Fantasy Book: The Perfect Circle (2)
What We Learned in Chapter 1
- We learned that Violet and Edwin are the sole survivors of chemical blasts ten years previously that destroyed everything but plastic. So they live in a shelter made of plastic.
- The moon is always full.
- The cemetery, made of plastic as well, is where Violet's mother is buried. Violet thinks her mother knew about the imminent end of the Earth, as well as another possible world.
- Violet's prized possession is a leather-bound book called the Codex that mysteriously escaped the blasts, and is written in another language.
- The Perfect Circle, A Fantasy Novel (1)
Earth: Vi and Edwin are the sole survivors of chemical warfare. Taken to a parallel world, they embark on a quest to save the different countries there from similar self-destruction. An epic fantasy.
The Perfect Circle, Chapter 2
Chapter 2. The Tombstone Beckoned
Violet passed the mounds of plastic rubble, the piles of dust that might once have been corpses. She always walked around them out of respect for the dead, but deep down she knew it was useless. She lived, breathed, and slept dust: everything was dust. The air, even, unnaturally bright in the gleam of the permanent full moon, hung heavy with dust particles.
Soon she arrived at the cemetery. She leaned against a tombstone, panting, looking for the light that glowed brighter, still, if possible, than the moon. It seemed to be emitted from a few tombstones away--from her mother's stone. It stood out in a sea of grey, the light giving it a strange, bluish-white color. She touched it. It was smooth and cold. Its surface was completely bare but for a verse carved in fancy cursive:
When the moment is bleak and you are at your worst
From beyond will come help in the form of a curse.
Violet's eyes widened. She'd never seen the inscription before. She was sure of it. It couldn't have been there the whole time. Not for ten years. And what did it mean, anyway? Wasn't a curse a bad thing? How could help come in the form of a curse?
Then she remembered how her mother had whispered incantations from the Codex. In the same deep voice, she whispered the two lines, over and over. Then she waited. Nothing happened.
Disappointment began to take the place of wonder--she had been so convinced that things were about to change, that something, anything would happen, and yet here she was still. She stood up and angrily kicked the tombstone. It recoiled. She gasped.
"Help me," she said, "please help me. I need your help." But the tombstone seemed to have solidified into plastic again. It didn't react anymore.
For the first time since her mother died, Violet was tempted to cry. But then she remembered Edwin. Running back to the shelter, she shook him awake. He opened his eyes with difficulty.
"I just saw the strangest thing--come see!"
"Are you insane? Go back to sleep."
"I wasn't sleeping," she cried. "Momma's tombstone glowed white--and there's something inscribed on it now--come on!"
Edwin rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't read those stories before you go to sleep. You get weird dreams."
"Please come with me--please!"
Edwin sighed. "If I do, you'll let me sleep. And find breakfast. Yes?"
"Deal. Come on!" Violet dragged him up by the arm and ran through the graveyard as he followed several steps behind. She made the trip quicker than ever. For the first time in ten years, she didn't bother to run around the little piles of dust. We breathe them in wherever we go anyway, she muttered as she ran through them.
But Edwin still went around the piles, and by the time he had caught up to her, she was standing in front of her mother's tombstone, an expression of shock on her face.
The inscription had disappeared. Violet got down on her knees and examined the soft ground. It was smooth and compact.
"Well?" Edwin asked.
"I don't understand," she whispered.
"Right. Can we go to back to bed?"
"It was right here," she whispered again, trying very hard not to cry. She didn't understand why she wanted to cry. She hadn't wanted to cry for so long.
Edwin sat down next to her and put an arm around her.
"The tombstone," Violet said. "It was right here, I swear. It shone so brightly I could see it from the shelter, and I followed the light here. And it moved."
"Okay," he said.
"You don't believe me."
"Vi--," Edwin said, paused, then started again. "Vi, I just think, well--you know." He looked at her strangely. "It's just the two of us and..." His voice started to shake. "What would I do if something happened to you? Are you sure you're okay in there?" He touched her head.
"Yes!" Violet cried. "It was right here, I'm not hallucinating, I tell you--"
Edwin sighed. "Listen, I understand, I get it. I know you want to think about another place than this one. But up to now, I thought your other world was harmless, daydreams that made you happy. If you think it's real--like I mean, seriously think it's real--then I don't…I mean… please don't be crazy." He laughed as his voice broke. "I… I don't want to be alone."
She smiled with considerable effort. "I'm not crazy. You're... you're right--I was dreaming."
"Okay, good," Edwin said and hugged her. "Let's go back to bed, okay?"
Over the next few days, Violet kept her eye out for the mysterious tombstone, looking for it as they went to her mother's tombstone, and peeking through the crack in their shelter's wall at night once she was sure Edwin was asleep. She made sure not to mention it aloud anymore. She didn't want to scare him.
When she didn't see it for two weeks, she began to wonder if Edwin wasn't right after all. Had she dreamt the whole thing? No--it couldn't have been a dream. Her feet and legs were sore from running through the cemetery. She never had that kind of exercise anymore. The air was too heavy for it.
Yes, she knew she had seen something. But what?
Are you making these mistakes in your writing?
"So," Edwin said several days later as he tore the plastic wrapper off a salvaged microwave dish, and sat down in front of their shelter, “your turn to choose the conversation.”
Violet, who was gazing at the pictures in her Codex, her curly brown hair falling over her face, was too busy to answer.
She was shaken out her reverie. “What?”
“It's your turn to choose. And you keep skipping your turn. It's not fair that I have to pick the subjects every time. You’ve barely said a word since that night with the…” His voice trailed off, but they both knew what he was referring to.
"Say something or I'll go crazy," he said.
“Hello, hi." She turned the page. "My name is Violet Paisley, nice to meet you. My favorite color is anything but grey. I don't know how tall I am. I think I'm fifteen."
"Hi, I'm Edwin, and I'm your adopted brother. I'm sixteen. And my favorite color is--" Edwin frowned. "This is boring. We do this too much."
"But we've talked about everything there is to talk about."
"Fine. Tell me a story from your book."
"I can't read the language. You know that."
"So make something up. Invent it."
Violet turned the pages. "I don't know. They all look like us, but they're oddly different. The stories mostly talk about these people--" She pointed to a stately woman and a young man standing beside her, "but they're one-hundred times more attractive than us."
"Oh, I think I'm alright," said Edwin, pretending to model for Violet. She broke into her first dimpled smile in weeks as he showed off his snub nose and flax hair.
"Shut up," she laughed. "I mean that these people--or creatures--are so oddly perfect-looking it's like they're a different type of being. And that goes for everyone in the Codex. They all just look a bit off--not necessarily beautiful, but just different."
"I'm just trying to figure it out."
Edwin looked at her quizzically. "It sounds like you're starting to wonder if it's real. But it's not. Stop it, Vi."
She shrugged and continued to stare at the images.
Edwin reached for the book and shut it. "Stop it, I said," he repeated. "Stop it."
That night, Violet was awakened by a thunderstorm. Lightning cracked over the dusty wasteland. It was a strange, chemical sort of lightning, the kind that hit on anything and everything indiscriminitely. Plastic remnants were lit on fire and singed the already barren earth. Rain poured without pity on the rubble around them and seeped through the cracks of their shelter. The cold night sliced them to the bone. Edwin dragged Violet out of the shelter just as the roof collapsed. The entire world seemed to be flooding. The water was up to their ankles and rising.
"We're not safe here," Edwin yelled. "We're the tallest things around. We need to find lower ground--come on!"
Violet shook violently. "My Codex!" she screamed. "I need to get my Codex!"
Just then their shelter was struck by lightning. "It's gone," he cried. "Come!"
"No," Violet gasped. She tried to go back to the shelter, but Edwin grabbed her by the arm and held her firmly. Numbly, her eyes closed by the wind, she followed him, not caring where she was going, not caring about the rain lashing against her skin and already-tattered clothes.
When she opened her eyes again, she realized they were crouching against her mother's tombstone. She huddled against Edwin and waited for the storm to abate.
Just then, a lightning bolt struck, so close her hair was whipped back. Without thinking, she murmured the inscription that had been on her mother's tombstone. It made her feel close to her.
As suddenly as it had begun, the lightning storm ended, and the cemetery was bathed in a different kind of light.
The shining marble tombstone rose before them, its whiteness matched only in brilliance by a glittering light reflecting off its surface so that the light and stone melded together into a perfect circle. Edwin and Violet gasped and gazed in awe as a gleaming hand, only a few shades warmer in color than the light, appeared through the circle; it was smoother than any human hand, completely free of veins and wrinkles, and its nails, which extended slightly beyond the edges of its fingertips, were painted a twinkling silver. It beckoned.