along with her twin sister, Shanice McCormack, has been brought up on the Gold
Strange Fruit is Chanelle’s debut novel, which she wrote on the spur of the moment when her father saw potential in her short story, Frost and Sparks, which is about two sisters with supernatural powers that she wrote when she was 12.
She received the acceptance letter from Zeus Publications on her last week of Grade 12 and plans to write for as long as her imagination lasts.
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In the crepuscular shadows,
In the darkest part of the circus,
I await my master,
A spotlight on me is suddenly obscured,
Long strings hang from my limbs,
They twitch when someone pulls.
I am mangled spitefully,
I contort in pain and try to scream,
But where is my voice?
My strings are tangled,
The Mist laughs,
It controls my every move,
The hurtful puppet master,
Not one to give mercy,
No helper of the weak,
What have you done to me?
Where did you put my soul?
Old memories faded.
I wasn’t born like this,
Now I am a hybrid puppet.
See the puppet master?
The spirit bandit,
My soul is no longer dancing,
I was contemplating whether I would have enough bravery to fulfil such a life-changing act. I could feel the weight of the diamond ring in my pocket, safe and secure, yet I feared that she would refuse. The gem wasn’t that spectacular…being a teacher, I guess, limits you to some of life’s desirable dazzles. Her name is Emma, and she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Would such a declaration of commitment scare her off or would it merely engender a mutual wish? I know this is love, not the soulless and shallow kind, not the kind where I just forget her if we break up. It’s the type of love that makes me think of eternity, and I know that she is the only one who could have such an unnatural influence on me. I love the way her nose scrunches whenever she laughs at one of my lame jokes, or the way her hair falls down her face when I lie awake beside her. I could hear the time ticking away in my head. Tick.Tock.Tick.Tock. As the seconds slowly passed, that diamond ring weighed heavier and heavier. At last, after several torturous soul-searching and endless rationalising, my boundless love overcame my fear of refusal.
I had it all planned for tonight. The night would test both my love and commitment alike. The auspicious night that I hoped would be remembered as the best night of my life had finally come. She did what I had requested: waited for me at the pier. She was wearing a white lace nightgown with a ripped seam running until it reached the top of her thigh. The moon was little by little making its way to its zenith. The water was undulating smoothly with the cool, night breeze that was tugging me towards her.
I slowly walked over to the pier and took her hand in mine, kissed it softly and bent down on one knee. I felt euphoric seeing her face come to life with that broad, alluring smile I at once fell in love with. She muffled a giggle and I couldn’t help but giggle along.
I whispered softly yet passionately. ‘Will you marry me?’
Her face turned red. I waited for a moment, her silence making me ever more restless.
After a doleful time, she responded breathlessly. ‘Yes.’
I knew from that moment forward that I would live happily forever after with the image of perfection, of beauty by my side. I had never felt so much overwhelming delight. I got up and yelled ecstatically, kicked up my heels and thanked the heavens for blessing me with such a goddess that returned my love. I held her tightly in my arms. I picked her up and twirled around in circles, kissing her rapturously as we capered around.
We exchanged vows with only the moon as witness. Although there was no ceremony, no pastor, no bridesmaids or grooms, in our hearts we were married.
That night we slumbered beneath the stars. There was a star that we named ours, a radiating star that was present both the day and the night. I awakened the next morning with her in my arms. I cuddled her strongly, silently promising that I would always be there for her. I gazed above; our star was still there beaming at us, gleaming every now and again. I suppressed a grin before I closed my eyes and entered slumber’s hands.
I awoke gazing at the clouds. The early morning set an eerie atmosphere. The unexplainable shift was tangible; I felt it in my bones. It was startling to me. In relation to last night, a night dancing on heaven’s clouds, what I awoke to was both frightening and ghastly. Tresses of white polluted the air making me foolishly think it was lightly snowing. I sat up, careful not to awaken my wife. I strolled to the edge of the pier, ignoring its wobbly balance. At first I thought my eyes were playing childish tricks on me. I could feel my fear intensifying as I stared in rapt fascination. I gawked at the distance and was surprised to witness such an abnormal conduct of Mist.
The Mist came to me fast; it was like the Mist was racing towards me. It drew near. Instantly my hands searched for my wife but the air was impenetrably white. I could hear her repeat my name and I urged to follow that voice, but I was lost right in front of her. I failed. In scarcely a moment, it swallowed us both. I couldn’t breathe, my senses were stolen. I had never imagined such excruciating pain. It was like a cork had been shoved right through my heart, my brain, my soul. It was as if the cork was twisting, coiling through my blood vessels.
As the Mist flowed onwards, pulsing with energy of stolen dreams, I was left empty, bereft of something, bereft of even the ability to know where I was or what I was doing, or who that attractive woman on the pier was. She was awake; all I could see were her pale eyes shining a beacon of light besieged by the dark, depressing atmosphere. She had a huge, diamond ring on her finger. I gazed at it as it sparkled every time she moved her hand. I wondered how much that would have cost. She looked at me. She asked me if I remembered last night. I said no. She began to weep and wail and I hadn’t the faintest idea why. I prayed for her to stop as her screams became glass-shattering. However I felt no sympathy towards her, I didn’t have the urge to comfort her, relieve her from her heart-breaking ache. She kept on repeating the same phrase, ‘Do you remember last night?’ She then added two new phrases. ‘Do you know who I am,’ and, ‘do you know who you are?’ And to her grief, I said no to all.
She was in despair as she fiddled with her ring for a moment, hoping against hope. She grasped it, waited, and then tugged it frantically off her finger. She looked at me through her watery eyes, so afraid, so lost, and then blinked, allowing her tears to cascade down her cheeks. She then cast her ring into the waters.
Immediately, she pirouetted and ran. Her whimpers seemed to forlornly ricochet. I looked up at the sky, searching for answers but found none. There were no clouds. However there was a star that glimmered a weak light against the brightness of the untarnished blue cosmos.
+ + +
Do not call me scared for I don’t have the bravery needed in questioning the phenomenal. Do not call me silly for I don’t believe in the act of consequences.
Do not call me weird for I don’t follow the common suburban stereotypes.
Do not call me insane for I don’t have the same sense of fear as you.
Call me one name and blame your troubles on one perspective.
Call me one name and pretend you know.
Call me superstitious and I will guarantee your safety.
+ + +
Where would humanity be without superstition? Superstition is a figurative face with eyes of the oh-so eerie and with a smile transmitting ideas of the superhuman. It is the face of beauty and hideousness, a contradiction in terms but the truth. Superstition is like a blanket: it cloaks you from what people can’t explain like the monsters under your bed. Being superstitious means being wary, it also is an answer to patriarchy’s quizzically raised eyebrows. Instead of being called insane, you can be called superstitious and have the freedom to walk away instead of being burnt alive at the stake. Superstition is an excuse of sorts…an excuse that will save lives.
Accompanying superstition there comes its brothers and sisters. There is curiosity, deception, enmity, horror, truth and imagination all merged into the same mathematical formula, and where would humanity be without imagination?
To imagine is a gift, but to the imagination’s sheer chagrin, most people don’t know the true power they possess. It holds of no such things called boundaries or rules one has to abide by. It holds an invisible utopia of wonder to its host. Imagination is a changeling; it can morph into anything the fantasist prefers: a knight in shining armour or a mere fantastical hideaway.
Be superstitious, if anything at all. Be wary of the surroundings, and fight.
+ + +
On the eve of the Earth’s Fifth World War, when the world had merged into one single, colossal continent, a tyrant writhes with violent anticipation. Luella is dying of keenness to unleash the fury of her most treasured weapon, a weapon more lethal than any nuclear bomb. Although it neither rids the Earth of its inhabitants nor reeks of the harrowing stench of scorched and abominated civilisations. Many believe it is a weapon that eviscerates its victim psychologically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Figuratively, it snares you around its wispy traps; it possesses you, and pierces through the souls of the weak with its smoky knives as hands. It is a gas named Forgentia and once the gas was liberated, buildings still stood containing living human beings, but life as they knew had come to an end. It is the gas which has the after-effects similar to Dementia but where Dementia causes the loss of memory, rationality, and identity, the gas completely burns the imagination of its inhaler. There were numerous problems which united to muddle the humans’ purpose and deprive them of their memory.
Luella’s sinful persona was highly intimidating. Even when the secrecy of her campaign for domination was breeched, few could muster the nerve to run against her. Lacking a personal narrative and the refusing to offer one was devastating for the other party for they could not blackmail her to search of compromise. They knew that there would be no world if she continued yet they could do nothing about it. She was unshakable.
The world war lasted only a surprising 82 minutes of battle, before Luella activated the bombard of Forgentia. She took the worldwide throne without hesitation. Forgentia poisoned the air, coalescing into an omnipresent Mist with an inherent impulse to travel, roam the world.
As the Mist crept unremarkably through the land-ways of forget-me-not, the people of the world would soon come to accept as true that they are no longer who they are, or that what they were doing held no reason or that their actual purpose of life seemed untrue. One couldn’t squirm out of the Mist’s grasp for it held some sort of artificial intelligence beyond logical qualm. It seeped through small alley-ways traipsing in the shadows anticipating for feeble prey. It held similar characteristics to the monster under your bed which haunts your dreams and keeps you up at night. You hide behind your blanket, for your blanket is your saviour; you think it can’t get you but how wrong you are.
The asphyxiating fog knew what you were thinking, every step and every thought. It changed in shape and size – it was a shape-shifter. It rolled down and expanded profoundly across the streets, around the buildings, and seeping through the tiny cracks of your house. By the morning, bakers will forget the ingredients required to make fairy cupcakes and young teenagers will forget how to kiss.
And now the shifting Mist is ubiquitous, ever-present, destroying everything in its path towards total obliteration. It is like the wind with a pinch of whiteness. The lost souls linger for their new fate and purpose: to be loyal followers for Luella, their commander, the queen of the world and even though her name suggests complete pureness, I beg you to reconsider. She is the daughter of superstition – apocalypse.
Desperately clinging on to life although it seemed to be useless, imaginations worldwide were slowly slipping away like a free balloon in a violent gust of wind with Luella opening the sinister skies even further.
The world utterly was defective thanks to the tainted Mist, and with that, Luella could sleep soundlessly and dream deep reveries of worldwide governance, for you see she purloined the one power necessary to overthrow her. Without imagination, how could any person even summon up a plan of dethroning her? Before the historic day, she had dreamed so often of the idea of ascendancy. Her dreams told her what to do. In the waking world she planned exactly how to do it; what it would take and what it would cost for her to be almighty.
Humans weren’t zombies; they weren’t the walking dead, au contraire. They were plainly hypnotised and unable to slip away from their forced volition. They were straightforwardly unable to see truth and sense. They were the beaten and the damned, the strugglers, and the incompetent.
Nevertheless, what about those who are fortunate in this scenario? What about those whose lungs do house the residence of the Mist but do have an imagination? Something strange aroused because the changeable Mist had side-effects, forbidden side-effects.
Superstition’s brother, curiosity, infected them for they did not understand the reason for their mutations and also for the motive of not getting older, resting the same age for an abnormal and extended amount of time.
From beneath the layers of their skin the Mist prowled and from the deepest figment of their imaginations the Mist snoozed, quietly and humbly, eating away any brain cells that wished to revolt. Curiosity contaminated their minds until they pleaded temporary insanity or perhaps they were just too bizarre for nature. Their mutations manifested as portentously enhanced mental and physical abilities; so enhanced that they were beyond superhuman. They were mutants. A mutant could be identified by, could tell who was a mutant or not, by the paleness of their eye colour. It was as if the Mist had bleached them from the inside out.
Nor could they explain why they were not ageing. Their spirits escaped from their mortal bodily shells and discovered perpetual youth. There seemed to be a connection between the use of their abilities and their longevity, as if immortality was served to them on a silver platter. With every occasion they chose to manipulate their paranormal powers, they condemned themselves to everlasting life. If they wished not to use those powers, they chose to age and die as the humans they were born. It was as if their powers were that prevailing that it could revive every cell in their body.
The mutated, roughly three percent of the world’s population, were lost in paranoia fused with hysteria and they couldn’t disentangle themselves. Something was controlling them, a puppeteer of madness whose thoughts were of sadism and violent behaviour.
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