Bend til You Break
Chapter 4 Part 1
Happy Friday, fantasy readers! Here’s the first part of Chapter 4 of Saving Foreverland.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the previous chapters, remember to check those out.
For those of you crunched for time, the estimated reading time for this post is only
50 years earlier…
“Again,” Marjo said, without a trace of emotion. “Get up - now!”
Anthony was trembling uncontrollably, seated unsteadily on the ground, his glasses askew and blood trailing down his chin. He wipes his face with the back of his hand, smearing the blood, making it more noticeable, rather than less. A tear leaked from his eye, he sniffled back a sob but continued to avoid eye contact with Marjo. Anthony kept his gaze down, staring at the jagged rock that had just bounced off his face.
Marjo’s eyes could kill at that moment, Anthony realized when he chanced a glance up from the ground. He quickly returned to staring at the rock. Marjo reached down towards Anthony, both hands clenching the boy’s light t-shirt, nearly tearing it off of him, and dragged him to his feet.
“I said,” Marjo muttered as Anthony finally got to a standing position, “Again!”
Why am I even here? Anthony thought desperately. I just want to go home. I just want to be normal again.
It was like Marjo could read his mind. “You’re not normal, Anthony - don’t you get it? You have immense powers and you must learn to harness them!” The hollow black eyes were boring into Anthony’s skull, like lasers that could destroy him from the inside out. Anthony’s instinct was to run, but he knew he had no chance of escaping. No, Marjo would catch him. Marjo would kill him if he really wanted to. At this point, Anthony was just waiting for the final blow, but he knew it wouldn’t come. Marjo needed him - he wouldn’t kill him without exploiting him first.
Marjo picked up the rock from in front of Anthony’s feet, wound it up, and then swung overhead right at the boy’s forehead.
Anthony was all concentration, his eyes focused, his hands in fists by his sides, his feet planted firmly shoulder-distance apart, but despite his best efforts, the rock came crashing over his head. It was like it was happening in slow motion, though. Anthony noticed Marjo’s arm moving at the speed of light, but then it was like time stretched on endlessly. Anthony watched in awe as Marjo’s arm was nearly frozen in midair for a second before his rage forced his arm through the arc and into Anthony’s head.
For a moment, he thought he had done it. For a moment, he thought he had successfully bent time - but of course, he failed, again. And now he had blood pouring from his face, he was seeing stars, and his legs were collapsing under him like a block tower that had been forcefully knocked down.
He caught himself before he hit the ground again. He couldn’t let Marjo think he won again. But the trainer smirked, knowing that once again he had come out on top.
He’s evil, Anthony thought. How could they pair me with this trainer and expect me to embrace ForeverLand? How could they think I wouldn’t resent them for this? They took me from my home, with no choice on my end, and dragged me to this God-forsaken place where nothing is normal. Anthony’s heart was crushed at the thought of not seeing his family again, at the thought of being trapped in ForeverLand with these freaks and forced to train with this monster.
He had only been in ForeverLand for two days and he already wished that his life would end. The thought of living here forever in this fifteen-year-old body made him want to let out a blood-curdling scream.
“Pathetic,” was all Marjo said, turning away from Anthony, spitting at his feet. He made his way to the other end of the training grounds. As he walked, he announced, “Next drill.”
Anthony knew what was next, and he didn’t even know how to prepare himself, despite facing this challenge for the past couple of days.
“Maybe you’re less awful today when it comes to Spacebending,” Marjo said, condescendingly. “But I won’t get too hopeful,” he cackled, making his way to the entrance of the training grounds, where he grabbed the remote controller for the four mechanical devices waiting a few feet away.
They had to be a few hundred pounds each, almost with the appearance of a monster truck. Together, the four machines were big enough to form four solid walls around Anthony inside the arena, blocking him in. He hated this part. Anthony never liked small spaces, but knowing that this small space would continue to contract on him made him even more uneasy. He knew there would be no warning, no countdown like before - he would only have a second to escape, or else he’d be rolled over, which is what had happened each time thus far.
Anthony focused on the spot on the ground a few inches in front of him, thinking of space outside the confinements of the machines. He had to imagine a trap door on the floor - that was the only thing he hadn’t tried yet, and when he talked to a couple of the Centaurs, they dared to share this advice, feeling sorry for the child.
The machines began to move forward. He had four square feet of space around him, but it was closing in quickly. Three feet, two feet, one…and then it happened - the portal appeared on the ground, just like the one the Centaur had taken him through days ago. He wasn’t sure where exactly it would take him - he certainly hadn’t mastered the art of choosing a destination, but he knew it would get him out of the mess he was currently stuck in. So he jumped in - like jumping into a swimming pool.
It was the same feeling as the other day - the burning, the spinning, the cold, and emptiness - but before he could worry that something was wrong, he emerged on the other side. He was at the entrance of the arena, and Marjo’s face said it all. His mouth was slack in disbelief, we were leaning on the wall for support.
“So, it’s true? You really can spacebend?” He asked no one in particular.
Anthony smiled for the first time that day. He had finally done something right; he had finally taken Marjo by surprise.
“I just assumed they were wrong…” Marjo mumbled. Anthony could see the gears turning in Marjo’s head as he tried to work out the current state of things.
“You can definitely spacebend,” Marjo said. “That’s clear, but can you timebend? Maybe you’re just the only human spacebender.”
Anthony stood up straight, crossed his arms over his chest, and said, “I guess we’ll have to find out, won’t we?” He was more confident now. And what Marjo didn’t know is that Anthony knew he could timebend - he had done it before, just not when Marjo was watching. He practiced with another boy in cave #4 yesterday and he managed to stop the boy’s hand from slapping his arm. He could do it when he wasn’t so stressed about being hurt by Marjo, but he didn’t want to let his trainer know this. He feared it would only cause Marjo to be more violent and cruel towards him. This was his secret. He probably should have kept the spacebending a secret too, but Anthony, like Marjo, didn’t believe he was capable of spacebending. He thought the Centaur had made a mistake - he had hoped it was a mistake at least. It was bad enough being a timebender - he didn’t want to be abnormal in ForeverLand too.
Anthony pondered his options - he would just have to find a way to master timebending under pressure. If he could do that, maybe he could find a way to escape this nightmare. Now he knew he could portal out, but of course, if he left, someone would come back to Leisata to gather him once more. He had to find a way to hide his powers so no one could detect him when he left. Anthony decided this would be his new goal, which meant that he would have to master timebending and spacebending - no matter how terrible Marjo’s training sessions were. Or, he thought, what if he just got rid of Marjo?
If he could make a portal to another space, couldn’t he make a portal to no space - a black hole of sorts? Yes, if he could figure that out, he could just force Marjo into the portal and he’d be free. Well, he wouldn’t be free to go home and be normal, but at least he wouldn’t be beaten to a pulp every day. It was a start, and it was the only plan Anthony had, so he’d have to go for it, at least for now.
What did you think? Be brutally honest because I’m always looking for ways to build on my stories.
If you think you want to read more, make sure you look out for the next post Friday at 5pm EST.