The State of Mind

“Wake up! Wake up!”

I heard someone trying to wake me up. God, my head hurts like hell.

“Hal, call the ambulance! His head is bleeding! Get the others to safety!”

I… am bleeding? Why can’t I move?

“He’s opening his eyes! Great! Have you called the ambulance, Hal?”

“They’re on their way here. Just wait, Alde.”

Ambulance? Oh. I think I remember. There was an explosion, I think. Man, my head still hurts like hell. I tried moving my hand, but God it’s heavy. I’m drained…

Then somehow…

“Holy— God, kid, don’t spring up like that. Wait, how are you—”

Somehow the pain is gone. I could freely move my body now. I stood up, and what I saw was debris all over the place.

“I remember now…” I said as I scan my surroundings.

“Really? Wait, your head was bleeding, how is it—”

My injury worried these two strangers so much…

“Don’t know, don’t care. I’m fine now. I’ll explain.”


“So let me get this straight. You were going to walk back to your friend’s apartment, then the minimarket that you passed by exploded, you were caught in the explosion, and debris struck your head?”

“That’s pretty much it,” I assured them that what I told was true.

“Then… was it a gas explosion?”

“Don’t ask me, duh. I don’t know. Anyhow, I’ll just walk back to my home.”

I left those two behind. Hal and Alde. Their names don’t sound familiar. Come to think of it, I now remember that I had multiple vivid dreams. How did I experience such dreams when I had a head injury?

The dreams were… surreal. I felt like I was in those dreams. It’s like, it has… happened… before.

Wait a minute, I think the dreams were my past experiences… I recalled a birthday party, some urban legend, that one weird crater, and the exquisitely beautiful pink landscapes of Anterra.

I spoke to myself, “The dreams were associated with different seasons. What significance does the four seasons have? Why were they about recalling the past?”

It’s probably because I had a near-death experience. People said that when people get into such situations, they felt their lives, or past experiences, flash in front of them. Could that be the culprit?

Whatever. I’m safe now. I think my brain is fine, too. A new chapter to my life is waiting for me.

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The Petals of a Now Fully Bloomed Look of Madness Adorn the World

Spring. The part where the bright red—you might just call it pink— Kokkino trees bloom. For some it’s a sign of good fortune, for others, a sign of disaster. I’m not quite sure where it came from, but I personally believe they don’t have any meaning. I mean, the petals look great, it can’t possibly have any bad meaning.

“It’s a nice break from life.”

I’m looking at the great landscapes of Anterra, a place where it’s mostly clean. I think it’s because the government enforced the rules properly here, and people volunteer to clean the area.

“This looks like a nice place for me to sit.”

I sat down under a Kokkino tree. The falling petals look so gorgeous. I go here every spring, just doing nothing for hours. It doesn’t get boring somehow.

“Um, hello?”

I heard a female voice coming from behind me.

“Hello. May I help you?”

“Uh, no, I didn’t mean to ask you for help. I just want to say hello. I’m Mariah, I come here every month to check on the tree and clean trash, if any.”

“Nice to meet you…”

I didn’t prepare myself for a conversation with a stranger. I thought I was going to chill here by myself.

“Say, have you ever wondered about the history of this tree?” She asked me a question.

“Well, I only know that some people associate the blooming of Kokkino as good fortune, but for others, it’s a sign of disaster.”

She took a glance at the tree, before setting her eyes on mine.

“This tree has had its fair share of history.”

“Roughly a thousand years ago, two superpowers of the past world had a war on a resource. The resource can only be produced by Kokkino trees, which is native only to this area, and its seeds cannot be planted anywhere else. The reason was quite unclear. Regardless, historians say the resource was so valuable at that time, that both nations went all out for it, and caused destruction to both sides. Millions had lost their lives.”

I can’t believe such trees would have a violent history.

“I’m not saying I don’t trust you, but do you know any sources to back it up? I could look it up myself.”

“’Look it up…’ Yeah, nowadays you don’t need to go to a library…”


“I am the ‘source.’”

“Y-yeah… I’m going to need some—”

“I witnessed it.”

She immediately cut me off. She said she witnessed it, but she looks like a middle-aged woman. Is she delusional or something? Have I just listened to a made-up story by a delusional woman?

“I am 1000 years old, you know.”


Yeah, she’s delusional. A thousand year old human? She’s messed up in the head.

“I haven’t told you about what the resource is used for. It is to stop the process of aging.”

Stop the process of aging? You know what, I don’t buy it. This is madness.

“Look, look, look. Are you… okay? First of all, you witnessed a war that happened a thousand years ago, then you claimed you’re a thousand years old, and that is somehow due to something that’s in this tree that can stop aging. You think I can believe such story?”

She smiled. She f—ing smiled. What is wrong with this woman?

“I can’t make you believe something you don’t want to believe. If you think I am crazy, go ahead. I can only tell you so much.”

She sounded so honest. Maybe I am overreacting? Ugh, what am I doing, I shouldn’t give in.

… Maybe I should.

“If the resource is so wonderful, how come it’s not being harvested today?”

“Because it simply ran out.”

“It… ran out? How? It’s produced by the tree, right?”

“Kokkino trees are unique indeed, but said resource is only produced by this specific tree, and it cannot continually produce it. It ran out, because I used it.”

Huh? So the resource is limited to only a single person? Wait…

“Because you used it? So… the huge war was all for a resource that is enough only for a single person?”

She smiled and said, “Exactly. The war was all for… virtually nothing. This tree serves as a remnant of the past, as its petals adorn the world after a dark period of calamity. I am connected with this tree, and the tree and I will continue to live as long as ‘we’ are alive. ”

I had nothing to say. Initially I didn’t want to believe her, but her tone is honest and sincere, that I had a change of heart, and mind.

“You… I believe you.”

“Thank you.”

She set her sight on the distant mountains. She pointed her finger towards it, and said,

“That is where the war took place. A place that will soon erode by time, but the history lingers for as long as the mountain rocks exist. I vividly remember the day where both nations clashed there.”

This conversation made me ask,

“You said you witnessed it. So you actually saw it happen with your eyes?”

“Of course, what part of ‘I witnessed it’ you didn’t understand,” she giggled afterwards.

She paused for a second and then said, “I lived at the peaks with my sister. We saw men killing men with their weapons. Bloodshed everywhere. I don’t know why they couldn’t just… work together. If they did, maybe the resource could’ve been produced by ourselves.”

“Greed. It is in human nature. Please, continue to be humble. Don’t let greed overwhelm you and cloud your judgment, lest history repeats itself,” she continued.

I ran out of words to say. I am interested in learning the history about the war, so I asked her if there was a name for it.

“What is the name of the war?”

“Haha, it’s really simple. It’s just The Great Kokkino War. A tree that brought destruction to two once powerful nations. Sounds unbelieveable at first that two nations would destroy each other for a single tree, but it happened.”

I’m definitely looking it up once I go back.

“Well, that is enough storytelling. I’ll go back to the peak. Thank you for the conversation, young man. May we see each other once again.”

She then walked away, towards the mountains. A cold breeze blew the Kokkino petals away gracefully. I think that’s enough break for today.

“I didn’t even get to tell her my name…”


Next Chapter: [Chapter 5]

The Cold Breeze of Astrologos

Have you ever heard about the story of the comet that brought desolation to a certain place? Rumor has it that a mysterious power kept the destructive power of the comet localized to a single place. Weird thing is, the impact crater was not hot at all. It was cold, extremely cold.

The mysterious power, in the shape of a dome, kept the temperature of the impact crater extremely low. Instruments made for deep-space travel have shown that the temperatures reached -270°C, extremely close to absolute zero. This means that inside the dome is a vacuum; the atmosphere froze inside, and crumbled to millions of pieces.

“This would be worth it, a journey to the most bizarre place on Earth, what could go wrong?”

There was a flight to the impact crater, which is located near the North Pole. I took the flight, and surprisingly only 3 people were on board as passengers—including me. I thought this would be a unique attraction, at least outside of the dome.

After a few hours of flight, I finally arrived at the impact crater. The dome was transparent and it had a yellow sheen on it. The impact crater was around 250 km in diameter. I can’t fathom how large the crater was.

“Stay away from the dome!”

One of the security guards told me to stay away.

“Yeah yeah, I know. I was just looking into the crater. Looks fascinating.”

“Step back. We don’t want to risk you getting inside the dome.”

“Look, don’t worry. I’m not that clumsy.”

“I’ve had my fair share of dealing with young, rebellious people today, don’t make it harder for me.”

What’s this guy on about? Seriously.

“Okay jeez, chill. Fine.”

I took a step back from the dome. But suddenly…

“Hey! What the—” The security guard yelled at me, but was stopped by the sight of me getting pulled inside by ‘something’ from inside the dome.

Or is it the dome itself?

“He won’t survive.”

“There’s no use in assembling a SAR team. Even with specialized equipment, the crater is simply too large.”

I heard the security guards talking about efforts for my rescue, or lack thereof. Weird, I’m being pulled away by an unseen force.

Wait, how am I still alive?

I’m starting to lose consciousness.

What… is going on?


I woke up at the center of the crater, inside… something. I keep thinking, how in the living hell am I still alive inside this dome?!

“You have finally woken up.”

I heard the voice of a woman. I have so many questions inside my head. How is she here? What is this place? How is there a building here? Who is she? Where exactly am I?

“You must be confused. My name is Astra. I will answer your questions.”

I took a few seconds to collect myself.

“How am I still alive?”

“Your survival instincts have created an insulating layer around you. A barrier between your world, and mine.”

She seemed to know about my powers or something, but I didn’t even realize I made one myself. That explains why I was still alive during my fall.

“Who are you?”

“I am Astra.”

“No, I mean, who are you?”

She went silent for a moment.

“I came from another planet. A planet where eternal ice envelops the land.”

Then I realized,

“Wait wait, how do you know our language?”

“I’ve studied humans for long enough to understand how your species works.”

I asked another question,

“Where are we?”

“You’re inside my ship. I crash landed, as the core malfunctioned.”

“Why are you here?”

She went silent.

This is nuts. I’m guessing that it wasn’t a comet and the ship that crashed, but it’s only this ship that crashed. And it made a huge dome that envelops the entire crater for some reason. She needs to explain a lot of things.

“The land is no longer habitable”

“Huh? How?”

“The material used for the core of my ship, which is called Neutrium, is what decimated the land. It is usually stable, but when it’s unstable, it causes an explosive chain reaction. Our efforts to use Neutrium to it’s fullest extent is what caused our downfall.”

“And… you’re the only survivor?”

“That I don’t know. We were lucky to have made interstellar travel possible.”

“Alright, I’ll get straight to the point. Why do you have a large ass dome covering the entire crater?”

“Come. I’ll show you.”

I followed her to what seems to be the core room. Surprisingly spacious, I expected the core room to be like in the movies, y’know, huge reactor cores and such. It turns out…

“This is the entire core? A small yellow sphere?”

“Yes. What you see outside is the core ‘protecting’ itself.”

“But how did it create near absolute zero environment outside?”

“Simply put, the core can be used to manipulate kinetic energy, which is why it can be used for interstellar travel. It can only do so much, though, as it can only reach speeds up to 99% the speed of light. It somehow halted the movement of the gasses around the ship, which I assume to be the side effect of the malfunction.”

“Neat. So, what should we do?”

“We wait. It’s stabilizing itself. We should not interfere with it.”

Honestly, everything about this ship looks cool. Straight out of sci-fi. The core with its absurd abilities, the interior also looks great.


“The core is stable.”

“Great, that took a while, so can I get out now?”

“Yes. You can.”

I almost forgot one thing,

“Wait… uh, why did you pull me in?”

She stood there, opened her palms, and revealed dust-like substance that resembles a constellation.

“The stars aligned, and told me to bring you in as a lucky charm.”

“I’m a what? You risked my life because of that?!”

“I did not. I trust the stars that you’ll be brought here unharmed.”

I wanted to go back quickly, so I didn’t bother to argue.


“Look! Look! The boy is fine!”

The security guards of the site saw me climbing back up to the rim of the crater. They must’ve thought that I was dead.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

T’was a great vacation.

Next Chapter: [Chapter 4]

Fallen Leaves by the Wind

A start of a new season. A start of a new chapter. It was an exciting summer, but I’m not getting my hopes up high for this season. Usually there’d be something that I don’t quite like happening this season.

“Yo Aether, did you know about the new urban legend?”

My friend, Telos, asked me about a recently circulating urban legend. I find urban legends interesting, so of course I had already known about it.

“I thought you already knew me well! The urban legend where at a certain time after midnight, before dawn, a person could be found standing on top of a tree branch and playing some sort of wind flute.”

“Exactly. Rumors say the melody can hypnotize anyone who happens to be walking nearby, and oh boy it sure sounds interesting.”

Urban legends like these do sound interesting to me. Sometimes I want to find out if it’s actually real, or it’s just some baseless rumor, and people just want to mess with others.

“So, want to find out?”

And oh boy, I did not expect my friend to ask that question.

“You reading my mind? Of course I’d like to!”

It’s still 3 PM though. We still have a ‘long way’ to go.

“First we need to search for more info. Where it likes to appear, when it will appear, and how the melody sounds like. I’ve read that someone recorded a video of said person with the melody, but the quality was so bad it feels like I’m back at the 90s.”

“You weren’t alive in the 90s,” I replied.


I’m back at my house. Telos tagged along with me, so now we’re going to search for it on the internet.

“Here it is, ‘Voices Among the Leaves’ is the title of the urban legend. Such a silly name.”

“Hahah, true. Although we should find the name of the ‘person’ though.”

We scrolled, opened numerous websites, watched multiple videos, but no one on the internet seems to know the name—or rather, give it a name. Every article written about it keeps mentioning the apparition as “the person,” which is kind of a bummer, to be honest.

But that means we get to name it. I think.

“We should record this and give it a name for the person.”

“Or better, we should communicate with them.”

And I agreed.

“Found the location, it’s regularly spotted near an old, big tree on Dame Street, should be easy to find.”

The ‘investigation’ seems to be going perfectly.

“Take a listen to the melody, it’s bad, but it’s audible.”

I was mesmerized with the sound. It felt ethereal, something that’s… out of this world. Like someone brought a melody from another world to this world.

“The charm of the melody is quite strong, huh. It’s like it can… change, a person’s mind and heart. A divine, empyrean melody that is blessed upon this sinful world.”

I did not just utter those words. My vocabulary isn’t that expansive, you know.

“Notice that you’re being poetic? That’s the ‘effects’ of the melody, apparently.”

This got me obsessed. We have to find the ‘person’ or ‘thing’ behind all of this.


It’s now 3 PM, and we’re walking down Dame Street to the big tree.

“Alright, I’ve started the recording. Let’s go find this person,” I said to Telos.

“Great, let’s go.”

We finally got near the tree. The moonlight, dim street lights, and… blue fireflies?

“What? Blue fireflies? Do they even exist?” My friend asked.

“That is certainly strange, but I think they do. It’s just that they’re extremely rare and unique to a certain place, I don’t know where it is, but it’s definitely not here.”

Then, I heard what we were searching for. The sound of a wind flute. And the ‘person’ standing atop the branch.

My eyes locked to… him. I can clearly see a male figure with long, silky white hair, with his eyes closed, as he played the wind flute. I checked the camera, and it’s still there. Is this an actual person?

“Hey! You over there, may I know your name?”

His eyes opened, revealing noctilucous, heavenly blue eyes. The charm of this person is extraordinary, and he hasn’t even said a word.

“The wind knows my name. Listen, and may you find the answer you sought after.”

That ‘blew’ me away. I somehow subconsciously knew his name.


That doesn’t sound right. It sounds like a feminine name.

“I know what you’re thinking. Such unfitting name. Though let it be known that I have been bestowed upon this name as a gift from God.”

He leaped from the branch, and flew down towards us. Wait a minute, I forgot about my friend.


Well he… was shocked? Either way he’s not responsive, possibly stunned by his appearance.

“You’ve spoken my name. Thank you, Aether.”

Wait, what?!

“I don’t remember telling you my name. How did you know?!”

“The strings of our intertwined fate have all the answers one might seek. Although it is with pity that I cannot prolong this encounter, follow your heart, and there you may find me.”

He walked behind me, out of vision and out of the FOV of my camera. I looked back, and he was gone. What a mysterious figure.

“Aether?! Hey!”

I was shaken by my friend, who happens to be conscious now.

“You were out for so long! What happened to you?! The person disappeared just now!”

Apparently that only happened in my mind. All of it. Not even Telos knows. It is as if I was transported to another world just then. The recording was also missing, which made it even more bizarre. I felt the conversation happen, though. It was real. Now we both head back to my house, coming back ‘empty-handed.’

At least I had an experience no one has.

“Intertwined fate.” May we meet each other again.

Next Chapter: [Chapter 3]

The Sun Shone Brighter than Ever

It’s currently 9 AM. I just woke up after yesterday’s “party” at my house. It’s the start of summer, and I have nothing to do at the moment.

My friend just messaged me, “yo, wanna go to [a friend]’s house?”

“Nah, I’ll pass.”

“It takes a few seconds from your house to his, you can literally fly.”

“Like hell I’d do it in public!”

You might be confused… I haven’t even introduced myself yet. My name is Diuturna Aeternitas, you can call me Aether. I’m 17 years old, and I just recently graduated high school. I’m what you call a “Soul” user. I basically have abilities that no other people have, and that is to control vectors. Y’know, like vectors of forces.

Anyhow, I’m not like a superhero or something. I just want to live a somewhat ordinary life. I don’t particularly want to show off my abilities to the public.

“You know I don’t want to show off in public, right? I don’t want to be interrogated by a thousand people asking how I do this and that,” I added.

“Alright then. Well, see ya sometime, I’m going to go offline.”

And there he goes.


I don’t live with my parents. Well, it’s not like they live somewhere far away. My parents divorced when I was 12, and I’m closer with my mom, so I went with her.

“Hi mom,” I tried to call my mom. I call my mom sometimes, for no particular reason.

No response.


Still no response.

I sighed and ended the call. “That was weird, my mom answered the call but there was no one ‘answering’,” so I tried calling my little sister, as she lives with my mom.

She answered the call. “Solla? Hello? Is mom there?”

Still no response…

“God, this is troublesome. I’d hate to go back, it takes like 4 hours to get there,” I exclaimed.

“There’s no way I could—”

Then I heard 3 loud knocks from the front door.

I quickly went down the stairs from my room to the front door and opened it without any second thought.

“Happy birthday!”

It was… my mom and my sister. I didn’t realize today was my birthday. How could one forget their own birthday, you may ask. I simply don’t see it as important.


“It’s your birthday, big bro,” said my sister.

“Wait, is it? I don’t keep track of time that well,” was a shi—bad excuse I could make on the spot.

“I know you don’t find birthdays interesting, but this is your birthday, at least you should care about your own,” said my mother. Maybe I should start caring about it…

“Why is your house so messy?” asked my sister.

“Yeah, yesterday my friends came over. I was too tired to clean it up. Don’t worry, it’ll be clean in just a few seconds.”

“’Just a few seconds?’ Are you going to use your abilities? Why use it on simple tasks?”

I always use my abilities for mundane tasks. I don’t want to play hero or something like that, so I only use it for my own benefit.

“Yeah, why?” Everything is flying around as I clean the entire house, and I threw it all to the trash bin. Done in just a few seconds.

“See, it’s easy and efficient.”

We talked and played around for the moment. Unknown to me, my mom also contacted my friends to come by. They barged in from the front door.

“Happy birthday!”

“Can’t you just get in like normal people?”

They all laughed it off. Well, what can I say, it’s the start of summer, might as well enjoy the moment.

Next Chapter: [Chapter 2]

The 5 Season

“The dreams were associated with different seasons. What significance does the four seasons have? Why were they about recalling the past?”

Follows the story of Diuturna Aeternitas, a lone boy retelling the lives he lived and the encounters he had along the four seasons, and another one.

Chapter 1 : The Sun Shone Brighter than Ever
Chapter 2 : Fallen Leaves by the Wind
Chapter 3 : The Cold Breeze of Astrologos
Chapter 4 : The Petals of a Now Fully Bloomed Look of Madness Adorn the World
Chapter 5 : The State of Mind

Submitted as part of TA GST 2021. You can check out the published version over here (also contains the rest of submitted works from TA GST 2021).

The 5 Season (PDF version)

Written by SoraTsuki – G’21
Illustration by Shawky – G’21