The Immortal Wishmaker
This story is an excerpt from the first chapter of my science fiction novel and it introduces the protagonist, the Immortal Wishmaker.
At the heart of an icy white mountain, there are many long, unlit underground passageways to the Immortal Wishmaker’s cabin and they are guarded by snowy white owls perched on logs along the way. When a stranger enters a passageway, the owls flap their wings wildly, fly around the stranger’s head, and emit painfully shrill screeches. These sounds will be projected into the Immortal Wishmaker’s cabin through wireless audio recorders until she uncovers the copper peephole of the door that the trespassed passageway leads to. Fortunately, she hasn’t been disturbed by unwelcome strangers in the past year after she filled old passageways that were well-documented in magic academies’ maps with gravel and carved new winding passageways that led to her cabin’s cellar.
Her cabin’s cellar is not a dark humid room with a musty smell, nor is it covered with a dirt floor crawling with pests. Instead, it is lit by hanging baskets of cucumber plants that are genetically modified to contain bioluminescent particles. The room’s floor is lined with polished porcelain tiles with a marble-like design and pipes pumping fresh cool air from outside the cabin into the cellar to keep the room well-ventilated. Half of the space in the room is taken up by a sleek gray walk-in refrigerator storing four months’ worth of frozen fruits and vegetables and dairy. On the other half of the room, there is a walk-in freezer containing meat. Above the refrigerator and freezer, there is a row of wooden cabinets storing a spate of spices and dry carbohydrates like bread and pasta. The Immortal Wishmaker likes keeping the cabin well-stocked to minimize the need to leave her home.
It has been two weeks since her transporter had alerted her to go on a mission to save people from death. She isn’t used to sitting around in her house for several weeks because her transporter used to inform her of a new mission within 24 hours after she completed a mission. Is everyone in the world actually safe from disasters or is her transporter dormant and unable to detect people in danger? Her brain ruminates on the latter option because she has never lived in a world without problems. Every five minutes, she pulls out her transporter from the right pocket of her white cloak and examines it for cracks. But the copper disk’s surface is smooth and shiny like a newly minted penny and its appearance hasn’t changed over time.
She lets her mind wander away from her worries at the present moment and she imagines herself strolling across a beach on a mild sunny day. Her feet are massaged by soft grains of sand as she walks toward the ocean with small gentle waves crashing the shore. By the shore, she lays down on an unoccupied recliner shaded from the sun with a large rainbow umbrella and she releases the tension in her body by closing her eyes, stretching her legs and arms, and breathing in cool air with a hint of salty fish scent. The smell is comforting and reminds her of her childhood and family.
When she reopens her eyes, she sees that she is no longer lying on the recliner.
She stands by the docks of a village and sees her ten-year-old self sorting fish by size and type before they were moved to the central marketplace for sale. Her younger self wore her hair in a fishtail braid over her right shoulder. That day, she was wearing a white dress with butterflies embroidered along the hem of the dress and a brown straw hat.
The Immortal Wishmaker feels a twinge of nostalgia when she sees that outfit. She had returned to this memory many times in the past: the day she was forced to leave the mundane world three hundred years ago.
The idea for my novel was first conceptualized when I wrote my short story Spinning Genes in 2020. After attending workshops and meeting readers who were curious about the story’s world and characters, I decided to expand on my story and start a novel. This story introduces the protagonist of the novel in a futuristic world that contains a blend of new technology and fantasy elements.
Victoria Gao is a passionate writer and high school student. As a Girls Write Now mentee, she enjoys exploring different writing and multimedia genres such as science fiction and erasure poetry. She is also a writer for her high school newspaper and enjoys informing others about current events.