Example: Until Death
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    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Example: Until Death

    I tried to keep this under 35K, but I failed. Well, yeah, this is my entry, so I hope you all like it. :D

    Note: I've never been to a funeral, so I don't know what is exactly said or done. What Father Lawrence said I got from a website that seems pretty reliable. I'm sorry if I got anything wrong, so please don't hold it against me. ^^;

    _____

    Until Death


    Death is final. No amount of power can bring one back from the clutches of that infinite blackness. In one of the many roads of Sunnydew Town, Johto, rode a girl who still believed that everybody would live forever, that no one could die if she believed hard enough. From the weather-beaten red car, she looked at the scenery passing by. The five-year-old brushed a lock of curly, auburn hair, but it still fell back on the collar of her black dress. With bored, aquamarine eyes, she saw rows of tombstones pass by. She had passed by Oakland Cemetery many times when riding the school bus, but she had never thought she would actually go in.

    Grandma Alicia was dead. She had shaken her head when told by her parents. Grandma Alicia couldn’t die. She made her muffins whenever she was sick. Her clothes were always available if she wanted to play dress-up. The smile she always had lit up the whole room and never failed to make her problems go away. Such a person could never die.

    But whenever Carol told herself that, she saw the saddened faces of her parents again. They had hugged her and told her everything was going to be okay, that Grandma was in a better place. She didn’t understand. Grandma had always told her that spending time with her was her favorite thing to do. Why would she choose to go somewhere else?

    The car stopped in front of the elaborate white, but bleak-looking, church. Before Carol knew it, they had dived to join the rest of the family relatives and friends. She was towed around without a say to the matter. Every single person she met was as sad-looking as the churning, slate-gray clouds above them. They moved like the branches of the gnarled trees that decorated the scene: slowly, and as though they were about to fall apart if the wind blew. The tears, sobs, and smiles confused her even more. She wanted to reach out to someone and demand what was going on, but they all continued to talk in those hushed tones she was starting to hate.

    “Wait here, honey.” Carol looked up at her mother. Seeing windows of stain glass and rows of pews, she realized with a start that they were inside the single-room church. The woman knelt before her and pointed to the polished, wooden seats. “Mommy and Daddy have to go and talk to some people. You go sit down, we’ll be right back.”

    Carol nodded, too confused to do anything else. Her brunette mother stood up and walked out with her husband. They exchanged some words and glanced back at her. The girl paid them no heed. She ran down the aisle, nearly tripping on the beige carpet, and hoisted herself up onto one of the front benches. Though the wind that flowed through the opened doors made her shiver, she was just glad to be away from the people who thought her grandma would never come back.

    “She’s coming back,” she was repeating to herself, twisting the satin bow around her waist to keep herself from crying. “Grandma Alicia is coming back.” Her voice broke, but she bit her lip and looked around. The lit candles that littered the tables and altar mesmerized her. The dancing flames were just like the ones from the scented candles Grandma Alicia lit every Christmas. If she closed her eyes, Carol could almost smell the cinnamon fragrance. For the first time since she set foot in this place, she really believed that her best friend would come back. A smile graced her face, and she was immediately immersed in blissful ignorance.

    A sudden gale swept through the room. Carol’s curly hair whipped her face, and the candles were snuffed out. When she looked up, the room was bathed in black. The light the colored windows let in was feeble and gray. The massive doors behind her were almost completely closed. Suddenly, the church was no longer warm and comforting.

    Carol looked around with wide eyes. She could hear the wind outside rattling the windows and doors. The murmur of people she had heard was drowned out. Cautiously, she slipped down the pew. Was it her or did it get colder? Carol wrapped her arms around her tiny frame and took a few steps forward, towards the altar. She didn’t want to venture deeper into the darkness, but at the same time, going back to her mom meant hearing those people talk about how her grandma wasn’t going to come back.

    A step later, she hit her head against something hard. Carol rocked back then inspected the large object with her hands: a rectangular box as polished as the pews in the church with a stand made up of three rods of wood that lifted it three feet off the ground. Wandering fingers found a plaque embedded in the coffin’s side. Carol squinted and traced the beautifully written name beneath the shaft of fog-gray light. Though she was just beginning to read, she knew this name as well as her own.

    Alicia Mary Martin

    “Grandma?” A wide smile broke across her face, her entire being filled with renewed hope. This was where her grandma was hiding. She was here, all this time. Everybody had been wrong. She had been right. “It’s me, Carol!”

    On tiptoes now, she tried to grab the edges of the open coffin. The girl hopped and skipped but could not grasp the edge and haul herself up.

    “Grandma! Grandma!” she cried, desperately jumping with outstretched hands. The coffin laid still. Carol stood and gazed at the casket with teary eyes. She knew Grandma Alicia was there, she could smell the perfume she always wore. Then why wasn’t she greeting her and telling her that everything was going to be alright?

    Carol dropped her arms and bit her lip, but it didn’t stop the flow of tears that ran down her cheeks. She felt betrayed and more confused than ever. The hope was dwindling into nonexistence with each quiver of her lip.

    “Grandma…?” she choked out. Carol hiccupped and looked up again. “Grandma, why don’t you come out? Grandma!”

    She now began to sob. Her chest heaved as more tears left her shut eyes. The v-neck of her dress was getting soaked, but she didn’t care. Nothing so trivial mattered. Her best friend had chosen not to see her. Grandma Alicia had ignored her, perhaps to prove the people outside right. It hurt, and she wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball. Hopefully, the pain that racked her heart would go away.

    Wood creaked. The temperature in the room plummeted. A hand stroked Carol’s cheek. The five-year-old started and looked at the person who was leaning out from the coffin. The plump figure was wearing a familiar dated, but still beautiful, chocolate dress. Though her hair was done in a strange and elaborate bun, the silver sheen was still the same under the weak light. Carol latched onto the ice-cold hand of her grandmother, her sobs subsiding with the joy that immediately healed her heart.

    “Don’t cry, Caroline,” Alicia soothed. Her smile seemed deformed, her voice too gravelly.

    Carol’s smile faltered, though her sobs now turned to hiccups. She looked at the wrinkled hand in her own.

    And immediately let it go.

    Even though the cuts had been cleaned, the ghastly slices of ruby that ran up her arm were terrifying. Alicia outstretched her other hand, this one splotched with disfiguring burns that had turned her skin leathery and a withering charcoal. Carol backed up toward the pews. The color had been drained from her face. Her eyes, once glistening with newfound hope and happiness, were wide with fear.

    “Caroline, dear,” her grandma pleaded, that dreadful voice dry and unfamiliar.

    Then the doors were blown open by a fierce gust of wind. Light spilled in. Carol finally saw her grandmother’s mangled face. The elderly woman smiled again, making her empty, left eye socket squint and the exposed bone on her cheek more prominent. She leaned forward, exposing the burns that forever blackened half her face.

    Carol screamed and burst into horrified wails.

    The corpse slumped forward, the life that had shined in her sole eye gone.

    _____


    Alicia Mary Martin, age seventy-eight, had died on September 22nd, 1999 in a horrible car crash. Carol saw her rise from her coffin two months later.

    Which meant she had seen her corpse come to life.

    She had run screaming from the church and into the hands of her mother. She had asked, crying at the top of her lungs, why her grandmother was the way she was. They told her that Grandmother Alicia died like that, but it didn’t really sink in that her friend was gone forever until she saw her being lowered and buried in the cemetery. As the dirt cascaded down, she did not come back to life, or did she ever again.

    VROOM!

    The fourteen-year-old Carol was startled back to the present when a car zoomed just inches from her bike. Her hands tightened on the handlebars, and she swerved dangerously for a few seconds before regaining her balance and riding way from the rocky edge that marked the beginning of a construction site.

    “Damn drivers,” she muttered, taking a moment to spit out a strand of hair that escaped from its French braid and into her mouth.

    She continued to peddle down the road. The sounds of heavy machinery whirring the day away reached her from the right, and the hum of people bustling from store to store floated from the left. The rusting cranes peeked into her line of vision every second or so. The noise of metal against metal, paired with the dozens of conversations that rose into the air, was deafening. The smoke from passing cars and clouds of dirt swirled around her, her light eyes tearing whenever she went too long without blinking.

    It was heaven.

    With all of the commotion and distractions, she could never go too long in losing herself, for something would always bring an abrupt halt to her thoughts. The musings of death and her unnerving power were lost to the hubbub of everyday life. From the moment she was old enough to be allowed to take her bike to school, Carol had abandoned the bus and taken the alternate, much noisier, route.

    Her eyes lowered until she caught sight of her navy, knee-length skirt and the white, polo shirt that completed her uniform. The five years after the funeral had been torture. Every morning and afternoon, she was forced to go past Oakland Cemetery. Carol would turn her eyes from the window, even force herself to go to sleep, but even in her dreams, she would feel a cold shiver run down her spine whenever the tombstones came into view.

    Carol Sheffield could make the dead briefly come to life if her emotions became too out of control.

    She painfully knew it, the reminders merely brought Grandma’s Alicia’s disfigured face to mind.

    The brunette turned a corner with an extra burst of strength. The wheels of her cerulean-colored bike thrummed like angered Beedrill. The beginnings of tears sparkled in her teal eyes, and her grip on the handlebars was as white as her fluttering shirt. Deep down, beneath the scars of her heart, she knew she had treaded into forbidden memories. Her emotions, though, were running amok, driving out any rational thought.

    “Why the hell did it have to happen?” she half growled, half whimpered. She began to pedal faster, her thighs tickling with the beginnings of an ache. She felt her hands shaking, whether it was from her anger or the speed she was bicycling down the nearly deserted street, she didn’t care.

    “I can’t even think of her without seeing her like that.” The words tumbled out of her lips before she could stop them. She was getting out of control, the tears were already staining her cheeks, and the rumble of a sob shook her throat. Carol bit her lip to stop the quivering that had begun to rattle her body. The tires squealed against the street as her steering grew unsteady.

    “Tata!” something screeched in front of her. Before she could snap out of it, the thing leaped onto the middle of her handlebars and sunk hideous, decaying teeth into her arm. Carol screamed and instinctively swerved to the right. The front tire of her bike collided with a trashcan, and she was sent toppling to the side.

    “Ow…” she moaned, the ringing of the trashcan’s lid spinning on the sidewalk in unison with her pounding temples. Sitting up with her uninjured arm and looking beyond the spinning wheels of her upturned bike, she saw a Rattata hissing at her. His maroon pelt was thin with bald spots all along his inflated body. The cream fur on his paws and belly was either squirming with maggots or gone all together to expose his rotting innards. Only a stub of his once curly tail remained.

    “Rattata!” the rat squeaked again, his sole whisker quivering and his torn ears back. His rancid breath polluted the air.

    “Oh no,” the girl groaned, cautiously staring at the animated corpse while she picked up her bike. The fourteen-year-old looked around with fearful eyes, then sighed in relief when she saw nobody around. This was another reason she chose to stray away from the cemetery and the forest it neighbored. Pokémon died everyday, and she had met more than a few corpses that sprung to life on that route whenever her feelings broke the dam she had created over the years.

    “Go back now,” she ordered, trying to be as emotionless as possible. If she continued crying and cursing, that poor thing would be “alive” for days.

    Carol got back on her bike and hastily rode away, not daring to look at the decaying creature she left behind.


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  2. #2
    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Example: Until Death

    _____


    Carol slumped into her desk, a sigh escaping her lips. The large, Biology classroom was already filling up. The colorful posters taped on the lavender walls were hidden behind the bodies of teenagers, and the metal legs of desks let out a teeth-gritting sound as students slid and moved them into groups. The teacher, a balding man dressed in matching satin-black dress pants and suit, was turned away from the class, adding more objectives to the already, dizzying blackboard.

    “You’re all right?”

    The girl turned towards the teen next to her. Even sitting down, he towered over her with his six-feet two-inches. Alex Barley smiled, and even his jade eyes sparkled beneath his thick, curly blonde bangs. His opened-collar, white polo shirt and dark-blue dress pants fit his toned physique very well, making her blush whenever her eyes strayed too low. Carol grinned back and ran her fingers through her messy hair. She caught a whiff of rotting meat, and frowned, hoping that the Rattata’s smell wasn’t strong enough to alert her friend.

    “I’m…alright,” she began, untangling her hair and discreetly checking for any blood that might have jumped from the Pokémon’s wounds and cuts. After doing that, she hid her arm by pretending to rummage through her backpack for something. Though she cleaned as much of the wound as possible with water from the girl’s restroom moments ago, the bite was still red and puffy. “I just had a rough morning.”

    Alex rested his chin on his hand and leaned in closer, obviously worried. Carol avoided his gaze, on the verge of biting her lip. Alex was her best friend, the only person who hung out with “the girl afraid of dead people”, as the jocks so wittily dubbed her after she began avoiding the cemetery. Yet he didn’t know about the horrors that had plagued her since she was five.

    “Yeah, my mom was on my case about my grades,” she told him as casually as she could.

    Lie, her inner self barked, a deceiving, no-good lie. She had lost count of how many she had told over the three years she’s known Alex, but each one made a little part of her die.

    “Really?” he asked, eyes traveling to the arm that was still in her backpack.

    He was such a good friend. He didn’t deserve to be lied to his face.

    “Yeah,” Carol replied.

    But he couldn’t find out about her, lest she risk losing him.

    Their teacher, Mr. Edward Hale, dropped his pitiful piece of diminishing chalk and turned to his students. If he was bothered by the disarray of desks and gossiping teens, his hazel eyes did not show it. Instead, he clapped his hands and spoke with a booming voice that contradicted his tall and frail-looking body.

    “Okay, we’ve all gone over mitosis and meiosis,” he drawled, and the pupils eyed the stack of papers he picked up from his desk with wary eyes. “So I’m sure all of you will ace this quiz.”

    The students groaned, and after they were given a firm look, scooted their desks back to their original spots. For the next half hour, the classroom was silent, except for the occasional scratch scratch of a pencil. Sometime during the first twenty minutes, Mr. Hale fell asleep, his feet propped up and his hands folded across his chest. Some students abandoned their papers and began to either pass notes, whisper, or text on their cell phones. Others preferred to actually finish the quiz. The rest, all conveniently seated at the very back, set their malicious eyes on Carol. With one supplying the rubber band and the rest supplying the ammunition, a thumbtack was soon tearing the air like a bullet.

    “Uggh!” Carol hissed, and slapped her hand on her neck. She winced then grabbed the thumbtack with a flare of anger. Whirling around, she glared at the trio of boys. The one with the rubber band, a muscular troublemaker with his red hair in a crew cut, grinned deviously. The other two, both of them slightly less muscular with mops of brown and midnight hair, brandished the plastic box of thumbtacks. Their shirts and pants were in varying degrees of dirtiness, and even some buttons were found missing.

    “You guys are childish,” she barked in a loud whisper, throwing the thumbtack that had hit her to the ground.

    The chestnut-haired hooligan, Jack, waved the box of thumbtacks with the same, taunting smirk. Carol jumped again, and found that while she was distracted, the black-haired kid, Jonathan, had gotten out a rubber band and shot another thumbtack. This time, Alex turned with a deeply etched scowl.

    “Either cut it out, or I’ll do it myself, Warren,” he warned to the biggest of the three. His friendly demeanor had evaporated. Cold emeralds shot daggers at the trio.

    Just like they did every day, they immediately backed down. Though they were much more muscular and broader, Alex had the position of captain of the Sunnydew High School basketball team while they were merely second-string benchwarmers. With their respect for him (and their positions on the team) a higher priority than their bullying, two of them begrudgingly leaned against their chairs. Jack, however, seemed unperturbed today.

    “I don’t get why you defend her, Alex,” he told him, loud enough for the whole class to hear. Putting up his jet-black, combat boots (a violation to the school’s dress code) loudly on his desk, he crossed his arms and casually looked up at the ceiling. “Her bruises and cuts already tell me she’s beyond help.”

    Carol gripped her arm and shamefully looked at her feet. Alex looked taken aback, and his anger melted into a look that was a mix between realization and sadness. He turned to his friend, but she had already submerged herself in her quiz. Alex gazed at not only her exposed cut but also at the multitude of bruises and scars that decorated her fair skin; helplessness briefly clouded his eyes. It wasn’t until Jack noisily slammed his feet back on the floor did he remember he was in the middle of class.

    With a snort of surprise, Mr. Hale jumped back to the world of wakefulness. Those who had been goofing off hastily grabbed their pencils and pretended to be deep in concentration. Those who had been doing their exams rolled their eyes and continued on scribbling. Carol silently thanked Mew for the distraction and allowed her mind to dwell to mundane, school matters. Alex watched with ill concealed fury as Jack happily smiled at his words.

    “Mr. Barley, please turn around and continue your test,” the teacher ordered, trying to hide his embarrassed blush.

    The jock violently snatched his pencil and did as he was told. Carol glanced at him. She hadn’t seen him, so she had no idea that guilt was running through every nerve of his body. She simply worried about her guilt. Carol knew she was driving her friend into a sea of lies that he will, one day, inevitably surface from. He would see the light.

    And leave her to drown.

    _____


    Carol and Alex were not together again until their lunch period. As she rushed out to the courtyard of their school, just as she did every afternoon, she was unexpectedly grabbed by the shoulder. The fourteen-year-old teen froze, internally debating what to do, but then relaxed when Alex slid in front of her with the grace of a Persian, despite the metal tray of food he held in his hand.

    “Don’t scare me like that,” she chuckled, leaning against the doorway of the cafeteria’s exit with her own plate of unappetizing food. However, when she looked up, her smile fell upon seeing his familiar face unusually serious. Alex, in turn, mentally flinched; he hadn’t meant to dampen her good mood.

    “Carol…” he trailed off. He had bounded from English with his mind racing with what he was going to say. Now that he was here, it all trickled from his mind. “I…I need to talk to you, about…well, you.” The bluntness caused a visible cringe this time, but Carol was too preoccupied with her own thoughts to notice. Taking her lack of reply for embarrassment, Alex took her hand and began to steer her away from the school. “Let’s go talk over here.”

    They began to cross the circular courtyard. The trees that grew all around them provided blankets of shade for the students that sat on the white cement benches that snaked around the perimeter. The teens raised eyebrows at the sight of Alex and Carol holding hands, and even the ones on the plastic tables nudged each other and pointed. Carol felt the blood rushing to her face, but Alex was eerily hell-bent on tuning them out to get them alone. Finally walking out of their line of view by hiding behind the gym building complex, Alex stopped and let go of her hand. The slim girl wanted to say something along the lines of, “Now that we’re hiding, they’ll think we’re making out,” but her friend’s steely gaze told her he didn’t care about such a trivial thing.

    “Carol,” he began, leaning back against the brick wall and ruffling his curly locks with a sigh. He was still having trouble regaining the words he had planned so thoroughly. “I know you’re hiding something. You’re always tired, hurt…and you always seem scare of something.”

    Carol uncomfortably shifted her weight from one foot to the other, her tray of food threatening to spill. Though he seemed unsure, Alex was hitting too close to home. She wanted to stop him from speaking, but a part of her wanted him to figure it out.

    “You can tell me, Carol,” the boy nearly pleaded. Carol snapped back to the present, and she immediately regretted it. His eyes had softened so that two melted pools of emerald paralyzed her in place. “I’m your best friend, you can tell me.” Alex bit his lip. “I don’t know how to help, but if you tell me, I’ll try. I swear to Mew I will.”

    Slowly, his eyes let go of hers, and she began to understand what he was asking: the truth. As though she had been slapped, Carol took a sharp step back, making her food finally topple to the floor. Ketchup and mustard splattered her slippers and skirt. The clatter of the metal tray made many curious heads swivel to the gym complex.

    “I can’t, Alex.” She shook her head, more to rid herself of the tears that sparkled in her eyes. He was so close to finding her out, but she couldn’t tell him.. She couldn’t force such a huge thing on his shoulders, even if it meant finally having someone to confide in. “I…”

    But Alex’s face stopped her from saying any more. Hurt riddled his features like a plague, slowly spreading and leaving its mark. Begging eyes lost their sparkle. The tone of his skin seemed to drop a notch; he was afraid he was going to lose her. Though sad and defeated, Alex tried once more.

    “Carol, please, I want to help.”

    Those eyes begged her to let them into her world. Carol lowered her gaze, painfully aware that it was another hurtful slap to Alex’s face. Before she could think her words through, she let loose the only thing that came to mind, “I’m fine. You don’t need to worry.” She took a few seconds to word her thoughts. “It’s too complicated, but I can handle it. Really.”

    “Carol, please, I…”

    He was going to try again, and the brunette wasn’t sure she could keep quiet a second time. Quickly, she looked up and met the blonde’s emotion-filled face. Pain, desperation, and an internal struggle that was as strong as hers; it made her words come out choked. “I’m sorry, Alex. I can’t.”

    Carol ran back to the courtyard, battling with the tears that began to leak from her eyes. Without even looking at the confused students she ran past, she told herself that dealing with her power alone was better for everybody, no matter how much she wanted to let Alex know.

    From where he still was, Alex saw her run, his mouth finally able to form the words that had escaped him seconds ago.

    “Please, Carol, I love you.”
    _____


    That night, she didn’t sleep very well. Her mind could not stop replaying that afternoon’s talk and Alex’s tortured face. When she woke up in the morning, Carol was glad to be on her way to school. Though she knew she had to face Alex, she hoped that the ride would give her time to think about what she was going to say.

    However, the trip through the city was more distracting than she thought it would ever be. The people she saw seemed troubled, and with Sunnydew being a small town, the wariness was widespread and infectious. Soon, even Carol, who didn’t know the cause, was feeling anxious. The fact that the air was hazier with the smell of smoke just fueled the nervousness that began to fester. When she got to school, the feeling was still there, but this time, looks of sympathy, anger, and awe were directed at her. The whole thing unsettled her and made her sprint to her class. Maybe Alex would know what got the whole town into a nervous wreck.

    The closing of the classroom door alerted the students to her presence. Like Noctowl to their prey, dozens of eyes were focused on her in a heartbeat. Carol shirked back but then continued to her desk, utterly bewildered. The orbs followed her path until she sat down. When she looked at Alex’s empty desk beside her, every student waited her reaction. Her forehead creased in confusion, but the ominous sixth sense that came with her power throbbed with a realization she could not think of. The room was silent, and it filled the girl with inexplicable dread.

    “Alex’s absent?”

    The grenade had been thrown. A wave of different emotions swept through the room. Some students were talking amongst themselves in hushed whispers, and the word “denial” was thrown around multiple times. Others were openmouthed with outrage or shock. Jack, Jonathan, and Warren stood up in unison, their faces turning a dangerous beet red. Their desks were shoved aside to let them stalk towards the frightened Carol with thundering steps and snarls that made those near them flinch.

    “Disrespectful!” Warren spat, his normally unfocused eyes a hardened copper.

    Carol opened her mouth, but it was roughly shut when Warren hauled her from her seat by the collar of her shirt. His ugly features were contorted in anger that was so fierce, his red hair seemed to be aflame. Jack and Jonathan were visibly shaking, probably from the internal struggle of restraining themselves. The people that pitied her (for a reason she did not know) stood up, against this but unsure of what to do.

    You should be the one gone instead of him!” he barked in her face, completely losing it. Carol shook, both from her own fear and Warren’s shaking fist. Out of all the times he picked on her, she never thought she was in danger. Now, there was no doubt in her mind that he was going to pummel her to the ground.

    Luckily for her, Mr. Hale chose that moment to walk into the room. Warren dropped her like a hot potato, and she scrambled to her seat. The other students sat down. All of it was unnecessary, however. The fifty-three-year-old, each year shown on his haggard face, appeared to drag himself to the front of his class. His clothes were wrinkled and askew. The eyes that once shone with wisdom and authority were burdened with something everybody but Carol knew. Composing himself as best as he could, he faced his class. Everybody immediately focused their attention on him. The mood was now strangely somber.

    “Last night,” he croaked, his voice a shadow of its former self. “A merciless fire ravaged the south end of the city, the cause still believed to be a group of migrating Charizard. Many lost their homes and belongings. Others were sent to Sunnydew Hospital. Though the firefighters, Pokémon trainers, and citizens saved many lives by acting calmly and courageously, one life was lost, the life of Alexander Barley.”

    Carol’s brain was numb. The words entered her mind but refused to make sense. Everybody else bowed their heads for the beloved basketball player. Not a word was said as the man continued his speech.

    “Alex may be gone, but those who loved him will keep his spirit alive.”

    The words began to connect. Carol put her face in her hands, her heart thudding and telling her what she wanted to deny.

    “So as we recover from this disaster, let us not forget Alex, our student and friend, who was always there to listen to our worries and sorrows.”

    A sob escaped a girl, but other than that, the silence was deafening. Carol refused to lift her head and risk a glance at Alex’s empty desk. The pieces were falling together too fast. Her left hand still tingled from his grasp, and his pain-filled voice still rang in her ears. Surely that was enough proof that he was still alive?

    Biology was soon over. The day stretched on, and it was hard to go through it. The reason why many people were angry with her soon became clear: after lunch yesterday, Alex was not his usual, happy self, everyone came to the conclusion that he must have asked her to go out with him, and Carol shot him down. She didn’t even bother to tell them that it was not like that. The guilt from yesterday was a full blown disease within her. She felt sick, disgusted with herself, and it almost overrode the sadness that began to seep into her. The last thing she had told him was a lie. If she would have known…

    “You’re going to the funeral, right?”

    Carol blinked and turned to where she thought the voice came from.

    They were outside in the courtyard. To her right stood three girls she didn’t recognize, but their glowering gazes told her that they knew her. The tall blonde in the middle waved her hand, indicating she was the one who had spoken.

    “It’s the least you could do,” another one seethed.

    “I…I…”

    Carol shut her mouth and hung her head.

    “I don’t know.”
    _____


    The funeral was held a week later. The late afternoon sun hid behind a thick cover of groaning clouds. A weak wind cantered across the wide plot of land where the event was going to be held. A quarter mile away, the Gulf of Silver slammed its ice-cold waves against the thirty-foot tall, rocky shoreline. Among the sickly-looking grass and sparse trees walked those who had come to pay their last respects. They were scattered around tables of refreshments and sat in chairs, their conversations ranging from the weather to fact that none of them ever expected to attend the funeral of their best friend. The priest, a bald man by the name of Father Lawrence, pretended to scan over the prayer he would recite in less than half an hour. In truth, he was silently lamenting that he was about to send another young soul to God’s Paradise.


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    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Example: Until Death

    From the dirt path that snaked and split all around the cemetery’s areas, came walking a very conflicted Carol. The ankle-length dress of faded black was as depressing as the dead, russet leaves at her feet. Her faded-brown bun bobbed and threatened to fall apart when she cautiously approached the clearing. People turned, surprised, but the girl promptly ignored them and the casket she could see next to a dug hole. Just knowing that his coffin was closed for the viewing a day ago gave her shivers. It meant that he looked worse than his grandmother did that faithful day. Sensing her daughter’s growing discomfort, Isabella Sheffield guided her to a table and away from the dizzying hole and the tombstone already erected in front of it. The slim woman with shoulder-long chocolate hair and midnight dress quickly swept sapphire eyes to search for a familiar face, or anything to distract her daughter.

    “Mom, I’m fine,” the teen told the woman in a barely audible mumble.

    Isabella turned, making the black veil of her hat flutter. It pained her to see her only child so withdrawn, but most of all, it pained her to know that the only person who brought a smile to Carol’s face was gone.

    “Honey, we don’t have to stay for the burial,” she carefully said.

    Carol bit her lip. The offer was so tempting, but she knew it would only hurt her more at the end. To hurt Alex after death by doing such a thing was something that would tear her apart.“Let’s stay.” Her voice wavered as she tried to keep her emotions in check. Losing her grip on them was out of the question; her nails dug into her palms as she clenched her fists with all that she could muster. “I need to say goodbye.”

    Her mother nodded, and both of them wandered toward Alex’s parents, who were talking to his grandmother. Carol could feel the eyes of her peers on her, the question of why she was here being burned on the back of her neck. However, for now, she let herself feel at ease. They could do nothing to her while she was here, it would be disrespectful. She would be distracted by the many tales Alex’s grandma would share. Carol would lose herself whether she wanted to or not, and with her emotions in a firm grip, she doubted she would succumb to her sadness very soon.

    Just as she predicted, Grandmother Laura Barley was all too happy to share her memories of her deceased grandson. Tale after tale she weaved, the yarns always managing to make Carol smile. Alex’s first birthday party. His first pet Pokémon, a Swablu. All of it caused a dull throbbing in her heart, but Laura’s smiles and chuckles always kept the sorrow at bay.
    _____


    The smiles and laughter ended all too soon. Before any of them knew it, they were gathered around the burial site. The sun had now dipped lower into the sky, the first rays of violet shot from the horizon. Down below, all conversations had ceased, except for the faint whispers of sobs. The wind picked up and made dresses and veils dance eerily. Father Lawrence stood behind a shined, oak podium, right beside Alex’s granite tombstone. The inscription was freshly written, but nobody wanted to recite it aloud. Everybody was huddled around the beautiful casket, whose gold decorations shimmered under the setting sun. Four men were silently tying the ropes they were going to use to lower it, their heads bowed as the priest’s words began to float above their heads.

    “We are gathered here to say farewell to Alexander Barley, and to commit him into the hands of God.” The fifty-year-old man, dressed in the regular clerical clothing of black dress pants and shirt, looked up into the sky, lime-green eyes aged with all the funerals he had attended. “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Father Lawrence began to recite the Homily. Carol stood beside her mother, trying to be as emotionless as possible, but it was hard to ignore the farewell words that struck her heart. The denial that had been festering ever since she found out was now sprouting. It made her wrap her arms around herself, as though to keep from falling apart.

    “God, our Father, we trust Alexander in your hands.” Father Lawrence let one handful of earth fall onto the coffin. With two more, Carol saw what was left of Alex starting to disappear. Earth was reclaiming him, and she wanted to scream that it wasn’t his time to go. But her lips were pressed firmly as tears began to run down her face.

    “From dust you came, to dust you shall return. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, shall rise you up on the last day.”

    Rise. For most of her life, she had risen the dead. Maybe, just maybe, if she would have shared that with the most important person in her life, she wouldn’t be here. Who knows? Maybe Alex would have accepted her, comforted her.

    Isabella comfortingly gripped her daughter’s shoulder, but Carol had been swallowed by her guilt and sadness. Shutting her light-colored eyes that were lost to the flowing tears, the girl turned around and began to walk away from the site. Her mother turned, and so did others, but Carol paid them no heed. Her head was swimming with so many things. Arms still numbly wrapped around her body, she began to walk towards the faint sound of crashing waves. Isabella sighed and looked on with forlorn eyes.

    As soon as dirt gave away to rock and pebbles, Carol began to feel better. With the light diminishing from the sky, she stumbled and tripped. Cuts soon covered her arms and her dress, but it didn’t matter, she wasn’t going back any time soon. The air began to get saltier and more humid. The orchestra of waves was now ringing in her ears. Just as the wind picked up, she was standing on the edge of the shoreline, overlooking the vast gulf. The teen blinked a few times before sitting down. Bringing up her knees, she hugged them and looked ahead.

    The sky’s purple hue eased her pounding heart. Though she didn’t exactly remember, she thought that she came here before, probably during Grandma Alicia’s funeral. Whatever it was, the whole thing felt familiar and comforting,

    Carol wiped her eyes and was finally able to say, “What am I supposed to do?” Craning her head, she could see the waves crashing into the craggy, cliff’s side. “I’m sorry, Alex, I really am, but I couldn’t stay there. That last thing I want to remember about you is your funeral.” She rather reminiscent about his smile, his caring personality, and the way he always made her feel normal. Perhaps if she walked back with those memories, the sadness wouldn’t be so strong.

    “Ow!” she cried when something hit her on the head. The pebble tumbled to her side. Carol turned and saw Warren, Jack, and Jonathan, all dressed in tuxes that would look appropriate on anybody but them. Instead of seeing their familiar, smug expressions, the anger from that school day was shown lividly in their faces. The trio stamped towards her, making genuine fear rise. Afraid of standing and possibly falling off the edge, Carol was rooted to the spot. With the wind blowing her hair into her face, the boys appeared and disappeared from her vision like ghouls.

    “You have such nerve for walking out!” Warren bellowed. He stopped to try and compose himself. “To even think of doing such a thing is-” The anger did not allow him to continue, so Jack stepped forward. His face was a mask of disgust and fury, and it wasn’t until then that she noticed a strange, ruby creature at his side.

    “You’re nothing but a selfish punk!” he roared. A shaking, accusing finger was pointed at her. “Out of all the people, you should be the most grateful that Alex even spared you the time of day. Without him, you’re nothing, nobody.”

    Carol bowed and shook her head.

    “That’s not true! Alex was my friend, he was-”

    A blast of frigid water rocked her back. Carol screamed as she felt herself fall. She threw herself forward and came face-to-face with Jack’s Octillery. The sea creature’s eight tentacles lined with yellow suction cups came dangerously close to her face. Slime-like water trickled down his pointed mouth and began to soak the girl’s torn dress.

    “Keep her busy, Octillery,” Jack coldly ordered. “Maybe if she falls, she’ll catch a glimpse of Alex.”

    Horrified, Carol looked up and gasped, “Why are you doing this?”

    The brunette’s acidic glare sent shivers down her spine. “Because you broke the heart of the only decent person I’ve met.”

    More water was spurted at her, and by the time she swept away the soaked hair from her face, they had gone. The Jet Pokémon slithered closer, prepared to shoot another Water Gun. Carol got up unsteadily on her feet, full-fledged fear making her face pale. Her knees shook, and her feet refused to move her. She thought she heard footsteps and a bird’s cry, but Octillery’s slurping sounds as suction scups gripped the ash-colored rocks drowned out everything except the beating of her heart.

    “Stay away!” Her voice and stance were on the verge of breaking. “Just stay away!”

    A Water Gun hit her knees and sent her toppling to the floor. The footsteps from earlier could now be heard crunching gravel and rocks.

    “Jack? Call off your Pokémon! Please! Jack, pleas--AHHH!”

    More water hit her. The rocks behind her gave away. Carol’s hands frantically gripped the edge of the cliff as her whole body went over. She tried not to kick, but it was impossible as full-blown hysteria wrapped its arms around her. The powerful waves were no longer peaceful as they crashed. They shook the cliff and threatened to make her let go. She let out a dry sob when she felt her arms shaking.

    “Please! Someone!”

    Two hands gripped her wrists and pulled her up. Desperate for dry land, Carol scrambled toward the rocks.

    “Carol? Are you okay? Carol?”

    Her breath caught in her throat. Blackened fingers released her. Carol refused to stand and face the risen Alex. The smell of ashes and charred flesh mixed with the salt in the air to make her dizzy and disoriented.

    “Carol, you called me here,” he rasped. “That’s why I’m here.”

    “How do I know it’s really you? I mean, that it’s still you?” She blocked the images of Grandmother Alicia, a cold corpse that merely had her voice.

    “Because my soul is still here, it hasn’t moved on.”

    Carol, confused, couldn’t help but look up. “What?”

    She caught sight of his half-burnt face before he grabbed her shoulders and moved her aside. Seconds later, an angelic bird with a cerulean body and cloud-like wings flew past at breakneck speed. With feathers and wings shimmering a blinding ivory, Altaria crashed into the stunned Octillery with a Sky Attack. The octopus was tossed into the air, rocks still stuck to his suction cups.

    “What do you mean? How did you get here?” His arms and body felt strangely warm against her drenched, shivering body. Amazingly enough, it was easier to concentrate on his voice than his chalky skin, despite the fact that it sounded like the smoke and fire damaged his throat. Beneath the fancy suit they had put on him, she could hear his joints on the verge of breaking.

    “They didn’t…bury…me yet,” Alex forced out in his damaged voice. His eyes, almost hidden by the burns that surrounded them, were clouded with mixed emotions. He nervously ran his fingers through his hair; miraculously, most of his silky locks were still there.

    “But what did you mean… ‘soul’?”

    To her surprise, Alex avoided the question by directing to his Pokémon, “Fury Attack!”

    Altaria swooped down with a single down stroke of her fluffy wings and dived. Octillery was ready this time, and by flicking his tentacles, he picked up the rocks around him and flung them as hard as he could. Altaria took one to the chest, but she still began to peck him with her starch-white beak and tore at his body with dangerous talons.

    “Oct! Octillery!” the Pokémon screeched.

    Altaria, thinking she had the full advantage, lessened the intensity of her blows. The slimy creature’s mouth twisted into the closest thing to a grin possible. Like Ekans, he brought up his tentacles and wrapped them around the bird in a Constrict attack. Altaria screamed, her melodic voice ringing in harmony with the ever moving waves. Octillery’s muscles bulged as he tightened his hold. The Humming Pokémon became much more frantic.

    “Astonish, Altaria!” Alex was then grabbed by the arm. He cringed at seeing Carol’s anxious expression rather than at the skin that crumbled beneath her grasp.

    “What do you mean you still have your soul?” She had to find out why he was much more…human than her grandmother.

    “It means my body still has my soul.” Upon seeing her incredulous look, he stressed, “I just know.”

    “How?” she breathed. “How do you know?’

    “Because…I…I still know I love you.”

    Carol was left speechless.

    Back in the battle, Altaria had unleashed an uncharacteristic wail right in Octillery’s face. Tentacles released her instantly, his eyes had almost popped out of their sockets from hearing such a hideous sound come from the most beautiful Pokémon he had ever seen. A bit smug, Altaria flew to perch on a boulder. Turning her head, she was surprised that Alex had totally blanked from the battle. She opened her beak-

    -then closed it when a horrible shiver went down her spine. A glob of something chilly and acidic had hit her and was running down her spine. Altaria could feel her feathers shrivel and curl, letting the poison seep into her. With a haunting cry, she buckled and fell to the rocks below. Sapphire talons tried to find leverage, but when they did, she could hardly pull herself up without shuddering and flinching. Pleased with the Gunk Shot, the octopus made his way forward with that horrible, slurping sound.

    Hearing his friend’s cry for help, Alex turned, glad that Carol didn’t notice the way his neck creaked. “Altaria!” He fumbled for something in his pants pocket, ignoring how his fingers twitched and refused to do his bidding. After what seemed like an eternity, he pulled out his Pokémon’s Poké Ball and recalled her in a beam of scarlet light.

    The Hoenn Pokémon’s body disappeared just as a Bubblebeam was fired. The boulder she had been leaning against exploded into bits of rubble when hit by the flurry of transparent bubbles.

    “Octillery!” the water dweller hissed in anger, large eyes intent on the sphere the dead trainer had, then at the girl at his side. He still had a job to do, and no amount of battling was going to stop him from fulfilling it.

    Alex glared right back. “You’re not going to do anything to Carol! Altaria, come on out!”

    The Poké Ball was thrown, and it split in half to reveal the dragon, healed from her Poison status. Altaria fluttered to her trainer’s feet, her face still a sickly green. Other than that, however, she was tired but not out.

    Octillery thrust his head back then unleashed a furious Bullet Seed. The minuscule projectiles whistled and were a blur to the naked eye. With Alex’s command, the Dragon-type shielded her body with her oversize wings. They pelted her then fell uselessly to the ground. Before her foe could be outraged, the attack, “Mirror Move!” was ordered.

    With an exhausted trill, Altaria rose into the air and flapped her wings once. From the folds of cotton and down came another Bullet Seed. Jack’s Pokémon murmured a gurgling sound that may have been a whimper without the water. The seeds bombarded him and embedded themselves in his suction cups. Seeming like a balloon that was about to deflate, Octilley huffed and released an Ice Beam.

    Thinking quickly, Altaria used an Iron Tail on the bed of loose rocks around her. Stiff tail feathers slammed into the ground, and a cloud of rocks and dust rose up to cover her just as the Ice attack closed in. The collision resulted in the ice to burst into a shower of crystals and water. Dodging the falling, frosted rocks, Altaria flew up and burst through the dust cloud.

    “Now Take Down!”

    The dual-type launched herself at Octillery, her belly skimming the ground as she quickly gained speed. Octillery, realizing he was much too weak and slow to dodge, decided to bring up his front tentacles to protect his face.

    SLAM!

    Feathery body impacted with a gelatin-like face. Octillery rocked back before he was fully thrown backwards. He flailed, then was stopped by a boulder twice his size.

    “OCT!” he wheezed before crumpling to the ground.

    Altaria flapped to the ground, the recoil damage making every feather on her body droop. Alex held out her Poké Ball to recall her, but Altaria shook her head and walked to his side. She let him pet her with a charred hand, her eyes closing as a tired smile lit up her face.

    “She loves you.”

    Alex turned towards Carol. His friend slowly stood up with her own, sad smile.

    “She knows she’ll never see you again.”

    Alex recognized the tone underlining her words as the one she used that last afternoon. Carol let him grab her hand. Though she felt his grip, he couldn’t feel hers. The realization that he was dead hit him hard. He could already see his vision darkening, as Carol got her emotions under control.

    “Carol, I wish you would have told me.”

    Carol looked down. “If I would have, maybe you wouldn’t…” She had seen the sadness when he looked over his corpse. He must have also seen his perfectly-polished tombstone, with the day he lost his life forever engraved for the world to see.

    Alex clutched her hands tighter; he was fighting against the black that wanted to take him under a second time.

    “Seeing myself like this will be worth it if you tell me you love me.”

    Carol looked into his face and knew he didn’t have much time.

    “I…”

    _____


    If she says she loves him, it's a capture. If she says she doesn't, it's not a capture. I'll probably go over this for mistakes and typos later on, I'm just happy I got this up. :p

    Going For: Octillery
    Min. Characters: 20K - 30K
    Total Characters: 49,768K


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    AV art: *biscuitcrumbs | Character: me

  4. #4
    WhatWasOnceIsNoLongerWere Phantom Kat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Example: Until Death

    Grade done by Bryce. :3

    Story/Plot: This story was… amazing. There’s nothing else to say. No matter what I have said in the past about other stories, this was, by FAR, my favorite story that I have ever read/graded. It had me completely engaged from the very first haunting sentence to the emotional end. I’m… speechless. I sincerely mean it.

    I adore how you capture the adolescent mind and portray situations that teenagers go through every day without making it feel cliché or over-dramatic. Bullying kids, the way that they can single an individual out to torment, and the way that one extreme rumor can cause the entire school to shun that person. Speaking of which, your characters were great. Carol, living with the burden of her unwanted power, leads a quiet life, dreading the moments when she is left to herself, for she knows that her thoughts will wander and the threat of reanimating a corpse looms. And yet she is faced with the torturous task of hiding this tremendous secret from her best friend, while he tries desperately to help her.

    You really tapped into emotion as your principal key here, more so than what I have seen in any of your past stories. You traded those riveting action scenes for an in-depth coverage of Carol’s feelings and the traumatic occurrences of not only seeing the dead, but also losing her best friend, whom she loves deeply. This was new for you, and you pulled it off brilliantly.

    I’ve noticed that you use the name Alex a lot… Is that your way of expressing your undying love for me? Haha. :) … But wait. You kill Alex off… Is that you way of expressing your undying hatred for me? D:

    (Haha @ the teacher’s name. Edward Hale. Twilight, much? <3)

    Introduction: The whole concept that you incorporated with Carol’s innocent, child’s-point-of-view of death was brilliant. You made the fact clear, yet didn’t complicate it with elaboration. You kept it simple, stating facts that would surely be noticed by a five-year-old, such as cookies and dress-up.

    The entire thing sent a chill racing down my spine…really. I was totally and completely immersed in the beginning, as Carol saw her grandmother’s corpse coming to life, and such, and then we are suddenly warped nine years into the future. Fantastic job.

    Spelling/Grammar: To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to this at all. I couldn’t bring myself from the tale to check if you’d forgotten a period here or misspelled a word there… and it wouldn’t have mattered even if you had. You’ve come a long way from your error-riddled stories when you first joined to your stories now… They are nearly flawless, and that is really incredible that you have paid such close attention to the 20+ grades you have gotten to learn from your mistakes. –Feels like a parent bragging about their child getting straight A’s- lmao.

    Length: I was stunned when I checked the Word Count after I’d finished reading the story and noticed that this was 50k long. It didn’t seem that way in the least. I was so totally immersed in the story that it could probably have been 100k, and I still wouldn’t have stopped for a moment.

    Detail/Description: Like always, you reign as ‘Kat, Queen of Detail’. I honestly can’t find fault with anything you do. Everything was described with such vivid detail and description, and when that’s coupled with a quite extensive vocabulary, that makes for a near-perfect story.

    You do a great job of describing the Pokemon, as always, as well as your characters, though a tad bit more could have been said about how Carol looks other than she has brown hair and is skinny… but, of course, that’s just me nitpicking. The words you chose at times really made me tingle, and the way you put together sentences really astounds me.

    My favorite line:

    Carol knew she was driving her friend into a sea of lies that he will, one day, inevitably surface from. He would see the light.

    And leave her to drown.
    Beautiful. Seriously, that was a very clever and top-notch analogy. –Jealous- (This reminds me of a certain line in ‘Raven Engagement’, which talked about falling through thin ice as an analogy when the guy was talking to his mother on the phone. Lol, I am such a hardcore Kat fan that I remember stuff like that. XD)

    It made her wrap her arms around herself, as though to keep from falling apart.
    Beep! Another Twilight alert! xD

    One thing that I noticed you have in every single one of your stories is that you compare everyday things, noises, actions, with Pokemon. I find that so quaint and great, because it really reminds me of what we are all doing here on a Pokemon forum, and you remind me of when I first joined, and everything was so new and exciting. :3

    Battle: You really needn’t even have a battle in there, by my standards. Everything else already blew me away… and with the addition of this, it only made it better. I was worried that a sudden battle would interrupt the flow of the tale, but you threaded it in there very nicely and inconspicuously, so I was content. I loved how Alex came back at the end… I was expecting that all along, so its nice to see that you followed through. It was neat to see how you managed to weave both the battle and Carol’s and Alex’s conversation into one piece, while keeping both smooth and uninterrupted. It gave more insight into their relationship too.

    And of course, I could see the attacks distinctly in my head, as well as that putrid little Octillery. :tongue: Also, it’s nice to see that, even though you NEVER battle in the URPG (which is sad :[ ), you still know the strategies and weaknesses of the Pokemon. Like using Mirror Move to rebound the Bullet Seed so that it would hit the Octillery with Super Effective-ness (or whatever, lol) was actually very smart, and something I, an avid battler, wouldn’t have even thought of. I’m impressed. ;]

    Outcome: I don’t believe I said a single negative thing about this story in the grade. It was outstanding. I don’t know why, but I always seem to fall in love with the stories that you aren’t too crazy about. :P Octillery Captured!. There is no doubt in my mind that you will win the competition… And if you don’t, there will be hell to pay for everyone that didn’t vote for you. XD You definitely have MY vote. Good luck. =]


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    AV art: *biscuitcrumbs | Character: me

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