“Experimental Discourse” Feature: Emma Beard’s “Her Return”

Emma Beard

Her Return

–5 Years the alleged ‘others’ were blown off the Earth, the unknown happens- she is alive. After dying in space, Cassiopeia Sullivan awakens after five years. Her friends and family are still on Earth…

“Abstract #Flight” by Gene Kreyd

CASSIE

MY EYES FLICKER OPEN. I inhale sharply, goosebumps start to cover my body. Alive again –but how? I reach for something, the first thing I can get my hands on. NO- it has to be time travel right… The date, still flickering on my keychain, reads boldly “2021.” I couldn’t have been dead for 5 years?! Could I? Still in shock, I attempt to get up off the floor, I need to see where I am. I need to be home.

BEN

FOUR-AND-A-HALF years and we are still in Texas. Sam thinks we has potential here- in an empty city. “We are running out of supplies… water does come as easy as it used to.” Marika growls, glaring at Sam. “We can’t leave just yet. What if Cassie comes back?” Sam’s still high- pitched voice rings in mine and Marika’s ears. He doesn’t know that she is dead, he thought she just left to distract the others, so we would be safe. Marika just rolls her eyes and walks away, she’ll find another way to bring up leaving. She always does. There used to be seven of us. Then five. And now down to three. Evan Walker left. He told Sam he was going to look for Cassie. But he hasn’t returned, part of me hopes he is dead, he is an other  after all, or that he just won’t come back. “I’ll take first watch” Marika walked passed me, I could tell she was still aggravated by Sam and his clinginess. “We agreed that I’d-” She grabbed the gun from out of my hand “Well I am changing that so-called agreement” then she stormed outside. There really was no reason for us to take watch anymore. The others are dead. I always knew Sam Marika, I just couldn’t tell why- he only missed his sister. Sometimes, I even missed Cassie. But we had to learn to live without her. If only she was still alive… 

MARIKA

WHEN WOULD THEY BOTH realize that Cassie is never coming back. She died for us. She. Is. Gone. Wondering away from post is not something the old me would do. Put the old me is dead. The post-fifth-wave me, when I was normal. But there is no normal. There is nothing left in this town. No water. Less food. In order to stay alive we need to leave, Sam is the only one keeping us here. He wants to see his sister, if only he knew. “We can’t tell him” Ben scared me. I thought I was alone “At least not yet. Give him time” I couldn’t. “Ben, we need to leave, its not safe here anymore” Safe? Is that even possible anymore? “We will leave, soon” Soon. That is all I hear now…

CASSIE

WHAT THE HELL. How does one thing that saved your life, not there to save it again. The ship won’t start. I am out of food- I guess you know what real hunger is when you have been dead for five years. Left then right, then left again. Why won’t this thing start. The ship is just sitting here, not moving at all. Seeing the same planets and suns everyday gets boring, especially knowing that your home is out there.

EVAN WALKER

SOMETIMES I WONDER IF Cassie could still be alive. But she can’t be. She had to kill the others. Sometimes I feel guilty, as if I should have died. No one really should have died. In reality, the others shouldn’t have come to Earth. I have been wandering, ever since I left everyone two years ago. I should be in New Mexico or Arizona by now, but it looks all the same now. All supplies are running out in the states, and there is no way to go to other countries, like they would take us anyways. Human contact is difficult to find now. Most people died within the first few waves. Now all you can find are decaying bodied laying everywhere. If it’s not a person, it’s an animal. None of those, an other. Others were everywhere, I should know, I was one. Well I am an other, I was just “good,” as in, I didn’t kill anyone because I wanted to live in a habited planet. They are all dead now.

CASSIE

FINALLY, SOMETHING DESIDES TO work. All the light on the ship turn on. Too bright, too bright. Who cares I just need to get home. But what if there is nothing to come to? They are all still alive… right? Focus Cassie, Focus. I pull the lever. The same lever that was the beginning to my end, five years ago. I had to go through with it. I couldn’t live in space alone, not knowing if my family- the only people I had left- was alive. Everything just clicks, came right out of high school and now I am suddenly a piolet- of a spaceship. Like anyone would believe me. If there was anyone. I need to find Earth, or our sun, or just a reason as to how I am alive- still.

BEN

SAM IS FINALLY ASLEEP. In a few hours Marika is going to drug him- so we can get on the move. We did need to leave, she was right, but I wasn’t totally sure about drugging him. He is too sensitive for that. Marika has been off the past few months. As if she knows something. Or she really wants food.

MARIKA

HOW MANY DOSES OF ADVIL will drug a twelve-year-old? That is my only problem- I mean, I don’t want to kill him, but he can’t be awake for when we leave. He would freak. I expect him to freak out anyways, because we wouldn’t be at “home” or whatever he wants to believe. I can tell he doesn’t like me, he very clearly only trusts ben. He even still calls him ‘Zombie’ as if we were back at the camps. This house has nothing left, I had to walk ten blocks just to find a house with a medicine cabinet, which somehow only had one third of the bottle left. I can barely remember how this all started, I feel like my family was first to die- but I’m sure everyone thinks that. Or thought that, everyone else is dead. The others took everything from us. I’m sure if you woke up one day and there were aliens everywhere- that looked a lot like humans- but they were trying to kill the whole population, just to have Earth to themselves, you would be pretty mad too. How am I going to give this kid four Advil without waking up- feels great to only have to take these types of chances instead of risking life. Even though there is a very high chance of having a gun under his pillow. Ben really doesn’t care what this kid does. I’ll just wing it, I mean he has to swallow eventually right? I put one in and some water in his mouth and snapping it shut. Took over twenty minutes, but it was done. We were going to let it kick in, but we don’t have that kind of time yet. Spending the last few weeks searching houses I managed to find a wagon, a whole case of water, pocket knife and of course the Advil. We aren’t in much of a rush really, just the Texas heat slows everyone and everything down- including our image of time. We can really only assume time now, when its dark its dark and when it’s not… we need to be up, that’s how things work, and have been working. Ben puts Sam and the water in the wagon- and of course he’ll pull it. While I have to carry all our other stuff. When there were more of us we could at least switch but Sam is ‘too little.’ I think Sam just babies him because it’s the only thing that’s keeping him sane. It could have been Cassie, but Ben knows she’s gone. If he started to miss her, Sam would know, and this whole thing… would turn bad. Cassie was the only one who could keep both Evan Walker and Ben sane at the same time- I couldn’t do that if my life depended on it. I guess that’s the only thing I miss about Cassie, but even with her here, Sam still stuck by Ben.

CASSIE

I FINALLY FOUND WHERE to go. I just need to figure out how to fly it, get there, go through the atmosphere then land without dying. Fun. Figuring out how to fly this is like rocket science- so pretty impossible. I felt like I had been saying it too much, but I needed to be home…

SAM

WHERE AM I?? This has to be a dream, but Cassie isn’t here. We are moving slowly. All the road signs seem too far ahead. Ben is pulling me- in a wagon? “Where are we going?” Im confused, Ben said we wouldn’t have to leave. “Great… he’s awake.” This is all Marika’s fault, she’s the one who kept saying we needed to leave. “We are going to find a new place to stay, maybe Colorado.” What? “But our home is-” “The only home we ever had was with our parents- and their gone, just like Cassie- gone.” Marika’s words seemed to overcome me “Cassie isn’t gone” Ben stops, he seems to stand there for a second before dropping the handle. “She is” I barely heard him. But Cassie can’t be gone. Ben told me she wasn’t going to die. Only that sheI  was saving us. “Come on, we need to get going” I had felt like crying or screaming. Or both. Marika can’t just say that and expect for us to keep going. For me to keep going. Ben was the only person I trusted, but he lied too.

MARIKA

THE SUN WAS ONLY just starting to come up. Then the brat woke up. I just know he is going to complain the whole way there. You would think that sending a kid to boot camp and putting him in a fight with aliens at eight-years-old, that it would toughen him up. But he only got weaker. And on somedays- so did Ben. “Are we going to stop soon” Here we go again. Because that’s all we need is Sam dragging us down and complaining. Ben could tell I had gotten annoyed by Sam. “Maybe, we don’t want to run into anything dangerous. Let’s just keep moving.” And like that- Ben jumped in to save the day. We both knew Sam wouldn’t listen to me. Once a few hours passed we finally saw another road sign, we were apparently in San Angelo, Texas. Well Sam got what he wanted. We started to walk off the nearest exit on the highway. “Stay together, I’ll look for supplies.” The only ‘supplies’ there could be left is food. And all the food is five years old or gone. The third wave had killed off most of us, the remaining were so desperate to survive, they almost didn’t. Until the want to be savior same along- ‘Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’ or “Camp Haven.” They said they would protect us and save us. But they were others. Liars. That’s what else the others did to us. Made us liars. I mean Sam did think his sister has been alive all these years. It was only a matter of time. “Why can’t we just stay here?” This kid never really doesn’t stop whining. “Because we need to survive- meaning we need fresh water.” “But what if there is stu-” “Sam stop, if Cassie somehow does come back to Earth, we would be the first person she looks for.” That shut him up. I guess he does miss his sister, hell I’ll even miss her if she will deal with Sam. We sat in silence in front of an old gas station. If there had been plenty of supplies Ben would be back now. I want to see what’s going on, but his ‘stay together’ speech would be the first thing to come to Sam’s head. Then I would be getting lectured by a twelve-year-old.

CASSIE

DON’T YOU HATE WHEN you are rushing to find something, and you don’t look in that one spot, just because you know it isn’t there- but somehow, it always is. All I had to do was press the start button- then a GPS-like device came up. Then I started moving Apparently West. I’m just going to follow this map. Maybe it’ll take me to the Others past planet. I’d hate to see what they really look like. Especially if they rather take over human bodies. The ship jerks right. We are going left now, what I think is Jupiter is visible. I know where I am, but how am I going to survive, the atmosphere will make the ship crash and burn. Auto-Piolet is on, all this would be for nothing if I don’t come out alive.

MARIKA

COMING INTO SANTA ROSA, NEW MEXICO, its highly exausting. I don’t know whats worse, having to walk from state to state in unbearable heat, or dealing with a tweleve-year-old, who mostly still acts like he is five. Both stress me out greatly. I don’t know what to say anymore. I mean, its not like I feel like my life is over. But it never did officially start. None of ours did. Especially Sam’s. There are dead bodies everywhere. Some from the first wave. Others new, as if something is here. I don’t bring it up, it would only make Ben cautious and Sam would freak out.

EVAN WALKER

CAMPING USED TO BE fun. Like when you are with your parents, roasting marshmallows over a fire- that’s fun. Not being alone, with no food. With no body at all. Colorado wasn’t too bad, Arboles was a small city, so not much food or water is gone. And it’s a few miles away from a resivoir. But there really is no where to go anymore. Nothing on Earth was left safe. They planned to kill each and every person on this planet, there was nothing, and no one.

CASSIE

I CLOSE MY EYES and brace myself. Other than dying this is the worst thing I have had to do. The ship starts shaking, even though I knew it was coming, I look up, flames start to cover the nose of the ship. I dig my nails deeper into the seat. My life vest ready to go. I am ready to go. Its falling now, feels as if I were going down a steep roller coaster. My stomach jumps into my throat, I know what I need to do. Opening the only exit on the ship I look down. Die or get injured with no doctor to help, which is more painful. I couldn’t have time to think about it. The wind starts roaring in my ears, my hands steady on the parachute. Land. Finally. I pull hard, then I fade slowly. I want it so bad. To get back onto the ground, that it takes forever. And ever. And… ever. And somehow, first thing I end up doing back on Earth is twisting an ankle. I did not come back from the dead for this. But I have to shut off the pain and figure out where I am. Chyanne, Wyoming? But Ben and Sam are still in Texas- if they are alive.

 

About the writer:

 

Emma Beard is a high school student from Jacksonville, Florida.

 

Image:  “Abstract #Flight” by Gene Kreyd. Oil on canvas. 50 x 75 cm. 2015. By permission. Gene Kreyd is a Russian-born California artist. He is well-known internationally for his clothing design, films, music, and photography; however, his primary interest is and has always been painting abstract art. Kreyd exhibits across the world, and his paintings are in public and private collections in Europe, Russia, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Kreyd is the O:JA&L Featured Artist for April 2019.