Fiction: ‘A Change on Earth’ – a short story

Piece provides novel look, supports April 22 environmental-protection holiday


Nora Vedder

A graphic created in Canva displays the title of this Earth Day short story, “A Change on Earth.” Brooke Murphree wrote this fictional piece. Earth day takes place on April 22.

Author’s note: The story below is a fictional piece created with the intent to raise awareness to litter of the streets and the effects of urbanization on the earth. Thank you for reading!

There’s a legend we tell in my land: that once, the land used to be clean, and it used to thrive, even within the shadows. Green covered every nook and cranny. But, that was before the fairies disappeared. At least that’s what they say happened to us. There are always two sides to every story, but I’ve heard more than that since being woken. Everyone has different opinions as to what happened, but it’s all just gossip to most of us. If you’re interested, here’s the truth.

It’s all hazy, split into bits and pieces. We had done our jobs, our days were filled with warm sun rays and peace. There used to be 93 colonies within this land alone, making it easier to cover every square inch. The day we all fell into deep slumber remains fresh in my mind.

My wings had fluttered at the speed of a hummingbird. The thrumming in my ear mixed with the sound of the whipping wind. I and Aleksis raced through the barge by the old hollow tree our colony resides in. Her gold locks reflected the sun like a beacon and her fluttering wings glowed. My dear baby sister is the opposite of me in every aspect physically. My blue-tinted black waves contrasted hers, as well as my misty green eyes, which rivaled her light amber shades. This day seemed so ordinary and unlike any others.

As we approached the Hollow and came to a landing, we spotted the others in the colony, completing daily chores and routine checks. Young ones zipped around their parents with their newly developed wings. As Aleksis bounced around me and giggled at their antics, we walked further into the tree’s core.

“Louisa! Aleksis!” Sounded a deep familiar voice. We smiled brightly at our father’s rigid, aged face. His smile made the crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes more prominent. Aleksis ran ahead of me, she was always so bubbly for it being so early in the morning. She wrapped her arms around his torso and hugged him tight. I, however, took my time making my way that way. At the time I remember the worry dancing across his aged features. Approaching them, I furrowed my brows as I looked into my father’s similar green eyes.

“What is it?” I had asked him, but he had feigned innocence.

“What’s what?”

I stared at him dead-eyed. I crossed my arms over my chest and side-eyed him. He sighed and grew wary.

“It is time for the council’s decision.”

The council’s decision was a decision decided every five years on if we’d crystallize this year, a slumber meant to last for years, or if we’d live out for another five years. When we crystallize, we go into a rejuvenating slumber until the earth needs us again. The last one we took lasted 130 years. This time, we awakened after only 40, and it happened to be my second crystallization and Aleksis’ first. Nothing happens in that state, we stand still in time while everything around us changes and evolves.

A member of the fae like us could go anywhere between four to five crystallizations before their time is spent. Our elders have been advising us to push back the next term for as long as they could. They’re all within their last crystallization cycle or two terms from it.

Aleksis sighed helplessly with her shoulders slumped. My father placed a hand on her shoulder. We walked to the audience hall, crowds of others making their way there as well. The room glimmered with fairy dust shine and pixie-dusted accents. Yes, pixies and fairies are completely different, but I won’t go into that now. With my father being a guard general, we grew up within the audience hall, where all meetings of importance took place and celebrations were held with smiles and joyous tears.

Now, it was dusted and dim, cobwebbed and overrun with buggy critters. The vote that day in 1803, was that we’d crystallize. We were promised that the great mother nature would awaken us in no less than 98 years. The thing is, by the time we’d really awoken, it had been more than 98 and it was automatically sensed that something had changed. From the information gathered by the scouts from the new inhabitants of our area, the more recent generation of birds and bunnies of the area that the world was definitely not the same as when we first went into our slumbers.

Wandering outside the tree, everything looked overgrown and wild. The sunrise was the only constant from what once was. It’s been two days since the awakening, and today is my day to scout out the area. The council has decided that organization was our first order of business. Despite the rumors and the whispers in the trees, we need order and to familiarize ourselves with nature again.

I tightened the ankle straps on my leafy flats and tightened the half ponytail my dark hair was in. Leaving my nestled area I entered the main hall of the tree’s trunk. People busied themselves around for it, unusual for it was early in the morning. But I guess after a century or two of sleep, you’re not really exhausted anymore. Pushing my way through the colonies’ early risers, I made it to the tunnel leading out. 

“Where do you think you’re going?”

I spun around to face my father, as he crossed his arms and gave me the dad glare he’s grown so good at.

“Getting an early start on my job, why?” I questioned him right back with my brow creased in confusion.

“Because it looks like you’re leaving without saying goodbye or taking someone with you for assistance and protection.”

I let out an annoyed sigh.

“Okay, first, I’m sorry for leaving without saying goodbye but I didn’t want the safety lecture I get every time. Second, I don’t need assistance or protection,” I said irritably.

My father and I have very similar habits when it comes to being stubborn. After the split-second staring contest, he heaved a sigh and rubbed his forehead as if I was the exhausting one.

“At least take Pip with you,” he sighed.

I looked into the rowdy crowd behind him and spotted Pip right off the bat. Pip wasn’t the tallest nor the shortest. He wasn’t muscular – but lean and a good shot with his slingshot. Dad looked at him like another child in our family, and he was only two years older than Aleksis. The boy was still learning what he needed to join the colony’s guardianship, so it made no sense why he’d be able to protect me. Before I could ask why, I received a response in a disgruntled sentence.

“I care for the kid deep and hard, but he’s driving me crazy. Please take him with you.”

I looked at him unimpressed.

“Begging? That’s a low, Father, but I accept the challenge.”

He looked at me confused.

“No… no, no, no challenge. Just watch him and don’t hurt him.” 

“Me,” I gasped out, “Never!” Only to smile a mischievous smile.

Father rolled his eyes before raising fingers to his lips and letting out a sharp whistle and turning to the crowd behind him.

“Pip! Get over here kid.”

Pip shot forward with a burst of energy.

“What’s up, General?”

His voice teetered the line between the levels of high and low.

“I would like you to accompany my damsel of a daughter on her adventure out.”

I scowled at Father.

“I am no damsel.”

I grabbed Pip’s thin arm and turned to venture down the tunnel.

“Have a safe trip!” Father said in his baritone voice.

Taking flight from the creeping lifeless tunnel of our once vibrant home, the sun bathed our wings. They shined like iridescent glass on sunny summer days. Pip fluttered gently by me as we breathed in the air. I smiled slightly until a cough erupted from within my throat. Pip followed suit in a fit.

“The air is different now,” I started as I wrapped my arms in front of my chest.

The particles in the vast open space felt grimy, unclean and crowded.

“Something’s different, but what? I get that things changed and evolved over the crystallization period but not this … it’s bad.”

Spinning around to get a better aerial view of our surroundings I noticed trees knocked down and shiny, unnatural wrappings glittering over the vegetation.

“Okay, Pip, choose a direction, any direction,” I told him simply and watched his head turn to inspect which ways to go, his blonde curls falling over his contrasting brown eyes.

“Let’s go south.” He stretched out a thin arm in the direction of what used to be an old meadow we used to visit.

I nodded in confirmation and took off in that direction, not paying attention to whether Pip was following me or not. In the distance my ears picked up on rumbles, vibrations traveling from my eardrums to my rib cages, causing discomfort as I flew closer. The uncomfortable vibrations grew stronger the closer we got to our destination. My wings slowed their flapping as I fluttered closer to the ground. The landing was a rough and graceless tumble. I physically shivered to get the rattling feeling out. Pip, on the other hand, face planted inches away from me. I stood straight up and dusted the specs of dirt from my autumn orange uniform. 

I rolled my eyes at the boy before the thrumming noise to my right took my attention.

“What is that noise?” I whispered to myself.

“I don’t know, maybe the animals got louder while we were in crystallization.” Pip let out that ridiculous response, adding no help to the situation. He shook his head like a wet dog, not completely ridding his hair of the dirt grimes he picked up from his landing. I just shook my head at him and heaved a sigh.

The oddness of what we’d heard and the vibrations we felt seemed to come and go like a heartbeat. Only more radically and not in sync, “bum bum… bum bum” motions. 

Looking back where the noises and audio movements originated from, a tunnel oddly placed in the way. It was like a hollowed branch but made of an alien white material with orange horizontal stripes and an odd zig-zag, going vertical.

“Louisa! I’m gonna look for the local animals here, get the scoop from the friends in the dirt, ya know?”

I waved Pip off to do his thing. The silence made everything still while the sun filtered through the green tree leaves and the birds whistled quietly. I walked through the strange and out-of-place tunnel, the material of it somehow squishy and stiff at the same time. On the other side, the ground takes an uphill turn. Fluttering my wings to hover, slighting off the ground as I made my way up. There was minimal movement aside from the wind blowing the grass blades and leaves and the occasional beetle in the dirt.

Eventually, I reached a point where there was no longer grass or dirt – where beetles didn’t stock prey, and ants didn’t colonize. The rock-textured path seems to go on for miles long and is wider than the colony could cover. I landed with both feet on the rocky pathway. it felt and looks like a rock. However, it’s nothing I’ve seen before. I laid my left palm against the surface. My fingers wiggled around the tough plane. 

Suddenly the rumbling took up again, and vibrations from sound waves crashed into me. Looking back behind me a monstrous being roared. It doesn’t prance about on four legs but rolls at an alarming speed. Its eyes glowed, and its coat shines under the sun’s rays. It’s not furry or close to fuzzy but metallic, as if its coat was hard armor and not a warm blanket. Its rumbles grow louder when I realize it’s charging right at me at full speed.

With instinct, I shoot away from the path of the beast. It flies past me fast but not so fast that I didn’t notice the being within it – as if the beast ate the thing. Easily the beast was the biggest creature I’d seen in all my time. It rivaled the length of any serpent I’ve come across, and the height reached taller than a grizzly on its back legs. 

Once the beast of questionable origin passed, I noticed how far off the ground I had lifted myself for safety. Looking down my eyes almost immediately pop as two forms are spotted on the side of the pathway and in the middle of it. Vultures surround and peck the poor un-moving souls. Gray, unwoven pouches litter both sides of the dark path. I followed the way the beast had come from, to see a crow tangling itself into the silk-like pouch, as if they were fighting, and the silky, translucent net was winning. 

I gasped as shards of gems glittered not far from the crows battle, the sharp ends decorated in faint red and orange. In a frantic flapping mess, I zipped at a hummingbird’s rate. The further I got the fewer trees I saw. The thinner the forest came, and the louder more beastly rumbles and growls grew. I started off as smoke grew from the horns atop these yellow monsters. Once again each of the ones awake and grumbling held a being on them. The closer I got, I noticed the specs of other small beings. They were giants in the forms of wingless fairies with bright round, armored hats and orange vests, making them stand out against the cool nature tones. 

“Loooouuuuiiiiiiissssaaaaaa!” A yell cut through and captured my attention.

Pip was coming in hot and having trouble slowing his flight. He managed to slow down and not crash as he just barely passed me. Out of breath and sparkly with sweat, he huffed and puffed, leaning over with his hands on his knees. When he finally looked at our surroundings, he saw the monstrous things toppling down trees in their paths.

“Wha- what are those things? Why are they hurting the forest?”

“I don’t know,” I said looking out at the disaster around us, “What have you found?” I could only try so hard to hide my worry from the young boy. 

“Oh, right! I got the scoop, and that is that, most of the animals are being pushed out.”

“Pushed out?” I raised a brow.

“Yes, these beings they called ‘hoomans’ are taking over. Like an invasion, and they’re poisoning the forest so much that food becomes scarce.”

Why? What is this?, I thought to myself.

“Pip, head back to the tree and inform them.” He saluted me and zipped off, finally putting all that golden-retriever energy to use. 

I looked down and let out a sigh. On the edge of the decimation, bright orange poppies lined the trees. I twirled around to look better at the mess when recognition struck. On tough days, Aleksis and I picnic on the poppy field. We danced and sang to the new blooms. We tended to them month after month. Our mother tended to them before us – and her mother before her. Grief made itself known as the armored vermin tore up the ground and broke down the trees that stood guard around the field.

Who was to see this coming when we went into crystallization? Who knew the chaos the new world held? I worry that when we wake up, there will be nothing left.