Gilmour Academy Middle School
Instructor: Carmel Fantelli
Lose and Forever or Remain and Never
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Lose and Forever or Remain and Never
He was almost human, but not quite. He had a lanky body, like one of a teenage boy, but his ears ended in a sharp point and he had eyes like that of a deer: one pale green, the other white. His lengthy, bushy tail rested upon the ground; it was the same color as his white eye. His skin was off-white with an undertone of green, and his hair, the same color as his tail, was shoulder-length and blew in the gentle breeze. He wore a simple dark blue skirt that came to his knees, and his feet were bare against the lush grass. There was a long medallion adorned with feathers that hung from his neck. He was nothing like I had ever seen before, but he was indeed beautiful.
He smiled when he saw my eyes were open. He extended a clawed hand and I gingerly took it. He wrapped his hand around mine, careful not to scratch me, and pulled me up. He was a lot taller than I had expected, about 6' 4" while I was only 5' 10". He dropped my hand.
I looked around at where I was. I assumed the creature standing in front of me was from here, as he had similar colors. The land I was standing on was breath-taking. The ground was a deep, ocean blue and the sky was pale green. The waters were the clearest I had ever seen. There were plants that I could never have dreamed of in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. I was standing on a small island. I looked around and realized it was floating! So were all the other islands around the one I was on. They were all connected by large white vines. It definitely looked like you could get lost here.
I looked back at the creature standing before me with a small smile on my face. "Where are we?" I questioned, hoping he could speak English.
The creature smiled and replied, "We are in the Hollow World."
"The Hollow World?" I asked in return.
The creature nodded. "A world in which time doesn't exist, and neither does it."
I stood there for a moment, processing what he was saying. "Are you saying that the Hollow World doesn't exist?"
"It does and it doesn't," the creature replied simply, like that was a normal thing for someone to say.
I decided not to ask anymore questions about the Hollow World, for I found it too confusing. "So, what are you?" I asked instead.
"Me?" The creature pointed at himself and I nodded. "I am a Hollow Dream, and my name is Phantasy, but with a 'ph' not an 'f'".
"Nice to meet you Phantasy, my name is Kareem."
Phantasy smiled, "Such a pretty name!"
I smiled back at him.
"Now, come with me, it's eating time!" He spoke in a sing-songy voice. He carefully grabbed my hand again and led me through a dense forest into a large clearing. There was a large wooden building built out of the purple and blue trees from the forest. I gathered that this was a restaurant of sorts.
We went inside. Despite the large size of the building, it was quite cozy. There were many different types of creatures here. All shapes and sizes, colors and demeanors. And everyone seemed to be getting along. It was lovely here. And the food was quite good too, I might add. Phantasy had a sandwich and I had a soup. It was soup like I had never tasted before. The flavors were forgein to me but amazing nonetheless.
Afterwards, we headed to a glittering lake. It was in another clearing of the same forest. The lake was crystal clear, reflecting the green and gold colors of the setting sun. On the other side of the lake, there was a rock formation shaped like a wolf, crane, and bunny sitting together, not one trying to hurt another. I asked Phantasy if it meant anything.
"It was naturally created," he started, "but we found it looked like a wolf, crane, and bunny sitting in peace. That's why we called this lake 'The Glimmers of Peace.' The lake always glimmers, light or dark, and we believe the animals, predator and prey, sitting together, not harming one another symbolizes peace among all kinds." He looked at the rock formation with calm and content eyes.
"That is wonderful," I whispered.
He nodded. "There is a legend that says those animals founded this world. They came from the Human world looking for a place where they could all be at peace together, with no need to hurt one another. It was said they found ways to use plants from here to create foods they would all eat and enjoy. It is legend that those foods they first made had a special force to them, created because they were at peace with one another. That force is said to have transformed them into the three main Tribes that live here today. It is said that the final resting place of the original animals was here, and that is when the statue was created."
"That is such a beautiful legend, I sure do hope that is true," I replied, smiling at the animals.
Phantasy looked at me, smiled, and nodded.
After a minute, he spoke again, "There is another part of the legend, but not many know of it. It is said that these animals gave a gift to this world's inhabitants. The gift was that those who have found true peace shall successfully help one Human find their way when they are lost; and that Human that they fully and truly help, is said to be their soulmate."
I looked over at him; he was staring back. His eyes said he wasn't telling the entire part of this section of the legend, but I wasn't going to push him. When he realized I had seen him staring, he quickly turned his attention back to the statute, a light blush dusting his face.
We sat on the bank of the lake talking into the late hours of the night. At some point I must have fallen asleep, because when I woke I was lying on a warm bed in what I assumed was Phantasy's house.
I don't know how long I was in the Hollow World, but I'm sure it was quite a long time. But since time doesn't exist there, they have no clocks, calendars, or anything of the sort. Phantasy and I loved being in one another's company. We went on daily adventures, exploring many fun islands full of beautiful surprises. I had finally found a friend that wasn't fake, and I was so happy. We would stay out all day.
Phantasy taught me a lot too. He taught me his native tongue called "Daydream Hollow," survival skills like how to make food and tell what water was safe to drink, and how to have fun in life again, along with many other things. Life was finally looking up for me; maybe it finally chose me to live happily and fully. Maybe this time was my time.
It was late evening. We sat down at the edge of one of the islands, legs dangling off, hands intertwined. Phantasy looked at me with happy but sad eyes. He rested his eyes out on the fading sunset. I never quite figured out where their green and gold sun went, seeing as the islands were floating and I could see under them.
After a minute of silence, Phantasy spoke, "Have you ever wondered how you ended up here, in the Hollow World?"
"No," I replied softly.
"You lost your way. Back in your Human world, you were struggling. Struggling with school, friends, and life in general. That's how you ended up here. Humans only end up in the Hollow World when they lose their way. The Hollow World is a place of loss, but it's also where you find your way. And now you have found your way again. You are happy again. And now you can finally return home."
I looked over at Phantasy in shock. His eyes were sad.
He used his unoccupied hand to stand up, bringing me with him. He took my other hand in his.
"But, I don't want to leave you," I whispered, tears filling my eyes.
"Neither do I, but—" he started, however, I cut him off.
"That's great! Then I can stay!" My hopeful smile faltered when I saw Phantasy still with that sad look in his eyes.
"That's not how it works, Kareem." He shook his head slowly and looked down, then back at me, tears filling his eyes as well. "As I told you when you first got here, this place is real and it isn't."
"But I don't understand, a place can't be real and not real at the same time."
He shook his head again. "It's too hard to explain. But it is your time to go, Kareem."
Tears fell from my eyes. Phantasy wiped them from my face with the tip of his claw. I pulled him into a tight hug. He set his head on top of mine. We stayed like that for a minute, then he pulled away. He took my left hand and put something in it, then closed my hand around it. He dropped my hand, putting his behind his back. I could see his tail drooping, I knew he was truly sad too.
He whispered the words, "It's time for you to go."
I felt a white mist surround me. I looked down and saw my hands starting to fade. I was really going back. "I'll never forget you," he whispered.
"And neither will I," I replied, squeezing whatever he had given me.
The mist was making me disappear faster.
The final words Phantasy spoke to me was, "Remember this Kareem, sometimes you need to get lost to be found." He smiled a saddened smile as he spoke. Then my vision went black.
I open my eyes to see a familiar but distance-seeming room. "Huh? Where am I?" I ask to the empty room. My eyes fully adjust and I realize I'm in my room, my same old room. It is still filthy, just like it has always been.
But was that real? I asked myself silently. I shift onto my back and feel something move in my hand. I open my hand to find a note wrapped around a Hollow Berry, my favorite kind of Hollow Fruit I tried. I smile to myself, it was real.
I slowly opened the note. It read:
If you are ever at a special lake, at the last light of day, surrounded by a forest covered in a light mist, look into the woods. If you see a flash of off-white skin with an undertone of green and the tip of a bushy white tail, say my name and I will know it's you.- —- ~ Phantasy
Five Years Later
I sat by a shining lake with the orange and pink sunset reflecting in the water. There was a beautiful forest around me, and it was covered in a light mist. It was even more beautiful because it was autumn. After leaving the Hollow World, I had learned to appreciate and admire nature. This forest was one of my most recent discoveries; roaming underneath the bare branches of the trees, I stumbled upon this lake.
I reached into my coat pocket where I had the note and Hollow Berry Phantasy had given me five years ago. I couldn't believe it had been that long. I looked across the lake to see a rock formation that seemed oddly familiar. That's when I realized this pond looked exactly like the one Phantasy had taken me to.
I gasped in shock. Could this be the "special lake" Phantasy was talking about? Out of the corner of my eye I saw a glimpse of a tip of a bushy white tail. I got up and ran into the woods. There, standing behind a large oak tree, was Phantasy.
"Phantasy," I breathed. He opened his arms and I ran into his embrace. He was gentle with his claws, as he had always been.We both started crying.
"I can't believe it's really you!" I cried.
"Me either," Phantasy replied. "I'm sorry it has taken me so long."
"Why did it take you so long?" I looked up at him.
"Because, I was lost. I lost myself. Some… tragic events happened after you found your way. And it made me lose mine. I thought creatures from the Hollow World couldn't truly lose themselves because the Hollow World is a world of loss. But it turns out we can, and it took me a while, but I finally found my way back to me, to my life, to you. I knew one day I would come back to you. I knew one day I would realize you, Kareem, are my soulmate."
I hugged Phantasy tighter, my cheeks turning a light shade of pink. "And are you going to stay?"
"Yes," he replied simply, "forever and ever."