Alice woke up to the salted smell of the ocean and the fierce sun blazing down at her. She could feel soft winds and the sounds of crashing waves and distant voices filled her ears. She raised her hand to keep the sun from hitting her eyes and she began to see her surroundings more clearly. She was on a beach. She knew that much. But it was beach she had never seen before. The sun was blocked out by a small figure now and for a few seconds it stood over her, as if inspecting. “Are you dying?” said the voice. It was a small girl, no more than twelve. “Because you look like you’re dying.” continued the girl.
“No.” Alice mumbled. “Where am I?” she asked the girl. The child shifted to her side and Alice could see her clear now. Short. Round nose. Dark hair. Tanned skin.
“Kauai. Down at the beach.”
“Yeah. Where did you think you were, china?”
“China?” Alice rubbed her head. “No I don’t remember.” The girl sat beside her and handed her a small flat pink seashell.
“Welcome to Kauai. The greatest place in Hawaii.” she widened her arms dramatically.
“Hawaii?” Alice yawned. A woman, who looked a lot like the girl beside Alice, stomped over, kicking the bight sand behind her.
“Lilo! What did I tell you about bothering people!” The woman stood Lilo up by pulling at her arm. She glared at Lilo, then looked over at Alice. “I am so sorry. She’s never learned her manners yet.”
“I’m the most mannered of all! I’m a lady!” yelled Lilo.
“Oh no you're not!” yelled the woman.
“You butt head!” Lilo kicked the woman’s shinn, causing her to lose her grip, and ran off to some trees at the beachside. She sat there and crossed her arms. Pouting.
“Ugh! I do apologize for her.”
“Your daughter was not a bother.” said Alice with a kind smile. Alice didn’t mind children. Being only 20, she still had some child in her yet.
“Oh no no no no no! That’s my sister, Lilo. My name is Nani.” She held out her hand and Alice shook it.
“I’ve never seen you around Alice. And you’re only wearing a nightgown… Where do you live?” Alice thought hard, but could not seem to get an image in her head.
“I can't bring myself to remember. I’m really unsure of where I am as well.”
“Well how about some food? Are you hungry?” Alice nodded. “Alright well how about we go to my home and fix you something to eat?” She helped Alice stand up. The sun glistened in Alice’s long blonde hair and her crystal blue eyes. It was an image of beauty to Nani, beauty that also felt unusual. She began to walk, Alice following behind her, looking around at the beach view. Two children chased waves, then ran away when the waves chased them. Nani and Alice mad their way to Lilo, who stood up and walked with them with her arms still crossed and her face still pouted. She stepped in the footprints in the sand. A voice erupted softly into Alice’s mind, Find the footsteps of your father and allow your feet to follow, but ignore the dreaded footprints of your mother. For her path may only bring darkness and suffering. Nani and Lilo made it to a dirt road and waited for Alice, who came along slowly with an unsure look on her face. A car drove by. Alice grew alert, her eyes wide and surprised like they’ve never been before.
“That…” mumbled Alice, gathering herself to speak. “What in the heavens was that thing?”
“I know.” Said Nani. “Most of these cars around here are rusted away.”
“Yes, do you not know what a car is?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“I’m really curious on where you came from, Alice.” Nani nudged her gently with her elbow.
“Yeah.” Said Alice softly. “Me too.”
“I know!” yelled Lilo. “You’re from the past!” she ran in a circle, making beeps and booms with her mouth. “An alien time machine! Kapow!” They finally made it home. It was a one story, not including the little wooden tower with windows on the rooftop. “That’s my room!” yelled Lilo excitedly. “Nani locked me in there because I behold great power and she doesn’t.”
“Lilo, stop fooling around.” Said Nani.
“She’s jealous.” Whispered Lilo. The house was wooden and painted white and red. A slick black Volvo was parked in their driveway.
“Oh not already!” moaned Nani. “Lilo please behave.”
“When don’t I?”
“Lilo! What about that time when you almost burned down the-“
“Burned down the what…” said a man behind her. He was dressed in black, a man almost identical stood beside him. Both slender and pale.
“Nothing!” Nani gave a fake laugh. “It was just a game of pretend. Right Lilo?”
“Well, “ said Lilo, “Coach may have banned me from the hula classes, but he said he wouldn’t tell children services.” Nani put her palm over her own forehead.
“Your sister almost burned down the dance school? And yet just two weeks ago she broke into that poor woman’s home-“
“That woman wouldn’t give me my rock back!” yelled Lilo.
“And, Nani, Lilo also destroyed private property.”
“That was an accident, actually.” Said Lilo. “Or at least I want it to be.” She looked at Alice and whispered, “These dumb butts will believe anything you tell em.”
“Dumb butts.” Mumbled one of the Child Services agent. “Nani you have one week with Lilo, then she is ours. However if she does anything… drastic… we will be here immediately.” Nani held back tears.
“You can’t just take her from me… She’s the only thing I have.”
“Yes, but you don’t know how to raise a child. Especially a child like… like Lilo.” Nani sat down on the few wooden steps that rose to her front door. She looked defeated. Alice took one of the agent’s hands in her own.
“What if I stay here for a while? I am very good with children and I would be glad to help Nani for a short while.”
“Well. Yes, I suppose. We will see how you are. But the day you leave is the day Lilo does as well.” The men shook hands with Alice, glanced at Nani, then went on their way.
“Thank you.” Mumbled Nani without looking up.
“It is no problem. Honestly, I would like to stay until my memory clears up.”
“Yeah. Sure. You can have the sofa.”
The next day was a better one. Alice woke up to the warm smell of pancakes and maple syrup. On the carpet in front of her lay Lilo, sound asleep. She had stayed beside Alice that night, enjoying the company of someone new. Alice stood up, instantly feeling the static in her blonde hair. It was all tangled. She wandered into the kitchen, where Nani stood cooking. “That smell is wonderful.” Said Alice. Then she noticed the stove. “What is that machine?”
“A stove…” said Nani. “Have you never seen a stove before?”
“No, not that I can remember.”
“How about a television?”
“Come here, then.” She grabbed Alice’s hand and rushed her into the living room where Alice had slept. Nani quickly grabbed the remote and turned on the TV to the news station. Alice stepped back.
“Witchcraft…” She backed up even more. “You are a witch…”
“What?” Nani laughed. “No. It is a machine. In America we have many of newer machines like this one.”
“America?” Alice kneeled in front of the TV and placed her hand on the screen. “America is where Hawaii is?”
“Yes.” Lilo Woke up and sat up, rubbing her eyes.
“Does Alice know what a TV even is?” she said. Nani laughed.
“Lilo get some pancakes and get ready for school.” Lilo ran into the kitchen, ran back out with a few pancakes in her hand, then ran upstairs to her tower room. ”Hey Alice. While Lilo is at school I will be getting her a dog from the pound as a birthday gift. Would you like to help me pick one out?”
“Sure.” Alice looked out the window, the ocean glistened in the distance. “Could I visit the beach while she prepares herself for school?”
“Of course. There is an outfit of mine that I have arranged for you. It’s in the closet in the living room.” After Alice changed into jeans and a sweater, Nani went into the kitchen and Alice walked out the door.
Alice crossed the street like Nani and Lilo had taught her, to look in both directions before crossing. The beach was empty and that made her feel comfortable. She walked along the sand, glancing at the rising sun in the pink morning sun. The wind was warm and welcoming, and the sand under her feet was as well. She walked over to the dying stretch of water moving back into the ocean. She thought of the children playing here. But today everything seemed peaceful. Suddenly that all changed.
The air grew angry, fierce winds. The sky grew brighter and orange. Alice raised her hand to block the immense light. A loud boom filled her ears and a blast of fire broke out into the sky a mile out into the ocean. Alice began to move back towards the way she came, but then the ground shook violently, making her fall to the sandy ground. The waves grew vicious. Alice screamed for help, she couldn’t get to her feet. The waves crashed up to shore, well over her head. The waves grasped her, pulling her into the ocean’s grip. The ocean was hot, as if something inside was burning. She went under, the water forcing her down to the sandy depths. She kicked the ground and swam up and gulped for air. The water forced her back down. She screamed in ultimate fear underneath, and the ocean finally let her go on dry sand. The waves calmed down, the skies around her became a day blue, and the winds were gentle. A single soft wave came to shore, washing up a metallic cylinder. Alice shakily stood up, walked over and grabbed it. On it’s side was a carving, 626.
Alice returned and Lilo had gone to school. Nani was waiting outside. She began to walk and Alice walked with her. “Did you enjoy the beach?” asked Nani with a smile. Alice felt the metallic cylinder in her sweater pocket. She thought of the numbers. 626. They were so familiar, perhaps the only thing familiar since she had been in Hawaii.
“It was calm.” lied Alice. What ever was inside that cylinder, Alice felt that it belonged to her. 626. She knew that number, and it felt cold in her memory. A few cars passed by. “What a strange land you live in. Everything looks so unknown. I am sure that I have not seen any of this where I come from.” They stopped in front of the dog pound, and barks could be heard. They walked in. There were rows of cages, and in most cages was a dog. Dalmatian. Pug. Some mixed breeds.
“Lilo needs a friendly dog, one she can spend time with to stay out of trouble.” They walked passed a cage with a dirty mixed breed, sleeping in the far corner. It was grey and tattered.
“And a younger dog.” said Alice. “The older or less appealing ones get left behind. Waiting to die. Is that how this place works?”
“I’m afraid so.” said Nani.
“Perhaps we can get two.” said Alice. “I’m sure your sister would love puppies. You could sell them for a profit as well.”
“Brilliant.” Nani lowered to look in a cage which contained a cocker spaniel puppy. Brown and white. “Well isn’t she cute.” Nani looked over to Alice, whom was sitting in front of the tattered dog’s cage.
“And this one.” said Alice. “No one will want him, but I have a feeling Lilo would.” Nani nodded in agreement. They would get both dogs. A tall blonde, who looked too skinny yet beautiful, approached them with a note board over her left arm and a pen in he right hand.
"Hello ladies." said the woman as she came to stand beside them. She was wearing white skinny jeans and a peach blouse. She wore a tatted name tag that read "Cruella.". She looked down at the spaniel, then to Nani. "You like her?"
"I'm looking to get my little sister two puppies. This one and that grey one." Nani pointed to the dog that Alice noticed. Cruella smiled. "Well no one has ever wanted a dog like that before. Usually I end up taking them home." she giggled. Her voice was soft and gentle. "Bless your hearts." She smiled at them again. Alice froze, the voices in her head began to speak. "Your heart is your most valuable possession, Alice." a voice from her memory had said. "Without your heart, you would become something truly unholy. Something that is not human."
"Alice." said Nani, tapping Alice's shoulder. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, uh... I'm fine. I'm awfully tired."
"Then lets make this quick." said Cruella, handing over some papers to be signed."
“DOGS!” yelled Lilo when she returned home and found two puppies sleeping on the couch. “Nani you got me two dogs!”
“Happy birthday, Lilo”
“Look at her!” She pointed to the spaniel. “Such a lady! Oh that’s what I’ll call her!”
“And the grey one?” asked Alice.
“Looks like a tramp.” Said Nani with a laugh.
“I’ll name him Stitch. He’s all messed up.” Nani could see that Alice was right. Lilo did have love for that mutt. She had love for anyone.
“Alright Lilo. Take your puppies to your room and go to bed. School tomorrow.” Lilo picked up the pups, one under each arm, and went to bed. “Thank you Alice. She really likes her gifts.”
“No need to thank me.” Alice laid down on the couch, and Nani left to her room. Alice lay there, looking up at the ceiling. 626. It rang in her mind. She took the cylinder out of her pocket and placed it on the coffee table in front of her. She made sure the numbers faced her. As she studied the engraving, her eyes grew heavy and sleep took her over.
“For her path may only bring darkness and suffering.” Said the voice in the trees. Alice, walking the dead path in her blue and white silk dress, looked for whom the voices were coming from. “You do not know of caution, my lovely. And caution does not know of you either.” Alice kicked a rock, scuffing her polished black shoes. She tried to call out to the voice, but she could not speak. “So in my fears you do follow the footprints of your mother. And in my fears it brings you to unfortunate events.” Alice sat on the dead grass, covering her ears. “Alice…” Alice covered her ears tighter. “Alice prove me wrong and believe in caution. Avoid your mother’s call.”
Alice woke up covered in sweat. She sat up and looked around her, assuring herself that she was still in that living room in Hawaii. That dream was too real, and Alice feared the possibility of it not being a dream at all… but a memory.
Alice walked outside. The air was dark and cooler. She breathed it in. She breathed it out. And again. And again. Again, calming herself down. “For her path may only bring darkness and suffering.” Said the mysteriously familiar voice in her head.
“Stop it.” mumbled Alice. She looked up at the crescent moon above in the cloudy grey night sky.
“Stop what?” said Nani behind her, making her jump. Alice turned around and smiled.
“Nothing. I’m just getting some fresh air. Everything seems so different. It’s aching my head. Do you know what it is like, Nani? Losing all that you remember? I fail to even remember the face of my mother.” She turned back around and sat on the wooden steps. “I do not belong here.”
“You can’t just leave-“
“Why?” Alice turned her head to slightly face Nani. “Because once I leave, you lose your sister?"
“Yes. But also because my family of two aren’t the only ones who need saving. You do as well, with your lost memories. Tell me about your mother.”
“I remember nothing.”
“Did she ever sing to you?”
“I said I-“ Her mother’s hums flooded her mind in a warm tune. Her heart warmed and the hairs on her arms raised. “I remember a tune.”
“Listen. I may not understand what you’re going through, but it is clear that you make Lilo happy. You don’t know how much trouble she usually gets herself into every single day.” Nani stood up and began to walk back inside, but stopped in the doorway. “If you do decide to leave, please tell Lilo. She likes you.” Nani went inside. Alice looked up into the night sky and sighed. Being here made her happy, but staying here would not bring back all her memories. Nani may think that she can help me, thought Alice, but I need to help myself. Alice stood up and took a deep breath. She would get rest for tonight, but early tomorrow morning she would leave before anyone else woke up.
The next morning didn’t go as planned. Alice woke up to the bright sunlight blazing through the window. She quickly sat up and looked around. No one. And then the smell hit her. Pancakes. Alice looked over at the cylinder, still where she left it. She hid it under the couch. Then she stood up and walked into the kitchen and there stood Nani, preparing the food. “I know.” She told Alice. “You wanna leave today, right?” Alice nodded. “Well why don’t you stay just one more day? After school today Lilo and I are having our Friday fun day.
“I really should be going.”
“Alice.” Nani turned to face her. “Just one day. I want one more fun day with my Lilo. So please. Stay. For me.” Alice looked at her pancakes. Nani provided her with food and shelter and what did Alice give back? A dirty secret? That cylinder that she hid? She knew that the thing wasn’t good, she felt its negativity.
“I’ll leave tomorrow morning before Lilo wakes up.” Alice said. Nani hurried over to Alice, knelt down, since Alice was sitting, and hugged her.
“Thank you so much, Alice. Thank you so very much.” Nani had the brightest smile on her face and some tears in her brown eyes. Lilo walked in, holding a little turquoise plush doll. She was dressed in the same red shirt that she wears every day. Nani washes it constantly just so Lilo could wear it.
“Um, what’s going on in here?” she said, moving a chair to the counter. “You guys are acting weird.” She stood on the chair and reached for the pancakes that were made and sitting on a plate on the counter. “Did someone die?” Lilo grabbed a few pancakes and got back down to the ground. “I’m gonna go to school now.” She picked up the backpack that sat by the table. She ran out of the room. “Remember today is Friday fun day!” she yelled as she left.
“Is she always like that?” said Alice with a laugh.
“Yeah, when she knows she’s up to no good. The cereal I had saved for myself is eaten.”
“Well that isn’t that bad. She must have been really hungry and didn’t want to wait for your pancakes.”
“She hardly eats, and she took more food.”
“For her friends maybe.”
“Oh my god.” Said Nani as she rushed into the living room. “Lady!” she yelled. “Stitch!” Alice walked into the living room as well.
“You think she snuck one of the dogs with her?” Lady was sleeping in the corner.
“I know she did.” She put on her shoes. “I have clothes out for you on the back of the couch. Please stay here.” Nani left to find Lilo before she got to school with Stitch, a dog, which would definitely get her in big trouble.
Alice, after changing into a tank top and cargo shorts, knelt on the ground and took the cylinder from under the couch. She then sat down on the couch and took a shaky breath. Should I open it? She thought. I know it cannot be good, but it is so familiar to me that if I can just- Lady stood in front of her now, staring at the cylinder in her hands. She froze there, just staring. “Should I open it, Lady?” said Alice, reaching to pat her head. Right before her hand reached the top of Lady’s head, she let out a bark. Alice flinched and retreated her hand. Another bark. A growl. A snarl. “Lady, calm down girl.” The pup’s tail was between her legs and her head was lowered, snarling and eyes still drawn to the cylinder.
Right outside of the school Lilo showed off her dog. Lilo held up Stitch, her grey mix breed puppy, to show him off to two girls of the same age as her. Both girls were blonde, except one’s hair was darker than the other. The two blondes were “best friends” and Lilo had always been ignored an unimportant. Not today. She thought. “His name is Stitch!” she said boastfully. “I just got him yesterday. I got a girl dog too but she’s at home.”
“Is she as ugly as this one?” said one of the girls laughing. The other joined in with the laughter.
“Stitch isn’t ugly!” yelled Lilo.
“Yes he is. He’s a puppy and he already looks old!” said one girl.
“Or he even looks sick!” said the other. “You probably fed him poison like a dummy!”
“You’re the dummy!” yelled Lilo with tears growing in her eyes. “The both of you!” An elderly female teacher approached and spoke with a high tone.
“Lilo! How dare you bully these girls!”
“Yeah Lilo!” said one of the girls.
“She called us a dummy, Mrs. Dawner!”
“Lilo!” yelled the teacher. “This is the last straw young lady!” She noticed the dog and her voice somehow got even angrier. “You brought that? That mutt? To school?” Nani finally arrived and took the dog away from Lilo. Nani looked at the two girls, the teacher, then back at Lilo. The look on her little sister’s face was so sad, so destroyed. Nani pointed her finger in the teachers face.
“If you ever…EVER… talk to her like that again, I will make sure you’re fired!” she yelled.
“Excuse me! All Lilo does is get in trouble, and today she was bullying these two lovely girls!”
“Lovely?! Those rich brats have been bullying her for months and the school only blames Lilo. Every single time it’s Lilo who’s in the wrong.”
“Ma’am I’m going to have to ask you to leave, and I’ll see to it that Lilo gets suspension for her wrongs.” That was it. Nani slapped her. She slapped the teacher right across the face. Hard enough to leave a red hand mark for days.
“I’ll home school her.”
The rest of the day was peaceful. Alice, Nani, Lilo, and Lady were all at the beach, Stitch resting at home. The sun was warm, but not hot. The wind was gliding, but not raging. One last fun day, one last day at all. Alice was to leave the next morning, and even if she stayed, Nani was sure that the incident earlier at school would be alerted to child services. And Alice did want to leave. Lady had reacted so strongly towards that cylinder, which was back at the hiding spot underneath the couch, and Alice had to figure it all out on her own. But for now she, and Nani as well, were happy.
Lilo ran to them, carrying a wooden surf board. “Alice! Ride with me!” She took Alice’s hand and began to run into the water. People would stare, Alice was still wearing the tank top and cargo shorts. Alice had seen how the rest of the women dressed, in bikinis, but she felt as if it made her nude. “Alice c’mon!” A few yards into the water now, Lilo sat on the board and Alice did the same.
“Lilo, is this even safe?” yelled Alice over the sounds of gulls and waves.
“If it was dangerous, would my sister be letting me do it?” She stood up and Alice covered her eyes. It wasn’t going to work. Alice was sure that they would both flip the board and fall into the insane waves. But it did work. Alice opened her eyes, and shortly after she even smiled.
“This is fun!” she yelled. She tried to stand. Alice knelt up, trying not to grab onto Lilo for balance. Suddenly they were inside a tunnel of water. She couldn’t move, and not because of the water’s beauty. She heard something. A voice…no…humming… The sounds of the beach were gone. Alice looked up at Lilo, whom seemed to have not been affected by this. A shadow passed in the water, a large one. The humming grew louder… It now sounded more like screeches… They exited the wave tunnel and the shadow was beside them. “Lilo we need to get to shore!” yelled Alice. But Lilo did not hear her. “Lilo!” The shadow escaped the water and into the air. A dolphin. A beautiful dolphin. Lilo looked over at it, with a huge smile on her face.
That night they had a campfire right on the beach, other people had joined them. They sang, danced, ate fruits, and told many stories of the Hawaiian lands. Lilo was curled up beside Nani, and Lady beside Lilo. They were happy. Alice didn’t want to destroy that happiness, and she knew that that was exactly what she was going to do when she left.
Back at home, Stitch grew bored of resting. He leapt out of Lilo’s bed and began digging his nose into Lilo’s toy box. After taking out a few toys and tossing them around with his mouth, he grew bored of them. A black car pulled over to the side of the house. He let out a bark to see if anyone had returned home. No answer. He trotted downstairs and began to walk to the kitchen, until he stopped in front of the couch. He sensed something… as a puppy, his first reaction was to get whatever he sensed. He stuck his paws underneath the couch and out rolled the cylinder. He tilted his head, inspecting it for a moment. He barked. Nothing. He barked at it even louder. Nothing. He quickly picked it up in his mouth, then tossed it at the wall. When it hit the ground, some form of a lid slashed open. A deep dark, blackened, blue liquid poured out. The liquid oozed in his direction. He just sat there and watched as it approached him. He let out a bark and the liquid vibrated. He took a step back, the liquid vibrated even more. He went to bark at it again, but it leapt at him. The liquid jumped onto his face. Stitch swerved around, barking madly. The liquid spread until it covered his entire body. His barks turned to screeches. Not only did his voice deform, but his body as well. Between his front paws and back paws, two more limbs appeared. Each side of his body, making him now have six limbs. His ears tripled in size, his whole body still smothered in the liquid lifeform. The liquid moved into his mouth. His hind legs were now like a rabbits. His four arms extended, their furry little hands extended with sharp claws. His head rounded, the whites of his eyes black and the brown and pupil both grew into a glowing yellow. Two furry antennae sprouted from his head. His fur turned to a dark violet blue, his chest black with a broken heart symbol. His body was slightly bigger, but not too much. He was new. He wasn’t a tramp anymore, he wasn’t even Stitch either. Stitch, the mixed breed pup, was dead… and what ever this razor toothed snarling creature was…contained pure darkness.