Ian A Different World
Illustration by KKC Bauder
On the island of Tyio,
Ian Floy was very happy as the school bell rang and very dramatically, kids flung their test papers all across the room, tearing the exams to shreds and throwing them in the air like confetti. The doors burst open with kids as they screamed and shouted and played. SCHOOL WAS OUT. Even without a calender you would know.
There was a familiar buzz of summer in the air. The out-of-control kids slammed a huge hint in your ears, too. But for Ian Floy, it was so much more. It was his birthday tomorrow and he would be twelve. All his friends would come over and have a party! He ignored all the kids yelling at him to come and play.
He doubted he would even hear a “Come over here!” or a “Yo! Hey!” He just stopped and with an enormous grin glued to his face, yelled “Nope! It’s my B-Day!” He rushed right on home. He stumbled into the house and shouted triumphantly “Birthday! It’s my birthday!”
His mom stepped in the room with a tower of laundry swaying above her head. “Hey sweetie. Happy birthday,” she congratulated him. He rushed to her and knocked down the laundry. He spun hand-in-hand with her, round and round. Round and round and round... The world blurred into a flurry of passing surroundings.
Even as he stopped, the world still went round. Round... and round... when will it stop? His mom screamed. “Ian!” she cried. Round... round... He was not there anymore. Was he? What was happening? What...
When he came to, Ian woke with a start. He was in a cold sweat and he immediately wished he hadn’t woken up. Two things: 1. As soon as he bolted up he vomited all over his legs. 2. He did not recognize where he was. Where was mom? Where was anything? He glanced around. He was in a forest. Trees closed around him menacingly and the sky carried a pale dun. He had never seen this place before.
The ground was a soggy solution of mud and leaves and he saw nothing but trees for a long time. Then a small little . . . thing entered his eyes. It looked like a house or something like one. Ian stood up. He felt very weak. After standing on his legs for a little while, he devised a plan.
Enter house, get food, ask where this place is, how to get back home. He steadied himself and began the long journey. After a few minutes, he was rapping on the door. A sharp, cold voice answered.
“Who is it?”
Ian began brainstorming, his thoughts becoming a maelstrom. ‘A kid from somewhere else’ didn’t seem like a good answer.
“Ian,” he said at last. “I need some help.”
The door swung open to reveal a wrinkly old lady. She gestured him in, and shut the door behind him.
“Something to eat?” she inquired. Ian nodded gratefully.
After a bowl of fruit had been put on the table before him, he said, “Where are we?” The elderly woman glanced at him, eyebrows raised.
“Oakkan,” she explained. Ian took his turn at raising eyebrows.
“Do you have a map?”
She rummaged around in a chest.
He took the map. In the middle of a large island, a place named Oakkan stood. On a corner of the map, was a song:
A place named Oakkan lay,
Monsters hide every
Where, any time of day.
You can’t escape Oakkan,
Many souls have found
And if you try to leave us,
We’ll feed you to the hounds.
A shiver crackled across Ian’s spine. The lady smiled.
“How do I get back to California?” he asked.
The woman frowned. “California? Where’s that? You will stay here.”
Ian pulled away. “Sorry no. . .”
She pointed. “Chosen One! I have summoned you here.”
Ian was confused.
“You brought me here?” he asked.
She smiled threateningly. “I have endless power, here in Oakkan. I need to kill someone with the initials I.F. Do you know why?” Of course Ian didn’t know. “I.F. It means if. IF! IF I am to rule Oakkan, I must kill I.F. It is law.”
She grabbed a knife and closed in on him.
“Who’s there?” stammered Ian as he made for the door.
“Your Ian another world.”
A knife plunged into his stomach.
For a split-second he was in a dream. Thoughts flickered through his mind. He saw his mom.
“I’m sorry to say you’ll never live past eleven. You’ll die on your twelfth birthday.”
He nestled himself into the warmness of his mother’s arms. He wondered if he’ll ever feel that warmth again.