Cressela - Twisted

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【 Chapter Six 】

“I drew lions in art today because I dreamt of lions when I was sleeping, and the teacher put a gold star on the top of it, and I want to get a lion onesie like my friend Rory, and his name sounds like a lion name because lions roar too, and... Amber, listen!”

Amber blinked, snapping out of her thoughts as Jack tugged at her hand, looking up at her with a small frown and a pout.

“Sorry, Jax,” she apologised, ruffling his copper-brown hair. “Sounds awesome. I’ll try and talk Theo into getting you a onesie like Rory, okay?”

Jack nodded excitedly, skipping beside her with his small hand in her larger one as they made their way to the library. Jack rushed over to the picture books in the kids’ section and asked the lady if she had any lion books, and while she was busy showing him to the animal stories, Amber sat amongst a few piles of old newspapers, flipping through them for ‘Insanis’ or ‘science’ or ‘species’. And sure enough, after fifteen or so minutes of searching, she found what she was looking for.

“Insane Scientist Claims The Title Of World Saviour” the title screamed, several paragraphs underneath describing the situation. Amber read them all, again and again, eyes wide and mouth agape.

“Today, introverted Latin scientist Dr Adriano Sanistri met with the government before being sent out after just a few minutes, mockery and disbelief being thrown at him from all directions - and for good reason. The man claimed to have the answer and solutions to our natural unsolvable issues that we endure, including natural disasters, food water supply shortages, amongst many others on his list.

“He told of how he had supposedly come into possession of a very powerful mythic species capable of indescribable, unnatural abilities, such as foretelling future events, healing the ill and saving the dead, communicating with animals and manipulating gravity, time and weather.

“Sanistri named the species the ‘byssus torta superno adinventionem facitos’, with the Latin meaning of ‘Twisted Unnatural Creations’ in Latin. Twisted is right, as Carlo Azeglio Ciampi immediately interrupted his speech, declaring it ‘a threat to humanities very existence, if the species itself actually exists’ and was dismissed. Spectators laugh and gossip as the scientist retreats empty-handed, humiliated and ridiculed.

“When questioned by newspaper journalists, he retorts, “You get one chance to live in the way all were intended to live. Free from the fear of the unknown, and planet earth’s violent outbursts. Masters of your own universe. But that chance you once had is... gone. No one will protect you now. Ultimate power will belong to me, and your... weak minds and souls will be wiped clean from this dirty planet. They will. Delusional thinking can inspire and develop many things, things you think are false but know to be... true. If you can bleed, you’re already dead. I can see it now, and I’ll see it again... with you.”

“The observers of this stuttered speech were in no way deterred, howling with laughter and renaming him Insanis as he retreated, as a play-on-words of Sanistri. Will we see him again, the humiliated, insane scientist, or hear any more about his beasts? Only time will tell.”

“And it did,” Amber mumbled to herself, slowly putting the article down. “It tends to do that.”

“I got my books,” Jack announced, running up to Amber with his rucksack full of bulky animal books. “Will daddy read them to me?”

Amber smiled, nodding. “I guess so. I will if he can’t, promise. C’mon.”

Jack’s smaller hand clutched Amber’s as the two walked back to the house, Meadow already upstairs with her pink headphones on, Jamelia’s songs rolling one after the other as Meadow herself finished off homework for her fashion design class, tracing her pencil over the same spot several times to decide what kind of length would work best, before rubbing it off with an impatient sigh. Theo wasn’t home yet, and Amber knew that when he would come, he’d be tired and unfocused, a bad combination with Jack’s constant enthusiasm. She read to him downstairs and made food, Jack being surprisingly careful as he helped lay the table and hardly spilling any water when he filled the glasses, biting his bottom lip in concentration. Meadow came down with her headphones still on and work on her lap, taking distracted bites every thirty seconds.

Amber watched them silently, barely touching her food. In a way, she was taking in the sight of them all together - two very, very different minors, and herself, who was never really a true part of the family no matter how much Ruey attempted to assure her that she was. Amber didn’t know what was waiting for her out in the forest, or if second time lucky applied to her situation at all, but was she could be almost certain of were four things.

She’d never sit in this chair with the two of them again.

She’d never feel so lost and clueless again, for better or worse.

And that this world was a whole lot more twisted than how it appeared to be.

So were some of the people.

Somehow, though, it felt right to go back to the forest, back to the house that she was taken to by the girl. There were so many questions she needed answers to - and, of course, not all questions come with answers - but that was if she got the chance to ask them, and assuming the girl understood. But Amber believed in Walt Disneys quote stating that worrying was, indeed, a complete waste of imagination, so she stopped thinking forwards and came back to the present, grabbing the empty plates and washing them up, putting them away and stroking Marcel’s snowy-white fur, resting her forehead against his.

“Something tells me I won’t have a moment with you again like this,” Amber mumbled, and Marcel’s icy gaze locked onto hers as if he understood her. “I don’t know, really. But if this adventure ends up taking me to other places, places I need to be, maybe places where I belong - or even kill me... I’ll still love you.”

Marcel liked her cheek and started panting, innocent eyes searching hers, and Amber smiled lightly before calling out to Jack, who appeared in a few moments with one of his borrowed books clutched to his chest.


“I’m... I might be gone for a while, Jax,” Amber said, struggling to find the right words, Jack frowning a little in confusion. “I’ve got something I need to figure out, and I’m not sure where it’ll take me. I could be back here tomorrow, but...”

“You going on an adventure?” Jack asked in curiosity. “Like the storybooks?”

“Sort of, yeah,” Amber agreed. “And Marcel’s gonna need someone to look after him while I’m away. Could you do that for me?”

Jack’s eyes lit up in excitement. “Really! Um, okay! Marcel’s fun - we play lions, remember?” Then Jack’s small frown reappeared. “Will you ever play lion games with me again, Ambie?”

Amber bit her lip hard, trying to keep composed. “I don’t know, Jack. But I do know that you’re an amazing boy, and when by the time you’re my age, you’ll be out there taming lions from all over the world.”

“Yeah, I will,” Jack confirmed proudly. “Because I can roar louder, and... I can roar louder.”

Amber smiled and pulled him into a tight hug. “Love you, Jax. See you around.”

“Love you too, Ambs.”

Then Jack was off, Marcel following him as he patted his leg, Amber watching and fighting off tears. Meadow came in to get a milkshake from the fridge, slipping her headphones off when she noticed Amber standing near the sink with an unreadable expression on her face.

“What’d you break this time?”

Amber rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help smile slightly this time. “Who knows...”

“You’re strange,” Meadow commented, sighing. “I’ll never understand you.”

“It’s more fun that way,” Amber replied with a smirk, but it quickly vanished. “Meadow, I know we don’t... we’re not close in most ways, but I just want to tell you that I’m gonna be out tonight, and... I might not be back any time soon.”

“Running away?” Meadow asked, eyes wide, her attention caught completely.

“Not really,” Amber clarified. “I’ve found something that I’ve got to finish off, and I’ve just got a feeling that I’ll be fine, but not here. I don’t belong in this place. You know I don’t. I don’t fit in, and I never will, because I don’t want to. I can’t, and I’m not going to try anymore. But before I go, I just want to tell you that I know your life will be exactly how you want it to be. Do what makes you happy, don’t do what they expect you to.”

Meadow was silent for a few moments, taking in her words with a look of thought. “I like fashion, but... I don’t know, just... I don’t know.”

“You’ve got time to decide,” Amber assured her. “Plenty of options. Have fun with them.”

Meadow nodded.

“I’ve got to get ready to-”

“Where are you going?” Meadow questioned, her voiced laced with newfound concern.

“I don’t know,” Amber admitted. “But tell Mazel... tell her thanks for trying for me. I know she just wanted what’s best for me in her eyes. But I’ve got to get what’s best for me in mine. Do you get that?”

“Yeah. No. I guess,” Meadow debated, shrugging. “Well... okay. Good luck with your mystery places. Mazel and Theo will hit the roof when they find out you’ve run off, you know.”

Amber dithered, and Meadow grinned.

“Don’t stress. I’ll stall for you.”

Amber gave her a half-smile. “Thanks. Bye, Meadow.”

Meadow nodded, hesitating for a moment before going upstairs quickly, pushing her headphones back onto her head and turning the music up to drown out her worried wonders.

Saying goodbye can have different effects depending on the different circumstances; if it’s just going to a corner shop or school, it doesn’t mean much, since you’re quite certain you’ll see them again. But if it’s a situation like a young soldier saying goodbye to his mother, it’s one of the bravest and hardest things they’ll do in their life. Saying goodbye to someone you know and love, and not knowing if you’ll see them again - or, like Amber, having a strong and unusual feeling that she’d never end up in Theo and Mazel Orthid’s house again. Everything she was used to could simply disappear, but it was up to her. She could keep going, into the new uncertainties of Silva Forest, or stay safe and certain in a home that was never really hers, with a family that never really will be her own.

So off she went.

Torch in hand, her sketchpad and the book in her pockets, wearing red cargo pants and a red and white striped long-sleeve top underneath a black, spray-painted short-sleeve top. Her dark ginger hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and stray locks framed her flushed face as approached the forest’s gate in the mid-evening, heart thumping as her hand touched the cool metal bars of the gate, pushing it open. She walked in, following the path she had taken before, the tree still down. Her pace quickened as the minutes passed, and soon she was sprinting ahead, her breath catching in her throat when the torch’s searching light revealed the bridge to the unknown.


The light went out in a blink. Amber stood still, frozen, relishing in the thought of being clueless and the same as she had been for almost sixteen years that’d become a fond memory. Then she moved, steadily advancing towards the swaying ropes and wood that connected to the house beyond. She trod gently onto its damp foundation, and she moved slowly onward, her breathing uneven and her stomach in knots. Amber could feel the hair on the back of her neck stand on end, as if invisible, condescending eyes were glaring at her from all angles. The breeze of the night which whispered between leaves ceased around her, and silence deafened the area. The bridge trembled from behind and in front, and goosebumps shivered up the flesh of her arms.

“Just do it,” Amber whispered into the warped air, and then she flinched violently as a cold, energised burst struck her from behind once more, and the blackness of her unconscious mind reappeared.

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