Author : Izabella Grace

Inside the smoky crystal, everything glows. I hang suspended in sunlight and tiny bubbles, like a fly trapped in amber. I scream for Mum or Tyler, but the crystal’s hum swallows my voice, like it swallowed me. My pale skin glows orange as the sunrise over their jagged, glass mountains. My ragged breaths whistle like the hot wind over their white deserts.

The Great Library’s twisted spire flashes into my mind. It glitters black as night and beckons like an outstretched finger. I try to resist its pull, like in my dreams, where I haunted its echoing, musty halls, where I studied dusty shelf after dusty shelf crammed with species-filled crystals.

A pulse beats, thrumming like an electronic drum. The crystal jolts and floats upwards, away from my scratched pine desk. It quivers, dipping beneath the purple lampshade, and buzzing louder than a wasp over my English Lit essay and chewed biro. Abduction hurts. It grinds you down, like a pestle grinds salt, and steals your flavour.

My bedroom door creaks ajar. Tyler’s Black-Jack-stained mouth drops open.

“In here!” I yell. “I’m in here!”

But he just stares at the hovering shard.

“Don’t stand there, Ty. Go tell Mum. Get a hammer. Do something.”

I punch and kick at the honeycomb walls, but my flesh peels and swirls like snowflakes. Tyler swipes a pudgy fist at the drifting crystal and misses. He climbs onto the bed and swipes again, his small fingers brushing the shard’s outer edge. He yelps, jumps back, his chocolate brown eyes widening in surprise. Then he bursts into tears.

Footsteps rush up the stairs. Mum stops in the doorway, her round face turning pale as milk.

“Oh, God, Hannah,” she says. “I told you to throw that thing away.”

The crystal glides across my cluttered bedroom, crashes through the bay window and rises up over our grimy north London street. People point and scream, and armed soldiers try to catch us, but the shards buzz louder. The hum slams into heads and scrambles brains. Bodies topple in waves like dominoes.

Wintry sky wraps around me. It glints like a tropical sea, filled with sparkling fishes: creatures, like me, made of black rock and flecked orange-gold. We should’ve guessed they weren’t ships. We should’ve known they didn’t break up in our atmosphere by accident. We should’ve realised they were weapons. Grenades. Each glittering shard a potential trophy, catalogued and stored on a dusty shelf.

The afternoon trembles with silent screams. Then two helicopters rise up over dark rooftops, blades thudding, huge nets spilling from their underbellies. I shriek and wave. “Up here! Up here!” But they dip below me, scooping up dazzling shards, like whales feasting on plankton. The air thickens with cloud and confusion. I twist and turn, desperate to find the nets again, but fog hides everything.

The cloud cracks like an egg, and the sun’s glare hurts my eyes. I swipe away hot tears and scan the empty horizon. Beneath my bare feet, the grey cloud boils like thick soup and spits out another shard, which wobbles and dances like a honeybee. Inside it, a shadow shifts, too dark and blurry to make out any features. I fix my gaze on it.

Our crystals hum their intoxicating song and sail higher.

We soar out into open space.