“If there was such a thing as the most lonely yet serene moment, this would be it. The glowing signs of stores and restaurants, the wind flowing through her curly, blonde hair, the memories of what was once a bustling city. How could so much destruction occur in so little time?”
If there was such a thing as the most lonely yet serene moment, this would be it. The glowing signs of stores and restaurants, the wind flowing through her curly, blonde hair, the memories of what was once a bustling city. How could so much destruction occur in so little time? The only answer lies in a newspaper that someone had left on the ground — an unidentified terrestrial being with the power to wipe out approximately 90,000 people. A being of so much size and strength, even the government’s most powerful resources couldn’t defeat it. This being was officially classified as “???” — creative. Although, that didn’t end up mattering as the whole city was wiped out. Only one human was left in this desolate place. A human who, at the time, was unconscious in a coma, and had been for years.
Her name was Elena. But her name didn’t really matter, as there was no longer anybody to refer to her by it. Starvation wasn’t an issue, as there were grocery stores and markets of enough food to last over a lifetime. If you were in this girl’s position, there would be multiple options for what she would do first. Some would say to hunt, to look for water, to look for shelter. Elena, however, did none of this. Food and water was accessible to her, and she could easily go into any of the skyscrapers or apartment buildings that were once full of residents. As she walked around, she held onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, there was at least one other human left. As Elena ran frantically around the city, she came to the harsh realization that what used to be her city, her home, was crumbling down to nothing at all. And in the future, if that even existed, some wealthy human would rebuild the city, and not a single soul would recall what used to be. Or possibly it would never be rebuilt, left to hide away in the dust. Only time would tell.
Over months of living in the city’s poor conditions, Elena grew used to the environment. However, the isolation was making a gradual impact on her sanity. She heard whispers behind her as she left each room and saw shadows behind her whenever she looked in the mirror. In terms of shelter, she had chosen to live in what used to be someone’s small house, a fair distance from the other buildings in the city. The house was old, and not in great condition. But it held the one thing Elena had left: her hope. So far, the first room- the kitchen- was definitely old. Dust bunnies hid under the furniture, moss grew in the corners, and yet, she felt drawn to this house. Possibly, it was because, although she was all by herself, her surroundings kept Elena company. The night sky, each star holding hope and determination, the plants, keeping their heads up despite the times, the dusty stacks of books on the floor, every one containing a story of its own, waiting to be unraveled.
As she walked around the house, Elena found another room. When she pushed the wooden door open, it produced a loud creak. Elena turned the light on, and she saw that inside was a washing machine. However, the machine held unwashed clothes, so she scooped up the damp clothes and hung them on the drying rack. She let out a weary breath as she left the room, slamming the door behind her. As a furious cloud of dust rose from the ground, Elena hurried away, searching for a washroom of some kind. Elena heard the sound of a door opening, followed by a voice: I’m home! But after rushing to the main door, she found that nobody was there. Had the voice really been in her head? It sounded too realistic to be merely a product of imagination. Elena shrugged it off as she came across another door. She then spotted one ant, then another, before realizing each ant was following the other. After staring down the trail of ants with hopes to intimidate them, Elena slowly twisted the doorknob. Unexpectedly, the door swung open before she could push it. She felt a cool breeze hit her, and she realized how much she had been sweating. The air pressure must have opened the door on its own. Regardless, the air conditioning felt good after being in the heat. She walked around the bathroom. It was pretty much just a standard bathroom, a toilet, a sink faucet, a shower, a mirror. Seeing herself in the mirror, Elena realized how much of a mess her hair had become. Hastily, she grabbed a hairbrush and began brushing out the thick knots.
After Elena finished brushing her hair, she saw another door right across from the bathroom. This wooden door was the gateway to a bedroom. To her surprise, the bedroom was clean. It had no moss growing in the corners, no bugs either… just a bit dusty. This was suspicious, so Elena looked around the room. She found bug traps on the floor, and some sort of spray on the desk, probably to prevent moss. Whoever lived in this house before must have paid heavy attention to their sleeping conditions. Suddenly, Elena heard a scratching noise. She whipped her head around. The scratching continued. It was coming from her left. She left the bedroom and started to the left, and the sound got louder. She followed it into another room that seemed to be the last room inside. The house sure was bigger than it looked. Inside the room, there was a pet bed, a cat tower, a litter box and a cat that had been scratching at the wall. Elena saw the cat, and started to tear up. She had thought she was completely alone, but she wasn’t. The cat walked over to her and rested in her lap, while her tears dotted its orange fur.
Elena checked inside the closet, and discovered three huge bags of cat food. She poured it into the cat’s bowl and left the room. She felt the empty dryness under her eyes where her tears had fallen. Do you feel alright, Elena? Are you lonely? Elena stopped dead in her tracks. Was she talking to herself, was someone else talking to her? Or was she just hearing things? She was deep in thought when she felt something licking her leg. She looked down, and saw the same orange cat. “I should give it a name,” Elena mumbled to herself. The cat felt like a hero to her. From that, the cat’s name was decided: Hercules. And so, from then on, it was Elena and Hercules against whatever was out there, and whatever, or whoever, had destroyed their city.
Night had fallen, so Elena started over to her bed. And as she had always done, she buried herself in the blanket and closed her eyes. But, this time, it felt different. She noticed that she was shaking slightly, and the whispers she heard grew louder, to the point where she had to pull the blanket over her head to feel safe. Although, she was exhausted, so she soon fell unconscious. Elena slept well that night.
When Elena woke up in the morning, her vision was blurred. But even what she could make out, her body, didn’t feel like her own. Her green eyes, her pale arms, her blonde curls, felt as if they belonged to someone else. But technically, one’s body is just a way to express their mind. So does one’s physical appearance belong to nobody? She pondered as she wandered around her room, deep in thought. She realized that she could no longer wait around. It would be a miracle for anyone to come and save her, and she had to figure out how to make that miracle happen. Elena threw the door open and ran through the hallway, out the house, to the grocery store or what was once a grocery store. She gathered food and bottled water in her drawstring bag along with an emergency poncho. Elena then had an idea, and she hurried to the convenience store. She was thrilled to find a satellite phone, a map of the closest cities on land, and an old-fashioned watch. The city was on an island, so it would be practically impossible to look for nearby cities. However, if she could call for help via satellite phone, she would have a chance at leaving the city. There was one last matter to worry about: Hercules the cat.
Back in the house, she poured some catnip into a small plastic bag, scooped up the cat. With that, Elena walked outside. She was aware that she had no chance of swimming across half of an ocean, but maybe she could find a boat. The biggest concern was whether or not she could drive, as the tide was usually low and storms occurred rarely. Down at the beach, there was a boat in decent condition. She climbed on and sprinted to the captain’s area. Elena gripped the wheel with determination. Her father had taught her how to use a boat when she was young, but whether she had held onto that knowledge was unknown. She started up the boat, but it wouldn’t budge. Possibly a piece of seaweed had clogged the motor? Or was the boat falling apart? She stared at the water. By now, the sun had set and stars had started to paint the sky. But one star shone so brightly, and it was moving horizontally… it wasn’t a star. It was a shooting star, a comet. Elena’s parents told her to always wish on a shooting star, so she closed her eyes as she wished for help in leaving the city, and for help in finding answers. She suddenly felt her boat ascending, lifting off the ground. Out of instinct, she tried to grab the water, as if it would hold her down. But she had stopped rising upward. The water was carrying her boat across the water using a wave. The wind sang a lullaby, and somehow, Elena fell asleep on that very boat.
When Elena opened her eyes, she blinked multiple times to confirm what she was seeing. The figure of a person, shaped of… water? Surely she was just lucid dreaming. Or, at least, that was what she told herself. The person, who seemed to be some sort of water spirit, also had something cradled in their arms. It was a cat, an orange cat. Elena stared at it with disbelief. Her cat. Or so she thought. The spirit spoke.
“Thank you for returning my cat to me, Elena.”
Elena nodded, but was still full of unanswered questions. Who was this person? What was this person? How was Hercules related to them in any way? How did they control water? Who destroyed her city? What destroyed her city?
“May I ask a question?” Elena began.
“What destroyed my city?”
The water spirit was silent for a moment, and the silence grew loud. Elena waited anxiously for a response.
“It was a creature from the largest galaxy in existence, the Crowned Galaxy.”
“How big is our galaxy in comparison?”
“The Milky Way is the smallest galaxy in the universe.”
Thinking of her galaxy as “small” made Elena’s head hurt. The human mind could never comprehend such colossal sizes. It can barely comprehend dinosaurs, much less a galaxy multiple times bigger than ours.
The spirit continued. “The species was classified as “Accidentals.” It was created by alien scientists who were experimenting with genetics. They had unpurposefully created a heavily destructive and massive species. An Accidental could destroy your whole city with one footstep. And so it did.”
“What happened after that?”
“It left. The species was so large, it could hop galaxies. As a result, it had hopped into the Milky Way, presumably found that it was boring, and hurried back to its home galaxy. Or perhaps it ran to a larger one to cause destruction in a more ‘interesting’ galaxy.”
Incomprehensive tornadoes swirled around Elena’s mind. Who knew the truth could be so heavy? But after this, she had one more simple question.
“What’s your name?”
“Call me Hydro.”
Hydro then descended gracefully back into the ocean, as their figure slowly melted into the water. Elena’s skin started to glow, and she felt energy rush through her body. A voice in her head, Hydro’s voice, told her that she had received the power of water preservation. Elena then knew what Hydro wanted her to do. If too many humans learned about the other galaxies, the future of humanity would never be the same. However, if humans never found out, there would be no future. Elena found that her boat’s motor had seemed to be working. Perhaps Hydro had fixed it. Regardless, she started up the motor, turned the boat around, and drove it right back to the city’s beach.
Back in her house once again, Elena took out a book and began to write. She wrote about the other galaxies, about the Accidentals, about Hydro, about everything she had learned. She knew that she would spend the rest of her years writing this book. Suddenly, she saw Hercules sitting next to her. Isn’t he with Hydro? She thought.
Hydro isn’t with me right now, she heard Hercules’ voice say. The old Elena would question this, but she already found a water spirit, so this was expected. I can’t believe you wouldn’t even care to put me in the book, said Hercules’ voice.
Are you even magical? Elena wondered.
Of course I am! Elena laughed and started writing about Hercules and Hydro’s connection.
Did you know I’m actually a fire spirit? Elena stared at him as if he were joking.
I’m serious!He transformed into a similar shape as Hydro, but in red.
You were serious, Elena realized. It felt odd to see her cat in such a form, although it was his original form.
Elena continued to write in that book for her last years. But eventually, those last years turned into last months, and those last months turned into last days, until the day she dragged her pen through the last letter of her book. She scattered water across the cover, and the droplets began to glow bright blue. The glowing water encased the book, and Elena left it out on her desk. She laid down in her bed. For the last time, she buried herself in the covers. And for the last time, the stars watched her tired eyes shut closed. Elena, the forgotten girl in a forgotten city, never opened her eyes ever again. Someday, her knowledge would be discovered, rekindled. And her body, her rested mind, would always be watched over by the friends she had made.
That is the tale of Elena and Hercules.
Absolutely stunning Penny! What a wonderful story. You had me hooked from beginning to end. I’m in tears for Elena right now.
What a creative article. I found it created such visual image of Elena.