I just want to say that this is the short story I was to write at the end of our Short Story unit in Grade 9. I’ve always loved it, even though I see so many flaws in it (I bet you will too). The story itself is over 2000 words long, so grab yourself a bowl of popcorn before you start!
Oh and please, tell me if you see something worth editing. I’d love to make a sequel or something to this. This story was heavily inspired by the animated series “Castle”, found on www.deletionquality.net.
Castle – A Short Story:
“It’s… It’s amazing. No, it’s impossible…”
“What is, doctor?”
“His neurological activity… it’s off the charts… it’s… impossible! I’ve never seen anything like this before… This shouldn’t be possible. His brain… the power coming from it is immense! Not even scientists like Dr. Terabyte have this sort of strength.” He looked at the new mother. “You’ve given birth to a very special boy…”
When I looked out the window, I only saw two things; grey, and ash. Miles and miles of obliterated wasteland, asphyxiating anything that dared shine brightly. The air here was suffocating; it felt like a big, cloudy mass burrowing its way down your throat and choking the life out of you. Grey sky, grey mountains, grey ground. Everything was muted, and little changed as the landscape flew by.
“What is it mommy, what is this?”
“I wish I knew son, I wish I knew.”
“Why can things go floaty when I want them to?”
“All I know is that you’re a very special boy. Now finish your birthday cake.”
“Thank you mommy. I love you.”
“I love you too”
She walked out of the room, glancing back at her son, her heart filled with pride.
I turned around, glancing over the rest of the people with me. Battle-hardy men and women, specialists, the esteemed Dr. Terabyte himself, and even The General, all high and pompous. He stood up, casting a sharp eye over the assembled crowd and began to speak.
“Listen up! I told you all that I’d be giving the mission briefing on the way here. But before you all get confused,” he glanced at everybody who wasn’t a guard, “let’s all introduce ourselves to the 30 guards we brought with us. Beside me is Dr. Terabyte, who has been studying the books we’ve retrieved. He’ll be here to observe the castle and its architecture. Standing there in the corner, with the sharp-as-Shāpu sword, is Tanith Ash. Specialist with swords and in close combat; do not get in her way if things get hairy. Finally, the gentleman at the window goes by Lloyd.” I looked around as everyone glanced at me. “He’s our ET specialist, for reasons I’m sure you all know about. Finally, me, I’m the General, as you should well know, your Prime Command for this mission. The briefing is as follows…”
“You know why, sweetie, it costs too much.”
“No, its only $30, and all my friends have one, so how do they all have the money? Jim’s mommy isn’t that rich.”
“You’re only 6. I don’t think that you’ll be able to keep it safe all the time.”
“Yes, I will! I want one!”
“When you get older, and if you keep your School Tablet in good condition, I’ll get you one.”
“I want it now!”
“If you yell, I don’t think the stores would let me buy you one.”
“I hate you! I’ll never love you again until I get one!”
She grinned at that, walking to the counter. “I don’t think that’s a very nice thing to say.”
She looked up one last time, to see her child raise his hand and swipe it down in frustration.
The General continued. “It’s been long speculated that different dimensions exist. But only recently have scientists solved the Multiverse Theory and successfully opened one up. You should know, we’re in it right now. This new dimension has nothing in it; we searched the land for weeks. Barren… until a few months back, when one of the helicopter pilots spotted what looked like… a castle. We sent a team of scientists in to investigate, but they were never heard from again. So we decided to send in one of our specialists; Lloyd here, actually. We then found a second castle…”
I shuddered. I’d never forget the… the white-eyed things found in those castles. I’d had them named appropriately. Ghosts were human-like imitations of life, but with no nose, and no hint of humanity. I’d call them zombies, but they are black. Not African-black, but truly colorless. Demons were massive, ape-like beings that were extremely fast, strong, and equally hard to put down. Finally, Nightmares. Those creatures were the size of Demons, but surprisingly slim, and they had 2 remarkable features; wings, and a sharpened tail that could sever stone. I’m glad none of the beasts ever left the castles.
“…We haven’t struck oil, gas, or petroleum in decades, and we need a new power source. Luckily enough, from ancient books recovered in the other two castles, Dr. Terabyte has deduced that this, third and final castle, houses a source of nearly infinite power. It’s what they used to build these castles.”
The policeman looked at the traumatized little boy. “Son, do you know what happened here?”
“Mommy… mommy fell. There was a lot of red stuff everywhere… it was slimy.”
“She just… fell? Son, it looks like to us that someone hit her head on the counter very hard. Do you know who did it?
The boy started sobbing “I want her back!”
We touched down finally in a courtyard, or it looked like one at least. Castle wasn’t the right word to describe this place— city was. Massive stone walkways, bridges, turrets, and open expanses, the sight marred only by the underlying, seemingly bottomless, chasm. Hopefully, these bridges were built to last. We started off, guards in front, then the General, me, and Tanith, followed by Dr. Terabyte and more guards.
So much grey; it was startling, the silence deafening. Even our formidable force dwarfed by the size of this place. Through rooms, over bridges, down staircases… little was broken. Walls were cracked, chips broken off of a variety of stone pieces, and even one of the bridges was gone, but there seemed to be minimal damage. I let my thoughts wander, taking in the enormity of this place, as we trekked toward the center, Dr. Terabyte’s directions alone punctuating the oppressive silence.
Eventually, we made it. The room was large, even by the castle’s standards. Perfectly circular, with hundreds of concentric stone steps leading down, only to reach hundreds more leading back up into the very center of the room. Ancient writing lined the walls.
“Let’s go, Lloyd”, the General murmured, than raised his voice, “Drill DF-14! Ringleader is Tanith until I come back!” The guards rushed to take their defensive positions.
We started down, then up the stone steps, heading for the center. Finally, we reached the top, both of us staring down an orb, about the size of a human head, perfectly round and smooth, and glowing with an unsettling dark energy.
The General glanced at me. “Pick it up”.
While I was sick of being forced to follow his instructions, I went to retrieve the orb. My fingers closed around it, and but my mind opened.
Back, near the entrance, Dr. Terabyte scanned the glyphs written in perfect strokes across the walls. The same kind of characters that were inscribed in the books. He began to translate.
“May… May death… come on swift wings… to whoever disturbs the Castle and its possessions.” He scanned the walls. “It’s everywhere… written again and again, all over the place! It’s a warning!” He turned to the stairs. “General! We have to get out of here! It’s a trap!” There was a long pause, with no response. “Damn fools are going to get themselves killed!” He pointed at two guards. “You! You two! We’re all going to die if we stay here! Come with me if you want to live!” He ran from the room, the pair of guards following him.
My mind took this all in, at once. Was I… was I reading minds? Was that what my power had mutated to? First telekinesis, now mind-reading? I reached out again, and was hit by hundreds of thousands of thought signals. I locked on to one, randomly, and three images flashed through my mind. The first one was of a woman… on Earth? She was standing there, shocked, as a ring was flashed before her. The next was of the same woman, older now, kissing another man. The final image was of a hospital room, where the heart monitor was slowly flatlining. I gasped, ripping myself out of that person’s head.
Then it dawned on me. How were there so many signals, with only the 30 some people in the room? How were… I looked up, and saw rows upon rows of glowing white, haunted eyes staring back at me. The Ghosts detached themselves from the roof, falling toward us like rain. The General, I’d forgotten he was even there, ripped the orb from my hand, and barked in my ear.
“RUN!” He took off sprinting.
I followed his example. I’d barely made it to the bottom of the stairs, mentally plucking the swarming Ghosts from the staircase and throwing them down the rows of stairs to their deaths. I began my ascent, still tossing scores of Ghosts away from me. I made it to the top to see Tanith strike three of them down with one swing of her sword. While I ran, Tanith behind me, I glanced into the mind of another Ghost. It was instinctive— I couldn’t help but be curious about how they acted. The first image this time was of them receiving some sort of award. The second was of a gang of men attacking the former human, in an alley somewhere, and finally, the same alley, now covered in blood. Three thoughts flashed into my mind. Best, worst, death. Were those the three events I was seeing? The best thing to ever happen to that Ghost, the worst thing, and the moment of their… death?
These Ghosts… were they former humans?
I was snapped back into reality by a fist flying toward my face. I ducked, grabbed the outstretched arm, twisted sideways, and broke the Ghost’s arm. I threw the squealing animal behind me and ran through the exit, where the rest of my team was waiting for me. The second I cleared the door, there was an eruption behind me as the explosive that the guards had mounted to the doorway went off, blocking the exit with rubble. I gasped for air, enjoying the feeling of being outside, even if it was on a thin bridge, spanning some 300 meters. The silence was overwhelming. Then I looked up and noticed two Demons standing on the other end of the bridge.
“Other… side… bridge… shoot…” I choked out.
Instantly, the guards spun on their heels, but froze at the sight of two Demons bounding towards us. Then, they opened fire. Multiple hundred bullets tore their way through the Demons, and they both finally collapsed. I’d caught my breath. Just in time too, as the debris behind us disintegrated and, by the hundreds, Ghosts came running at us. Our team ran.
“I’ve contacted the helicopters, they’ve moved into a courtyard southwest of here, it’ll be much closer than the way here,” the General announced.
Once we’d cleared another open doorway, some of the guards set up explosives on the door, employing the same tactic as before. But, this time when the explosion went off, the shockwave threw the orb from The General’s grasp, and rolled off the side. It fell almost a three story height, before coming to a stop on another bridge below us. The general ordered the guards to retrieve it, my powers couldn’t reach it. In the meantime, I was told to throw anything hostile into the void beneath us. Then again, being thrown off a bridge means very little to creatures with wings. A Nightmare was bulleting toward us with the intensity of a freight train. I nudged the general.
“We’ve got to keep going. I’ve absorbed the orb’s power, and there’s nothing in it anym-“
He cast me an icy look. “Shut up, Lloyd, we’re not leaving without our prime objective. You do not question your superiors.”
“At the expense of getting everyone killed? This is pointless!”
He didn’t have time to respond. The Nightmare crashed into the bridge, effectively ripping it in half. Dozens of guards were thrown off the edge, their screams fading as they fell away.
“That’s what that empty orb is worth? The lives of half our team?” I shrieked, running for the other end of the bridge. The remainder of my team tailed me closely.
But a second Nightmare was closing in on us. We’d never make it before it destroyed the only remaining bridge support, sending us all to our deaths. Despite my rage, I knew my powers would do nothing to stop this thing. I had only one option left— I unleashed my fury on the cold-hearted, inhumane General, who had gotten so many killed. I lifted him up and sent him hurtling toward the Nightmare.
I scanned his mind. No three images, but instead rapid, desperate thoughts interlaced with an undying fury and an utter hatred of me. His imminent death was racing through his mind. I began to look deeper, but his thought stream cut out abruptly as he collided with the Nightmare. There was a sickening crunch of bone and flesh before I saw the probably dead Nightmare, and the definitely dead General plummet from the sky. I didn’t even give his body a second glance, but realized grimly that a warped version of him would probably spawn in this castle, somewhere.
Eventually, what remained of our team— seven guards, Tanith, and I— made it to the helicopter. I screamed at the pilot. “Get this thing in the air, now!”
The blades were beating within seconds, but the millions of Ghosts were closing in on us. Our guards, who had been leaning out of the chopper mowing them down, pulled back into the safety of the aircraft, leaving me with one final beast, which I held by the throat. I stared at my final adversity with undisguised hatred and peered into its mind as it struggled.
Best memory: I saw a young boy sitting at a table, eating cake.
Worst memory: The person, a woman, was naked, held down on a bed by a similarly naked man, her watching him in anger, in fear, in terror, as he relieved his sexual desires. He looked into her eyes and smiled a shark’s grin, knowing, enjoying the effect of his abuse. I saw myself in that smile.
Death: I saw… myself, my 6 year old self, not in control of his powers yet, raise his hand.
The user felt a viselike grip around her head.
NO NO NO NO.
My hand swept down.
The pressure on her head pulled down at an astonishingly fast speed, as the edge of a granite counter rushed up to meet her.
The user felt her head burst open upon the granite, a final sound reaching her ears.
“… and I’ll never love you again!”
I stared at the Ghost, shock slackening my grip.
It blended into the sea of Ghosts hundreds of meters beneath me.
The helicopter rose away, to chase after the backup aircraft Dr. Terabyte had lifted off in, sometime before.
And still it fell.
Not it, her.