The Final Evolution Chapter 5


Click here for Chapter 4

Chapter 5

I slump backwards, resting against the tree trunk. The cackling creatures loiter around below us, bouncing. There is no way we can get down until they are gone. Jim swings his backpack forward and takes out a pen and a notebook.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Writing down what I just saw.”

I look over as he writes, “Alchemist, big, with acid tank”, across the top of the page, followed by “Jesters, bouncing, clown-like features”. I chuckle and shake my head. Who but Jim, the workaholic director, would be in the mood to take notes at this juncture? I reach for my necklace and fiddle with it, gazing into the sea, thinking about Dad. How is he doing? Does he know what is happening? Or is he even still…

I shake the thought out of my mind. Whatever the case may be, I have to get to him. I imagine Dad sitting next to me right now, hugging the tree trunk and admiring the cityscape with me like we used to. Once, a bird had pooped on his head and he tumbled out of the tree in shock. I chortle at the thought.

“Why are you laughing?” Jim ask, still scribbling across the paper.

“Thinking about my father,” I reply.

“What about him?”

I started telling him about the story of the bird poop and before I know it, I am recounting every little thing about Dad: how we used to go for root beer float and ice cream waffles, how we used to build sandcastles together, and how we used to race to see who could climb trees faster. After a while, Jim sets his pen down and looks at me, listening intently. At times, he smiles at the funny little things Dad did, like biting into cheese balls and had cheese squirt out onto my face, or when he pretended clothes hangers were guns and imagined we were playing real life ‘Counterstrike’ while doing the laundry. Then he has the look of envy when I recollect how Dad liked to encourage and reassure me.

“He’d do this,” I say, sitting up straight and adopting my Dad’s deep voice, “You can do it, Clare.” And then I raise my left hand and give Jim’s shoulder a hard squeeze, just like what Dad always did to me. Jim laughs. Before we know it, the sun has risen. The cackling below fades away as the sun paints orange and yellow streaks across the sky.

“You have a great father,” Jim says after a while.

“I love him. He’s all I have left in the world,” I reply, still playing with the necklace. “What about you?”

“I lost my father when I was ten, and then my mother just two years ago.”

There is an awkward pause. It suddenly strikes me how little I know about him.

“Sorry.” I manage after a while.

“It’s alright. They weren’t great parents. They divorced and… I had to live at a different aunt’s place every week.”

“That’s awful,” I whisper.

“It’s over,” he says, plucking a leaf off the branch nearest to him.

“So…Where are you going from here?” I ask him, changing the subject.

“I don’t know. The tree seems like a pretty safe place to hide in. Maybe find a jungle and go be Tarzan?”

I laugh. “Well, that’s an interesting plan.”

“What about you?”

“I’m going to get my Dad. Bring him out of this place.” There is another pause.

Jim looks at me thoughtfully as I look out into the sea once again, blowing the bangs out of my eyes. Then, my stomach growls.

“Sorry,” I say, unable to suppress my giggles.”Let’s get out of here. Those foul things are gone.”

“What if there are those… Phantoms around?”

“We’ll see.”

I begin making my descent when I catch sight of the tree branch that was pierced by the dagger the night before. “Jim, look!” I point.

Part of the branch where the dagger had struck has turned a scaly gray, but its leaves are greener than any others on the tree. I climb down and pluck out the dagger, examining it. It has a red and gold handle and a script which I can’t recognise carved into the blade. The sharp end of the blade appears to have been dipped in black liquid. Jim attempts to wipe it off with a towel. It stains the towel, but the tip remains black. He keeps the dagger in his backpack and we make our way down the tree, looking at the tree branch curiously.

We walk around nervously looking for food. Not daring to go into any of the shops, we break the door of a pushcart that says “Popcorn and Nachos” open and pack as much nachos as we can find into Jim’s backpack. Finally, we fill a giant bucket with cold popcorn and set off towards the exit of the theme park, walking as quietly as we can.

WHAM!

A loud smack breaks the tranquil silence and Jim crumples onto the floor, unconscious. Before I can respond, a stick comes down on my head and everything fades into darkness.

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I struggle to open my eyes and sit up. For a few seconds my vision is blurred, then it slowly comes into focus. I attempt to push myself up but something cuts into my wrists – my arms and legs are bound. A slight cramp in my legs tells me I have been out for quite some time, lying in that awkward position. Finally, my vision clears and I look around wildly. I turn and see Jim, already awake next to me. Behind him, a canopy bed stands at a corner, right next to the window and a small little closet. At the furthest end of the room is a table where a pale little girl sits, watching, in a wheelchair. A woman is seated in a wooden chair next to her, brandishing a stick. Her graying hair is tied in a bun and her clothes are torn and tattered. I try to say something, but all I manage is a loud “ummmph!” There is a distasteful piece of cloth stuffed in my mouth.

The woman walks towards us, dragging the wooden stick on the floor behind her. She swings it upwards as she nears us. I close my eyes, crouching away. Then, the gag is removed from my mouth. I open my eyes.

“What do you want?” Jim asks the moment the cloth in his mouth is removed.

The woman does not answer immediately but strolls over to the bed and sits, looking out of the window. The pale little girl wheels her chair over to her.

“This is my little girl. Her name is Annie.” The woman finally speaks in a crisp voice.

“She’s beautiful,” I reply softly.

“She’s dying,” she answers curtly. “I want her to live, to be able to walk, run, and eat like the others.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” Jim cuts in. “But I don’t think we can help. We aren’t doctors.”

“Yes you can,” the woman says. She walks over to us and pulls us to our feet with bull-like strength. She drags us over to the window. The scenery outside reveals to be the theme park. We are in one of the hotels.

“You know what is out there. I saw you two last night.”

“Three of us,” Jim says roughly. “We had a friend.”

“And you saw him die. And then revived by the creatures of the sea.”

“How does that help your daughter?” I demand.

“Don’t you see? They can revive the dead. They make the normal people stronger,” she replies in a loud, harsh whisper. The image of Emma and her acid tank flashed past my mind.

“So?” Jim says. “What has that got to do with us?”

“You can save my Annie,” her eyes twinkle with insanity as she sinks onto the bed. “The monsters won’t come near her. You can be the bait.”

“Mother…” Annie speaks up for the first time, her voice weak.

“Hush, my little girl. You’ll be fine soon.”

The woman moves to the other end of the room and takes out two sets of clothes from the closet. She sets them on the bed. “These are what you will be wearing tonight. I want them to be able to smell you, sniff you out, and lead them to my Annie.”

“Ma’am, there must be some other way to help her,” I say desperately. “You can’t let her turn into something else.”

“Oh, my dear girl!” she exclaims as she pranced back to the window, laughing. “Look outside! Look at those things around you! How many of them are there? How many of us are here?”

She turns and looks me straight in the eyes, laughing hysterically. Then she stops very abruptly, and started walking towards me, swinging the stick upwards again.

“Don’t you realise it, stupid girl? Now we are the something else,” she snarls.

The stick swing downwards and my world goes black once more.

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“Clare!”

I stir. My head feels like it has been split into two.

“Clare, wake up! It’s time to go!”

Someone is cutting the ropes binding me. I open my eyes wide. It is dark outside once again. Jim is sawing the ropes with the dagger we got from the Pirates. The little girl is sitting by the table again but the woman is nowhere to be seen.

“Run, as far as you can go,” Annie says. “I’m sorry about Mother.”

“Thank you,” Jim says urgently and pulls me to my feet.

“What is going on?” My head is still throbbing.

“I’ll explain later. Now let’s go.” He pockets the knife, grabs my hand and heads for the door.

“Wait! Annie, come with us,” I say softly, stretching my hand out.

“No. I will stay with Mother.” Annie smiles slightly and looks out of the window.

“But…” I begin.

Jim nudges me out of the door and we creep down the corridor. We turn into a staircase landing and start climbing up the steps. Jim fills me in about how Annie had said she was hungry, so her mother went out to find food. Then Annie freed him and told him that every morning at sunrise, a chopper would come to the helipad to wait for survivors.

“Annie said many parts of the island have already been infected. She had gone to many places with her mother, but they refused to go near her. In fact, they stayed away as far as possible from her.”

“Why?”

“No idea,” Jim whispers back. “But she told me about them. They prefer the dark but they’re blinded in the night and rely a lot on their sense of hearing and smell. They do attack in the day if they’re not hungry.”

“What do you mean? Aren’t we their food?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t have time to ask. I was afraid her mother would come back. She gave me directions to the helipad. That’s where we’re heading to. Come on.”

We climb in silence, listening hard. Occasionally we can hear retching coming from a distance, but we bypass the floors quietly. Finally, eight floors up, we exit and sneak into the corridor, closing the door quietly behind us. Everything is pitched black. We can’t even see each other. Jim and I instinctively grab each other’s hands and we tiptoe down the hallway, looking around cautiously. Quite very suddenly, a loud retching comes from right ahead.

“Did you hear that?”

“Ssshh… They can hear you.”

I am pretty sure our harsh whispers would have travelled to their nimble ears anyway. We inch along the corridors, our backs flat against the walls. There is a steady dripping of something which we are sure is not water. Jim slows to a stop.

“It’s round this corner, and then the door is at the next left turn,” Jim says in an undertone.

“How do we know that they are not down the corridor?”

“Even if they are, they can’t see us. They can’t see in the dark, remember?”

“They can smell!”

“When we are covered in shit? Come on. We smell just like them.” Jim tightens his hand around mine. “Let’s go, or we’d be stuck here forever.”

“You’re nuts,” I whisper back, petrified.

“We’ll be fine.” He doesn’t sound convinced himself.

Jim creeps forward slowly, pulling me along. I try to walk as stealthily as I can, even imitating their slow lumber in case we pass by them. Desperate to blend in, I check the smell of the feces on my shirt. It has been so long since we had climbed out of the sewers that I thought I smell normal. I bite my lip to stop myself from crying. Breathing as lightly as I can, I tuck my hands in to minimize my surface area, to minimize the chances of me brushing past them as much as possible. With every step I take, I feel utterly relieved not to have touched or felt anything brush past me. Numerous swear words have gone through my mind by now and I settle on “fuck” to repeat in my head over and over again.

Suddenly, Jim’s hand stiffens. He squeezes my hand and pulls me closer. I hold my breath. Something wet and cold brushes past my right, knocking into my shoulder and smearing thick liquid on my arm. A deep shadow lumbers past on my right and then another plods across my left. I take a larger step forward and stick as close to Jim as possible. Retching noises now fill the corridor and more and more shadows loom into view. Jim and I follow their slow rhythmic trudge, hunching as we squeeze past them. They are going in the opposite direction and I wonder how long we can stay undetected as imposters.

The retching grows louder and louder as we proceed and I take a chance to catch a quick breath. The air is foul and burns my nostrils. It overwhelms the smell of our feces-soaked outfits and helps us blend in. I knock into more and more shadows as I feel my movement space grow smaller and smaller. Jim navigates to the left, trying to move to the left side of the corridor as much as possible for us to make the turn. Our steps become more and more constricted, more and more cautious as we proceed, shuffling against the rest of the Retchers until we can no longer move. We are stuck.

The Final Evolution © 2013 by Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.

Written by: Ms. Auby Sparksfield

Edited by: Isaac Tan

Click here for Chapter 4

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Invisalign


(Wordy post ahead)

Disclaimer: I am not a dentist, nor an orthodontist. The information I provided below are from my own experience and the WorldWideWeb. If you do have any doubts or need expert advise, do consult your personal orthodontist!

As some of my friends know, I started on my Invisalign treatment on 9 October 2013.

Here is a little something about Invisalign.

I chose this video partly also because the woman in there is a teacher. HAHAHA.

For those who do not know and don’t wish to watch the video, Invisalign is a treatment to correct and straighten your teeth, much like braces. However, it uses a series of plastic aligners instead of metals, wires and brackets. Therefore, it is more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. It is also less visible, unless one looks closely, hence its name (Invisible + aligners = Invisalign).

Image credit: http://www.advanceddentalcareofaustin.com/orthodontics/invisalign-austin-tx/invisalign-cost/

I started on my teeth correction treatment mainly because I had crooked teeth ever since I was little. They didn’t cause much of a problem until recently, when my wisdom teeth started pushing out on the bottom right corner. As such, the entire row of teeth on my bottom jaw started freaking collapsing. Also, for some reason, my gums were retreating, which means if my teeth remain untreated, I risk losing my bottom row teeth when I reach about 50 or 60 years old. Therefore, I decided to correct my teeth.

However, I am not eligible for braces. I have an underbite and hence, my bottom teeth will clamp down on my brackets whenever I chew. To counter that, I would have to go through a surgery to bring my jaw inwards to correct my underbite. I didn’t want to go through a plastic surgery and having to live through liquid diet for 3 weeks, hence I opted for the next available solution – Invisalign.

I have never worn braces, so I can’t really compare them. But here are some pros and cons of Invisalign (some comments comparing them to braces are from my boyfriend – he is nearing the end of his braces treatment now so he is able to compare)

Good stuff

1. Less dentist appointments

When you first get your aligners, you will realise you get them in a few packets. This is because, as mentioned above, Invisalign is a series of plastic aligners – there are quite a number of sets for you to use. Basically, you have to change to a tighter set every 2 weeks (depending on your treatment). So your dentist might give you, say, the first four sets and then after completing them, you will go back for a check and then get your next few sets. This means that you are only going for a check once in two months instead of once every month (the normal checkups for braces). On the contrary, your dentist might give you all the sets, but advise you to go for a check once every 2 or 3 months.

So if you are one who doesn’t like visiting the dentist or find it hard to do so every month (like if your job requires you to travel constantly, for example), Invisalign might be more suitable for you.

2. Own time own target

If you had read the above clearly, you will have by now realised that you have the liberty to switch between each set of aligners on your own. The good thing about it is this: let’s say you have a big exam coming up and you happen to need to change to the next set of aligners, yet you don’t want to be bothered by the discomfort, you can put it off till after your examinations period. Just give your dentist a call and tell him or her this is what you are planning to do, and they will push back the next appointment time to fit your needs. That being said, the bad thing about it is that it drags your treatment time. Perhaps your treatment is supposed to last for only a year, it might drag on to one and a half years or something. After all, you can’t change the aligners as and when you please. When they say 2 weeks, it means 2 weeks, give or take a couple of days. This is because your teeth has to settle before moving on to the next set or they will grow weak and fall off. So if you wear a particular set for one more week, your entire treatment will increase by that week. No chance that you can wear the next set for only one week.

So I guess if you are looking for time flexibility, Invisalign is a good choice. Usually I just bear with the discomfort. It is alright, really.

3. Comfortable

This is quite obvious. No metals, no ulcers! 😀

However, the first one to two days of swtiching to a new set of aligners gets uncomfortable. Your teeth are moving into their new positions, so depending on your level of tolerance for pain, you might have to go on a soft food diet. At the same time, there is a feeling of something clamping tight on your teeth. I don’t know how to describe that. The closest example I can find is how your car would feel if it has its wheels clamped. LOL. It hurts just that bit when you are eating, but it is very very bearable. Unless you have tofu gums or something.

4. Aesthetically pleasing

braces and invisalign

Image credit: http://www.fiorthodontics.com/invisalign/

What everyone hates about braces is that it is super visibile, even if your brackets are white. Invisalign is invisible.

But, some people do require things called attachments. I do, and it gets obvious, but not as obvious as metal wires. Read about attachments here.

5. No restriction of diet

No soft food diet, don’t have to avoid soft drinks etc. The only true soft food diet I went through is the very very first time I got my aligners. Actually, I was eating beef noodles or something the first day I got my aligners. But on the second day… Soft food diet! Porridge, tofu (lots of tofu. I am glad my Mum knows how to cook a variety of tofu dishes), steamed salmon, half-boiled eggs, mashed potatoes… I couldn’t even eat vegetables. This lasted for about three days and then I was back to munching on nuggets. Thereafter on the first day of changing to a new set of aligners I just eat whatever I wanted, painful or not, simply because the pain is bearable. Of course, if something is really hard and I can’t bite without feeling that my teeth are going to fall off, I won’t eat it. One example is trying to pull prawns out of its tail using my teeth (go around it by sticking a fork into its tail and use the spoon to pull out its body), or like eating well done steak.

One thing to note though, never try to deshell a crab with your teeth when you are on treatment. It shifts your teeth back or something. Everytime after eating crabs, during which I had used my teeth to deshell some parts of it, my aligners are back to feeling tight again. Get someone to deshell for you (GOOD EXCUSE EH?!) or use that pincer-like thingy to crack the shell for you. Peel everything off with your hands and shred the crab meat before eating.

Those are the good stuff. Of course, there are some annoying stuff about Invisalign which I have to get used to. I will keep the description short, because you will see why these things are annoying as you read further.

Annoying stuff

1. Brushing teeth after every meal

You have to brush your teeth after meals and wash your aligners before putting them in. If not, your teeth will be soaked in the aligners when there are germs and scraps of food left stuck in between your teeth. Not pretty, not healthy.

2. Cannot close your mouth properly

They are after all aligners wrapped around your teeth, hence you can’t close your mouth entirely. For the first week of wearing my aligners for the first time, saliva started pooling in my mouth. Now I have the habit of constantly swallowing my own saliva.

3. Restriction of eating time

They are after all plastic aligners, you have to clean them every time you remove them. And you have to remove them every time you eat. Since they are made of plastic, it is inadvisable to chew with them or even to drink warm or hot drinks with them on because they might distort. When that happens, not only do they not correct your teeth properly, but they pose as a health hazard because you are ingesting melted plastic.  This proves to be a huge problem for me because I love to snack.

So as you can see, although Invisalign offers more comfort, it does come with a price too – time management. As such, the first few weeks of my Invisalign treatment was actually quite uncomfortable. Not in a way that it causes mouth ulcers and that I couldn’t chew on food (results of having metal braces), but there are a lot of things I had to adjust in my life to adapt to Invisalign.

Before embarking on Invisalign, I was able to find out information about them. Famous Singaporean blogger Xiaxue blogged about them and even had an introduction to it filmed on internet TV (Part 1 and Part 2). I read about it at their official website, googled reviews about it… But the steps taken to adjust to it were never really documented and hence, it was really quite unexpected for me.

So to help out anyone considering Invisalign, here is a list of changes I made to my lifestyle ever since I embarked on this journey. You can expect these changes, but many things are personal to me, so you might actually face more changes than I did, or some even less. 🙂

Getting Used to Invisalign

1. Brushing my teeth after breakfast

My personal habit is to brush my teeth before breakfast daily, then have breakfast, then rinse my mouth. I never flossed, because my retreating gums bleed badly every time I do. But now, to avoid brushing my teeth twice in 15 minutes, I rinse my mouth before breakfast, eat breakfast and then brush AND floss AND rinse my mouth with mouthwash before putting my aligners back.

Thanks to Invisalign, my gums no longer bleed when I floss my teeth. 🙂

2. Eating breakfast at home

Ever since I was 13 years old, I have been eating breakfast on the go: on the way to school, on the way to work etc. But now with aligners, I have to brush my teeth after meals. I hate not brushing my teeth before heading out of home. Hence, I eat breakfast at home now. This brings me to my third point.

3. Waking up earlier

Since I could not eat breakfast on the go, my ‘getting ready time’ in the morning has to encompass breakfast on top of everything else: brushing teeth, makeup etc. This takes a while to get used to, and for the first few days of my Invisalign treatment, I was in a mad rush. Also, I like to sleep in. Invisalign deters me from doing so and this brings me to my next point.

4. More regular sleep routines

I love snuggling in bed, chatting with my boyfriend and all. But with Invisalign, I have to get up earlier in the morning. Hence, to get more sleep, I actually do sleep earlier at night, and for at least 7 to 8 hours (I used to sleep for like 4 to 5 hours a day due to a hectic schedule). Also, the longer you sleep, the longer you have your aligners on for consecutive hours. For Invisalign, you have to at least wear the aligners 18 hours a day. If you had an early dinner, brushed your teeth and put them back on right after, you can easily clock up to 10 hours. That means if you feel that it is getting a little uncomfortable in the day, you can squeeze in a little more break from the aligners after meals i.e. wait about 15 to 30 minutes more before putting on your aligners.

5. Eating faster

On top of waking up earlier for breakfast at home, I do have to eat faster. This not only saves time in the morning, but also when having meals outside of home and when you have a schedule to meet. I am still going to school, and sometimes I have to squeeze in time to brush my teeth during the lunch breaks. Not only that, if I am simply out on a lunch or dinner outing with my friends, I try to eat faster and be done before they are done. That way, I can brush my teeth while they are still eating so they do not have to wait for me to brush my teeth before leaving. If not, I will brush my teeth after everyone has left. Paiseh lahh.

6. No snacks or desserts

Because I can’t chew with my aligners on, or drink hot drinks, I have to turn down offers of snacks from my friends. I don’t even snack on my own because I simply do not have the time to keep going to and fro to brush my teeth. Besides, taking them out means I am clocking less hours for my Invisalign. I have also cut down on drinking Starbucks for the same reason.

But thanks to Invisalign, I think I am growing healthier and saving more money. 🙂

7. Makeup routine

Slight change: instead of normal lipsticks, I use lip moisturizers and lip gloss. Reason being brushing my teeth three times a day (at least for 3 meals) dry out my lips. Some lipsticks make them even drier, hence I use moisturizers to prevent chapped lips.

8. Sleeping position

I am serious about this. Because you cannot close your mouth properly (read above if you missed it, under ‘Annoying Stuff’), it also means that you have to sleep with your mouth slightly open. This poses a huge and disgusting problem: drooling. The first few nights I wake up with sticky streaks on the sides of my mouth and a wet and smelly pillow because I have the habit of sleeping on my side. GROSS. Now I have to sleep facing upwards. And I like to bury my face in my pillow or my bolster. I can’t do that now. So to get a similar cosy effect, I sleep with a pillow AND a bolster covering my face while I hug one of them. In Singapore, this is not cool. Literally. Because of our humid weather I wake up sweating. Hence, I now sleep with blanket only covering my feet.

Amazing how Invisalign can even change the way you sleep eh.

9. Less forgetful

Without my toothbrush I wouldn’t eat anything and would even starve just to avoid wearing my aligners with uncleaned teeth. Hence, I check my bag consistently to make sure this “Aligner Care Pack” follows me wherever I go. 🙂

Aligners Care Pack

In it contains: a travel-sized toothpaste, a travel-sized toothbrush and my aligner casing. And while I check my bag for my care pack, I check for essential things too (might as well), like keys, phone, EZ-link card, notebook and pen (or at least my tablet).

(I need to have a notebook and pen because if I get inspiration to write, I can’t wait. I HAVE TO WRITE THEM DOWN SOMEWHERE).

But, keeping those things in a bag stinks it up after some time because the things get wet. Then the water goes stale in the bag, so recently I have taken my bag for a wash and am currently using an unglamorous ziploc bag to put my stuff. I am going to get a box to put my toothbrush and stuff since boxes are easier to wipe dry and hence, no smell!

I guess I could use Febreze too but… it only gets rid of the smell and germs but technically the stale water is still there right? I don’t wanna put something with stale water into my mouth.

10. Taking less selfies

Don’t laugh. Most girls take selfies. But now I take less because I can’t smile properly. I feel like I have horse teeth and my lips get overstretched when I smile. It does look a little different in pictures, but not ugly. I am just not used to it and so I do it less. My Instagram now has more pictures of quotes from stories than my own pictures now. It is another way of displaying my self-love. Kthxbye.

There you go. A list of things. In the first few weeks of Invisalign I wished I could just hibernate throughout, wake up and my treatment is done. But now that I have gotten used to this, I am liking my Invisalign more and more. It is correcting my underbite! Without a jaw surgery! 😀 And my gums have stopped bleeding. YAY!!!

That’s it I have for you. If you have any questions about Invisalign, email me or leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them for you! (Email form is below) Though again, they will be answered based on my personal experience. If you need expert advise, consult an orthodontist!

For those considering Invisalign, I hope this is useful information for you. Enjoy the process. It is actually pretty exciting to feel your teeth move!

xoxo,

Ms. Auby Sparksfield

Update: Cost of Invisalign

Many of you have asked me how much does Invisalign costs. It ranges between SG$6,000 to $10,000 (I think). Mine costs SG$7,000. It really depends on the individual and you will have to consult your orthodontist about it, which is why I didn’t update any. Some of you might experience more expensive or cheaper rates of treatment. 🙂

Throwback #2: On the Run


On the Run” is another story about reunion, a reunion between enemies. It is also my first ever, and also the last, fan-fiction about Dramione. It isn’t even really a kind of love story blossoming between them.

I don’t know why, but I have never ever shipped Draco/Hermione. To me, Hermione belongs to Ron and Ron only. That was one of those relationships I felt that J.K. Rowling did right. The others I felt was right were Remus/Tonks and Bill/Fleur. I hated Harry/Ginny and Harry/Cho.

Nevertheless, this came as an inspiration and it reflects that if ever Draco and Hermione were to move away from enemies, this is perhaps the furthest they can reach. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

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Disclaimer: All names and characters are taken from J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. This story is purely for entertainment purposes and no copyright infringement is intended.

On the Run

Draco stood in the dark alley, staring at the street ahead of him. For the first time in his life, he stood in the middle of a Muggle town, dressed like a Muggle, without even a penny in his pockets. Nothing about him screamed that he was not like any ordinary person walking down the street, nothing except the wand in his pocket that did not belong to him.

The Second Wizarding War was over; his parents had fled, just like the rest of the Death Eaters had. They had set off together the night the Dark Lord was finished, but the pursuit of the Aurors had forced them to go separate ways. Draco had no idea where his parents were, or whether they were still alive. He could not step into any parts of the wizarding world without being caught and sent to the Wizengamot to await his sentence to befall upon him; not many people believed that he had become a Death Eater, but the mark upon his wrist spoke the truth, and Potter and his gang of friends would be ready to speak up against him. Potter was, after all, at the tower the night Dumbledore was killed.

Taking a deep breath, he took small steps forward, trying to force himself to adapt to his surroundings. He never dreamt that he had to live as one of them. Fragrance wafted from the bakery shop near his right, and children buzzed excitedly as they came out of a toy shop to his left. They chattered happily with one another, with friends and their family members. He could not remember when was the last time he had been able to talk to his parents, nor could he remember enjoying such times with Crabbe and Goyle. For the first time, he felt as though he had nothing in the world, nothing to remember his friends by. The last moments of Crabbe in the fire flashed past him, together with a surge of regret that he had been unable to save him. He stopped short in his tracks as he tried to shake the memory out of his mind, his eyes closed as he turned and walked back into the dark alley. The Room of Requirement, the cursed fire …

WHAM!

Draco staggered; his eyes flew open as he reached for the wand in his pocket, the side of his head pounding at where he was punched. But a pair of hands reached his before he could grip his wand tight and it fell out and rolled into a nearby drain.

“Wow! Look what we got here! Blondie! Where are you heading off to?”

“Get off me!” Draco struggled.

As his vision cleared, he saw a gang of six boys in front of him, holding what looked like the Beater’s bats. He had never really learnt how to dodge the Bludgers, much less dodge the bats if they were to come his way.

“Let go of me!” Draco yelled.

“Do you have some money? If you do, we’ll let you go.”

“No.”

The biggest of the six boys surveyed him carefully, then narrowed his eyes.

“Search him!”

The boy behind him gripped his hands even tighter as the five boys flocked towards him.

“GET OFF ME YOU FILTHY MUGGLES! I HAVE NOTHING!”

“What did you call us?” one of the boys demanded. He looked small, no more than thirteen, yet Draco never felt more helpless in front of a little boy.

“I said filthy muggle,” Draco spat at his face.

The boys burst into fits of laughter.

“What a name! HAHAHAHA!” the biggest boy guffawed. Then without a warning, he whacked Draco across his face again. It struck his nose and a loud crack whipped through the air. Blood surged out from his nostrils and dripped onto the floor.

“Get him!”

Punches rained upon Draco once more, but he could do nothing to stop them. No matter how much he struggled, no one came to help.

“IMPEDIMENTA!” came a voice nearby.

“Wha- WHAT? I CAN’T MOVE! WHO’S THAT?” one of boys gasped as he tried to move his arms. “Big D! Help me!”

Their panic calmed Draco.

“Get out of here. I’m counting to three,” the voice said. Draco could not see who his savior was, but the voice was strangely familiar.

“You’re… You’re one of… of… them!” the biggest boy stammered, backing into the dark alley.

“One…”

“You… you said… you said muggle earlier?”

“Two…”

“You… you’re…”

“THREE!”

“RUN!!!!!”

The boys scattered within a second, scrambling into the dark alley together with his friends, the biggest boy dragging his friend who had been jinxed. Draco stumbled towards the drain, reaching in to search for his wand.

“Accio wand!”

Draco watched as the wand flew out of the drain and into the hands of a silhouette, a girl with long, bushy hair.

“Oh, Granger, it’s you.”

“Your wand,” she scoffed as she tossed him his wand and turned to head off into the street.

“Granger!” Draco scrambled to his feet and ran after her. She did not stop, but he caught up with her and blocked her way.

“Do you… do you have…”

“You shouldn’t be here.”

“I can’t be anywhere else.”

There was a moment of awkward silence as Granger looked into the distance. A strong, loud, rumble came from his stomach.

“You’d think of bringing some money with you when you’re on the run,” she said. “Where are your parents?”

“We got separated. I couldn’t access Gringotts. All my money are with my parents.”

Granger scoffed at these words, but turned to look at him. For the first time, he noticed gentle kindness in her eyes.

“Come with me,” she said after a while. He followed her into the bakery where she bought some bread and gave it to him.

“These would last you a few days. Go somewhere else. Don’t stay in London.” She shoved some notes into his hands. “Here’s some money. Go somewhere, find a job.” She turned to leave.

“Where are you going?” Draco quickened his pace to follow.

“Diagon Alley,” she said. “School is starting, I’ve got books to buy.”

“You’re going back to Hogwarts?”

“Yes.”

There was a moment’s silence again, but Draco could not find anything to say. Whether it was a sense of dependency, or was it a moment of gratefulness, Draco did not know. But there was a curious longing for Granger to stay.

“Well, good luck then,” she said after a while. “Stay safe.”

Surprisingly, she flashed him a smile. A smile so different from the smirk she often gave him, a smile that strangely, drew him in.

On the Run © 2011 by Ms. Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.

Which Minion Are You?


Which Minion Are You?

Due to my minion obsession, I pounced on this quiz once my friend sent it to me. Enjoy! XD

My result:

KEVIN

Kevin

Picture credit: https://www.whichminionareyou.com/results

Kevin is known best for being a right-hand man. He is often at the forefront of new ideas or exploration, including Gru’s announcement to steal the moon. One of Kevin’s strongest qualities is his ability to bounce back from almost any situation, including getting shrunk down to a miniature minion by the shrink ray. Kevin maintains an extremely positive, can-do attitude no matter what happens during his day, with energy to spare to play around the water cooler anytime.

Click here to find out which minion you are! 🙂

Throwback #1: Crossroad


Crossroad” is one of the first few stories which was posted on my blog. It is the first story posted on my blog actually, and the start to a great new journey. A journey which allowed me to meet with writers all over the world, a journey which helps me to explore even my innermost wants and desires, a journey to know myself better.

Writing has been my passion. I must admit I had always been an angry child when I was young. I was constantly compared to someone else: either among my family and relatives, or even my smarter friends. It didn’t matter I was more athletic than those I was compared to. It didn’t matter that I was quieter, an easier child. All it mattered was that I wasn’t smart enough. The only way I sought consolation was through writing.

Writing brings me to my own world. A world which I have in control of what happens. I usually made characters regret they ever looked down on someone. I made the ‘bad guys’ die, the ‘good guys’ live. As I grew older, I realised not all the good guys lived, so I let some of them die too. And when these stories were complete, I would weep, as though I had lost a friend, or a child, a baby.

When I write, the characters come alive and they talk to me. They told me what they wanted, and I could decide whether to give it to them or not. Sometimes, I realised they were simply my innermost desires, and when I denied the characters of these desires, I realised I didn’t want them too.

When I was eighteen, I went through my first heartbreak. The reason why I mentioned this is because, not that I hadn’t gotten over it, but because it was the event in my life which made me realise who truly loved me and who did not – who were those who used me simply for mealtime gossip, or who were the ones who sincerely loved spending time with me and see me do well in life. For this, I am utterly grateful it happened. Since then, my stories are filled with love: love from friends, from family. I did not want anyone to have to suffer from a heartbreak similar, or even worse, than mine. So instead of abandonment, my stories are all about reunion.

Crossroad” is a love story, a reunion, between a married couple – a faithful man who did anything to make his wife happy, a faithful man who would do anything to be with his wife no matter what happens.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Crossroad

The afternoon was warm and humid. Never before in Singapore had the weather been so bad. The sun shone through the windows of the bus, searing into his bronze skin. He shifted his hand ever so slightly to keep it out of the sun. The bus ride had been bumpy all the way. As the Sunday crowd was starting to thicken, crowding up the bus and causing it to feel stuffier than it already was, he moved uneasily in his seat, taking a deep breath and trying to clear his mind.

Jin was a tall, thirty-two-year-old businessman. Recently he had started a business, what he called a clothing line. In actual fact, he was selling clothes pegs. People in Singapore usually hang their laundry to dry in the sun on bamboo sticks and that would be where his products would come in. They would hold down the laundry, not just preventing them from being blown away by the wind, but from theft too. His pegs, after all, were different. They were made of metal clasps with two plastic handles in which tiny security buttons were attached to them. Once activated, any slightest touch of it would trigger off an alarm that would alert the owner that someone else was trying to steal his or her laundry. The security buttons would run on solar power, generated from the solar panels attached on the outer side of the metal clasp. Jin always thought it was the best idea, since his wife had always complained about someone stealing her lingerie at night. Even though they had found out that the thief was their three-year-old cat, Nibbles, the problem had inspired Jin’s creations. Little did he know that his invention would backfire, landing him with huge amounts of business debts. Not only that, his wife’s chemotherapy bills, which he had expected to clear once he made money from his business, were slowly piling up. His wife’s situation had also deteriorated over the weeks since he started working on his inventions and she had decided to listen to the doctor’s advice to move into the hospital instead. In order to cope with these bills, he had to sell his jet-black Audi convertible and his three-storey landed property in Sixth Avenue. And that was not all! He was also left with a whole bedroom, kitchen and storeroom of pegs and had no idea of what to do with them.

With the failure of his only investment, he had moved into a modest flat in Choa Chu Kang, next to a tiny heartland mall called Sunshine Place. He had changed his entire closet of Armani Exchange suits and Crocodile polo shirts into Giordano cotton tees. As he sat there in the bus on the way to the nearest MRT station, he was wearing his favourite white shirt from Giordano that had a smiley face on it that said, “Cheer You Up!” His wife had suggested them to get identical ones for couple shirts, since they could no longer afford expensive apparel. To their utter astonishment, they found entire streets of Singaporeans wearing them wherever they went. His wife had stopped wearing the shirt since then, but he continued wearing it out whenever he missed her too much.

The bus turned into the bus interchange and he hopped off, tapping his Ez-link card as he went. He made his way to the MRT station, passed the gantry and up the escalator, taking care to keep to his left as he cruised up to the station platform. He felt weird not having his wife by his side when taking the train, or even when going anywhere at all. He was used to holding her hand tight and looking into her soft, tender eyes ever so often. The warmth of her hand was still lingering on his fingers even as he thought about her. She was so frail when he last saw her that it broke his heart.

He stared at the electronic signboard that counted down to the train arrival as he stepped onto the platform. Three minutes to the arrival of his train. He closed his eyes and in his mind, he could still see his wife. Her sweet smile, the fruity scent of her perfume, her tinkling laughter…

A gentle tap on his shoulder woke him up.

“Excuse me,” a bossy voice rang out from the back. “I might be mistaken. But you are Mr. Jin Sway, aren’t you?”

He whirled around to see a middle-aged woman, dressed in plain tee-shirt and jeans and wearing Nike sports shoes standing in front of him. As their eyes met, the woman’s face lit up with glee.

“You really are! I saw you in the papers and bought your pegs! They’re great!”

“Really? I’m flattered. Thank you,” Jin replied modestly.

“But they are a little on the expensive side. It took up my entire month’s pay.”

“I understand,” he continued.

“What inspired you to make them?” the woman questioned.

“My wife,” he told her simply. He recounted the story of the stolen lingerie.

Suddenly at the back of his mind, the laughing image of his wife faded. It was replaced by her thinning face, head bald from the chemotherapy, her eyes filled with pain, sadness and fatigue. Just recounting things to a stranger made him realize how much time he had lost just doing the business while she was so critically ill and how much he actually missed her. He was going to meet her now and this thought made him even more excited than ever. Most of the time he tried to retain memories of his wife’s happy moments. It was what that kept him going after she moved away. Although his last visit was only a day ago, his eyes sparkled with excitement as they flickered to the electronic signboard. One minute. He followed suit as the woman moved to queue up to get onto the train. He had not told his wife that he would be going to see her that day. It would be a pleasant surprise.

His hands fiddled with the wedding ring still sitting on his ring finger while a smile played on his lips. He could remember the first day they met in school, under the old tree filled with ants. He could recall the first time they went on a date, sitting on the grass patch next to the giant canal where he caught pretty fighting fishes for her. He could still feel the pain when they fought that day over moving out of the terrace house and into the small apartment… But no matter, he was going to her now, going to apologize for all the pain he had caused her. Without her, he would never have come this far, even if he was left penniless. She was something, someone he could never do without.

“Where are you heading to, Mr Sway?” the woman’s voice rang out again, turning round to address him once more as the electronic signboard started flashing and the train moved into the station. But Jin was no longer next to her. He was moving, fast, towards the edge of the platform, shouting something no one could hear – for a horrified scream had drowned his voice as he took an intrepid step off the platform and disappeared beneath the train.

Crossroad © 2010 by Ms. Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.

The Final Evolution Chapter 4


Click here for Chapter 3

Chapter 4

There is a loud splat and I opened my eyes. I am stuck, swimming in something thick and goopy, waist deep into whatever it is. I yank the bat out of the junk.

“YUCK!” Jim swears, somewhere to my right. It is dark once more.

“Everyone alright?”

“Yes,” Jim and I reply in unison.

We listen to the retching, snarling and stomping of feet coming from above us in silence. I am afraid that the metal would give way, but another loud roar silences them all. We hold still, not daring to make any noise for a minute until shuffling is heard. Then, a torchlight clicks on, revealing a tunnel before us, filled with junk up to our waists.

“Wow. We sure are in deep shit,” I murmur.

Matt shines the torchlight around. We take the chance to survey our injuries. Jim’s neck is scalded red raw as are my hands. Matt takes out a tiny tube of ointment and we rub it over our injuries. By the time we are done, the tube is empty. Matt tosses it into the waste.

“If we are all good to go, let’s move, before she destroys the metal cover,” Matt says softly.

“I think she would have done that already if she’d wanted to.” Jim has a point, but I move off anyway. The faster we get out of this place, the better.

We trudge through the waste silently. The journey is labourious; we have to constantly throw our weight forward in order to bring our legs through the thick waste. Even though I lead the way, I have absolutely no idea where we are heading to. All I am doing is praying that we exit somewhere safe, somewhere that can lead me to Dad safe and sound.

It feels like it has been almost an hour since we landed in this sewer. The muscles in my thighs are burning as though they, too, had been scalded by those skeletons. The only consolation I have is that the waste seems to be thinning already. Then, round a bend, we stop at a fork. A faint sound of water flowing comes from our left.

“Let’s go there. It’s probably an opening,” Matt says.

I can hardly bring myself to remind him that it is perhaps just someone flushing the toilet. But we proceed left anyway and arrives at a metal gate.

“What is this?” I ask. “Where does this lead to?”

“I believe it is to prevent the waste from clogging up. This path should lead to a canal. We can get out from there.”

Matt brings out his crowbar again and we push together, prying the gate open. We follow the path down and indeed, the air is clearing. The gate has apparently been effective in segmenting the waste, for there is none on the ground now. The smell, however, lingers in my nose.

“Do you think we’ve walked long enough to be out of school?” I whisper.

“Yes, I think so.”

Before long we can see the sky, dotted with little stars twinkling. I begin taking the route at a run, water splashing at my feet. The other two follow closely behind me and I feel the mood lightening. Soon, the wall of the canal is low enough for us to climb out. Jim pulls himself up first then helps Matt and I up. The sky is still dark and there is no retching nor any glowing skeletons in sight. The streetlamps are working, lighting up the area well. Not far away from us, there are outlines of roller coasters.

“We need to go somewhere,” Matt says, looking around.

“Yeah. Like maybe go for a thrill ride or something,” I suggest, nodding towards the theme park in the distance.

There is a moment’s silence at first, and then we burst out laughing, clearly very much relieved at our escape. We walk towards the theme park silently, worn out from our ordeal. When we finally arrive at the gates of the theme park, however, we are greeted by the ominous absence of a security guard at the gate.

“Shouldn’t there be someone here?” I ask, frowning at the security post.

“We’ll just wash up. Make it quick, come on,” Matt says, pushing me towards the gantry. Reluctantly, I climb over it and land in the theme park. We walk in a straight line, side by side, heading straight for the bathroom sign across a facade of a Hollywood street. Finally we reach the washroom. The boys dart into theirs and I dawdle outside, thinking. Then, not wanting to be left all alone, I decide to go into the boys’ washroom as well.

“HEHEHE! HAAAAHAAAHAAA!” A cackle whips through the air, raising goosebumps on my arms.

I spin around.

“Who’s there?” I ask as loudly as I dare.

A long silence came in reply.

I scan the place quickly for any sign of chaos which had happened here before, but all seems quiet and calm. The displays in the shops are still arranged in an orderly manner. An action figure poses in the window of one shop and the window next to it has ornaments glinting under the moonlight. My eyes land on the shop selling Goth dolls. All of them bore huge round eyes and little black lips. A tiny doll sits on a rocking chair and stares back at me, unblinking. Its piercing glare is creeping me out. I move my eyes onto the candy shop next to it. Then, a slight disturbance makes me do a little double take.

The chair is rocking slightly and then it slows to a stop. The doll is gone.

We are not alone.

I turn to run into the washroom where the boys are, but they are already sprinting out towards me. Jim gestures for me to turn around and I obey immediately. Loud cackling fills the air and the door to the doll shop bursts open. Monsters flood out, bouncing on stilts towards us. All of them have big red noses and bright red lips flipped inside out. There are black circles round their gigantic eyes that are rolling backwards in their mutated lids. Dressed in circus costumes, one of them waves the tiny Goth doll, cackling menacingly. Then, it hurls the doll towards us. I yelp and duck. The doll hits the ground and starts crying.

Fear spreads through my body. My legs almost give way, muscles burning in protest of fatigue. Jim drags me along as I throw the bat aside to lighten my load, but the monsters are catching up on us. At last, we reach the other side of the theme park. The road spills onto an open beach.

“The beach!” I gasp.

A strange, low humming creeps into the air and down my spine. Something else is coming for us, I just know it.

“Up a tree!” I yell, recalling my hiding place the night before. My eyes sweep the place and lands on a tree not too far away. “That one!”

We flee towards it, feet sinking into the sand. Then a strange gurgling noise emerges from our right, joining in the ruckus. Out of the corner of my eyes, shadows rise out from the sea. One by one they trudge forwards, all of them holding daggers, poised to strike. Dripping wet, they move towards us, still gurgling. We have to get to the tree as fast as possible in order to avoid getting cornered on the ground.

Jim reaches the tree first. He jumps and catches hold of the first branch. After pulling himself up, he reaches back down to help me up. A loud cracking ensues from the tree branch – it is too heavy to hold both of our weights.

“Up!” Jim cries. I scramble up to the second branch and he follows closely behind. I look down frantically to check if Matt is catching up. He is at the bottom of the tree, having trouble climbing. I start making my way down to get him. But before I can reach the lower branch, he catches hold of it and heaves himself up. Quickly, I sat myself down on the second branch and dangle upside-down, using my legs to cling on.

“Come on!” I yell at Matt, stretching out my hand for him, knowing that his branch will give way anytime soon. He reaches up high for it, but he isn’t tall enough. “Jump!” I call out desperately.

But it is too late. The branch gives way with a loud crack and Matt crashes all the way down to the sand. He gets up, looks around wildly as the monsters close in on him. Then he dashes towards another tree in the distance. But before he can reach the tree, a dagger flies out of nowhere and strikes him on the back of his neck. He collapses, face down, onto the sand.

“No!” I scream.

The creatures from the sea look up when they heard my voice and I quickly sat up. A dagger misses me by inches and sticks to the branch behind me. Then the jesters bounce upwards, attempting to grab my dangling legs. I quickly duck behind the tree trunk to take cover as leaves rain upon me; Jim is making his way to the top of the tree. I climb as fast as my weary legs can carry me, out of the way of the terrible clowns. Finally, I reach the top and peek out from behind the leaves.

One of the creatures from the sea is pulling the dagger out from Matt’s neck and then slits it across his throat. Blood spurts out from his wound as the rest carry him towards the sea. Matt is clearly dead. I gasp as moonlight cast itself onto those creatures.

They are gray, covered in scales that gleam beautifully under the moonlight. Like their cousins, their facial features are turned inside out. But something is a little different about them. There are slits on the sides of their necks and they flare outwards rhythmically. One of them dons an eye-patch.

“Pirates,” I whisper.

When the mob reaches the sea, all of them crowd around Matt’s body and starts gagging. Eye-patch emits a loud cry, very much like a war cry and some sort of a chant. Then Matt seems to go into spasms as his eyelids starts turning outwards as do his nose and lips. Scales then slowly spread, covering his skin and his entire body. Finally, slits appear on the sides of his neck. The mob releases him as his eyes open and he starts gasping for breath. He sinks into the sea and emerges a moment later, very much alive.

“No way,” Jim murmurs, his mouth gaping open in disbelief.

Eye-patch draws a dagger out from the water and hands it to Matt, who takes it over with a bow. Then Eye-patch puts a scaly hand over Matt’s shoulders and in uniformity, the mob dives and disappears into the sea, claiming Matt as one of their own.

The Final Evolution © 2013 by Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.

Written by: Ms. Auby Sparksfield

Edited by: Isaac Tan

Click here for Chapter 3