Heather bent her knees and catapulted up onto the bed, landing flat on the fuzzy blanket. She let the mattress rebound and bounce her up and down a bit before carefully gaining enough balance to stand up. The bed rolled underneath her as she began to jump. She loved it when Jowee was out- there was nobody to tell her what to do.
After a few minutes of her fun little trampoine game, she boinged right off the bed and landed a good deal away.
"and she sticks da landing!" she shouted into the empty house, letting it echo back like an announcer. "What can dis wapo NOT do?"
Not make a mess.
She looked around the disastrous room, then at the small wind-up clock on a shelf next to Jowee's bed. He should be back soon. It would probably be a good idea to tidy up a little to keep him from having a major freak out.
She dashed towards the bookshelf, scooping armfuls of books from the floor. They had various titles, all of which had greatly intrigued her to read- The Study Of Raposa History, Bed Time Tales for the Sleepy Rapo, The Discoveries of Indee A. Jones...
Heather carefully set them on the shelves, just as she had found them. She picked up a smaller book, one made for Raposa her age to read, and tossed it on her bed for later. Once the bookshelf looked in order, she continued toward the kitchen. Using a small towel, she wiped up the puddle of banya ice-cream she had left on the counter and put what she could salvage in the fridge. She rinsed the bowl and spoon and put them away in the sink for Jowee to finish. He could be quite OCD about the dishes and how they were cleaned and put away.
With one final look and a quick sweep, the house looked just how it had been before he had left.
She wandered over to her bed and faceplanted onto it before crawling up and picking up the book she had left there earlier.
"Bitty Baki" she muttered, looking at the colorful cover. "Why do I read this garbage?" she turned to the first page and painfully read the simple text.
Jowee thought she was a normal Raposa (besides her half-shadowed face, of course), but he was wrong. Deep inside, she had the mastermind of someone much older, a complex think-pan whirling with possiblities. Even Jowee had a hard time comprehending "The Full Guide to Understanding Raposian Math and Science", one of her favorite books on the shelf. For Heather, it was how she learned, since the minimum school age was 10. Jowee had "taught" her how to read, as well as basic math, but in truth, she knew so much more.
Heather bolted up at the sound of key in the door, and tried to look like she was struggling with the board book. Jowee walked in, with his best friend Mari by his side.
"See you...tomorrow?" he asked, smiling at her. Heather glanced up from the book, slowly moving into a more comfortable position on the bed.
"Tomorrow" Mari giggled, giving him a quick hug. "Bye Heather" she added, giving a slight wave as she left.
"Byes" she peeped back, looking back at the book.
Jowee padded over to her and sat in the edge of the bed. "What are you reading?"
She flipped the book closed and made a big deal of reading the cover.
Jowee smiled, obviously impressed. "Nice job! What'd you do when I was gone?"
"Read dis book, ran 'round..."
"What did you eat?" he pondered, raising an eyebrow.
"Nuffin... A few bowls of banya-cream..."
"More like three."
He sighed, standing up. "I'm surprised your not hyper."
"Oh I am alright. Watch dis, I've been practicin'!" Heather stood up on the bed once more, bounced a few times, and almost pulled a front flip off the edge. She landed on the floor, stumbled a few steps, then stood up and raised her arms up. "TAAAA-DAAAA!"
"When did you learn that?!"
"Nowhere. Taught it ta myself."
"Hmm." Jowee smiled devilishly, dashing forward and scooping her up while tickling profusely. She laughed and begged him to stop until tears rolled from her eyes, and he tossed her onto the bed.
"Alright, it's late... Time for bed, Heather," he told her, pulling back the sheets.
"Come on, not yet" she moaned.
"But..." she looked up at him. "What if I have a bad dream again?"
"They are just dreams. I'll be just across the room. If you really need me, just wake me up."
"ok..." She wiggled underneath, trying to fight the urge for her eyelids to close until she found herself slipping into sleep.
"I knew you were sleepy." Jowee leaned forward and planted a small kiss on her forehead. "Night."
She ran down a wide pathway in the village. The sky was a perfect blue as the clouds danced above her head. She was heading towards the large cherry-blossom tree, where she was told she would be meeting her friends. The cherry blossom held so much history- it was where Mari met both Wilfre and Jowee.
She hurried, hoping she wasn't late for the 'surprise' she was told they were having until she could see the leaves just over the hill.
Below her, the two other children waved, smiling. Jowee and Mari were waiting for her!
"Hi guys!" she laughed, sliding down the hill.
"Hello Heather" they both said together, their smiles almost seeming mechanical the closer she came.
"Oh a picnic!" she gasped, noticing all the food gathering around them. "I'm starved."
They nodded with their blank eyes.
Heather sat, unconcerned. Picking up a plate, she held it out and nodded, trying to be polite and wait patiently for her food.
Jowee looked down and picked up a set of tongs carefully between his paws, then dipped them into the basket to pull out-
A colorless carrot?
He dropped it onto her plate, letting her marvel at it. "Jowee, it's not..."
She looked up, her vision beginning to blur. Everything was spinning as she looked between her friends.
"No...color?" Jowee whispered, smiling even wider.
"You...don't say..." Mari cackled, tilting her head and beginning to bare the same freakishly wide grin.
Before her very eyes, the two began to change. Mari shifted into a daemon sprite, and Jowee into...
"...Wilfre" she gasped under her breath, dropping the plate and the colorless confection to the ground.
"Surprise" he teased, letting a red-stoned scepter materialize into his hand. Before she could blink, everything began to shift and whirl, the colors fading away as shadow began to consume them.
"You're...next" Mari-sprite hissed, glowing red.
She broke into a sprint, not looking back as she ran. She needed to go somewhere, anywhere, from the shadow. It had touched her once, but never again...
"Where are you going? We set up this picnic just for you" Wilfre yelled, waving the scepter towards her. The shadowy mess began to crawl after, dissolving the color from everything it touched.
"Yes..." Mari reached down and picked up the grey picnic basket. "What a waste."
"Yes, and what a shame." Wilfre's voice echoed in her small ears, taunting her as she tried to escape. "We hoped you would stay and enjoy it. Come back, Heather, and join us..."
"No!" she cried, looking back. What a mistake. The shadow sensed her and began to pull closer, bubbling and making horrendous noises. "I'll-"
The next thing she knew, she was face-first into the dirt, spitting out grass. The shadow was upon her, and there was no escape.
"It really is a shame" Wilfre kept saying as it began to encircle her.
She looked around frantically as the two came closer, peering into the ring of goo they had created around Heather.
"a shame... That a useful resource be put to waste," Wilfre cackled as he waved his scepter and backed away. All at once, it flung over her and began to consume her.
Mari and Wilfre watched with pure enjoyment as she was torn to pieces.
She flung herself upright, stifling a silent scream. Panting heavily, she looked around the room as her heart raced, finding it to be nothing but a very real, very terrifying, dream.
She looked around, seeing that the wind-up clock read midnight. This was the same time she had woken the night before, and the night before that.
This was it.
She climbed out of the bed, kicking the Bitty Baki book out of her way as she marched to the kitchen. Climbing on the counter, she pulled out a glass and got herself some water-
"Gha!" she screamed, dropping it to the floor at a slight noise outside the window. After a few seconds, she took a deep breath. "Just the wind... It sounded like that shadow..."
Walking back into the living room, she looked at the bed next to hers. Jowee was fast asleep.
He had told her to wake him if anything went wrong...but...
She knew what she had to do.
"I'm so sorry Jowee... I need to do dis." she walked across the room towards the door and opened it, cringing at its every creak. She looked back.
She peeked out, eying the many buildings of the village. "I'm going to miss this place" she whispered, looking around.
The cawing of a bird made her flinch, and she hopped back inside.
"I could just go back to bed..." she told herself, looking back in one last time. "...no..."
She stepped out onto the porch, letting a soft glow from her pocket distract her.
A red stoned pendant, similar to Wilfre's scepter, was beginning to brighten. She had never really known its purpose, but tonight, everything seemed to make sense. Taking it in her hand, she began to walk slowly out the door.
Heather moved along, looking around the village. With the stone tightly in her paw, she could almost see the memories of the village. Looking at the barn, she could see the farmer teaching his son how to harvest his first Banya crop. The town hall had hundreds of little visions, collected by the many mayors of its past. There was little Mari helping her father carry books, and even more current, Mari working there today.
She sighed and continued, finding the tree she has seen in her dream. The cherry blossom dropped its petals and let them flutter into the wind, never to see them again. She could almost see Mari and Wilfre together, talking like old friends.
The pendant was to show her something, yet she knew this was not it.
Walking back the other direction, she entered the wood. In the center, a series of events were unfolding. The Mayor walking into the clearing, Wilfre coming up behind him...
She looked away, her eyes filling with tears. She couldn't continue, but she had a feeling it was relevant. Looking back, she could see everyone weeping over his death...
And then it all faded away. The pendant stopped glowing.
She continued wandering along until she found herself at the the top of a hill. "please" she whispered at the stars above, "show me. Show me what I am here for. Show me where to go."
She looked down, a shiny glint catching her eye.
"It's commin' from da beach" she said softly, running back down the hill.
In the middle of the sand sat a small chest, closed tightly.
"Why would someone leave a chest in the middle of a busy beach?" she asked herself, approaching it.
"I guess I needs to find out."
She reached forward and flung the chest open.
Sitting neatly at the bottom was the scepter.
Curiously, she reached down and took it in her paws, then held it up to the light.
Everything went black.