So this is the other idea I meantioned in my previous post. If you hadn’t known, “umbra” is another word for “shadow”, though what it really means is total shadow – penumbra is part shadow and antumbra is when the shadow makes a circle on the object (antumbra is hard to explain so… there you go). Umbra will also have chapters because the story line wouldn’t fit in a page. This story is set in a parallel world because my knowledge of other countries is not that good, so it’s easier for me to just invent worlds to know its economy and politics better than the back of my hand. The genre is sci-fi, I guess, since it’s about… stuff. I’m not supposed to tell you! You need to read it if you want to know what the story is about! Oh, and I haven’t scrapped the other short stories; I’ll upload them, don’t worry.
Okay, enjoy the story and give feedback!
1 – Termites
In a world were sickness dominates every other thing, people would be desperate to find a cure for it. And fast. The first case was in Florence, Italy; a young girl was on her way home from school when she suddenly fainted in the middle of the sidewalk. Though reported as anaemia, the doctors found out later on during the day that all of her blood had mysteriously disappeared from her system. They found no blood outlet in any parts of her body and when her family was asked, they confirmed that their daughter was perfectly fine days before – furthermore, she was an overachieved player in her school’s volleyball team and kept a healthy diet.
Later on the same week, the girl’s family had died with the same symptoms as the girl – first diagnosed as anaemia but their blood would vanish in a matter of hours.
The following year, citizens of Florence began to develop this syndrome up to the point where half of Florence’s population perished, all credits given to the Phantom Disease. The Disease was spread when tourists return to their home country; some tourists came home before the first casualty and some not long after. As a result, it was too late for the government to prevent the spread of the Disease by sealing off Florence. Large countries like Yugoslavia and faraway lands like Brazil soon had identical cases; the eastern lands such as Chipangu and Cathay had reported the alarming escalation of the death rate, and Rossiya had performed the isolation of its north-eastern land in order to make place for executing victims in hopes of ending the terrible outbreak (also known as the Six Years of Terror), driving victims from other parts of Rossiya as well as neighbouring countries to the place. As a result, the north-southern part of Rossiya is now called the Land of Death. To prevent the spread of diseases, governments had made travelling forbidden until further notice – in other words, no one can go in or out unless everyone is cured.
Scientists had tried their best to identify the cause of the deaths but whenever they got a hold of a dying victim, their blood would be gone before they could even run some tests. Then they began to take blood samples from people in the infected region before they show symptoms of passing out. Their discovery was phenomenal – what they found were microscopic organisms that continuously feed on red blood cells as well as white blood cells. These horrible creatures, as the scientists observe them daily, would stay dormant and focus on reproducing, though they would begin to take action when their numbers had reached to thousands, vigorously consuming any blood cells nearby until there were no more. Once there’s only plasma left, these creatures would escape through body holes, float into the air and wander around until they came into contact with another host. Lots of experiments on producing vaccines or anything that could kill these creatures were run but to no avail – nothing could kill these godforsaken creatures.
With the new found knowledge, it was concluded that with the high numbers of victims, the whole atmosphere might be contaminated. These creatures reproduce fairly slowly, producing about ten offspring in two months, so it would leave the host some time to live their lives pretty much normally. Although they know this, no one knows when the first time they contracted the creatures was, thus making their death seemingly unpredictable. In addition to that, the Land of Death was theoretically proven to be the most contaminated area, and so were lands nearby it.
Panicked and desperate citizens caused havoc everywhere; suicides were more common and some even developed mysophobia or agoraphobia, locking themselves up in their homes in hopes of not catching the Disease. No matter how much they raved and cried and begged, no matter where they hide, Death would always claim them. Soon everyone saw no point in doing anything – they would die sooner or later, anyway. Everything was back to normal, but in their hearts they know the afterlife had opened its gates for them.
This was the beginning of the Rise of Termites.
* * *
Anglia was a fairly peaceful country known for its excessive amount of rainfall and distinguishable dialects and accents. It was located in the southern part of the Britannia, neighbouring Scotland and Wealas. To its west was Éireland and to its east were the rest of the Europian countries such as Francia, Deutschland and Italia. If you were to go more to the east you’ll meet Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Rossiya, Cathay, Chipangu and other Asian countries, and if you were to cross the ocean on the west you’ll meet Iceland, Greenland and the Americas; to Anglia’s south is Hispania, Portucale and the African continent and the north was a massive block of frozen land coated with ice and snow; in the farthest south-east were Indonesia, Australia and Aotearoa.
The locals of Anglia were called Anglians and they speak Anglish (though popularly spelled Aenglish or English) which the people speak in a range of dialects throughout Anglia and across Britannia, and even in the US where Americans speak in different varieties of accents and dialects. Due to Anglia’s once great empire, the world had learnt a lot of Anglish and thus made it an international language used in all countries, used as the standard language of tourism. Aside from Anglish, Anglians also spoke Wealish, Scottish and Éirish in order to maintain the whole of Britannia’s culture, since Anglish was heavily influenced from Old Norse and other northern languages.
The population in Anglia alone was 39 788 090 (data taken from 2011 Census) and 6 056 895 lived in London by June 2012; from this, 85% of London were Caucasians, 6% were of Asian descent, 3% African descent and the others were mix raced. Also, note that among these people were tourists who couldn’t come home due to the Rise of Termites.
The tourists were the inspiration for the Walhaz Project. It’s not that they were being inhospitable or racist that they made a city just for these tourists. In fact, they tried to include as many different cultures into the city as they could in order to make the tourists feel less homesick. The use of airmail and international calls were free of charge in Walhaz so the tourists could get in touch with their beloved back at home as much as they could – the project was funded by many companies and organisations from all over Britannia and around the world. These tourists could still venture outside Walhaz and Anglians were very gentle towards them too so there were no signs of grouping anywhere. The concept of Walhaz had also started in different countries as well, and by 2013 the Walhaz Project was a great success.
Linck Maverick lived with his adoptive father, Mr. Maverick, in one of Walhaz’s neighbouring cities, Basildon. Linck would often visit Walhaz to see most of the world’s culture squeezed together into a city near London. He had friends from Walhaz who would often tell him stories about the countries they had hailed from; in return, Linck would take them to different parts of Basildon or London to introduce them to Anglia’s way of living. The people in his school had some from Walhaz – his school was located near the city border between Walhaz and Basildon – so he would frequently talk to them about the things he had discovered in Walhaz and some things in Britannia. Mr. Maverick had no qualms about Linck talking to those from Walhaz; he would often invite some for dinner at the Mavericks’, after much begging from Linck.
One day, when Mr. Maverick had just returned from his work, Linck came up to him, giving him the usual evening greeting. “Hey, Mr. Maverick! How was office?” Linck chimed.
Mr. Maverick stayed quiet. He took off his coat soundlessly and entered the kitchen for a mug of hot tea without words. Linck was in the doorway, observing Mr. Maverick’s usual mannerisms, though he sensed something fishy about his lack of speech and the occasional twitch of his fingers. “Sir, are you okay?” Linck asked. No answer. Well, maybe he’s just tired, Linck thought, I should leave him be.
The same attitude continued for a week. Mr. Maverick would come home muted and Linck would be left to wonder what had exactly happened. Whenever Linck spoke of his day with those from Walhaz, he could see the lack of response from Mr. Maverick; he would usually hum tiredly when he doesn’t feel like speaking. During the eighth day, Linck couldn’t take it anymore. “What’s wrong, Mr. Maverick? Why are you so upset?” Linck kept his distance from Mr. Maverick, standing in the doorway while Mr. Maverick sipped his tea. No answer. “Sir, it’s been bugging me, y’know; you haven’t been talking to me for a long while. Are you mad at me? If so, I’m sorry, even though I’m not sure what’s it I’ve done.” No answer. “Mr. Maverick.”
At this, Mr. Maverick set down his cup gingerly on the clothed wooden dining table and turned to Linck. Linck’s face was sincere anxiety whilst Mr. Maverick’s was that of a brick wall. After some moments of staring, he said, “Can you not get out of the city anymore, Linck?”
“I’m saying, you shouldn’t go out of the city – no more London nor Walhaz. Afterschool, you should return home directly and in the weekends, you can only venture around not outside a ten kilometre radius. Understood?”
“B-but why? Why’s this? And why have you been quiet all this time?”
Mr. Maverick stood up and walked past a confused and frustrated Linck, making his way to the bedroom and into his dream, while Linck was rooted on the spot, his head swimming in the sea of confusion, angry tears threatening to spill.
“Eh. Maybe he’s just worried,” Teddy suggested. Linck and Teddy were hanging out at the deserted playground in the park (of course, no one would come this late at night to go for a walk!) “I mean, I hear them Termites had invaded Deutschland and making their way to Francia. Who knew when they’ll get here?”
“Theoretically, the whole atmosphere contaminated, Ted.”
“But I bet them Termites in the air are dormant, unlike the active ones who’ve been killing humans.”
“True…” Silence. “So, I guess movie’s cancelled, or maybe you could give my ticket to someone else.”
“Nah – I’d rather not watch it than going with strangers.” What a loyal puppy! Ted should win the Best Friend in the Whole Universe Award! “And I don’t think you should sneak out, either. Mr. Maverick’s not aggressive but he kills silently, and he might mean good cause.”
Linck contemplated Teddy’s words carefully and then nodded. “Yup, Ted. Maybe I should do what he says.”
Ted gave a lopsided smile and stood up from his swing. “Well, better get going; it’s getting late.” Linck slid down from the slide, said his goodbye and walked the opposite direction of Ted’s.
What you should all know is that Linck was in his rebellious stage, and he’s mighty stubborn.