Welcome to the prequel shorts before The Obsession!
Each short story is from a different characters point of view as they find themselves in the mysterious rift and meet the strange agents of O.U.R.S.
Listen to the episodes from AbsconderMedia or read below!
Part 1: Quinn the Dreamer
Part 1 – Quinn the Dreamer
I only had my eyes open for a second before I had to shut them again. The strain from the light I witnessed hurt and forced me to look away. In that small jolt however I felt a weight on my limbs and a strange chill in the air.
“What’s going on…” I murmured out, squinting in the white light. I couldn’t see well enough, my eyes squeezing shut now and then.
There was a small clatter of something close by and a chirp of surprise. Someone was there- wherever I was. I knew I wasn’t at home. I wasn’t in my bed with my tussled sheets and comforter, decorated with images of outer space, rockets and the sweeping nebula’s. No, for one, whatever I was lying on was rigid, metal or something like it.
And my other reason for knowing I wasn’t even at home was the fact that I was tied down.
Naturally I started to scream.
Whoever was in the room with me flew into a frenzy, making strange chirping noises and knocking things over. In the small commotion I was causing, my panic mind tried to recall my day before this. It was a school day. I got up, on routine with my alarm clock radio drowning out my older siblings argument. The favorite bathroom was in the hall, two doors down from my room. Every morning started like this. I dressed in my schools’ uniform and pulled on my headphones to start my day with whatever tune I felt I needed. Rushing to the kitchen, I tried to make myself breakfast before my siblings would take the best quick meals.
This is where it was somewhat different. I couldn’t get a ride to school – my parents were fast asleep from working long hours. My brother was planning to skip school entirely and my sister left on the back of her girlfriends’ shiny new motorcycle. All in all, however, it’s not like I haven’t walked to school before…
There were no other special events I could recall.
I settled with the thought – obviously I had been kidnapped.
Thrashing to no use, shapes slowly began to emerge with blurred edges. My heart thumped wildly, especially when a hand came into focus overhead. It shielded my eyes from the light then landed against my forehead. Warm and oddly comforting, I stopped moving, thinking even, I just breathed. The person with the red hand began to speak, a language like tweeting birds. Another voice talked back, higher pitched. It was the one from earlier, I realized. The two spoke that twittering noise for a moment until the person touching my forehead began to speak to me.
“Do you understand me?” She asked, a distinct female voice and young sounding. This person was a kid like me.
“Y-yes…” I mumbled again, feeling it hard to talk after all that screaming.
There was a small pause before she continued,
“Confirm that these are true. If you will.”
Another pause and then the other voice spoke,
“Your name is Quinn Hunter. Human. Female. Thirteen years old. Earth inhabitant of your year twenty twenty five?”
“Yes… That’s right,” I responded without my own pause and thoughts that should be springing into place after a question like that. My mind feels like it’s silent, empty of anything I was worried over before. I listen to the two women return to that chirping language, rapid and apparently heated. Suddenly the girl over me removed her hand and I felt the rush of emotions hit me. My body convulsed and I was shaking, eyes starting to glisten. I still couldn’t see and my emerging tears made it harder. My mind raced with thoughts about my siblings – how I looked up to my brother for his activism and how I wished my sister would know that she deserved much better than Lucy… I thought of my parents, working long hours to get me into private school, sacrificing their very sanity for their children’s’ sake! The blinding light shut off and my vision returned.
I started to laugh. Probably hysterical but it was unintentional.
I was dreaming. Had to be. Lucidly and possibly aware of my sleep paralysis. Lifting my head slowly, I looked to my new surroundings and captors at last. Whatever this room was, it was simple, sterile and practically empty. Besides the table I was on, there were three waist high counters, each with gadgets I’d expect to see in some cheesy sci-fi show.
And I laughed harder at the two perplexed stares, at the women standing a short distance away. One of the girls was taller than the other, abnormally pale skin with a strange violet glow that matched the lavender puff of hair on her head. I called her an elf, based on the length of her pointed ears. The other girl had red skin – her hand was what I saw earlier – she had large body length webbed wings and horns curling up from a mass of jet-black hair on her head. The two wore nearly matching bright neon coats with glowing green gems at the center of their chests. They looked like cos-players – science fiction LARPers with pretty decent make-up effects. I had always wanted to go to those conventions, although I never had anybody to go with…
My acceptance to this very weird illusion shifted again when an explosion shook the ground from outside. Another moment and suddenly the gadgets slid off the counters and the girls struggled for balance. I felt the force of gravity, of the table I was on tilt and slam me down side-ways on the floor. The girl with the wings took action, rushing forward to remove the clasps binding my wrists. She managed to set me free before everything began to spin. We were tumbling down something, with us flying through the air periodically and slamming into the walls and against each other. We weren’t rolling for long luckily and ended up landing in a pile, table and gadgets under us. My body was scratched and undoubtedly bruised as I struggled to my feet in the now Topsy-turvy room. The counters were on the ceiling and as I realized looking around, there was no door. I slipped slightly, head still spinning and that winged girl caught my arm. Her skin was hot, seeming feverish and as I looked up to her golden eyes, I knew they weren’t cos-players. I knew it because this wasn’t a dream. There was blood on my skin, little cuts seemingly insignificant but really, they were just an ultimate pinch. The lavender haired girl grumbled something to herself, apparent scowl and dainty fingers tapping against the gem on her suit. The building seemed to buzz and suddenly a door appeared as if from nowhere.
I didn’t think twice, taking the opportunity and made for the exit. Shoving the elf girl out of the way, her shrill voice call out irritated,
The chill just outside was worse than in the room. I gazed in shattering awe at the night sky above me, a deep purple black that was empty except for two different sized moons. One was waning and the other was a sliver, a winking face. I looked toward the hill we had undoubtedly rolled down from, the emerald grass pulled up revealing dirt and rocks in a shaky path.
“Quinn!” A voice called. It was from the girl with the wings. She stood next to the violet-haired girl who was busy gesturing at light in front of her. The elf girl chirped something at her friend and the other glowered and spat something back.
I didn’t wait to see what she wanted, running away from the hill and the fallen building. Entering the forest that surrounded us, I noted the foreign air and scent of the plants growing around me. Running didn’t lessen my anxiety, that growing fear of the unknown. All of this was an enigma and I didn’t understand how I got here. How could all this be real?
There were further explosions to my left. I jumped over fallen logs, moving automatically towards the opposite direction of all that noise. I just kept running until the cold in my lungs started to ache and I had to stop, collapsing against a mossy boulder. I buried my face in my arms as I leaned against the stone, blood thumping in my ears. I tried to find reason, to doubt those two girls, this weird place, and the very sky itself!
Until a low rumble of a growl echoed to me from further ahead. My head whipped toward the sound, looking into a blanket of shadows among the trees. The deepest shade moved, liquid almost with a crunching of dirt underfoot. A single eye opened, shinning a bright yellow and peering at me from a least three times my height above me.
It reminded me of my alarm clocks glow on my nightstand at home. Looming but most definitely there. Everything in me wanted for this to be a dream, to open my eyes and see it’s numerical face. I wanted to wish this all away. Instead, there was fire.
A ball of flames, the size of my head, flew and landed just beyond the threshold of the trees further on. As it landed it scorched the ground and surrounding barks. It was quick but I saw the creature it scared away.
It had teeth probably as long as my arm, and more than I could count…
Whatever it was, it was driven off fortunately enough, leaving behind my pyromancer savior at my back.
“What-what was that?” I asked, my eyes unable to close.
“’And out come the wolves’”, The girl responds as I turn my head to her approach.
“Most things I’ve met,” She resumed with a hand in flames extended and a wide toothy grin, “Don’t like to be set on fire.”
“You’re just showing off,” I breathed out bluntly, and see the fire fizzle out, her expression a little irked.
“A little, yeah… So?” She pouted with a glower.
“I’m impressed,” I complimented and see the girl smirk, pulling out something from her sleeve – a beret-like hat, that same ridiculous color as her coat with a large patch at the front. A quick gesture followed, of her index finger moving up to point at her eye before falling back down to her side.
“You have no memory of getting here, do you?” The girl asked next and eyebrow raised that lowers when I shake my head. No matter what I tried to recall before this, nothing so surreal or bizarre even came to mind.
“Not so strange… Lost things end up here all the time,” She explains frankly, possibly trying to be reassuring. Her head slowly turns to look behind her just as an explosion erupts from back the way we had came.
“Wha- what’s going on?” I stumbled through my question and see the girl’s expression change to something suspicious. As if she didn’t like my asking. Regardless, with slightly narrowed eyes, she answers simply,
I don’t know whether she read my anxiety or felt bad for me but she softened her stare, pressing a small smile. She took a few steps forward and put out her hand, offering it to meet mine.
“You can call me Mink,” The girl spoke while we shook hands and she went on to explain,
“You’re very lucky we found you. Terrible things can happen here. You could’ve been lost forever or mutated into something like those ‘things’ out there.”
“Mutated…? Wait… Where is ‘here’?” I asked, thoroughly curious and see the girls mouth widen into a startling grin.
“We call it ‘The Rift’ but you can call it whatever you like. Astral plane. Emptiness. Void.”
Mink let my hand go and gestured to the world around us,
“This place is the place between worlds, time, dimension. Between life and death. Darkness and light. It is everything and nothing. Mysterious and incomprehensible. We haven’t seen sentient creatures like yourself out here – mostly uncategorized beings. Probably a twisted evolution from living here.”
I watched with wide unblinking eyes as the girl spoke and I could tell she was excited to tell me all of this. But then that smile fell, as did her eyes, falling to the side. For just a moment. Something crossed her mind.
“That’s what we’re out here for – to study the Rift, map it or whatever we can do,” Mink resumed at last, grin returning once more,
“We’re O.U.R.S. The Organiza-”
She suddenly stopped, wings lifting and face turning serious. It felt instant, the way she lurched forward, warm hands pulling my body to hers. Her arms encircled my chest, holding to me tightly as the force sank my stomach. We were flying; Mink carrying me into the air, my legs dangling dumbly below as I clung to her arms. I looked down to the place where we once stood and see the large mass of one of those razor teeth-lined creatures landing on that very spot. It snarled to us, making a plea to catch us, no matter where we fled. Before we broke through the canopy, I saw other ominous shades slide into formation. It was a pack, of whatever things they were or had been, and it was clear they wouldn’t be discouraged simply by fire.
The sky seemed brighter out of the cover of the forest. And with everything illuminated I could see the trees seemingly never ending. The land under us was a sea of green sprawling limbs. Some were darker and other light. There were twisted branches and some with large trunks like living mountains. And in between these masses of foliage were the hills, expanses of fields and great jagged rocks. What caught my breath the most were the buildings, old structures, temples, sky scrappers even, and strange looming architecture doting the landscape haphazardly. It’s like they were ruins of old civilizations, brought here and then tossed down wherever.
This was real. Confusing but very real.
I was shivering as Mink finally landed. We were back at the encampment I had run from, only now there were three others. The lavender haired elf girl was gathering those gadgets I had seen in the building before while another orange suited girl marched to Mink with a very large device in her hands. This girl had wide ears sticking upwards from the sides of her head, red hair, and dark freckles beneath violet eyes. She spoke in growl sounds, shouting actually and handed the device to Mink, who took off into the air without another word. Although Mink was taller than me by a little, this girl was more my height, but stocky, older than she seemed. She also had a long furred tail swishing behind her, offsetting the furious scowl she wore stomping towards me.
“You, with the others,” She demanded in my own language, herding me backwards and next to two not-dressed-in-uniforms persons. They were older, different shades of sienna and had similar pointed ears as the elf girl. One guy had smooth orange hair hanging over a pouting face. He was tied up and gagged for some reason. And the other had short spikey black hair, a small mass of facial hair on his chin and creases under his eyes. He was busy tinkering with a machine – or rather a strange robot with only three limbs. He looked up from his robot and passed me a warm smile. I took my place on the floor next to him as further explosions rumbled through the treeline, so close I could feel the vibrations beneath me.
The elf girl moved to the red-headed girl, giving a device that resembled something like a stun-gun. With a few quick button-mashing movements across whatever screen was on there, the tailed girl marched toward the tied-up guy and pressed it to his forehead. There was a small whirring noise and suddenly he exclaimed in muffled pain. The girl moved away and to the next guy, pressing another button. This guy was eager and stayed very still, wincing slightly after the whirring noise. It was my turn next and as the girl set up the device, I could see the symbol on her hat more clear. It was something like an hourglass.
“Ow!” I cried, expecting the pain but was still surprised by it. The spot where the device had touched my head felt warm pretty instantly and made my vision shake for a moment. All of that subsided as the tailed-girl handed off the device and stood facing us, hands on her hips.
Another volley of explosions went off in the forest before the girl spoke at last in a very strange yet oddly coherent language,
“Congrats, welcome to O.U.R.S. own language. I know it, now you all know it. So now that we can understand one another, here’s how this is going to go. You work with us, we’ll find your homes and respective places and then we’ll send you back.”
The violet-haired girl walked up to the tailed-girls’ side, a pack being dragged behind her. She grumbles something to the other in that bird-like language, dropping the strap dramatically then crosses her arms.
“All right fine! Ruger, come carry this,” The tailed-girl responds with a roll of her eyes. The man with the robot happily complies, jumping forward and swings the pack to his shoulder.
“We’re heading for a place west of here, a place we can successfully fortify from those things out there. So you better run; don’t dawdle,” The girl resumed talking, already moving ahead when the bound man shouts a muffle, agitated.
“Follow or get eaten, see if I care!” The tailed girl huffs, cat-like eyes narrowing for a second. The guy next to Ruger muffled nothing else, annoyed but defeated. He got to his feet and followed after the others.
And then we were all running through the forest. Those explosions were always behind us, close but still far enough away. I wanted to see where Mink was, a speck no doubt somewhere in the sky above us, holding off those creatures. But it was hard to see through the trees and shadows. We weren’t running for long, a clearing ahead broke through. It was a large expanse of grass, stretching towards something I could only describe as a castle. I had seen it when I had flown with Mink and it was massive. It had towers and rooftop area, over grown with moss-like plants spilling over rusted iron fencing. There were large mosaic window panes, decorated edges, gargoyles and pointed peaks. All things considered, it was pretty intact and could’ve been built here the way the surrounding land seemed to have been tailored to it.
We reached a stone path way, mostly hidden when Mink descended from the sky panting and handing off that strange weapon device to the tailed girl. She looked like she was about to speak when her head jolted and she spun around on her heel. I looked on in horror as those creatures emerged from the forest, all teeth and gleaming eyes. They moved on four limbs but had something like elongated arms stemming from their backs, with reaching claws. It was a stampede of them, rushing and roaring over the distance.
My lungs were hurting from the cold as I ran, annoyed by my short legs. I couldn’t keep up with Ruger or even the bound guy. Fear kept me from giving up, from coughing or losing balance. There was nothing in my mind but the image of the double doors ahead, opened now by another person in that bright orange uniform. The elf girl and the bound man had already disappeared into the darkness within. Ruger and the tailed girl were next. I lifted my foot to leap over the short few steps to the main door and swung around to find Mink. Although I didn’t know her, she had come after me when, apparently, she didn’t have to. I was afraid for her.
But I didn’t have to be.
Mink was already at my side, hand grasping around my wrist to pull me into the building, a strange amused smile on her face. The new uniformed girl shut the door behind us and shouted for assistance. She held a marker in her hand and began drawing over the double doors.
“Shut the hell up with that high and mighty talk!” The tailed girl screeched to the elf who chirped back in anger.
“I told you we shouldn’t set up on a hills-edge but you just wanted a view!” She went into a shout, raising her hands exasperatedly. Even more so when the elf girl retorted back with more shrieking bird-talk. As the two bickered back and forth, I looked back to Mink and saw her helping the new girl with the door. It was a symbol of some-sort, a great ward encompassing both panels of wood. I stumbled back at the sound of the window cracking. The doors rattled and I could hear snarling and scratching just at the other side. But Mink and the new girl were calm, chanting something in unison. Each of them bit their finger then pressed them into the doors. The symbol began to glow then disappeared into the wood. Even though the doors still shook and moved, they wouldn’t budge.
I turned back to the others not in uniform, probably like me. Lost. Ruger was already busying himself with the pack he had carried in, rummaging through the contents inside. The orange haired guy was nowhere to be found, the rope that had bound him were on the ground from where I had seen him last. Looking around the lobby ahead I noted the dust over everything – across eerie statues, on an overturned couch, and over the rugs and marble floors. There was a chandelier above us, covered in cobwebs. That led my eyes to a second story landing. I could only see three routes from here, one straight ahead, beneath the stairwell and above, on the second floor. There were another set of double doors to my left. It was a mansion within, abandoned with peeling wallpaper under the dim light from the windows.
I felt anxious towards these new surroundings – to the castle and the people here. The two girls were still shouting, a half conversation understood and I swooned. Dizzy, their argument was reminiscent to my siblings fighting. It happened every morning, waking up for school. Clockwork.
Was I really awake? This could still be a dream.
“It isn’t,” Responded a smooth voice at my back, the cold grip of a hand on my neck suddenly dawning on me. I hadn’t noticed him, pale skin and black hair morphing as if from the shadows. His orange pupil-less eyes bore into mine, transfixed.
I remember thinking, asking inwardly since I couldn’t talk for some reason, ‘are you sure?’
“Yes, because this is my nightmare…” He responded quickly, apologetic, and latched onto me, embracing. It was unsettling but I couldn’t move. My hair stood on end as a frigid air spread across my neck.
I felt pain, different than that shot of some-sort that the tailed-girl gave me. It was alarming, waking me for just a second. I knew I wasn’t dreaming now, hands up, my will to fight. Somehow I managed to pull myself away, staggering backwards. Landing on the floor, I could see the others in the room, all eyes on me. Mink and Ruger seemed to be the only ones concerned. But, it didn’t matter. Everything swirled, distorted and then there was nothing.