Story, The Academy

Chapter One (Part I)

If you’re new to the story, you can read the prologue here.

***

Thirty-one years later.

Jing closed her eyes, letting the cool sea breeze wash over her as she stepped off the boat. It was an outmoded form of transportation to be sure, but it served as a testament to The Academy’s firm belief in preserving tradition. After all, there was something poetic about welcoming young gifted students the same way that generations before them had been brought to the island. For most, it was a thrilling adventure, a break from the humdrum familiarity of hovercrafts and travel pods, that marked their initiation into a long, illustrious history, into futures replete with opportunities.

But for Jing this welcome was different. She was not surrounded by a throng of fellow students, whispering excitedly, leaning over the rails for their first glimpse of the place that had shaped the lives of their parents and relatives. She was arriving at The Academy alone. This was to be expected of course, given the way they’d found her; an unconventional entrance exam to say the least. Flashes of that night came back to her as she followed the guide across the dock and up the steep stone steps.

Her body radiating electricity, lighting up the darkness. In that grimy, trash-laden alleyway, she had waited for them to come, heart-pumping, near breathless. She let herself go, allowing the crackle of energy on her skin to grow, ignite into blue flames, just like he had told her she should. Relinquish control. Let them see who you are are… They will be amazed at your power.” 

Jing held on to his words, letting them echo in her head as she reached the top of the hill. She would need the confidence they inspired now more than ever. That night was just the first act- the real performance begins today.

Continue reading “Chapter One (Part I)”

Reflections

On Writing the Prologue

Dear Reader,

After sharing the prologue to my story, I’ve been wondering if it’s enough. If you read it, you would know that it offers a glimpse into Victor’s childhood, the pivotal moment when he realizes that he is different from the rest of his family. That he is the sole ungifted child in a long, well-respected gifted lineage. Can you imagine how it must have felt, learning that the life you imagined would be yours has slipped beyond grasp, and all because of something you cannot control?

It was this moment of stark realization, while he was hiding behind his parents’ bedroom door, eavesdropping as they fought in hushed whispers about his fate and what it would mean for their family, while his siblings slept soundly, that Victor felt for the first time that overwhelming sense of loneliness which would one day turn into bitter resentment and, then, burning hatred. Perhaps if his parents had caught him listening and taken him into their arms, things might be different. Perhaps if his brother and sister had found him on that long solitary trek down the hall, they could have reminded him that he was not alone, that their bonds were stronger than the magic any of them did–or did not–possess. But none of that happened.

Continue reading “On Writing the Prologue”

Story, The Academy

Prologue

“It’s impossible. I won’t believe it,” she cried, shaking her head vehemently.

“But dear, they’ve already tested him three times.” After a slight pause, he added firmly, “We cannot embarrass this family any further. We have to find a way to accept this.”

“You think this is embarrassing,” she asked, her voice rising to a high pitch. “What about the alternative? Th-that it might be true? What then? How are we to face everyone? …How do we even begin to tell him?” her voice broke.

“Don’t worry, we’ll find a way,” he said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“It doesn’t have to be now. There is still time.”

“Yes. And maybe something will change. Yes- yes-,” she whispered, “There’s still time…”

Continue reading “Prologue”

Characters

His Name

Dear Reader,

Now that you finally know her name, I guess I should tell you his name too. There isn’t a “real” origin story for this name, at least nothing like Jing’s. But after much thought, I have decided to call him Victor, after Dr. Victor Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s famous novel. Even if you haven’t read Frankenstein, I’m sure you know the general gist of the story–it is a tale about a young, hopeful university student who possesses a strong aptitude for the sciences, and chemistry in particular. He becomes obsessed with studying outdated theories on alchemy and natural philosophy, and somehow happens upon an extraordinary discovery that grants him the ability to give life to nonliving matter. That is how the monster–the creature we often mistakenly call Frankenstein–came to be.

As you have probably noticed, there are many resonances between the Victor of my story and that of Shelley’s Frankenstein. They are both driven, intelligent men who are captivated by the possibility of doing the impossible. And, more importantly, they succeed.

Continue reading “His Name”

Characters

Her Name

Dear Reader,

You might be wondering why I have’t given any of my characters names. Trust me, it isn’t because I want them to remain mysterious. I just have a hard time coming up with names because I want them to mean something, but I know it’s getting to that point in the story when I have to crack down and start making hard choices. Otherwise, I won’t be able to tell you about anyone besides “he” and “she,” and things will get confusing pretty fast.

I have thought long and hard about what to call her, but for you to understand how I came up with her name, I need to backtrack a bit. So forget for now what you’ve read about the interrogations and their decision to bring her to the academy. Instead, I want you to imagine her as a child, about five or six years old when he first found her. This moment occurs shortly after he discovers that she is different from the other children; it is the first time he takes her outside of the lab and gives her a glimpse of his home.

You can imagine her eyes taking in the lavish surroundings, the ornate patterns on the carpet, the beautiful paintings on the walls, the delicate sculptures and figurines decorating the shelves and tables, and the rows and rows of books. She didn’t know it at the time, but she was in his personal library. He had set out a pot of tea and a plate of cookies on the table, but when he prepared a serving for her, she just sat there immobile on the plush sofa, her hands clenched in her lap. She didn’t understand what this kindness meant.

Continue reading “Her Name”