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Dream Quest One Third Writing Prize Winner -

Summer 2016



of Thompsons Station, Tennessee - USA




By Ashleigh Tyler


            In the year 2901, the Captivators came to planet Earth. They appeared in the guise of mortal humans; their only differences were their indomitable strength, brutality, and extraordinary beauty. Over the next several hundred years, they integrated themselves into the population of the human race. During this time period, governments all over the world were compromised. The stratagem of the Captivators was flawless. In 3200, coup d’états all over the world occurred simultaneously, thus commencing a new era on Earth.

            A monumental culling of the human race was set in motion. Those who survived were placed in captivity. Just as humans had flaunted their pets in shows, Captivators began hosting similar events. Humans became the equivalent of dogs; it was all about the bloodlines and abilities, until someone proposed a new idea: hybrids.

            When the Captivators first came to Earth, any intimacy with humans was banned. After humankind was overthrown and implemented as slaves, Alistair, the leader of the Captivators, kept the edict in place. His reasoning for doing so was to keep the Captivators bloodlines ‘pure.’ When Alistair died at the age of 200 years old, Nox rose up and resumed control of the world. In secret, he fabricated an experiment of crossing the most superior human bloodlines with the most superior bloodlines of the Captivators.

            From these secret experiments, I was born. I am called Aoife[1]; my hair is long and white, and my eyes are blacker than coal. All in all, seven hybrids were procreated. We all had similar features: either white hair with black eyes, or black hair with ice blue eyes. I used to live in constant fear for my life, and others around me. I was terrified that if I did something erroneous, others would then suffer because of my churlish actions; however, now, I have nobody left to fear for. I am the last hybrid. I am alone.

            The culling began when I was ten. It was early autumn when Nox had entered our living quarters, and had us assemble before him. He then had our trainers command us to demonstrate the abilities that they had drilled into our minds and bodies. We went through varying strenuous exercises that expressed our fighting skills, wit, and tenacity. Then, after these exercises, we all lined up again. He called Dawn, a hybrid, to come and kneel before him. Dawn strutted confidently towards him, sure she would be rewarded, and kneeled gracefully before him. Not a second later, Nox slit her throat before anyone had a chance to blink. We all stared at our fallen sister, and I heard someone cry out. Nox impassively wiped the blood off of his blade, and left.

It is 3262, and I am sixteen years old. My last hybrid half-sibling, Harmony, was killed last week. I do not understand why they were killed, or, really, I do not care to ponder the situation. All I know is that every one of my brothers and sisters are gone, and they are not coming back. I am determined to do something about this. I have suffered loss after loss; lost joy after joy. I am determined to be strong. I am determined to stay in control of my mind.


 [1] In Irish mythology, Aoife is a warrior princess.


My every nerve, every fiber feels like it is coiled tightly, like a snake about to strike. The last six years of my life have been horrid; every unbearable emotion that I have experienced, has been shoved into a metaphorical bottle, had the lid screwed on tightly, and hidden away from the world. The only problem with how I have been dealing with my emotions is that the bottle is getting full.  I fear that it may shatter and release all of my emotions in a hurricane of destruction. The smallest things infuriate me; I am gasoline soaked straw, waiting for a spark. 

My only outlet for my rage is the Fights; the Fights keep me going. Each week, I am pitted against an opponent. Usually, it ends up being some cocky Captivator; however, every so often, some innocent man is put in here as punishment for not performing properly. I have no problem pummeling Captivators, but I absolutely refuse to prolong a fight with a human. They are weak. Although, I guess this means that I am weak, too. Humans happen to be weak in many ways; their conscience, their need for love and acceptance, and their desire to be in a position of power. Captivators are like humans in most of these regards, except for the fact that they will do anything to achieve what they want.

Captivators are sadistic. Humans are compassionate. Captivators are mentally fortified and unyielding. Humans are submissive and weak-minded. I struggle every second of every day deciding which part of me will dictate the actions I take. My inner turmoil is sometimes incapacitating. Do I show mercy, or do I behave in a cruel way? Do I allow myself to live for a second, or stay within my mental prison?

The worst part of being part human is the need to be loved. This necessity of a human is by far their greatest weakness. This one desire threatens to shatter my fortitude, my safety. I tell myself that I don’t need to be loved. I tell myself that I have no room for love in my life, and love has no room for me. It is dangerous to love and be loved in this world. Love threatens everything.

But I thrive on danger. I seek it out; the thrill of taking down a dangerous opponent is what keeps me going in my confined life. No matter how hard I try to forget about love, I cannot. For the simple reason of love, I cannot be one who kills unnecessarily. I am a girl who can kill a guilty man, no doubt, but if you place an innocent before me, every instinct in my body screams out to protect the innocent. Compassion is my Achilles heel.

I live in a small, dangerous world. It is a fight or die kind of world. I must follow the orders of my leader, even though I hate my leader. If I want to live, I have to follow his commands even if his commands compromise my principles. I have to obey so that I will not be chastised.

I think of the Fight I will be competing in soon. Nox has ordered me to kill my opponent. Even thinking about it fills me with anger. My life consists of I being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to fight, and when to exist. I can deal with my life being controlled, but I have been told to end someone else’s life. I begin to shake as the apprehension creates a sickening feeling in my gut. I cannot take the life of someone who probably only said the wrong thing at the wrong time. These people probably have someone who loves them, or someone that they love.

The door to my cell is abruptly thrown open; two male Captivators, both heavily armored, appear in the door.

“Time to go,” the one on the right says.

Silently, I slowly stand up and follow them as they lead me to my fate. We walk down a bare hallway that leads to a glass box overlooking the eager crowd. I think of how sick it is, that people will cheer as I will take out a life. Most of them have never had to kill; they have never had to know the misery of taking something that will never be returned. As I enter the glass box, hearing the crowd roar as they see me, and the door behind me slides shut soundlessly, my subsided fury returns with a vengeance.

Who is Nox to tell me what to do? He is a savage, sadistic beast that kept my existence a secret, until I was the only one left. As the glass box starts moving towards the ring in the center of the crowd, I see my opponent, and my heart plummets. I know that my eyes must be deceiving, but as the box reaches the ring, my suspicions are confirmed. There, standing in an identical box, not twenty feet away, is a hybrid.

He is approximately six foot, has ice blue eyes, jet-black hair, and appears to be my age. He is wearing the white version of the all too common, skin-tight sparring suits. I am wearing the black, female version of the outfit. His weapon of choice matches mine: two twin curved daggers no longer than our forearms. His ice-blue eyes stare into my black ones. He smiles at me, and immediately something in me breaks.

Stop being so weak. You are death. You are destruction. You will destroy.

I desperately try to get myself to believe this as the glass boxes release us into the ring, and the bell sounds out.

“So,” he calls out to me, with a lop-sided grin on his face, “Are you gonna fight me or not? I have been told you are a challenge. I like challenges.”

As we both raise our weapons and circle each other, I reply, “Well, I am not one to brag, but I am undefeated,” I say slyly as I leap forward and slash at him.

As expected, he nimbly deflected my poor offense. For a few minutes, we exchange blows, neither besting the other. As we break apart, I speak to him again over the roar of the crowd, in a voice so low the microphones wouldn’t pick up my voice.

“I hope you know that I have orders to kill you, but I won’t do it, if only you swear to not kill me,” I say, testing him.

I know it is a risk, but I honestly don’t have anything else to lose. However, the malicious glint in his eyes sent chills running down my spine as he darted forward, hoping to catch me off guard.

“I see how it is,” I mutter, “You know, I was quite willing not to kill you, but I think that you may want to kill me.”

“Don’t take it personally,” he grins evilly, “I have someone waiting for me back home. Her name is Harmony.”

Suddenly I freeze, and his blade bites my cheek. Memories flood back. Harmony. My sister. I never actually saw her killed, but I assumed she would have been slaughtered after Nox called her outside of our cell. She assumed that she would die, too, because when she left, she said goodbye and told me that it would be over quickly. She told me to be strong.

Shaking, I raise my blades up again, trying to shove this emotion into the bottle, but instead, I snap as soon as I see the smirk on his face. Shaking all over now, a malicious grin covers my face as I give into the dark side of me. Blood slowly trickles down my face from where he cut me, and my white hair has fallen from its braid.

As soon as he sees the fury in my eyes, I see him fault for a second. That was all the time I needed. With a furious shriek I came upon him. I was moving faster than ever before in my life. My rage soon blinded me, and all I heard was the blood pounding in my ears. My vision turned red as bloodlust overtook my mind.

I heard a collective gasp of an awed audience; my vision cleared and I saw a bloodied man beneath me, with my daggers pressed to his throat. I saw the fear in his eyes, and my heart broke. He was weak, and I was getting ready to end his life. He has something to live for. I do not.

“May my compassion be the end of me,” I whisper as I give into my humanity, and feel the cool sting of steel entering my heart.
#     #     # 






By Ashleigh Tyler 



About the author:


My name is Ashleigh Payton Tyler. I was born is Tennessee and have lived there all of my life. I have always loved to read; almost every summer, I will check out as many books as the library allows, and then spend every hour of the day living in the worlds that these authors create. Only recently have I made the discovery that I have the ability to fabricate my own stories, creating people and stories in the way my mind dreams them up. I want to create stories that draw people in, and leave them feeling something.