Once upon a time, there lived a spirit on the great wall—an ethereal being, in the form of beaming light, who guarded the stone border of the Northeast. It was believed to be a powerful force with mystical powers—capable of wiping out the monsters that attempted to invade the land. But legend has it that the spirit wasn’t of the gods. It wasn’t made to be a guardian—the spirit was meant to be mortal. In fact, the ancient scrolls called it… a man.
This man came from a faraway place. He wasn’t of the Northeast kingdom—a ‘trespasser’ and ‘intruder’ as some would say. Though, the man had no evil intent. Unlike the power-hungry nations that sought the treasures in the Northeast, he embarked on the treacherous journey for a promise—a freedom from the flesh-eating, ravenous beasts that roamed the land. After all, it was only the Northeast kingdom that had built a wall—a wall high enough that no monster could ever scale.
With that dream, the man ventured beyond the ice and cold. It took thirty days on foot from the caves of the North Mountains to the great wall. And along with him was his wife and their young daughter. Without much, the family armed themselves with a blade—their only weapon against the demons of the night. And bravely, they traversed the dense timberland where the creatures slumbered in the day. “Do not step on their tails,” he reminded his daughter—a task far more difficult than the journey itself as the spiked tails trailed across the forest floor, each three times the length of a beast’s body. “It’s time to climb,” he would also prompt, just as the sun began to set. For when the moon graced the night sky, the monsters would awake and begin their hunt.
Since the beginning of time, these creatures had been a part of their world. Their saw-like teeth and razor-sharp claws had snatched many lives. Their beady red eyes against their black, hairless skin had turned peaceful dreams into haunting nightmares. To be free of them was worth the risk, or so he thought. But it was at the great wall that the man discovered the truth—that not all monsters were villains, and not all promises were sure.
“Turn around,” the soldier on the wall ordered.
“Please, we only seek refuge—safety from the monsters,” the man pleaded.
“You’re not welcomed here,” the soldier said. “Go home.”
“We’ve travelled this far. We can’t go home now,” the man replied. “Please let us in. We have a child.”
“And the world is full of them.”
“Please, I beg of you.”
“You can try climbing,” the soldier offered. “You have five hours before the sun sets.” And with that, the soldier disappeared into a turret.
At that moment, the man hesitated. The wall was made to keep the monsters out—it couldn’t be scaled by the beasts let alone a child. However, if he made it to the top, he could toss a basket down and pull his family up. So the man decided to climb with his bare human hands. But soon, the sun began to set. And at the fifth hour, the clear blue sky streaked with hues of pastel orange—their cue to scale the trees for the night.
“Climb the trees,” the man shouted, leaning against the cold wall for rest. “Tomorrow, I’ll pull both of you up,” he added, turning to look down below. But instead of finding his family—gazing up at him—he found no one. Where had they gone to? The man panicked. Should he continue his ascent or return to the ground?
“Keep climbing,” a voice from above hollered. “You’re almost safe.” The soldier on the wall peered over, seemingly impressed by his determination.
“I can’t. My family,” he uttered.
“Come on—our kingdom needs men like you,” the soldier said.
“I can’t just leave them,” he insisted. He couldn’t—he wouldn’t betray his wife and daughter. And so he began to descend.
“Even if you find them, do you really think we’d let them in?” the soldier asked.
“They promised,” the man replied. “They said-”
“Did they also tell you what the beasts are?”
“Yes, but there’s a cure.”
“A cure?” The soldier chuckled. “Climb up or return to your family, it’s your choice,” the soldier replied and lingered no longer.
As the day bid its final farewell, the howls of the monsters rumbled through the timberland below. If his wife and daughter had climbed a tree, he would see them at dawn. Alas, descending risked his own life—no one had ever survived amongst the beasts, in their domain, to see the sunrise. Thus, from that fateful night onward, he was no longer a man.
How the spirit came to be, no one knows for sure. However, many believed that its mystical powers kept the real monsters away—away from his wife and daughter who were both finally free.
Basket, spirit, and light were words given by Hui Xuan on Facebook.
So let’s be honest, I edited her ‘words’ a little as holy spirit and street light weren’t exactly one word each, and were also rather difficult to write with unless I decided to do a Ghost (1990) fan fiction. However, with that minor removal, I managed to come up with something rather decent. And, yes, I left the plot twist and ending a little vague—leaving the rest of the imagination to you.
Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. If you managed to work ‘holy’ and ‘light’ into your story, be sure to link it in the comments below!
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)