Written by: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Nigel Ng (21-A3)
That fateful night…
I lifted my gaze and focused it on the hideous figure that stood inside the mirror- Thick overgrown, ebony black hair covered its raven black eyes. Its crimson red lips parted to reveal a row of gnarly teeth. ‘Why must you be such a freak?’ I glowered.
Growing up, the world taught me a cruel lesson, ‘Fit in or don’t.’- I was, unfortunately, part of the reject pile from day one. I was born on 13th November 1997, a Friday, in the dead of night amidst a raging storm. I came into this world, red-faced and bawling at the most ungodly hour- 3:00 A.M. Yet, the peculiarities of my existence were only just being discovered. It quickly became clear to all in the delivery room that night this was no ordinary child. As the nurses swaddled me in the washcloth, they couldn’t help noticing the stark contrast between my mother and me. There wasn’t a hint of Mum’s traits in me- Her blonde hair and aqua blue eyes never translated to her child.
Needless to say, my childhood was abnormal. There were so many strange phenomena I experienced throughout my early years that I could never quite reason out. It started with small things like the allure of the darkness, then it quickly escalated into something more sinister. I started hearing voices and seeing people walking that aren’t there. Anything I touched seemed to die shortly after, from the flowers in the garden to the neighbour’s dog. Yet, the most bizarre of all is the recurring nightmares I have every night:
In a world bathed in darkness, a powerful man sits on a throne of skulls. This man is tall, with stately features. He has unruly Vantablack hair and a menacing gaze, clad in a sweeping black rob. His world is loyally protected by his pet, a three-headed dog-like creature. Then a thunderous sound erupts as a bolt of lightning flashes- suddenly, the man is no more. All hell breaks loose as spirits, demons and many more subhuman entities escape the dark realm to reach Earth. The world is in an apocalyptic state as shadow spirits roam the Earth, searching for human victims. Humans become possessed at the sight of the entities, and mass suicides occur…
I remember vividly the first time I had this vision, and since then, I slept with a dreamcatcher over my bed, but the nightmares never left me- even to this day.
The incident left me traumatised, and I was never the same again. Then, it became clear to me ‘different’ wasn’t celebrated in this world; it was something outcasted, which my family became. At times, it felt so isolating- just me and my Mum against the rest of the world, but there was strength in the knowledge that we were together.
“You’re special, son. I mean it.”, “One day, you’ll find your place in this world and realise the destiny you were born for.”, Mum once told me. At the time, I thought Mum was just saying to make me feel better. Yet, it was really the beginning of my journey to manifesting my fate.
That fateful night…
“Zach! Time for bed!” Mum hollered from the kitchen downstairs. I instantly spun on my heel, tearing my gaze from my reflection in the mirror. Flipping the light switch, I raced to my bed, diving under the covers. Fatigue soon took over me, I fell into a deep sleep.
In a world bathed in darkness, a powerful man sits on a throne of skulls. This man is tall, with stately features. He has unruly Vantablack hair and a menacing gaze, clad in a sweeping black rob. His world is loyally protected by his pet, a three-headed dog-like creature. Then a thunderous sound erupts as a bolt of lightning flashes- “ZACHARIUS!”, the last word that escapes the man’s lips before he is no more.
A searing agony shot through my body, jolting me awake. “AAHHHH!” I cried like a banshee. Then, a wave of blistering heat wept over my body, singeing my skin. In the struggle, I fell off the bed and saw it; Fern-like patterns of blue-black cutaneous marks sprawled across my arm.
“…WH..WHAT?!!”, my gaze was fixed on the horrifying sight. A flurry of thoughts ambushed my mind.
‘MY NAME! HOW?!.. HE SAID MY NAME!’.
Suddenly, the world purpled down into darkness, and the ground beneath my feet trembled with rage. The tremors grew in intensity, building up rapidly to a crescendo before the land was ripped into two. Then, shadowy figures started creeping out. I felt a dull ache as the feeling of déjà vu descended upon me. ‘THIS ISN’T BE HAPPENING! THIS ISN’T BE HAPPENING!!’, my mind screamed. Suddenly, a black void materialised before my very eyes, and an unseen force shoved me into it. I let out an ear-piercing shriek as I fell through what seemed like a dark, bottomless pit.
Suddenly, the unseen force overpowered me and gently lowered me to the ground. I awoke in a world bathed in darkness. It was the place I saw in my nightmares. “WHERE AM I? WHY DID YOU BRING ME HERE!” I yelled aimlessly at the darkness. A moment of silence ensued before an unseen voice whispered, “Let me show you.” Suddenly, a pair of hands reached out from behind me and covered my eyes- I started seeing visions.
The powerful man in black robes affectionately strokes the pregnant belly of a woman- his wife. His family disagrees with the union; the man fights furiously with his older brother clad in white robes. The powerful man’s wife is banished from his world, sent back to live amongst the mortals on Earth. Her face was revealed as she turned back to look at him the last time- MOTHER.
“NO!” I screamed. “IT CAN’T BE!” I struggled to free myself from the unseen hands.
“It is. You know it yourself. The childhood you had, your life experiences were by no means a misfortune. You are no ordinary boy; you are the son of the Divine. A half-blood prince, gifted with the abilities possessed by your late father”, the voice boomed.
“THIS IS NOT REAL!”, my hands flew to cover my ears. I shut my eyes tight.
‘What about now?’, the unseen voice whispered in my head.
My eyes flew open in horror, ‘HOW?’
‘This is real, Zacharius. Believe it.’
“What do you want from me?” I croaked.
“It is not what I want from you. It is what your father would have wanted from you.”
“My father..”, my thoughts lingered on the mention of my father- the biggest enigma of my life.
“Tell me what you know.”
“Very well. The man in your dreams is your father- you are the son of Hades, God of the Underworld. By loving your mother, the King of the Underworld went against the rules of Olympus- Loving a mortal. Their love was forbidden, and Zeus, your uncle, banished your mother to Earth. When Zeus found out about your existence, he was ready to end your life. Your father tried to stop him, but nothing stands in Zeus’ path.” the unseen voice echoed once again.
A stubborn lump formed in your throat, “So he killed him”, my voice trembled with silent rage.
“Zeus couldn’t afford a half-blood succeeding a God. It would disrupt the order of our universe- The Gods above and mortals beneath them, no exceptions. The sanctity of Olympus was at stake.”
A long, painful silence ensued as I tried to let reality sink in. A flurry of emotions plagued me, choking up my throat as I forced the words out; “The pain…I felt when I saw…when I saw the visions… of his death….”
“A part of Hades resides in you; when Zeus’ bolt struck him, you felt it too. A part of you died that day.”
Those words set me ablaze, ‘A part I will never get back.’
“Those dreams you had since childhood are not nightmares- Like your abilities, they are no coincidence. They are visions of the prophecy you are to fulfil when the time is right. That is your fate. From birth, you were destined to avenge the death of Hades and bring salvation to mankind by taking your father’s place as Gatekeeper to the Underworld.”
“That time is now…” the rage that seethed within me built up to a fever pitch.
“I am ready for Zues”, every syllable dripped with contempt.
“Not so fast Zacharius, battling Zeus is not a simple task. Drink the ambrosia from this urn; it will give you the strength to fight Zeus- God to God.”
I could vaguely make out the silhouette of an urn by my side. Grabbing it, I brought it up to my lips, hastily wrestling the lid off. I titled the contents of the urn into my mouth and swallowed it in one gulp.
My body started morphing, “AAAHHH!”. My bones stretched as I grew to a colossal height, towering over the lands. My wounds healed, the Fern-like scars gone. My palms glowed an ominous grey as my pupils enlarged to fill the whites of my eyeballs.
‘Are you ready to feel the wrath of The Gatekeeper?’