" he called out to her, but she didn't notice him, hovering over her. Danny lowered his eyes and found his hands and body began to disappear. Danny's eyes opened as he studied his surroundings. He was breathing heavily, and his face drenched in sweat. For a moment, he thought his mother was real.
"What did you see?" Her tone sounded troubled. "For a moment, I thought you... left me."
Danny said. "It's hard to describe what I saw. My mom was in this world. Alice, I didn't tell you this before, but I remembered a voice in my mind calling for help before we found the girl."
Alice's eyes widened. "Try to communicate with her again."
Holding the girl's hand tightly, Danny called out to her in his mind again. Can you hear me? Nothing. Maybe his and the girl's mind weren't synced. Danny took a deep breath and glanced at Alice.
"She won't respond," he said. He ignored the pain in his head. "Be honest, do you think this girl will live?"
Alice rolled up her sleeves. "I think so. But the girl is in a critical condition. We're missing bandages, wet cloth and a bowl of water." Alice grabbed the sticky note from Danny's desk, scribbled something and gave it to him. She continued. "I wrote it down, so you won't forget anything. In the meantime, I'll watch over her."
Danny analysed the list. He couldn't make out what it said because of Alice's terrible handwriting, so he squinted harder to get a better look.
A bowl of hot water
A wet washcloth
Danny was concerned whether the girl would ever wake up. Maybe his theory about her living in a world made out of ice could be wrong. How was I supposed to get her out of my head? He thought. She was able to talk inside my mind. Maybe we’re linked somehow. Then a scream coming from his sister’s room startled him out of his thoughts, Danny burst into the and spotted Emily moving around her bed as if she was unsettled. Danny felt a sensation like the whole room was shaking. It caused hugely, cracks on the wall. To his surprise, the lamp lifted into the air and tossed itself towards the window as if it was some toy, glass pieces shattered around the ground. Danny flashed the light on and hurried towards Emily.
"It's all right," he whispered. "You're dreaming." Emily got up and stared at Danny in terror. Her forehead drenched in sweat and her upper lip trembled.
"What's going here!" their father, Jay bursting into the room. He was stunned by the state of the room. "What's wrong, Emily?"
"I was having a nightmare," she frowned. She sat up, hugging her legs. "My powers are scaring me."
Danny turned to his father. "I hope you’re not going to send her to a therapist. They won't help Emily control her telekinesis."
"I'll take care of your sister, " Jay told him. Danny spotted all the stuff from the list laying on Emily’s desk and grabbed them. "Where are you going with bandages and a cloth?" he added.
"Alice injured herself on the way home," said Danny hesitantly.
"You don't want to keep her waiting, " he replied. Danny left the room, went downstairs and into the kitchen. He got out a bowl, then filled it up with water. He headed back to his room and placed everything onto the desk and to his horror, Danny found Alice unconscious.
"Alice!" Danny exclaimed, running towards her. "Are you okay?" He checked her pulse on her neck, feeling a beat on the tip of his fingers. It went steadily as Alice's eyes opened slowly and she sat up.
"What happened?" Danny asked. His eyes fixed on her. "You almost gave me a panic attack."
"I'm not sure," her teeth chattered. "Don't you think it's gotten cold in here? Even if I wanted to warm myself up, I can’t control my magic Also, I tried to call your ambulance earlier, but my phone died. We need to take care of the girl's wounds without it." Danny was preoccupied with Alice that he didn't notice the cold increasing, though, his body was still warm beneath the many layers he was wearing. He tried his best to ignore it and sat next to her.
Danny pointed towards the girl. "I'm guessing she needs the cold to survive. I think I’ll let dad know about her when she’s awake, but for now, do what you can."
"She's barely hanging in there," Alice frowned. She was rubbing her hands together to keep herself warm. "It looks like you got the things I need to help her out." She placed the cloth inside the bowl on the desk, squeezed out excess water and placed it on the girl's forehead. A minute passed as she finished wrapping the bandages around the girl's body, put her back on the bed carefully and rechecked her pulse.
Alice faced Danny. "It looks like she is breathing normally,". "How about we figure the girl’s name while she rests.?" Danny grabbed the journal from the desk and turned to the first page. He squinted harder and realised the letters were in the form of triangular Crystals.
"I can't translate this at all," Danny's head throbbed in pain. "It's so confusing."
"Maybe the language they speak is different from ours," Alice suggested. She got her glasses from her coat pocket, put them on and scanned to the bottom of the page. "I recognise it from the museum we visited on our school trip last year."
She continued. "I was intrigued by the language, so I took some photos and got my mom to help me interpret it. She managed to learn some of it. According to her, you read the characters backwards. My theory is that this is the girl’s language."
"Can you translate her name?" asked Danny.
Alice nodded. "I'll try my best. She placed her finger on top of the page and uttered out,
Danny heard her cursing under her breath. He thought she hadn't used her magic since they were kids that caused her to forget what to do with her powers. If Alice overcame her trauma of hurting Lucy, then her magic could respond the way she wanted.
"I thought so," Alice hissed, clicking her fingers. "My magic wouldn't come out no matter what spell I use."
"You already know about Crystal language, " Danny said. "Try reading the first entry without magic. You could do this."
Alice placed her finger back on the right of the page and pronounced the first five letters slowly. "A-Y-L-A. I'm positive her name is Ayla."
"Ayla?" Danny tried copying her. "That sounds easy to remember." He thought it would take forever to translate the journal, but he was glad Alice came with him. She was good at deciphering languages that Danny wanted to learn from her. But he wanted to become useful to Alice. Useful to the girl. Danny had promised himself to become more independent and stop relying on people since his mom died. What was he supposed to do? Danny was empty, unable to find the answer.
He caught Alice struggling to keep her eyes open, legs shaking as she dropped onto his lap. Bewildered, he placed his index finger on the side of her neck. It was very weak. Her forehead drenched in sweat, and her breathing decreased. What happened to Alice? Was she exhausted? Her eyes looked clear as the sky.
"You should get some rest," he whispered. "You worked your ass off at work. It's too bad the security guard didn't believe us when we told him the manager acted like a total pervert." Danny placed the journal on the desk and helped Alice up, her arm wrapped around his neck to support herself. "He was being gross, flirting with you all the time. I don't understand why he acts like that."
Alice scoffed. "I knew that. Why did you think I played the naive girl the whole time? I wanted to make the manager humiliate himself in front of everyone, but it backfired on me. I guess everyone wears a mask. She added. "Anyway, take care of Ayla." She took off her glasses, placed it on the desk and climbed the top bunk bed.
Danny sat back on his chair, wondering how his family would react to Ayla. Maybe Emily might be okay with her, but his father would freak out if he found out a stranger slept in his room. He was sure his dad wouldn't abandon a patient no matter who or where they came. A thought had occurred Danny. If Ayla woke up, how would she react to him?
When he heard her voice inside his mind the first time, Ayla seemed distressed. It would make sense that she could not trust him at all. Danny knew he would regret it if he didn't try to earn her trust. He peered at her cheeks. They regained colour, as her index finger moved an inch.
Ayla, can you hear me? He called her out gently. She got up and blinked at him. Danny rubbed his eyes. She was alive. But, she looked way more horrified than he’d thought. He reached out for her hand, hoping to calm her down, but Alya slapped it away.
Get away from me! You don't look like one of my people! She screamed in his mind. Her voice sounded harsher than the first time she called out to him.
Danny jumped from his chair. His alarm lessened when he caught the sorrow in Ayla’s eyes. She sat back, hugging her legs and eyes fixed on him. He could sense her breathing became rapid, and a tear slipped down her cheeks. Ayla seemed so lost in the darkness; her eyes were large and luminous in the darkness. The moonlight that poured through the window revealed most of her face: Pale as pearls.
Danny shut his eyes and focused hard to gather his thoughts. He needed to explain to her all he knew and be honest too. Danny knew there was no point in holding back what he knew for Ayla’s sake. The more Danny attempted to sync with her, the bigger the pain that was coursing through his body worsened. It was like something had reached through his heart and squeezed it. Maybe Ayla had enough of being terrified and sent emotions to let him know. He figured it would be easier to help Ayla if he would quit worrying about her and did the right thing.
"My friend and I found you drenched in blood. "Danny informed her. "I also got a journal too." He grabbed it from the desk and opened to the first page. Ayla attempted to utter out the words, but her upper lip trembled in fear that he couldn't make out her words.
"I can't read it at all," she cried out. "Why can't I understand it?"
Danny sat next to her and wiped the tears off her cheek. "You’re supposed to read it backwards." Danny pointed on the right side of the page and tried to pronounce it the way Alice did. "A-Y-L-A. Can you say it?"
"AY-" she hesitated for a moment then tried again. "Ayla." She pronounced it well and leaned toward him, her fingertips on his chin. "Why do you have silver eyes? They seem so familiar to me? What's with your clothing? I had never seen my people wear it before." She paused for a moment. She scanned around the room, then flickered her gaze back to Danny. "Is this planet Earth?"
"Yes, it is, " said Danny. "Do you remember anything?"
She admitted. "The last thing I remember was my conversation with my mother. She told me earth was the safest place for me. But my parents forbid anyone to visit this realm till they reach one hundred and seventeen."
"Wait—How old are you now?"
"In the human world, I would be seventeen."
"I promise we’ll figure out everything in the morning. For now, get some rest, " said Danny. For a moment, he saw Ayla concentrating. She placed one hand on his chest and the other on the side of her head then shut her eyes. Her body looked as if it was shaking. What was Ayla trying to do? Maybe his explanation did confuse her: Danny decided to trust his gut, hoping she wasn't trying to harm him.
She beamed at him. "You helped me out a lot. It's hard to explain, but I can tell your not a threat by your heartbeat." Her tone changed. "It'll change depending on your emotions, so I hope you'll continue to be honest with me." Ayla laid back down, covered the blanket over her head and shut her eyes.
Danny sat back on the chair and calmed himself. Ayla’s warning gave him a bad feeling she shouldn't be trusted at all. How could he earn her trust? Ayla's skills at analysing people were great, but scary at the same time. It was a gamble, but Danny resolved he'd do everything he can to help her out.