The Stone Call
Author: Stephanie Bretherton

Chapter 1
The Paradox

10.34pm.
Bragverla.

I jumped out of the hollow I had made in the time warp from the castle and found myself in pitch-black darkness. Behind me, I could hear the shrieks of Ozzarath’s despair as I escaped his grasp. Luckily for me, I had disappeared in Time before he could say, ‘you sneaky cow’. I heard something zoom past before the vortex closed, and the clutter of metal on some hard surface.
I do not think lighting a candle will help me much in this place. It seems familiar, almost like the place where I saw the element girls, but it feels neither cold nor hot. I do not know what time I am in or anything. They did warn me that this kind of magic was dangerous, but how was I supposed to save him without using it? To me it was a last resort; I could not live with myself if anything had happened to my best friend.
I shook my long blonde hair from my eyes and tried to breathe calmly and remember what to do next. I was still wearing the yellow dress from the day before, but it was frayed and dirty. I hoped the Princess would not mind if it was ruined. It was such a pretty dress…
“Walk towards the light,” a booming voice suddenly said, “Walk towards the light…”
The darkness, which was as black as night, burst into an opening of blinding white light, taking the form of a doorway in front of my very eyes, making me gasp in alarm.
“Walk towards the light…” it said again, almost urgently.
The light seemed so pure and innocent to me, but there seemed to be a sense of mystery drifting from the darkness that consumed me. I wondered what this meant. Is it a sign? Should I go through? I have no idea where I am, or when I am for that matter, I was irrevocably lost. The darkness began closing in on me, and I began feeling claustrophobic. Against my better will, I instinctly decided to step through this gate of light.
“I wonder if this is death…” I said to myself aloud. “It’s sort of like when people see a tunnel of light, maybe, like them, I’m not supposed to die yet… did he kill me? It was painless enough, but it could have been the magic. I guess it was too strong for me after all.” I was floating, unable to move my body, but I can hear my thoughts so clearly, maybe I have passed on, I‘ll never see anyone again, Aeridel, my aunt, my school, even Tim… But then I, for I couldn’t think of another word, landed.

~X~

It seemed that I was in the same never-ending space as before, but the darkness was gone and only white light surrounded me. Instead of no sense of feeling, I felt great warmth and euphoria, as though the place was breathing with life.
“Who was talking to me before?” I said to myself looking around for anybody. There was none. Was it my imagination?
My words echoed in the place that reflected from anywhere and yet nowhere at once. Then, something seemed to change. It was as though the atmosphere was being sucked into a single point in front of me. I held my hair in place as I saw a person materialize before my eyes. It was my best friend, but transparent! Oh no, he had died too, he’s become a ghost… Yet he was staring placently at me, with no emotion and never moving from his spot. I watched with disbelief, believing he was dead, when I went over to touch him, I felt only air. I began to get upset, he was dead after all, and there was nothing I could do… But then, wouldn’t he have been cold, like in those rumours from my world?
The spirit pointed his hand to my left, and began to walk past me. I followed, having no idea where we were going, my eyes burning and I struggled to see properly as tears filled my eyes, he must be taking me to the afterlife for sure. Then, I saw a white door appear from nowhere. The ghost stopped and a voice echoed,
“I am not dead; you still have a chance…”
“But… how?” I replied, wiping my eyes with mild relief.
“Go through the door, and you shall return to the past. Focus on when you want to go.”
“When?” I asked, confused.
“Yes.” He said.
“So, are you my guide to the past and to the future? You aren’t my friend after all?”
“I am your strongest memory. Time has created me to help you on your way through the travelling process.”
“Well, okay, thank you, for all your help.”
He bowed down at me silently. I began to walk to the door, with one turn, and a simple click that echoed the place; I opened the door to the past. I focused on the time before I arrived at my prison, and stepped through.

~X~

The door led me into a strange medieval room, full of dirty shoddy books and cobwebbed walls.
The walls were made of stone, almost brand new in spite of the dust that had settled. It felt like there was something heavy sitting on top of the castle, as though it was trapped. Magic?
I recognize this place… she thought, I am in the Castle of Morscalfe! It worked! I hope the castle would stay standing forever, but it seemed that the magic that was holding it together was failing; the Castle was losing its life, and all of its beauty with it.
I coughed, the dust choking the little air I have left to breathe in the extremely musty storage room. Panting, I open the nearest window. Maybe it has to do with the key stone…
A scene of sinister magnificence lay in front of me. Everywhere I looked was like a haunted graveyard. Eerie darkness and a blood-red mist hung in the air that felt as cold and as bare as stone. The trees were bare and skeletal, empty of leaves and dead of age, and on the hill over the horizon, the tombstone of an angel, praying to the skies in the hopes of peace reigning over this world.
“What a dismal sight. Is this an illusion? Because Bragverla didn’t look like this before,” I said aloud, turning as my sparkling blue eyes could not bear to see the dreaded world outside the window. It was shocking.
I turned again and saw instead of the horror; I saw a peaceful night sky and green fields. “Did I just see the future? I must stop this from happening…” I turned away and began to make for the door. There was a spiral of stairs and I quickly ran down them, almost tripping on the skirt of my dress. I looked through the door and saw the throne room.
I waited; I could hear my past self talking to Ozzarath. Who knew that he would throw a dagger at me just before I disappeared into the vortex? I barely escaped death. I thought I was too late and there was no pain because I had died instantly. Nevertheless, here I am. I must wait until I see my friend walk through and then save them as soon as I have disappeared. All I have to do is wait.

~X~


7:01am.
England.

The morning glow of an early Thursday shone through the curtains and onto a ruffled bed. The alarm clock sounded at ten minutes past seven, and Tim Pendle yawned.
A hand rose, and switched off the clock, which then rotated so he could see the time. After a pause, and a groan, Tim eventually pulled back the covers and sloped towards the window.
His room was your average 16-year old bedroom, posters of his favourite bands hung on the walls, clothes strewn all over the floor and the wardrobe doors wide open and messy inside. His television was covered in dust, and his controllers for his PlayStation 2 lay in a heap on the carpet. His CD rack and games pile were the only things that were organised; placed in alphabetical order.
His pride and joy.
His mirror was decorated with many photos of him and his best friend; one when they went to the park, another when they went bowling, and when he went on an Art trip with her to the Museum. They were stood in front of an abstract picture making silly faces and laughing.
His favourite picture was when they went to the beach during the summer holidays; his friend is doing a superman pose whilst balancing on one foot, and he was trying to lick his toes standing up.
It always made him feel better after he would have a bad day to just stare at the photo and let the memories come back to him.
His drawers hung open and were overflowing with socks. His uniform hung on a chair at his desk, which held a laptop and a couple of study books.
Pulling the curtains back, he could see the windows across the street with their curtains still drawn. The streets were always empty at around seven, not a single car would drive past until eight, when the school rush begins and they would use Travis Way as a shortcut to get to the local primary school.
The gardens were unnaturally tidy for this time of the year; at October, it was normally too cold to bother doing any gardening. Each house looked identical, white windows, red brickwork and the same blue door. The numbers were all painted gold.
He wished he was older, at least 18 years old because he would still being able to sleep without a worry about things like school.
Slowly, he began to change into his school uniform; sky-blue shirt, plain black pants, navy tie and his dusty grey jumper that scratched his skin when he moved. He sped down the stairs for a light breakfast.
As usual, neither his mum or his dad were present, as both had hectic but well paid jobs with early hours; his mum working in the office and his dad being a doctor.
Tim combed his jet-black hair with his fingers whilst making his toast.
The kitchen was very modern, with the best quality cooker, smooth, black surface tops and stylish cupboards. All the metal parts were painted silver, and the floor had black tiles.
It was considerably large compared to the other rooms, as the Pendle family used the kitchen the most. He sat down at the black shiny-looking breakfast bar and munched his toast, as he wiped the yellow-crusted sleep from his eyes.
There was nothing on his mind, this was a normal day in his life, but still he hoped at times that the days would be a little less dull.
His final piece of toast in his hand, he grabbed his bag from the hallway, which he packed the night before and silently walked to school alone.

~X~

Noise filtered the classroom, as the lesson began. The windows bleak and dull and the paint on the walls were beginning to crack.
Books were placed in random order on the shelves and old graded work was fading on the posters.
The chairs were prone to breaking, but the school funds could not buy any better ones, so loud creaks echoed around the room if you moved even an inch. The tables were covered in graffiti from past pupils writing love notes and things like;
‘Gazza is gay’, and, ‘R.E sucks’.
A few religious ornaments decorated some of the shelves. An old television stood decaying in the corner, not having been used throughout the term because there were no videos to play.
The teenage-filled chaos has always been a handful for the R.E teacher, Mr Higgins.
Instead of actually trying to teach the lesson, he merely wrote the instructions of work on the dirty whiteboard and hoped that some of the pupils would do some of it.
Some hope.
He sat down at his desk, making the chair sigh, and reached into his drawer for his favourite monthly issue of ‘Car-world’ magazine.
Tim was one of the few people who actually attempted the work; the only others were a bunch of geeky-looking pupils sat in the corner, ‘likely to be talking about dungeons and dragons’, he thought; and one of his closest friends who unfortunately sat on the opposite side of the room.
Her name was Bridget Barnsley.
She was not like the other girls. Practically all of them in the school wore make-up, got up at six o’clock in the morning to straighten their hair and remodelled their uniform, in the hopes that some guy would drool over the flash of bare skin.
Bridget did not care about how she looked; well only when she goes out for a special occasion at least.
Tim remembered when they went on another trip to the cinema. They were going to see a comedy film called ‘40 winks‘. Bridget had put on a little make-up and tied her long blonde hair into a ponytail. She had worn a silver sparkly top and a pair of black jeans with some small boots.
She had looked nice then, but he did not really get to see her much in the outfit seeing as they were in dark room watching the film. She did not say much to him, just kept her eyes on the large screen, captivated by the jokes and twists in the film.
The strange thing was that everybody liked her and respected her so in a way, she was one of the popular girls.
Tim was merely your average person, not well known but not totally extinct either, sitting comfortably in the middle of the so-called ‘popularity chain’.
She did not start off with many friends though, Tim only got to know her through a humanities school trip they went on together in Year 9, and he had had to sit next to her because the rest of the seats were full.
The first time he saw her, she was gazing out of the window in a dream-like state. Tim had to nudge her quite roughly so he could talk. He smiled as he remembered, gazing at her head.
Like him, Bridget had bright blue eyes, though hers had a tint of grey. Her hair was usually curly, but today it was straight for some strange reason.
She was just sat there, staring at the whiteboard. “She’s usually like this,” he thought, wondering what she was daydreaming about this time.
They had both finished the work on the board. He stared around the room for about a minute, and then quickly grew bored.
He ripped some paper out of his notebook, and wrote,


‘What r u up 2 @ lunchtime? So bored atm. Wb Tim x’


He folded the paper into a paper plane and threw it towards Bridget.
He heard the teacher mumble something that sounded like, “Don’t throw please”. He was too interested in his cars to care.
The plane landed lightly in front of Bridget, which awoke her from her trance.
She unravelled it with mild interest and read.
Pausing for a moment, she scribbled something down and threw it back to Tim.
She had replied,


‘Nothing much + so am I. Teacher is bothering me lol… Bridget x’.


Tim looked up in her direction after reading it, and saw her looking back, he smiled and she smiled in return. He wondered why, out of all of the people in the school, she chose to hang around with him and nobody else. She put her hand up and asked Mr. Higgins;
“Sir, I’m not feeling well, can I sit near the window?”
He nodded without looking up from his magazine, so she collected her bag and placed herself in the spare seat next to Tim, which ironically is next to the window.
“Hey, this lesson is the crappiest on our school timetable, I daydream the most here.”
He laughed and flipped over the piece of paper and began to draw a grid, placing a circle in one of the boxes and passing it over to Bridget.
“Ah, let the games begin,” she said with a smile.

~X~

The corridors of Wilbury High were cramped with a constant mingle of energetic youths, stomachs growling and eager noses following the scent of the hot, comforting food awaiting their drooling mouths in the kitchens.
Soon enough, the dining halls filled except for two; Tim and Bridget. To avoid the bustling corridors, they both walked towards the school playing fields.
A silent, welcoming breeze greeted them as they went towards their favourite spot; underneath the yew tree, which seemed to wave to them as they arrived.
It was a clear day, the sun shone brightly on the tree, protecting the two teenagers from the suns’ warm rays.
“What food have you got today?” Tim asked Bridget, leaning over to view the contents of her lunchbox.
“I’ve got… cheese sandwiches, yoghurt and an apple,” she replied, rummaging around, “Want to trade? I’m not in the mood for cheese today.”
“Why aren’t you in the mood?”
“I kept thinking about my parents during the lesson, it’s gotten me a bit down.”
“Hey, its fine,” reassured Tim, “You know they were nice people and they cared about you loads.”
“Yeah, but if only I had the time to get to know them…”
“Maybe you will,” said Tim, patting her shoulder.
“I’ll try Googling them again tonight.” she said thoughtfully.
They traded sandwiches and ate, taking in the view they saw every day at lunchtime; the large fields, the rustling trees, the odd bird flying from tree to tree, the clouds sliding across the sky.
“Do you ever wish something better would happen to us than this?” Tim asked suddenly
“What do you mean? Everything’s fine the way it is.”
“I mean, like we could just go somewhere else, go away from school and you know, do stuff?”
“Do what exactly?”
“Come on, Bridge use your imagination! You know like on my new game…”
“What, that Kingdom Hearts?”
“Yeah! Let’s use that. You know how Sora goes on his adventures to see the worlds?”
“Yeah…so?”
“Well, that could be us! Just think about what we could do if we went on an adventure and had some fun, rather than be stuck here gazing into fields every day?”
Bridget was silent for a while thinking it over, calculating the benefits and the risks of playing truant. She stood up, and paced whilst muttering to herself,
“Well sure, it would be nice to just go but think of all of the people that would worry about us, Tim. Then again, there is not that many people who would actually worry. What about our exams? Our GCSEs are coming up in a couple of months and I don’t want to flunk them, and neither do you!”
Tim rose from his place and faced her, “Not even one day? Surely one day won’t do us any harm?”
“Hmm… I guess I don’t have a choice really do I?”
“Ooooooh, rebel, me like,” he joked, dusting himself off and placing his bag on his shoulders, then handing Bridget’s to her.
“Where to?” she asked.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” he replied, walking towards the tree.
He was about to lean on it and consider where they could possibly go without being caught out, when he noticed that his hand didn’t feel the rough, dry bark.
Instead, he felt bitter cold air numbing the tips of his fingers.
“What the…? Bridget? Bridget! Look at this!” he shouted.
She turned after gazing at the clouds with a curious look on her face.
This soon changed to terror as he slowly moved his hand out of the tree. Gentle ripples slowly moved where his hand was.
“What is that?” she asked quietly.
“I don’t know but it felt cold, really cold,” he murmured.
“Maybe this is a sign.”
“How?”
“Well, you were talking about an adventure?”
“Oh yeah… you’re very superstitious aren’t you, Bridge?”
“Suppose. So should we go through?”
“I don’t know!” he said angrily.
“But, there may be something there…”
“Fine… but don’t blame me if we get into trouble here .”
He was still quite awestruck by the frost he saw when his hand fell into the tree. Their free hands reached for the bark and they both walked slowly towards it, materializing through the tree.
No one saw them leave.
They fell through the darkness; their hair billowing wildly around them. They clung to each other, fear spreading through their bodies as they fell. They were shivering from the bitter cold that engulfed them.
Around them, the scene kept changing.
Darkness turned into piercing light, forcing them to let go of each other and shield their eyes. They tried again to hold onto each other as they continued falling, but it was impossible.
Somehow, they were kept close together by some unknown strong and powerful force. The light faded and turned into cloudy sky, and they could see mountains and rivers and green fields and forests grow bigger underneath them.
Then, time seemed to slow down, as they hung just inches below the earth. Time returned to normal and they fell lightly on the ground.
The teenagers collapsed on the soft grass, and lay there, a light warm breeze playing with their hair.

~X~

 

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