Xooji

a small lead from Xooji

The darkness engulfed me as my eyes tried to scan the area for any sort of life. Out of curiosity I raised my hand in front of my eyes. There was nothing there. So this is what it means for it to be so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face…. I made a 360, well, I’m not sure if it was a 360, I couldn’t tell if the place I had finished was where I had started. Everything looks the same when there’s nothing. I stood still for a moment longer; there was nowhere to go- I didn’t know if I was inside or outside, if I was in a room, if the room was square or round. I knew nothing.

That’s when I heard it. A slight laugh. I froze as I felt goosebumps go up my arms. I turned slowly as if hoping to not give away my position to a T-Rex, I looked towards the laughter, its volume increased with every second. I blinked; a ripple seemed to form in the darkness as if a small boat had just floated across. Then another ripple about a foot away from the first. Below another formed, and a foot across another formed. I looked at the four ripples, all four in perfect symmetry. A fifth ripple placed itself below the four and in the middle, it looked now like a sleeping four-eyed monster. I saw the face shake a little, as if awakening from a slumber as the laughter spread throughout the emptiness again.

The ripples soon became lines as four eyes appeared, all staring at me. The mouth opened wide to laugh, “Ceem fvzdll me bpep?”

“Wha?” I looked at the face, utterly confused, what it spoke was nothing like I had ever heard.

“Kidt b feec was ‘Ceem fvzdll me bpep,’” it said again, the words sounded weird, I tried to get the pronunciation.

“Ki-da-et ba fia-eh-ch ew-ou-sm?”

“Ah, I understand,” it spoke, out of its mouth came a line of what looked like blue liquid. I couldn’t help but stare at it a bit grossed out before instead of being grossed-out, I was in complete shock to see the liquid turn into a series of blue stars, each falling to the ground, splattering as if they were in fact what I first thought; liquid, “You do not speak the language of Xoojii. I simply said, ‘What have we got here?’ Then the second time I added, ‘what I said was.’ Now. Tell me. What are you?”

“Uh… a human?” I guessed, not being able to take my eyes off of the blue stars falling to the floor.

“Haha, didn’t your mother ever tell you it isn’t polite to stare. If you’re going to stare, at least stare into my eyes,” the smooth, almost lulling voice compelled me to look up into the creatures dark eyes, only visible due to the ripple they caused in the otherwise flat background. Now they were visible for another reason. There was a ripple falling from the eyes, falling down, the ripple turned to a dark maroon, to a dark red, to a red, to a pink, to a hot pink as it flowed down emptying into a heart-shaped medallion of sorts. It hung on the outside of its upper left eye and on the inside of its upper right. The heart-shaped medallion started to turn slightly as if it were a piece of meat on a skewer, slowly rotating around an open flame.

“Well, I’m definitely going to stare now,” I replied simply, not able to tear my eyes away from the mind-baffling sight, “What the hell is…” I tried to figure out how it had pronounced the word just moments before, “Shi-oh-hav-ein?”

“Ah, please, it’s ‘Shioh-jov-en.’ Now I can say you are definitely a human,” the creature laughed its crackling laugh again, “Xoojii is here.”

And on ‘here’ the entire place seemed to lighten up. I was outside, blood-red grass below my feet.

“Bvstw, or as you may call it- grass.”

I had given up on pronunciation and so I settled for having my eyes scan the horizon; we were on a meadow of sorts, trees bent at odd angles made themselves visible in the distance as I squinted my eyes. I saw more strange creatures. One had what seemed to be a fro with a long, cylindrical head and no neck, its round body simply contained its large mouth. It looked like a snow boot, with its inside linen overflowing at the top. A small tail with a round poof on the end of it waved lazily behind it as its stick like legs supported what seemed to be a body that could only be supported with thick, strong legs. The creature went over to a tree and without hesitating took a huge bite out of its trunk.

“Admiring the Keeda I see,” I nodded blankly as I saw the tree start falling over, unable to support itself from the lack of a trunk. The tree collapsed on the ‘Keeda,’ “Poor things. They aren’t terribly bright.”

I winced at the now-dead body of the Keeda. My eyes widened as I saw coming from out of the ground another odd sort of creature. Only this one had a huge, round head and sharp teeth. A carnivorous worm. It took a giant bite out of the Keeda. I flinched as I saw it and turned away quickly, my eyes now towards the rest of the environment, I recognized nothing. The sky was a deep purple color, there were white clouds- but each of them had a prominent silver lining. Each one of them sparkling as if it were a movie premiere.

“Ah, I would watch where I step. As you have seen, the worms are carnivores.”

I looked down just in time to see the same type of brown colored worm with giant teeth I had seen earlier. As if it were straight out of a cartoon it had a sharp knife and fork, ready to bite into my foot. I moved, startled, accidently kicking the creature. The wounded worm limped away.  In the sky there seemed to be an unusual amount of shooting stars, I watched as they raced across the sky, not necessarily in a straight line.

“Star-jackers.”

“Well, as fine and dandy this all is,” I said, carnivorous worms? Star-jackers? This place seemed to be getting more dangerous by the minute. At this point, I wanted more than anything to just go home, where at least the worms weren’t trying to eat me, “I wish I could just go home right about now.”

It looked at me, “Well, if that’s what you wanted, all you had to do was take the stairs.”

My two eyes met its four, the novelty of the stars and hearts wearing off. To my side there was a large staircase, it led up to a full, blue moon.

“Go on, the man in the moon will be more than happy to help you out.”

Not wanting to press my luck in a place I didn’t even know, I hustled away, climbing up the long staircase. From the ground the staircase seemed to be created of millions of steps, but once on them it shortened to a mere fourteen steps. I reached the moon, but there was no door. I paused a moment before knocking on the closest part I could.

“Yeah? What do you want?” the non-existent door opened to reveal the first sign of human life I had seen.

“Um, the creature thingy down there said I could go home through you. So…um, can I go home?” I asked nervously, afraid to receive a ‘no’.

“No,” the man reached off, his arm stretched longer than any human’s should. I watched as it went to a side table with a beer, he picked it up and took a swig, “I dun wan nobody comin in ‘ere. I ‘ave this place for me. Whay else do ya think I bought me real estate so damn far from ever’ one? Cause I dun like nun ‘o ya.”

“Please? I just want to get home… It will be super fast, I promise.”

“Ah said no.”

“Please?!”

“No young’un, now leave ‘fore ah call them Peegve on ya.”

“Wha? Okay. That’s it,” I said before bracing myself to barge through. I saw a door on the other side of the room. That was the door to my world.

“Ah said no!” He resisted, pushing me back a little. My foot caught on something and I tripped, falling backwards into the abyss. This was it. I was going to die in some strange world where grumpy people stayed on the moon.

Damn.

Thump

Pain shot through my body as I looked at where I had landed. There was a carpet…and there was a desk… and there was my empty paper on the desk. Through my curtains that were flowing with the soft wind from an open window, a beam of light. A full moon.

Pulling myself to the chair, I nestled in, grabbing a pen from my side before beginning to etch ink into the paper.

The darkness engulfed me as my eyes tried to scan the area for any sort of life. I saw nothing but pure darkness. Out of curiosity I….”