What if: Miriam's Childhood Jun 8, 2015 20:06:54 GMT -6 Administrator, Gryewolf, and 3 more like this
Post by Captain Skillhide on Jun 8, 2015 20:06:54 GMT -6
What If: Miriam’s Childhood“What is a man? Is a man defined by his hopes, his dreams, or his fears? Is a man good, or is he evil? Some might say man is inherently good - that no one wishes to be evil. They say no one could be as horrific as the shadows that live in men’s nightmares,” a man speaks, twirling red liquid in his wine glass.
He sits alone in a dark throne room lit only by a few torches and moonlight spilling in through the windows. He is a man who exudes timeless wisdom and many secrets. He is Koji Igarashi, the lord of this castle.
“I can tell you that they are wrong!” Igarashi yells, throwing his wine glass to the ground. “Sometimes a man can be even more terrible than the monsters he creates, but enough of such unpleasant talk. Let’s talk about the world of Bloodstained.”
“This world - like every other - has many different versions. There is one version where the characters are anthropomorphic animals; where Miriam is Mirinyaa, an anthropomorphic cat; Johannes is Jowannes, an anthropomorphic dog; Gebel is Gerbel, an anthropomorphic gerbil. However, I will not be talking about that world; instead, I will be talking about a possible past for our main character, Miriam. And so our story begins on a bleak and cloudy day where we see a young girl running down a crowded London street…”
I weave my way through a crowded street until I reach my target: a heavy aristocrat casually walking down the street. He always walks this way at this time of day, normally without many guards, too. I check to see that everyone is in position, then make my move. I run up to the aristocrat.
“Please, sir, may you spare some coins for a hungry child?”
The aristocrat looks at me in disgust. Turning to his sole bodyguard, he yells, “Can you do your job? Stop daydreaming. Remove this vagabond from my sight, and ensure that trash cannot speak to me in the future.”
The bodyguard mutters, “Yes sir, it will never happen again.” He grabs me by the arm and starts to drag me away.
Now, this is where the plan begins. While I’m being dragged off, my friends act to carry out the rest of the plan.
“Oi, who knew they dress pigs up in clothes?” a teenage boy asks the young boy beside him.
“I guess the rich have a lot of free time to be able to put animals in clothing,” the youngster replies.
The aristocrat’s plump face twists with rage and flushes a deep red. “James, get these vagrants away from me now! And you can be a little rough with them, too,” he yells.
The bodyguard turns around, confused, and goes after the boys, who run away, jeering at the two of them. Amid the confusion, a small girl swipes the aristocrat’s coin purse and we run away, leaving them scrambling behind in a daze. A block away, I hear the aristocrat yell a string of curses; it seems he has figured out our ruse.
Underneath a bridge, we all meet up and count our earnings. As I count the money, the two boys joke with each other about the job.
“A pig in clothes; that was too funny, Gebel,” the youngster laughs.
“I’m glad you liked it, John. And Carol, those were some quick fingers today,” Gebel says.
Carol blushes as a sly smile creeps onto her face. She has always fancied Gebel. “Well, I have been practicing a lot lately. Miriam, are you done counting yet?” Carol bluntly asks.
“Stop being so impatient, I just finished counting,” I counter, sticking my tongue out at them.
“Well, don’t leave us in suspense - how much did we make?” John asks.
“Hm, maybe I don’t want to answer that,” I say, turning my head away from the group.
Gebel walks over and chops my head. “Idiot, just tell us already,” he demands.
“Ow! Alright, alright. We made 30 shillings today,” I say, rubbing my head as tears form in my eyes.
“30 shillings!” John and Carol exclaim.
“We could have a feast tonight,” John says, drool dribbling from the side of his mouth.
“We could even have a cake for dessert,” Carol says. It almost looks like Carol has stars in her eyes. Gebel crushes both dreams with one sentence.
“Nonsense, we need to save this money. We don’t have much, so every coin counts,” Gebel states. They look crushed but they don’t speak up since Gebel, being the oldest, is the unspoken leader. “Now go back and check on William. I’m going to market to buy us dinner,” Gebel orders.
We all nod in agreeance, and begin to head back to our base.
Well, “base” is a strong word; it more so translates to a shack near the outskirts of the city. However, for me this is the closest I have ever had to a home and everyone living with me is the closest I have ever had to a family. There are five of us, including me, in my family.
There is Gebel. He was always tall, would always wear clothes that did not fit his lanky frame. He was mature for being a thirteen-year-old - or at least tried to act the part for the rest of us - even when his long, boyish golden hair fell over his blue eyes. There are the ten-year-old twins, John and Carol; their short frames are even more accentuated by their baggy clothes. Their messy red hair looks like a roaring fire while their eyes are as green as the forest. John is the most hot-headed of us all. Carol acts very calm, except around Gebel where she is very nervous. Then, there is me, just turning eight, my jet black hair provides a nice contrast to my sky blue eyes. I can be rash sometimes, but I like to think that I have gotten better at coming up with strategies for our “borrowing”, as Gebel likes to put it. Finally, there is William, the youngest at six years old, his messy brown hair covering his hazel eyes. He is the sweetest kid I have ever met.
As we walk through the doors of our base, we are greeted by William washing our broken dishes.
“Why are you out of bed?” I yell.
“I’m sorry,” William replies, “I don’t like that you all are always taking care of me, so I thought I would try to help out when you were all away.”
“We know that you want to help, but you are sick,” Carol tells him, “What would happen if you were to fall over from fatigue while working?”
“My sister is right. Don’t worry, we are going to take care of each other no matter what,” John says.
“The best thing you can do to help is to greet us when we come home, as you always do. That is the best reward for us,” Carol says with a big smile.
“Yeah, that is completely true,” John and I agree.
William grins. “Alright, welcome home. Where is Gebel?”
“He is out getting dinner,” I tell him. “Sorry I yelled. I just don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“I know,” William says, his constant smile widening. “You care about us a lot, don’t you Miriam?”
“Of course, dummy. Now, get some sleep,” I say with a slight smile.
William has been sick for a week now and getting progressively worse as the week goes on. It is most likely the aftermath of those stupid experiments the alchemists were performing on us.
Sorry, I think I’m getting a little too ahead of myself. We have only been living in this shack for a month. Before that, we had been living in an orphanage for as long as I can remember. Yet, this was no ordinary orphanage; it was owned by the Alchemist Guild, the biggest organization in Europe.
At first, 35 kids lived in the orphanage. The alchemists would experiment on us every day, telling us that all of this was for “the glory of the Guild”. A lie, obviously; I knew that they were only doing this to help out the people who want to stay in power. After a couple months of brutal experiments, all of the orphans started to get sick and in a week, die. Soon, my family and I were the only ones left.
The alchemist now ran even more tests on us to see why we had survived. The only light in those dark times were the stories Gebel would tell us of his life outside the orphanage. Unlike most of us, he actually had some memories about his parents and their home. Although he only remembered a few things, it still made all the difference. We wanted a home as well.
We concocted a plan to escape the orphanage; however, we would have never made it without the help of Johannes. Johannes was an apprentice to the main alchemist in charge of the experiments and the best friend of Gebel. He was a bit older than us, a fifteen-year-old, his neatly trimmed brown hair exposing his beautiful blue eyes, even though they were concealed behind glasses . A purist, Johannes had always believed that the alchemists were meant to help the public from the rich to the poor. To see us abused everyday made Johannes sick.
When it was time to leave, Gebel asked Johannes to come with us, but he refused. He said that he would stay behind and try to fix the Guild from the inside. Gebel warned that they might think he helped us, but Johannes said that was a risk he was willing to take. And with that, the two friends said their goodbyes, never to meet again.
I am still in deep thought when I hear yelling coming from the bedroom. I look up to see the sun setting on the hillside. Was I reminiscing about the past for this long? I get up quickly from the table and go into the bedroom to see William squirming under the covers. John and Carol stand in the shadows, staring at him. “What happened to him?” I ask frantically. “Why is he in pain?”
“We don’t know; he just started yelling and shaking,” they say, fear creeping into their words.
Yes, it is something that we didn’t want to believe, something we just couldn’t accept. William is dying from this curse that the alchemists gave us. We didn’t want to believe it. We convinced ourselves that it was just a side effect. He couldn’t possibly be dying the same death that everyone from the orphanage suffered. We had gone through too much for that to happen. I feel my cheeks get hot. I rub them, my fingers dampening. Tears stream down my face. I look over to see John and Carol crying too. We then hear something hit the floor behind us. We turn to see Gebel standing in the doorway, a cake lying at his feet.
“I thought everyone would want dessert. I thought that it would be nice to have a happy dinner for once,” he says, his voice shaking. “What should we do? How can we save him?”
This is new for me; Gebel always seems so sure of himself. I have never seen him at the end of his rope. The shock brings me back to reality. “How much money do we have?” I ask.
“Um, we only have 10 shillings left,” Gebel mutters.
“Gebel, John, grab William. Carol, you remember where the doctors are in this town, right?” I ask, the tone of my voice masking pain with authority.
“Yes,” Carol says as the boys lift William from the bed.
“Alright, let’s go and hope someone can help,” I say, trying to believe my own words as much as I hope the others do .
30 minutes later, William has quieted down, but still shakes occasionally. We have visited five doctors already, and they all have laughed us off when we say we only have ten shillings. We are now at the last doctor that we know of. I knock on the door, hoping for a miracle.
When I see who is opening the door, my heart sinks. It is the heavy aristocrat from earlier. I try to talk, but no words come out. He stares at us for a moment before a light turns on in his eyes.
“You are those vagabonds that stole my money earlier today! James, grab them and bring me my money,” he commands.
The bodyguard steps from behind him and easily catches us. Searching through our pockets, he takes back the ten shillings to hand to the doctor.
“Less than before, but twenty shillings doesn’t make much of a difference,” the doctor smirks.
I finally find the courage to speak. “I’m sorry we stole from you. But our friend is dying, may you please treat him?” I plead, motioning to William twitching in Gebel’s arms.
“Good riddance, I say! One less scoundrel is a blessing,” he says. The door slams in our faces, leaving us to stand there with our hope shattered.
Just when we thought that nothing could be done for William, a stranger comes up and speaks with us.
“I couldn’t help but listen in to your predicament. I am a new doctor, and just opened my own office. I would be glad to help,” he says with a voice of honey. I look up at him, and my breath is taken away. He is an extremely gorgeous young man, no older than eighteen. His beautiful blond hair falls perfectly on his face. However, his most striking feature is his eyes, one is a deep blue while the other is a light green. I am taken aback by his otherworldly beauty. Before I can say anything, Gebel speaks up.
“But sir, we do not have any money or other valuables to offer,” Gebel tells the man.
“I know, but is it not a person’s God given duty to help those less fortunate than them,” he says with an almost radiant smile.
“Wow! Thank you so much, mister,” John says, tearing up.
“We can never repay you enough,” Carol adds.
“Don’t worry about it. Well, bring the boy to my office. It is only a couple blocks up this road,” he tells us.
By the time we reach his house, the sky is completely dark. We lay William down on a cot. The stranger then shoos us outside into the waiting room. Before he goes back in to help William, I finally am able to speak up.
“Mister, what is your name?” I ask.
“My name is Tom Stafford; now let me get to work. I will call you when I finish,” he says as he walks back into the office with William.
Too exhausted to even talk to each other, we go sit on the chairs, and within minutes, fall asleep. While I’m asleep, I begin to dream. I see William, smiling as usual. However, a demon appears behind him. I try to scream to let William know he is in danger, but my voice doesn’t work. I can only watch in horror as the demon cuts William in half. I awake sweating; I look through the window to the see the full moon high in the sky. I turn to see everyone has awoken. Before I can open my mouth, my stomach grumbles.
“Hungry,” John asks jokingly.
“Yeah,” I say sheepishly.
“Well, we didn’t have supper, so that’s only understandable,” Gebel replies.
“Why don’t we go ask the doctor if he has anything to eat?” Carol asks.
“Good idea. I will come with you,” John says.
“But he told us not to disturb him until he says it’s okay,” I said.
“Don’t be such a stick in the mud,” John says. And with that, Carol and he rise to walk through the door.
Moments after entering the room, Gebel and I hear a scream from inside. We rush into see a horrible sight.
William lies on the operating table, chopped into a dozen pieces. Carol’s body is pinned to the wall, the doctor’s knife pierced through her heart. The doctor looks over her body with a twisted smile now on his face. As Carol’s eyes dim and one final breath escapes her lips, the doctor shudders in ecstasy.
“You bloody bastard!” John yells and charges at him. In one fluid motion, Tom rips the knife through Carol’s body and slices at John’s neck. John turns to face us, with a surprised look on his face as his head rolls off his shoulders.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time!” shouts Tom. “I love the emotions people get from their loved ones being killed. Well, what do you two think of all this?”
A fury I never knew I had rises from within me. The only family I have ever known is now almost gone in a moment. “I thought you said that you wanted to help... that it is a person’s God given duty to help the less fortunate!” I yell.
“Would you help a wounded ant? No. You would put it out of its misery,” he replies. “And it gives me such joy to see hope turn to despair. What I saw on the street made me crave it more.”
“You are disgusting, truly disgusting. Your face only hides the hideous creature that lies beneath,” I shout at him.
This only provokes him, and he quickly goes into a rage. His face contorts his once beautiful face into the face of a demon. He comes at me, swinging his knife down. I feel a slight pain on my arm and look down to see my forearm on the floor. My arm has been severed just below my elbow. He turns to sweep his knife at my legs. Again, I feel a quick pain on my legs, and I begin to fall. I glance down to see my legs have been chopped off below my knees. I then hear a yell. Looking up, I see Gebel running at Tom with a saw in his hand. In a quick flash of silver, Tom slashes up and then down. Gebel’s arms fall to the floor. Tom kicks Gebel into the corner.
“Do you wanna die that badly, boy?” Tom sadistically laughs. “Just wait your turn, I will soon be done with her. Then, you are next.”
“No, you can’t do that, you bastard!” I yell. “You can’t kill my family.”
“Well who is going to stop me, little girl?” he asks. “You? Don’t make me laugh.”
He leans into my face as he talks. I spit right between his eyes. He almost loses control for a second, but regains his composure.
“I hate it when insects act as if they are better than me,” he tells me. “But, your life will soon be over. Until then, I am going to make it as painful as possible.” With that, he begins to carve into the right side of my chest with his knife.
“Please, God, at least let Gebel live,” I plead, having already accepted my fate. I am normally not one to pray but in this situation I can’t think of anything else to do.
“Please. God doesn’t exist here; your words will never reach him,” Tom laughs hysterically. “Here, let me carve a cross onto your chest for sentimental sake.”
As my right hand reaches for something to save Gebel and myself, I feel flesh. I slowly look over. William’s, Carol’s, and John’s hands have all reached mine. I instantly think of all the good times we shared.
Maybe I am dying, I think. I am reliving my life. I see John fighting some older kids who were picking on me in the orphanage; Gebel eventually had to rescue us both, but I was still glad he stood up for me. I see Carol and I on our trip without the boys. We went to the local countryside to look at the horses. It was the most fun we had in a long time. I finally see William with his big smile that never left his face, even in the worst of times. I feel a power surge from within me. I release it all at once.
“What the hell is happening? No!” Tom screams, dragging out his last syllable.
I see only a flash of light as Tom disappears.. As I begin to lose consciousness, I hear the door slam open. People in robes rush into the room. That is the last thing I see before I finally pass out.
It has been a day since that terrible night happened. After Miriam collapsed and Tom disappeared, the alchemists came rushing into the room, taking Miriam and me back to the orphanage. I did not fight back; I was still too shocked by what I saw Miriam do.
For a moment, her whole body was covered in crystals and an ethereal, red cross appeared behind her. Then in a blinding flash, both her transformation and Tom was gone. Once we got back to the orphanage, they took Miriam away and locked me up in a room. I am still in shock over what happened. It is almost like a part of me was killed that night as well.
As I think, I hear a knock on my door, and a familiar face appears. It is Johannes, Jojo as I used to call him. However, those were happier times; this day I cannot say that cheery nickname.
“Gebel, I am so sorry about what happened. I was praying for you to live happily away from here,” Johannes consoles, a sympathetic look on his face.
“Tell me, Johannes, what happened to Miriam?” I whisper. I can barely speak through my pain.
“Well she lost a lot of blood, but we were able to heal her wounds fairly easily,” he says. He sounds so far away, I can barely hear him. “...but the real problem was her transformation. The alchemists here were shocked she could control the curse so well. They said that it shouldn’t be possible. The stress caused her body to go into shock. They had to place her under a coma.”
I glance over. “How long will she be asleep?” I ask.
He looks away. “Her wounds and age caused her body to receive a lot more stress than usual,” he comments.
Why is he avoiding the question?
“Johannes, when will she wake up?” I repeat, my voice harsher.
“She will sleep for ten years,” he says, his voice very solemn.
Ten years! I can barely believe it. In one night, my entire world is taken from me. Miriam has always been like a little sister to me. I can’t believe that we will be apart for ten years. By the time she wakes, she will be an adult. Her childhood ripped from her, all in a night.
“Well, why are you here?” I shout. “Are you just here to give me bad news, or are you here to tell me that you were right about leaving the orphanage?”
Johannes seems a little taken aback. He regains his composure, and says, “I know you have been through a lot in the last 24 hours, and I can understand that you are angry, hurt, and incredibly sad, but I am your best friend, Gebel. I have always wanted you to be happy. I was never against everyone escaping. I just knew you would have it tough out there. I wanted to make sure that you were really determined to do anything to escape.”
Why did I say that to him? I know why he was hesitant about our leaving. He was scared about our living on the street. That outburst was very uncharacteristic of me.
Johannes continues. “I’m here to give you these.”
He opens a chest he was carrying, revealing two mechanical arms.
“These are prosthetics we have been developing with the help of a doctor. While some men were out retrieving the shipment of prosthetics, they spotted you and placed a tracker on you before returning to gather reinforcements. That’s how we were able to locate you. These prosthetics use magic stones to operate. They should be able to do everything a normal hand should do.” He attaches them to me and turns to head out.
“Thanks, Jojo. Hey, I’m sorry for my outburst. I know you’ve always cared for everyone at this orphanage. You are one of the few alchemists that does,” I say.
Johannes stops, the door halfway open. A dark shadow falls over his face as he begins to talk.
“There is something I’m not telling you. The alchemists suspect me of helping you and your family escape. They have forbidden me from ever contacting you or Miriam ever again. This is the last time we will meet.”
With that, he leaves, shutting the door behind him. The thud of the door echoes in my heart. I have now lost everything: my family and my best friend. There is nothing left for me.
“It is all those alchemists’ fault. If only they never existed, our family would still be alive!” a voice lightly comments.
“Who’s there?” I ask, uncertain.
“Just consider me your conscience, a friend of sorts.” The voice laughs. “But enough of that, I just had a great idea. Why don’t we kill all the alchemists? Then, our family can live in peace. We could take some land for ourselves and live peacefully with Miriam. I hear castles are pretty nice. Well, we have ten years to make our paradise. Why don’t we get to work?” my conscience asks with a honeyed voice.