“Mohammed, you must go. Go for the leader Alrick, the people living in the village, the future of this village. We need that cure for leader Alricks sickness. Please Alli!” Alli, leader Alricks servant cried. I nodded, “of course. If it’s for the village, I’ll do anything!” Alli smiled, “thank you Alli! Go to the Oasis of Wishes.” I raised an eyebrow, “Isn’t it just a mythical place?” “Oh no! It’s very real! If you want the real story, go to elder Alrick. He’s seen the fountain with his own eyes.” I nodded, “Okay Alli. Thank you!” “No, thank you!” I nodded, and headed to leader Alrick’s place. Once I arrived, I asked if anyone was home. Leader Alrick told me to come in. I entered his place and headed to his bedroom. “Leader Alrick? Are you alright?” He chuckled, “I’ll get better,” he coughed. I awkwardly smiled back. He raised his eyebrow, “what’s wrong Mohammed? Is everything alright?” I took a deep breath, “tell me about the Oasis of wishes.” He sighed and patted his bed, “sit here Mohammed.” I nodded, and sat down. He coughed, and began explaining. “The Oasis Of Wishes is kind of like an oasis version of a genie; you wish for something, and it grants your wish. However, you only get one wish. If you mis-use that one wish, you must beg for another wish. The oasis will give you a task to do, and you must do it!” I nodded, “what else?” He chuckled, “you were always the curious one, Mohammed.” He continued explaining. The journey will take several days. You go north to the desert until you see a palm tree. Once you see the palm tree, pick up the letter and read it. You can read it as many times as you want, however you can’t read it when you arrive at the Oasis. Once you’ve read it, walk east until you see an oasis. Once you reach the oasis, recite what’s on the piece of paper without reading it. Do you understand Mohammed?” I gaped, “wow….I didn’t know---that’s so cool.” He chuckled and ruffled my hair, “why did you ask?” I smiled, ‘I wanna go there and make a wish!” “What is your wish?” “I can’t tell you, it’ll ruin the surprise!” He smiled, “well first, I suggest you get packing. Let the whole village know you’re going on a journey.” I grinned and nodded, now I can wish for the cure! I headed out the door. I yelled out the good news. Everyone cheered and Alli hugged me. I went home and packed for the journey. My mother hugged me, “be careful, my son.” I held her hand and caressed her cheek, “don’t worry, I’ll be okay.” She smiled, “I prepared you a meal for your journey.” I hugged her, “thank you, mother.” She told me to rest for a bit before my journey. I nodded and hugged her. She also handed me a handkerchief, “I want you to have this just in case you get injured.” I smiled and kissed her on the cheek.30 minutes later, I headed on my journey. “Good luck Mohammed! Have a safe trip.” I thanked everyone and headed off. I walked north for what felt like days. I sat down and groaned, “oh god it’s so hot.” I knew complaining would do nothing, so I got up and kept walking. I kept walking until dark. I laid on the sand and stared at the stars, “it’s quite beautiful….I wonder how everyone is doing...I just hope they’re all okay.” I prayed, then I connected the stars to make pictures until I fell asleep. The next morning, I ruffled my hair and groaned, “I should’ve brought a pillow.” I got up, and kept heading north. Several hours later, I noticed a palm tree. I grinned and sped walk to the palm tree. Moments later, I arrived. And sat by the palm tree. I took out mother’s meal and dug in. The sun was setting, so I decided to stay here for the night. I looked up the sky, and grinned, “I’m one step closer to getting the cure.” I prayed that everyone was safe, and I fell asleep on the palm tree.
The next morning, I woke up and grabbed the letter. I read it aloud:
“On your journey to your dreams, be ready to face oasis and deserts. In both cases, don’t stop.” -Paulo Coelho”
I raised an eyebrow, “what does that even mean?” Crap….where do I go again? Today was rather a windy day. The wind blew east….then it hit me! I go east! That’s it! Thank you god! I grinned and prayed to god to say thank you, and I headed east. As I kept walking, I heard someone screaming. I bolted ahead and noticed a man with an injured arm. “What happened, sir?” I asked him as I wrapped my handkerchief around his arm, he thanked me and explained, “I was trying to go to the palm tree; it’s my special place. Then, the sand went in my eyes and I fell in the sand and scraped myself from a piece of glass. “Glass?” I raised my eyebrow. He shrugged, “I don’t even know.” I helped him up, “I hope your arm gets better.” He thanked me, “good luck on your journey. Be safe, and may god bless you.” I smiled, thanked him and wished for his arm to get better. Then I kept walking. The day gradually became hotter and hotter, I groaned, “it’s so hot oh my goodness!” I unfolded the letter and decided to recite the quote until it was dark.
It was dark, so I put my letter back in my pocket. I squinted my eyes and noticed an Oasis. I squealed with joy and sped walk. I took a moment to process my life, AM I REALLY HERE?! DID I MAKE IT THIS FAR?! WOAHHH!!! I coughed, “um, hello holy oasis…” I kneeled down. I recited the quote, “On your journey to your dreams, be ready to face oasis and deserts. In both cases, don’t stop.” My stomach growled, “man...I wish I had an amazing meal-----WAIT, NO-----”
The oasis granted my wish, and I ended up having a whole sack of mom’s curry. I begged the oasis to take away the meal. “Then you must not eat for the next 24 hours.” I nodded, “of course!” “If you do eat before the 24 hours, I will take away your wish and the wish will no longer work, and you must save them by risking your life.” I nodded, “I understand.” “Now, what is your wish?” I coughed, and had a straight face, “I wish I had the cure to Leader Alrick’s cure.” “Your wish is granted.” Then a bottle popped up out of nowhere on a cloud. I caught the cure and thanked the Oasis. The oasis faded into darkness; its last words were, “do you know the meaning of the quote now?” I nodded. I do now. No matter what, I don’t give up. I made my way back to the village. A few days later, I arrived back with the cure. The whole village cheered and gave me treats. I screamed, “NO! IF I EAT LEADER ALRICK WILL NO LONGER BE CURED!” Everyone hid the food as I headed to leader Alrick’s place. Alli smiled at me, “Good one Mohammed.” Leader Alrick raised an eyebrow, “What’s going on?” “I am giving you the cure to your sickness.” “Mohammed, you didn’t have to!” “I wanted to, Leader Alrick.” I told him to drink the whole bottle, he nodded and drank the whole thing. The villagers all cheered for me. I giggled and grinned. Everyone brought out food and began eating. I took a deep breath. This will be a long 24 hours.
Untitled Alicia Monteiro
The first thing she noticed was the heat. The second, was the sand on her face that was preventing her from breathing. Sitting up in a panic she coughed violently, spitting out what had fallen into her mouth. She stood up and looked around wildly. The strong winds whipped her hair around, and the leftover sand stuck to her skin blew off. Where was she? She had no idea, no memory. What struck her about her surroundings was how empty it was, barren. Nothing but miles and miles of sand. She was in a desert, alone, with nothing to keep her alive. She raised a hand to her eyes, shading them from the invasive sun and attempted to find some explanation as to how she got there. But there was no one in sight, no sign of life except her. She began to tremble, a stray tear ran down her face. “Ok, calm down.” She muttered to herself as she wiped her eyes, and took a moment to just breath. She then decided to walk, she had to go somewhere. With no set destination in mind she decided to simply begin walking forward. There was no looking back. After about an hour, she began to grow frustrated. The only signs of her progress were her quickly disappearing footprints in the sand. She decided to stop for a moment, shutting her eyes shield to them from the blinding sun. When she finally reopened them, her mouth dropped open with astonishment. In the distance was an oasis - a beautiful, lush oasis. But she was not such a fool, and quickly the hope wavered inside her as she realized it was most likely a mirage, a figment of her imagination. Yet it looked so real that she decided to risk it anyways. She could die trying to reach it, but felt it better to have false hope than none at all. She began staggering towards it, her body desperate for a sip of water. Yet however far she walked, it only seemed to grow farther. It was taunting her. She would never reach it. This wasn’t fair. Yet her feet kept moving, never stopping their quest to get to their final destination. She was determined to get to her goal, even if she died trying. The day carried on, and her body was growing weaker. But she refused to give up. If there was one thing she was going to do, she was going to make it. The sun was already setting, and the sand was growing cooler. She slowed her pace but she would not give up. Eventually her legs gave out beneath her, and she fell to the ground. Her brain screamed for her to continue on, and she began to crawl, yet the world was beginning to fade. When her arms gave out, and she could no longer go on, she curled into herself and let out a feeble whimper. She had lost connection with her body. She was numb to the world. Darkness engulfed her body, and she drifted away.Her eyes opened, and she let out a small groan. Her head was pounding. Everything was blurry. As her sight returned she focused on a woman standing inches from her face. A terrible confusion raced through her, and she was horrified to discover a video of herself in the desert being played on a monitor beside her. She began to panic she when she noticed restraints on her arms and multiple wires connected to her head. “Well done Avery, I’m very proud of you. You did so well.” The woman’s voice was soothing, but it sent chills up her spine, there was something off about her. “Relax, you’re safe. Here take a sip of water. It’ll take a moment for you to fully return to reality.” She shut her eyes, as a wave of nausea passed over her and her memories rushed back into her head. Her panic subsided, and when she opened her eyes she was no longer the girl stranded in the desert, she was just Avery. “I didn’t make it to the Oasis.” She stated, her voice cracking. The woman’s lips spread into a wide unnatural smile. “Honey, you were never going to make it to the Oasis. The whole point is that you didn’t give up trying to get there.” The woman reached out and gave Avery a stiff pat on the head, before she turned around and stared into a camera in the corner of the room. “Patient number 37 has passed her first test. Unhook her up and take her back to her room. Please reset the trial and reset for our next patient.”
False Hope Jasmine Hrynyk Seabrook
Since I had more energy after my lunch and quick nap I noticed I was pretty dusty from walking in the desert for so long so I thought I’d take a nice cool dip in the pond which was there. As I got closer to the pond it started looking pretty deep. I was getting kind of nervous for some reason but it was fine. I held my breath and jumped into the water. It was the perfect temperature. Not too cool and no where near boiling hot which I thought it was going to be like.
I floated at the surface for two or three minutes before I felt a weak current underneath the water. I was curious what was causing it so I took a deep breath and dove under. The deeper I went the colder the water got. I swam down as far as I could then held onto a piece of seaweed. I opened my eyes and looked around. I was amazed. It was like an ocean under there. There was so many plants and animals everywhere. The water was so clear, I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice this before. I was wondering how far this cave went when suddenly all the pretty fish around me began swimming away. I was confused for about five seconds before realizing what could be behind me. I turned around as fast as I could only to see the biggest shark I’ve ever seen. It had big black eyes, huge grey fins, and teeth like knives. I tried to swim away but it was already too late. The water around me turned a horrible dark red. The shark had ripped off my arm. I screamed in pain which was obviously a mistake but I couldn’t help it. Water started rushing into my mouth and into my lungs. I was drowning. I closed my eyes.
Loop Brenna Hynes
She hadn’t moved, the only thing that had changed was that there were no more tears running down her face, and her breathing was now even- not ragged and choppy as it had been before. Once the girl realises how much time has changed she rubs her eyes, trying to wake herself up- she needs to keep walking. This dessert can’t go on forever, she reasons, pushing herself off the sandy ground and onto her feet which set off towards where the sun had disappeared.
It’s morning and the sun is beginning to peer over the horizon- she sees something in the distance, it looks like a tree but there’s no way to tell from how far away she is so she picks up her pace, marching towards the black blob on the horizon.
It is a tree, but that isn’t the best part about it. The trees conceal a beautiful pond of clear water in the center of them. The girl kneels down next to the water and looks at her face in the reflection, it’s round and studded with wide chocolate brown eyes, her face is covered in blood yet there are streaks of pale skin where her tears had plowed through all the accumulated grime on her face. Her hair is insane, matted with blood and dirt. She reaches a dirty hand into the water and watches as the grime floats off of her hand in clouds of brown and red. She draws her hand out of the water- it’s perfectly clean. The girl reaches into the water with both hands and scoops the water onto her face, letting a waterfall of burgundy coloured water flow out of them, leaving her face clean. There’s something about this water that is strange- but maybe it’s just me. She thinks. The girl then stands up and walks right into the pond, a cloud of dirt and blood following her. The water stings the gash in her arm as it cleans it- but she barely feels it. Once the clouds settle to the bottom of the pond the girl ducks under and runs her hands through her hair, combing the knots and blood out. She watches this cloud settle before lowering her mouth into the water and sucking in as much as she could. The water is the best thing she can remember, she sucks it in until her mouth is no longer as dry as the sand of the desert, until her throat is no longer begging for more. Even then she often sucks in more. But finally she decides that she’s had long enough in the water- her fingers are pruned and so is the rest of her probably. She gets out of the water and wrings out her red t-shirt that might have once been white- it’s impossible to tell anymore. The girl is happy and just wants to stay near the water but she knows that she can’t and must keep going- but when she takes a step forward a bat collides with the back of her head and she collapses- cheek landing in the sand, wide, brown eyes closed.
She wakes in a cement room, it’s covered in blood- as she is. She tries to stand but there are ropes binding her to the chair she sits on. She can’t remember how she got there, how she got covered in blood and everything she can remember disappears as soon as she thinks of it. Suddenly she has no memories. She manages to wiggle her hands from the rope behind her and lift the rope around her body off over her head. She stands on weak legs and stumbles over to the door of the room, she opens it and leaves- beyond the door is a vast desert. The sun beats down harshly on everything beneath it. The girl takes off the flannel she has tied around her waist and uses it as a horrible sunshade. She looks back at the squat little cement building before trudging onwards.
You know what happens next. But she doesn’t.
Rooftop Samantha Muhlig
My eyes were glued to the book I held, my hands trembling in sadness and fear. My desperate attempts to block out my parents bickering were in vain, their voices raising louder by the second. “He is just a kid!” My mother screamed, my father’s feet stomping around the living room. “Yet he can still help around here! All he does is read his stupid books as we practically cater to him! We work for hours and for what? To come home to a damn pigsty! “ My father spat, his words burning into my memory. I whimpered, curling into a hopeless ball. The sound of glass shattering scared me to death. I listened as the house grew quiet, a door slamming shut before my father’s car backed out of our driveway and sped down the road. The house grew uncomfortably silent. I sat up and stared at my closed bedroom door, tears pooling in my eyes and rushing down my cheeks. My mother’s stilettos clicked against the hardwood floor, echoing in our empty house. The front door closed and once again I was alone. I sniffled, wiping my cheeks with the back of my hand. Standing up, I gripped onto the bedpost to steady myself, before walking over to my mirror. My glasses laid low on the bridge of my nose, black circles resting underneath my eyes. I sighed, running my fingers through my tangled hair before giving up. I looked and felt emotionally drained, and I was so exhausted of constantly feeling that way. I draped the fleece blanket over my shoulder, grabbing the book I was reading and headed for the hallway. A tug at the end of the blanket drew me back, a picture frame from my dresser latching on. The picture frame tumbled to the ground, my carpet floor saving it’s fall. I walked over to pick it up, pausing to stare at the photo inside. It was picture of my family, my parents looking fairly happy like they once was. My older brother had his arms wrapped around my shoulders, hugging me tightly as I smiled gleefully. I was only seven at the time, oblivious to the problems that would soon come. I missed my older brother dearly. When my parents began arguing-- he was the only one who could cheer me up. We’d play games together, laugh at hilarious cat videos and tell stories-- all the while my parents would be bickering for hours. When he got a sport scholarship and had to move to another province for his school, it tore me apart. I pleaded for him not leave me behind, put in the end I understood he had too. We would call everyday, slowly the daily calls became weekly, to monthly, to barely once every few months. I shook the thought from my mind, sniffling quietly as I placed the picture frame back onto my dresser. I ran over to the windowcell, opening the window carefully before tossing my blanket onto the highest roof. I climbed out, walking along the side of the house before pulling myself up onto the roof where my blanket sat. Wrapping the blanket around my torso, I huffed out a short breath and pulled my book out of my coat pocket. I glanced around, staring at the townhouses across the street before my eyes landed upon the townhouse connected to mine. The bedroom window was open, my neighbour’s head popping out before she smiled and climbed out to join me on my roof. “Hey.” She smiled, her gleeful attitude disappearing from his face. She climbed over quickly, feet treading the roof tiles as she sat himself in front of me. Her palm was placed delicately on cheek, my tears being swept away by her thumb. We sat in silence, the sun setting before us with erupting colours. It was slowly becoming nightfall, my parents still missing. This wasn’t anything new, considering the circumstances I was lucky to have him around me this time. “You’re parents fighting again?” She whispered, her eyes glued to the book that sat in my hand. I nodded, letting my tears fall and seep through the thin pages. We sat in silence. “I really don’t like your parents.” She replied, her hands resting by her thighs. She twiddled her thumbs, waiting for a response but all I did was stare at the ground. The sky grew darker as we continued to sit, the wind blowing our hair in different directions. Millions of thoughts were running through my head, too many to the point I couldn’t express any. All I did was sat in numbness, my neighbour watching me in pity. “I don’t want to leave the rooftop.” I whispered, looking at my neighbour. She chuckled, glancing from my shoes to the dark sky. “Because it’s your oasis?” She asked. I breathed out, “Exactly.”