The Believer

Dia turned sharply. Her pigtails flying over her shoulder and she looked at me impenitently. “So? It’s Diwali!” 

Dia is my 5-year-old sister. Her ocean blue eyes glistened with excitement and she did a little dance around the shop floor hopping up and down..

“Oh goodie, good. Carry on darling!” I chimed in not wishing to dampen her enthusiasm. To me actually, Diwali celebrations seem so fake. Especially the crackers. Crackers on sticks, pyramids, stacks and wheels? They are so traumatizing. They are sparkling like enchanting fairies but suffocating and roaring like scary demonic spirits. Dia, on the other hand, had her head in the clouds , and guess what? Crackers is her favourite celebration and that meant she would be over the moon tonight. We had just shopped all the things she thought we needed. 

For myself, I bought a unique neck piece from a vintage store. It stole my heart the instant I set my eyes on it.  Sitting snugly to my neck, in a cuprous silk band. Five designer circles descended along the sides merging into a central cauldron. It was a poetry in creation.

“You must be the only person who isn’t thrilled with Diwali Crackers” my sister said, catching up with me.

“I must be born in the wrong town.” I thought.

Our town might be little, but their enthusiasm for Diwali was massive.  Houses was elaborately decorated with light bulbs in various colours. Paper lanterns in interesting cuts  were festooned as far as eyes could see. The day went by so fast I thought someone had pushed the fast-forward button.  At night after the Laxmi Pooja ,I braced myself for one of the most noisy nights of my life.

My mother seeing my desperate expression, gave me a hug. “Oh, come on, it’s just one night, sweetheart. It will be fun!

 I pointed at the crackers. “Look at them! Those crackers shouldn’t be there”

“didi!!..”Diya screeched.

“Forget it. I’m going for a walk.” Upset I waved her off and left at a quick pace. 

******

A rustling in the bushes pulled me from my thoughts. I stood alert, but only a bunny appeared. I felt a strange pull toward the bunny so I followed it. “Alice in Diwali,” I said under my breath and smiled. The bunny continued its way and didn’t appear afraid of me . Abruptly, the bunny jumped into air.

“Bunny!” I yelled.

While I tried to understand what happened, the ground started vibrating. An earthquake? Out of the nowhere, a door appeared in front of me. It was just a regular door standing in empty space. I looked around, but no one was there.  I pushed, but it wouldn’t open, it needed a key. And where do I find the key? I leaned toward the keyhole that formed a strange shape, meaning normal keys wouldn’t fit. That shape reminded me of my necklace. It couldn’t be, I thought. I shrugged and placed the necklace in the keyhole. The good news: it fit. The bad news? I was pushed forward and fell all the way into unknown space.

***

I examined my surroundings. In front of me was a city with no noise and yet I felt there was something in the silence. I got closer and what I saw made my skin crawl. There were black buildings and, on the streets, creatures. Not humans, but creatures like vampires, fairies, and witches!!! I shook my head. “This isn’t real, it just can’t be” I told myself. I didn’t believe in that stuff, but here I was watching a vampire sink his teeth in another creature .A flutter of wings behind me made me turn. 

“Hello, my name is Kriya and I’m a fairy.”

 My eyes widened. As I inspected the creature, I noticed that indeed it was a fairy with red hair and purple eyes which I found an odd combination, but the most conspicuous thing was her purple wings.

“You’re Vibha?” She pointed at my necklace. “You have the key that opens the door.”

“Who are you and what do you want?” I asked defensively.

“We need you. The world needs you. Come with me.”

“Wait! What do you mean? Where are we going?” I asked while trying to catch up with her. I hadn’t a full grasp of the situation yet and she was rushing me somewhere! We stopped in front of a silver building which I found odd since every other building I had seen was black. “What is this place?”

“It’s called the Blessed Realm where beings like us roam.”

“.. means the blood sucking vampires are blessed here!” I tried to joke. 

“You’ll learn everything in a while. This is why you were called.”

 I inhaled deeply and pushed the door open. My jaw almost dropped at the sight that unfolded before me. The interior was  a beautiful mansion. “Wow!” I followed Kriya to the massive living room. At a table sat different kinds of creatures and at the head, a beautiful woman.

“My dear Vibha you have come! Take a seat, we have much to discuss.”

I sat in the blue velvet chair, nervously looking at everyone, and stared at the woman. She wasn’t a vampire or a fairy, but what could she be? A witch? No magic wands? How—?

“I don’t read minds but your puzzled expression told me everything. You must have thousands of questions but I’m afraid we have little time, so I’ll just explain the basics. As I’m sure you have realized, this is a city where all the creatures you thought were just stories are real. Since some time  there are unsettling events taking place in our world and an evil power has overtaken our land. Our creatures have started disappearing.” 

I still couldn’t believe these creatures were real. I pinched myself. I imagined Dia would love this.I watched the creatures one by one. The witch was lighting candles with magic, the vampire was sipping a red liquid from a glass which I was certain was blood and Kriya was listening while flapping her wings. There were other creatures, but I couldn’t tell what they were.

“ we need your help. The believer,” the witch said, looking directly at me.

“Don’t look at me. I’m not a believer. I didn’t even know supernatural creatures existed before tonight! You have fangs, magic, powers, wings, and I don’t know what else. I’m just a human who happened to use her vintage necklace and opened the door to a magic land. The necklace did it, not me.”

“You did it. The necklace was the means, but the key was you. You opened the door to our world because you were destined.  Our legend says the believer will save both the human and supernatural world from this dark evil and peace will reign once again.”

She seemed to have a lot of faith in me . She opened her arms. “It’s your calling, Vibha. You’re meant for this even if you don’t believe in the supernatural. Believe in yourself.”

Before I could respond, the earth shook and everyone looked around. “It’s coming!” a vampire hissed and darkness poured in through the windows of the building. There was chaos while everyone tried to either fight back or run.

“Run!” Kriya pulled me by the hand. 

I panicked. “What are we going to do?”

“we can’t go down to the exit, we’ll have to go up!” She held me and we flew up and escaped through the chimney.

***

I am sure we went hundreds of meters up—I could see the top of the trees. She  smiled before landing on the grass.

“That was fast. I would prefer you to an airplane next time I travel.”

She laughed, and it sounded like a bird’s song.

I looked ahead expecting to see enormous trees, but instead, a horror awaited me. The leaves were withered, and the trees were black. It almost felt like the whole forest was in pain. “Why is it black?”

Kriya’s shoulders slumbered. “Even our enchanted forests are affected by this dark power.” She paused. ” You will save us.”

Frustrated, I paced. “But I don’t know what to do! I’m just a fifteen year old girl.”

“you did things no human could. I can see you deep down. You can.”

“But I can’t do anything like magic—”

“you will discover a power more special than any of our powers combined.” 

I sighed. She said I had the power, but how could I ? I wanted to help because these supernatural creatures had souls, a life and they deserved to be saved. All that mattered was to find a way to defeat this evil entity before it could destroy this world.

A fairy with pink wings flew toward us. “Kriya, it’s getting worse. Have you figured out something?”

“We’ll defeat him, father.” He was her father? Well, they did look alike, but I wouldn’t have thought male fairies would have wings with such a feminine colour.

“Look at the forest!” He made an angry gesture. “Tomorrow, there will be nothing left! Stop believing in those silly believer stories and do something. Otherwise, we’ll all be gone by the next light!”

“We’ll fix it, okay?” Kriya blushed, but said nothing more.

“So he doesn’t think the Believer exists?”

“No”

We came to a brighter part of the forest now, one that wasn’t destroyed yet. The trees were glowing full of life and fireflies were buzzing around. It was like magic.

“Wow! It’s beautiful.”

“This was how the Enchanted Forest looked like before the dark monster became powerful. All was well in the Blessed Realm and they would be for many decades. But one day, everything changed with the birth of the Dark Monster. It appeared on a night with no moon, and his evil power fed on the noise, soot, and smell of gunpowder began expanding each year. It is now alarmingly strong and will rot this place. Our legend says on the night where the veil is thin, a Believer will come and she will have the power to defeat him. She,who has the power  will bring fresh life again, in our Blessed Land.”

“You seem to know your legend by heart,” I said, trying to cover my shock.

“Well, it has been around for many years and it was one of my favourite stories when I was growing up.”

“Why do you think it was me?”

“I told you.” She smiled. “There is something about you. She looked at me and I realized how desperate she was. “He devours the world bit by bit until nothing remains.”

I wasn’t ready to give up. Supernatural or not, he was going down.”

Before she could respond, screams tore through the night. We ran toward the sound and saw trees falling. “Watch out!” Kriya pushed me before a tree crushed me.

“Thanks.”

“He’s here!” shouted a yellow-winged fairy as she ran toward us and then turned herself into flowers.

 Before we could act, everything was enveloped in blackness. Something formed in the dark, but I couldn’t make it out. I stood back to back with Kriya trying to prepare for battle. I had no weapons which worried me, but I hoped that some strange power  would wake and protect us. 

“So here is the defying fairy and  the famous believer who is merely a human. I expected something more than that,” a raspy voice said.

I looked around. “There!” Kriya pointed. There was a hooded figure and under the hood, I could only make out red glowing eyes and overpowering smell of …. calamitous  sulphur. The creature roared. “I will destroy life. I have taken over the supernatural world, and soon I will annihilate the human world,” 

My family was in the human world, my sister and all the people who were having a fun Diwali unaware of the imminent danger. This creature would wipe them off the face of the earth. Nothing would be left. I couldn’t allow that!

“Any last words, ladies?”

Kriya shot a purple ray of light that turned into flowers. The creature laughed. “You think flowers will make me look pretty?”

He had a point. Flowers couldn’t make him less evil or hurt him in any way, but I assumed fairies didn’t have offensive powers.

“Enough!” I shouted. His cruel laugh was getting on my nerves. You’re evil, and you must be destroyed!”

“Then you’ll die with them!” 

Dark arms stretched above us threatening to choke us in their clutches. I stood in front of Kriya. I might not know her, but I felt a connection with her. I never had friends—they were more Dia’s than mine—but this fairy showed me their world and had faith in me. 

I held my  necklace. I know this key must awaken its powers. Please, wake up! I closed my eyes. Vampires are real, witches are real, fairies, ghosts and every supernatural being I thought was just a story, are real. They rely on you and me and we must not let them down. I believe in you. I chanted and with every word my belief increased. I opened my eyes ready to kick this vile obnoxious creature out of this world and into the hell where it belonged. I held my hand out, and I felt a tingle. It was like an electric current rushing through my veins—alive, energetic, and powerful. I opened my palm and a soft white charkhi appeared rotating and absorbing each particle of lingering smoke, soot,…it touched.

The hooded creature screamed. “How dare you—?

“Defy you?” I interrupted. “You started it, and I will end it.”

Kriya clapped. “Wonderful!”

.“Cool!” I used it to eliminate the dark smoky balls, the creature was throwing at us.

The creature’s eyes glowed blood red from anger. “You shall pay for what you’ve done. I will kill your friends.” His teeth glowed in the dark “You will watch them die, and then I will kill you in the most painful way there is.”

“Anything else?” I was scared, but I didn’t want to appear weak in front of him. I wanted to be strong for Kriya. The fairy was terrified—her hands trembled and her shoulders were shaking—and couldn’t help me, but I was sure she wanted to. I tried to use the necklace again, but the creature snatched it away.

 “What are you going to do now, little human?” the creature cackled.

He had us corned with nowhere to run to. I was truly alone and I couldn’t help my friends. I tried to keep my spirit up, but fear was swallowing me. Bowing my head, I clasped my hands and beseeched the power of goodness to save us. Warmth filled my chest as if I had a little golden sun inside me. I looked and saw Kriya holding my hands.

It was then that I realized the darkness was gone and was replaced by a clean green sky. Not only that, but next to Kriya stood the witch, a vampire and a ghost. “How—?”

“You did it! You brought the light back,” Kriya said excitedly.

 The witch smiled. “You defeated the darkness.

The creature couldn’t withstand the  combined powers of those charkhiis in your necklace and eventually deteriorated into ashes. 

“Ugh!” The vampire spat. “I shall never, ever drink from evil creatures again!” He spat. “Their blood is so bitter.”

“Imagine that,” I said, rolling my eyes.

 Cleaning and restoring the forest went a lot faster with supernatural powers. The realm had valleys with colourful flowers and the greenest trees I had ever seen and I was delighted to discover the houses were not actually black. The Enchanted Forest filled with animals, plants, birds and the rest of the fairies who had transformed or vanished during the Dark Monster’s attack took their normal form again. Now that it was restored, they returned safely to their home and all looked well.

“Vibha, you did great tonight,” the witch said, smiling.

“You must return home to your family and continue your life, but you must come back in order to train and strengthen your powers. This particular evil might be gone, but there is always going to be another one. As they say, evil never sleeps.”

 

I nodded. 

“ Fairy, am I?”

“You’re not, but the believer has magical powers. Her own unique magic, and we have already seen that.” 

“I’m sure you will want to be with your family now. I’ll get you to the door.”

I followed Kriya noticing that lots of creatures had gathered in the streets.  “Why are they all here?”

“Well, they want to see you. You’re a hero since you saved them from eternal darkness. They’re grateful. Also because we never had any human visitors, you are something of a curiosity to them.” She smiled. 

We reached a brown door, and Kriya opened it. 

We crossed from The Blessed Realm to the human world without any problems. It was dark and stars decorated the sky. “How long was I away?”

“It’s the same day you arrived just a couple hours later.” 

Someone ran towards us. It was Dia.“ Didi where have you been? I’ve been searching everywhere for you.”

“Just around. There’s a lot of people here.”

“Okay, yeah. I was just worried about you.” She looked relieved. “Who’s that?”

“That’s…Kriya.” Fortunately, her wings were not visible.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Dia. Cool costume!”

“Thanks. It’s nice to meet you too” 

I smiled. “See you.”

Kriya waved and started walking away. Dia talked about who she met, and what happened in my absence. I turned around to watch Kriya, but she had vanished. 

An year later Vibha stunned the human as well supernatural world with her address to UN against climate change. Her  crusade against pollution launched on earth.
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Glossary:
Charkhi- a cracker shaped like a closed spiral.
Laxmi- A Hindu goddess.
Didi- elder sister.
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Shweta Agarwal

Shweta Agarwal is a trained and experienced science teacher. During her teaching days she experienced a brief stint as an editor of a reputed Publishing house. The enigma of words has since captured her, and she now freelances as a blogger and writer. She has authored a mystery novella ‘Why should I be Good?’

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