Asher lives in 2025 when the world is overrun with technology. Overcome with rebelliousness and loneliness, he makes an escape trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There, he finds a sleeping girl named Ava. Who is she?
She was like an angel, cast out of the heavens. Her frail, skinny body lay in a small opening in the woods where she slept on a luscious green patch of grass. Trees were surrounding her as if they were hiding her, protecting her from the outside world.A glorious sun ray burst through the trees making her the spotlight. Dust particles drifted through the light as if it were a sparkling cloud.
The girl was lying on her back, her legs together, her head turned to one side and her arms were spread apart from her body slightly bent. Her golden hair strands were scattered around her head, glinting like a blade as it does in the sunlight. Her face was pale, beautiful and serene.
Anyone who could stumble upon her would think she was a magical creature.
Her eyes and mouth twitched."Help me," she whispered, her mouth barely moving.
Asher's appearance and background made any students at his high school create rumors about him. They were mainly about him ending his own father's life because his father abused him when he was a child. It is partly true. When he was a child his father did abuse him. But he did not kill his own father. That is a whole different story.
It is in the year, 2025 and technology has far advanced. Humanity's population has decreased dramatically and the US government has more control over the citizens. Most of the United States population no longer has care for freedom and morality because they have become dependent on technology. It is their life.
But not Asher's.
He spends his time roaming his town's streets, watching the dark heavy rain clouds of New Hampshire pass over the majestic White Mountains. His parents used to take him to the White Mountains a couple of times for picnics when he was a child.Asher looked out of his bedroom window. Rain began to pour outside. The dreaded feeling of loneliness and boredom started to drift in the air. He had to get out.
He went downstairs.
His mother was sitting in the living room enveloped in the newest version of the smart phone. She noticed him walk right past.
"Where are you going?" she asked and followed him to the door.
"No where important," he answered bluntly.
"I am taking the car."
His mother lingered in the doorway and watched as the electric car carried him away.
He pulled up along an old gray road engraved with deep cracks. Around him were tall, pine trees just along the foot of the White Mountains. He parked along the side of the road and when he got out, he felt a cool breeze amidst the hot air brush against his face. It had been sixteen years since he came to the White Mountains and already faint memories of his childhood were flooding back to him.
He started walking towards a trail. Or what was left of a trail. An old sign was lying in the dirt in two pieces and it's white writing that indicated the name of the trail, was wearing off. He treaded through the bushes and weeds that hid away the path. The slope of the trail gradually increased and soon he was heading up the mountain. The air felt fresh. More fresh than back home. The feelings of loneliness and boredom were now vanishing with each step he took.
He hiked higher and higher until he came to a lake with dark waters. He stood before it, watching as the wind caused the water to form ripples. The rain clouds were almost upon him. He hiked around the lake until he came to a large grove of pine trees. There were so many close together that he couldn't see beyond their branches. It looked so dark he imagined it to be haunted. But with curiosity, he painfully moved through them to see what was on the other side. After five minutes of struggling, he made it through the branches. He was standing in a small clearing of long, green grass.
A human figure caught his eyes. A girl in a white dress was lying in the grass just a few feet away from him. He examined her and wondered why she was here. He walked towards her slowly. There was no movement from her. Just the faint movement of her hair carried away by the wind. He drew closer until his feet were inches away from touching one of her arms. He gazed down at her and the first thought that crossed his mind was, she's beautiful. All of the sudden, cold rain drops started to fall from the clouds.
Face red, Asher bent down and picked the girl up in his arms. He carried her to shelter before the rain could soak her dress all the way. He sat underneath some branches and set her body in his lap. He took off his black jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. He felt awkward holding her. Her back and head rested against his chest and he felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment. What would she think when she woke up? He could have just left her and headed back down the mountain but how could he? He didn't see anyone else around so he wondered why she was here alone. Sleeping.
He sat for a while, listening to the rain as it hit the ground. It was growing cold and he felt himself shivering. At home, he put up the image of being a rebel and showing unkindness to others but here now, he felt like that image disappeared while helping to shield this girl from the rain. He felt her stir against his chest. He could see her eyelids open and he waited to see her reaction. Abruptly, she jumped from his lap and scooted as far away from him as possible. But she ended up bonking her head on a large branch. She grimaced and braced the back of her head. Asher reached his hand out to her.
"It's okay, " he said. "I just found you lying there in the grass."
"Who are you?" she asked. Her eyes were full of fear and hey grew moist. She was about to cry.
"I'm Asher. Who are you?" He asked. By seeing her fear and her tears, his chest tightened and his heart thumped harder. He didn't like to see her cry in fear before him. When she didn't reply, he asked her again who she was and why she was here alone. But she continued to cry.
"Mother, father," she spoke within sobs. "Why did you have to die?"Asher didn't say anything else. He sat there frozen with his eyes glued to her. He wanted to comfort her but he knew she wouldn't let him. She was afraid. Of him. He looked away from her.
"I am not going to anything bad to you," he told her calmly. He could feel her eyes on him.
"I was hiking and I found this place. I found you asleep here and it started raining. I only meant to shelter you from the rain." Her sobbing stopped. He looked back at her. Tears were still streaming down her face but she seemed to calm down. They both looked each other in the eyes and Asher felt like he could advance closer. She watched him warily.
"It's okay. Remember I said I won't do anything bad to you?" He reassured her. When he got close enough that he could hug her, she spoke.
"You are not one of them." Her eyes bore into his. They were light blue, the color of the sky.
"What do you mean I am not one of them?" he asked her. She smiled weakly. He felt his heart flutter.
"You are not of the darkness. You are a human. A kind one." He looked at her in bewilderment.
"You act as though you are not kind, but your heart tells otherwise."
"What do you mean that I am not of the darkness?" He asked. He thought of the times when he acted unkind and rebellious to the people around him. In truth, he regretted acting that way. He wanted to be kind. The girl looked away from him.
"The darkness is what killed my clan."
"Your clan? What do you mean?"Tears welled up in her eyes.
"My clan is Light. We survive off of the kindness and the goodness of people. But I am the only one left. The clan of Darkness came and destroyed my whole clan. We weren't strong enough to defeat them because kindness has faded away in this world and thus we started to die. There was a time in history when my clan flourished because there was more kindness. Humans interacted with each other more than they do now. They put each other first and their hearts were strong. Today all that is changed. Technology is more valuable than a relationship or friendship. Technology is used more than communicating and interacting with one another. There is still communication and interaction, just not enough. Thus there is less kindness."
Asher stared at her. Everything she spoke of sounded crazy but there was truth to her words. He felt like he barely knew his mom. They only lived together. Nothing more. Every time he came home from school, she was on her phone or on her computer. They rarely talked or did things together. He was too annoyed with her to do anything about it.
They continued to look each other in the eyes. She touched his chest with her hand.
"Everyone has kindness. They just don't express it enough. It is caught in a cage that needs to be open and known."He looked down at her hand and then back at her. She brought her hand away and put it in her lap.
"I am dying. I am the only one left and I fear the clan of darkness will come back and try to find me."mSuddenly, she grimaced and put her hand to the back of her neck.
"Are you okay?" Asher asked. His eyes widened. A black mark started to spread quickly across her neck, chest and shoulders. She whimpered.
"This black mark is covering my whole body inside and out. When it does completely, I will die."
Now Asher believed everything she said about her clan.
"Yes. Nothing can stop it now."
"I'll save you," Asher told her. She shook her head.
"I already have the black mark. All of your kindness is not even enough to save me."Asher felt a sadness creep into him. She leaned closer to him.
"I need to show you something." She stood up and Asher followed her lead. As he ran behind her, he watched her movements carefully. The way her hair moved and the way she ran. This felt extremely familiar. Then he remembered a forgotten memory of when he was a kid. He was here in the mountains having a picnic with his parents. He met a little girl in the trees. The little girl was on her own and he became her friend. They played together each time he came to the mountains. But he forgot her. Ava? He thought.
The girl slowed down and stopped at a large willow tree. She reached down into a hole and pulled out a plump, wrapped blanket. Asher stared at it in awe. Wrapped in the blanket was a sleeping baby. The girl whispered to him,
"I wasn't going to tell you about this but when I realized who you were, I knew I could trust you. I saved this baby when my parents helped me to escape the attack. This is the only baby left. He won't start to die until he gets as old as me." Tears welled up in her eyes again and she handed the baby over to him.
"Please Ash, take him to a place where the people possess enough goodness and kindness so that he can be safe from the clan of darkness. And also that he can live a long, good life."He held the baby close to him.
"I will." She smiled and put both of her hands to the sides of his cheeks. Her hands were cold and he noticed that the black mark spread up to her face.
"I am going to give you all the strength and light that I have left so that if the clan of darkness come, you can resist them and escape." His face turned red as she pressed her lips against his. A powerful warm feeling of happiness and goodness flooded into his body. Then she pulled away and the black mark enveloped the rest of her body.
"Wait!" He exclaimed as she fell to the ground. He felt his own eyes water. Her eyes were closed and she was no longer breathing.
"Ava," he said her name. He wiped away his tears and looked down at the baby. He was awake and he had the most beautiful, clearest light blue eyes he had ever seen.