June 30, 2116
It was a long, hot day, perhaps even longer than what a day should be. The scorching heat outside made one pray for a cool summer breeze, rain, or even snow to cool down their sweaty bodies. Those learning at “the Academy” caused the temperamental weather; the students had tests every three months, which affected the human world miles below theirs. Humans knew the testing dates as companies printed it on their calendars; they would plan for the event never knowing which student might get close to their home. People were careful to make sure they weren’t caught outside as it meant quick death; many of their homes were on a locking timer to insure the occupants’ safety. The school was one that haunted the nightmares of humans—they knew it was there—they had seen the clear glass transportation pods travelling between the skies and earth. They had experienced the terrifying results of the tests.
On the street, none of the houses faced each other; it was a design to help cut down on traffic in neighborhoods. A dystopian view of the future, all tightly packed with barely any grass, gray buildings with small windows. The garage would host one old model Ferrari, but could now host three of the slim cracker shaped hover cars. Each roof had its own dish that converted the light into energy. There were no longer telephone poles or power boxes; one would no longer have to flip a breaker to restart part of their house.
The hum of air-conditioners filled the still air as they fought at full power to keep those in the houses alive. An older man stood next to a small, blazing fire at the end of a long row of houses; a teenager was an arm’s length away from the mentor.
“Put it out Silverspoon, come on, and put it out!”
“I can’t.” The boy, Silverspoon, was standing next to the teacher. He was panting and close to death from heat exhaustion. Any other kind human might have offered him a drink of water, but the instructor would not. If he were to pass the test, he would have to produce the water himself, something Silverspoon was incapable of.
The teacher was wearing a black suit jacket over a long sleeved, white collared shirt with dark red tie; he was used to living in a room in which you could glaze pottery. Similar to a heat they were experiencing now in the desert.
Silverspoon’s resistance to the heat paled in comparison, his physique labelled him as being in his late teenage years. His dark blue shirt was lying on the ground, sweat soaked and smoking on the edges. He was quite tan, and without his shirt, his ribcage stood out in stark contrast to the rest of his build. He seemed to be much too slim, almost unhealthy. He had bright red hair and mellow brown eyes. His jeans shredded at the bottom, the smoking remains proved they had been on fire during the test. The ground below him was muddy from sweat, splashing his converse in artistic patterns. His knees appeared to be shaking and his socks had been bunched down around his ankles in an attempt to cool himself, if only slightly.
“Do it, now,” the instructor ordered, the glare on his face appeared permanent, his exasperation with the student obvious.
“I-I c-can’t. I’m sorry sir, it’s too hot.” The boy slowly sunk down onto his knees. The gravel dug into his flesh and left small cuts across his skin. He didn’t notice. He was too exhausted to care.
“Do it Silverspoon!” The teacher nearly spit in his face. The students’ clenched teeth made a hissing noise when he breathed. He begged for water as his body came closer to the earth, his arms and legs attempting to hold him off the parched ground. “Weak.”
“Forgive me,” Silverspoon whispered.
His arms gave way and they slid, scratching against the ground. His face crashed painfully into the rocks, blood dribbled from his nose a few seconds after impact. The student’s mouth stayed open, his breath slowing to a dangerous pace. The fire in front of him melted into nothing and the heat ebbed. The hum of air conditioners quieted. Birds in the trees began to chirp again, disturbed as the boy’s body rolled in the gravel. The acceptable summer heat had children coming outdoors to enjoy what parched lawn they had, yellowed at the roots. The working class settled into their cars for long travel, and animals began to slink out and communicate brightly.
A transportation pod glided slowly out of the sky. Its gleaming, sleek, glass exterior shot off distracting and blinding flashes as it met the sun just right. Inside the circular doors were plush, blue velvet cushions that the teacher set the teen on. After taking one more sweeping glance over the land, he too climbed into the pod, which carried them up into the clouds. To any passer-by who lived in the area, they would know exactly what had just taken place; for the occasional visitor, the scene seemed one of cruelty and abuse. With only one school in the country hosting several thousand students, it was a crowded and intense time for training.
The students attending the school in the sky were not human. When a teacher acquired a difficult student, they would often call this school and report the “trouble” the student had caused. The Council, concealed in red robes would then remove the child from human society. These students didn’t learn correctional behaviors, they had a power uniquely their own. The lucky few chosen to attend had the power to control the elements. The people had been named: “the wicked ones”, “the kids who would make the world burn”, “the children who would destroy the planet, set deadly plagues, or make each human being suffer in great agony; such agony, death would be bliss.” It was people like this that the humans had to watch out for, in the blink of an eye one could become carbon dust blowing away in the wind, never returning to their families again. This is why the elementalists were separated from society, because they needed training; an uncontrolled elementalist means one thing, death—for either the controller or those they have meaninglessly attacked. The Council keeps a strict watch on all their people.
The pod began its spiral ascent to the parking plaza. The wind tossed the rain, sleet, and hail around in wild patterns, battering the dark clouds in every direction. The pod stayed blissfully calm and never wavered. As they broke the horizon of the terrible storm, in the distance stood the majestic columns of a separate civilization. It looked as though it was on Mount Olympus itself; beautiful ivory stone led the way to the top where a majestic school sat. At night the houses would glimmer in flashes of gold, but in the day they shone in pure silver. It was a refuge, for those who had long abandoned their old home among the humans. While it may be a part of Earth, it was as if living outside the Milky Way. Even in the sun, small stars would glimmer and shine, winking down at those who ventured out into the cobblestone paths.
This was the Academy. The pod gently touched down just below the marble steps leading to a grand oak door. On these steps four monumental Doric columns held up the high ebony roof. The dragons on each corner protected the land with fearsome resolution. Two men clothed in tight blue robes with silver lining rushed down the steps to the pod, they appeared to be blue heavenly angels. Their clothes choked them, the neck line high and the coat pulled over tightly with gold buttons to their right breast. The teacher stepped away, allowing the healers to take charge of the nineteen-year-old. They carried him up the stairs, the doors emblazoned with a mirage of symbols opened as they approached.
The teacher headed to a smaller side building to report the news of the test. It would be seven pages of tedious paperwork which would surely send his charge to the grave. He winced at the terrible knowledge he had. He would be sending his student to a place where only darkness existed. He swallowed hard, he had only seen the red robes twice in his life and he feared them. This is where the teen was headed and no amount of pity would save him.
“And what exactly are we to call this new world in the clouds?” A woman asked. She stood at the basin of earth that had risen miles above their heads. A great mountain removed within moments was a remarkable sight for the small group of nine who would grow to be hundreds more.
“I do not know, but what I do know is what our people shall be called. No longer shall we live in fear or pain because we can do things others cannot. We will live in harmony, one with another with few ruling over to keep peace between us and those who have come to fear us.” The man replied. His arms still raised towards the heavens.
“And what shall we be called, what shall us, those who can control the life and death of those around us, who can pull the stars and planets into any pattern they desire, who can set fires and put them out, who can hide in earth and storm, who will keep us lifted in the sky and in fortune?”
“Elementalists, for we can control the earth itself, every movement, every ounce of life through our own will. It is best we are separate from these people.”
“Elementalists. I can feel it in my bones, the power surging through.”
“Diana, be calm.” He grasped her shoulders tightly, her eyes rolled back into her head. The whites of her eyes were more haunting than the demon humans who had plagued their minds for so long.
“But they have hurt me so, they have brought destruction to my life, and they have caused more damage than I ever could. They deserve to suffer.”
“DIANA!” He screamed. In a moment, her body had whipped away in the wind.
The earth rumbled and those standing fell. The planets changed and separated. Diana’s scream rent apart the sky. There was no up or down, right or wrong, land and ocean, it was as one. When it ended, the group could tell the world would never be the same. The man who had named their new world and civilization screamed as he saw what had happened. Diana had pulled the Earth apart and destroyed its very foundation, in doing so she had destroyed herself. Her bloody and torn remains haunted the walkways of the earth.
June 30, 2116
In the infirmary, a healer stood waiting, the clinical diagnostics screen already open. She was shifting information around the clear glass. Organizing the data as her patient’s information fed through the wireless connection. She didn’t react when the other healers placed her charge on the bed next to her. She was checking his current vitals and school records. She winced at the information, feeling sorry for the teen placed in her care. The reports led to nothing good and a good portion of it shocked her, especially when a message from the Council appeared in the lower right corner. As Rose waited for him to wake up, she decided to read his most recent information.
Name: Ethan Silverspoon
Birthday: June 1, 2097
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Red
Height: 5’ 10”
Time Spent at Academy: 5 years
Grade Reports: 0.0 Fail
Element Test Files
Curious, Rose opened the tab to his test files and began to peruse the results to see if it would explain anything more about the teenager she was in charge of. She thought it was odd for him to have an unlabelled element and needed to know more about his care regime.
December 31, 2112- End of Eighteen Month Initiation to the Academy
Elementalist subject shows positive signs for being able to control one of the elements. He is not affiliated with any of the currently inhabited elements. Individual elementalist testing will further prove his worth in a designated area.
March 31, 2113- First Storm Element Test
Ethan shows no proclivity toward the element. He cannot create a single gust of wind to ruffle the hair on my head. While he can control the destruction of an already formed tornado, we don’t know if his element is specialized to one form inside the broad topic.
June 30, 2113- Second Storm Element Test
During the test, Ethan passed out. He was transferred to the infirmary. It is determined he is not part of the Storm Element and should be moved onto the next element as soon as possible.
September 30, 2113- First Fortune Element Test
Ethan does not appear to have the foresight to see where his own life may be going, but he can find those who have death in their near future as confirmed by me, Danielle Withers. We will continue to train him and see if he can later control the fortune around him.
December 31, 2113- Second Fortune Element Test
Ethan cannot control the slightest bit of fortune, good or bad. I see no further signs that he should ever continue in this program.
March 31, 2114- First Life Element Test
Ethan has not shown any ability to be kind to the patients past giving out free room and board for those who have not enjoyed the hospitality of the Academy. We will continue to train him upon orders by the Council, but we do not hold much hope.
June 30, 2114- Second Life Element Test
Ethan managed to concoct a deadly substance that nearly killed himself and several other highly trained life elementalists. We have removed him from the program as consequence. We have recommended he have a healer at all times around him when in the infirmary again.
September 30, 2114- First Air Element Test
Ethan nearly fell to his own death today, after incapably falling over the edge of the academy. One of our newer students was lucky enough to catch him and return him to safety. We will be keeping a closer eye on him from now on.
December 31, 2114- Second Air Element Test
After many damages, which included part of the front of the school falling to the human world, we have decided it would be safer if he continue his studies in another element.
March 31, 2115- First Fire Element Test
Most of the housing in City of Garden was lost in an uncontrolled fire, we fear for the safety of the elementalist population concerning Ethan Silverspoon.
June 30, 2115- Second Fire Element Test
If we do not end up at war with the human population, it will be a blessing and a miracle. Ethan should be moved to a different element immediately.
September 30, 2115- First Earth Element Test
Nothing destroyed, everything seems usual. It is a blessing having reviewed previous reports on Ethan’s tests, yet he shows no ability to control the earth whatsoever.
December 31, 2115- Second Earth Element Test
My decision to keep several practiced earth elementalists on hand during the test was a wise decision. The chasm he opened let a few of the instructors fall through to earth. Please move him, quickly, to another element.
March 31, 2116- First Water Element Test
Ethan is a student who has extreme concentration and appears to want to fit into our society; I hope his abilities will move forward in the future. Possibly moving past almost drowning a room full of people, which was frightening.
June 30, 2116- Second Water Element Test
The student appears weak, even with the smallest fire possible he was not able to conjure an ounce of pure water to put out the flame. While he dripped with sweat that could have dampened even a forest fire, I see no need to move him further along in this element any more.
Rose stared in shock at the reports on him; surely, this would mean a visit to the Council. Her blue eyes darted to his shifting form. She pitied him. Young and whole with no signs of being fully human nor fully elementalist, she had never heard of someone like him before and prayed he would not see the red robes before his inevitable death. She quickly flipped open the letter from the Council with instructions for both his healer and him, her eyes scanned it quickly, she tried to not let her emotions over take her work.
Please kindly inform Ethan that he will receive a letter as soon as he wakes which will give him further instructions on his continued existence at the academy. We are pleased in your work and hope to see him in fine condition after he is back in the world of the living.
Wishing you all the luck in your healing endeavours,
Your healer should have informed you of our second letter. Please follow the instructions it contains and we hope you will be in better health shortly.
With all our grace to your wellbeing,
The large windows of the infirmary let in large columns of light, giving his red waves of hair a soft, fiery glow; the light often temporarily blinded patients on the other side of the ward. The white cotton sheets were itchy under Ethan’s now twitching hands, but they were more comfortable than the dorms. Soft downy feather pillows and mattresses made from finest polyester with soft cotton stuffing made the stay enjoyable. Ethan recalled how many elementalists tried to fake an illness just to stay in the infirmary, but unlike humans, this plan was more likely fail, unless one ran across a kind worker who took pity on the students who suffered on the beds provided every night. Blue curtains around the beds were rare. The healers saved the curtains for highly injured elementalists, which did not happen often. Rose gently let her hand hover an inch above Ethan, it glowed as it scanned him for final information. The data was delivered to the computer that sent out a live spiral feed to the main computer for storing.
“Good afternoon,” Rose greeted with a smile once she realised Ethan was fully awake and staring up at her. She quickly closed the reports on the screen and brought up his vital signs. Her lips pursed as she scanned the information, she swept a strand of brown hair behind her shoulder as she turned to face her patient. “Your temperature is currently a hundred and three point six, which is quite low. I’m going to give you a small shot to help bring it back up.”
Ethan nodded in understanding, he had learned in his initiation all about his own personal care as an elementalist. Their body temperatures ran at a hundred and six to a hundred and eight Fahrenheit. The genetic mutation allowed them to survive at the higher temperatures that would kill a human. Rose collected the necessary needle from a nearby medical tray and flipped its top off before gently bending down and inserting it into his elbow.
He waited quietly while Rose went to a store cupboard in the back. He knew the procedures of the infirmary after working there and occupying a bed often. He lifted the water glass on the glass bedside table and drank the water inside. Ethan’s healer returned with a metal tray, saltine crackers and various cooked meats strewn across two plates. As Ethan ate, Rose went back over his diagnostics to make sure his body would return to full health. Her eyes wandered back to the report file she had read through earlier and the unidentified element. Every part of Ethan Silverspoon screamed “elementalist.” Yet here he was, tested through every element and he couldn’t control any of them. She wondered what would become of the teenage boy currently in her care.
“I’ve noticed there’s some missing information on your file,” Rose stated calmly as she moved the little vitals around the screen to view them better.
“What would that be?” Ethan asked. Part of the cracker was still in his mouth, clouding his speech.
“It just seems that your element space is not filled in and you’ve been here for quite a long time.”
“Yeah five years,” Ethan stated dully.
“Do you think you could tell me what it is and I can edit it in?”
“I don’t have one.”
“What?” Rose looked at him sharply in shock.
“I don’t have an element; it’s unidentified and therefore blank.” Ethan was staring down at the tray of food, no longer looking as though he wanted to eat any of it. Rose bit her lip, she should have known based on his information, but she didn’t want to believe it.
“So you’ve been unidentifiable for all the time you’ve been here?”
“Yep, and I’m guessing what tomorrow will bring.” Ethan’s chest constricted in a self-pitying laugh, but he didn’t make a single noise.
“The Council has informed me that they’re sending you a letter with instructions inside.” Rose stated her voice no longer cheerful.
“Right,” Ethan shifted and took another bite of the food, his eyes shifting nervously to the glass bedside table next to him. His phone was sitting there; it blended in with the linoleum top. Rose knew what he was looking for. He was waiting for the screen to flash red. “I think the Council knows I’ve wreaked enough havoc in every element department. I am sure I’m the story of what not to do in all the lessons now days. The Council will want to discuss my future. Here I sit with the body of an elementalist and with some proclivity in certain areas, but not able to control a single one.”
Her lips pursed to the side, she was nervously fidgeting, trying to figure out what to say. Ethan shifted and the tray tilted as he tried to lay down and rest.
“I’ll take that from you if you’re done.”
“Yeah thanks,” Ethan let the tray slide into her hands and she hurried away. He swallowed thickly, staring up at the ceiling. The healer had returned however and his eyes met her nervous pair of blue ones.
“What’s your name?” She asked quickly.
“I’m sure you already know that and a lot of other information about me.”
“My mother always taught me it’s polite to ask, especially when starting a conversation even if you already know their name.”
“It’s Ethan, Ethan Silverspoon.”
“I’m Rose Sylvester,” she smiled brightly at him and he blinked. He had never received this much hospitality from a healer before, it was unnerving.
The screen on his phone flashed and he knew what was coming. He reached out blindly for it, the cool glass panel made him want to drop it on the floor and never know what it had to say. In the recesses of his mind, he knew it would be like the other day, before he had taken his second water element test. Taking a deep breath, he moved his thumb across the screen and tapped in his name for access. Blaring brightly on the screen was one of his worst nightmares, the same nightmare other elementalists experienced at different intervals.
The message had a red background with readable black text. His fingers moved numbly to close the message but a sentence at the end caught his fearful eyes and he, frozen, read the entirety of the message hoping he had not seen those words together in a sentence. Perhaps his mind was simply playing tricks on him.
We on the Council regret to hear of your failure of the water element test. We have feared this outcome. We have heard word of your faint exterior from the instructor set to test you and hope you are feeling much better tomorrow when you join us for breakfast. We will discuss your future promptly at ten o’clock in the morning, please report to the locked door on the third floor by the tall windows. We are sure you know the one.
Enjoy the rest of your day,
His eyes closed and he dropped the phone to his chest, Rose respectfully stepped away to go and record further information and tend to other patients. Ethan spent the next hour resigning himself to his fate, one in which he would never see the outside world again.
June 29, 2116
Ethan recalled the conversation and subsequent hours leading to his test. The water element professor had approached him one day near the test, he had been held behind because his things were scattered. The more proficient elementalists in the class bullied him relentlessly, and nonetheless sent his belongings to the farthest corners of the classroom. He had just found one of his erasers under a nearby desk when Professor Emma VonBerg addressed him; he whipped up and cracked his head on the metal support beams. She had quickly apologized for making him hit his head and handed him an ice cube from her hand, which he took to be polite, bumping his head was no big deal.
“Ethan, you realize that if you fail this water element test you are going to be classified as a rogue elementalist.” Professor VonBerg took a seat in the next desk over, Ethan walked calmly back to where his things were and rummaged longer than necessary in the pockets.
“I am quite aware of the situation, yes.” He stated, his voice let her know there was a lifetime of fear behind his brown eyes, the icy edge slippery and cracked which she now stood on with him. Either of them could fall with this conversation, it was just a matter of who would weigh more in the end.
“I suggest you do a bit of study and practice, it might help you with your exam tomorrow.” Emma suggested politely, he had been a wonderful boy to have in her classes and now dreaded what would happen to him.
“No amount of study and practice is going to help me tomorrow if it hasn’t helped me thus far. I don’t think any of the teachers at this school would really be disappointed if I failed.”
“I disagree, but I have to follow orders. I’ve been instructed to give you this,” Emma held out a blood red envelope with black writing curling fancily into Ethan’s name on the front. He snatched it from her hand; he would let it burn him instead. He half expected it to shout at him, but it was just a normal letter. He wished the letter would.
“Thanks,” Ethan mumbled tossing his bag over his shoulder and turning to leave.
“And Ethan?” Emma called before he was out the door. He turned, not saying anything. “Good luck.”
He climbed the flights of stairs numbly. Ethan watched in envy as air elementalists pushed themselves up effortlessly through the spiraling staircase. If they chose, they would never have to walk anywhere again. Water elementalists teasingly jetted water at the flying students, some kind fire elementalists stopped the water from hitting. Ethan ducked lightning bolts and bricks, some of those he passed glanced at the red envelop in his hand, but none of them said a word. He stumbled into the boys’ dormitory where he was staying with the other seventeen year old elementalists. They looked up as he entered and then hastily looked away. Disasters liked to take place around Ethan, especially when he was upset about one thing or another. His bag hit the post of his bed with a loud clunk, his body landing loudly on the firm mattress. The letter was still clutched in his hand, and it poked painfully into his side. After a moment, he stole himself away and slit it open. Most of the other boys who had been hanging around in the dorm left, the ones who stayed ignored him, acting as if the bed were completely empty.
Ethan groaned and rolled over, pressing his face into the cotton material of the pillows. All Ethan was left to do now was join the few boys who stayed in studying, or he could sleep. Yet, it didn’t seem like sleep would come to him anytime soon. He went into the bathroom and filled his water cup to just under the brim. He concentrated hard for the next few hours, but by the time the others returned for bed he could not bend the water in a cup any more than the elementalists could be controlled by humans. He would be better off turning the tap water on than attempting to bend anything to his will. Ethan had fully resigned himself to being the odd one out, and in this, accepted death.
July 1, 2116
Ethan walked down the halls of the school with a drop in his shoulders. In his mind he thought about how these were the last steps he would ever take down this path again; each breath was one of the last he would ever feel in his lungs. Everything about him was the last: his thoughts, the way he walked, his slow smile, the emotions running like blood through his veins; even the last few heartbeats in his chest were the last he would ever feel or remember. After walking for what had seemed to be several miles, Ethan stopped in front of the only metal door of the Academy. On the door were the swirling elemental drawings, each one engulfing the other.
Taking a deep breath Ethan stretched out his hand, clenched it into a fist, and gave three sharp knocks to the door. Slowly the door creaked open, giving way to darkness; the void appeared to be creeping out into the brightly lit hallway, dark shadows penetrating the white walls, invisible hands were pulling at his clothes. The darkness pulled him forward, he could no longer see, and his body rushed through the twisting hallways inside. His jumbled thoughts began to clear as his hair pushed back away from his forehead.
Adrenaline filled his heart, making his body tense until he could hardly move. Ethan couldn’t against the rushing wind pushing him forward. The darkness was so impenetrable anything could be lurking in the shadows, waiting for just the right moment. All at once, it felt like he had hit a brick wall, but he was still standing and he felt no pain. He had just stopped, his hair crept slowly back down to its usual pattern, the strands pulling painfully a bit as they shifted. Ethan raised a hand to speed up the process, his ears straining to hear.
“Welcome Ethan Silverspoon, we’re so glad you could join us.” A female’s voice reverberated all around him and the lights clicked on.
Floodlights exposed the football-sized room. As Ethan’s gaze accepted the sudden light, he took in his surroundings. He was surrounded by white walls that reflected the light. The walls, upon closer inspection, were stained with blood. It was dry and cracking. Security cameras in the corners observed the room. Above him was a silver box lined with windows, but they were dark, impossible to see the Council that was surely hiding behind them. Around the room were a few panels behind which anything could be lurking. The area resembled a fancy box for spectators at an anticipated sporting event, but this was no sporting event. This was an arena for inescapable death.
“Isn’t there some other chance?” Ethan yelled wildly hoping this was not the end, there had to be something more.
“Why Ethan, that’s why you’re here isn’t it? To find your last chance,” the voice replied. He could sense the laughing smirk on their lips.
“I’m not ready to die.” Ethan’s last hope was fading. He could feel all the fight and adrenaline draining from his body.
The panels on the walls slid aside and guns exited mechanically clicking into place, another click loaded the ammunition. Ethan could count six guns ready to shoot. Slowly he pressed himself up against the wall as so many rogues before him, closing his eyes and clamping his jaw he prepared for his death. The guns took careful aim, he could hear them warming up. After a moment, they went off, each gun shooting simultaneously.