A Beginning and an End – by Natalie McKay
Avis Rison let out a frustrating sigh, slamming her messenger bag hard against the jagged stone railing. The warm blazes of the late August sun began to peak out around the peeks of the Akaishi Mountains that surrounded her. The ancient Buddhist Temple lay deep within the mountains, well out of sight of the majority of the population. Even the air above them was empty from passenger jets and other air craft. Her summer vacation at Xau’s Temple was at it’s end with school just around the corner. It was always a let down when this time came. Avis didn’t like school, didn’t like the other students around her, and didn’t like the teachers and their so-called education system which didn’t teach a damn thing. At least with Xau she was able to get a real education.
She zipped up her dark brown, used leather aviator jacket her mother had given her after her first accomplished solo flight. It had been large then, Avis had only been eight at the time, but after seven years it had grown to shape her well fit body.
“All ready?” the soft, deep sounding voice echoed behind Avis. There was only one other person on this mountain top save her. Xau. “I didn’t think you would leave without saying goodbye?” He questioned. Avis turned around and gave her mentor a bashful smile.
“I didn’t want to wake you.” Avis said. It was a half truth, Xau had been asleep when Avis woke up to catch the right current to help ease her way back home. Really she didn’t want to confront him again. Their last lesson the night before had become heated and Avis had lost her temper.
“Your mind is still troubled. Why don’t you stay here for another couple of days?” Xau asked, walking towards Avis’s side, setting his large, bone think hands along the top of the carved stone railing. The soft grey-blue skin began to give of a white glow when the sun’s light touched him.
“I can’t.” Avis said bluntly. “I told you to stay out of my head.” She added with an angry look. The Budhist’s garments always looked so awkward on Xau, it made him look twice the side with al those layers, and the yellows and oranges gave him an even paler appearance. At first glance he looked like an old, frail, sick man, but as soon as that overly large head with those large dark eyes turned to the teenager, she knew he had no limit of untapped strength within that alien body.
“My forgiveness.” He said politely, giving Avis a bow of his head. “Your mother worries. She said you had a hard year, one can’t blame her for trying to help.”
“She told you that!” Avis found herself shouting again. She rolled her vibrant blue eyes away from her mentor with a shake of her head. “Can’t she just stay out of my business? It’s not like she had to grow up amongst some alien race and is forced to lower my abilities, my intelligence to fit in. I’m living a lie, she’s living a lie. Why the hell can’t we just be ourselves?” It was an echo of their argument of the previous night. The constant hiding, moving from place to place, country to country and pretending to be completely human was getting too much for the young teenager. Avis anger at her life had began to show itself this past year at school with fights, arguing with teachers and headmasters, and hacking a few computers to cause some additional chaos. She had even began fighting with her mother, the only other person with whom she could tell her frustrations to when she wasn’t with Xau.
“The young never understand the sacrifices the elders make.” Xau said with a passive tone. Avis huffed and jumped up onto the stone railing. She had every right to just jump off and start her flight back to Glasgow, but sometime stopped her. She had never fought with Xau before, and she didn’t want to leave on bad terms with him. He had always been a friend to her, teacher, mentor. He was the one who taught her about the galaxies, the worlds out there filled with other life forms. She wanted desperately to join them, to go home… her mother’s home planet and see the Airgyd herself.
“Do you miss it?” Avis asked in a small voice, choosing to sit on the stone instead of jumping off.
“There was a time when I yearned to return back to my home world. But like the others I became trapped here. Not that I have not enjoyed myself while being here.” Xau answered the question, a small smile on his thin lips. Xau’s ship had crashed right into this same mountain top centuries ago. The locals began to call him a god, built this temple and he in return for their hospitality taught them what he knew. Avis doubted any remained who knew of the original teachings Xau had passed on to the humans. The old stone steps that connected the local people to the Temple had been destroyed in many different places due to earthquakes and erosion. Over time his story was lost, or merged with the other legends and myths of the land. They forgotten about him, but he still lived on, unable to return to his home like so many others.
The others. That always sent a shiver down Avis spine when either Master Xau or her mother began to speak of these un-named “others”, meaning other alien species that had accidentally crashed on this planet like they did. Xau was lucky, his crash was so long ago that the locals just added him to their folklore, but by the sounds of it, others were not.
Avis guessed she could consider her mother lucky was well, she looked human, except for the eyes. If one looked into her eyes long enough they would see the silver and gold speckles that filled her green iris, when Avis looked into her mother’s eyes, the specks seemed to move and she feels engulfed by her mother’s inner power. Avis had her own special eyes, though bright blue they had a few silver speckles but try as she might whenever she looked at herself in the mirror she couldn’t get that power feeling that her mother had.
She was only half Airgyds, half human. Her mother never talked about her father, and Avis never asked. To her, her mother, the heritage of the Airgyd was her true being, even though she had to act human. Since childhood her mother had told her the stories of the Airgyds, they were warriors, brave, fierce and never backed down from a fight. Their planet, Afgadu, was a clean planet, filled with oceans, forests and metropolises that did not pollute the atmosphere. The Airgyds had been evolved through the use of energy crystals not fossil fuels. It sounded like a utopia to Avis.
There was a reason the Airgyds were known as warriors. They were stronger than humans, faster and the main difference was the ability to use an inner power that humans had missed in their evolution process. Avis thought it was due to these crystals her mother kept talking about, that the Airgyds had those sparkles in their eyes and the ability to use their energy as physical attacks. But that was just a passing fancy of a little girl. Since the day she could walk, her mother taught her the ways of Citlali. Some ancient order that teaches Airgyds how to harness that inner power. It was at Xau’s temple where those training sessions had started and where Avis continued to go to push her limits under the supervision of Xau.
“Have you met any of these others? Besides my mom and I?” Avis asked after a pause.
“A couple. My telepathy can cover most of this world if I focused, I’ve connected with a few others though many seem paranoid and shut me out.”
“I don’t blame them, it’s a bit of a shock to hear someone else’s voice in your head.” Avis replied, speaking from experienced.
“So i’m intrusive now?”
“You can be. But how many of them are like my mom? You know, human like?”
“I don’t know. My telepathy only reaches their minds, i can not visualize their appearance.”
“But there are other, humanoids? Right?”
“Yes there are. You’d be surprise at how the universe likes to repeat patterns. The humans of earth are not something new to look at for some, but there are other races who appear to have the same pattern though evolved a lot differently. For you Airgyds, your inner power is shown through the eyes and the hair. Your mother’s fire red hair changes colours depending how fired up she is, I know you noticed it. Not to mention your power itself is unheard of for the terrans of this planet, your strength and flight would mark you as some sort of God if you arrived back when I did.”
“Now if I get caught doing something superhuman like, I’d be sent to some research facility to be cut up and tested on.” Avis finished with a pout.
“The beings of this planet are evolving, they are only trying to make sense out of the things that confuse them. I’ve seen them advance so quickly over the years i’ve been here that I have hope.” Xau said calmly.
“Yet they are unable to supply the parts we need to get you or the others back to their homes.”
“They will… one day.”
“I wouldn’t hold my breath. To be honest with you Master Xau, i’m more worried of some invasion from some outside race. The people of this planet don’t take aliens that seriously, they continue to fight amongst themselves and can’t seem to see the larger picture. They will be caught off guard if someone really did invade from space.”
“Don’t underestimate the humans.” Master Xau added in a deep voice, it was clear he was giving a warning.
“I’ve got to go.” Avis said quickly as she leaned over and grabbed her bag then pushed herself off the stone ledge. She hovered in the air right in front of Master Xau, running her hands through her raven black hair she pulled it back and with an elastic that was around her wrist tied it back in a simple ponytail.
“I suggest you keep meditating. I’m sure you’ll be able to find the truth and calm your mind if you do.” Master Xau said as he bowed towards Avis, who bowed back in return. He was her master after all and respect needed to be given.
With her hair out of her face, Avis ascended into the air, high up until she could not see the Temple below her any more. The atmosphere was a lot thinner up here, but it was above the air traffic.
Her mother made sure to set rules whenever Avis did decide to fly. First was to make sure to keep above any commercial and military air traffic zones. That was easier said then done. It took Avis a number of tries to learn where that squeak spot wer, most of her previous attempts ended up with her blacking out and falling, having her mother rescue her before she splashed into the ocean. She also couldn’t do any sort of fun flying either, which for Avis included death dives where she would drop from an extreme hight all the way down to the ground at a wicked speed. It was a test for her reflexes to see how far she could reach the ground and still pull level without crashing. It was a fun game that her mother quickly forbade. It made flying boring, but it was still faster than any airline.
Once at a comfortable altitude, Avis took out her iPhone and found one of her playlists that included more mellow and contemporary music full of Coldplay, Michael Bouble, Maroon 5 and other softer hits. With music filling her ears, Avis could finally think. That was the one thing she enjoyed about flying, how it both relaxed her and opened her mind at the same time.
Her thoughts went to he mother, and the terror she seemed to have caused her these past few months. Avis couldn’t really blame her for being worried. Her mother was doing the best she could; being an alien in a world that would hack open her brain if she was ever caught; making a living, keeping a roof over their heads and food on their table, and Avis hadn’t been much help lately.
Her mother, Nyria, had become an anthropologists, of all things, and had a job at the museum in Glasgow as well as giving a few lectures at Edinburgh University. During the early years, her mother was sent to archeological dig sites around the world and dragged her young daughter with her. It kept them moving, away from suspicions. It wasn’t until almost five years ago that Nyria had been given a permanent job at the museum, which meant that the two could finally settle down, the worry of being caught had eventually drained away from Avis’s paranoid mother and for a short period of time they two were happy in their new house, and security of a good job.
Lately Nyria had been everywhere but home, going from museum to museum, lecture hall to lecture hall all over the world. Usually these trips were not so frequent or long but this past year Avis doubted she seen her mother for more than three weeks. It was a change and Avis felt it more deeply then she had thought. Thus another reason for her acting out at school. Avis doubted that her mother would be there waiting for her, off again on some work related business.
Reaching the airspace around the UK, Avis began her decent. This was when things got interesting. She had to make sure nobody would see her, it was still dark out, only the early hours of the morning, which meant she could slip right into the city. Trying to avoid the city lights, Avis found a darkened factory building near the edge of town to land on. From there she walked to the ledge and jumped down into one of the back alleys. Once on solid ground, she made her way through the mazes of streets towards her house at a leisurely pace. Her iPhone was out again, now that she was home, she could hook up to the internet again. The one negative thing about Xau’s temple was the lack of internet service and the high roaming fees.
It was as she was scrolling through the tweets on her page that she stopped, she heard a police siren in the background. The tweet was from BBC, riots in Glasgow due to some sports news. Avis just let out a sigh as she quickened her pace to her home, more sirens erupting to fill the silence. Though riots didn’t happen all the time, Avis been through enough to know that she didn’t want to be on the streets a second longer. Only two blocks away from the safety of her own house and already she could see signs of some vandalism and further down the street two police cars. Quickly Avis darted along a back street to avoid being seen, just as a third police car zoomed by. This time Avis ran, keeping her head up for any more signs of the fuzz. Thankfully the streets were clear the rest of the way home.
“Mom, I’m home. You could have texted about the riots.” Avis shouted when she entered their house, locking the door behind her. “Mom?” Avis paused by the front door and listened, she was sure she heard something upstairs but it wasn’t like her mother to not answer her. Shrugging, she dumped her back by the staircase and moved down the hallway to the kitchen, at two in the morning she was starving.
Pulling a few leftovers from the fridge, she heard a floorboard creek behind her. Avis turned quickly, her body suddenly tensed as a gigantic fist came flying at her head. Instinct caused her to duck just in time. The fist collided against the freezer door above Avis’s head, leaving behind a large dent.
Avis dropped the items in her hands on the floor as she tried to figure out what had just happened. Before her mind could process the events a second-hand reached out and grabbed her neck. It pulled her up off the floor and slammed her into the fridge. The hand was as large as her neck, maybe larger. The strength was beyond anything Avis had encountered before, she could feel that whoever owned the hand could snap her neck as if it were a matchstick.
“Where is it?” Came a low growl of a voice. Avis opened her eyes and stared into deep red irises of the man who had a hold of her life. There was something wrong with the man, he didn’t seem human, that or he was on some pretty intense steroids. He was clearly larger than her in almost every way possible but what caught Avis’s attention was the almost flattened face and the odd shade of his skin colour, it almost seemed yellow if that was possible. “Speak!” He shouted and tossed Avis yet agin into the fridge. She felt the hard outer casing crumble around her body, her breathing was shallow as his grip around her throat tightened considerably.
“I don’t know!” Avis shouted, which did not please the beast in front of her. He tossed her across the room. She hit the wall, creating another crater outline of her body into the drywall and broken wood. Falling to the ground, Avis tried to push herself up. She coughed, tasting blood in her mouth then another hit came to her gut as the man stood over her his foot landing on top of Avis’s chest.
“Pitiful.” He said, sounding almost depressed. He kicked her again and calmly waked out the door as if he was just visiting. Avis was beyond rage at this point, the kicks to her gut had completely immobilized her but she still tried to crawl after the man. She reached the bottom of the staircase when she smelt smoke. Looking up she saw the flames tearing the second story apart.
“Mom!” Avis yelled. Forcing her legs to work, she tried to climb the staircase but it was too late. The second story exploded, the shockwave shot Avis back towards the front door, filling the entire house with fire and thick, black smoke. Avis’s last conscious thought was of her mother, the argument they had before she had left a month ago and the hope that she had not been the one upstairs.