The pale moonlight cast a mysterious glow on the earth as Chandra jogged away from her home, her bag slung over her shoulder. As she dashed through the field of soft mint leaves that brushed her ankles like feathers of a bird in flight, she felt free as the cool summer breeze mingled with her curly hair that flew behind her. When her mother found that she had left her studies, she would probably be a nervous wreck, but Chandra let all of her worries go as she inhaled the invigorating aroma of mint that surrounded her.
Because they had recently moved to this new place, her mother was worried of all the wild animals and poisonous things. She had given Chandra a large book detailing all of the animals, insects, plants, and more that she had the potential of running into in this new place. She remembered what she had been reading about just before she had snuck out of her window to get some air, the Indian Red Scorpion. If stung by one, there were detrimental effects. It was native to her country, and she thought about how it could be skittering on the ground in front of her this very moment. The thought of this made her jump over the mint row to her right into a new one as the hair on the back of her neck tingled at the thought of the creature below her feet. She glanced down the moonlit row as a precautionary measure, and then continued on carelessly.
"Hottentotta tamulus," Chandra whispered under her breath. She had memorized the scientific name of the scorpion, although it seemed like useless information to her. The thought of scorpions fled her mind as she began to see the wall in the distance amidst the haze of the warm summer night. It had seemed so tall when she read about it in books. But in real life it seemed so doddering, maybe standing at a good four meters. As she approached it she slowed, observing every detail. It was composed of thick metal bars, reminding her of a prison, that ran up to a wide bar at the top which all of the vertical bars were fused to. She could easily slip her hand through the bars and reach out to the other side, but what she knew about the other side made her hesitant.
A bright light began to emerge from her left side, which she quickly identified as the headlights of a truck. It was gradually advancing, and she could have easily just stepped to one side and let the car drive past her. But it scared her, having just found this mysterious wall cloaked in shrouded moonlight. So she turned and dashed back towards her home, through the fields, heavy with their fresh aroma. Chandra had thought that she heard a shout behind her, but she didn't look back to investigate, and quickened to a sprint. Once she got back to her house, she quickly climbed the stout tree in her front yard and ducked in through her still open window. Sneaking down the stairs, she found her mother washing a pan in the kitchen. She gave Chandra a questioning look, to which she nervously smiled.
"How were your studies tonight, Chandra?" her mother inquired. "They were wonderful. I learned all about the Indian Red Scorpion," she replied, relieved that her mother didn't seem to notice that she had gone.
"Good. You should probably get to sleep now, you don't want to be too tired tomorrow," her mother suggested, continuing her work.
Chandra turned back up the stairs, jumping up them two at a time, and went to her room. Closing her door, she turned off the light and sat in her windowsill, opening her bag. she took out a leather-bound journal with an intricate weave of shapes all around the border. Opening it to the next empty page, she began to draw the wall and wrote about her late night adventure. Once she had finished, she fell asleep, thinking of the mysterious wall cloaked in moonlight.
The next morning she awoke, braiding her lengthy hair, and quickly put on a midnight blue tunic with golden trim and black leggings. Grabbing her journal and bag, she crept down the stairs, and managed to go out the front door without her mother hearing. The golden sun was just creeping up onto the horizon, a hazy figure in the corner of Chandra's eye. Since the sun was a spotlight on her, Chandra decided to take a lesser-known trail through a few trees to reach the wall. By the time she reached the wall, the sultry air was like a blanket wrapped around her. The dark metal fence was starkly contrasted by a deep blue sky with bits of pink clouds. As she approached the fence, she peered beyond, at the land that seemed so dramatically different than hers. There were small shanties and huts cropped together and a few people were in front of one talking, heads down. A few huts were in a tight circle, and a group of tired elderly men sat around a fire in the middle. There were some women with choppy haircuts that made them look featureless scrubbing away at old clothes in a mud-caked washtub. The strange part for Chandra was that none of them seemed to notice or pay any attention to her. As she walked down further and further, there seemed to be rougher conditions. Chandra stopped in front of what appeared to be a store. Many people were crowded in it, and a few people were selling things just outside the doors. As she leaned closer, fully intrigued, she forgot what she was doing. Before she knew it was happening, there was an angry man with long tangled hair that had taken ahold of her foot.
“Give me all your money! And don’t lie,” he shouted with a deranged look in his eye.
“I don’t have any!” she shouted back, and she lost her balance, falling to the ground.
“I don’t believe you! All of you people have better lives, and pockets full of money,” he snarled back with frightening certainty.
Chandra tried to kick her foot out of his grip, but couldn’t. Two men on the other side had started trying to pry him away, but he was determined. Looking to her right, she saw it. An Indian Red Scorpion right beside her. Grabbing it like the book had instructed her to, she sat up and quickly threw it between the bars and onto the insane man’s coat. He immediately let go, running away and wildly pulling his coat off to avoid getting stung.
“Thank you,” Chandra voiced to the two men who assisted her.
She then turned and ran back home, cutting across the mint fields, leaping across several rows before following an undeviating row to her home. When she got into her front row, panting, she climbed the tree that she had the previous night, and began writing about what had happened amidst the cluster of branches. Although she had had a frightening experience, she was determined to continue adventuring under the veil of moonlight.