The Last Bridge of Sam

Mariia Nova



In the shadow of a bridge on Infinit Zoak, a small fire was ablaze in a garbage can. The bridge itself was covered with moss, and the long branches of a willow covered one side of it, creating a kind of curtain that hid the little space under the bridge from view. The campsite was tucked neatly inside.

Sam, a small five-year-old girl was on her knees. She carefully and slowly poked a thin stick into the earth above a flowing stream of water right next to the bridge.

“Look! Now you can come to me and explore my kingdom. You will find new friends here and I will take care of you!” She leaned towards the ground looking at a tiny creature.

The creature had an owl’s head and the body of a lion with four tiny, tiny wings. The creature was sparkling with gold. It lifted its owl’s head looking silently up at the little girl.

“Come on, don’t be afraid.” Sam smiled.

The creature stepped on to the stick, trembling, and the girl pressed the stick to the ground with her fingers in order to stabilize it.

“Sam! What did you find?” Another girl who was also five years old, Diana, ran over to Sam.

She landed on her knees next to Sam as the little creature suddenly spread its four tiny wings and flew up above the girls, its golden color sparkling in the twilight. Both girls were watching as it flew up into the distance making the sounds “tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock”. Smiling and laughing they stood up and ran swiftly towards one of the walls under the bridge where they had left an old doll that they’d played with that morning.

The Sun went down and it was getting cold. The girls were rubbing their hands to keep themselves warm. A man, by the name of Paul and a woman, by the name of Katy, both in their forties, dressed in torn and frayed clothes, warmed their hands over the fire, under the bridge. The woman’s black hair was braided. She had a small nose, thin lips and blue, kind eyes. The man had short, black hair and green eyes that were also kind. While their clothes were quite dirty, their faces and hands were surprisingly clean. The two were busy talking and rubbing their hands together for warmth. From time to time, they would glance over at the two girls, who were playing on the ground beside the wall, under the bridge. The girls were dressed in oversized clothes. Sam had light blue eyes with chestnut hair and Diana’s eyes were green and her hair - black. They laughed happily, despite their meager way of life. Sam and Diana never complained about their worn-out, old clothes, or new toys that they had never had a chance to own.

The man and the woman watched as the girls played. The adults spoke in hushed tones, so they would not be heard.

“The power is growing in Sam faster than in the others, Katy.” The man glanced nervously at the woman, then back at the girls.

“I know Paul. We will keep her safe here, under this bridge as long as we are able to.” Katy never took her eyes off of the girls.

Sam laughed loudly as Diana took a fife out of her pocket and began to play a beautiful tune.

“Change! Change!” Diana declared as she set her instrument on to the ground.

She waved her arms towards Sam, pretending that she was performing magic. With a beautiful smile on her face, Sam jumped up onto her feet. Closing her eyes, she danced gracefully. Suddenly, she knelt down on the ground, sniffing the earth like an animal. She moved fast crawling out from under the bridge as Diana followed her clapping and jumping with excitement about what was going to happen. The skin on Sam’s arms began to change into a dark-green, snake-like skin. In a split second, she raised her blue eyes framed by beautiful, black lashes, which now had thin blue lines instead of pupils and smiled squinting at her friend. Her body was rendered more flexible, as if flowing, but still remained in human form.

Diana laughed and followed Sam. They tried to catch each other while playing. After her transformation, Sam moved more quickly. She turned back to Diana and both fell into the grass while Sam jumped on top of Diana giggling.

“Sammy, what have I told you?” The woman calmly but firmly called out to the young girl. She remained under the bridge and watched the girls.

From beneath the leaves that had fallen all over the ground, Sam’s cute, dark-green face with blue snake’s eyes appeared. Looking sadly at Katy, Sam stood up brushing the leaves off of her clothing and walked towards her yellow tent that was located under the bridge. She slinked into the tent, feeling guilty and frustrated as Diana silently walked to the wall of the bridge. She took the doll they were playing with before and tried to fix the doll’s torn dress. Looking around Diana grabbed a piece of fabric and began to wrap the doll in it. With sad eyes, Diana looked over as Sam emerged from the tent. Sam was in human form again, though her head hung down. Sam knew that she shouldn’t use her power for games, but it was a lot of fun! She remembered how much fun it was to play with other kids who also had the power to transform themselves although, those kids had escaped and she had never seen them again.

Katy constantly reminded her of this fact and asked her not to share her magic abilities with anyone.

The fire in the garbage can blew out and it was getting increasingly cold. Sam quietly joined Diana, who held the baby doll in her small hands, the plastic doll’s face was half-smashed. Sam patiently waited for her to finish wrapping an old piece of fabric around the naked doll. Diana was clumsily struggling with her cold fingers, so Sam helped her finalize the doll’s “dress.” In the process, the girls left dark marks from their dirty fingers all over its face and body. The girls glanced at each other, smiling as they finally succeeded in getting the doll dressed. Katy and Paul re-kindled the fire waving for the girls to join them.

“They are really great friends,” Paul murmured softly as Sam and Diana joined them sitting on the ground by the fire.

Katy smiled at Paul and sat down between the girls. Giving each of them a kiss on the cheek, she asked them, “Would you like me to tell you one more story?

“Yes! Yes!” whispered the girls, moving in closer to her.

“I want to tell you a story about a brave little girl, who found a magic power within herself and saved an entire kingdom from a dark fortune.” The woman took out a handkerchief. She began to gently clean Diana’s fingers as she began the story.

“This little curious munchkin was looking for a Magical Picture that could help her travel to other kingdoms,” Katy began.

As she spoke, Sam crawled closer to Katy. Her eyes were wide open, mesmerized by the woman’s gentle voice, drinking in every word that she uttered. Sam felt that perhaps she was actually that brave girl starting her own journey!

Katy continued…

“She wanted to know everything about the picture she found, and so she asked her mother, she asked her father, she asked her grandparents. She exhausted them. Whenever they failed to give her an answer, she would leave and wander into the forest, talking to the trees in hopes of finding the answer. She never gave up.

“One day, while walking in the forest, she came across the oldest tree that she had ever seen. She said ‘Hello,’ and the tree replied ‘Hello, hello, hello,’ but strangely in the girl’s own voice. The girl was puzzled and asked: ‘Why do you speak exactly like me?’ And she heard back ‘Like me, like me, like me.’

“She examined the tree, and saw that this tree had a large, dark hole in it. Our curious munchkin had to know what was inside of the hole, so she stood on her tippy toes and peered in. Inside, she saw that the whole trunk was covered with beautiful, painted lines that looked like a colorful rainbow. The lines were moving like an ocean’s waves which intrigued her, and she could not resist extending her fingers in order to touch them.”

Katy paused and glanced at Sam, who was watching her so intently that it seemed as if she was not breathing at all.

Katy continued...

“As she reached in to touch the colorful waves, she found herself transported to the other side of those paintings. She raised her eyes finding herself at the beginning of a unique bridge. The little girl looked around, seeing how beautifully the tunnel-bridge sparkled with colorful lines throughout it. She looked ahead, measuring the long tunnel-bridge in front of her. She saw a glimpse of another World at the other end of the bridge.

“Instinct told her that she belonged to that World. It was calling for her, to reach out and to explore it. Unafraid of the consequences, she took her first step towards that other World.”

The light from the pink Moon cast a shadow over the storyteller’s face, like a witch telling someone’s fortune. Many moons passed, and Katy told the girls the same story, over and over again. One day, when she looked over at Sam, who sat beside her, Katy now saw a grown-up girl of 19. As Katy finished the story, Sam opened her light blue eyes and smiled.

The spring season was in full bloom, the Sun was about to escape behind the tops of the leafy trees giving its space to the huge pink Moon that was a common occurrence on Infinit Zoak.

“Sam, you may be all grown up, but I see that you still love these stories.” Katy touched Sam’s cheek with her fingertips and opened her arms to hug her.

Even now, Sam wore old, weathered clothes. Her pants were much too big for her lean body, so she held them up with a rope tied around her waist. The wind blew the hood off of her head, revealing her beautiful, rose-gold hair that she wore long, the ends of it cascading all the way to her waist. Her soft locks framed her pale complexion. She quickly grabbed both sides of her hood, lifting it back up to hide her face.

“I like your stories!” Sam looked up at the shining sun, as it was slowly lowering to meet the distant horizon. The beautiful sky reflected in her eyes as she glanced at Katy, smiling.

“One day, I will find these bridges, and go to see all of the places and creatures of so many of the other Worlds! And maybe then I will find my parents and my home!” She was still watching the sky, dreamily touching a little medallion that hung on her neck. She carefully held the medallion shaped like an infinity symbol between her fingers. She’d had this medallion for as long as she could remember.

“Oh, Sam…” Katy hugged her, kissing her forehead.

Sam smiled at Katy, and then walked towards her yellow tent.

Crawling inside, she sat in the middle of the tent in order to look at her drawings that she had affixed to the fabric walls. She grabbed a candle that was lying next to her and lit it with a match. Absentmindedly, she twisted the medallion in her fingers with one hand, holding a lit candle in the other and looked around. On old scraps of paper, Sam had drawn Worlds and also the little shiny creature with the owl’s head and four wings. Sam’s eyes fell upon another image where she’d drawn the secret place inside her family’s house - the single memory that she had of her past.

When Katy found Sam wandering the streets, Sam had been too small of a child to remember her parents, or what had happened to her. But she had remembered the secret place. It was an attic at the very tip-top of her parents’ large house. In spite of many beautiful rooms that were there, she loved to spend time only in that attic. It was full of a variety of mostly old and broken things. There was a big, wooden bed pushed up against the wall covered in huge boxes. Against the opposite wall, there were tons of mismatched chairs, stacked on top of one another. At the very end of the attic, there was a small window, its glass was covered with dust. Sam remembered arranging a low table and putting a cardboard box next to it and some pillows to play, pretending that they were the comfiest chairs in the world! She brought her toys there and placed them delicately on the pillows to pretend there were special guests at her party.

Years later, in her tent, Sam looked dreamily at the drawing of the attic, remembering herself sitting by the small, dusty window, looking outside. One time, while sitting by the window, she had drawn a blue butterfly. Outside of the window, a butterfly exactly like the one on her paper had appeared behind the dusty window! Quickly and right away, to see if she would be able to do this again, she drew a cat. Peering through the window, she saw that exact same cat, meandering slowly along the sidewalk. It seemed that everything that she drew on the paper magically became reality outside of the window. She named the window her “magical eye,” as she believed that it revealed her wishes. During those times she felt truly free and happy. Since the time she was young, she had not realized that the magic did not originate from the window, but from within herself. These memories were interrupted by Diana, who crawled into her tent.

“Sam! Hey - are you coming?” Diana inquired, with excitement.
“Huh?” Sam looked at her.
“Dancing! Remember, the kids from under the other bridges are gathering next to the forest to dance!” Diana laughed.
“Of course! Let’s go!” Sam followed Diana, who crawled backwards inching out of the tent.
“Where do you think you are going?” Katy asked Sam who passed by her on the way to join Diana. Katy crossed her arms over her chest.
“Oh Katy, all the girls and boys are going to dance and play music. May I please join them?” Sam stopped next to Katy, who was like a mother to her. Sam would never disobey her.
“Just remember what I told you. You must keep yourself away from music. Control yourself.” Katy looked at Sam seriously.
“But I feel so happy when I can be the way I am, Katy.” Sam looked back with equal seriousness, hoping that Katy would understand her this time.

“The time will come when you can reveal it, Sam. It’s just not safe right now. Not for you, not for anyone.” She stepped closer to Sam, her eyes were full of concern.
“Yes. I understand.” Sam smiled grimly, and turned, walking to the forest that was close to the bridge.
The sun already had set and the huge pink Moon illuminated Infinit Zoak and the path to the forest for Sam. She heard the sounds of laughter as she approached the forest. Diana and the other kids were already dancing around the fire. Sam watched the dancing kids dreamily. They were moving freely. More kids joined in dancing as Sam observed.
Diana ran over to Sam, grabbing her by the hand and dragged her into a small circle of dancers.
“No-no-no,” Sam insisted, trying to retrieve her hand, but Diana gripped it tighter, tugging.
“Come on, Sam! Let’s have some fun! No one will know!” She pulled Sam into the middle of the circle.
Sam felt like she was about to faint. Everything was moving chaotically in front of her. Katy’s warning sounded in her head: “Keep yourself away from music.”
The dancers shouted. It was a group of six Girls and five Boys. A couple of the boys played guitar and beautiful music filled the forest. Sam noticed how her skin on her hands had started to change into a dark green tone. When she shook them vigorously they returned to a neutral color.
Sam pressed her hands to her ears, deathly afraid of the creature that she might become. She had sworn never to dance in front of people ever again, since she could not control her transformations and music accelerated her transformations even more. She simply was not able to control it.
But no matter how hard Sam tried to stick with it she couldn’t resist listening to the melody. For a moment, she let her hands go and closed her eyes. Her body started to move instinctively to the music. The laughter of the kids around her brought Sam back to the present. She opened her eyes, finding herself crouched in the middle of a circle of dancers.
Sam’s eyes filled with tears. The kids were laughing and pointing at her, as she found herself bent on to all fours like a wild animal, her nose to the ground, sniffing the soil. Sam gasped for air. In a matter of seconds, the dark emerald skin on her face had again replaced her human skin tone and the kids began to point at her, laughing, taunting.
With each new chord that the young boy guitarist played, a new sparkling and colorful line was created which was only visible to Sam. Each wavy line actualized itself and made its way slowly in Sam’s direction. She slapped away the first one with her left arm as it drew closer to her, but she only succeeded in breaking it into multiple lines of rich, more vibrant colors. New chords created new lines that one by one surrounded her. Sam raised her blue eyes which now had dark, thin lines from which to look out at everyone as silence filled the place. The guitar fell out of the young musician’s hands onto the ground as he stood up trembling and watching Sam who stood up and looked back at him with her blue snake eyes. Her skin was changing color to dark green – the color of snakeskin and her body was larger in size now. The sound of a low hiss was heard from deep inside of her.
“Get out of here!” Someone screamed throwing a little stone at Sam.
It hit her in the chest and Sam backed up, crouching on the ground again, raising her big eyes which were filled with fear.
“Keep yourself away from us!” One of the girls threw another stone at Sam.
“Stop it!” Diana ran over to Sam, who panicked and rushed away, pushing in between the two girls.
“We are all in danger because of her!” Another girl screamed from behind.
“Stay here! Don’t leave!” Diana screamed at Sam, who escaped into the safety of the trees.
Sam began to feel safe as she ran further into the beautiful forest. She slowed down, walking through the trees, watching her hands as the dark-green skin began to return to its normal human color. She exhaled, taking in her surroundings. The trees were tall and magnificent, and the sky full of stars overhead seemed to rest on their tops. The forest was no longer green— it was full of a pink color. And at this moment, silence was the most beautiful music.
Sam continued walking, touching the trees and leaves as she passed. She slowly sat down on the ground, pressing her hands against the solid earth. Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply, calming herself. This fight for control was getting tougher. Her inner creature had become stronger, and it was a constant battle for power over her body. She pressed her palms into the solid ground even harder, a deep, low roar suddenly rumbling in her chest. She kept her eyes closed and waited, but nothing more happened. Sam had successfully - for now - contained the beast inside of her.
She glanced around, getting up and parted the bushes with her hands, smelling the air with her eyes closed. Sensing something, she opened her eyes, observing a massive tree that stood just beyond the bushes. There was a hole in the tree, the trunk of which was filled with beautiful, colorful waves. It seemed that they consisted of paint - a green and orange color emanated from inside the knotty hole. Sam froze, reminded immediately of Katy’s fairytale.
At the exact same moment, a man, the man who was trying to read the Prophecy in the “Golden Rose” castle, appeared beneath the bridge. One of his eyes was covered with a skull-shaped patch. He glanced around with his working eye, observing Katy and Paul. He wore the same ominous, black clothing. His features were obscured by darkness.
Katy and Paul stepped forward to face the man who was approaching. Paul took a big stick from the fire and held it up ready to protect Katy from Skull who walked forward, undeterred.
“There is nothing here that you are looking for! Leave us, Skull!” Katy declared, taking a step forward to join Paul. She was trembling.
“You expected me, didn’t you?” The sound of Skull’s low, hoarse voice made them shiver.
Skull was still shadowed by the darkness.
Paul protectively stepped between Katy and Skull who aggressively peered around Paul, trying to get a good look at Katy. He glanced back at Paul, who fell to his knees suddenly, screaming as Skull squeezed his fists utilizing his inner power to crush Paul’s bones.
Katy cried silently, recoiling in shock. She rushed to Paul’s side, covering him protectively with her body.
Skull moved quickly towards them and grabbed her roughly by the arm. Katy screamed violently for help which echoed through the forest.
Sam, still deep within the woods, turned in the direction of Katy’s scream. Her loyalty propelled her to return to the bridge, forgetting all about the magical picture she had just discovered.
Sam was terrified. The thought that something awful was happening to the people that she loved drove her crazy. She sprinted through the forest, where twilight was throwing shadows across the path. Sam didn’t see the hole in front of her until she tripped into it. Her face planted in the mud. She jumped up, and resumed her mad dash, determined to protect the ones she loved. This need drove her body onward, her shape metamorphosing as she ran. Her body became enlarged and her skin changed into the dark-green tone. With her nocturnal eyes, Sam could clearly see the path leading to the bridge. Sam ran out of the forest, slowing down as she approached the bridge. All was silent now in the moonlit night around her.
She knew the bridge was in front of her, but a heavy fog obscured it. She walked slowly forward, breathing heavily as Skull stepped out of the fog in front of her. The ground shook with his every step. He dragged Katy behind him screaming, fighting his iron grip. But it seemed as if he didn’t even feel her attempt to beat him with her hands – it was futile.
Sam shook as adrenaline coursed through her veins. She hissed, leaping forward, and lunged at the man. In the next moment she reached for Katy who screamed as she reached back in a vain attempt to escape Skull’s tight grasp.
“Sam, stay here! He must not get you!” Katy whispered in her ear just in the moment when Sam was trying to get Katy away from Skull.
Katy accidentally tore Sam’s medallion from her neck in the struggle with Skull, who with his free hand slapped Sam away from him, causing her to recoil and fall to the ground.
Skull grabbed Katy tighter and stepped over Sam who lay still - something strange had happened along with his touch. In her mind, Sam saw flashes of the past that she had forgotten; her mother hugging her, sitting in the attic, looking out through the dusty window. They laughed and drew closer together. Then - all fell into darkness.
Sam’s skin morphed back into its human tone as she lay on the ground motionless while Skull walked away from the bridge dragging Katy away with him.
The world became a blur as weakness wrapped itself around Sam like a blanket. Her body was trembling from her silent cries within as her fingers scratched the earth.
Sam opened her eyes, knelt down and looked around. Thick fog was covering the ground. There was of course no sign of Katy, only Paul’s body was stone-still on the ground under the bridge. Anger grew inside of Sam, replacing pain. She trembled in rage, the desire for revenge rising deep within her chest.
Sam shuddered, as she heard the sound of someone approaching and rushed to hide behind a rock. She froze, watching the figure approach.
John, the son of Liara, the Leader of Infinit Zoak, where terrible events had taken place, stepped out of the darkness, peering around the shadows, under the bridge. The son of Liara was now a grown-up man of 25 years old - strong and tall with the same light green eyes. He wore a beautiful dark-green suit that followed the contour of his muscular and strong body. There was the handle of his sword visible on the right side of his waist. He heard someone, behind the big rock in the distance, but he didn’t follow or react.
Instead, he stepped towards the fading fire, where he found the body of Paul, under the bridge. He knelt down, examining the man and, shook his head regretfully. Paul was dead. John turned him over checking the back side of his neck - there was no skin sliced off.
John stood up and looked around. His attention was drawn to a yellow tent sitting near the wall. He walked towards it, cautiously looking from side to side, as he tried to figure out what had occurred. Looking inside the tent, he saw small sheets of paper covered with drawings, hanging inside. There was a drawing of a majestic bridge connecting two oval-shaped Worlds. He reached out with his fingers following the lines of the bridge. John stared at the colorful waves on the other drawings for a while, smiling to himself as he folded the sheet of paper depicting the bridge, then stuffed it into his pocket. Leaving the tent, he checked behind him, then stopped as the sound of a flying machine was approaching. John looked up into the dark sky and saw the flying machine with two spinning blades on its sides prepare to land on the bridge that he was under. John sped up his pace hoisting himself up onto the bridge where the machine made a loud sound as it was landing. One of its sides slid up, opening.
Sam stood up and walked out from behind the rock, watching John step into the machine that flew up into the air in seconds. Her eyes were wide-open, she was looking at the flying machine - breathless - as she had never seen anything like this. She looked back at Paul’s dead body then back at the flying machine, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Sam felt herself slipping away. She bent over trying to pick up Katy’s scent.
As she moved like lightning, in just seconds, her skin changed color again into dark green. She ran furiously into the darkness.
The innate instinct to save Katy, the closest one to her ‘family’, led her deeper into the forest.