No Ones Charm

By KitKit Hicks All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Scifi

Blurb

I know what you're thinking, but it's not quite like that. Each and every moment another person is born, a charm is made just for them. We don't know how it works, but someone very far away, or very close by, using some form of Star Charting, a necklace is made with a shape on it and a color. The shapes... they describe the person, in a way. Circles are more… well, they do what they want. They roll with the flow, they’re a happy bunch. But you have to be careful, unless you want a circle to take advantage of you. Stars almost seem like they’re made to shine, they like attention, and they’re drama queens most of the time. Triangles are pretty lenient, as in they seem to like doing one thing or another all the time- they like it all, but don't want to offend anyone. Half-moons like to study and read, and ALWAYS get a better grade. They don't really mind anyone else copies off them. Squares are pretty much the jocks. Brutes, muscled, a tendency to have anger issues….. What do these shapes do? They help you find who you're supposed to love. That's what they used to do, anyways. But it's also starting to get harder and harder. Now everyone has all the regular charms, and I... have this.

Chapter One

“Astra?”

I glanced up from my doodles of a rose in bloom. My doodles… which were on my math book.

“Astra, I’m glad your creativity hasn’t been sapped, but right now, we’re plotting X and Y graphs, not drawing. Save it for art class, please.”

There were a few snickers in the room. I awkwardly erased my rose, and I could feel my face turning red as a few squares leered at me. I hadn’t even bothered learning everyone’s names; honestly, they were all just shapes to me. And most of them were jerk shapes.

Let me explain a bit further. We ARE humans. We aren’t just walking triangles with legs or something. But by shape, I mean the shape of their Match necklace. It describes who we are, in order to help us find love.

As soon as Ms.Rowanin walked away, Iris, a dark purple half-moon, gently nudged me, and pointed at her now-finished homework- homework she does in class instead if at home. She looked nice, plain but not plain. Short brown hair that had a tint of red, hazel brown eyes, pale skin with freckles dotting her arm, and a bit thin. She was currently wearing a cat shirt that showed pizzacat in outer space, and ripped blue jeans and black sneakers. The dark purple represented more of a change- the person could be very shy or very outgoing, but it really depended.

“Thanks.” I whispered quietly, quickly grasping my pencil and filling in the answers, changing them enough that no one would know I copied. Iris was pretty nice, actually, and pretty much allowed everyone to copy off her, but I think it’s more of the fact she’d rather be done and have her partner done so she can get online and role-play and write her books, books that will never be finished. That’s her main motivation, anyways. Other times she doesn’t want her friends to lag behind her.

The lesson they were teaching was pretty boring. I understood the concept of graphing, and it was pretty easy for me. Most people think that just because i was good at drawing meant I could draw graphs no problem, but that’s not drawing, thats plotting a line, which isn’t creative at all. Its pretty nasty, actually. Boring. I hate it to an extreme extent. But I could draw it, so HEY I’m not failing miserably.

I zoned out for most of the class, actually. We only have five minutes left, and they were going over homework. Ms.Rowanin was grasping all our homework when the bell FINALLY rang.

I grasped all my pens and pencils, stuffing them in my backpack, and darted out the door as fast as I could. I wasn’t actually one for neatness, and typically just stuffed everything into my backpack and ran. I had better things to do, better things to see, better things to DRAW.

Iris chose to follow me. “Fwiend, do you want to hang out with us?” She asked, in her baby voice. Iris calls everyone friend, fwiend, or person, and she helped everyone that needed it, the more that I think about it. “We’re going to the DropOff to have some fun.”

“No thanks. I’m actually just going to stay home.” I offered a slight smile. The dropoff was a interesting place- part of the city that wasn’t developed yet, so it just hung off the platform, and you could look indefinitely down onto the horizon below.

“Aww!!!! This is the first time I’m not staying home, and now you are?!?” Iris clutched over her heart dramatically, having to stick close to me in order to not hit people. She was around five foot two, and was pretty small compared to most of the other people. But she was only fifteen, while I was sixteen.

I was running out of time.

“It’s alright. I’ll come out with you… some other time.” I started to walk faster. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Iris, but I had other things to do. But I couldn’t help the feeling that I was hurting Iris in some way.

“Oh… alright.” She called after me, and turned, disappearing in the crowd. I could hear the dejection in her voice, and I had to wince. I didn’t MEAN to hurt her. But she was a little... Clingy sometimes. She meant well, but it didn’t sit all that well with me.

I passed into the commons room, or the lunch room. The floor was a spiral, almost rainbow, with all kinds of colors and shapes. I scanned, but I never see a sixteen pointed star. I don’t know why I keep trying, truly. No new tiles are added. We…… We’re pretty rare, actually. And that’s a very, very big problem. The shapes are meant to help us find our lovers, but it’s also defining in a way- circles don’t go with squares, even if they’re a pretty cute couple. The Stars say that in the end, someone would get hurt. Someone always does, supposedly. Besides, we also don’t see all the ’Gon shapes- apparently Triangles and Squares don’t count to them now, but I mean Decagon, Heptagon, Nonagon, and so on. You don’t see those guys on the stupid little tile floor.

I walked down the silver stairs, and finally exited the building into the cement like landscape, thousands of feet in the air, above the earth.

You think I’m kidding?

The buildings are supported by a gridwork of steel catwalks, poles, braces and supports that lead down to the ground. The city above is made mostly of nano-plexiglass, but it looks alot like cement to honor the Old Ways. Its pretty light but sturdy, and we live in the houses. We can change them, looking like wood or glass to our liking. There’s skyscrapers and houses, districts and neighborhoods. There’s another system of catwalks that support the Cars. Not normal cars like the old days on the ground, but sleek, almost pod looking types of things that you sit in and zoom about in… Not even I’m sure how. There’s no wheels, but it gets about somehow. Maybe I just don’t SEE the wheels. There’s no luxury Pods- they’re all the same. We’re all equal here in Laylynn. All equal people. That doesn’t mean that the clothes look the same or that we all look the same, we embrace differences as equality, actually. But we had to get rid of types of currency, like paper money and so on. Points are currency. You get points for doing good things (and getting it registered) or earning them by working. No papers, just points. There’s jobs that give more points and less points, so there’s not much of a equality there, but it’s all points in the end, like a game. The points are connected to your Charm- if you were dumb enough to lose your charm, it took your fingerprint, and you could buy the thing, but it would also alert you that you need your Charm. And it was hard to just… Up and get another. People could use Charms to steal all the points out of someones account in a snap, or use it to trot around and go on a spending spree. Used to happen all the time, till fingerprint scanners were added when you made a unusual purchase, such as…. A hot tub.

As I walked, my mind wandered again, back to when we had paper currency (no one remembered it, but the textbooks showed and talked about them), and during that time period.

After the population crisis, we started looking for other places to live. The world was almost full, and there wasn’t enough sustenance. I think there were operations going on- people going to live on the moon. I thought it was a cool idea.

Then, it was like the hand of some God reached down, and zapped in the Sickness. We rarely refer to it, but it was horrible.

It was in the food, in the water, in the air. Birds wouldn’t fly, but fall to the ground dead. The symptoms were strange, and still are to this day. Dry throat. Just a dry throat, and bruising around it, like someone gripped it very tightly. But it would get worse, and worse, and they would cough and hack and pass it around, and no matter how much water you drank, your throat was always dry. It would start to bleed, and then… wither away, almost. And it was fast moving, too. It took them two weeks to die.

The land couldn’t sustain us anymore, as mentioned, so we went to the sky. Building higher and higher, away from the horrors of the land. The first city to do this was this one: Laelynn. It means Flower of Hope, because our city was build out of hope. Don’t get we wrong, people still live on the Ground. We separate ourselves by saying Ground and Elevation. We’re elevation, being high in the sky. Ground is below, and sends up food they grow, food that’s harder to grow here. Or… more likely it gets sent to the giant warehouse in the middle of nowhere, then shipped everywhere to all Elevation cities via trolleys or carts or other things.

Quickly walking, I passed by the row of trees, down the red brick street. Wasn’t really brick, but looked and felt like it. My apartment was a few blocks away from here, with my mother staying in it with me, when she’s not working. Most of the time, I have the place aaaall to myself, and that is what I like.

I walked down the sidewalk quickly, looking at all the people milling about on the grass under the trees. Didn’t they have things to do? Didn’t they need to go or be somewhere?

Down the street, I spotted the multicolored apartment sections. The buildings looked like they were made from everything, from brick to stone to wood. They were painted all colors, and a few were dedicated simply just for street art. A group of people were calling themselves the Heartless, and they would draw pretty neat street art all over the walls, and the drawings would have a heart hidden somewhere in them. I paused, staring at the alleyway that was what I called a street art haven. One of the heartless’s best pictures was there- a beautiful pink, red, and white rose in full bloom, the petals made of different sizes of hearts. I loved to look at it and sketch it, when I have the time.

Pushing open the old, faded blue paisley door (I told you, we embraced creativity here), I walked into the lobby of the apartment, my footsteps muffled by the plush green carpet as I darted as fast as i could up the stairs, my feet pounding on it. It smelled a lot like coffee, which actually matched with the light beige walls. Now on the second floor, I walked about ten steps, before turning into my apartment. It was unlocked, as always.

“Mum, I'm baaaaaack.” I called out as soon as I closed the door behind me.

“Good, you didn’t die.” My mother called from the other room sarcastically. My ring necked dove, who was sitting on the edge of the baby blue sofa, pecking at a few seeds that were scattered here and there, started to coo at my arrival, as if she was annoyed or if I disturbed her. She was a pale, creamy white, with brown and reddish brown splotches. Naturally, I named her Mocha.

“You sound unhappy that I DID come back alive,” I replied to my mother, dropping my hot pink backpack onto the coffee table by our potted mini tree. Bonsai, I think it was called. We had a bunch of them scattered everywhere. I like to think Mocha pretends she’s a giant and sits on them.

She... she breaks them a LOT.

“Maybe I am, you don’t know my life.” Was her sardonic answer. “So, how was school?”

She breezed out of the kitchen, wearing her purple dress to her ankles, no shoes, and a white apron, her lime green star, the color symbolizing her humor, swinging back and forth as she walked up to me to make sure I was all in one piece. I inherited her pale skin, but her hair was nicely wavy and a glossy black, while my black hair constantly poofs up in wild waves and appeared like I threw flour at it. Her blue eyes are softer with amusement, and my dark grey eyes are always wide, like I saw a murder. Her skin is clear, and mine has a crapton of freckles. The differences are almost stunning. She was small, like a pixie, and instead my genetics decided to throw me with a five foot eleven frame. Clothes never seem to fit me. They’re either too small, or too big. I can almost count my ribs, and she looks healthy and alllllmost plump, but if you ask her about it, she always just replies ‘I had the choice of a social life or doughnuts, and the doughnuts don’t need you to have a six pack.’

“It was… OK.” Nothin' else to say about it. This was her daily mother checkup.

“You have any homework?”

“A few math pages.” That Iris let me copy. I had to double check them sometimes, because Iris tended to see numbers backwards once in awhile. Not too much.

“Finish ’em, then do what you want. I’m going to have to leave for my job soon.” she grinned slightly.

Mum actually had one job that went on into the night. She helped DJ a nightclub, which surprised a bunch of people, since she had social anxiety disorder, like me, and always got nervous when someone talked to her. When she went to a important event, she just kinda milled around, and nodded or shook her head at questions, always looking like she was worried she left the oven on and wanted to run away to check on it. I seemed to inherit it as well, but i could stand crowds. She couldn’t. But when she went up into the tower in the middle of the club, and became N1ght3ngal3, a completely different person emerged.

“How long do you think your going to be out?” I questioned, walking past her into the kitchen in search of food to eat. And when I mean food, I mean complete and total sugary junk that tasted like heaven opened up and threw it down.

“Mmmmmmmm….. Not too long, thankfully, but maybe I won’t be back till one in the morning. So sit back, relax, and nom nom.” That was her life motto, i swear.

“What if there’s nothing to nom?” I arched my eyebrow, opening the dessert cabinet, and finding nothing except a few slices of cheesecake. It was a electric cabinet, so everything could be refrigerated.

Mum looked like I told her I was going to shave my head bald, and become a rock star playing the air guitar. “NOTHING TO NOM!? WE’RE ALL GONNA DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! HOW CAN WE EVER THINK OF EATING HEALTHY FOOD!?” she dramatically yelled, pretending to collapse right then and there.

“Gee, thanks for that.” I snapped lightly, closing the cabinet door with a huff, opening our snack one. This was reasonably stocked. For some reason, we had choco covered corn dogs in here instead if the dessert cabinet. Mom seems to like them- they were made before the Elevation, by CyberCorp, owned by Trent Industries, who was owned by Curtis Trent, a genius who didn’t care about anyone but himself. There is a few funny stories circulating around him, like how he found a severed hand in his bag of chicken. Now they were mass produced somewhere (corn dogs, not severed hands).

“I’ll get some more desserts later. Do you want me to get pecan pie, or just surprise you?” she got back up, grinning at her joke.

“Surprise me,” I shrugged. I always liked to be surprised. As long as it didn’t have any shellfish in it, I was completely fine. And I highly doubt that there’s any desserts with shellfish, but who am I to know? Maybe there is, from a different culture lost long ago with the sickness. After the sickness, we rarely traveled from place to place, and in Laylynn, Cultures…. Are treated oddly. Its lucky if you ever get out of the city you were born in, truthfully. We just don’t risk it. And we almost NEVER go back down to earth, except people who want to.

I don’t.

“Kay. I'm also going to get myself rice krispies while I’m at it, because they taste good.” She stared for the door, grasping her lavender purse with a blue owl on it.

“Aren’t they for kids..?” I sat on one of our three oak wood looking dining room chairs, brought back up from the Old Ground. It had a nice carving of grapes on it, and I’m not sure why. Maybe that was a thing, putting food where you eat food.

“We don’t ever really grow up, Australorp, we just adjust.” She shrugged, calling me her pet nickname. Which I do not understand. “We grow up eating rice krispies when we’re kids, then when we turn into adults magically, we get to buy our own rice krispies and eat them down at three in the morning with Irish creme. Then we get our own kids and give them rice krispies from our own stash. It’s a pretty vicious cycle.”

As she walked out the door, I couldn’t help muttering sarcastically under my breath. “‘Vicious’, my butt. Its nature the way she puts it.”

Thankfully, she didn’t hear me.

I waited for the telltale ever so slight thuds on the floor as she jumped down the stairs. No, not walked, jumped, and I’m not so sure why she jumps, but she does. As soon as the thuds were far enough away, I could have my own, antisocial party.

I walked to the fridge and pulled out a half gallon of cinnamon spiced eggnog, and some white chocolate covered chocolate snickerdoodle cookies, then plopped them on the table. I turned my music up a few notches, put my feet on the coffee table, and started to draw in my sketchbook, taking a swig from the eggnog jug without using a glass.

Wow. I'm such a rebel, aren’t I. I can hear the parents screaming in horror. And yet I’M a bad kid?

I started to draw again, letting my feelings flow over the page. Stars tended to do that- let feelings loose in creative ways (now that I look at the picture, it didn’t seem like feelings). My way was with drawing. 16 point stars are no exception, but I like to think we have more of a grip on our emotions than other stars. Done even get me started on six-pointed stars. DON’T EVEN.

I was drawing a coffee shop scene. There was a wrought iron table with a steaming white cup of coffee, with a…. A rose pattern on the outside. Yes. Roses. Since the Elevation, we don’t have too many flowers around except in the park and what Heartless draws, besides the little crappy potted plant things. And… a bowl of sugar, in cubes, and a tall glass of milk. Maybe a doughnut, too. What kind..? Glazed. I liked glazed doughnuts. Maybe chocolate…

Suddenly I was startled out of my food revere, noticing my phone was buzzing, which was odd, as I only had a few friends and they didn’t try to text me, as I wasn’t much of a conversation through text. But once i saw who was calling me, I froze.

They were the Star Charters.

Star Charters are the ones that make our Charms, looking at the sky and the planets to see our personality and what our future may be. They also are the ones who make sure that by the age of 16, we’re Paired up with someone. It’s to help the city grow, I guess, but it also helps us, because past 16, it’s harder to find a pair for you. I could see their number across the screen. It didn’t matter if there wasn’t a contact name for them, we all had the number memorized by the time we were in middle school.

I quickly answered the phone, my hand shaking like I was clutching an ice cube. “Y-Yes?”

“Is this Astra Cathair…?” a smooth, cold voice voice was on the phone. It was a female, that was for sure.

“Yeah, this is her.” I was wondering when they’d call me. Apparently today was the day.

“Good. Astra, I’m Dr.Leslie Miller, from the Star Charters Counsel. I was concerned if you happened to find a pair or not…..?” Got right to the point, didn’t she.

“Ehh, No, ma’am. No I have not.”

“The stars said something like this would happen,” she mused, and I heard a clicking in the background, like she was chewing on a pen. I know, because I chew on pens a lot, like that’s not weird. Pen chewers, unite! “We found a few possible matches for you- all stars, but sadly, there’s only a few who are as… Special as you are. Would you like the list, Astra?” She said it like it was a bad thing. My name, I mean.

“Thank you, Ma’am, I would like to see it.” Actually I would like to use it as toilet paper. I don’t want my love decided for me. But i couldn’t tell this lady to screw off without the possibility that she would find me and I would have to do some serious community service or worse. You do not mess with the Star Charters.

“Alright, Astra,” she kept saying my name again and again. I’m pretty sure I know my name. “I’ll send it soon. Good Day.”

The phone clicked off then and there.

I stayed sitting, listening to the dial tone, before hissing and clicking it off. That was more than a bit rude. A few seconds later, a text popped up, showing a list of people, males and females, with Star charms that I may relate to.

The first few weren’t really interesting. There was David, who was in my Science class, but he was gay and everyone knew it. He made sure that everyone knew it. He liked to wear vibrant colors, and was currently dating Pablo, and it was hilarious, because David was five feet somethin’ tall, and Pablo was a bit over six feet. They were a pretty cute couple, with serious Pablo being serious and David skipping besides him, chattering. I’m pretty sure they are a bunch of writers OTPs. Writers tended to be either half-moons, stars, and parallelograms, who tended to be quite the daydreamers, currently, but it wasn’t that nice to associate just a few features with one item, but lets face it: we all do.

The next three were actually surprising. One of my matches was Iris, and she was a half moon. Not a star like Dr.Leslie had stated. It didn’t quite fit with the fact that the system wants us to all stay in groups. The other two I didn’t recognize: one was a black haired male making a funny face at the camera, and another one was a boy whom was just glaring, his brown eyes full of hate. I could relate to him. He looks like he just came back from math class.

None of them I really took any interest too, but I saved the file, still confused as to why Iris had shown up. There was no mistaking her happy but nervous smile, and the way she tilted her head slightly to the left, like a cat. I could almost hear her voice. ‘Herro, human!’

I clicked the phone text off, staring at my background, which was a picture of Mocha in a bonsai tree, all fluffed out, looking like the queen of the world, a spot of light coming from the open window. She always looked really cute and photogenic. Unlike me.

I waited there for a bit, still doodling, but the taste of the eggnog and the cookies was lost to me now, replaced with a bit of a bitterness. After I had to erase the foot of my character three times, I gave up and just studied it. I had unknowingly drawn a boy in the midst of my cafe, sitting in the back, legs crossed, leaning forward, eyes down. His eyes were a dark forest green, and he had a red paisley bandanna on, keeping his fluffy black hair away from his eyes. He was intently staring at a compass that was around his neck, and he was wearing green cargo shorts and a khaki soft tank top, and a green vest with no sleeves. He didn’t appear to have feet, as mentioned, but I wasn’t all that good at feet.

Mocha was busy preening herself as I set the sketchbook down with a heaved sigh, going back to sipping from the jug of eggnog, thinking I could force the bitterness away. You have no idea how much I love eggnog and cookies. It’s great. THEY are great.

I wasn’t all that sure what to do now, and I was still creeped out by the fact that they decided to call me right then and there. It just didn’t seem all that right, but I knew, and they must know, that I wasn’t paired yet with anyone, which was even more creepy, and we had to be paired, as I mentioned before, by 16, and hopefully we’ll marry by 21. There has to be a bit of space involved for dating and getting to know the person before you up and pop the question. Diamond rings are pretty hard to come by, most of the time just passed along from generation and generation. On the Ground, they’re still easy to come by, but not a lot of people live there anymore. It’s mainly used for farming, since most of us decided staying on the ground was not a very good place to stay.

I reviewed my options in my head. I could stay here, watch TV and listen to music, or I could go out again. Or even better, Iris mentioned she was going out to the Drop-Off. I could go there, and maybe sketch a nice picture of the lands below.

That seemed like the best idea, actually. I could get out and get some fresh air. Mocha could even come.

I stood up, abandoning my eggnog and cookies to the mercy of the dessert cabinet, and headed into my room. I pushed open the dark door, my feet sinking into the worn baby blue carpet I loved so much. My bed was made with a comfy black comforter, and it had hot pink pillows strewn across it. My walls were vibrant with color; hearts with neon streaks of all colors everywhere pooling off it from the roof onto the walls like a little waterfall. The ceiling was strewn with white Christmas lights, and my desk and nightstand and dressers were covered in sketchbooks and art supplies of all kinds. I preferred sketching in charcoal, then filling in with colored pencils, and then finally using more permanent items like pens and markers to trace the edges of the finished drawings, when i felt up to it. I rarely used paint, because it seemed so permanent. I like the freedom of erasing as it is, to know you can correct your mistakes.

I quickly found my black and pink book bag that had a special hot pink screen on the side of it, for Mocha to breathe and look out, and i pushed a few drawing supplies and my sketchbook into it- and just in case, my Epipen- making sure to cover it with a black cloth, before I walked back out again. Snatching the unsuspecting dove from the small tree, I stuck her in the bag, closing it and fastening it with the bright blue buckles. Mocha flapped for a few seconds, but then settled down into her natural position, hooting quietly. I started for the door, grasping my pink jacket that had a picture of a skull with roses on it, locking the door behind me, then realized I hadn’t left a note for my mother. I felt a twinge of guilt, but she wasn’t going to be back anytime soon, and I was going to be back quite soon, since all I wanted to do was sketch a few drawings of the scenery.

I quickly walked down the stairs, headed for the trolley cars. The fastest way to the dropoff was to take a trolley car that crossed the expanse of the Ground high above. Most were scared of it, as it had several bridges spanning the ground below. I sympathized with them, but I did like the heights. It showed a new outlook over the land below, whereas if i was on the ground, I wouldn’t be able to see as far.

Walking down the street, I spotted a few of my schoolmates hanging around an apartment, seeming to be having fun. Inside i heard some loud music, louder than I’d ever actually set up my own music, because unlike others I actually didn’t want to disturb my neighbors.

I spotted a familiar face in the crowd. It was Varian. I knew her, since she and Iris hung out a lot and roleplayed together. Varian had a black jacket with wings on it, and her hair in a bit of a deathhawk. She was wearing grey stretchy pants, black boots to her knees, and her dark brown eyes were slightly hidden under glasses. She was short and stocky, and most mistook her for overweight, and that was a LOT of people’s mistakes. She did not look very happy to be in the situation at the moment, and was hanging off to the side, sketching in her book.

“Hey, Varian…?” I called out uncertainly, walking towards her. She looked up, but didn’t speak, not needing to say much to me. Her hard eyes unnerved me, and scared away a bunch of people, honestly, but she was awesome once you got to know her, Iris says. “I’m headed to the dropoff, and Iris is supposed to be there. Would you like to come?”

She stayed there for a few seconds, before getting to her feet, putting her drawing things away. “Sure.”

When she was standing, she was around five foot four, and I was six inches taller than her. We started walking quietly, and I couldn’t help but notice she was wearing a Rilakkuma shirt, which was a cute little bear back on the Ground in the past. Some stores still sold them, since lots of teens liked those kinds of things, along with Manga and Anime, which seemed to be drawn cartoons in a different style and language most didn’t understand. I only knew the name because Iris went on and on about them, since they were so cute, and apparently in her roleplays with Varian, several of their characters dressed up as them.

We walked mostly in silence. I watched as we passed the city square, and the housing districts, where most of the houses and apartments were. We also walked by the park, and I felt Mocha shift, as she probably saw her favorite tree, and I had to lay my hand on the bag to hold her firm. I felt another twinge of pity, but we weren’t going to the park. Mocha didn’t really know that though, but I did.

A few more minutes of walking, and it started to get a bit awkward, so I decided to ask Varian a few questions. It wasn’t like she was going to bite me, or anything……. Right?

“So... what do you draw…?” I asked, then almost instantly bit my lip. That, was one of the stupidest things to go with.

“...Well, i mostly draw characters of mine that I create, and sometimes scenes from Iris’s and my roleplay.” She admitted grudgingly. Or maybe I was just imagining the grudgingly part.

“Is there any chance I could see? I have a sketchbook here if you want to look at it. I… I rarely draw people, but I do like drawing landscapes. That’s why I’m headed to the dropoff.” I felt a bit like I was rambling.

She nodded in appreciation. “That’s pretty cool. You didn’t look like the type to go to parties and such, so I was wondering why you were headed to the Drop-Off in the first place.” I noticed she made no comment to letting me see her book. I guess that was a resounding NO.

“Yeah, I really don’t like parties. Too many people, and a bunch of them might know you’re in the same class and want to be with you…” I let my voice drop off.

Varian finished it for me. It appears she felt the same way. “And then, in the end, you kinda just...” she had to pause, moving her bangs out of the way, since they were getting caught under her glasses. “You just kinda get forgotten entirely.”

“Exactly.” I grinned slightly. She smiled back, but it was obvious she didn’t really want to talk unless she had to. So we continued to walk in silence.

I heard the Trolley cars before I saw them. They were large hunks of silver metal, but they were designed to be used as transportation. They went across the open expanse on a large bridge of catwalks, and they were supported on a rail. One pulled up slowly, along the great wire that was holding it steady. I started to get in, but Varian suddenly paused, staring at nothing, apparently. “...”

She looked like she was seeing ghosts.

“...Aren’t you coming?” I tilted my head, not sure what was going on. Varian shook her head no, and turned around. “Hey, Varian! Where are you going? Whats wrong?”

“You’d call me crazy if I told you.” Varian called out over her shoulder, and I felt a sharp chill running down my back.

“Why would I call you crazy?” I hopped right back out, starting to follow her. She stopped and turned, fixing her hard eyes on me.

“Because if I told you what was telling me to not get on that, you’d think I’m nuts. Almost everyone does. And… then there’s just Iris. I’m going to walk back home at this point, and I think you should too, but it’s your choice. I can’t stop you. Nothing can.” The way she said it made me feel nervous.

“Y-you think I shouldn’t get on..?” she was almost around the corner.

“It’s your choice.” At this point, Varian had disappeared around the corner.

At this point, I was pretty unnerved, but Varian did sometimes scare people a lot. She most likely was doing this here. I remember when she dressed as someone with the Sickness and ran up on stage in the auditorium. Everyone was screaming, but the drama teacher found it pretty funny.

After a few more seconds, Mocha shifted again, letting out a laughter coo, which simply sounded like ‘ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hoooooooo.’

With a sigh, I boarded the empty trolley again, headed to the front, and sat down on the hard plastic seat, as the door closed. It started off, leaving the station and now over the air. I fished in my bag- I was SURE I got my phone.

Then, Mocha flew out.

The windows were thankfully shut and the bird had no idea what was going on, to be honest. She was flying around the small space, and was panicking. A lot.

I shot to my feet, abandoning the bag over the seat. “MOCHA!!” I snapped, and started towards her, the trolley rocking under my feet as I did so. She flew over my head, farther than I could reach, and landed on one of the baggage holders that almost no one used, since no one went for long trips.

I knew I had to get her. Once the trolley doors opened, Mocha would instantly fly out, and who knows where she would go. The question was, how?

I made up my mind, standing on one of the hard plastic seats, and reached up for her. Before I could, she slipped into the baggage holder, headed to the back of it, where i couldn’t reach. I let out a low hiss. Stupid bird!!!

I gripped the bar above me, and stepped on the back of the plastic seat, my knees shaking. I pulled myself up slightly, peering inside the dark baggage holder, and I spotted her in the back.

At the front, there was a Charm necklace.

I paused from my frantic search for the bird. It was a black parallelogram, still on a silver charm.

I reached for Mocha, but she ducked away again.

Great.

Instead, I snatched the charm, and turned it over in my hands.

On the back, engraved in the silver, was a small bit of Info.

Varian Blake

Female

Oct 3rd, 2253

This was Varian's charm.

Suddenly, the trolley lurched, and I lost my balance, slamming into the wall, and we started to tip. I saw my bag slide to the floor, slamming into the wall as well, and there was a horrible metallic groaning noise coming from the trolley. Or… What was holding the trolley up.

Oh, no.

I instantly tried to stand back up, still a bit dizzy, and nearly screamed. I was looking out the window, and was staring at the ground that was far, far below me. The trolley was almost fully on it’s side, and I could see the outlines of the ground. I scrambled back, but there wasn’t anywhere to go.

Then, I heard the cable snap.

There was another sickening lurch.

And I felt the sensation of gravity overtaking us. The trolley wall above me ripped slightly, allowing a large gap, and I could hear the loud whistle of air.

I screamed, feeling myself lift off the ground, watching as my pencils and pens floated through the air.

We were falling.

We were falling.

I don’t want to die.

I don’t want to die.

I don’t want to die.

Please, don’t let me die.

Please.

I should have listen to Varian.

I don’t want to-

Continue Reading Next Chapter
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