Red Rapture: Born Blessed To Walk A Cursed Reality! (Teaser)
My name is Negusa and I'm 7 years old today. I was born on Saturday, 25th of October 2100 in a small town called Axum. Here, I live there with my 64 years old grandma named Mazaa who, despite her age, she's pretty nimble and never fails to catch me whenever I've misbehaved. She's surprisingly very active for her age. Always ready to showcase that she's not too old to hunt me down whenever I neglect my chores.
Which is quite often if I am being honest. Not that I'm a trouble-maker, but I do tend to day-dream a lot, so much so that I tend to neglect my chores as a result! I'm always pondering about the world in my mind and spent most of it either trying to solve the questions I have or ask even more questions.
Our daily lives are pretty mundane but peaceful. I tend to the livestock on the weekends and complete my chores after schoolwork.
I like it! I spend most of my free time either reading books under the cool breeze on a balmy day, pondering the impossible, playing video games or playing outside during the sunlit days with my two friends Liya and Kamal. Liya is about the same age as me, but that's where the similarities come to an end. She enjoys playing outdoors a lot more than I do, whereas I prefer to read and play video games indoors. Kamal is two years older than both of us and acts like he's the leader of the group. In due time, I formed a sense of rivalry with Kamal when we both found out that we liked Liya. So now we compete in almost everything to impress her. From physical activities to solving puzzles, anything worth competing, we'd do it! I liked Liya but I hated losing to Kamal even more!
Our home is situated in a small village outside of Axum. Honestly, I don't know if you can even call it a village at this point with how fancy everything in the area has become. Everything you could possibly need can be found here, yet we still get the fortune in enjoying the blissful beauty of nature. Most days are met with a gentle warmth, the air scented with nature's beauty. I lived a stressless life all things considered and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Aside from that, I attended Church on a weekly basis with my Grandma. It was a small local church, its walls brimming with history. Our families have attended here for generations. I believe in God and his teachings, but oftentimes I question the men who teach it. I may be only seven years old but I'm a lot wiser for my age. As I sat down on those surprisingly comfortable wooden seats, listening to the pastor's euphonious voice echo across the sanctuary, I often questioned how there came to be so many denominations of Christianity. Why is it that when something goes wrong, we claim it to be God's will? How do they know that? Why would God take the very lives he created, especially that of a newborn? When there's a miracle, how do we know for sure it is a real miracle? Could it not be a coincidence? How can we trust someone who claims to have seen a vision? Shouldn't we wait for a sign of sorts? I had hundreds of these questions.
Whenever I sought the wisdom of my Grandma to these questions that I pondered, she would often get vexed and just tell me to read the Bible, or she'd try to invoke fear into me by claiming I'm defying God's teaching and I'll be punished if I'm not careful with my words. I soon learned to let it go and let my Grandma have her way. I thought to myself "she's too old now to change her way". She, like many others, is aware that the Bible warns of false prophets, yet they're too afraid to question anyone who claims to be a messenger of God.
Their faith is rooted in fear. I don't think that's how it should be. In the stories I've read in the Bible, God often blesses those with knowledge and wisdom, which to me means that He values a person of intellect, one who seeks wisdom and knowledge and takes action. That's how I've lived my life, always seeking knowledge in order to honor God!
After church, I would make my way down to my school's library. Our school had a distinguished modern design, humble yet sleek, with picturesque trees on all sides elevating the color and atmosphere of the institute. Completing it is the Obelisk at the center of the school.
Getting an education here in Ethiopia is a lot better and easier than what it was in the past. The school I go to is a pretty good school, kinda on the private end with a great library, so my breaks are often spent there. Truth be told, I don't remember a time when I'm not reading. Aside from me, there is another girl who comes to read there too. She is pretty quiet and doesn't talk much but she never minds when I sit at her table. I think she's about eight years old but I'm not sure, I'm honestly just guessing. Her name was Subira.
Despite Ethiopia and most of the African countries finally discarding their third world titles, many issues still persist. Not everyone got to experience the boon. This is the reality I guess, it doesn't matter where you are in this world, there will always be those who are poor and those who are rich. Poverty and inequality will always be an issue. At least now, many of us are in a better position for opportunities. We have a chance at life.
Both my mother and father are astronauts & astronomers working with NASA and NASRDA so they're rarely home. They do however send money to us to keep us going. We don't live like we're rich, but we don't live like we're poor either. It's a balance. Grandma is trying to teach me the values of hard work so I don't end up being spoiled or needy. So I never known just how much my parents send to us, which could be enough for the new game system for all I know, which just thinking about it makes me feel like I'm getting cheated out of my inheritance. I mean it's my birthday after all so, I should be getting something today. I made sure to hint very carefully at what I want.
"Oh, that's right! It's my birthday…and nobody knows!"
I thought to myself, sitting in this obscure corner of the library. "Man, I can't wait for this year to be over!" I looked around to see if anyone was here! "Hmm, Subira's not here today! Guess I'll call it a day." I got up, and made for home! As I ventured the streets, I couldn't help but observe how beautiful everything was in my village in Axum. It was odd because I've never taken notice of it all. Today was different!
The bird's dancing in the sky, the other kids playing joyfully in the fields, and the adults walking about with purpose! The biggest surprise came later that day when the night crept up and the heavens opened to unveil the stars of the universe!
"Huh," I thought to myself sitting outside the barn. Despite the countless times I've gazed at the night sky, this was the first I felt terrified by it. I felt…small, unsure! Maybe it's because it's my birthday!
"Oh, that's right! It's my birthday….it might happen!"
The 7th birthday of a child is a stressful time for many parents. During that period of a child's life, many parents pay increasingly close attention to their child to see if they'll manifest a gift. It is dreaded. A child that manifests a gift is basically dead in many parents' eyes. They'll forever be hunted down and their once innocent childhood is over. When I turned seven, I noticed that my parents would call often to ask grandma how I'm doing.
Did I show an affinity to an element? Did water swirl when I picked up a cup? Things like that. When a child manifests the NCG, the very elements themselves will react to them, as at that age, the gift is at its purest and untamed. As soon as a child becomes aware of their gift, it is vital that they're taught how to subdue their powers. They may know how to use it, but not the risk that follows.
I went back inside to see my Grandma sitting at her favorite seat. She beckoned to come sit next to her as we watched television together. "How was your day Negusa?"
"It was OK! I didn't do much reading so I got most of my chores done".
Maybe it's because it's my birthday, the fact that I said I didn't read much or the fact that I willingly did my chores without having to be reminded of it, whatever it may be, I could tell my Grandma became worried. She began the ritual examination of bombarding me with questions to see if it "happened"!
"Don't really me! I'm just making sure that's all!" she snarked at me! This was the norm I guess. This was the norm for all children of the world.
After the Great Red Rapture of 2050, in which millions of lives were lost in one day, many parents conceived their kids in secrecy. The risk for them was just too high to go to the hospital and have their child's date of birth recorded.
Women who planned on having kids often begin to seclude themselves from the public, making it harder to know when they got pregnant and when they conceived a child. Men, on the other hand, had to adjust and become strong both physically and financially to protect their wives during those periods. The pride of having a child was lost. You could no longer celebrate it, as you never know who is your friend or who your enemy is.
Only the parent, often the mother and the child themselves know the date and age. The kids are aggressively told to never share their age with strangers outside their community that they've deemed safe. That's why I know Liya's and Kamal's age for sure, but guessed Subira's age. Kids are told their age so they're more vigilant when that time comes.
Liya and Kamal's family are super close to my family, so we kinda knew our ages like that. It's taboo but it happened. However, outside of that, I have no idea how old any of the kids are in my neighborhood or in my school. Some look older while others look younger. It's all a guessing game and a survival tactic. Once a child passes the age of eight, they may reveal their age. It is an unspoken rule in order to keep the younger ones safe. I'm not sure how it's done in other countries but this is how we have done it.
Every day after school since then, once I'm done with my chores and read my books, I like to tune in to the sports section of the Idialites channel. There, I get to see the reruns of some of the past grand spectacles of the Idialites Combat Championship. A massive 128 man tournament held every solar eclipse that spans the entire month the solar eclipse took place. Here, the people aren't afraid of displaying their NCG and are instead praised for it. The matches are set up with the participants resting day in mind so they can go all out without worrying about sustaining any permanent damage.
It's super fun to watch, seeing all the crazy stuff people with NCG can do. One match I saw a guy create wings out of air to fly while shooting air pellets at his opponent, while the other guy used shadow nature to warp and redirect it back. Crazy stuff. Despite it being a norm for them, my grandma scolds me whenever she catches me watching it. She thinks that seeing the NCG in action will attract the blessing to me one day. And now that I'm seven years old, she especially pays attention to what I watch. It doesn't bother me that much. I mean, if I awaken the gift, we can just go to New Iden. My parents are well off so they can arrange for it to happen. Or so I thought. Little did I know just how much my life would change.
One day after school, I decided to go to the library to read some books. Usually, I like to read science-fiction and fiction based books. Aside from that I like to on occasion pick up historical and scientific books as well. Today, November 11th was that occasion. I was looking for historical books based on Mesopotamia. That day, I noticed that Subira was there too so I sat beside her as usual. This time, she seemed distracted.
I asked her what was wrong and sheepishly smiled back saying "I'm not feeling too well". Since I didn't know her too well, I hadn't realized that she was lying to me and just shrugged it off, telling her to go home if she's not well.
She shook her head and said "I prefer to be here now, with the books. I feel safer here".
At the time, I should have questioned that "safer" comment but I just shrugged it off again and responded with "O.K.".
We sat there in this fashioned library for about an hour or two till 5 pm! It was nearly time for me to go home. As I began to pack up, I felt a hand reach out to me. It was Subira. She looked terrified of something, as tears started to swell up in her eyes. The words she spoke next made my heart sink to the bottom of my stomach.
"I don't want to die," was her words, spoken like someone who's met death herself.
Panicked, I immediately withdrew my hand and stared at her for a moment. "What did she mean by that?" I thought to myself as my heart started to race. She then looked away, looking around the library to see if anyone was looking.
"Please, I don't know what to do, it just happened" she whispered as tears began swelling up in her eyes.
I wanted to run! I didn't know why but that was my first train of thought. While I was being hysterical, Subira started packing up to leave, and just then I whispered out,
"Are you one of them?"
As soon as I asked, she broke down and started crying,
"I never wanted this," she cried out as she fumbled out of her seat and fell to the floor.
I really didn't know what to do at that point. In front of me was an actual NCG user. I have never met one before. Also, I've never been in a situation where a girl is crying in front of me. I really didn't know how to comfort her. After a second or two, I calmed down and walked up to her and sat down beside her.
She's curled up and sobbing into her legs, so I just tapped her head, thinking it would help. It didn't. Luckily we were the only ones in the library at the time, and the librarian was too busy listening to her music to have heard us. I started asking her about her gift and what she meant by she didn't want to die. She told me that there wasn't a burst of light emanating from her body or an accidental blast from her hands. She just knew! That's how it's always been. One day you're a normal human, the next day you're an NCG. Your body changes in an instant and the knowledge is bestowed upon you.
After that, she said that she went outside to try it out. Subira was already really smart so she knew the basic fundamentals when it came to the elemental breakdowns. She explained that she tried to move a big boulder but couldn't do it. Then she tried a smaller one, and to her shock, was able to move it around. Fortunately for her, her father who was smoking on her family's balcony saw it happen. When I say fortunately for her, I meant that because of this she was able to overhear her father planning to sell her to one of the cults, as he thought her daughter was still outside and far enough to not hear him.
The Cult often offers big money for anyone willing to sell off their kids to them. Not many would take that offer but those who are desperate in life will. Upon hearing her father's plans, she'd planned on fleeing today after school but came to the library to work up the courage. She was scared and lost. I thought about it for a while.
"What would I have done had I heard my own father planning on selling me off? Who would I trust after that?" I felt really bad for her, so I asked her to come with me to stay with us for a while. She looked up at me with tears still in her eyes and a runny nose,
"Really, can I stay with you?" sniffing profusely.
"Sure!" admittedly hesitantly.
Grandma always did say that I never do think before doing anything, and this moment couldn't have been truer. As we began walking to my home, the thought of what she said to me still hasn't left my mind. It wasn't the fact that she is an NCG user that's bothering me, it's the idea of a father willingly wanting to sell her daughter off to a cult. It made me sick to my stomach and also made me wonder, how would grandma react? How would Mom and Dad react? I mean, we're OK so money isn't an issue. Subira did say that her father sounded disgusted when she eavesdropped so maybe there's more to it than just money.
As we got closer to my home I started panicking. What if grandma outright says no and sends her home? Grandma really hates the idea of NCG even being mentioned, so bringing one home is clearly a big no-no. I decided to hide her in the barn where the livestock are kept. Since it's Friday, I had the entire weekend to figure out what to do next. The barn is a few yards away from my home so sneaking in was relatively easy. Our barn had a small cabin next to it that sometimes acted as a guest house, but we rarely use it. That's where I had her stay.
After I got her situated, I headed back home to my grandma literally drilling 200 questions at me, asking where I was and why I was late. After explaining to her that I just lost track of time because of this really good book I was reading, she eased off and told me to get ready for dinner. This was the first time I had directly lied to my grandma, and I didn't feel too good about it. However, I had to keep telling myself that it was for a good cause. "God would forgive me for this right?"
We had dinner at 7 pm, and while on the dinner table I kept wondering as to what to do with Subira. Grandma took notice of my quietness and started paying even more attention to me. I had neglected that I too was 7 years old, the year in which the gift awakens. I didn't need her watchful eyes on me, not today! So I perked up and started talking about the recent books I've read to her. That usually puts her at ease! She really enjoys it when I talk about the things I've read in books. I guess I remind her of Dad in a way. Speaking of my Dad, he was a bookworm too and my Mom was the sporty one.
I mostly inherited my dad's love for books and mom's passion for sports played a part in my tolerance for outdoor activities. What brought my Mom and Dad together though was the night sky. Since my Dad knew so much about space, he would often tell her about all the wonderful stuff about the stars, the planets, and whatnot. My mom was actually more interested in exploring the unknown rather than understanding it but slowly began to appreciate the things that Dad was telling her and eventually she fell for him.
After dinner, Grandma finally took a nap and I was able to go check up on Subira. I brought some food too knowing that she hasn't eaten in a while. Luckily, Grandma makes a ridiculous amount of food for just two people so I brought a lot. I had never snuck out of the house before, so I never noticed just how many things in the household made such loud noises. I kinda felt like a ninja trying to avoid them all. So after I made it to the cabin, Subira was sitting there reading one of my books. I often use the cabin to read while I tended to the livestock.
"What are you reading?" as I brought in the food.
She looked up and responded, "it's about space explorations or something, I didn't get far into it."
The book she's reading was the one my Dad gave me. He wanted me to get an idea about what he's going to be doing in space. Mom and Dad are currently observing an anomaly that had entered into our galaxy. That's as much as I know about their work. I sat down next to her and gave her a plate.
"It's Fuul, have some!" as I handed her the plate!
She seemed reluctant to take it at first but after I started eating, she soon joined in.
"What are we gonna do?" She asks with a mouth full of food in her mouth.
I responded in kind "I dunno," while trying not to choke. "But we have the whole weekend to figure it out so it'll be fine," while trying to sound confident.
"You don't sound very confident" she retorted, totally calling me out on my bluff.
She was right, I didn't know what to do. What was I gonna do in the first place? After the weekend is over, I have to go back to school and for sure her Dad was already looking for her as we speak. Eventually, I had to tell Grandma about her. The question is when?
After eating I got up and told her,
"Stay here for the night, tomorrow I'll come to check up on you and bring you breakfast".
She nodded as I closed the door to the cabin. I snuck back into the house, still wondering why everything is ten times louder when you're trying to be sneaky, got upstairs, past my Grandma's room, who was still sleeping and went to bed. I was so tired that I went straight to sleep.
The next morning, I went downstairs and to my shock, Subira was sitting at the kitchen table next to my Grandma having breakfast. I was speechless. I looked over at Subira who just gave me the "I'm sorry face" as she ate breakfast. My grandma, clearly annoyed, motioned me to take a seat. I sat down and immediately, she hit me with the million-NWU question.
"Negusa, who is this girl and why did I find her in the cabin?" she asked sternly.
I'm over here thinking to myself, "why did you go to the barn, you never go to the barn, why now?". As it turned out, Subira had startled the chickens by dropping the books on the shelves, so Grandma went to check up on them and found her trying to bring them back to the coop. Great!
She asked again, "Negusa, I asked you a question?"
Well, I had no choice but to tell her the truth. I told her about how she ran away from home after she found out that her father wanted to sell her to human trafficking. I left out the NCG part for now.
I can tell she wasn't fully buying the story but she reluctantly stood down.
"My goodness, Negusa. What am I going to do with you"? She uttered to herself as she sat back down.
Subira looked at me with worry in her eyes. She knew I'd lied but she also knew I had no choice.
I went over to grandma to make my case, "Can she stay here? It's too dangerous for her to be out there on her own."
"We have to report him to the authorities", she muttered to herself, pacing back and forth, "how can a man sell his own daughter like this?"
Subira quickly let out a loud "NO!" and startled myself and my Grandma. I didn't realize she could get that loud.
She quickly composed herself and said, "Please ma'am, no one can know". That's when it clicked for my Grandma and just then I could see the fear and rage take shape on her face.
"GET OUT!" she screamed as she realized why this child didn't want to be reported, "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE"!
I tried to calm my grandma down as she was going hysterical, yelling,
"SHE WON'T HURT US GRANNY PLEASE!" My grandma turned her attention to me, continuing to yell,
"HOW COULD YOU BRING SOMEONE LIKE HER HERE, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE CHILD?"
Nothing I was saying was getting to her, and the more she yelled, the more out of breath she started to get. Subira then ran to the cabin to hide while my grandma continued to chase after her. What have I done? Had I just ignored her none of this would be happening, as I chased after them. I never knew my grandma had such a detest for NCG. She caught up to Subira and hurled insults at her, telling her to leave her home at once. I caught up and just stood there. I didn't know what to do. What could I do? What should I do? There's no convincing her now. What's gonna happen to her? Will she die?
As all these thoughts swirled around in my head like a tornado, then all of a sudden my mind went blank! For one second, it felt like everything had ceased to exist. When I came to, I had tears in my eyes. Weepingly, I called out to my Grandma who was still lashing out at Subira,
I wept calling for her as she turned around to tell me to go inside, only to stop midway with horror in her eyes. Her worst nightmare had come true. As she gazed upon me, she fell on her knees and cried to God, asking why! What she saw was me, tears flowing out of my eyes, but not hitting the ground, but instead dancing around my body. I had become one of them. I had become an NCG!
Hey, hope you enjoyed your read! This is but a teaser for what to come in my upcoming debut novel. If it piqued your interest, then make sure to pre-order or add the light novel to your Amazon Wish list. Red Rapture is coming out on May 8th, 2021, on Amazon Kindle!