Please could I have your feedback. There is a writing challenge which I am participating in. The theme is fantasy and must have the opening line of ‘There weren’t always dragons in the Valley.‘ I have written the short story below and any critique or feedback is welcome.
There weren’t always dragons in the valley. But then again, there weren’t always fairies. You see, long ago, this world was very different. There used to be a lot of doom and gloom and humans dominated the lands. The world changed after the solar flare. The world became a more beautiful place, the flare made way for the surviving species to evolve and for balance to return, just as nature intended. Coral reefs thrived once again and the lands once paved with concrete and roads became overgrown with plants and flowers. The remaining humans evolved to become hybrid elementals with power over the elements, and a mutation of genetics brought way to the new races. The flare brought everyone together. Fireflies evolved into fairies, and through mutations of birds’ genetics, dragons were born, along with an entirely new race of species throughout the lands and oceans.
The change came through solar flares, a prophecy and change that comes every 11 years in the sun’s cycle. Each time new beginnings are forged by the sun. On the 11th year in 2022, the most powerful flare Earth had experience cut power to the world, and when the energy of the flare pierced the Earth’s electric field, genetics were affected. Not everyone survived the flare. The burst of energy caused mutations in all living creatures, which began 3 days after the flare and lasted 1-11 days. After that time, those that remained were left in grief and appreciation of their new world and the second chance they were given, and I should know as I am one of the humans that remained.
My name is Zilkrix and I am writing to you from a hill peak in the Amazon. It’s been 10 years since the flare. Time has rapidly changed, but for me it still feels like yesterday, and that’s because time feels different now, less elastic. I was 30 when the flare struck, and now 10 years later, you’d think I’d look older, when in fact I don’t look a day over 18. That’s what the mutation did. The energy gave us a burst of vitality, and now we’re younger than before. Humans mutated into different races with power over the elements and hybrids of animals. This change made way for some unusual combinations. Whatever combination you can imagine, it exists. Ethnicity and nationality are things of the past. The real shock for me was the evolution of animals, trees, and plants. Dragons and unicorns are now reality. There are forests forged entirely of mushrooms, bigger than old office buildings. Flowers can walk and move locations, and shape-shifting is very much a trend. The shapeshifting humans do prevent you from talking to every creature like a baby and trying to pet it. From experience, I can tell you this can be mortifying. The night life of the new Earth is a magical place. The flare blessed all living creatures with the gift of UV luminous, which we can switch on and off as we choose. Each of us has unique patterns of UV lines, which me and my sister call HD tattoos. It helps to create nights of light, colour, and beauty from all the different creatures. The real surprise for me was the evolution of fruit. Trees were given the ability to not only whip people with their branches when disrespected. But to also harvest dead animals by turning their meat into fruit. From the skin of the fruit, we are able to determine which animal the meat belongs to. It’s made hunting for food so simple, and although some animals still hunt each other. Hunting is mostly now a playtime for many creatures, without the fatality. It’s a fun game we humans participate in with the animals, and it’s so much fun. Everything has become more heightened and fuller of life. It’s an awakening of magic to the senses, and it helped make the loss of the old world easier to bear. The more time went on, the more you understood why it needed to be done. More importantly, how deep down we were prepared for change.
The day after waking from the mutation was strange. I was in bed in a daze. I spent most of the previous 11 days unconscious with waking moments of pain, fever, chills, and extreme muscle aches. I’d wake up, drink loads, and then go back to sleep. The part of the mutation that killed many wasn’t the mutation itself but human combustion. Those that survived were lucky. I woke up 11 days after the mutation and sat at the end of my bed completely disorientated. The smell of sweat and piss hit me. My bedding was drenched and stained. It wasn’t a proud moment. I slowly made my way to the bathroom. The walk was long as I could barely feel my legs. My body stiffened from 11 days of little movement. My body took around an hour to return to normal. I must have stood in the shower for around an hour, completely present but without thought, or movement, just stillness and silence. It allowed me to centre and readjust to the new world. As soon as I opened my eyes, something washed over me, not water but an awareness of change. I knew what had happened. I knew I was deeply connected to something more. I just hadn’t understood it yet. I knew it would take time to process, so I chose not to think. At the time, I had no idea that 11 days had passed. I didn’t think much of it at the time, mainly because I didn’t have the energy to think. I wrapped myself in a robe and headed to the kitchen. This was my second not-so-proud moment. I devoured all the food in my fridge. When I say devoured, there was nothing left. I was hungry and my body needed energy. I wolfed down 4 bowls of cornflakes, followed by 3 omelettes, 5 pancakes, 1 carton of orange juice and one pint of coconut milk. I think I would have eaten and drunk more if there was more. But a lot of the food had rotted. I heard my phone ringing; my sister was calling. Before I even got a chance to say hi, she anxiously asked: “Where have you been? I’ve been calling for days.”
“‘I’ve been in bed ill,’ I responded, (understatement of the year I thought) ’
‘Put on the news!” she yelled.
All the channels were all the same. It was from a German news station broadcasting to all citizens. I had to wait until the broadcast was available in English, but once it began, I wasn’t even shocked, they just confirmed what I somehow already knew. The broadcast announced that a solar flare had impacted Earth, causing changes in the chemistry and biology of the planet. It had spread like a virus, and no one was immune. The world came to a halt, and every living creature was impacted by a genetic altering virus. Most recovered within 1–5 days, but the greater the change, the longer it took. Others recovered within 7–10 days, and then there were the rare few, like myself, who took 11 days to mutate. The broadcaster went on to explain that there had been a mass fall of the human species and that a lot of people didn’t survive. Most electrical systems were still down but the essentials, which were the community power grids, had been rebooted, although the broadcast stressed that this wouldn’t be permanent. The systems were struggling to maintain electrical current and power outages would be certain. They were urging people to text a number with their name and address to predict how many survivors there were, they gave us an emergency channel to do so. I typed out my details into the text, with my finger hovering over the send button. My gut told me not to. Those closest to me would know I was safe, so why would I need to notify the world? Despite the great loss to humanity, this felt like freedom to me. I chose not to declare myself alive. I followed my gut, I didn’t leave one system to join another. My dependence was never on governments or systems to support me; my dependence was on Earth and the universe as nature intended. Some part of me knew that everything would be fine. My heart was at peace and, this felt like the end of one era and the beginning of the remaining age. I had been reborn and it was my time to live, and that’s exactly what I did, and oh my, the change opened up a world of complete surprise and I’ve never felt so alive.