City of the Forgotten People

Introduction: Katherine Smith

I’m in a forest, a canopy of trees covers me from the pelting rain. The wind whistles in my ears and tousles my hair. I feel calm and free, yet there’s something unsettling about this place.

To my left is a hill rising up to about 40 ft. It is covered in cruncy, brown grass and wilting flowers. At the top of the hill is a lone tree. It is being pulled in a tug of war between falling & staying upright. 

To my right is a vast extent of forest & greenery. Behind me, there is more forest. 

Ahead of me is a large building with a tower on one side. I take a small step forward. Suddenly, the wind picks up & it somehow rains even harder. The small tree on the hill snaps as an unexpected bolt of lightning hits it on the trunk. Slowly, a figure silhouetted against the horizon comes into view from over the hill. He or she, I can’t tell, walks hurriedly towards me.

“Go,” a deep voice bellows from the darkness. “Go & run, it’s coming for you. Go, hurry.” This time, the voice is higher. I recognize it, it’s my mom’s.

Chapter 1: Katherine Smith                                                                    

I wake up when I fall out of my bed. It hurts, but it at least wakes me from my nightmare. I look around. I’m in my bed, or at least next to it. There is no wind blowing & I can’t see that creepy person anymore. Although, I can still hear that voice.       

“Go, hurry, it’s coming for you.” Suddenly, Mom bursts in through the door. “Go, hurry, the school bus, you’ll be late.” 

 I jump up from the uncomfortable wood floor of my room and, as my mom leaves, close the door behind her.

 I fling open my closet door and grab the first thing I see; jeans, an old, faded t-shirt that used to be my older sister’s, & some tennis shoes. I get dressed and then head to the bathroom.

 I look at myself in the mirror. I’m a relatively short girl with bronze eyes and perfect, gleaming, white teeth. Most people say I’m pretty but some people say I’m special. Grandma says it’s my eyes. “There’s something about them, sugar plum,” she always says. My dad says it’s my hair. He says my mom’s special, too. 

I run down the hall & into the kitchen. There, Mom has laid out my breakfast & is now in as much of a hurry as me. “Bye, Mom,” I call as I grab two blueberry scones (one for someone special), and race out the door.

“Wait!” Mom calls after me. “Don’t forget this.” I turn around just in time to catch the backpack hurdling at me. 

“Bye!” I call. (Hopefully for the last time.)

I see the bus starting to pull away from the curb & in one last attempt not to miss it, throw a book at it. I miss it completely. I guess extra P.E. isn’t paying off. 

Well, I might as well ask Mom to drive me… again. As I walk back towards my blue & black two-story house, I take one last look at the school bus pulling away into oncoming traffic & freeze in mid-step. 

The bus driver must have seen me because she stops the bus stops & pulls it back to the curb. She rolls down the driver side window & calls, “You’re lucky I’m used to this, Ms. Smith, otherwise you would have been late”. 

“Thank you, Mrs. T,” I reply gratefully. I hand her one of the scones. 

“No one is quite like you, Katherine.” She sighs. The bus pulls away from the curb for the last time with me safely aboard. Not with my book, though.

I head towards the back of the bus, looking for a specific person. “Kat!” calls a familiar voice. 

“Peyton!” I feel like shouting, instead, I just walk calmly towards her & sit in the seat next to her. 

Peyton is an average height twelve-year-old. She has shoulder-length blonde hair, muscular body, & a dazzling smile. Peyton Bell is my best friend & has been since third grade even though we are total opposites. She is outgoing, I’m a little shy. I’m very smart, she is… well… she focuses on things like sports. 

We only have one thing in common; we have a nemesis, Arthur Morris. Peyton has a nickname for him, Slime Ball. Peyton is incredibly athletic & could beat Arthur in a fight any day. Not that she would, she follows rules. 

When we are about halfway to school, we feel a kick on the back of our seats. I groan in frustration & Peyton spins around, holding my book high over her head. “Hey, where did you get that”? I ask. 

“Oh, this?” asks Peyton, holding out the book. “When you threw it, you didn’t miss completely, it just didn’t hit the bus. Instead, it kind of went by my window that happened to be open. I caught it. You can have it, if you want.” 

“Please!” I reply, grabbing the book.

 There is another kick on our seats. An annoying voice says, “Hey, girls.” Arthur says the word like it tastes bad on his tongue. “I bet Kat over here will miss the bus tomorrow.” 

“Be quiet, Slime Ball,” says Peyton. “Or I’ll punch your teeth out.” 

“No, you won’t.” He shakes his head disapprovingly, as if daring her to. He’s right, Peyton would never touch him, let alone hurt him. 

Arthur returns his attention to whatever he was doing before he annoyed us. Peyton turns to me. “The nerve of him!” 

At least we won’t get bothered for the rest of the ride. I think.

Chapter 2: Katherine Smith

I groan as our math teacher drones on & on about division. “… opposite of multiplication… 124 divided by 4… ”               

It’s not that I hate math, it’s just that this teacher, Mr. Jones, makes it hard to like. Not only is it boring, but we learned division in fourth grade. This is why we call Mr. Jones, Mr. Drones.

My desk is next to the window. This window is all that keeps me from falling asleep. It’s too bright. Peyton sits behind me. It’s easier to pass notes without getting caught. In front of me is an empty desk. Next to me is a girl named Louissa Keene. She is one of those people who is always in everyone’s business.  

Louissa is nice enough, even if she’s a smart aleck. She seems to know most of the people in our big school. I wonder if she knows who Peyton & I are. Even though we sit less than 10 feet away from her, she has never once looked our way. 

I’m drifting off when the bell rings! Free, free, free! I think. Then I realize it’s the lunch bell. I groan & look at Peyton. She also groans & has a defeated look on her face. 

Peyton, my fellow classmates, & I walk out of the classroom in what is probably supposed to be a line but that looks more like a blob. We sixth graders are too cool for lines.

Today, Peyton brings her usual lunch, a ham & cheese sandwich with a caesar salad from the school salad bar. I have a blueberry smoothie and a hard-boiled egg. Peyton calls her lunch, “The usual.” I call my lunch… well, actually, I don’t call my lunch anything. Peyton is weird. 

As we settle down & start eating, I decide to tell Peyton about my dream. She may be a little weird, but she is a very loyal best friend. 

“Hey, Peyton, can I tell you something?” I ask. 

“It better not be about Natalie cracking your phone again,” she smiles, “because you know I’m not beating her up for you. She scares me, you know.” Natalie is my 16-year-old sister. She looks exactly like me, except she has three ear piercings. 

“No,” I say flatly. “This is not about Natalie, it’s about me.” 

“Really? That’s a first.”

“Look,” I say, wanting to get to the point, “last night, I had a dream… ” I tell her the whole story, and when I’m done, Peyton is not laughing, she is not even smiling. 

I look at her. “Well?” I ask. She looks like she just saw a ghost. 

“Ummm, Kat, what will you say if… ” 

“What!” I urge. 

“What will you say if I tell you that I also had that dream last night.” 

“I’d say you’re yanking my chain.” 

“And what if I’m not yanking your chain.” My mouth hangs open. I can tell, Peyton isn’t lying.

Chapter 3: Peyton Bell

It’s 4:00 PM & Kat & I are at my house. Mom drove us over here when school let out. Kat & I barely talked all day but now we are determined to get this whole “dream thing” sorted out. We go to the living room & throw ourselves on the couch; me lying on it belly up & Kat dangling over the edge. 

Even though it’s my house, Kat comes here so often that it’s practically like she has two houses. My house is considerably larger than Kat’s house, even if Kat has more people living in her house than I do. I have more siblings than her. They are in college right now, two twins, Allie & Monica, who just started, & Justin, who would be done but wants to become a doctor.  

“So, Peyton, what’s the deal with this?” asks Kat.

My first instinct is to say: “I’m sure there is an explanation for this.” Instead, I say, “Kat, there is something really weird going on, I know it’s not normal. I researched it on my phone on the bus & nothing came up explaining it.” 

“Okay, we just need to think. Was what I told you the exact same as what you experienced?”

“Exact, word for word, the same,” I tell her. 

“Wait.” She speaks so suddenly that she falls off the couch, her backpack hitting her on the head. When she climbs back on the couch, she has an excited look on her face. “We could ask around the school to see if anyone also had that dream.” I wanted to say that it was too risky, but when Katherine Smith has an idea, she will rarely back down. 

“It might be too risky, but maybe if we ask the right people… ” At that moment, the doorbell rings. 

Mom yells, “Can you get that, honey”? 

“Sure,” I yell back. “I wonder who it is,” I say, 

“Maybe the mailman,” Kat says. 

“No,” I reply. “He only comes in the morning, & even if he did, he wouldn’t ring the doorbell.” 

“Well, do you have a better idea?” Kat says, annoyed. 

“It could be a vampire,” I offer.

“Oh please,” Kat says. I run past her & open the door. 

“Who is it?” Kat asks, 

“A vampire,” I say, just to get on her nerves. 

Actually, it’s Arthur. He is standing awkwardly on the porch, the wind is blowing his hair into his eyes. He’s carrying a tray with cookies. “Hi, Slime Ball, what’s with the cookies?” I ask, trying not to look surprised. Never in my life would I expect to find Arthur Morris on my porch. 

“My mom made me bring them.” He looks more miserable than the time he forgot all his lines in the school play. He was considered a loser by all his friends for a week. “She found out I was coming here & made me do it. I really need to talk to you guys, though.” 

“And why would you come here in the first place?” asks Kat. She has recovered from her annoyance & is standing next to me. 

“Trust me, it’s important.” 

I am wary of him, I don’t want to make a fool of myself in my own house. The cookies make me think twice, though, & I let him in.

“So,” I say. “What do you need to tell us?” I sit down in my dad’s favorite chair & Kat sits next to me, on the beanbag chair. My dog, Cinnamon, jumps on her lap. 

Cinnamon & Kat have always had a special relationship. Of course, he loves me too, after all, he is my dog, but they are just really good friends. 

Arthur stands awkwardly in the middle of the living room, looking like when I had first seen him on the porch.

 “Sit,” I say. He does, setting the tray of cookies on his lap. Cinnamon bounds over & sniffs the tray curiously. “Don’t let him get those,” I warn. 

Once we are settled, (and once Cinnamon leaves the room), I cut to the chase. “Now can you please tell us what’s going on here?” 

He does. “I overheard you in the cafeteria, talking about that dream, well, I had that dream, too.” I expected something weird, but this… 

“Oh my gosh,” breathes Kat.

We all sit there in silence, I can hear everyone’s hearts beating. Even Cinnamon, who has poked his head back into the room, has enough sense to know that something strange is going on. He walks into the room, pausing just long enough to sniff the tray of cookies, & plops down on the floor by my feet. 

I decide to break the silence but have no idea what to say. Suddenly, I remember something from my dream. It’s not very vivid, but I know it happened.

 “Did you happen to see a bird in your dream?” I ask them. 

“Not that I remember,” says Kat. 

“Actually, yes,” says Arthur, “A big bird, flying right above me.” 

“Yeah, that’s right. Kat, you really didn’t see it?” 


“Interesting,” I respond.

We think for several tense minutes, searching our minds for anything else we can remember. Finally, Kat can’t take it anymore. 

“Are we positive we’re even forgetting anything?” 

“No, nothing,” replies Arthur. 

“Same, I remember everything,” I say. 

“I didn’t say are we positive we aren’t forgetting anything, I said are we positive we are even forgetting anything. We could know everything & we are just not able to connect the dots,” Kat said.

“I suppose — ” I’m interrupted by Arthur. 

“We are all such big idiots. While we’ve been wasting our time trying to figure out all this junk, it’s been right under our noses.” 

I sigh. “What’s been right under our noses, Arthur?” 

“The answer!” He’s really excited now. “I think we are being controlled by Aliens.” 

Chapter 4: Arthur Morris

Katherine & Peyton stare at me like I’m crazy. “… umm,” says Peyton, “you know Aliens aren’t real. Right?” 

“That’s what everyone thinks, but they’re out there alright. I know it.” 

“I think people are secretly testing on us at night,” says Katherine. 

“And you think my idea is stupid,” I mutter. 

“Actually, it’s totally possible,” replies Kat. “It’s just not as likely as my theory.” 

I roll my eyes. There isn’t much I can say to that

Peyton clears her throat. “Do you want to hear my theory?” Before either of us respond, she says, “I think Vampires have something to do with this”. 

“Vampires!?!” I say, alarmed. At the same time, Kat says, 

“What is with all this Vampire stuff!?!” Peyton laughs. 

“Relax. I’m just messing with you guys. Why so on edge?” 

“Maybe because there is supernatural activity going on in our brains. If you had a brain, maybe you wouldn’t have made such a stupid joke.”

With most people, saying that sentence would be like wearing red while a bull was around, but it just made Peyton laugh harder. “I was just trying to get on Kat’s nerves.”

All of a sudden, Cinnamon jumps up. He goes over to a certain area by the wall and starts sniffing vigorously. His tail isn’t wagging. Instead, it is sticking straight out, and his ears are too.

“Is he ok?” Kat looks worried. She and I look at Peyton expectantly. Peyton doesn’t respond. She looks even more worried than Kat, but she tries to hide it.

Finally, she whispers, “Shhh.” We stay there, listening. All we can hear is our own ragged breathing and Cinnamon’s soft whines. Then, all together, we take a sharp breath in. 

I can hear something. It’s faint, but it’s there all right. A soft hum, no louder than a bee’s buzzing. It gets louder and louder until finally, we don’t have to concentrate to be able to hear it. Suddenly, a bright blue light shines from where Cinnamon is standing. 

He gets knocked over, but hops right back up and is alright. He comes over to Peyton. She grabs him and holds him tight. When we look back at the spot the light had been, a blue and green oval has opened up. 

“What is that, a portal?” asks Kat. 

“I-I think so,” I respond. I’m not really paying attention to the portal itself, though, but what is through it. I can’t see much, but from what I can tell, there is a building, about 15 stories high, with a lot of windows. There are a few shapes moving around, but they are hard to make out. 

I get a very brief look at a tree-like object before Peyton and Kat start screaming. Soon, I start screaming too because I can feel myself getting sucked inside the portal. 

To be continued…