Writing Catalog

Jannah Kazmi

Grade: 9

Laurel School

Instructor: Kate Webb

The Village I Couldn't Escape

Short Story

The Village I Couldn't Escape

I load the last box into my car and sigh. I look back at my house with a feeling of slight despair, but then remember what to look forward to. This is a new start for you, Angelina. I keep telling myself this, and it's true. With that thought, I shut the trunk, sit in the driver's seat, and drive away without looking back.

It's been a few hours on the road now, the sun no longer in sight. It brings a warm breeze through my window, different from the heat of the summer sun blazing all day. Yet, there's still no place to stay as far as I have gone. Not that I expected there to be- it seems like I'll be sleeping in my car for a while. I park on the side of the road, and the dry ground looks like it hasn't seen rain in months. I recline my seat and try to make it as comfortable as possible, so I also get up to take a blanket out of my trunk. My truck beeping sounds loud compared to the quietness of this empty desert, it being the only sound for miles. I get back into my seat and lay down. I shut my eyes and as I fall asleep, I hope that life will get better from here.

When I wake up, I sit up and decide to search for a place to stay. I can't live like this forever. I drive around until I see the "check engine" light come on. Oh no. Something's wrong with my battery. I need to find someone to help me. Lucky for me, my phone isn't working either. I get frustrated at the ground that stretches for miles and miles. There's not a single place in sight, let alone a gas station. I look around more but still see nothing. Until I spot smoke in the distance.

I pray that my car lasts long enough to get me towards the smoke. Where there's smoke there's fire- and someone could have started the fire. I get closer and closer until I finally arrive. The smoke is in something that looks like a crater, and I get out of my car to find the source of the smoke. I step into the shallow crater and see something I didn't expect to see. A village.

There are large white tents , pots, fire, and most importantly, people. I don't even have time to wonder who these people are or if they will even agree to helping me, but it's really my only option. I spot a middle-aged woman wearing a flowy, vibrant green dress walking on the outskirts of the crater and decide to ask her for help.

"Excuse me?" I ask.

The woman looks at me with a dazed expression and says, "Yes?"

"I was wondering if you could help me. My car broke down over there," I say pointing to my car.

"Of course." The woman says smiling. "Follow me."

I follow the woman and try not to think too much about all the stares I am receiving. We finally reach a tent, the biggest one at the head of the village. The woman opens the tent flap and nods towards it, indicating for me to step inside. I thank her and continue walking towards the center of the tent a bit hesitant. I examine the tent, dozens of designs cover it. It's cozy, exactly like a house, just in a tent. I walk around and touch the designs, observing them.

"Do you like the designs?" A voice behind me asks.

I get startled and turn around. I see a friendly looking man smiling at me. He is an older man, dressed in a colorful, bright material and has a big white beard. I figure that he is the owner of the tent, the village leader.

"Yes, they're very pretty," I respond.

He nods, still smiling and says, "So tell me about yourself."

I don't really know where to start but I say, "Of course. My name is Angelina, and I have just moved. I am so sorry to intrude on your village, but you see, my car broke down. I was wondering if you could help me somehow, then I'll be on my way."

He laughs which surprises me and says, "It would be our pleasure to help you. But it may take a while. We would love to have you stay here though. There are many guest houses I would be more than happy to lend you. I hope you will accept our offer, stay as long as you need."

I don't know how to respond, although it is obvious I need somewhere to stay, and this man is offering me exactly that. "I don't want to be a burden," I say.

"Nonsense!" he laughs. "Come. I will show you to your room and why don't I get someone to help you around?"

He opens the tent flap and indicates for me to walk outside. I pass him and he joins me outside.

"That sounds lovely. Thank you so much. What would you like me to call you?," I say.

"Just Amos is fine," he says.

I nod and continue walking, following Amos.

"Here is where you can stay," Amos says while leading me into a cozy tent.

I feel at home, the fireplace radiating warmth throughout the tent. It wasn't too far from Amos' tent, and it's close to the center of the village. He says it's just in case I ever need anything, there's sure to be many people around.

"Thank you so much for everything" I say.

"Of course," he says with a cheery smile. "One more thing," he continues, "I have chosen your host for you. Her name is Cassandra. I think you both will get along very well, and she will be able to help you with whatever you may need."

With that, a woman who looks like she is my age walks into my tent. She has short black hair, and looks like she would rather be anywhere than here.

"Hi," I say with a warm smile on my face. I reach my hand out to hers, excited to learn more about this village. The girl—Cassandra—slowly looks me up and down, her hands still folded. I drop my hand and see Amos narrow his eyes at her.

"Remember what we talked about Cassandra" he says. With that, he slightly turns towards me again and smiles. "Enjoy your stay. We have snacks and clothes placed in your room for you. If you need anything, just let someone know. Cassandra will show you around after you join us for dinner".

I nod and smile as Cassandra and Amos turn and walk away.

After getting ready for dinner, I follow some directions on a note that was left in my room to head to where dinner is. The note just looks like a map with arrows pointing to where I should walk towards. It is written in very neat handwriting, and I notice that throughout my time here, lots of the villagers have similar, neat handwriting. Once I reach where the directions say dinner will take place, I see an open area with logs to sit on in a circle and a glowing fire in the middle. Some people are already seated and children are playing tag behind the logs. The women are chattering among one another and the men are all laughing at a joke someone just made. In short, everyone looks happy. I smile at the scene and realize how lucky I was to stumble across this village who accepted me so humbly. With that thought, I see Amos walking towards the fire accompanied by Cassandra. I don't know how to feel about her, but I hope we end up getting along. She is my host after all, and I'd like to have a close friend to talk to here. Amos and Cassandra finally reach where we all are and Amos stands towards the center of the logs so that everyone can see him while Cassandra takes a seat on one of the vacant logs.

Amos clears his throat and announces, "Hello everyone! Glad to see you all here, and I hope you enjoy dinner. But before this, I have a quick announcement. As some of you may have noticed, we have a new visitor, Angelina" he says pointing to me. "I hope everyone will treat her kindly and help her with whatever she needs," he finishes.

He then smiles at me and I smile back towards him and the people.

After this, everyone gets up to get dinner and a drink that looks delicious. It seems like a lot of people are getting soup, bread, and the drink is a light pink. I get exactly that and sit down on the same log as Cassandra. I begin eating my food and sipping on my drink when I ask Cassandra, "How long have you been living here?"

She doesn't look at me, instead looking straight forwards and slowly chewing on her bread, gazing at the fire.

I wait a few more seconds until she says, "A few years" without making any eye contact. With that, she goes back to chewing on her bread.

"Oh, well then you're very lucky" I say. She doesn't respond, but a minute or so later she says, "Why are you here anyways? You couldn't have gone anywhere else? We don't need people like you coming here, I'm sure we can suffice" she says harshly.

"I won't be here long. I'm just waiting to get on the road" I respond. We both then sit in silence and finish our food and drinks. After dinner, I get up, head back to my tent, and get ready for bed. I try to go to bed, but Cassandra and I's conversation continues to replay in my head, keeping me awake. After some time, I finally feel myself falling asleep.

My next few days carried on perfectly, each one better than the last. Amos has shown me around the village more and familiarized me with some of the village people while he tells me my car is being fixed. They all seem very friendly, except for Cassandra. She still doesn't like me and happily tells me that I will never be anything like her. She doesn't hesitate to explain that she and the village are all better than me, but I don't take this personally. I barely even remember my car anymore, and no one has reminded me. Everyone treats me like I'm one of their own, and addresses me like I will be staying here forever. They plan things weeks in advance, making me even more forgetful that my stay is supposed to last a few days. Things are pleasant now though, and I'm happy to keep it like that.

We have done some fun things over the past week. Amos showed me nice places the villagers go to relax. On the way back, I spot some large cars and ask him what they are for. He tells me that they are just for the leadership, in case anyone ever needs to go somewhere with them. He also mentions that the keys are in his tent so that I would know where to find them if I ever wanted to go anywhere. But where would I ever even want or need to go? I thank him and we continue walking. Interestingly enough, I find that I have gotten fairly addicted to the drink they serve. I'm not quite sure what they call it, but it's very refreshing. I drink lots of it in a day since this drink is the primary one. It is light pink and tastes and smells like strawberries. Its coolness brings refreshment to the warm days here and if you look closely enough, you can see little strawberry seeds. I have also helped cook some of the food with the women and watched over the children which was a delight.

Some time has passed now, but I'm not quite sure exactly how much. I'm assuming a few days though. It is night time now and dinner has just finished. I walk back to my tent a week later and get ready for bed. I smile and reflect on how lucky I am to be here. In fact- I can't even remember a time I wasn't here. When I am ready to fall asleep, I lay down and shut my lights off. A few minutes later, I hear some soft footsteps outside of my tent, it sounds like multiple people. I get up, walking towards the tent flap to see who it is. No one is usually walking around at this time. I am about to open the flap until I hear a voice say, "Quiet. She'll hear you."

As soon as I hear the voice, I recognize it.


Are they talking about me? I want to hear who the other voice belongs to, but it is hard to hear them when they're talking so quietly. I sit down and open the bottom of the flap just a little bit. As I thought, I see Amos who looks… mad? I look to the right and see the other person. Cassandra. Her arms are crossed, her brows furrowed, and her whole body is tense. I slowly shut my tent flap, it won't help me hear better, it'll just be easier for me to get caught.

After I shut the flap, I press my ear to it so that I can catch what they are saying.

"I've had enough of this. If I could leave, I would have a long time ago. Why are you even doing this? To these people who did nothing to you? And now you're just adding one more person to that list," Cassandra says.

Amos sternly tells her to lower her voice. "Quiet. You are going to wake her. You know exactly why we are doing this. We are fixing humanity! We are making a change for the better. These people just don't realize it. Angelina's process is almost done, she will be one of us soon," he says.

Cassandra chuckles, "So now you're going to try to convince me that you're doing a favor for these people? Stop giving them the drink. You can stop now, Angelina hasn't fully changed yet. I can't keep going like this, I don't want to be hosting her just to watch her become someone else in a matter of a week".

Cassandra then storms away and I slightly lift the tent flap again just to see their shoes. I see Cassandra's in the distance enter her tent and Amos walking toward where dinner was. Toward someone cleaning up the dinner plates, socializing. I start panicking and wonder what to do. I recall Cassandra talking about the drink. 'Me in a process? What kind of a process is this?' I think to myself. I don't really know what to do, except that I need to get out of here. Now.

I put on a giant coat, one that covers my entire body, making me unnoticeable. I remember the cars that Amos said were for the leaders of the village and where the keys were. All I had to do was get the keys, find a car to leave in, and make sure not to drink any of that drink they've been giving me. I see Amos laughing with the person he was with a bit ago. They are sitting down and eating, most likely to not get up for a while. I take the opportunity to run to his tent. There, I find a small table with many little things on it. I try not to leave a trace that I was here, and when I find the keys I feel great relief wash over me. I can't get too excited though. Every single little sound that I hear makes me nervous. I drop the keys into a pocket in my jacket, and look both ways outside of the tent to make sure no one is approaching. I am almost giddy with excitement, everything is going well so far, and I have basically escaped already. I then make a run for it, rushing towards the cars.

The key must only work on one of the cars, so I try the first one and it doesn't work. I try the second one, which doesn't work either. I know that the keys have to work on one of these though, I'm so close to getting out of here. I just have to find the right car. Suddenly, I hear footsteps approaching, so I run in front of one of the cars. The footsteps come closer and closer until they stop by me. My heart is racing as fast as a horse and I try to hold my uneven breaths.

"Angelina," A voice says. "I know you're here. There's no use hiding," Amos' voice says.

I leap out of my hiding spot and try the third car- doesn't work. Fourth car- doesn't work. Fifth car- doesn't work. I feel dizzy and snap around to see Amos standing calmly with a smile on his face.

"You don't really believe that I would just tell you where the keys to these cars were, now would you? I can't make it that easy for people to escape. Think about it, Angelina, you could have been so happy here. You just had to ruin it for yourself."

I start crying and screaming. I need to get out of here somehow, but there's no way to. I get more and more dizzy, and finally faint to seeing Amos looking down on me, smiling widely.

I wake up in my bed, ready for the day. Amos tells me someone wants to meet me, and is waiting on the border of the village for me. I walk there and see a young man standing there.

"Hi. I don't mean to cause any trouble, but my car broke down and I was wondering if you could help me," he says. I look at him and smile. "Of course."