Nora and her siblings are more than just "not normal". There whole lives were one big lie
Inside the Earth’s core lived creatures known as whouls. Whouls could withstand the extreme heat that is found in the Earth’s core and have created a community unknown to the human race. With their gleaming green eyes, smooth olive skin, and muscular physique, they were the most beautiful creatures in existence. Perfectly toned bodies, electric eyes, and determination made them practically flawless. Although they were very secretive creatures, they had the most modernized society. The hover car had already been in existence for 50 years, which then turned into a teleportation machine. Ultimately, they lived the best lives but if this were true, then why did the most powerful whouls have to fight for their lives?
In the town of Fob, the only town in the Earth’s core, the whouls patiently awaited for their new leader whose fate they decided. Would it be there current leader’s son Oliver who had grown up in the limelight? Or would it be Will’s children? None of the children knew that the town decided on their fate and that the competition barely mattered. They were trained to believe that the competition determined who’d survive. How did this competition work? The competition would be made harder for the contestant the public voted against. If that weak contestant were able to survive, then the public’s opinion might change and the cycle started all over again like a vicious cycle. This would go on for about a month until the final vote; the contestant with the highest popularity rating would survive the final physical competition while the other two would be executed during their event.
The whouls loved the year of the competition as it provided entertainment and a new leader. Before the competition started, whouls placed their bets, although, most knew that Oliver would win. It simply came down to the fact that Will’s children were weaker than Brian’s child. Every right-minded whoul knew that Will’s children would not survive the competition but everybody liked a good fight, right?
Nora stared at her parents, wondering who they really were. Her parents always seemed peculiar to her as if they didn’t belong. Her father was a sweet man but seemed as if he were hiding something from her and her brothers. Her mother, Patty, always seemed on edge like something life changing could happen any moment. Nora wanted to live adventurously instead of this monotonous, simple life. She was sick of staying at home for every vacation and seeing sadness in her mother’s dark blue eyes. She craved to feel soft sand in between her webbed feet and to hear the ocean constantly roaring in the background. Instead, she lived isolated and in the middle of nowhere. Why was she destined to live every child’s nightmare? She wanted to live her life to the fullest and fulfill a legacy.
Determined to make use of her boring weekend, Nora rummaged through every possible inch of the house. Searching for something exciting and interesting, Nora saw something she had never seen before, a little knob in the thin, white wall. Curiosity took over as Nora stepped closer and investigated the peculiar bronze circle that was sticking out of the spotless wall.
Just as she was about to pull the knob, her father frantically yelled, “Nora, what do you think you’re doing? Your mother and I have told you countless times not to rummage through our belongings! Why can’t you and your brothers just listen?”
Nora muttered angrily, “We do listen! We’re just sick of living this boring life that you think is acceptable. Andy, Blake, and I just want to find something interesting that would explain why you and mom are so odd.”
Her father, Will, let out a laugh and said, “You think that we’re odd! I don’t know what has happened to my sweet daughter but you are not her! I’m sick of you and your brothers thinking it’s okay to be disrespectful to us. It’s getting out of hand, Nora.
Out of anger, Nora yelled, “If we’re so disrespectful, then send us away! Send us far away and never look back”
In the heat of the moment, her father yelled, “Nora, if you want to be sent away, then I’ll enroll you in boarding school straightaway.
Nora laughed and said, “You would never do that, Will. Even if you did, what about Andy and Blake?”
Will raised his voice and said, “I’ll enroll them in boarding school too. Your mother and I need a break anyways, and maybe it’ll teach you kids how to be independent.”
Too angry to speak, Nora escaped up the stairs to her room. She thought about the idea of boarding school and came around to the strange idea. If she went to boarding school, life would be a little more exciting. She wouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around her parents or see her mother’s sadness on a daily basis. After thinking about it, she loved the idea of being sent away with her brothers. What could be better than being away from her parent for 10 months?
While still deep in thought, Nora’s older brother Andy came into the room. Andy came in wearing his favorite skinny jeans and a white v-neck. His brown curls, draped around his neck, were filled with luster as he carefully flipped them out of his eyes.
He flashed his white teeth and said, “Nora, you need to come downstairs because mom and dad need to talk to us. I don’t know why but they seem serious.”
Annoyed, Nora said, “I know why they need to talk to us. They want to send us away to boarding school because they think that we’re too disrespectful.”
Andy chuckled and said, “You’re the only one that’s disrespectful. Anyways, I’m going downstairs and suggest that you come too.” Reluctantly, Nora followed Andy down the spiral staircase into the living room. She let out a sigh and plopped down next to her other brother Blake on the brown, leather couch.
Patty sarcastically said, “Nora, how nice of you to join us.”
Nora said sarcastically back, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world, mother.”
Will walked into the room and loudly yelled, “Enough! I did not have a family meeting for you and your mother to fight. I called you all down here to talk about the current living situation. Your mother and I do not think that this is the best living situation for all of you. We’re not sending you to boarding school but to your Uncle’s home instead.”
Andy interjected and said, “What uncle, dad?”
Calmly, Will said, “Let me continue, Andy. I know all of you think that Patty and I are a little off but there is a reason that we’re different. You kids need to know that we are not from any place that you have heard of. We are not from any of the 7 continents or are even human which is why you’re going to live with your uncle. He lives where all other whouls live, in the Earth’s core. Whouls are fascinating creatures, but we’re nothing like humans. In fact, humans can’t even survive in the Earth’s core.”
Blake cut him off and said, “If we’re from the Earth’s core, then why don’t we live there?”
Will said gravely, “I was about to explain that, Blake, but you interrupted. Kids, please no more interruptions before I finish explaining. We don’t live in the Earth’s core anymore because we are the most famous whouls in existence. We have the most power and essentially live better lives than the rest. When you kids were born, every whoul wanted to steal you from us. No matter how many invisible furs we got or how many spells we put on you, whouls still knew when you were around. Although now since Andy is 16, he is eligible for the throne but has to compete for it. He has to compete against your uncle’s child and you, Nora. The competition is fierce, intense, and only the leader comes out alive. It is time for one of you to run our kind and change the town of Fob for the better.”
Perplexed, Nora said, “If only the leader comes out alive, then why are you and your brother both still alive?”
Will explained, “I skipped out on the competition. Every 3 generations if there are only 2 children, then one has the option to forfeit the competition and will be the leader’s assistant. Unfortunately, both of you still have to compete in the competition because you did not fall into the 3rd generation. Nora and Andy, this will infuriate you, but Blake doesn’t compete. He’s automatically exempted from the competition because of his age difference. He automatically becomes the leader’s assistant.”
Nora stood up abruptly and said bitterly, “Why are you informing us of this brutal competition if we don’t even have a choice? If we don’t get a decision regarding our fate, then why would you worry us?”
Looking up toward the sky for inspiration, Will replied, “As your father, it is my duty to inform you of the harsh reality. Your mother and I have tried our best to raise you as independent young adults, but your behavior is concerning us. You or your brother will never become the leader of Fob if you don’t shape up. I need one of my children to be up there leading our people. Whouls think I’m a wimp or a coward because I skipped out on the competition but if one of my children becomes the leader, then the whouls will have a tremendous amount of respect for me.”
Nora let out a vicious laugh and said, “Aren’t you a wimp, dad? You skipped out on the competition yet you expect Andy and I to participate in it without struggle. I have lost the little respect that I used to have for you.”
Will banged his fist on the table like an angered animal and yelled, “I skipped out of the competition because your mother was already pregnant with Andy! I knew the child that she was carrying needed a father; I didn’t want your mother to be a parent alone!”
Nora stared into her father’s once warm eyes and said, “You had Andy when you were 20, so you would’ve been too old for the competition by that point in time.”
He rubbed his finger over his eyebrows and said, “What are you talking about? My brother was 16 when I was 20 which is the minimum age to compete in the competition. Since we weren’t at least 5 years apart like you and Blake, we still had to compete.” He paused for a moment and looked into his 3 children’s eyes. He wanted to protect them from danger but if he intervened with the competition, it would result in the immediate death of all of them. If he interfered, Blake would be killed as well as his beautiful wife. Will finally said in a soft voice, “At the time, I tried to do what I thought was best which I still stand by today. I don’t regret having you kids for anything, but now it is out of my control. The town of Fob thinks that it’s only fair if the heirs to the throne have to fight each other for it, that way, they know the leader is very strong. By that competition, whouls have strong faith in their leader which is why Fob is so successful. I beg all of you to greet Fob with open arms and to treat the whouls with kindness and generosity. Right now, they like my brother’s son, Oliver, better because they’ve seen Oliver grow before their eyes. I know that I’m asking a lot but show Fob what wonderful kids you are. Show them the kids that I am extremely proud of.”
Nora looked back at her quaint home one last time before she went to Fob. The home, with its rugged stone and brown shutters, made her realize how many memories she created in this house. She sadly remembered the time that Andy and her scared Blake when he got home from school one day. She also thought about the time that she realized they were different. Nora recalled the day just like it was yesterday…
The hot sun was blazing in the sky as Andy was playing with his friends and that’s when they realized it was 110 degrees. She carefully scrutinized Andy since he was not sweating like his friends or a bit parched. Nora raised her curious eyebrows at Andy, but he never seemed to notice. Therefore, all of this time, she kept this burdening secret to herself. Everything finally started to click, though, when their parents informed them that they were whouls. Creatures that could withstand an extreme amount of heat and live in the Earth’s core, whouls were truly amazing. She was perplexed and interested in who she really was, but she didn’t want it to cost her life.
Will had the heavy luggage in his hands and walked outside to the disguised hover car. He carefully looked at the sky and knew that they didn’t have much time until sundown. He grew concerned as whouls could only enter Fob before sunset once a week. His trembling hands gently put the black luggage down on the steaming sidewalk where Nora had been standing for a mere 2 hours.
Will walked next to his scared daughter and said, “Nora, I know that you’re nervous and scared but don’t let it change who you are. You are a strong and powerful young woman; don’t let the whouls destroy you!” Will paused to recollect his thoughts and continued, “Remember that time we went to zoo?”
Nora looked up and allowed her father to look into her fearful eyes and said, “Yes, dad, of course I remember!”
In such a serious time Will let out a chuckle and explained, “You showed me you had an unimaginable talent that day. I always knew that there were rumors about whouls being able to talk to animals but I never thought they were true. When you told me you understood the monkey, my heart filled with pride because, as my daughter, you just proved to me the impossible. Other parents would take their children to a professional if they thought they were talking to animals; it was different for me. You truly showed me the phrase that anything is possible but you also took it to a whole new level. If you can show that gift to Fob, then you will be the leader.”
Nora kicked a rock on the ground out of boredom and fear but managed to mumble, “I thought that the people have no say in who wins the competition.”
Will took a deep breath and quietly whispered, “The competition is not necessarily always fair. If a powerful whoul wants someone to win, then they’ll try their best to make sure the one they want to win wins.”
Nora shook her head in disbelief and said, “Why do I have to have more pressure put on me now. I don’t just have to win the academic and physical competition but also fight for the support of the whouls. Dad, who made the rules for this competition?”
Will gently sat down on the damp grass and motioned for Nora to do the same. As they were sitting on the grass in silence, Nora leaned onto her father and Will grasped her into a hug. Still in that position, Will explained, “The rules were made long ago, Nora, by your great-great grandfather. You see, the whouls were all complaining that there should be no more royal family in Fob, but your great- great grandfather thought it was a vital part of Fob. He was a wise man and suspected that the royal family was needed to keep Fob running and in order. Because he was so wise, he compromised with the people and said the leader would have to compete in 2 competitions. They had to compete in an intelligence competition and a physical competition to judge their strength. This assured the people that only the strongest would become the leader and assured your great-great grandfather that the royal family would stay in power. It seemed like a pretty good plan until my great grandfather’s son was executed because he did not win the competition. He was such an intelligent man, but the death of his son emotionally killed him. During his last few years, he fought to change the rules of the competition, so the loser still lived, but he eventually failed. Because he tried to fight them and intervene, he was executed which is why I can’t object to the competition.” Before Nora could respond, Will said in a loving and gentle way, “Nora, you’re my daughter which is why I know you better than you think. I know that you want to skip out of the competition and disappear which I have no control over but think about what would happen. The security whouls would come after Blake, Mom, Andy, and me. And after they got us, they would execute us and if they ever found you, you would be tortured then killed. I can’t stop you from running away but think before you do.”
Nora was left to think after that emotional conversation with her father which left her feeling numb. She wanted to burst out in tears but knew that wasn’t an option. She knew what would happen if she bailed out on the competition, but what if she didn’t care? Her parents put her in this situation in the first place, but could she live with herself knowing that she was the reason they died?
Andy’s heavy footsteps could be heard in the distance, and she knew it was time. It was time to leave the life that she knew and go into Fob, but what if she never came back?
She turned around and stared deeply into her brother’s eyes and all he said was, “I know, Nora.” Feeling closer with her brother than ever, Nora grabbed his clammy hand and approached the hover car. They’d never been in a hover car before because it was invented in Fob and only used by whouls.
As she was climbing into the hover car, Will said, “Nora, I can’t go with Andy, Blake, and you any further. We have to, well, say our goodbyes.”
She was determined not to cry in front of her father and said bitterly, “Okay, Dad, guess I probably won’t see you again.” Before he could console her, she disappeared into the hover car and left Andy alone with their father.
While staring at the ground, Andy said, “Thanks for everything, Dad. Although you want Nora to win, I’m determined to show you that I am the stronger child.”
Will shook his head in anger and said, “That was not the plan, Andy. The plan was for you to purposely lose the competition and leave Nora to beat Oliver. I thought you wanted to protect your sister.”
He responded, “Of course I want to protect Nora, but I don’t want to die knowing that you thought I was the weaker child.”
Will walked next to Andy and put an arm around his son. As Andy decided to lean on him, Will said, “I think you’re just as strong as Nora, Andy. If you sacrificed your life for her, then I would think you were the strongest whoul in existence.”
Andy shrugged his shoulders and moved Will’s arm away. He finally ended the conversation by climbing up the rusty ladder into the hover car. Will let out a breath of frustration and checked that the luggage was secured. Everything was set so he motioned for the captain to take off. The engines started to rumble as a delicate tear rolled down his cheek. Next thing he knew, the ground was shaking and an unbearable wind practically swept Will away. Before the hovercar took off, Will could see into the eyes of his children. Their glum and grave expressions practically made his heart break in two, but he could not help them. He had tried his very best to prepare them for this very day, but he felt he had failed as a parent and a whoul. Tears started dribbling down Will’s face at a faster rate, and everything became a blur until he felt his wife’s comforting hand enclosed in his. They stood together, like two helpless creatures, watching their children disappear into the sky. The darkness of the underground would soon capture Andy, Nora, and Blake after they saw their last look at the sun.
Patty’s face, glistening in the sunlight, was a morbid piece of art. Her makeup was smudged right below her eyes from the tears while mucus was flowing out of her nose like a waterfall.
Offering comfort, Will said, “We’ll see them again, Patty. We’ve raised them to be strong and fearless young adults; I know that they will find a way out of this, but we just cannot risk helping them.
“Welcome aboard flight 266 to Fob. We are planned to arrive in Fob in approximately 6 hours. There is an in flight complementary brochure located in the pouch of your seat. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to press the help button located above your seat. Thank you for choosing Fob Hover ways-the only way smart whouls travel!”
After the monotone message stopped, Nora opened up the window shade and looked outside glumly. She knew that she might not ever see the sun again, so she wanted to absorb everything. From the sun’s magnificent color to the shapes of the clouds, Nora wanted to take a mental picture of everything. 2 weeks from now, when she would be fighting for her life, she would think about how the sun had guided her all of this time. Every time she looked at the sun, she felt complete and satisfied with her life. Nora gently closed her eyes and reached her hand to the fingerprint stained window; she left her hand waiting on the window for just an ounce of heat to trickle through.
She said quietly to herself, “I’m not a very religious person but please, whoever is up there, send me a sign that you’re going to help me.” As the last word escaped her mouth, she felt heat radiate her ice cold hand and let a smile slide across her chilled face. She gently removed her hand from the warm window and readjusted the pillow behind her head. Finally comfortable, Nora put her epod as loud as it could go and let herself escape into her fantasies.
Andy peered at Nora and Blake who were sound asleep. Blake’s innocent mouth was slightly ajar while Nora was curled in a ball on her dirty, navy blue seat. He felt that he had grown up since yesterday; he now had to think about if he or his sister would be here in year. Andy felt as if a heavy weight had been put on his shoulders because he had to make sure Nora survived. He gently put his hand through Blake’s wavy and wild hair which caused Blake’s eyes to pop open. For 5 minutes, they stared intensely into each other’s eyes as if they were trying to read each other’s thoughts.
Blake let out in a cold whisper, “Andy, I can’t lose you and Nora. You’re my two role models; I’d be lost without both of you.” Blake reached down under his seat and pulled out a piece of paper as well as a pen.
In his boyish handwriting he scrawled,
“You can’t participate in the competition, Andy. You, Nora, and I have to escape if we want to survive together. Mom and Dad obviously don’t care about us as they did not fight to keep us out of this competition. Andy, we have to gather supplies and run as soon as the time comes. I may be young and childish, but I know when a life is worth fighting for.”
Blake’s small hand trembled as he handed Andy the note; Andy scrutinized the note and carefully looked into Blake’s eyes. He saw fear, sadness, and a small amount of hope.
Andy whispered sympathetically, “Blake, I want to survive just as much as you want me to survive but if we escaped, mom and dad would be killed. If we run, we’ll always have to worry about being caught. I just don’t know if I could put you and Nora through that your whole life. Imagine, always being on the run and hiding from everyone that walked by.”
Still having hope, Blake said in a loud whisper, “We can take some invisible furs to hides ourselves in on the run. I know that we could survive, Andy! We’re always the strongest when we work together.”
Andy cupped his hands around Blake’s ear and said, “If Nora’s in, then we’ll try to escape but only if she agrees. We all have to be united if we even want the smallest chance of surviving on the run.”
A small smile spread across Blake’s face, but it soon disappeared as 7 dreaded words came over the loud speaker.
In a deep, annoying, loud sound they heard, “We have arrived at Fob international airport. Thank you for flying with us and enjoy your stay.”
Nora rolled her eyes open and stared at Andy as if she were annoyed. Being a gentleman, he grabbed her heavy belongings and motioned for Blake to follow him out of the hovercar.
In a curious voice, Blake said, “Andy, where’s the sun? Why’s it so dark here?”
Andy looked up to take in the darkness and explained, “We’re underground, Blake. We’re in the middle of the Earth, which means the Sun can’t be felt down here. Luckily, whouls don’t need sunlight to survive.”
Blake rearranged his heavy bag on his shoulder and nodded his rather small head. He hobbled down the hallway following Nora and Andy while looking for someone holding a card with their name on it.
Blake pointed toward a man in a handsome, black suit and said, “Andy, I think we’re supposed to go with that guy waiting over there.”
Andy glanced at Nora who gave him a reassuring look. He hesitantly led Nora and Blake over to the attractive, young looking man.
The man, who had slicked back blonde hair, said, “You 3 must be my niece and nephews. Welcome to Fob! I’m so happy to finally meet you three!”
Andy spoke for the three of them and said, “It’s great to meet you too, but I wish we didn’t have to meet under these conditions. It’s kind of sad to think that Nora, your son, or I will be dead by next month.”
Their uncle, Brian, said in a more annoyed tone, “You can’t think about it like that. You should be glad that I’m letting you meet my son and me at all. I’m trusting that you won’t do anything to harm my son before this competition which results in life or death.” He continued in a belittling tone, “You children better not lay a finger on my son. If I find out that you did anything to him, you will be executed at once. Do I make myself clear?”
Nora said in her sarcastic way, “Crystal.”
Brian handed them each an invisible fur before they started floating through the air. He did this because their presence was supposed to remain secret until a day before the competition when they’d interview with the press.
As they were gliding through the air with their jetpacks, Nora’s hands shot out towards her sides like she were a bird. She let every care in the world slip away and let it follow the wind. They flew above what seemed like a fantasy; below them lay a beautiful world full of every imaginable gadget and building. Nora spotted a building made entirely of Crystal; it was a magnificently beautiful building until it disappeared into the grass. Nora remained perplexed as she couldn’t ask Andy because he remained hidden under his invisible fur. She flew full of frustration as the buildings below kept disappearing until only one remained. The building that remained was notably superior than the rest, with its black mirrored walls and unique architecture, it was absolutely stunning.
Nora was still taking in the sight below her when she felt her body start to descend. Fear blew over like an earthquake because she didn’t know if this was supposed to happen. She had no way of seeing if the others were also landing, so she hesitantly pushed the fear aside and tried to relax. It finally hit her that they were supposed to land on that superior building, for the building must’ve been where Brian lived. Her jaw dropped in awe and her heart filled with envy. She was stuck, all of these years, living in isolation while Brian seemed to have lived like a king. At least, she considered him a modern version of a king since he was living in his skyscraper palace and all.
Her feet gently landed on the balcony that surrounded the tip of the building. Nora felt absolutely invincible as if she could hold the world in the palm of her hand. The view took her breath away, and the people were the size of her finger which caused her to laugh. For the first time, in what seemed like days, she let out a real laugh. Maybe it was from the stress or maybe she was going crazy, but she let out a real laugh that allowed her to get lost in the moment. Still laughing at herself, she didn’t realize a handsome teenager walked onto the balcony.
The mysterious man came over with a smug smile and said, “You must not get out much.”
Nora shot a sarcastic smile right back, “No, I was just desperately in need of a good laugh.”
The stranger looked far beyond and said, “I know exactly what you mean. I feel like I haven’t laughed in years.”
Nora looked past the luscious blonde hair and olive skin and saw a hopeless individual much like herself.
She extended her hand and said, “I’m Nora, who’s the mystery man that I have been honored to meet.”
He smiled a true smile, “My name’s Oliver; you don’t already know who I am, do you?”
A curious expression came across her face and her tone became slightly agitated, “No, am I supposed to know who you are?”
He noticed the change in her voice and said calmly, “No… I didn’t mean it like that! It’s very nice to meet you, Nora. It’s just not everyday that I run into someone who doesn’t already know who I am. Trust me, it’s a nice surprise that you don’t know my name.”
She noticed his apologetic voice and said, “It’s great to meet you too, Oliver. I’m new to Fob, but I don’t understand why would everybody know your name?”
He hesitated slightly before saying, “Well, let’s just say that my father is a very influential man in Fob. Unfortunately, every whoul in existence knows his name which means most know mine.”
Nora narrowed her eyes skeptically and said, “I have a horrible feeling that I know who your father is. And you probably know exactly who I am already.”
A perplexed expression slowly appeared on Oliver’s face. He said emotionlessly, “Who do you think my father is?”
She stumbled a little before saying, “Isn’t he Brian, the leader of Fob and the man who leads all the whouls?”
Oliver’s head slowly looked towards the ground, and Nora knew that she had just met her cousin. Her cousin, who was such a handsome boy, was supposed to be her enemy. She was supposed to fight him for her life; how could she possibly destroy such a harmless boy? Nora spoke sadly, “I think I need to reintroduce myself.” Her heavy eyes finally met his and she continued, “Hi Oliver, my name’s Nora, your cousin. The one who you will be competing against for your life.”