The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part II

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part II

Margaret stood there, gazing at the golden leaf.  As she stood there, the leaves began to blow in a circular motion, until they were making circles around her.  There was something about the leaf that she couldn’t put into words.  Words could not explain what she was feeling right now.  To her, the leaf felt familiar to her.  She couldn’t explain why.  It just felt that way.

As Margaret remained in awe at the golden leaf that she was holding, a loud beep came from her Multitasker, and a holographic image of her mother projected out of it.

“Margaret, it’s almost 7:00.” Her mother said with a sigh.

This snapped Margaret out of her reverie.  Or perhaps it was a different state of mind or a trance.  It didn’t matter what it was.  All Margaret knew was that she was late.  She looked at her Multitasker.  “Display time.” she ordered.

The Multitasker projected a holographic image of a digital clock.  The time was 6:57 p.m.  “Oh mother!” she said, gasping.  “I’m very sorry!  I was having too much fun….”

“I’m glad that you did, sweetheart.” her mother said, smiling.  “Now….”

“And then I found something that was truly amazing!” Margaret interrupted.  “I’ll be home shortly.  Bye!”

The holographic image of her mother vanished, and Margaret began running towards the exit of the forest sanctuary.  As she was running, she held the golden leaf tightly in her hand.
Such a lovely leaf,” she whispered, in labored breaths.  “Can’t wait to show mother….

Margaret came to the exit of the Forest Sanctuary.  She exited the door she entered, and ran back to the crowded plaza nearby.  She found the coordinates for home and scanned them in, using her Multitasker.  She then pressed the button and was transported to Cypress Street, the road that ran down the subdivision where she lived.

From there, she ran down the street, back toward her house.  27842 was the house number that she stopped at.  She concealed the leaf and approached the door.

Upon opening the door, there her mother stood, with a frown on her face.  “Margaret dear!” she shouted.  “What took you so long?  I was starting to worry!”

Margaret, still short of breath, stared at her mother, smiling.  “I’m….very sorry….mother….” she gasped.

Her mother gave her a hug.  “I’m not mad at you.” she told her.  “I was just worried.  Now dear.  You seem to be quite exhausted.  Now I want you to catch your breath, and then we can talk.  Okay?”

Margaret nodded, still gasping for air.  “Thank you….mother….”

Margaret sat on the sofa for a few minutes and waited for her breathing to return to normal.  Her mother quietly sat there, watching her daughter.

Finally, Margaret’s breathing was normal.  She then stood up and approached her mother.  “Now mother,” she announced, “The Forest Sanctuary was a lot of fun.  I took your advice and I used my imagination.  I created several imaginary friends and we all had fun.  Too bad they all had to leave.”

Her mother nodded.  “Well, that’s your imagination, honey.  They can come and go as much as they please if you want them to.”

An even bigger smile began to form on Margaret’s face.  “Now mother….” she announced.  “The reason why I was so late was because I found this.”  She reached inside the top of her dress and pulled out a golden leaf.  “I found this beautiful leaf in the Forest Sanctuary.  Doesn’t it look amazing?”

At this, her mother gasped.  A sudden feeling of fear began to grip her tightly.  “Where did you say you found that again?”

“I found it in the Forest Sanctuary, under a really big tree!” she told her.  “Is there something wrong?”

A sudden look of anxiety began to fill her mother’s face.  “Yes honey,” she said, her voice quavering.  “It”s that leaf that you’re holding.  Get rid of it!”

Margaret brought both of her palms together, holding the golden leaf in the center.  She then looked back at her mother and frowned.  “Why, mother? What’s wrong with this leaf?”

The mother, still nervous, made a waving gesture at her daughter.  “Sit down honey, and I will tell you.  And please put that leaf away.  I…I don’t want to see it.”

Margaret nodded, and placed the leaf back inside her dress. She then sat down next to her mother.  “Now what’s wrong with it, mother?  I think it’s a beautiful leaf.”

Her mother shook her head.  “That leaf is dangerous, and I’ll tell you why.  It affected my grandmother.”

Margaret gasped.  “Your grandmother?  How?”

The mother let out a deep sigh.  “Well….first of all, she’s your great-grandmother.  Now I don’t remember this happening very well.  When I was your age, she died.  After that, her body went inside a golden leaf.  It was a leaf just like the one you have. My mother told me all this since I wasn’t there when my grandmother died.”

Margaret shook her head.  “That’s sad….Now mother, what was my great-grandmother like?”

The mother sighed again.  “I don’t remember much about her, honey.  Now my mother told me a lot about her.  She said that she wasn’t acting herself and that she lived in the forest.” The mother then stared at Margaret directly in the face.  “Now listen to me, dear.  Because of my grandmother, my mother was crazy.  Trying to cure my grandmother was the only thing she spent her whole life doing.  She wrote in her diaries, filling them with notes from everyone that was able to provide information about her.  She even talked to my great-grandmother and my grandmother’s friend.”

“What was her name?”

“Whose name, honey?”

“Your grandmother.”

The mother paused.  Finally she said, “her name is Autumn.”

Margaret gasped.  “Autumn?  That’s an interesting name.”

The mother grabbed a tissue and wiped some sweat off her brow.  “She does have a real name, but I’ll let you figure that out yourself.  Her diaries are upstairs in the attic.  I’ll let you take a look at them.”

Margaret sat there, her face frozen.  She was dumbfounded.  “Why was your mother crazy?” she finally said.

The mother shook her head.  “She was crazy because of all the crazy things that she wrote.  One thing that she claimed to see was this strange vision.  It told her to do something.  That’s all I’ll tell you.  Read the diaries, honey.”

Margaret nodded.  “Okay mother.  I will.”  After that, she sat there, thinking.  “Why don’t we ever visit your mother, I mean, my grandmother?”

When the mother heard this, she burst into tears.  “It’s because she’s gone, honey.  She disappeared on the day you were born, and I haven’t been able to find her since.”

Margaret sat there, silent, watching her mother cry.  Of all the nine years that she has been alive, she has never seen her cry like this.  After she cried for a while, she blew her nose with a tissue.  After that, she felt a little better.

Finally, Margaret stood up.  “I’m going off to bed.” she told her.  “I’m a little tired.”

Lily gasped.  “Without dinner?”

Margaret sighed.  “I’m not hungry, so goodnight!”

“Good night, dear!” her mother said, smiling.  As her daughter was about to go upstairs, she gasped.  “Get rid of that leaf too, honey!  Return it to where you found it!”

Margaret nodded, both feet on the first step.  “I’ll do it tomorrow, mother!”

Margaret walked upstairs and got ready for bed.  While she was doing this, she left the golden leaf on her dresser in her bedroom.  After getting ready, she put on her light blue nightgown.  She then grabbed the golden leaf and sat on her bed, resting the leaf on her lap.

She stared carefully at the leaf and sighed.  The leaf continued to glow, flashing its golden light into her eyes.  “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.  “What could be so bad about this?”

Margaret placed the golden leaf underneath the covers.  She then turned off the light and crawled underneath the covers.  Grasping the leaf, she held it in her hand, pulling the covers with her other hand until just her face was showing, resting on the pillow.

Margaret then fell fast asleep, with the light from the leaf emanating from her clutched hand.   The light grew and grew, until her entire room was greeted by its radiance….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

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The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part III

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part III

Something woke up Margaret in the middle of the night.  It was a strong gust of wind.  After realizing her window was shut, she looked around, trying to find the source of the wind.  She then noticed that it was coming from the golden leaf.  Her room was now lit with a strong yet faint golden glow.

Margaret then heard a voice.  The voice was subtle and quiet.  It was a gentle whisper that was just like the wind.

Margaret…. the voice whispered.

Instead of feeling scared, Margaret felt comforted by the voice.  It sounded familiar to her….  “Who are you?” she asked it.

A gentle gust flowed through Margaret’s hair.  I am you…. the voice whispered.

Margaret shook her head.  “You can’t be me,” she told the voice.  “If you were me, you would look exactly like me.  I don’t see anyone around here, so this can’t be true.”

The golden leaf’s light became brighter, and an even stronger gust of wind blew at Margaret.  I am you….!  The voice shouted in a loud whisper.

Margaret smiled.  “For you to be me, you would have to know who I am.  You would have to know pretty much everything about me in general.  Do you know who I am?”

Silence.

“Do you?” Margaret said louder, challenging the voice.

The strong wind became violent.  So violent that it knocked Margaret down on her bed.  The voice then spoke, in a rather quick, stern and quiet tone.   I am you, and you are me.  Just give it time, and you will see.

Margaret’s face lit up.  “A riddle? I love riddles!  And it won’t take me time to figure this out.  Trust me….”

A few minutes passed as Margaret thought about the riddle.  In her head, she kept repeating the words “I am you, and you are me”.   “I am you,” she repeated.  “And you are me?”

Moments later, she got it.  “I am you,” she repeated again.  “That means that I will become who you are.  You are me.  That means that you will become who I am….”  At this, she gasped.  “But who are you, then?”

A playful breeze hit Margaret’s face.  I am you….the voice said.  Don’t you see?

Margaret then thought about the riddle again.  “Oh yeah!” she gasped.  “The last line!  ‘Just give it time, and you will see.’ That means that I am not you yet.  But I will be….”

Then it hit her.  “Wait!” She said, gasping.  “Are you the one that my mother was talking about?  Autumn?”

The wind blew back Margaret’s hair.  You figured it out….The voice told her.  I am Autumn, and you will be soon….

Margaret shook her head in confusion.  “Does that mean that you’re my great-grandmother?”

The voice laughed.  That’s who I was.  But now, I need a new host.  You’re a pretty smart girl and you will suit me well….

Margaret was now shocked.  “Is this what you did to my great-grandmother?” She quietly shouted, careful not to wake her mother.  “You possessed her, and ruined her life!  You will not use my body, you wretched nymph!”

Autumn let out a sigh of laughter.  I’m afraid that it’s too late for that.  Both you and your great-grandmother did not learn their lesson.  Both of you took the leaf out of the forest.  That golden leaf is my vessel.  Now, how would you like it if someone took your bed out of your room….?

Margaret shook her head and took the defensive.  “I didn’t know,” she firmly stated.  “To me, it was just a beautiful leaf!  There wasn’t a sign anywhere that said “Do NOT take this leaf!”.

The wind began to pick up.  As smart as you are, you should’ve left it alone.  But thank you very much, Margaret, for letting me use your body.  I will enjoy it very much, and pretty soon, so will you…..

Margaret gasped.  “But I didn’t tell you that….”

A calm wind blew on Margaret’s face.  Again, thank you….and good night…..

Margaret’s face saddened.  She was thinking about crying, but she knew that this wouldn’t make things any better.  Thinking about what her mother said earlier, she tried to find something that she could do to resolve this problem.

Then she heard it.  The voice of her mother saying “Read the diaries, honey.”

The diaries….” she whispered.  “I’ll read them tomorrow….

Margaret, now calmer, got underneath the covers.  The golden leaf blew into her left hand and rested there.  Knowing that it would be futile to remove it, Margaret let it lay there.

A faint glow emanated from the golden leaf, It covered Margaret, filling her and the room with golden light….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part IV

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part IV

Margaret woke up, covered in a pile of leaves.  This left her in a state of bewilderment.  There was not a single tree anywhere in the city, except for the Forest Sanctuary, which she visited yesterday.

When she saw the bright light emanating from the golden leaf that she was holding, it made sense.  It was her.  The one who called herself Autumn that was doing this.  Margaret, with the strongest conviction inside of her, knew that this was true.

Margaret went to the window and opened it.  Right after she did this, the golden leaf became brighter and created a strong gale that blew all the leaves out of her room, save the mysteriously enchanted leaf.  When all the leaves were gone, she closed the window.

Her next trip was to the bathroom.  She grabbed her clothes for the day and set them in the bathroom, placing the golden leaf on top of them.  Upon looking at the mirror, something puzzled her.  “My hair!” she gasped.  “Why is it all gold and orange?  It’s also longer than what I had it!  Is this the kind of hair that Autumn prefers?”

Margaret stared at the mirror with a sly look.  “Two can play that game,” she said quietly.  “Using her same powers. I’ll turn it back.”  And with the power of her will, her hair shortened to its normal length and changed back to brown.

Margaret showered, humming a happy tune as she usually did.  After she showered and clothed herself, she began thinking about Autumn.  “That leaf gave me weird dreams last night,” she said to herself.  “I also feel different.  I can’t let her control me….”

Margaret picked up the golden leaf and placed it in her white dress.  “You are going back to the Forest Sanctuary,” she told it.

After getting her hair in a ponytail, Margaret was all ready.  She walked downstairs and approached the door.  Her mother was sitting on the couch, organizing her to-do list on her Multitasker.

“Mother,” she announced,  “I’m going back to the Forest Sanctuary to return the leaf.”

Her mother smiled, giving her a nod of approval.  “Okay honey.  Get rid of that leaf, okay?”

Margaret nodded.  “Okay mother!”

Saying goodbye, Margaret left the house and went back to the Forest Sanctuary, taking the same way as yesterday.  After entering, she went to the same place where she found the golden leaf – underneath the tall tree with gnarled roots and branches.

Margaret reached into her dress and pulled out the golden leaf.  As she tried to release it, the leaf stuck to her hand.  She then put the leaf into her other hand and tried thrusting it as hard as she could.  The leaf remained on her hand.  It would not part from it, no matter how hard she tried.

At that point, she heard a voice that sounded like the wind. You silly girl…. Autumn whispered.  Do you think that I would actually change my mind?  I have made my decision.  You are the next one that I will use.  Being a descendant from your great-grandmother, you are like family to me, and the most suitable place to live.  Be a nice girl for me, okay?  Your great-grandmother was….

“My great-grandmother had no choice!” Margaret shouted.  “You took that choice away from her!”  Her anger began to intensify, but when she saw the golden leaf, it all seemed to vanish, like a distant memory.  “This leaf is too beautiful for me to part with.  What was I thinking?”  Margaret gently lifted the leaf up, and placed it back inside her dress.

Margaret, disappointed, went back home.  Autumn was happy that Margaret had the leaf in her possession.  Margaret, however, wasn’t.

As Margaret entered the door, her mother stood up.  “So, did you get rid of it?” she asked her.

Margaret was worried.  But that worry immediately transformed into a joyous passion.  Margaret eagerly took the golden leaf out of her dress, proudly displaying it to her mother.  “No mother,” she said.  “I couldn’t.  This leaf is far too precious for me to part with.”

Lily, her mother, shook her head.  “Far too precious for Autumn, right?” she said, raising her voice.

Fighting back, Margaret broke down.  “Yes mother,” she sadly admitted.  “This Autumn is starting to get to my mind.  I am not feeling myself.  Really! I’m not!”

Her mother nodded, looking increasingly worried.  “I can see that, honey.  Read those diaries while you can.  There may be hope for you.  Hope for a better future.  Hurry!”

Margaret nodded, fighting Autumn as much as she could.  “Right away mother!  I will read them right away!”

The conversation abruptly ended after that.  Margaret sprinted upstairs.  She still had her wits about her, but knew that this was only borrowed time.  Time that would not be wasted.

Once upstairs, Margaret ran to the end of the hallway.  From being up there with her mother in the past, she knew how to get up to the attic.  She pressed a button, that was hidden behind an old portrait.   This activated a compartment, which opened up to reveal a ladder.  The ladder folded downward until it reached the floor.  Margaret then climbed the ladder and entered the attic.

Sitting in the corner of the attic was an old desk.  The old desk was a mess, with diaries laying all over the place.  There were diaries on the desk and diaries on the floor, all caked with dust.

With so many diaries to leaf through, Margaret didn’t know where to begin.  For her, it would make the most sense to start where the earliest year was.  She quickly arranged the diaries into small stacks, from earliest to most recent.  She began with the earliest one, titled “Maple’s Diary – 2048”.

Margaret leafed through every page, trying to find a date that dealt with her great-grandmother.  She came across a page dated “March 22, 2048”.  Margaret read:

March 22, 2048

My mother has just awakened from her long winter nap.  My father just got back from the forest and told me this.  Why is her naps so long?  When I used to take naps, they were never that long.  When I asked my father about this, he told me that she needs naps like this because she’s special.

My mother spends half of the year living in the forest.  Why does she live in the forest?  I know that other mothers don’t live in the forest.  I told my other friends about this and they said that their mother lives with them.  They’re lucky to have normal mothers because I don’t feel like my mother is normal.

My father said that we will be visiting my mother tomorrow.  I am so excited to see her.  He also said that she will be staying with us until late September, when autumn begins.

I miss mother, and I have a lot of questions for her when she comes to stay with me and father.

That’s all I have to say for today.   Until tomorrow, my dear diary!

Maple

Margaret read on, leafing through the pages quickly.  She found another page that stood out. She read again:

April 3, 2048

Dear diary,

I am right.  My mother is not normal.  I am starting to get tired of asking all the questions.  Whenever I ask her about living in the forest or her long naps, she gives me the same answer as my father.  She’s special.  But what makes her so special?

I also asked her about her name.  When I asked her, she said that her name was Autumn.  It’s really a strange name, since none of the girls that I know at school have that name. 

Well, my not normal mother is calling me again. Don’t worry, diary.  We will meet again.

Always yours,

Maple

Margaret leafed through the rest of the diary, and leafed through a few more.  She then came across a page dated “June 15, 2055”.  Margaret read:

June 15, 2055

Dear diary,

The journey continues in learning the truth about my mother.  But I’m happy to say that I found someone who will help me a lot in that journey.  It’s an older woman named Jaime.  She’s the same age as my mother and she knows a lot about what happened to her.  Hopefully, things will make sense after I talk to her again.  She lives down the street from me, in the same house as my mother.  Well, my mother and father are on a date, and Jaime is coming over here.  Be back later, diary!

Well, I talked to Jaime.  I’m totally blown away with what she told me.  My mother’s real name is actually Jill, and she found this golden leaf when both her and Jaime were nine.  Since she had it, Jaime said that it transformed her into this mysterious woman named Autumn.  Everything that she told me makes sense now.

Well, sort of.  I’m still trying to sort it all out in my head.  I wish that there was something that I could do to help my mother.

I gotta go now, diary!  My mother’s calling me.  I can’t tell her about “the meeting”.  We will meet again tomorrow!

Yours forever,

Maple

On and on Margaret read.  After a few more diaries, she came across something totally shocking.  The page was dated “January 21, 2059”.  Margaret read:

January 21, 2059

Dear diary,

It is now the middle of the night, and I just had this really strange dream.  In this dream, a voice was telling me to build a strange device.  The voice said that this device would help my mother, and that one of my ancestors would be the one to save her.

I found it quite strange to have this dream tonight.  It has been exactly one month since my mother began her winter nap.  I am guessing that I had the dream now so that my mother doesn’t know.

After thinking about it, I know that this dream is definitely from God.  I have been praying and praying for a way to save my mother.  Tonight, I can say that my prayers have been answered.

Starting tomorrow, I will begin on this strange device.  From the blueprint that the voice explained to me, this is going to take a very long time to finish.  I will work on it during the fall and winter months, when mother is not living here.

On another note, finishing my psychology degree will not be necessary anymore, since I just met this lovely man who is pursuing his Ph.D. in psychology.  He is very bright and seems to like me a lot. More on all this tomorrow.  Love ya, diary!

Yours always,

Maple

Margaret leafed through the diaries.  Most of them had to do with her progress on the device and her conversations with her mother.  Over time, she learned that Maple’s mother was getting more and more suspicious, forcing Maple to be more and more cautious on the device that she was working on.

She then came across another entry that sent chills down her spine.  The date read “October 24, 2085”.  Margaret read:

October 24, 2085

Dear diary,

It just happened.  My mother is gone.  After she died, her body went into the golden leaf.  The golden leaf then vanished, materializing into traces of golden light.  From all the information I’ve gathered over the years, it has been 73 years since that leaf appeared.  The next one will appear in 27 more years, at the very spot I’m standing.

Right now, my daughter Lily is in bed.  I will not tell her about this until I am ready to.

As I am writing this, I am starting to worry.  When my mother was alive, I called her Jill ever since I found out her real name.  Before she died, she cast a spell on me.  It was a spell to turn me into a leaf.  She didn’t say when the spell would happen.  All she said was that one day, I would be turned into a leaf.

Well, I’m not going to let this bother me.  I will continue working on the egg.  Well, that’s what the device is starting to look like, at least.  I am almost done with it.  There are just some hard to find materials.  Once I find them, I can finish this egg.

My mother has lived a long hopeless life as Autumn’s puppet.  82 years have been lived, with 73 of them being stolen from her.  I am hoping that either Lily or her child can send this egg back to the past.  Only then will my mother have a better future.

It is too much for me, diary.  Goodnight!

Tearfully always yours,

Maple

Margaret began to tear up, as she read through the remaining diaries.  She finally came to the last one.  The date read “September 30, 2103”.  Full of tears, Margaret read:

September 30, 2103

Dear diary,

I have finally done it.  The egg is finished.  I will tell Lily when I return from the forest.  I go here everyday to visit my mother.  While her body may not be here, I can feel her presence.  It is not Autumn, but her.  I know it. 

Now, it is very important that either she or her daughter send it back to the past.  Lily told me that she was pregnant, and was ready to have her daughter.  When she is ready to have her, I will visit.  I look forward to hearing the g

And that was the last thing that Maple wrote.  The entry was not even finished, something that really troubled Margaret.

The one thing that troubled Margaret even more was the date.  After studying the date, it hit her.  September 30, 2103 was the exact date that she was born.

Margaret frantically looked around in the attic for the egg.  Hopefully, it would be here, considering her current house was different than Maple’s.  In the far end of the attic by the window, Margaret found something that was covered in a large sheet of plastic.  Margaret removed the plastic.  There the egg sat.  On its interior, it looked like some kind of cockpit.  The egg was translucent on the inside with a polished white sheen on the outside.

Upon touching the egg, it lit up, like some sophisticated machine.  A holographic display then came out of the egg, displaying some words and numbers.

“Please enter date, time and location?” Margaret read.  “October 21, 2012.  5:47 p.m.” Margaret than entered the exact coordinates for the tall tree as it was listed on her Multiasker.

After entering the coordinates, one more message appeared.  It read “Record your message.  Say ‘begin recording’ when you are ready.”

Knowing that she was running out of time, Margaret quickly thought about her message.  While she did this, she reached into her white dress and pulled out the golden leaf.  Finally, she was ready.  “Record message.” Margaret ordered.

“To the one originally called Jill,” Margaret began.  “This message is for you.  From researching my ancestors, I have found that you are my great-grandmother.  In looking at your history, I have found that we share the same fate.  Autumn has already tainted you, and she is beginning to do the same with me.  I have found this golden leaf, and I wish that I never had.  It is her vessel.  This is what she told me.”

“Now I know that your name is not Jill anymore since she renamed you with her name.  She has not done this with me yet, which is why I am acting quickly.  While I am still in my right mind, I am executing a last-ditch effort to change history.  That sphere that you see before you is an egg.  Now I need you to enter that egg.  It is the only way that you can kill Autumn.  Your body, however will die with her.”

“But don’t think this is the end.  In place of your old body, the egg will hatch and your new body will be born.  It will be just like your old body, only you won’t have Autumn inside you anymore.”

“Please take heed, Jill.  Autumn will not stand anywhere near that egg, for she fears its power.  But you must fight her.  Fight like you’ve never fought before.  I know you can win.”

“Well, my mind is beginning to fail me.  I am beginning to feel her influence even stronger now as I’m recording this.  I hope that this egg and this message gets to your time period.  I love you very much and I hope that this ripple that I’m creating is enough to effect time.  Your great-granddaughter, Margaret.”

Just as the last word left her mouth, the egg immediately vanished.

“Where is that wretched egg?” Margaret screamed.  “I need to destroy it!”

Margaret then shook her head.  “No Autumn!” she shouted.  “I did the right thing, and history is going to be changed because of it!”

Once again, Margaret continued fighting Autumn.  “No!  I will not….let you….con…trol…..m….eee……”

And just like that, Margaret transformed.  Her hair extended and became orange and gold.  Her body shrunk a few inches and her white dress was now full of autumn colors.  The golden leaf was now grafted to her body, with a network of barely visable roots branching out in every direction.

Margaret’s countenance changed.  Instead of looking stubborn, she now wore a pleasant expression on her face.  “My new form suits me well….” she said, smiling.

She then heard someone climbing the stairs.  It was her mother.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” she said, gasping.  “I heard you scream.  Is there anything….” Her mother glanced at Margaret.  “Oh my goodness!  Margaret honey!  Autumn is starting to control you!”

“Mother,” Margaret told her.  “My name is not Margaret anymore.  I don’t like that name.  I hate it.  I really do, mother.  Do you know what name I like?”

Her mother shook her head in disbelief.  “No, honey….”

Her daughter stared at her with a smile on her face.  “Do you?”

Lily was now crying.  “No! No Margaret dear!  No!”

The daughter nodded.  “Yes mother.  I will tell you, since you don’t want to say it.  I like the name Autumn.  This is my name now, and what you will call me from now on…..”

Her mother sighed, still upset.  “Autumn?”

“Yes,” Autumn said, nodding.  “You will learn to love this name, like my great-great-grandmother did.”

Her mother was now angry.  “But you’re Margaret!” she shouted.  “I will never call you Autumn!”

Autumn faked a frown.  “You won’t?” she said coldly.  “You will have to, or I will turn you into a leaf.”

But the mother refused.  “No Margaret dear,” she argued.  “You will always be my Margaret!”

Autumn grinned.  “Well, let me tell you a secret then.  Do you remember your mother Maple?  I cast a spell on her before she died.  One day, you couldn’t find her.  Do you want to know why?”

“Why?” the mother shouted.

“That is because your mother turned into a leaf,” she answered.  “And this happened on the very day that your daughter was born.  And now, you will be joining her.  Farewell, Lily….”

Before the mother could scream anymore, she became a bright orange leaf.

“A lily colored leaf,” Autumn said with a smile.  “How nice.  I will now return to my real home.”

Autumn became a pile of leaves, and blew herself in a strong gust of wind all the way to the Forest Sanctuary.  When she got to the tall tree, she was upset.

“Too small,” Autumn said, complaining.  “I can barely live in this glass spot!”

Autumn raised her hands, which caused various trees to spring out of the ground.  Several of them broke through the glass dome.  Around the whole perimeter, trees sprang up everywhere, breaking through the glass.

“I will not be limited to this plot of land!” Autumn shouted.  “This wretched city looks ugly too!”

After a few more trees sprung up, the glass dome collapsed.  Chunks of glass fell to the ground, shattering everywhere.  But Autumn didn’t stop there.  When the glass dome was down, more trees sprang through the skyscrapers, causing many of them to collapse.  Autumn continued doing this to every city block.  When she was finished, the entire city was a vast, sprawling forest.

“Now this is the way I remembered it,” Autumn said with a smile.

Autumn sat at the base of the tall tree, staring at the bright moon above her.  Staring at fields and neighborhoods, it left Autumn unsatisfied.  The city was only the beginning….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part V

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part V

Autumn looked around at the surrounding suburbs.  “Why stop here?” she gleefully smiled.  “I can remodel all these other ugly places too.  Why, I should’ve done this 100 years ago….”

Her destruction continued.  Autumn raised her hands, causing large groups of trees to spring up, destroying entire neighborhoods.  When she got to Cypress Street, she smiled.

“Ah,” she sighed.  “My old house.  Well, Margaret’s at least.  Thank you for the body, sweetie….”  Autumn raised her hand, causing an enormous tree to spring right through the house.

Meanwhile,  a very faint sound was buzzing deep inside of Autumn.  It was deep inside her subconscious.  Now, the sound was actually very loud.  But to Autumn, she could barely hear it.  It was the sound of shouting and screaming.  And crying.  But with this noise being generated at the subconscious level, Autumn was hardly aware of it.

Inside of Autumn’s subconscious, Margaret was shouting and crying.  “Give me my body back!” she screamed.  “Why can’t you hear me?  When I break though, you are totally going to regret it….”

Margaret screamed and shouted, until she couldn’t scream and shout anymore.  She sat down and sulked.  “I hope that Jill got my message,” she said very sadly.  “Jill, please enter that egg.  You are my only hope….”

After that, Margaret started to cry.  Her crying became bawling.  Her bawling became wailing.  Her eyes were flooded with tears, with her cries echoing through time….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Autumn’s Fall

The Golden Leaf: Autumn’s Fall

Over the next couple days, Autumn paced around, keeping her distance from the egg.  Everything about the egg bothered her.  The abnormally large size.  The overly pervasive luminescence that haunted her.  The twinkle of light that shimmered and sparkled from it.  The egg sat there, like an open invitation.  An invitation that Autumn didn’t want to accept.  One that she greatly feared.

The one thing that that bothered her the most had to do with the proximity of the egg to the tall tree where she usually stood.  This was her favorite place in the whole forest, and the egg was encroaching on it.  An unwelcome guest in her domain.  “I can not approach it,” she said with her utmost determination.  “Direct contact with that egg will result in losing this body….”

Then it came to her.  An idea.  One that might prove useful in removing the egg from her forest.  So for the first time in a couple days, she approached the tall tree, where the egg sat.  “That ugly thing will be rid of very soon,” she whispered.

Autumn raised her hands, gathering a great multitude of leaves around her.  It was a towering mass, which was more than tall enough to cover the egg.  She then used her breath, creating a large gale that blew at the leaves.  To her surprise, the egg did not move an inch.

“That egg is for you, and you’re getting inside it.” someone shouted in the distance.

Out of nowhere, Jaime leapt from behind a tree and sprinted forward.  With every ounce of strength in her body, she lunged at Autumn, tackling her to the ground.  Autumn’s head sat just inches from the egg.

“Get inside!” Jaime shouted.

Autumn looked at Jaime and smirked.  “I admire your bravery, but your precious ‘Jill’ is nowhere to be found.  Now step aside.  I have a wretched egg to dispose of.”

Jaime gave Autumn a look of disgust.  “You are wrong.  Somewhere inside you, Jill is fighting.”

Jaime advanced forward towards Autumn.  “I heard the message from the egg.  You have already ruined her great-granddaughter’s future.  You are an unwelcome guest in her life.  Leave my best friend alone!”

Autumn got up and backed away from the egg.  “Quite a nuisance you are.  Maybe I should turn you into a leaf.”

“Try it.” Jaime dared her.

Autumn waved her hands at Jaime.  Nothing happened.  “What’s going on?” she gasped.

“A promise you made with my great-grandma.” Jaime said with a smile.  “You promised not to harm any of my family.  Even if you broke that promise, I am of the same descent.  My genes protect me from your magic, just like they do with you.  Grandma told me all this, so you can’t tell me any lies.”

Autumn shook her head.  “Very well,” she told her.  “But that promise excludes Jill’s descendants.  Now about that wretched egg, I am never entering it and there is nothing you can do to make me.”

Jaime nodded.  “Exactly.  Autumn would never enter the egg.  But Jill wants to so badly.  Now ‘Jill’!  Can you hear me?  I want you fight Autumn like you never fought her before.  Please!  Fight her for me!  For your mother!  For your whole family!”  After she said this, she couldn’t take it anymore.  Overcome with sorrow, she started to cry.  “Fight her, Jill!  Fight her!”

Autumn stood there stiffly.  A different look came across her face.  A look that Jaime recognized more than anything.  A tear rolled down Autumn’s cheek.  “Jaime?”

Jaime squealed with delight.  “Yes!  Keep fighting her!  Don’t stop, Jill!”

Autumn (or Jill) took a step toward the egg, and then stopped.  “Get back inside, you wretched wart!” she screamed.  “I’m in control!”

“Don’t listen to her!” Jaime screamed.  “Keep fighting!”

Autumn smiled victoriously. “Jill has lost the will to fight.  Her strength is spent, and she can’t move another muscle.”

“Then you’ll have to fight me then,” Jaime challenged her.  “I still have plenty of strength, and I’m not going to back down.  Get inside, before I make you.”

Autumn started to run away from the egg.  “You won’t be able to if I’m far away from it.  Away with you, brat!”

“GET IN THE EGG!!!” Jaime screamed at the top of her lungs.  She stared at Autumn with a deep hatred.  The intensifying hatred painted her face crimson.  With the overwhelming tide of emotions beginning to flow through her, she rushed forward and grabbed Autumn by the leg, tripping her.  And, just as Autumn was beginning to stand up, Jaime forcefully shoved her forward, which was enough to send her tumbling forward.  Autumn tumbled into the egg, which sent ripples of light that formed up and down it.

Autumn pressed against the inside of the egg and pounded on it.  “Let me out!” she shouted.

And that was it.  A potent mist emerged from the egg, which dissipated into the air.  Jill lay there, inside the egg with her eyes closed.

Jaime, who was watching at a distance, knew what was happening.  Jill was dying.  Knowing the outcome, Jaime began to leave the forest.  “I’ll come back when her new body hatches,” she said to herself.

Meanwhile,  Jill remained there in the egg, her body motionless.  While her body laid there, her mind was in a different place.  Jill was dreaming.

Jill opened her eyes to find herself in a cell filled with other girls her age.  When she inspected the door, she found that it was locked.

“Don’t bother,” one girl said with a British accent.  “It’s locked.”

Jill nodded.  “I know that.”  Then she turned toward the door and pounded on it.  “Let me out!”

A few seconds after she pounded, someone walked toward the cell.  It was a man with a radiance that almost blinded her.  The man had various otherworldly features, most notably his stature, which nearly extended to the ceiling.  “Do not fear,” the man told her.

In spite of what he just said, Jill was deathly afraid.  The man’s voice was like a multitude of voices.  He spoke with an intensity of a thunderclap.

“W-who are you?” Jill stammered.  “Are you some kind of angel?  What is your name?”

The man unlocked the door and approached her. “Why do you ask for my name?  My name is beyond understanding, and is not something that you really need to know.  While my name will not be revealed, I will do something else for your sake.  You may call me ‘Freedom’, as I feel that this would be a suitable name to address me here on earth.”

Jill walked outside the cell, towards the mysterious man.  “So I can call you ‘Freedom’, in place of your real name that you don’t want to tell me?” Jill asked him.

Freedom nodded.  “The name that I gave you will work.  Now Jill.  Look before you.  Do you know why you are here?”

Jill shook her head.  “I don’t know.” she told him.  “What am I doing in this place, and who are all these girls?”

“To answer the first question,” Freedom began.  “I will tell you who the girls are.  All of these girls you see represent every girl in history that has been under Autumn’s control.  I have set you free, and I will do the same with all the others.”

Jill looked back inside the open cell.  None of the girls even paid attention to the door.  “Why aren’t they escaping?”

“I have already told you,” the man told her.  “In their own time periods, they haven’t been freed yet.  They don’t see the open door like you do.  To them, it’s still closed and locked.

“But wait!  I thought Autumn was dead!  Didn’t the egg kill her?”

The man shook his head.  “The egg only killed her in your era.  Even with that being the case, it only killed her temporarily.  Long enough to free you from her.  To truly destroy her, we must travel thousands of years to the past.  To the place where her first victim dwells.  You will be the one to help free all these girls from the same fate that you were freed from.”

Jill gasped.  “Who? Me?”

Freedom nodded.  “Yes. You.”

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Autumn’s Fall – Part III

The Golden Leaf: Autumn’s Fall – Part III

Over the next few nights, Jill had the same dream as before.  It was the same cell as before, only she was outside of it.  In each dream, Freedom told her that her time has not yet come for the plan to be put into action.  This confused Jill, since she was eager to destroy Autumn once and for all.

Meanwhile, Jill worked everyday on her schoolwork.  In being so behind on all her courses, she was home schooled by her mother.  This was nice for Jill, since she got to spend more time at home.  However, this allowed her less time to see Jaime, since she was at school all day.

During the second week of November, Jill had a slightly different dream from all the other dreams that she had.  While the setting was the same, the message was completely different.

Looking at Freedom, Jill sighed.  “Okay.  You want me to free all these other girls throughout history.  When is this going to happen?”

Freedom smiled.  “That day is today.”

Jill frowned.  “Why not any of the other days?”

The man stared at Jill.  “I have told you before, and I will tell you again.  I am not the one who decides when this is going to happen.  I receive the orders from my master, and I carry them out.”

Jill looked at the cell again.  “What about my homeschooling?  Will my mother really send me alone to England?”

“You will not be going alone.” Freedom told her.  “I will be going with you.  Getting there will not be a problem.”

Jill nodded.  “Well,  you freed me from Autumn.  So I will trust you.”

The man shook his head.  “I was not the one who freed you.  My master did.  The dream only served as a symbol of what he did.”

Jill was surprised.  “It did?”

Freedom nodded.  “The egg, too, is another symbol of what he did.  Just as you have been given a new body, so the same must be done with you spiritually.”

Jill nodded.  “I have been reading, and I will continue to read.  I will take these symbols to heart.”

“Arise.” The mysterious man told her.  “We will defeat Autumn and restore history.   But let me advise you.  In doing this, you will have no memory of this ever occurring.  You will be living your life as you did before.  It will just be a better one than before, without Autumn bringing any ruin to it.”

Jill was perplexed.  “Why did this all happen throughout history in the first place?  And what is the point, if I’m not going to remember?”

“All this has happened to serve as a lesson for you,” Freedom told her.  “You will surely remember the one event, but it will only be a dream to you.  A dream that will become a distant memory.  A distant memory that will soon fade away.  This is all that will remain of your current reality in this era.”

“I’d rather it be a dream.” Jill told him.  “A dream that I soon want to forget.  Let’s defeat Autumn, and give these other girls the same peace that I so eagerly desire.”

After Jill said this, she woke up.  She then read her bible and got ready for the day.  After that, she got dressed, putting on another white dress that she had in her wardrobe.

She then went downstairs to tell her mother about the trip that she needed to make.  She told her everything that she heard from Freedom, and pleaded with her.

“You can go,” her mother told her.  “But you need to go with someone responsible.”

At that moment, the doorbell rang.  When her mother opened it, there stood a man with his hand extended out.  The man wore a white dress shirt and blue jeans.

When Jill saw the man, she smiled.  To her, he looked quite familiar.  “You’re the man from my dreams!” she shouted.  “What are you doing here?”

The man shook his head.  “Didn’t I tell you?  I said that I would be going with you.  Is that okay with you, Mrs. Hollingdale?”

The mother nodded.  “Certainly.  I just want her to be with a responsible adult.  And who might you be?”

The man extended his hand and shook with the mother.  “Call me Freedom.  That is all you need to know regarding my identity.  I am a messenger that will help Jill on her mission.”

Jill’s mother, after thinking about what Jill told her, nodded.  “Go right on ahead.  After what happened to Jill, there is nothing that can surprise me anymore.  All I ask is that she returns when she is finished, okay?”

The man nodded.  “Thank you, Mrs. Hollingdale.  Let’s go, Jill!”

Looking at Jill, the mother gasped.  “What about the plane tickets?”

The man smiled.  “Don’t worry.  I have already taken care of that.  They are all paid for.  A round-trip ticket to England.”

“Okay,” the mother said, nodding.  The mother then kissed Jill on the cheek and hugged her.  “Bye honey.  I hope that you can get rid of this ‘Autumn’.”

Jill nodded.  “I will, mother.”

The mother closed the door and they left the house.

As Jill was about to leave in Freedom’s car, Jaime ran up to Jill.  It looked like she was in a really good mood.

“Let’s play, Jill!” Jaime shouted.  “Do you have time for that today?”

Jill shook her head.  “I don’t have time for that, Jaime.  I’m going to England.  The Autumn Sword needs to be forged to destroy Autumn once and for all.”

Jaime nodded.  “It’s too bad I can’t come with you.  But go.  Defeat Autumn for me.”

“Thanks….” Jill said with a smile.  Then she turned around, walking towards Freedom.

“Wait!” Jaime shouted.  “Before you go, can I talk to you?  We haven’t seen each other in a while.  It will be just for a little bit.  I promise!  You do have time, don’t you?”

Jill looked at her watch.  It was now three hours before her flight took off.  “We have time.” Jill told her.  She then turned facing the man.  “Can I talk to her quickly?”

The man nodded.  “Don’t be long.  We don’t want to miss this flight.”

Jill nodded, and faced Jaime.  “What is it?” she asked.

“It’s about your old body,” Jaime told her.  “I want to show you a project that I just finished.  It will be quick.  I promise.”

Jill nodded.  “Okay.”

Jill followed Jaime into the woods.  They walked all the way to the tall tree, where her old body sat.  But when they got there, she saw a shovel stuck in the ground, with a fresh patch of dirt that has been smoothed down into the ground.

“Your old body was repulsive,” she told Jill.  “I couldn’t stand looking at it so I buried it.  I also made a wooden sign to go where I buried the old you.  I wanted to bury your old self, since that’s not you anymore, right?”

Jill nodded.  “We should now leave.  The very thought that Autumn’s still here creeps me out.”

Jaime nodded, pulling the shovel out of the ground.  “I agree.  But before we go, your old body’s grave needs only one thing to be complete.”

Jill shrugged her shoulders.  “What would that be?”

Jaime reached into her front pocket of her jeans and pulled out the golden leaf.  “Don’t you think that this would complete it?”

Jill nodded.  “Place it on there.”

Jaime smiled.  “That’s what I thought. It would complete that grave.  But do you know what?  I love this leaf too much to part with it.”

Jill shook her head in disbelief.  “What are you doing, Jaime?”

Jaime held the golden leaf up, holding it tightly, like it was her prized possession.  “Isn’t it a great leaf, Jill?  I knew how dangerous this leaf was.  But I just couldn’t resist!  You had the leaf before, and you never showed me!  Why did you do that, Jill?  It’s not being a very good friend, is it?”

Jill backed away.  “Jaime, you are starting to scare me….”

Jaime’s smile widened.  “Aw….Is Jill afraid?  Maybe this will make you feel better….” Jaime took the golden leaf and placed it towards the top of her shirt.  The leaf flashed, reappearing on her body.  The leaf then grafted to her body in very much the same way as it did with Jill.

Jaime then transformed.  Her hair grew longer, going from black to gold and orange streaks.  Her complexion became golden and her height was shortened a few inches.  Her jeans and purple shirt flashed and became an autumn colored dress.  Her tennis shoes and socks became leafy sandals.

“Hey Jill!” Jaime shouted, taunting her.  “I am you and you are me.  Just give it time, and you will see!”

“Stop it!” Jill shouted.  “Stop it, Jaime!”

“My name is not Jaime anymore,” Jaime told her.  “Do you know what my name is now?  You know what it is, don’t you Jill?”

“Autumn….” Jill said with a sigh.  “Just know that your days are numbered.  Just as I was freed from you, My best friend will be, too.”

Jill then ran off, away from her imprisoned friend.

“You have a plane to catch?” Autumn shouted in the distance.  “I will not be stopped, and you are not going anywhere.”

Autumn transformed into a pile of leaves and blew herself in front of Jill.  She then rematerialized, holding Jill tight.  “You are not going to make your flight,” she whispered in her ear.

Jill was furious.  “Well you know what, you ancient evil giant?  You are not going to stop me!”  And with that, Jill broke loose from Autumn and gave her a shove.  She then ran out of the forest as fast as she could.

She then approached the driveway, where the man stood.  “Not a moment to waste!” he shouted.  “We are not taking the car.  It will take too long.”

“I’m sorry about the wait.” she told her.  “My best friend….”

“Is now enslaved to Autumn,” he said, finishing her sentence.  “That is exactly why she needs to be vanquished.  Autumn is not doing what she was ordered to do.  Now quick!  Grab my hand!”

Jill saw Autumn in the distance, fast approaching them.  “I see her coming….” Jill cried.

“Now!” Freedom shouted.

Jill quickly grasped the man’s hand and they both vanished.  They appeared at the airport.

“You were thinking of your friend,” the man told her as they ran toward the entrance.  “I know how much she means to you, but she will be freed.  Don’t worry.”

Jill ran with Freedom, holding his hand tightly as they ran through all the terminals.  Eventually, they reached the concourse that had their scheduled flight.  The man showed the tickets to the person at the desk.  Upon seeing the tickets, they nodded, pointing to the gate that they needed to enter.

Jill and Freedom boarded the plane and they were off, on their way to England to the place where it all began….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Golden Leaf: Autumn’s Fall – Part IV

The Golden Leaf: Autumn’s Fall – Part IV

Jill sat there, in a coach seat next to Freedom, just behind first class.  It was a long flight to England, so it gave her plenty of time to think.

As she stared out the window, she began to think about her parents and her family.  She also thought about Autumn, and how her life was ruined with the golden leaf.  The more she thought about it, the more she hated it.  That golden leaf was a wretched thing, she thought.  Her hatred of it increased, and she was filled with feelings of resentment.  She wished that she never found it in the first place.  It was trouble from the start.

“I hate it.” she quietly growled.

But it was loud enough for Freedom to hear her.

“I know you do,” he told her.  “But do not worry.  We will destroy her, and all this will be a distant memory.  For you, it will be like a bad dream.”

Jill nodded.  Despite what Freedom said, she still didn’t feel any better inside.  She felt troubled and insecure, knowing that she wouldn’t feel any better until Autumn was gone.

The hours dragged on by, and Jill was now deep in thought.  She tried to think of things that were more peaceful.  Things that were more pleasant than what she had to experience for many days.  All these days were spent screaming and crying, hoping that Autumn would allow her to regain control of her consciousness.

Jill was now fast asleep.  After a little while, she woke up, screaming.

“It happened again,” she whimpered.

“Relax,” the man told her.  “You had a bad dream.”

“I dreamt that I had the golden leaf again, and Autumn was controlling me again.” she cried.  She then looked out the window.  “How much longer until we land?”

Freedom smiled.  “They just announced it.  We are one hour from landing.  They announced it right before you woke up.”  Freedom then looked at Jill with a fixed gaze.  “Don’t be afraid. There is nothing to fear.  Follow my master.”

Jill shrugged her shoulder.  “Who is your master?”

At this, the mysterious man smiled again.  “You know who he is, Jill.  There are many names that describe him, but they all refer to him.  Yahweh, Jehovah, Lord, God.  This is the master that I serve.”

Jill nodded.  “I know who he is.”

“Good.” Freedom told her.  “But I feel that you should continue your pursuit.  You will experience more peace if you do.”

“Okay.  I will work on that.”  With that, Jill looked at the window and closed her eyes.  While she wasn’t speaking with her lips, she spoke with her heart.

By the time that she was finished, the plane began to touch down at the airport in Somerset, which was the Southwest part of England.

After the plane touched down, Jill and Freedom got off.  Going to the baggage claim was not necessary, since they didn’t carry any luggage with them.

From the airport, Freedom hailed a taxi, which took them to the forest.  This was the very forest where it all began.

“So, this is the place?” Jill asked Freedom, as they got out of the taxi.

“It is,” the man told her.  “But you won’t find the golden leaf here.  The last time that it was here was in the 16th century.  The weapon, however, is still here.  I will show you where it is.”

“That’s if he can stop me,” a voice answered.

Both Jill and Freedom turned around to find Autumn standing there.

Jill’s heart sank.  “How did you get here?” she gasped.  “I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but whatever it is, we’re stopping you!”

Autumn gave a sinister smile.  “How did I get here?” she asked her.  “Why, I took the plane, of course!  I took the same plane that you did, transforming into a pile of leaves in a piece of luggage.  Did you enjoy the ride?”

“Cut it out!” Jill shouted.  “You caused me more pain than what I could ever bear!”

“Enough.” Freedom told her.  “Don’t say another word to her.  She’s only trying to make you upset.  We’re going to the underground passage where the weapon is.  Then, we will go on a little trip.  Hurry!”

Jill ran with Freedom, right past Autumn.

Jill quickly looked back at Autumn.  “Jaime, hang in there!” she shouted.  “We’ll free you soon enough….”  Right after she said this, Freedom tugged her forward, causing her to resume her faster pace.  They ran off, beginning to outdistance Autumn.

Autumn was furious.  “You will not destroy me.  I cannot die!”  And with that, Autumn began running after them.

“Autumn can die,” The man told Jill.  “The Autumn Sword can kill her.  But the one that I’m showing you won’t.  The materials are worn out.”

“What’s the point of showing me, then?” she asked.

“Just wait, and I’ll show you.” he told her.

Jill and Freedom ran deep into the forest, until they came to a large patch, which sat in the center of the forest.  Freedom revealed an old stone cover in the ground.  Lifting on the stone cover revealed a stony staircase, leading underground.  They both followed the underground passage to where the weapon sat.  The weapon was an iron sword, covered in rust.

“We will not be using that sword,” Freedom told her.  “Grab my hand.  We are going on a trip through time.”

Feeling a little scared, Jill grabbed the man’s hand.

After she did this, a vortex appeared.  Just before it disappeared, Autumn ran and jumped into it.

A few seconds later, Jill and Freedom appeared in the year 1512.  They were in the forest.  Instead of there being a large parch, an enormous tree stood there instead.   Freedom dug through the leaves on the ground and found the golden leaf.

When Jill saw that leaf, she screamed.  “Get that away from me!” she shouted.

The man nodded.  “Don’t worry, Jill.  This leaf is needed to create the Autumn Sword.”

“The one sword that you will never be able to forge,” Autumn’s voice sounded.

The pile of leaves on the ground formed into Autumn, and she grabbed the golden leaf.  “Another leaf?” she gasped.  “This one’s from the 16th century, I see.  I remember that era well.”

As Autumn held the additional golden leaf, she grew until she was half the height of the giant tree.  “This was my height as a child, when I lived long ago.  Just the right size to squash you.”  Autumn then placed the leaf inside her dress.  The second leaf grafted into her body, right next to the first.

“Two leaves?” Jill gasped.  “How can we stop her now?”

“We’re going to the beginning.” Freedom told her.  “It didn’t matter whether she got that leaf or not.  All that matters is that we get the leaf from long, long ago.”

Before Jill or Freedom went anywhere, a girl approached the tree where they were.  When Jill saw the girl, she gasped.

“It’s….the same girl from my dream!” she gasped.  “The one in the cell!  That means….”

“I have two victims!” Autumn shouted.

The girl looked around.  “Who said that?” she said in a strong British accent.  “I thought I heard something….”

“You did.” Autumn told her.  “I have a beautiful gift for you.” Autumn ungrafted one of the golden leafs and gave one to her.  Upon doing this, Autumn reverted to her original size.

The girl held the golden leaf and smiled.  “It’s quite lovely!  I’d fancy this would fetch quite a few shillings!”

“Yes!” Autumn said, smiling.  “And it’s all yours!”

Suddenly, the girl flashed, transforming into Autumn.  “Fancy meeting the lot of you here!” she shouted.

“Let’s go.” Freedom told Jill.  “We still need to get the blade.  After that, we’re out of here.”

Just as Jill and Freedom were about to lift up the stone cover, the current Autumn stopped them.

After that, the newly formed Autumn joined her.  “My twin counterpart,” she said, smiling.  “Really, she’s just me, only five hundred years younger.”

“Quite correct, you are!” The other Autumn shouted.  “Are these scoundrels giving you trouble?”

“Indeed.” she said in agreement.  “Let’s stop them.”

“Stop this at once!” Freedom shouted.  And with that, Freedom spread out his hand, striking both Autumns to the ground.  He then lifted up the lid, revealing the same stony staircase, only a lot less worn.  In fact, the stone looked more freshly cut.

As they both ran down the underground passage, Jill looked at the man.  She looked quite worried.

“Don’t worry,” Freedom assured her.  “I did not hurt them. I only made them lose consciousness for a short time.  Both the girl’s and Jaime’s body will be fine.”

Meanwhile, both Autumns regained consciousness, and combined together.  The current Autumn appeared with both leaves again, standing at half the height of the giant tree. Just as tall as she was before she went after the girl.  The colossal Autumn then became an enormous pile of leaves, blowing herself down the underground passage.

At this point, Jill and Freedom just reached the area where the blade was stored.  There it sat, ready for use.

“It is almost ready,” Freedom said, holding the blade.  “All it needs is a golden leaf.”

“But Autumn already took the golden leaf in this era!” Jill shouted.

“We’ll get the one in the beginning,” the man told her.  “Just a few hundred years after the flood.  About a century after the ice age.”

But Jill was filled with doubt.  “What if Autumn gets that golden leaf? She’ll be unstoppable!”

“She won’t get it.” Freedom told her.  “Don’t worry.”

“I hope not.”

Freedom then held out his hand, inviting Jill to grab it again.  Jill grabbed his hand firmly.  The vortex appeared again.

“Hang on!” The mysterious man shouted.

And with that, they both passed through the vortex, with a large pile of leaves trailing them.

Just seconds later, they appeared in 2488 B.C.  The forest there was fairly new.  Not more than a hundred years old.  In the center of the forest sat a tree that was taller than the others.  Outside the forest was a tiny village with various dwellings.

Jill looked around and gasped.  “Where are we?” she asked the man.

“We are in 2488 B.C.” Freedom told her.  “A few hundred years after the flood and about a hundred years after the end of the ice age.  We are right before the first girl enters the forest.  Shh….Here she comes….

Jill and Freedom quietly watched as a girl walked toward the large tree.  She was covered in animal skins with blondish, puffy hair.  As she approached the tree, she chattered something in her native tongue.

“Now….” Freedom whispered.  “Before the girl grabs the leaf….”

But before they could do anything, a large pile of leaves emerged from the ground, and the gigantic Autumn appeared.

“I don’t even have to take this one from you.” Autumn said, with a sinister grin.  “I will just let this girl take it.”  Autumn then turned to the girl.  “Go on! It’s yours!”

The girl held up the leaf and smiled.  “Ooooooooh!!!!” she shouted.  She then made a series of sounds, indicating joy and excitement.  Jill couldn’t understand a single word she said, but she knew that she was excited.

The girl then let out a sinister laugh, and transformed into Autumn.  This Autumn only spoke the girl’s native language.

“Now that’s a little vague….” Autumn said.  “I used to know that language, but now I don’t.  Combine with me!”

The new Autumn combined with the gigantic Autumn.  Autumn flashed and grew even larger.  She was now taller than the tallest tree in the forest.  She was so tall that the giant tree was as tall as her foot. The third leaf grafted with the first two.

“Now this is the size I was when I was alive,” Autumn said, smiling victoriously.  “Look at you two.  You’re like ants.  Ants that need to be squished.  Long ago, which is actually not too long in this era, I was living a wonderful life.  My mother was of this earth and my father came from another place.  He was not of this world.”

“My life was wonderful!” she continued.  “I ravaged the land, doing whatever I pleased, whenever I wanted.  But then, it started to rain.  It rained so hard that it started to flood.  And it never stopped raining!  After three or four days of non-stop rain, the water was over my head. There was no food to eat, and I drowned!”

“The next thing I know, I was told that I could exist on Earth, instead of being thrown into the abyss.  I started to have my fun again, but then you stopped me.  You enslaved me to this leaf!  With this golden prison, I cannot go anywhere without it!”

“So because of what you did, I decided to have a little fun.  I would relive my youth over and over again.  Granted, it’s just a puny human body, but each one is like a new outfit to me. Some are nice, and some are quite elegant and pretty.  Some can be bratty, but I like them all the same!”

“Apparently, I learn that I was going to have fun in Jill’s great-granddaughter Margaret.  However, all that was ruined.  Because of that wretched egg!  An idea that came from you!

“Do not say my real name!” Freedom ordered.  And with that, Freedom held Autumn’s tongue so that she couldn’t speak.  Autumn then frantically gestured to him.  Freedom restored her voice.

“I won’t say it,” she told him.  “Now let me continue!  That egg ruined my chance of that future happening!  After being ejected from the egg, I tried to get Jill back.  It didn’t work.”

“But then I saw Jaime.  Innocent little Jaime, digging up Jill’s old body and burying it in the ground.  After she saw that leaf for a while, she couldn’t resist.  After all, it’s in her genes!”

“And now, you want to kill me and banish me to the abyss.  You are not permitted to do this!  I WILL NOT LET YOU!!!!”

“That is where you don’t have a choice.” Freedom spoke loudly.  “Your story is a futile attempt at creating sympathy.  While most of it is true, the fruit of your deeds have been nothing but wicked since the day you were conceived.  Your father is one of the many wicked rebels that has fallen out of league with my master.  He should’ve known better than to meddle with the affairs of men!  Our kind is not made to breed, and you, the fruit that he produced from the earthly woman, is proof of it.  This is exactly why we constructed the Autumn Blade.  There was one thing that you mentioned that was a total lie.  You were destined to be thrown into the abyss, but you ran away before we were able to bound you.  This act didn’t happen by accident, but was allowed to happen.  The golden leaf was supposed to be used for the Autumn Blade.  But since you ran away, we used it to imprison you instead.  You were supposed to stay in that leaf, so you have far overstepped your boundaries.   You have done so many times.  Must you try my patience?  If so, how much more would you try the patience of my master?  Now, you were allowed your freedom for a time.  But now, your time is up.”

Freedom held his hands high, and flung his right arm forward.  A strong blast of energy came from his right arm, creating a powerful shock that penetrated the colossal Autumn.  The shock caused one of her three leaves to ungraft and fall to the ground.

Freedom created a soft gust, which resembled a light.  The light extended its palm, clutching the golden leaf in its fist.  The bright, shiny fist then flashed like a zephyr back toward Freedom.  The light dissipated and he caught the leaf.  He then placed the golden leaf on the cross-guard.  The leaf then flashed as it became part of the sword’s engraving.

“To the abyss with you!” Freedom shouted.  “You wicked Nephilim.  Unnatural breed destined for destruction!”

Freedom held up the Autumn Sword, hoisting it as high as he could.  He then swung the sword forward, slicing through the air.  The force of the swing created a bright beam that hit Autumn directly.  After she was hit, the other two golden leaves ungrafted and fell to the ground.  Every one of them were absorbed into the sword.

And with one last swing, that was it.  Autumn let out a piercing scream.  “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” she screamed.  “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

A vortex appeared, and Autumn was sucked into it.  As she was sucked in, Jaime’s body remained on the ground, along with the native girl and the British girl from 1512.

Jill stood there in shock.  “It’s over.” she said.  She then looked at Jaime, who laid there, motionless.

Full of worry, she began to shake Jaime.  “No,” she cried.  “Is Jaime….dead?”

“In this era, she is.” Freedom told her.  “In fact, the other two girls are dead as well.  Autumn used all the energy that they had.  But worry not.  They are all alive in the era that you are returning to.  Each in their own era.  And Jaime in yours.”

Jill looked at the girls and then back at Freedom.  “Why?” she asked him.  “Why was it allowed to happen?”

The man smiled.  “This was allowed to happen so that all of you girls throughout history could learn an important lesson.”

“What is that lesson?” Jill asked, still confused.

“Are you still in the dark?” Freedom said, frowning.  “In every one of your lives throughout history, Autumn had control of your lives.  Autumn resembles the sin in your life.”

“Then why was I freed?” Jill asked.  “I was freed with an egg.”

“That too, is important.” Freedom explained to her.  “It pretty much resembles how everyone lived before the savior was born.  You have read about this, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I have!” Jill said, nodding.  “It’s the Christmas story!”

The man smiled.  “Well, with that egg you were in, your old body died and your new body was born.  Think of what this means.”

Jill nodded.  “I guess I’m starting to understand now.  You wanted to teach me and all the other girls a lesson about sin and how we can be freed from it?”

The mysterious man nodded.  “You are starting to get it.”

Jill smiled.  “I still have one question.  What about all the boys?  How are you going to teach them a lesson?”

At this, Freedom smiled again.  “Don’t worry about them.  There will be a way that they will learn, but you won’t ever see it happen.”

Jill frowned.  “I won’t?”

“Well,” the man told her.  “Do you want to experience the golden leaf all over again?”

“NO!” Jill screamed.  “Never again!”

“Then I will spare you living in a world with the lessons that the boys will experience,” he told her.

The man then approached Jill.  “Now,” he told her.  “With Autumn dead, everything that you have experienced will be like a distant memory.  It will be like a bad dream.  Okay,  Jill?  Jill?  Jill?”

______

©2012  K. L. Walker