Vex had scared Julian as well. He was moving around frantically, looking for everyone. He spotted Joy and ran towards her but somehow he couldn’t reach her and nearly lost his mind. Vex did the same to Jane and Jayden; he made Hayden talk, and threaten them and Jayden curled up on the floor and cried.
‘Come on, Joy; take one last look at your beloved parents,’ taunted Vex. Something snapped inside Joy’s brain.
‘Is this happening right now, in my house?’ She managed to say.
‘Of course, it is.’ Vex’s voice echoed again.
Joy looked again. Were his parents really watching a film? She thought. ‘Why are they so happy without me?’ She thought aloud. The ground shook beneath her feet. She’d made Vex angry which meant that she’d done something right.
‘This picture is fake!’ she chuckled and suddenly a large hooded figure appeared in front of her. Joy immediately knew it was Vex.
‘You tried to use my weakness! I am sure you did this with the others.’ Joy was shaking with rage. ‘But no one messes with me and my weaknesses,’ she growled as she grabbed the hood and pulled it with all her might. To her astonishment, the whole cloak shredded to dust right under her hands.
Maybe it was her anger that had snapped her out of the hypnosis Vex used on her, but turning around she saw Julian a little further away. She ran towards him. He heard her voice and looked around. Joy stood where she was and yelled at him to concentrate on that fakeness of the picture being used to weaken him.
He nodded and observed his surroundings closely. He saw people enjoying sunshine. He asked Vex how come it was sunny since his kingdom’s weather was always snowy and cold. The ground shook and he saw a hooded figure. He spread his arms about and iced his surroundings. The hooded figure immediately disintegrated and disappeared.
Joy and Julian looked at each other, then spotted Jane and Jayden. They told them that Vex was playing with their minds, and would release them only if they caught his lies. They heard them and Jane was keen enough to observe something very ridiculous.
‘I haven’t seen Hayden’s wings but a king like Hayden can’t have yellow wings; they should be gold.’ She turned to see Jayden smirking. Suddenly, the ground shook violently. Then came a terrible roar which terrified them. The walls started caving in as they broke into a run. They ran through different passageways and turned up at a different corner of the mountain.
Most terrifyingly, the mountain itself was sinking, so they had to keep running. The mountain got completely sucked inside. When the dust cleared they saw each other, and realized Hayden was still missing. They were filled with terror, not sure if they’d lost Hayden or not. They looked and looked, but couldn’t find him. Dejected, they returned to the palace.
Joy went to Jayden’s room. He was sitting listlessly, his head hanging down. ‘Listen, we must go and search for Hayden,’ she gulped. Jayden tried to speak, but only sobs came out of his mouth.
Joy couldn’t bear the sight, and left the room. On her way to her room, she saw Julian coming out of Jane’s room.
‘What happened?’ He asked as she wiped her tears. ‘Jayden’s so devastated; I can’t bear to see anybody like this.’
‘It’s the same with Jane. I mean, what can we do?’ Joy looked into Julian’s tired eyes while hers filled with anxiety.
‘What are you thinking?’ He frowned and Joy bit her lip. ‘Maybe I should go home.’
Julian shook his head. ‘You can’t.’
‘I don’t want to but Jane and Jayden need time to themselves, and for taking decisions. My family must be worried to death back there and Sandy’s getting homesick. Besides, I need a break.’
Julian pursed his lips. ‘I came here because of you so I’ll go back too.’ He said firmly.
‘No! There should be someone to keep a check on them. And Hayden told me you’re great at healing hearts.’ Julian winced. ‘What would we do without you?’ He squeezed his eyes for a second, and nodded.
‘Sandy’s ready and the door’s open too.’ Joy looked around as they stood in a small, empty hall. In the middle of the room was an open door. Julian said it was a portal to Earth.
Joy seized Sandy’s collar and gave Julian a last bro-fist and told him to give hugs to the others. She took a deep breath and advanced towards the door. As she stepped inside she turned around for the last time and saw Julian’s eyes go glossy.
She couldn’t see or feel anything not even her tight hold on Sandy’s collar. Then she found herself lying on her stomach on the hardwood floor of her room. She stood up and found Sandy passed out in the same position. She shook her head and dragged Sandy to its mat beside her bed.
Everything seemed neat, the way it usually was. She drew back the curtains to see the night sky, the time she’d used to spend with her family. Hot tears sprang into her eyes. She was back to her parents and friends, she was on Earth.
She slowly went downstairs, and went into the kitchen. Her dad was sitting on a chair, reading newspaper. Her mum was busy with some chore. Joy bit her lip and went in.
By the time she’d finished telling them everything she was teary and when her mom hugged her she broke down completely. She knew they weren’t going to believe her. Her parents exchanged glances and she swore she was telling the truth.
Days passed by and Joy’s parents almost forgot this incident, too happy to get their daughter back. Joy was depressed; she didn’t take interest in friends or studies and kept thinking about her true friends in Utopia. Even Mary sensed the change. She’d often visit on weekends to comfort her which made Joy break down miserably. She was sad because she had run away from those who needed her the most.
She wanted to go back, but she didn’t know the way back and she mentally cursed herself for not asking Julian. Two months passed by and Joy felt herself moving on; a bit. Her health improved and she started to take care of Sandy the way she used to. She often took long walks and came back heavy-hearted.
Joy’s parents had gone out and she was alone with Sandy. She was watching a rerun of a film when she heard a sound coming from her room. She clambered up to her room, and almost broke down. Jane was standing near her walk-in closet.
As soon as her eyes met Joy’s dark ones she rushed towards her. They stood in each other’s arms for what seemed like hours until Jane pulled away and ran a hand through her locks, pulling the roots.
‘I don’t know how to explain, but it’s about Utopia.’ She wiped her brow. ‘Is everybody okay? Did you find Hayden?’ Jane held up her hand. ‘The situation’s worse.’ And with that she broke down.
‘This isn’t good.’
‘Can you do something? Make it stop!’
‘Yes I can.’ And with that, Joy rushed before anyone could stop her.
It had almost been an hour since Joy left with Jane and Sandy, after leaving a note on the kitchen-counter for her parents.
She rushed to the battlefield and saw Julian. ‘Julian!’ she cried. Astonished, he turned around and ran towards her. He took her inside a nearby first-aid tent. ‘How did you come here?’
‘Jane offered a ride.’ She smiled. ‘Any ideas where Vex might be?’ Julian took her out.
‘See that big rock over there? That’s some sort of a ship he’s in.’ He pointed towards an ugly-looking big stone which appeared out of nowhere and was advancing forward.
She dragged Julian to the place. Once inside, she took him to the portal. ‘What if I sneak into Vex’s ship through this?’ She looked at him. Julian smirked. ‘Good at sneaking in planes, aren’t you?’ He did something with the door’s hinges and announced it ready. At the same moment, Sandy bounded in the hall and went through the door.
Julian gave a loud yelp and Joy gaped. ‘Go back to the zone; I’ll take care of Sandy,’ she said, biting her tongue. Julian nodded and went out. Joy didn’t waste time either and ran through the door.
To be continued