1 Scarlett

Every 3 years a little town comes together to celebrate life, a grand festival is held full of dancing and food. Bright colours are thrown about without a care in the world whilst the people of this town celebrate it as if it was there last. Adults drown themselves in alcohol whilst the ones too young to drink force their faces with plates full of meats. The town has become a place famous among tourists, the festival had become so popular that its newcomers would take back what they learnt and celebrate it in their own country, on a day called 'Meddling Day'.

The hundred-year-old tradition has lost all original meaning to most. It was originally meant to show off to the gods above that people weren't afraid of death, they wanted to embrace it.

The rumours and beliefs of the original town say that the gods watched over the ones that are about to die, messing with them whilst preparing them for their next life and used the tradition to fight back. Although the gods were watching, that is all they could do. As time moved on the level of interaction the gods had with humans grew more distant, with only a couple of gods left on Earth, doing the job forced upon them.

In 2011 an isolated city has been preparing for the festival for over a week, buildings were covered in paint and banners were stretched across; whilst market stalls prepared for the flood of sales. The street was crowded with the sound of panic and hard work as people knew there wasn't much time left until the start. Along with the city, families would also prepare themselves for a feast, with most households were as chaotic as the main event itself.

"SCARLETT! HAVE YOU GOT THE BEEF YET?"

Located in a small two-floor house in the centre of the city lived a family of 5 as they prepared to celebrate and enjoy the day that was planned out. The eldest daughter Scarlett, at 18, lived every day with a face full of pure happiness. She was undergoing chores to help her mother prepare for later.

"Not yet, mum!"

"Well hurry up! It's already crowded down there, who knows what will happen today."

"No need to be so anxious mum. Come on! Today is the day we celebrate. Let's just enjoy ourselves!"

Scarlett dashed around the house making sure she had everything, crashing into the walls as she darted about looking for her phone.

"Have you got everything, hun? You do know just to get beef right? Your dad is getting everything else!"

"Yes, mother! I'm just looking for my phone! I'll be gone soon! love you!"

"Love you too, hun."

The shouting was normal in this house, the mother worked away in the kitchen whilst her two sons, no older than 10, sat in front of the tv playing board games together.

Scarlett ran out the door into a sea of people, forcing her way through the initial crowd of chaos before breaking off into an alleyway and finding some room to breathe.

"Right then… Mum wants beef…"

"Where do you plan to get beef from?"

A mysterious voice suddenly appeared next to Scarlett, startling her.

The source of the voice came from a homeless-looking teenage boy who towered over her dressed in a hoodie two sizes too big completely hiding his hands.

"Wah! Jesus… you scared me…"

The boy looked at Scarlett with a blank face, like a child who had no recollection of what he did.

It took Scarlett a few seconds to calm down before looking at the boy again, trying to figure him out. She looked at his face and worked down scanning his clothes. When she got down to the feet she saw the boy wasn't touching the ground but was instead levitating a few feet off.

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"Y-you… H-how?" said Scarlett.

"Hmm? Ah, this? My bad." The boy smiled and laughed as if what he had done was achievable by everyone.

"A-are you human?"

"Hmm? Not really, more like a god? I guess that is what you call us… I'm just here to celebrate the festival like the rest of you. I mean no harm. Anyway, you said something about beef right? I'll come with you!"

Scarlett was still shocked about what she just saw but couldn't question it as she was more focused on her mother's order. The two of them walked around outside the main city looking for a shop that sold the beef her mother had asked for.

"So… I've got some questions? Do you have any powers?"

"Quite a few, I can fly as you saw, I can also hide from whoever I want. Not cats though, they always seem to be able to see us."

"The cat thing makes a lot of sense, we have a theory about that…" Scarlett paused thinking back through what the boy had said.

"What do you mean by 'us'? So are there more of you?"

"There was, we are kinda split into two groups, those that hate Earth and me…"

"The gods hate Earth?"

"Not all of them, some hate it, others just don't want to think about it."

"What about you? Do you like Earth?"

"Hmm. I don't hate Earth, I'm interested in you humans. I wasn't around for your creation so I don't know much about you, so I just do my job on Earth and learn about your culture… I don't know why others don't come down. I like it here."

"Job? What is your Jo-"

-BANG BANG-

The sound of distant fireworks echoed, signalling the start of the festival. Thousands of multicoloured balloons rose up from the centre of the city as faint sounds of people screaming and cheering were heard. Scarlett looked down and saw that she was yet to complete her mum's task.

"AH, THE BEEF!" Scarlett screamed. "MY MUM IS GOING TO KILL ME!"

"Quick, let's go… we can talk along the way."

The boy pulled Scarlett by the hand leading her further away from the festival whilst Scarlett asked a bunch of different questions.

The boy told her about how he wishes to understand human emotions more as he has never had someone close to him or anyone who loved him.

Hearing it caused Scarlett to stay silent as they continued to run around, having never experienced loneliness she couldn't say anything.

By the time they got to the shop and brought a container of meat, they hadn't said anything else. They stopped outside the shop where Scarlett rested to catch her breath and prepared herself to run back.

"You know… If you want… I can be your friend."

Scarlett's sudden proposal stopped the boy from acting. He sank his head and closed his eyes before lifting it back up with a false smile on his face strong enough to convince Scarlett.

"I'm sorry… I'm not the type of person you want to be friends with… I'll only upset you later…"

"What do you mea-"

-Ring Ring-

In the middle of the conversation Scarlett's phone ran, but she didn't bother to look at it or check who it was, the more important thing to her was the boy standing in front of her that she wished to know more about.

-Ring Ring Ring-

"You should probably answer that… I'm sure the person on the other end is worried… Thanks for today… I learnt a lot and I'm thankful, but you should answer it. Maybe we will meet again one day… I hope..." The boy's voice diminished as he walked off.

"Ah.. enjoy the festival…" Scarlett said, but the boy was already too far away.

Scarlett whilst staring at the boy decided to pick up her phone and answer it.

"Yeah, dad...….huh?"

Scarlett's voice went silent as the phone fell, smashing as it hit the ground. She stared at the broken remains. She turned around to hear the sound of the festival had stopped shortly after it began. Scarlett looked back to the boy but he was no longer there.

She was lost and unsure of what was going on, but in her heart, she knew she had to return.

When she arrived she saw a large crowd of people gathered around something in the middle of the street. Scarlett ran into the crowd pushing people aside trying to get through. At the centre was her mother resting next to a car splattered with blood on the bonnet. Her father was holding his wife in his arms, trying to hold back the tears as he looks up towards Scarlett with eyes that were begging for help.

"M-mum?"

Scarlett slowly approached her father but fell to her knees.

"H-hey? M-m-mum?"

Scarlett reached out for her mum's arm but pulled back after feeling how cold and broken it was.

"N-no… m-mum? P-please… M-mum. P-please don't go… I-i got the beef you asked for? M-um? We were going to cook it right? T-the festival... together..."

Scarlett pulled out a container which had gone cold and loosely held it in her hands.

Her two younger brothers approached Scarlett, wrapping their arms around her, burying their faces into her clothes, muffling their screams.

The warmth from her brothers caused the tears to race down her face and splash on the container. Her screams echoed throughout the silent sound of what was once a time of celebration.

It wasn't long before the ambulance arrived to take away her mother, everyone watched as it drove off and the festival was cancelled. A funeral was held weeks later...

Atop a building overlooking the funeral sat the boy kicking his legs over the edge, invisible to everyone, watching over those below.

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