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City of Ashes

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City of Ashes

Post by Little Feathered Friends on Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:01 am

Sorry.Here is another one. It's not part of the other story, but I wrote this one forst for a school assesment. It took 2 weeks and I nearly didn't finish it because I was getting bored, so the ending might seem kind of rushed. If you want me to stop then please tell me, I don't mind and I don't want to annoy anyone.

City of Ashes
It was pouring with rain. A cold, driving rain that forced its way into every crack. The cold seemed to seep into Nikki’s bones as she put one foot in front of the other, trudging uphill against the almost-arctic wind. Water rushed past, the gutters overflowing with the debris they had picked up. A particularly icy blast wrenched the sodden envelope from her hands, carrying it away, down the hill and towards town. Turning to watch it, her gaze fell on the muddy field at the bottom of the hill. Between the two boulders that she and her friends sometimes sat on in the summer, there was a hole in the ground. All thoughts of attempting to catch the envelope were gone. It was a bad report anyway.
The hole was a lot bigger than it had appeared from the hill, and at first glance it seemed bottomless. But when Nikki looked harder, she could just make out..........light! Yes, there was light in the hole! Cautiously approaching the edge, she knelt down on the soggy grass and lent over. With an ominous squelch, the saturated ground beneath her gave way, and she fell, too stunned to utter a sound.
Pain. Stabbing, pounding, throbbing pain. Am I still alive? Nikki wondered as she lay on her back. Her arm was twisted round at an extremely uncomfortable angle and she was almost certain several, if not all of her ribs were broken. Suddenly, memory of the afternoon came flooding back. She sat up quickly, and instantly regretted it as pain shot through her chest. Afraid of what she might see, she looked slowly around. Enormous stalactites loomed overhead, strung with lanterns that gave off a faint glow. Rising from the floor to meet them were giant stalagmites. A few metres either side and I would have landed on one of those........Nikki shuddered and tried not to think about it.
“Hello?” she called.
“Hello.” Someone, or something whispered close by.
“Where are you?”
“Over here.”
Slowly and carefully, Nikki got to her feet and turned around. Leaning against one of the towering stalagmites was an old man. A very old man. He was almost completely bald, but his wispy white beard reached almost to his knees. His skin was so wrinkled that it appeared to hang off him, as if he had borrowed it for someone much bigger than him.. The clothes he was wearing were made of a sort of thick sack-cloth. “What are you doing here, child?” he asked, in a barely audible whisper.
“I fell down the hole,” Nikki replied. “The hole in the playing field.”
“There are no fields here. Once, long, long ago there were fields. Wide open spaces, covered in lush green plants. On the surface. Before. There are no fields in the City of Ashes. Go. Go back to where you came from.”
“What happened? Why are you living underground?” Nikki asked. The man laughed, a dry, harsh cackle that turned into a hacking cough, that echoed eerily around the walls of the cavern.
“Living? Child, you can hardly call it that. We simply exist. We do not enjoy it, and our City is dying. It was born from the ashes of the Great Fire, but we cannot stay. All fires burn out, and all ashes blow away eventually. We thought our lives had been saved, but now we are doomed to die. I live in exile, but not for much longer. My time is coming. If a world exists beyond the City, I will soon know.” He closed his eyes, and Nikki thought he had gone to sleep.
“Which way is it to the city?” she asked, not entirely sure if she was going to get an answer. With what appeared to be a great deal of effort, the old man raised a skeletal arm that looked as if it might snap at the slightest touch, and extended a bony finger.
“That way,” He rasped. Nikki stood up and looked in the direction he was pointing. The light seemed brighter, and she thought she could see movement. She took a few steps, her ribs protesting with every footfall.
“Goodbye.” She said to the old man. There was no answer.

Nikki wasn’t sure how long she had been walking, but her legs ached and her shoes were giving her blisters. The city didn’t seem much closer than it had when she set off. Insects of all shapes and sizes crawled, scurried, hopped and wriggled around her, scuttling over the stone with tiny feet. Fungus grew in abundance, and some of it gave off a faint glow. Tentatively, Nikki reached out to touch some, but it crumbled into a sand-like powder that clung to her fingers.

There was no way Nikki was going to walk any further. She just couldn’t. There were a few ramshackle, broken down huts nearby, and beyond them stood the city. Most of the smaller buildings had been made out of planks of wood, but the larger ones, closer to the centre of the city, were carved right into the soaring stalagmites. From what Nikki knew of the hustle and bustle of city life, the noise should be deafening, especially in one the size of this. But it was quiet. Too quiet. The sound of Nikki’s footsteps echoed around the cave, making it sound like there were forty girls, not just one, approaching the City of Ashes. Suddenly, the silence was broken. Someone was coming out of one of the huts. Too exhausted to run, Nikki watched, silently praying that whoever, or whatever was coming, was friendly.

It seemed to take forever for the rickety door, which sounded as if it could use a great deal of oil, to open. To Nikki’s relief, the figure that stepped out did not have any extra arms or legs, and didn’t seem to want to bite her head off. Heaving a sigh of relief, she spoke. The sound she made was nothing like the ‘hello’ she had hoped for, as her throat was so dry she could hardly speak, but it had the same effect anyway. The person turned towards her, brandishing a bucket and slopping water on her feet.
“Oh, don’t do that, please, I thought you were a .......oh, never mind. You look exhausted, would you like to come inside?”
Nikki smiled, nodded, and forces her feet the last few steps to the house.

As Nikki sat in Azerie’s kitchen, she was surprised how big it was. From the outside, the hut had looked tiny, but inside it was more like a house. Azerie’s daughter Lila sat at the other side of the table, playing with some paper dolls. Mouth-watering smells drifted across from the little stove, a delicious mix of cinnamon, saffron and several other exotic ingredients Nikki couldn’t identify.
“So, Nikki, what were you doing wandering around the wastelands?” Azerie asked.
“Well..........I don’t come from around here,” Nikki replied. “I guess you could say I live on the surface.”
“Oh, don’t be silly. No one has lived on the surface for years,” said Azerie. “Not since the Great Fire. There’s nothing left. That’s why we live in the City.”
“But that’s not true!” Nikki exclaimed. “At least, not anymore. Maybe it was once but now there’s flowers and trees and everything! If only we could find a way up, then I could show you!”
“There is a way,” Azerie said slowly. “But only the Master knows the way, and he refuses to tell anyone. He says we’re perfectly safe here, but he doesn’t know. Well, actually he does, but he won’t admit it. He just doesn’t want to leave,” She sighed. “He should know better though. The lights are getting dimmer and the City is dying. We were never meant to stay so long. If there truly is a place such as the one you’re describing, we need to go there.”
“But there is!” Nikki stood up. “We have to tell him!”
“I don’t think he’d listen.”
“I guess, but-“
“That’s enough,” Azerie said sharply. “We’re not leaving unless he decides to, and that’s very unlikely. We’re going to die here, but the last person that tried to tell him that was banished.”
“I think I saw him,” Said Nikki. “Out in the wastelands.”
“Yes, quite likely,” It was clear Azerie didn’t want to talk anymore. For a while, no one spoke in the warm kitchen, except for the soup in the pot babbling to itself, and Lila murmuring to her paper dolls. Eventually, she put them down.
“Mummy, can Nikki and me go play dress-ups?” she asked.
“Only if Nikki wants to. You’re not to bother her.”
“It’s OK.” Nikki smiled at Lila. “Let’s go.”

The pale pink walls of Lila’s room were faded, and patches of the wallpaper were peeling. There was a small bed in the corner, with a rag doll propped against one of the pillows.
“That’s Lucinda,” Lila pointed to the doll. She skipped over to the wardrobe and pulled out a battered cardboard box. “These are the dress-ups. You can be the angel, and I’ll be the queen.” She handed Nikki a pair of grubby angel wings, covered in feathers that were probably once white, but had clearly not been for quite some time. Lila put on a cardboard crown that had been painted gold, and a long red dress that must have belonged to Azerie. They then proceeded to play a mad game of two person tag, in which Lila tripped over the hem of her dress several times, and Nikki succeeded in (accidentally) pulling some of the wallpaper off the wall. Suddenly, there was a loud bang and the lights went out. Lila gave a small squeal of fright and rushed over to find Lucinda. Nikki ran to the window. All the lights had gone off outside, and the darkness looked thick enough to hold in your hand. Azerie came running down the hallway.
“Are you girls all right?” she asked, her voice high with panic.
“Yes mummy,” Said Lila. “Lucinda’s OK too.”
“I’m fine.” Said Nikki from the window. “What happened?” Azerie said nothing.
“Mummy, why is it so dark?” Lila asked.
“I don’t know.” Azerie whispered. I’d better get the emergency lantern. We need to go into the City.”

Everyone had the same idea. The streets of the City were crowded with people, all heading towards the centre. Some held lanterns like Azerie’s, others had burning torches or candles.

When they reached the centre of the City, there were already hundreds of people there. At the front of the crowd there was a raised platform, and a fat man stood on top of it.
“That’s the Master.” Azerie said.
“ I have to talk to him! I have to tell him that the surface is all right to live on! Take me to see him!” Nikki pleaded. Azerie sighed.
“OK. He probably won’t listen, but I suppose it’s worth a try.” Weaving and dodging through the babbling crowd, Azerie held the lantern, Nikki held Lila’s hand, and Lila held Lucinda.

The Master had a thick, bristly moustache that moved when he talked. Nikki had to try not to laugh as he addressed the crowd before him. She walked around to the side of the platform, where there weren’t so many people, and started to climb the steps. As she was doing so, she realised that she was still wearing Lila’s angel wings. Feeling stupid, she tapped the Master on the shoulder and waited for him to turn around.
“What do you want? Don’t waste my time, girl, I’m very busy.”
“Well......” Nikki wasn’t sure how to begin. “ You see...I...umm...I...you...you need to...umm...you...”she stuttered.
“Hurry up,” The Master growled.
“You need to take everyone to the surface,” Nikki finally managed to say. “It’s fine now. I come from there. I think.......I think I was meant to tell you to come back.”
The Master didn’t say anything. The people around the edge of the platform were quiet. The silence was spreading to the edges of the crowd like a virus. Everyone watched Nikki. Then the Master spoke.
“There is no way out.” He said. “The tunnel caved in many decades ago.” Gasps of panic rippled through the crowd, as if someone had thrown a stone into a pond. “When our people first came to the City of Ashes, the Great Fire had ravaged the surface. Everything was burnt to a crisp, and the ground smoked for months. Ash fell like rain. Nothing would grow, for the ground was hard and dry. There was no water and no food. When someone tried to dig to plant seeds, a hole opened up in the ground. Our ancestors descended, and they made the City what it is. They left a tunnel, so that we could return to the surface when the time was right. But it is not to be. We-“
He was cut off by a rumble and jolt, there was a groan from somewhere up high and a web of cracks appeared in the ceiling of the cave. From the centre, a hole began to open up. A ray of golden sunlight poured in, like fingers reaching down from heaven. The beam spilled onto the platform, and engulfed Nikki in glowing light. Everyone stared. I must look like a real angel! Nikki thought to herself. Shielding her eyes from the blinding light, she looked up. The hole was getting bigger.
“Get out of the way!” She yelled. “The roof is going to collapse!” Sure enough, an enormous chunk of limestone came crashing down onto the southern part of the City. When the dust had cleared, the pathway to the surface was open once more.

Nikki led the way up the rough limestone pathway made by the rock fall. The entire population of the City of Ashes followed on the journey to the surface, all eager and restless. Sunlight poured from the hole and lit up the City below. It was empty now, and the people who had lived in it were trailing up the winding track. Everyone was exited, especially Lila, who was bouncing along beside Nikki, waving Lucinda in the air.
“We’re going to the top!” she babbled to the doll, shaking it vigorously up and down. “There’ll be flowers and grass and trees and puppies and kittens and bunnies and all the other things from the stories!”
“Calm down.” Azerie said gently, though she too was grinning from ear to ear. The chatter of the crowd increased as they neared the gaping hole that was the gateway to the surface.
“Welcome home.”Nikki whispered as they finally reached their destination.

Nikki stepped back onto the wet grass she had fallen through only a few short hours ago. Birds were chirping and singing, bees were buzzing in the dripping flowers, and the leaves on the trees whispered in the breeze. It had stopped raining, and a magnificent rainbow shimmered above, signifying hope, peace and a new beginning to all those below.








Last edited by Budgielover14 on Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : This has been edited by Budgielover14 to make the post viewable.:))
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Re: City of Ashes

Post by Lexi on Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:44 pm

Cool story! Very Happy
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Re: City of Ashes

Post by Little Feathered Friends on Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:55 am

THank you Very Happy
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