F r e e
by Kade Hyde
Light pierced the room, ending his dream. Stirring, he stroked his pointed ears. Another day. As he looked in the pool of water, he saw his face. A light brown, with a slight red tinge. Perfect.
Striding out the door, he waved to Tuke, his neighbor. “Hello! How are you this morning?” “Fine thank you”, he replied, forcing a smile.
An arrow landed at his feet. And there she was. Walking towards him with a smile on her face, just like every other day. “Hi Nokk!”, she exclaimed, full of energy. Despite her warm intentions, the name hit him like an ice shard, for it was one that he wasn’t familiar with. “Hey Ala,” he spoke, “have you ever felt like you don’t belong here?” He wondered if anyone else knew how he felt.
She looked up, surprised. “Of course not! In fact, you were the one who helped me realise my purpose here. Being an archer! She withdrew the quiver from her bow and released an arrow, managing to scare his parents Porco and Iglia leaning nearby.
“Nokk!” A shriveled crone’s screech broke his peace.
“Hello Chrona.” Her expression immediately turned sour. “Is that all you give me? After all I have done for you?” “I created you from the decaying body of the fletcher, bound you together with the darkest of magic and gave you the heart of my grand-daughter. Yet you are not the slightest bit grateful.”
She smacked him with the stick, before cleaning over and whispering in his ear “Remember your purpose. What you are, or you know what happens.”
She held a vial close to him and he was overcome by fear. It was the same one that brought him to life, but could also end it.
“Yes … Master.”
That evening, they lay on the shore. He stared into the sea. He longed to ride the waves, living by his own rules.
“So Nokk,” Ala whispered next to him, edging closer. “Are you …”
“It’s a lie.”, he interrupted.
“What do …”
“I was engineered by your grandmother to be yours. But I am just a clone of the man you loved.
As the truth dawned on her, her eyes became emotionless. “Nokk …” she started.
“I’m not Nokk!”
He watched her wither and as he leant to comfort her, she smacked his hand away.
“Look at you. Pitiful.” He turned to see Chrona, with a vial in her hand. “You have only let my granddaughter down, for you are a failed experiment.”
“Don’t worry Ala. Granny will revive you.” She threw the vial towards them. Ala tried to move in front of him as a shield, but was knocked to the side by the force of his body on its way to meet the vial.
It shattered against his body, spreading like a disease. As it soaked into his shirt, he awaited the end. Nothing.
“Impossible!” the crone screeched, “Drat! I hit you with snake oil!”. She clawed her robe for another potion, but one of her fine ornaments came crashing into her, swiftly delivered by Ala.
As Chrona started to move, he saw the robe stained by the real vial.
“YOU UNGRATEFUL, DIRTY FOOL! SHE WOULD NEVER HAVE FOUND OUT AND YOU COULD HAVE LIVED IN HAPPINESS! YOU ARE JUST AN IMITATION, DESTINED TO REPLACE.”
Her body was now rapidly deteriorating. She glanced at him with a cruel smile. “You will never be him.”
Then there was nothing until a sneeze broke the silence. “Sorry- dust allergy,” Ala said timidly.
He stared at her. “She was right.”
“That’s not true! You’re still the Nokk I know and love.” She looked at him desperately.
“No.” As he spoke his next words, he found confidence. “I’m sorry, but the Nokk you knew is gone,” he said as his voice broke, “and no matter how hard I try, I know that I can’t be him.”
Tears formed in Ala’s eyes and part of him wanted to go back on everything he had just said, but he knew he was doing the right thing.
“I may be his clone…” He stared out at the horizon, “but I am my own person and my purpose belongs elsewhere.”
Finally, she looked up with melancholic eyes. “I understand. I am sorry -whoever you are.” She proceeded to limp away, leaving him alone in silence.
The next morning, he looked back at the fading shore. His farewell party were now like ants to him. Porco, Iglia, Ala and even Tuke had come to see him off. He saw Ala’s once nocked arrow as it soared towards him and fixed on the mast. He untied the note attached to it. “Don’t ever look back.”
As he turned towards the rising sun, he saw a new day breaking.