Winner of the December 2017 Writing Contest!
This contest is now closed to submissions!
The prompt for this contest has been...
Holiday season is a time of family, love, and stress. Come up with an original idea for a small-town holiday, and write its story.
And the first-place winner is...
Leticia Toraci with "The Day of Flying"
Leticia surprised us with an original holiday under unusual circumstances. It’s certainly a reason to celebrate! Well done, Leticia, and happy Day of Flying, everyone!
Read the winning entry below.
The Day of Flying
By Leticia Toraci
Luz woke up and sat in her cell and examined all the grey hues around her, deciding for the hundredth time that she hated that empty colour. Perhaps the hooded jailers thought the absence of red, orange and yellow make the prisoners quieter. Whatever, Luz thought, I hate them. I hate everything about them, even if they mean well. She hated them ever since they had come and arrested all the humans on Earth and put them in grey cells. As far as she knew this was all they had done. The other beings of the planet had all been left in peace and probably were even happier after the imprisonment of the unbalanced sentient beings.
True, civilization was falling apart. People were even crazier than usual, wars raged; it was like a confused end of times only that there was no redemption or closure. Everybody had lost their minds. Including Luz. She’d also gone through it, her emotions speeding through her soul like wrecking balls against the building of her mind. She felt her brain unfolding, the orderly and fragile origami star of her reasoning turning into a shapeless, crumpled paper sheet. What was she supposed to do with all the new pathways? How could she ever feel steady again?
She was lying on the floor looking at nowhere, colours raging through her mind, when the darkly cloaked aliens, from which no face or body could be seen, arrived. One of them took her to a cell where she received intravenous feeding until she was strong enough to stand and go to the prison’s cafeteria.
The other prisoners had told her that the silent aliens had sat around watching the shaken humans wriggling on the floor like worms surfacing after the rain. They had taken each person to an individual cell with a window through which they could see the prison camp. So we could acknowledge our utter defeat every day. Luz thought. Meanwhile, the humans had been unable to do anything against their imprisonment, and the cloaked shadows had conquered Earth without any resistance.
Luz could not remember how the aliens had built the prisons. The whole shift from collapsing civilization to prison camp had been a blur; she had watched powerless and shaken throughout it. It was so easy for them to imprison us. If only I could hurt one of them, force one of them to answer my questions… What hurt her the most was having no answers. The aliens had not told her anything, and she doubted anyone understood their reasons.
The only thing they knew was that the aliens didn’t want them dead. The prisoners had food and water. Violence had stopped. Since they were separated into individual cells there was no chance they would kill each other. They could leave their cells twice a day as long as they didn’t fight. Those who did fight were isolated for long periods. There was peace, but no freedom. Luz wondered if she would have preferred chaos to this suffocating prison. She was in doubt though. No being on Earth could do so much damage as deranged humans.
Some prisoners would shout and offend the jailers. They took away the ones who were too violent. She wouldn’t see them again. Some would cry and beg for an explanation from their silent jailers only to be put to sleep by the alien’s mental powers. Luz had experienced that. She had been upset at the alien who had taken her pain away. She had tried to cry, give my pain back, but couldn’t. She had shouted and lunged at the alien only to feel a cool soothing hand on her face. Then she fell asleep.
The jailers moved like shadows through the prison corridors, not making a sound. They were infallible. There were no escapes from the prison, only The Day of Flying.
The ones who survived it called it “The Day of Flying”. The silent jailers would walk with a crowd of prisoners to a green field south of the prison walls, far enough so the remaining prisoners could not see the departing crowd from their windows or see what would happen to them.
Luz had heard that on this day all humans would just stand in the field like a flock of sheep looking at the blue sky and open space they didn’t see the rest of the year. The silent dark cloaked aliens would form a circle, stand guard around the crowd, and observe the humans. The strangest of all was that on this day the humans wouldn’t try to escape. The few humans who had returned from this had told her that they had felt something going through them that made them happy. They fell unconscious and when they awakened most of the other prisoners had left the field. There were no bodies or any other sign that the aliens had killed them and they themselves felt nothing was amiss.
When these humans were taken back to prison, they told the strangest stories. That they had seen the most amazing things and couldn’t wait until the next year when the jailers would take them to that place again. They would have tears in their eyes and would never shout and rebel again. From the first time they were taken all they did was remember that day and wait for the next one the following year. They didn’t care that the other prisoners had disappeared.
Luz knew better and she, like the rest of the prison inhabitants thought the survivors went insane during whatever happened in The Day of Flying. You had to be insane to smile all the time in a place like this, and this is what the prisoners who stayed did. They daydreamed and looked at everybody in a loving way. They were crazy. She would never go to that field; she would kill herself and some of the jailers before she would allow them to take her there.
Many failed escape attempts later, The Day of Flying arrived. A group of jailers came for her. They knew she would fight. This was the first time she heard her jailer. It sent her a thought: Let it go.
“Never!” Luz shouted. “Do you think you can just come here, put us in a prison, and turn us into something tame? I hate you, and I’ll fight you forever. I’ll never let it go.”
Then she thought she could see her jailer shining under its long dark cloak, there was light under its heavy dark cape, a face under the hood. So free, it thought.
“I’m not free thanks to you, you freaking shadows,” Luz shouted, and then fell unconscious.
Luz woke up under the blue sky in a crowd of humans that stared in fear at the aliens surrounding them. She was getting ready to run, to make a desperate attempt to break free, when she felt it. The energy going through the marrow of her bones, through every cell of her body. The others also felt the energy wave going through them, unlocking something deep inside them, finishing what they felt had started before the aliens had arrived and everything had changed. For some of the prisoners, the energy wave was too much. They couldn’t absorb all of it and fell to the floor unconscious. The others embraced it.
She remembered her place in the universe. She remembered how to turn energy into matter, all the energy cycles that moved through the dimensions. It felt intuitive, like the cycle of steam that condensed in the clouds. She felt the energy going through her and with it, she could manifest anything. She could have manifested monsters to kill the prison jailers, only she didn’t wish to do that. She felt gratitude towards the universe. She felt filled with joy. She created flowers. She searched for all the possible colours in her heart.
“What will happen to the fallen prisoners?” Luz asked.
The other transitioning humans did not answer, but she received a thought coming from the alien circle around them. We will give them other chances to go. The prison, the lonely cells, the absence of colours, it’s all done so the prisoners hold to their wish for freedom even more fiercely, so they go beyond physicality. However, some humans are not yet ready to let go and find this new state of ultimate freedom, they prefer to stay in physical form a while longer. These ones will help us to assist the ones who are going.
Luz looked at the aliens. Under their long dark cloaks, her former jailers looked like a circle of individual golden lights. She now knew they weren’t her enemies. “Thank you. I won’t look back in anger.” Then she turned away from her jailers. Let go. She could now fly so she inspired, absorbing the energy around her, raised her arms, and changed from a human into an ethereal bird made of energy. She flew towards the others who now changed too and laughed, all unresolved conflicts gone from their thoughts, each of them now filled with golden light.
They ran towards the horizon, at the start still heavy clumsy swans preparing to fly, but soon lighter with all the happiness they received from each other.
Lighter and lighter, until they became golden lights.
Flying in the dark vastness of space.