Aya & Arra Benjamin
After we both wrote our own thoughts about what happened out by New Walden Pond last week we decided to try and put them together into one piece. Even though we haven’t told anyone what really happened yet (and we’re still figuring it out ourselves) we thought we should write this down together before too much time went by just in case we decide we want to tell someone, someday. Well, we probably will want to. Which is why we wanted to write this. Anyway, we figured it’s going to be confusing enough trying to explain what the heck happened out there without whoever having to read two different versions, so even though it’s weird we’re writing in the third person. You could say we thought a bird’s eye view might be easier to understand. And yes, we’re only ten and we know what “the third person” and “a bird’s eye view” are. Ok?
Alright, here goes.
Compiled by Aya & Arra Benjamin from their journals
Aya and Arra (or Arra and Aya, as they were sometimes called) were a kind of borderline age on Alchibah. They were definitely too young to go out with the Young Guns, even though they wanted to sometimes (especially because Jai was a Young Gun), but they were too old to really enjoy spending all their time with the little kids. It’s not that they minded the younger kids, it’s just that spending all day with them got boring sometimes, and it got annoying other times. So when they got time off of school on the weekends – if you’re not from Alchibah that means the last three days out of every ten, except a lot of the adults worked almost everyday – they often spent it with the teenagers or adults, or just with each other. And this particular weekend day they were spending by themselves, out at New Walden Pond.
Now, you might think that was silly, or a bad idea, but if you did you would be wrong. Or you should have been wrong, but weren’t. Because Walden was supposed to be safe – the slizzards didn’t like it because it was too deep and didn’t have any marshy parts, and the vargs were staying away from Liberty now, and as far as anyone could tell the rumblers were all gone, and the uglasaurs didn’t attack humans, and the other things that might want to eat kids were too small to. So Arra and Aya had spent a lot of days in the summer swimming in Walden without any trouble. Plus, they were really good swimmers and really fast runners and always took Bite and Smite (Sinopa’s two viras) and a bunch of their dogs too. This time they took Shilo, Sam and Shadow (they were German Shepherds) and Pippin and Sputnik (they were Aussies). Plus Shuk, the devil that had adopted them, always followed them everywhere. And then there was Little Jon, the radar squirrel that Aya had raised as a pet after she found him alone as a baby. So it wasn’t like they were alone. They had nine other people with them.
They arrived at the little beach near their house and changed into their new swimsuits (they were made out of tree bark of all things, just like most of the other new clothes). Aya charged right at the water while Arra gave a last couple pets to the dogs. And that’s when things started to get weird.
Aya ran splashing into the nice, warm water and then did a beautiful, shallow dive that barely made a ripple in the pond’s surface. The water felt so nice, Arra thought. She could feel it flowing past her body as she swam slowly, effortlessly away from the shore.
But that wasn’t right. Arra furrowed her eyebrows. She was still on the shore, petting Sam. Why the heck could she feel the water? Only she could feel the sun on her skin too. She looked down at Sam in and cocked her head questioningly.
Aya broke the surface twenty feet or so away from shore and stood up. The water came up to her chest and it was just perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. And the sun felt so good on her skin, and Sam’s fur was as soft as ever under her fingers.
Her vision started to, well, double wasn’t quite the right word. It was like looking at a faint reflection in a window. She could see the reflection, and she could also see the world beyond the window, if she thought about it. She started to walk back towards the shore, holding her head. When she closed her eyes it got better – then there was only one image. An image that kept on swinging back between looking at her feeling her way into shore and looking at one or another of the dogs. What the hell?
Arra was just as confused as her sister. Right after she had looked at Sam she had started to see another image that superimposed itself over her own vision. She gasped as she realized what she was seeing – herself, on the beach. Through her sister’s eyes. And then the image was gone. She glanced back at Shilo and then looked back at her sister, who was walking back into shore with her hands over her eyes. What the hell?
What the hell indeed. Wait, she thought, where did that come from? That wasn’t my though. Was it?
Aya was only getting more confused. Words rang in her head. What the hell indeed. Wait, where did that come from? That wasn’t my though. Was it? She opened her eyes and saw the double image again. This time she managed to focus on the one that she was pretty sure was coming from her own eyes. She had just reached shore, and sat down next to her sister.
“Did you say something?” Aya asked.
“No. I thought you did.” Arra responded.
“No,” she paused. I didn’t, she thought.
“But I could’ve sworn you…wait.” You didn’t? Arra thought back. What the hell?
What the hell indeed.
“What the heck is going on Aya?” Arra whispered aloud.
“I don’t know. But I think it’s pretty cool, don’t you?” her sister nodded slowly. “Do you have the two images thing going on too?”
Yeah. I can switch back and forth between them, she paused, looking into the distance, but I can’t quite-
see them at the same time. Me either, Aya thought back but I think we’ll figure that out. Arra nodded in agreement.
We’ve got to test this thing out! I wonder how far it goes. I mean, does it matter how far away we are from each other? Arra thought.
And I wonder if there’s anything else we can do with it. Aya thought back
Ok, let’s try out the distance thing at l-
Arra was abruptly cut off as both girls dove to the side simultaneously, catching each other enough as they did to go tumbling to the ground. The double vision thing was starting to prove itself a problem.
“You felt it too?” Arra asked, aloud this time, stand up and brushing off her skinned knee.
“Yeah, it was like-”
“something was going to attack u-” Aya cut off as the dogs all of a sudden started growling and barking, barring their teeth in the direction of the woods. Bite and Smite started their raspy, hoarse barks as well, and Little Jon, unnoticed to the two girls until now in all the excitement, had been for a couple minutes cowering, shaking, behind Pippin, it’s favorite of the dogs, with its ears fully extended, staring into the forest. Finally Shuk jumped into the air screaming “Kiiv, kiiv!”
“Kiiv! That’s-” Aya started.
“Shit!” Aya agreed. “Jadaa, get help! Get help now!”
There hadn’t been any kiiv, as the devils called them, seen in or around Liberty since that first colony that Kaiya and Connor had discovered had been exterminated. People had kept away from that area for months afterwards, not wanting to even think of the horrific little bastards. They were the fifteen-legged spider-like creatures that had been living among the patch of big boulders west of the landing site. None of the adults would tell any of the kids why exactly they were so horrible, but the pictures of the black, red and iridescent blue-green horrors with fifteen pointy legs, six eyes and a nasty, spiky mouth were enough to freak the bravest kid the hell out. Plus every kid’s parents had warned them that these were the most dangerous things on Alchibah. All of which was nothing compared to the horror that the twins felt when they actually saw the first few of them creeping out of the forest.
The girls started backing up towards the shore as the dogs held their ground, teeth barred, hackles up, growling viciously. There were dozens of them now, skittering every witch way, just out of reach of the dogs. They had skittered onto the beach as well, cutting the twins off from the lake. They were everywhere from a couple inches to almost two feet wide and somehow looked horrifyingly hungry.
Scream, scream! she thought. It’s louder than calling for help. Scream! And Arra screamed too, at the top of her lungs. Then the kiiv attacked.
It was almost like watching a pitched battle. The dogs and vira lunged at any kiiv that got close enough, putting themselves as best they could between danger and their humans. Their jaws closed around attacker after attacker with sickening crunches, but they were simply overwhelmed. Fyago and Sam went down first, with kiiv latching onto them left and right, and Shadow went a second later. Within a few seconds from the kiivs’ first good bite their victim simply collapsed like a rag doll, unmoving. Aya and Arra were no longer screaming, they were crying out in rage, tears streaming down their faces at seeing their beloved dogs killed. They had picked up pieces of driftwood and were swinging at the vicious creatures with all their might, sending them flying in all directions. But then Aya got bit and all the dogs were down. Only Arra and the vira were somehow still unbitten, with Little Jon screaming down at the scene from his perch in the trees above.
And then, barreling through the forest came the twins’ Uncle Gabe, roaring for all the world like the lions of old with their father Connor close behind. The kiiv didn’t stand a chance under the onslaught of the guns that Alchibah was becoming so used to. They were popping right and left as the bullets hit them, spewing their insides over the forest floor and the scene around them. Some survival instinct must have kicked in at that point because all of the ones left alive started fleeing back into the forest, though Gabe didn’t stop shooting, and hitting, until they were out of sight.
Gabe raised his wrist comp. “This is Angel. Code 3! I repeat, code 3! We need the med ship on the south shore of Walden in front of Connor’s house now!”
“Angel, Magic. We’re on our way, hold on. Details?”
“In a second,” came Gabe’s short reply.
Arra was just kneeling over her sister, crying, rocking back and forth over her motionless body. She didn’t know what she would do without her sister. Losing her is
I’m ok sis, I’m ok! came the thought Arra, it’s all right. I just can’t move, and the bite hurts like hell, but I’m ok. Check my pulse and then tell Gabe and Dad that I’m ok!
Arra quieted her sobs and put her fingers on her sister’s neck and shouted, “She’s ok! She’s alive, but I don’t think she can move,” as her dad and uncle rushed over.
“Aya! Aya, say something.” Connor pleaded, cradling his daughter in his arms. “Please, please, say something.”
“Look at her eyes Connor – they’re moving.” Gabe said from over his brother’s shoulder. “Arra’s right – she’s paralyzed.” He spoke into his write comp again. “Magic, Angel. Aya’s bleeding and paralyzed – kiiv attack – and we have five dogs that are the same.”
“Angel, Magic. We’re in the air. Just keep her stable for another minute.”
Two Days Later
Aya groggily opened her eyes.
“Dad? Arra?” she asked, looking around slowly. “Jai?”
“Aya! You’re awake.” Connor was at her bedside immediately. “Are you feeling ok?”
“Is Arra all right?”
“Yeah, Arra’s going to be fine honey. She never even got bit. Gabe and I got there just after they bit you.” She opened her mouth to ask another question, but he cut her off. “And all the dogs are going to make it. Sputnik’s the only one that’s awake, but the others are going to be ok too. The venom lasts for a while, but it won’t hurt them.” Aya yelled in delight (you could almost say “squealed” except of course she doesn’t “squeal”), throwing her arms around her dad’s neck, grinning from ear to ear.
“Oh daddy, that’s wonderful. We thought they were all dead. We thought…” she trailed off.
“Shhh, it’s ok honey, it’s all alright.”
Aya & Arra
So, that’s the story of what happened at New Walden. Dad finally told us what the kiiv do. They paralyze their victim with venom and then eat them alive, still completely aware of everything. We can understand why they never told us kids before. And he was right, all the dogs are ok. And Bite and Smite never got bitten on account of their armored scales, and Little Jon’s calmed down finally. He was terrified, but he never ran away. And if we were paying attention he would have warned us minutes ahead of time.
Dad and Uncle Gabe and Sinopa and Okanai and a bunch of the Young Guns and the Stuarts went out on a kiiv hunt after we got put in the hospital and found a den with hundreds and hundreds of kiv eggs and a bunch of live kiivs too. They burned them out. It’s kind of sad, really. It’s not like they were being evil, they just were hungry. But sometimes we guess you’ve just got to protect yourself. Oh, and no one under 15 not in the Young Guns are allowed out alone any more, except right in Liberty. Which makes sense, but it’s still annoying.
As far as what’s going on with us, we haven’t really figured it all out yet. But it definitely is cool, and it’s not going anywhere. We’re starting to figure out how to control it too. We’ll see where it goes from here.