Submissions open for Wingword Poetry Prize 2020

World Unknown

Priyangana Mukherjee

As the spaceship rocked back and forth on its own, we were petrified. I trusted my team but what I didn't trust was this plan to dig up a new region called the 'Woodbeck'.
I worked for a secret agency where we dug up mysterious lands and helped with the survival of a parallel world. We invented tiny devices spread in every corner of the universe that helped us figure out which region is in trouble through their peaceful energy vibrations on the layer of their regions. So recently we received an unusual and extreme negative energy from a place we didn't yet discover. Our leader then decided to make teams and send us there. Our leader told us that it might be our biggest discovery and the one we would never be able to forget.
We had 6 members in our team. Audrey, Damon, Noah, Tristan, Catherine my younger sister And yours truly (Cadence). We were all pretty close to each other and maybe this was the reason our leader made us a permanent team. But this time was different somehow. We for the first time couldn't get hold of the controls properly. It was as if we were not even the ones controlling it. We let go of the controls and carefully placed ourselves on the seat fastening the parachute coat in case we had to make an emergency landing. And we did. The bolts to the door of the spaceship were starting to come off because of the extensive force coming from the realm we were about to crash into. We were terrified of what was going to happen but we remained positive and wished each other luck. A screeching noise accompanied by the sound of shattering of glass was probably the last thing we heard before we passed out.
I started gaining consciousness, my eyes felt heavy and I realised I had a deep cut on my eyebrow and injuries all over. I tried getting up but couldn't. It was getting very difficult to breathe. I looked for my friends, they were right with me but no one was conscious. I somehow managed to stand up on my feet. It took all my power to do just that. I tried waking up the others but failed. I was getting anxious. Then I heard someone calling out my name. I looked back but I couldn't see anyone. My friends were not where I last saw them.
I got up immediately and started calling out their names anxiously. I again heard someone calling out my name. I decided to head in that direction. I didn't know what would happen but I had to find my friends, my sister.
As I kept following the sound, I could see strange lights. They were flickering but they were not usual lights. As I got closer I realised that the lights were beaming out of mushrooms. It was a very strange place. I had never seen anything like this. Instead of clouds, the sky was covered with tiles. While I was focused on the sky, I felt as if something had brushed my face. I looked around but couldn't see anything. When I turned to look at the path, I came across weird creatures. They had shimmery pink wings, crooked pointed nose, human ears but instead of skin they had black fur. They made oddly satisfying sounds with their tiny silver mouth. They may scare you at your first glance but their voice was strangely calming.
There were at least 10 of them buzzing around me inspecting as if I would destroy everything. I kept walking hoping they would soon leave me alone. I kept hearing my name being called out. On the sides of the path, there were bushes. They had spikes and thorns and it was as if they were calling out to you pulling you towards them. I tried to resent its pull with all my will power and eventually moved on. I still didn't know where I was. I didn't even know when or if I'll be able to meet my friends. With that thought going on in my mind I all of a sudden felt a tugging sense on the t-shirt on the right arm. When I turned I saw a peculiar creature pointing me to follow. I didn't know for sure if I should go there. But I was literally on a different planet so why not? I gave in and followed. When I turned and moved forward everything went dark and suddenly I saw a new path forming which was even scarier. Moving forward I could see a curled up figure on the middle of the road. I couldn't see anything clearly. I kept moving forward not knowing what it could be. I could see the long hair, bright eyes looking everywhere, legs shaking. I am not sure who was more scared. Me or this human-like creature. Something in me made me start walking again and when I did, I saw the face. A sense of love started rushing to me, tears rolled down my face as I saw my sister sitting there afraid. I went running to her and started telling her that I was here now, she wasn't alone anymore. She looked confused but she saw my face when suddenly lights flashed out of the bushes. A figure rose into the air, long silver hair, beautiful fish scales on her face, huge wings that could probably smash us into bits if we were hit with it. We were mesmerised looking at her. She was the prettiest thing I ever saw. She started coming down to the path and walking towards us. We were numb. She came up to us and stood in front of us. We stood up and took a step back. She gave Catherine a fruit. A yellow fruit shaped like a heart. Catherine instantly took a bite and she was suddenly all better. All her injuries were healed and she looked as if nothing ever happened to her. We asked her where were we. She smiled and told us that we were where our destination was supposed to be from the beginning. She was the princess of Woodbeck. Dauphine. She went on to explain how her parents were killed by invaders who also somehow managed to destroy our spaceship. Concerned, I asked her where the rest of her friends were. She told me she took them for safekeeping. But she also told me that not all survived. Damon and Audrey had extreme injuries as they fell out of the windows while we were landing due to which they died after an hour after she shifted them from the spot. Noah and Tristan were okay and had woken up. We were upset about the death of two of our best friends. We asked her to take us to Noah and Tristan. She gave us 2 black capes to wear. She said it would prevent us from being seen, heard or smelt by the invaders. After a while, we reached a cave where we could hear Noah and Tristan. They were really happy to see us. Dauphine asked us if we could help her get her Kingdom back. She told us that they too have a spaceship where they have a magnet that radiates and kills everything that goes near the kingdom. If we want to switch that off, we will have to go inside the spaceship to do so. After switching it off the spaceship would destroy itself along with the invaders. We decided to go back to our spaceship as it was safer. Dauphine agreed to go with us. She told us to wait in front of the cave and imagine our spaceship. She told us it'll come in front of us. It was a little absurd to us but after I just saw everything in my path, I decided to not question her. We all did that and after some time we opened our eyes and saw that it was really in front of us. In fact, it was all fixed. We went inside and checked our controls to find that they were all working perfectly. Dauphine told us that the controls weren't working because of the magnetic energy which was pulling our spaceship and destroying our controls. While we were talking, we heard ghastly sounds. It was like a beeping sound that comes from a metal detector with someone screaming. We were looking out of the windows to check when Dauphine who looked visibly afraid told us that they were the invaders. They had green coloured skin, everything wrinkled, blood-red eyes, canines coming out of their mouths and huge pointed ears. They were so horrid to look at. We calmed Dauphine down and immediately activated our laser beam.
It turned anything that came around the spaceship into ash. We also started our wheels so that we would keep moving ahead. We did not have any time to plan what our next move should be but we had to save Woodbeck. We owed it to Damon and Audrey. As we moved ahead, the laser beam started to work its magic and the creatures were being turned to ashes. After a while, we could see the spaceship and what looked the leader of the invaders sitting right outside it. There were at least 10 of them guarding the spaceship. We took out our guns and everything that could protect us from them. We then realised that we couldn't go any further as their magnetic energy would again make our controls go wrong which will be bad news for us. We decided that we will have to step up and fight. Thankfully the spaceship was not far but it would be difficult as there were a lot of them guarding the leader and spaceship. We wore jackets that would help prevent any damage. But they would not last long. We then looked at each other and walked out of the spaceship. In no time, they started attacking us and we shot and fought with all we had. We got really close to the spaceship when they surrounded us and we didn't have much ammunition and strength to hold them off. At that moment we somehow understood what next was to be done. We split up. I and Catherine went for the spaceship while Noah and Tristan distracted all of them. We both started running towards the spaceship. We almost reached but suddenly the leader aka what we figured out was the king marched towards us. He was about to stab me but Catherine pushed him from behind. She directed me to go inside. I hesitated but went inside. The spaceship was full of switches. I didn't know which one to press. Just when I was about to give up I saw a red button. That was the only switch that was hidden and looked different. It was a risk. But I decided I had to take it. I immediately pressed the switch and the countdown began. I had only 5 seconds to get out before everything went kaboom. I went up to the door to open it. I realised my door was jammed. I started unnerving even more. Only 2 seconds were left. I gave a big push with all my might and the door flung open. I jumped and fell some far away from the spaceship just when I looked in front of me and saw Catherine being stabbed by the king. The spaceship exploded. And I blanked out.
I woke up after 1 or 2 hours. Just when I woke up I remembered what I saw last. My sister is dead. I was numb. It was like everything in front of me just shattered. I did not realise that I was sobbing. Everyone rushed towards me and started consoling me but there was nothing that could comfort me right now. I stood up and somehow muttered that we need to leave right now. Dauphine told us that her kingdom was back in her control and all of the invaders were gone. She thanked us all and gave us some supplies and food. She vanished. The place looked like nothing tragic had ever happened there. We took off. I went to my seat and sat down. I didn't feel like doing anything at all. It was 6 of us who came but only 3 were returning. It was certainly a discovery that we would never forget.

 


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