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Odie Jr.

Odie Jr.

A boy escapes his home and finds himself on another island where monsters dwell.

2

Literary fiction


author-small

Rishav Kumar (India)


ODIE JR.

Day 3, Mr. Philip’s House
How many times has this happened, you know, him disappearing and not coming back?” the man in the suit asks.
“It is the first time.” the mother quivers, “It has never happened before.”
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” the father grumbles.
“What do you mean?” another man asks. He too is wearing a suit.
The father adjusts his spectacles. “He is not one of those attention-seeking kids. Not a prankster either. Something has happened to him. You should take this more seriously.”
One of the detectives scans the house. Big bungalow with handmade gypsum bricks, posh interiors, an ultra-HD TV, top-of-the-line furniture. He turns around and glances at the father. “We’re doing the best we can, Mr. Philip,” he says.
The mother trembles and begins to sob uncontrollably. “It’s be—en two days,” she wails. Detective Guthrie rushes with a glass of water. Detective Jim picks up a photo frame. A child – seven maybe—holding a multi-colored ball stares back smilingly, with short cropped hair and wide brown eyes. Mrs. Philip with her windswept hair is embracing him from behind, laughing all her troubles away. “Why wait for two days? We’re private investigators. You could have called anytime.” He looks at the mother. “Why didn’t you call the police?”
Mr. Philp sets his specs on the table. He rubs his eyes. “I do not want any kind of unwanted attention drawn towards this house. I do not trust the police.” He raps the table slowly. “That’s why I hired you. Paid you double. Just get the job done.”
Detective Jim observes the ceiling. “You don’t have an attic.”
“We have nothing to hide.”
“Yes of course.” He walks into the master bedroom. A king sized bed, a lamp, a showcase full of books. “I didn’t mean anything by that.” He walks into the child’s bedroom. There’s hardly any difference. Except for a trapdoor, a flight of stairs descending into darkness. “Mr. Philip?” he peers sideways from the door. “Mind telling me what’s down there?” The father scratches his thighs and hobbles towards the room. Detective Jim and Guthrie follow Mr. Philip down the stairs. “Be careful, the stairs are steep and there’s only one bulb at the far end.”
The room is naked save for a large table at the corner, a chair standing mutely beside it. He turns on the light. Small toys, pokeballs, toy animals, kitplanes, comics, trump cards are neatly arranged in different sets. “Why a basement for stuff that should be in a child’s room?” Guthrie enquires. “I do not want other kids to think they are the same as him,” the father replies. “He is an exceptional child. Recently he got into MENSA.”
Jim whistles as he lights a pencil torch “There’s not much here,” he says.
“It’s meant only for the boy.”
They go upstairs.
“Don’t worry, Mr. and Mrs. Philip, we’ll find your child.” Guthrie lights a cigarette.
“You better do,” the father insists. “And please…don’t smoke in the house.”
Day 3, The Ethereal Realm
The boy finds himself falling through an endless series of clouds, his face dribbling, his short-cropped hair tingling with excitement. “The ethereal realm,” he screams, “where I can keep falling and falling and never die.”
He looks down and sees a huge island. Inverting himself in mid-air, he drops down towards the landmass, descending on the island, his clothes fluttering like a misshapen flag.
He looked around. The island was lush with varied flora and fauna and the sheer vastness of it made him a bit light-headed. The sun smiled overhead and the gentle sea breeze washed a wave of calm over him. A bunch of rabbits gamboled in the grass, running and jumping into the air. He chased after them, the creatures running, leaping, twisting their body in the air and flicking their feet.
He ran deeper into the jungle, the rabbits hopping and running even faster. Exotic birds cooed and cackled among the branches. A leopard skulked in the trees, chasing the boy for a while before giving up and disappearing into the forest. The moment they came upon a huge boulder, the rabbits skittered randomly and ran into their warrens, out of sight.
“Who goes there?” the boulder rumbled. Odie stood where he was, silent and in shock.
Four bent legs rose directly under the huge half-dome. It stood twelve feet tall, the short and sturdy feet balancing the enormous dome-shaped shell. “Outsiders are not allowed into the Ethereal Realm,” the voice boomed through a hole in the carapace.
“I came to this place on my own,” Odie muttered. “If I were an outsider, I wouldn’t have been able to enter this realm.”
“What is your name?”
“Why don’t you show yourself first?”
A small head reared from the shell, smaller than even the arms. “I am named Galpagosa. I was once the guardian of this island.” Its wrinkly head drooped slightly. “Not anymore. I used to carry this island on my back, but it outgrew me quickly. Now the island carries me.” It turned to face the kid. “Tell me now, young one, what are you called?”
“Philip Odysseus Jr.” the boy said. He hesitated then continued, “nine years old.”
“Ah, could you be the child of prophecy, then?” Galpagosa bellowed.
Odie was confused. “Child of prophecy? I...I don’t understand.”
“Ah,” it blinked its eyes slowly. “You must go see the Ophidian at once.”
“About what?”
“Your destiny.” Then it retracted its head and settled on the ground. The creature was a boulder again.
Day 4, Mr. Philip’s House
Mrs. Philip hadn’t eaten or slept properly in two days. There was still no news of little Odie. She wouldn’t leave her room. Mr. Philip was sleeping elsewhere.
It was midnight. Mr. Philip opened the trapdoor and walked downstairs. The overhanging bulb shed light on the child’s belongings. He flicked one of the pokeballs with his finger, which struck the wall and crashed onto the ground and shattered into pieces. He carefully picked up each broken fragment and stuffed it into his pocket. He pulled the chair close and sat on it. He switched off the light.
He stayed there the whole night, thinking about his son.
Day 4, The Ethereal Realm
“Are you trying to kill me?” the Ophidian hissed as the boy released his doublehanded grip on the reptile. It was all dark and dank inside the cave. The creature grazed him and slithered into a corner. The boy could sense the enormity of it. He hesitated, then reached for the animal and gently stroked its long and scaly body.
“There, there,” the Ophidian relaxed into a coil. “See I don’t bite.”
“You’re quite friendly for a snake,” the boy said as he tried to peer into the darkness.
“Maybe I’m an eel, or a different creature. Who ever said that I was a snake?”
“But you’re known as the Ophidian.”
“Names can be misleading. So can appearances.” The snake shuffled and rustled. “Did you think Galpagosa was a tortoise?”
The boy was flustered. “Just what are you exactly?”
“It hardly matters.” The snake moved again. “The real issue is whether you can fulfill your destiny or not.”
“I keep hearing that,” Odie said. “What is my destiny? Why should I carry it out?”
“Questions,” it hissed as if trying to giggle. “That is the thing with children. They’re always so curious. The desire to know everything, to understand everything, to accomplish it all, ultimately leading to their ascent…or downfall. It waited for a while. The boy was silent. Then it spoke again.
“Long ago this island was pristine. All beasts and creatures and plants lived in harmony. Then he came. Gargantus, the one-eyed giant, a deposed king from a different realm. He tore into our island and with his power and might, subdued all of us. Now we do as he pleases. Our freedom is lost. You must vanquish the monster.”
Odie drew imaginary circles with his toes. “But how do I defeat that monster? I’m merely a child.”
“There are legends of infants who have slain ferocious beasts.”
“They’re just fairytales, or mythologies.”
“How is it that you have chanced upon me, the Ophidian?”
“I cannot see you.”
The reptile hissed. It raised itself and spread its hood and hissed again, louder. Odie recoiled. “It is only you who can save this land. You must do this! For you are the child of prophecy. Do this for us, and for yourself.”
The child tried to control his tears. He sniffled and clenched his fists. He took in a big breath and whispered, “Where do I find him?”
“On the other side of the island, in the deepest cave where a single fire burns with rage, lives the deposed king Gargantus.”
The boy bit his lip. “What happens when I defeat the giant?”
It slithered close to his legs. “I do not know what happens…but you become king.”


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Main character
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
MOST STORY I WRITE IT HAS SOMETHING THAT BUILD CONFLICTS, IF YOU ARE A WRITE SET YOUR STORY WITH ATTRACTIVE INTRODUCTION AND THE BODY OF YOUR HAVE TO BE SO WELL FOLLOWED BY THE READER UP UNTIL TO THE CLIMAX OF THE STORY. MAKE SURE YOUR STORE CONCLUSION IT CONCLUDE ACCORDING TO THE INTRODUCTION.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
I love you realistic your parents and the little child are.

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • There needs to be more balance between narration and dialogue. Avoid overdoing the narrative and remember that dialogue can diffuse long claustrophobic text.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • The protagonist didn’t always respond believably against the backdrop of the story. Ask yourself if people would really answer to a situation in that way. Think about whether the characters’ voices could be more convincing for their age, background, gender, time period, genre, gender and ethnicity. Dialogue should be natural and consistent throughout the story.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Main character
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
General comments from your fellow writer 3:
This was a very interesting story. At times it almost read as the prologue for a video game, mostly the parts with Odie on the island. The scenes with the parents and the detectives was a bit confusing to me but it shows the promise of a great mystery to play alongside the adventure Odie is sure to have on the island.