Fear lives in every one of us. There are small fears, petty fears that cause us discomfort or uncertainty. These, however, come to pass quickly. But inside every human being, beyond their looks and traits, beyond their hopes and dreams, beyond their heart and soul, lies their deepest fear. The one true thing that causes everything else that they are to shatter. No one can explain why we have this at our very core, but we all do. Can we ever truly overcome these deep-seated fears? Possibly. But it's not through trials, but rather through facing our fears, that we learn who we really are.
"Hey! Echo, Abra! What's up?"
"Hey, Orva!" Abra called. Their friend sat down at the lunch table with them.
"Guess what?" Abra held in a giggle. "Today in chemistry, Mr. Simmons was doing a demonstration and Ross had switched around the chemicals in the lab before class! It exploded and scared the pants off of everyone! It was hilarious! Mr. Simmons' eyes, like, doubled in size, I swear!"
Orva laughed. "I wish I had a recording of that."
Echo chuckled slightly. Abra turned to her. "Hey, that kinda reminds me of how we met you, Echo. Remember?"
"Yeah," she nodded in reply. "That was in biology freshman year. I remember."
"You walked in late and accidentally knocked over the dissection stuff on Mr. Rogers' table!" Orva laughed, recalling the memory.
"It flew everywhere! It was so gross, but it was so funny!" Abra joined in.
Echo smiled. "And then no one would let me sit by them, but when I asked you, you didn't mind."
Orva grinned. "Of course! Abra was the one who thought you were a weirdo." She playfully socked her friend in the arm.
Abra tried to punch her back. "I was gonna let her sit there, too!" They continued to argue while Echo just watched in amusement. Suddenly, all the lights in the cafeteria went out.
"What's happening?" demanded Abra worriedly.
Echo started breathing heavier. "Oh no, oh no, this is bad, why is it dark?"
Orva placed a hand comfortingly on her shoulder. "It's OK, Echo. Everything's gonna be fine, I promise."
"No it's not!"
"Shh! It's fine!" Abra tried to help.
The intercom came on. "Excuse me, faculty and students. We're experiencing difficulties, the electricity should be fixed in a moment."
Echo swallowed. "I hope it's soon."
"Hey, it's just a dark room. Nothing is gonna happen," Orva assured her. The lights came back on at that moment. "See? Nothing to worry about."
Echo started to calm down. "You know I'm terrified of the dark, though."
"It's alright, everyone is scared of something," Orva shrugged.
Echo slumped over and put her head in her hands. "Yeah, but no one else is scared of the dark. It's like some little kid thing that everyone grows out of."
"Oh well, it could be worse," Abra told her. "Some people here still are little kids!" The bell rang to end lunch. The three friends stood up.
"Catch you guys after school?" Orva asked as she threw her backpack over her shoulder.
"Yup, we can chill at my place!" Abra exclaimed as she headed out the door. Orva followed, heading to class as well. Echo called good-bye to her friends, then also turned and walked to class.
It was halfway through seventh period when the intercom came on again. Excuse the interruption, but all teachers must promptly report to the faculty lounge for an immediate meeting. All students, please be patient and remain in your classrooms.
The students broke into a quiet, confused whisper. Orva frowned and glanced at the door as her puzzled teacher headed out of the room. Once she was out of sight, the teenager crept out of her chair to the exit of the classroom and glanced around. There was no sign of any other teachers coming her way. She stepped out into the hallway.
"Hey! The principal said to stay here!" someone called after her, but Orva ignored them.
So maybe curiosity killed the cat, she thought to herself, but I'm no cat, now am I?
She crept in the direction of the lounge.
When she arrived, she snuck around the back where there was a small window she could peer through. Looking in, she saw that all of the teachers were seated and the principal stood in the middle of the room. "Well," he began, "We all knew this day would come. But…now it's here."
He's stupid, Orva thought to herself. Calling all of them into one room like that? They're easy prey…
"We're going to call an emergency and send all of the students home," the principal continued. "Hopefully, that will ensure everyone's safety."
"That's it?" one of the teachers spoke up. "Send them home and pray for the best? What if it's already too late? You're well aware of the power outage this morning."
"I know," the principal sighed. "It was indeed the warning sign, but I wanted to be sure it wasn't just a fluke. I don't want these kids to worry over nothing. That's why none of them can know what's going on. Just send them home like nothing is wrong. Tell them it's simply a maintenance emergency, nothing more."
The teacher that had protested before sighed and sat back down. "What they don't know won't kill them, I guess."
"That's what I'm hoping. Now go and evacuate everyone before it's too late!" Immediately after the principal had said this, the lights went out again, submerging the whole school in pitch blackness.
"I think it already is," Orva whispered.
Echo ran. She didn't know where she was going, but she couldn't sit still. Everywhere she went, it was dark. She couldn't escape it. Panting in fright, she sprinted through the halls, hoping to get out. Out into the sunlight. She finally spotted a glowing red EXIT sign. Dashing toward it, she threw herself at the door and yanked on the handle. It was locked. They were all locked in.
No, no, no. What now? What do I do? Echo broke into terrified spasms as she whipped around, deciding what to do or where to go. She knew what was going to happen. She knew the legend all too well. Every ten years, a dark curse from ancient times chose one teenager from the town to be its host. The day and time were always a mystery, always changing, but sometime in that year, it would overtake its victim. Another teenager would be chosen as the hero, the lone warrior who could destroy the dark and save the town until the monstrous curse returned. However, with the curse, the life of its host would be taken as well.
I know what I have to do…I have to fight the dark. I have to. But…how? Echo swallowed hard, trying to keep her fear from consuming her completely. The two chosen by the curse were each branded with a mark on the first day of the year. One mark symbolized light, the other darkness. After a dream told the two chosen ones of the legend and the fate that they would fulfill, all they could do was wait. They didn't even know when the time would come.
Suddenly, there was a thump down the hall. Echo jumped and instinctually took off running. She whizzed toward one wing of classrooms when a thought suddenly struck her. It could be anyone, any one of the kids in the building. How would she know who to look for? As she passed the classrooms, she saw that the teachers in each one of them were trying to calm everyone down and keep them in order. "There's no need to worry, the hero will do his or her job!"
"Hero?" one kid yelled. "What's going on?"
The classroom exploded into frantic panic attacks again. Echo continued running. She heard another thump behind her. The series of noises pursued her as she broke into a full-out sprint again. Something was following her. It was getting closer, but Echo was too scared to look back. She pushed herself to run faster, but she had reached her limit. The footsteps grew increasingly loud. Panic completely overtook all reason inside of her. The footsteps were right behind her. Something grabbed her arm. Echo screamed.
"It's me! It's me!" Orva hissed. Echo jumped back, shaking with fright.
"Stay back!" she screamed.
"I know it's dark and hard to see, but it's me! It's Orva!" The girl took a step toward her overwrought friend.
Echo stepped back. "Don't! Don't come near me!"
"Echo, your fear is screwing with your head! It's me!" She started to walk toward Echo.
Echo shook her head, still shivering and backing away. "Please, just stay away!"
Orva stopped walking. "Look, Echo, some scary stuff is going to happen, I can't deny that. But you can trust me, I'll protect you and Abra and everyone else! I promise!"
"You have the mark..." Echo whimpered.
Orva became wary and she took a hesitant step toward her friend. "Echo, how do you know about-?"
"STAY BACK! I DON'T WANNA HURT YOU!" Echo suddenly doubled over as black, wispy tendrils shot out from her body. Orva's eyes widened in horror as she stepped back. Echo let out a blood-curdling scream before the darkness enveloped her and turned her into a heartless monster. The curse had completely overtaken her body as she became black as night, her eyes becoming beady, yellow orbs. Orva swallowed back tears as she shook her head in despair.
"No, Echo…why you?"
Echo could hear and see her friend from behind her demonic shell, but she had no control over her actions anymore. As the monster inside her pounced for its prey, she watched Orva draw a Keyblade and defend herself.
Kill it, Orva, Echo thought to herself. Kill the darkness inside me. I don't wanna be afraid anymore.
She leapt and slashed her dark claws at the hero. Orva swung and knocked the monster back against a wall. When the creature looked back at its opponent, Echo could see tears start to run down her friend's face. She felt tears welling up in her own eyes, as well.
I'm sorry, Orva. I tried to fight the darkness, but I couldn't get rid of it. You have to finish it for me.
The monster leapt again, but Orva blocked each incoming attack. She hesitated to fight back, knowing what would happen to her friend if she finished the battle. Suddenly, the monster found an opening in Orva's guard and pounced, pinning Orva to the floor. As she made eye contact with the lifeless, glowing orbs above her, the reality of everything began to set in and something inside her snapped. She kicked the demon off and began swinging violently, hacking into its flesh. Her rage drove her every attack and tears flew from her eyes as she screamed inhumanly. "DAMN YOU, DARKNESS! DAMN YOU! WHY DID YOU TAKE HER? WHY DIDN'T YOU TAKE ME INSTEAD? HUH? WHY? !"
With the last word, she whipped her Keyblade across more forcefully than all the other attacks combined. The monster launched backward and lay limply on the ground, bleeding thick, black blood from all over its body. It pooled on the ground and slowly flowed down the hall as the dark creature breathed shallowly, fighting for its last few moments. Orva fell to her hands and knees, crying uncontrollably, her tears mixing with the tainted blood of her lost friend.
"I couldn't save you, Echo…I'm so sorry…"
Don't be sorry. I'm not afraid anymore. I know now that the dark isn't as strong as it seems and there will always be people to protect the light. So...thank you. For helping me overcome my fear.
As the demon relaxed and breathed one last time, Orva picked up one of its hands and held it. "Why did it have to be you...why..."
I had accepted my fate. Death isn't what scared me. It was the darkness inside that had the power to hurt others. That's why the dark scared me. But now that it's over...everything is fine.
Orva held her friend's hand to her heart, weeping silently. "Everyone always said I was so brave, that I was fearless...but everyone fears something." She choked on her tears for a moment. "The only thing I ever feared was losing my friends..."
Echo watched her disappear from sight as her life slowly faded away.
I'm so sorry that I have to leave so soon...I wish I could help you conquer your fear. But overcoming fears is just one thing. Fighting fate is a whole different story.