Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 196,348,468 Issue: 908 | 24th day of Swimming, Y22
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Curse Of The Kookith


by zuniak

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Asha's mind was focused on only the task at hand: her science exam. She breezed through it, similar to how she did with her math exam and was one of the first in her class to finish. She usually had a better grasp on science than she did on math, but normally it wasn't this easy for her. After she handed in her exam, she sat thinking about how it must be all the studying she had done. Even then, she didn't study as hard as she did for her math exam, but something about this test just clicked in her head. When the bell dismissed all the students, she started to walk down the hall.

     "Hey, Asha, good job on your math exam," said Brittanica, one of the smartest, most popular girls in school.

     "Thanks," Asha said shyly. Brittanica gave her a warm smile. This was the first time someone like her had acknowledged Asha and it felt good. What was going on?? It's like the twilight zone was happening out here. First she aces an exam, then feels like she does well on the next one, now Brittanica of all people are recognizing her existence??

     Asha left school and started on her walk home, through the polished beachside streets of Roo Island and eventually down into the alleyways of her neighbourhood. Things seemed a little brighter today, but she didn't know if that was all in her head.

     "Hey...how is it going," an ominous voice rang out through the air. Asha turned quickly and noticed a familiar alleyway, and at the end of it was a Kookith. "I see you've aced your exams."

     "I got a perfect score in math, I don't know about science yet."

     "We both know about science, we both know you got a perfect score."

     "I hope so."

     "You do know that it's time for me to take my end of the bargain now, right?"

     Asha was scared now, the way he said it was very unsettling.

     "What..How are you going to do that," Asha said nervously. "Please don't hurt me."

     "Oh, it won't hurt. Not one bit, in fact..." The Kookith stared long and hard into Asha's eyes. "I've taken it just now. Come back to me if you need to strike another deal."

     Asha backed out of the alleyway, completely unsure of what just happened, and she hustled home. She got in the house to find her mother already at the door.

     "Your results have been posted!!"

     "Already??" Asha was quickly rushed to her computer to log in. She pulled up the portal and her results loaded in.

     "YOU DID IT AGAIN!!" Karen was so excited, seeing that Asha had once again gotten a perfect score and placed at the top of her class.

     While her mom was celebrating, Asha was unnerved about everything that happened in the alleyway with the Kookith. She was trying to analyze what he was talking about when he said he had taken his end of the bargain. What had he taken from her? It didn't feel like anything was missing and everything looked normal at home and with her parents. Did he know where she lived? Was he going to rob her? She felt uncomfortable for the rest of the night and had a bit of trouble going to sleep, but eventually she dozed off.

     The next day she woke up and went to school as normal, and after the day was done she decided to settle into her room. She was all through her exams and so she wanted to take the time to write for her submission to the writer's guild. She only had a few days left to get it done and she wanted as much time as possible to write, edit, re-write, and get it all submitted. And she wanted to submit it early! She plopped down at her desk and took out her faithful writing notebook and her favourite pen and started to get to work. Something felt different though... She tried to write something down, anything. The words wouldn't come though, and there was no inspiration. Her usual technique was to just let the words flow out of her, and then find structure and a story once she got started a little bit. Nothing was coming out this time though, her mind was like a dry river. This had never happened to her before. So she got up, paced a few laps around her room and put on some music to try to get the creative juices going.

     "Come on Asha, come on," she was trying to psych herself up. "Writer's block isn't setting in, you've had so many ideas lately, just let them come out."

     She sat back down at her desk and picked up her pen again. She got a few words down but they were a struggle, and they didn't really make any sense. She couldn't piece anything together. Her brain felt light, like there wasn't a drop of inspiration left in there to use. It was like squeezing water from a rock, and she could not do it. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine something, anything, that she could use to write a story about.

     "2,000 words isn't even that much, it's not like I'm writing a novel."

     Still, nothing came to mind. She was growing increasingly frustrated at the whole situation and her usual writing tricks weren't working for her. She decided to sleep on it and try again the next day.

     The next day came, and then the next, and then one more. Each night she sat down and tried to write but nothing was coming. She was staying up for long hours trying to force anything out, even a simple poem, but there wasn't anything springing to life in her mind. The frustration was taking its toll on her. Writing was her lifeforce, it was her peace, it was where she found all of her happiness. And now it felt like that had been ripped away from her, and at the worst possible time: just before her first big break. She had no idea what was going on and was at her wit's end. That's when it occurred to her...the Kookith.

     Asha leapt up and ran out of her apartment in the middle of the night, storming through the alleyways which were wet from the rain. Her shoes clomping in puddles and splashing water up her legs. She got to the alley where the Kookith had previously resided.

     "WHERE ARE YOU!?!?"

     "Ah, I see you have finally realized the extent of your trade," the Kookith emerged from the shadows into the light of a lamp post.

     "You stole my writing ability, how did you do that??" Asha was panicked.

     "The same way I upgraded your math and science abilities. We all have to make a trade somehow, don't we?"

     "Turn it back!! Turn it back!"

     "It's too late now, you already took your exams. You're on the fast track to medical school now, won't that make your mother proud? Why aren't you happy?"

     "Writing is what makes me happy!!"

     "Didn't you want your mother to be happy??"

     "I wanted us both to be happy!"

     "It's a little late for that now. You've made your decision."

     "Please, I'm begging you, turn it back now. I'll do anything." Asha was pleading with the Kookith, who was standing emotionless at the end of the alley.

     "Anything? Well, it's not something from you that I want. You made your decision, and you made your great sacrifice. Let's see who is willing to make a great sacrifice for you, hmm? How's that sound?"

     "What do you mean?" Asha was confused.

     "Bring your mother back here to see me. I'll strike a deal with her."

     "Leave her out of this."

     "You brought her into this. This whole situation is about her, isn't it now?"

     "No!! I mean, yes..I guess, yes."

     "Bring her to me. And send her alone. We have things to discuss. Hurry off now, before I change my mind. Or before I lose the ability to give you your writing back."

     Asha turned and started sprinting home. She was terrified, now that she has seen what the Kookith is capable of she was worried about what else he could do. She felt like it was a demand to send her mother, and she was scared of what would happen if she didn't. She rushed into her front door and started yelling for her mom frantically.

     "What is it honey??" Her mother came quickly into the room.

     Asha tried to explain everything that happened. A lot of it was coming out jumbled and nonsensical and her mother was trying to calm her down. Eventually, Asha was able to give a clear explanation of everything that happened, trying not to sound crazy in the process. She knew her mother would never believe a magical Kookith in an alleyway gave her the power to pass her exams and stole her writing power, but she had to try to convince her.

     "Asha, honey... This sounds like it could be one of your stories that you write," Karen wasn't fully convinced, but she was very concerned.

     "Please mom, just go talk to him, please fix this. I want to write."

     "Why don't you just keep focusing on your studies, you're doing so well."

     "No, mom, I'm not happy. I want to write. Writing makes me happy. Please, I promise if you do this then I will dig us out of poverty however it takes. I just need to be able to write."

     Her mother sighed, knowing that the situation wasn't going to be resolved unless she went out to try to find this Kookith. And that's what she did. She put on her jacket and walked out into the night.

To be continued…

 
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