2020-2021, Short Story, Writing

Castle

By Olivia Lemondes, ’23

The branches ruffle in the wind while leaves fall off and trees bend each and every way. They are running and running, sprinting now, leaving no trail behind but trying to hide as best they can. As the darkness gets farther and farther away, they slow their steps down but still frighteningly run. A clearing is coming up but is that good or bad? Is it a trap? Everything imaginable is running through their minds. It’s quiet besides the branches chattering and no footsteps are in sight at least for now.

“What do we do now? We can’t stay here,” the girl questions him.

“We have to keep going. We can’t stop or they’ll find us. Come on, let’s go.” Heavily breathing, they both keep moving. The brush is almost up to their chests now.

She trips over a log. “AGH! What the—URGH! What even i—AGHH! GO! GO! GO! GO!” She realized quickly it’s not a log. With the sun going down quickly, she can faintly see two golden eyes looking right up at her.

“WHAT? WHAT? WHAT is it?” he confusingly asks her with fright in his voice.

“JUST GO NOW!”

“JESS, WHAT IS IT?”

“Run now. Talk later. LET’S GO!”

“JESS?”

“Jackson, it’s not time for questions. Just keep running.”

He finally gives in and they run until their legs give out and they have finally come to another clearing. There is a tree trunk in sight they sluggishly walk over to and sit down for the first time in what felt like years.

“I am dead, I can’t run any more,” he pronounces, and Jess aggressively agrees with him.

“What happened back there?” Jack questions Jess again, looking for the answer.

“There was a person, well I think. It stared at me. Its eyes were golden. That’s all I could see, but it felt warm.”

“Do you think it was him?”

“How would he even get there? I never saw him before.” They both fill with confusion.

“If it was, we are in trouble and should probably keep going.”

“Jack, I need to lay down. If you want, you can be a watch out. Wake me up when you get tired.”

“Ugh, fine. But be prepared to wake up soon.”

“I’m gonna stay asleep just for you.” As Jess settles in to try and sleep, Jack prepares himself for a long night awake.

They are both awakened to the boiling sun.

“Well you obviously weren’t a very good watch out, Mr. Sleepy Head.”

“I was running with you too so I needed to sleep.”

“Great. Enough chatter. We should go now. I don’t want them to get anywhere near us and I think we are close enough to find somewhere safe to stay.”

“Jess, we are fine. They are miles away. We can take a few seconds to wake. Chill yourself
out,” he says as he rolls his eyes.

“Really, Jack? You think we have time for that? I don’t want to be running in the dark again and I want us to live for the future. So, we are leaving as soon as this conversation is over and it’s over, so let’s go!” They set out for the day, leaving the tree trunk behind them and making sure they left no trace.

“Are we even going the right way? I just want to make sure.”

“Yes, Jack. We are going the right way. What is it with you this morning?” Clearly Jess is upset with Jack.

“I was just wondering.” He has been through this situation with her before.

“Hold up. Do you see that?”

“What now?”

“I see a building over there.”

“Really, Jack? It’s probably just a tree. Come on, we have to keep moving,” she says as Jack suddenly stops in his tracks, shocking Jess.

“Jess, it is a building.” As Jess turns up confused, she finally notices the huge castle-looking building ahead of them.

“This makes no sense. There should be no buildings near us.”

“What do we do now? You think they are there?”

“I don’t know. I hope not. But if they are, we better come up with another plan. But for now, we are just gonna have to keep moving.” Jess starts towards the building as Jack follows right behind her.

“Jess, did you ever think you would be in this situation?”

“Huh?” Jess confusingly answers.

“Did you ever think that you would be on the run to get away from your psychotic parents and their coworkers?” he rephrases for her.

“Ya know you ask the weirdest questions?”

“I’m just trying to make conversation. I’m a little bored.”

“No. I never thought that I would have to take my brother and run for days just to get away from who I thought were my parents. It doesn’t really pass through my mind on a daily basis.”

“Ya, me neither. But at least we have each other.”

“Jack, what if we were inside of a book? Ya know, like someone wrote our lives and somehow we just happened to be the main characters that have to save the world?”

“No, Jess. You’re starting to sound like me. But if that were to be true, we wouldn’t die because the main characters never die. They are put through the most trauma, but never die.”

“Oh good. Our lives are being written in a book and we won’t die but are traumatized. Great. Sounds like a fun life.”

“Stop,” Jack says angrily.

“Excuse me, what did I do to you?”

“Stop, Jess. Stop walking.”

As Jess stops in her tracks she looks around to hopefully notice something. She looks back at Jack. “Jack, what is it?” Jack just stares at Jess for several seconds. “Jack? Hello? You there?”

“Jess, we went the wrong way.”

“What do you mean we went the wrong way? We went the same way we were going last night.”

“I don’t know what to do but we can’t go towards that building. It is dangerous.”

“No, duh, it’s dangerous but we still have to go to it. Maybe get help from someone?”

“Jess, there is no one to help us.”

“What are you saying? How do you know that? We are still miles away.”

“You know how I have told you about those feelings I get in my gut and then I have a vivid picture of what might happen?”

“Ya, so?”

“I just saw them in that building looking out of the top of the castle for us. They will find us and we can’t do anything about it,” he says as he points up to the building in the distance.

“We can’t even hide? I don’t believe you. There has got to be a way to get away from them.”

“We just have to go to the building. I think it will be best.”

“Jack, we can not go to them. Do you understand? We will die, like dead, like no longer living.”

“No, we will not die. Trust me, I know.”

“Why should I do that?”

“Please, Jess. Come on. You don’t have to be so stubborn all the time. We just have to keep going.”

“Fine, this one time. But if it costs us our lives and we die, it’s all on you.”

“What are you gonna do to me when I’m dead?”

“You’ll see.”

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