This place really is something. I wonder what else is out there. Kota sat on a small stretch of beach on his tiny island home in the vast ocean of Incarsis. He sat in total silence, staring out at the water, then shifted his gaze to the cloud filled sky and dreamed of his future. I can’t wait to see it all.
In the distance, the sounds of his friends’ laughter echoed into his ears. He heard them getting louder and closer with each passing second; then, as suddenly as it’d started, the laughing silenced. Kota turned his head to look behind him, there stood all of his friends with smiling faces. Each of them was someone special to him, his best friend Turk, his crush Celia, his twin sister Sage, and his second oldest brother Vinn.
He stood up to greet them, “Hey guys. So, what’s goin’ on?”
Celia stepped forward, “That’s what we came to you for. What’re we doing today?”
Kota’s eyebrows raised as he scanned their expectant faces. “We could go check out that hill with the hole again.”
The smiles on their faces disappeared. Vinn turned around and began walking away.
“Where’re you going?”
“Home, I’m not gonna have any part in this again.”
Kota began walking after his brother, but Sage’s voice stopped him. “Maybe he’s right Kota. You remember what happened last time. I don’t think doing that again is such a good idea.”
Kota started walking forward again, “I remember that I didn’t get to see what was down there last time. I just want to know, is that so bad?”
He now had his back to them; without his shirt on, they could see the large scar across the length of his back. “If you guys don’t want to go, that’s fine. I don’t have any problem going by myself.”
Turk put his hand on Kota’s shoulder, “Sorry, but that’s a big fat no from me. We all go, or no one goes. But not Vinn, seeing as he’s a pansy and doesn’t want to.”
Everyone broke out into laughter, and started heading into the jungle. After about an hour of hiking through the underbrush, they came upon an enormous hill. At the top of the hill was a hole, about four feet across.
Kota stopped and stood at the edge. He looked down into the hole and kicked a rock in. “Listen.” After a couple of seconds, the rock splashed down into a pool of water. He turned around, “Anybody up for a swim?”
Kota began climbing down the shaft wall, when he looked back up he saw Turk and the others following after him. He worked his way down foot by foot until he took a step down, and there was no foot hole for him, only open air. He figured that this meant the shaft ended here, and that it opened up to a full cavern with a pool. He didn’t know how deep the water would be, so he hesitated, if only for a moment, and then decided that there was no reason he should be afraid. He whispered to himself, “Now or never.” Then let go of the shaft wall.
He yelled as he fell another twenty feet. Turk looked down in horror, expecting that his unyielding best friend had finally run out of luck. The yelling was silenced by a loud splash. They all looked down, waiting to see what became of Kota. After a few moments of silence, his upper body suddenly launched out of the water, accompanied by a girlish scream. “Cold!!!!”
The three of them, still clinging to the shaft wall, began to laugh uncontrollably. Kota started splashing around, trying to warm himself up. “C’mon guys, hurry up! The water’s fine once you get used to it!”
One by one the others started falling down and splashing into the water, just as he had done before. They started swimming around, splashing each other, and even playing a few games while they could. After a couple hours had gone by, Celia pointed out something they’d all forgotten to address. “Did anyone think of how we’re supposed to get out?”
They all looked at Kota for an answer. His eyes were open slightly wider than before, as if he’d come to a sudden realization. “Um…”
Sage splashed water in his face, “Great job idiot! Now what are we supposed to do? How do we get out of here?”
The four of them floated around for another hour, trying desperately to escape using any method they could think of. Turk raised his voice, “Well this is just fantastic! Thanks a lot Kota…jerk! You just had to come back here! You just had to bring us along for the ride! We all knew this wasn’t a good idea, but no, you just couldn’t leave it alone, could you? Even after what happened last time. Why can’t you just think, for once in your life, about what might happen when you do something stupid?”
Kota just looked at his friend as he floated there insulting him. He let him rant for a few minutes before offering any kind of defense for himself. “I didn’t make any of you come with me. That was all you.”
“You might as well have! How do you think we would’ve felt if you died out here and it was because we didn’t come with you?”
In the middle of them arguing, the end of a rope suddenly dropped down from the shaft and landed in the water. Sage and Celia were quick to grab the rope and leave the two bickering boys to their affairs. When the time came for them to leave, neither one would grab the rope.
“What’s the matter Turk? I thought you wanted to leave.”
“Please, go ahead.”
Suddenly Sage’s voice echoed through the cavern, “If you little girls want to stay, I’ll gladly leave you behind!”
The rope started to rise out of the water, and back up the shaft. Kota reached for it hastily, “Okay, okay, we get the message!” He quickly climbed up the rope, followed closely behind by Turk. When he reached up his hand for assistance out of the hole, a large hand gripped his firmly and pulled him out. Connected to this hand was a muscular arm, and connected to that was the muscular body of Kota’s oldest brother Collin. Behind him, standing with the girls, was his older sister Flora. “How did you guys know we were down there?”
Flora put a towel around him, “Vinn told us you wanted to try exploring the cave again. After a few hours went by, we decided to come looking for you.”
Collin broke in, “And it’s a good thing we did. Do you have any idea what could’ve happened?”
Kota glanced to Turk, then back to his brother. “Trust me I’ve already had enough lectures today.”
Collin put his hand on Kota’s head, “Trust me. Just wait ‘til we get back to the house and Mom and Dad find out.”
Flora took Turk and Celia home, while Collin walked Sage and Kota back to their house. At home, their parents waited to yell at Kota for endangering everyone. Kota was used to being yelled at though. He couldn’t help it; it’s just how he was. For as long as he could remember, people had been yelling at him for stupid mistakes that he’d made. And just like every other time, his parents forgave, and punished him. In the later weeks, all of these events would be forgotten.
Two weeks passed after the incident, and Kota had finally finished his punishment. As the day passed, he contemplated on things that he could do with his new freedom. After his father, brothers, and he returned home from a day of fishing, Kota had decided on what he wanted to do. That night, there was supposed to be a full moon, and no clouds.
The hours went by slowly as Kota waited for everyone in the house to fall asleep. Midnight had arrived, and he was ready to sneak out. He nimbly climbed out of bed, opened his window, and vanished into the night. He didn’t get far from the house before Sota, his father’s panther, got in his way.
He stared Kota down, as if he were going to attack, but Kota knew better than to fall for the panther’s intimidation tactics. He pulled out a raw fish from his back pocket, “See the fish?” He wiggled it in front of Sota’s face, “Get the fish.” He then threw it and ran the opposite direction. He ran full sprint until he was sure the panther wasn’t following him, then walked at a steady pace toward the beach.
At the edge of the jungle, just before he came to the sandy beach, Kota saw Celia and Turk waiting for him. He walked up to Turk first, “You still mad about the other day?”
After a moment of thinking, Turk put his fist out. “We’re cool.”
They bumped fists, and the three of them walked together toward the edge of the beach. The moon was especially bright that night; perfect light for some midnight swimming. They took off their shoes and ran for the water. It was just like they used to do when they were little. Kota suggested they have a competition to see who could swim the fastest. Celia wasn’t interested, but that was okay with him. It gave him a chance to show off to her, as well as prove that he was better than Turk.
The two boys started at the water’s edge, and when Celia gave the word, they blasted into the water at top speed. After a minute, the two of them had gone out more than fifty feet. Suddenly, they stopped dead; something off in the distance made them freeze.
Turk asked, “Kota, what is that?”
“It’s some kind of light. But there’s a really loud sound coming from it.”
“And it’s moving.”
“Where’s it going?”
The two boys watched the lights move. They grew closer and closer, until they must’ve only been a mere twenty yards away.
Kota caught a better look at one of them, “They’re boats.”
An instant later, the boats had landed on shore and soldiers began pouring out of them. Kota looked back to Celia, who had made a run for the trees. He then turned to Turk, and with a panicked tone asked, “What’s going on?”
After a few moments, large machines in the sky began raining fire down on the little island. Kota and Turk swam back to shore, grabbed Celia, and ran back toward home. Celia was crying the whole time as they ran, “Why is this happening?”
Turk, who was pulling her along, answered, “I’ve heard about this before. It’s called an invasion.”
The three of them ran as fast as they could to try and get back to their families; all the while trying to keep out of sight of any invading soldiers. They stuck together for as long as they could, but when they came to a fork in the trail, Kota had to part ways with his friends. They turned to the left, while he went to the right. It couldn’t have been more than five seconds after they’d parted ways, when Kota heard the large explosion. He turned around to see where it happened, and wished he hadn’t. The trail that Celia and Turk had just taken, was no longer visible through the fire and smoke that now engulfed it.
Kota had no time to go back for his friends, he now only thought of his family. He kept running down the trail that led to his home. When it was finally in sight, he stopped. Outside his house, two soldiers stood pointing guns at his father and brothers; his mother and sisters were nowhere to be seen. Kota abandoned the trail, and hid in the brush that surrounded the house. He could only watch now.
His father made a quick movement, and stole the gun from one of the soldiers then killed him. While he was fighting with the second soldier, Collin and Vinn ran inside and grabbed a couple of fishing spears. It was a matter of seconds before they’d completely overpowered the soldier, and killed him. Kota remained hidden in the bushes, frozen out of shock. He could hear his father giving his brothers directions about what they should do next, when a third soldier strolled toward the house from the trail that Kota had been on.
This soldier was very different from the other two. He stood nearly two feet taller than them, and had arms and legs made of metal. On his head, he wore a helmet that even covered his face.
Kota heard his father again, “I’ll handle this one.” He pointed the gun at the soldier, and began firing, but the bullets only bounced off of him. Kota could hear the soldier laughing under his mask. His father then threw the gun down, and ran to fight the soldier hand-to-hand. He threw the first punch, but the soldier caught it with his left hand.
The soldier began laughing even louder as his grip tightened on his hand. He squeezed harder and harder until the thing that was once a hand, had been turned into a bloody pulp. Still the soldier did not let go; with his right hand he grabbed hold of Kota’s father’s head. And with one swift motion, snapped the man’s neck.
Collin hurried to his father’s aid, but was too late to save him. He took the fishing spear and attempted to run the soldier through, but again the soldier caught it before it could reach him. He quickly grabbed the spear from him, turned it around, and pierced through Collin’s midsection, killing him instantly.
Lastly, Vinn tried to save his brother, but the soldier cut him off. He uttered only a short phrase, “You’re too slow.” And he then backhanded him, breaking his jaw and neck simultaneously. Once the soldier made sure that the three of them were dead, he set fire to the house. When his business was done, the soldier disappeared into the jungle.
Kota had not budged an inch from the very moment the soldier had arrived. He sat in his hiding place, frozen in shock from what he’d just witnessed. When he knew the soldier was gone, he slowly walked out of the brush. He stood before his burning home; this was the home he grew up in, the home that his family had once lived in, and now it was slowly burning away. He dropped to his knees, and stared at the flames, in a daze, for the rest of the night.
The next morning, only minutes away from sunrise, the flames had died. Only the smoldering ashes of Kota’s home remained. He was still staring at what was left, as if it wasn’t real. The light had disappeared from his eyes; what was left was not a child, but rather an empty shell. Footsteps could be heard approaching him from behind. The soldier that had invaded his island, killed his family, and destroyed his home now stood behind him.
He inched closer, and kneeled to his side. He removed his mask, and whispered into Kota’s ear. “Little heathen boy, where are your gods now?” The soldier then stood back up, and backed up a couple of steps.
The sun began to rise, and soak the little island paradise with its radiance once again. All was quiet, except for one sound that rang throughout the morning air. It was the sound of a single gunshot.