The Survivor by Anoushka Tandon
The Survivor by Anoushka Tandon7 mins 136 7 mins 136
Chapter 1: The Curse
It was a gloomy day, and the clouds were thundering as if they were trying to signal danger. But, inside the Dutch school Zuidlaren, it was the brightest day it could ever be! It was a "Pudding" day in the canteen! The whole school was rushing down to get their first helping of pudding. Everyone but Zoe De Jong!! She was sitting in the classroom, doodling on a notepad, wondering what to do. Usually, Zoe had nothing to do, but today she was preoccupied. A few days ago, she had heard the gods in her mind. They told her to go look for Lady Grace and listen to her divine music in the village of Zanse Schans to cure her curse. Zoe, at a very young age, had been cursed by the gods themselves so that all the food she touched would turn into stone, and she didn't even know why the gods did so! The gods had allowed her only 11 years to live without food, and this was her last one. On the midnight of the winter solstice, she would die.
Chapter 2: The decision
"Hey mom, I'm home," cried out, Zoe. "Ah!" I've been waiting for you," said Mrs. De Jong. "Now hurry along to your room and wash up." Zoe rushed upstairs, leaving Mrs. De Jong to wonder why she wasn't reluctant and didn't drag herself up there. But, Zoe hadn't gone to wash up, she had gone up to pack her bags as she, Zoe De Jong, was going to go on a little quest, and she would succeed!
Chapter 3: The travel
Zoe tiptoed down the creaky flight of stairs, as quiet as a mouse, hoping not to disturb her mother, who was happily whipping up a lemon sorbet for dinner! It wasn't usual that her mother made something so ordinary! She slipped out from the back door and quietly shut the door behind her. Then, she ran away as fast as her legs could carry her to the village of Zaanse Schans. She was quite adept with the city's ways and had a fair idea of where to go. She had spent years driving around with her mother across the country, desperately trying to find a cure for her curse. It seemed apparent that she would remember the ways by now. But, just in case, she did carry a map and a compass along with her. Those were the only things she could use for navigation, being in the 1900s! While running, her mind drifted off to the market she had just visited en route. She had picked up water for the journey that lay ahead. There had not been much of a crowd in the market, so she had been able to go about purchasing it quickly but not quick enough for her to avoid stealing a glance at the all-new ninja holographic surprise gift set she had been saving up all her money for since eons. She tore her eyes away, knowing that her money was, now, meant for a higher purpose. It was meant for the quest! Exhausted, when she stopped, she found herself right outside her dental clinic, and she felt a strong urge to go right in and plonking herself on the work chair. She won't even mind if the doctor did her check-up, she thought, shrugging to herself. After all, she wasn't intimidated by the dentist like the rest of the children. Her teeth were always spick and span; she could consume no sweets, no nothing! She was as she often put it a dentist's delight! But, of course, brushing these thoughts aside, she trudged forward, dragging herself and her heavy backpack along with her. The bag contained water, the map, the compass, a knife for safety which she secretly hoped won't be needed and most interestingly, her younger sister's toy sword! Although Zoe was a fearless girl with a logical bent of mind, she surprisingly believed that her sister's toy sword would come in handy! She had traveled for 5kms by now and was fatigued. Sweat dripping down her face, she moved forward one small step at a time. And then something caught her eye. She caught a glimpse of the television in the bungalow right opposite her and saw her mother, her house, and a mob of reporters. She knew it! She had been reported missing and the police would be after her know. Using every atom of energy in her, she increased her pace, and finally, after 300 exhausting meters, reached the entrance to the village of Zaanse Schans.
Chapter 4: Almost there but still very far away
Zoe almost dropped with exhaustion but managed to stabilize herself. She took a sip of water and entered the village. Now, all she had to do was find Lady Grace. Oh! She did not know what was in store for her. Going inside, she noticed that the villagers were walking bizarrely, and on a closer look, she realized that they weren't villagers. They were zombies!! Now, you must think that she would scream and run away or instantly faint. But no. Zoe, the brave one, took out her sister's toy sword and started walking forward slower than a snail. But not to worry, she soon was running faster than the wind when she realized that the zombies would not harm her. It was so because the toy sword she was yielding looked exactly like a real one. It seems even the dead don't like to die again!
Burning with pride and with a new sense of motivation, she reached a small, one-story house with a tin roof and 'Lady Grace' written on its walls. 'Never judge a book by its cover,' she thought and stepped into her final destination, Lady Grace's home. On entering, she saw that the house was in shambles- broken windows, cracked vases, and even dead cats! Yet, she started to explore it like it was just her new classroom in the school. She checked every nook and cranny of the house, coughing with her every step. She could feel it inside her, her time was coming to an end, but she kept a brave face on the outside. Lady grace wasn't there. Her only chance was gone. That instant, a beautiful lady, dressed entirely in black appeared. Not even introducing herself, she offered Zoe an apple and told her," This is an apple that will make you immortal. If you don't eat this apple in less than 30seconds, it will vanish. And then you will have to make a huge sacrifice to listen to my music. No time to think. Your precious 30 seconds starts now." Zoe knew that she wouldn't be able to eat the apple as much as she longed to. And, even if she makes a sacrifice, listens to the music, and can eat again, the apple would be gone. And on top of it, what would she sacrifice! She wracked her brains and just in the nick of time, thought of a plan. That was her only chance. She said," Oh! Lady Grace, I would like to make a sacrifice before my 30seconds get over!" "As you wish," said the Lady," But, you have only 10seconds left," Zoe said," I would like to sacrifice this apple that would make me immortal if I ate it. Is that a big enough sacrifice" "That certainly is," said Lady Grace smiling." You have passed all my tests. The zombies, me not being there and the most difficult one of all that I like to call 'The Apple.' You see, I only play my music to people worthy of it, and you, my child, certainly are. You knew that you would not be able to eat the apple, and after you sacrifice something else, it would be gone. Therefore, you sacrificed the apple, and so your hope of becoming immortal. You really are the brightest girl of your age." Zoe was almost brimming with pride as the Lady led her to the piano and played soothing and divine music. Zoe was sure it would work as after all the gods had to lead her here. After Lady Grace finished her piece, she handed over an orange to Zoe and urged her to try it. And when Zoe took it from her, she heard the gods in her mind" Congratulations, Zoe, you have made us proud" Smiling from ear to ear, she took a bite of the orange and the sweet but sour juices tickled her taste buds. She would not die, she had succeeded.