They say that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
Yet what if life doesn't give you lemons.
What if you're left on your own in the orchard, to find these lemons.
You look around only to find
To your utmost horror,
That life, for some unexplainable reason
Has left you in an orchard... of oranges.
Everywhere you turn, all you find... Is the oranges. Almost as if they were taunting you.
No, scratch that last part... For they are taunting you. There's no doubt.
You search, and search... and search...
And after ages of searching, you finally see a flash of yellow.
You quickly run to get it.
And just when it's at the tip of your fingers...
You don't understand...
Why? Why, would life put you through all this trouble...
All this effort...
And still keep you from getting the one thing
You truly deserve?
It's at this point that you finally realise.
That sudden, brutal truth,
That you'd been trying to deny for so long....
There is no lemon in this orchard.
It's a trick... A prank... A practical joke!
In which life was the joker
And you the victim.
What would happen then?....
I was once this very victim.
A poor soul
Unfortunate enough to have lived such a life, shall we say...
Life never gave me lemons.
Only taunted me with oranges.
It was sick.
It was cruel.
It was inhumane...
Until one day...
Let's just say
That that day,
I made my own lemons...
Maybe that was life's goal in the end...
Let's just say
That that day,
Was a day
The world shall never forget....
Dan looked around at his surroundings, and sighed. In the black hue of the night, he saw nothing but pain for him. From the top of the hill, he could see the hospital where everyone had told him he was born. It wasn't clearly visible from the shrouding mist in the air, but he could make out the flashes of the incoming and outgoing ambulances. It was here that his mother had brought him into this world of misery, and it was here that she and his father had decided to leave him alone in it.
He looked further to the east and could only just make out the outline of the orphanage at which his parents had left him. "Left at the doorstep as a baby" he thought. Eventually he'd learnt to forget and forgive though. However, all his good memories all came from this very building. The cake he'd received on the anniversary of his fake birthday, the day he arrived at the orphanage. His 4th year in life... That was the best memory he had: Looking down at the cake with glee, staring at the strawberry icing with utmost pleasure, then looking up at his caretaker for approval, and when she gave it taking that first slice of cake while all the other kids cheered "Happy Birthday!"
It was the one memory that made him want to live on, that gave him hope for a better future.
He then looked down at one particular building, an old, rusty shack on the outskirts of the small town. He shuddered... While he had more memories from the orphanage that he wished he could have remembered, this shack held with it only memories that he'd simply wished to forget. It was here that his foster "parents" had taken him, to what he'd hoped would be a better life.
All that Dan could think of in the presence of this very building was the whip of the belt, the tug of the rope... The locks and chains... The physical and emotional turmoil...
Dan held back his tears as he picked a rock up from the ground, and, despite knowing he'd miss, threw it as hard as he could at the little shack in the outskirts, while yelling out in complete anguish. It was in THIS god-forsaken house that his horrific life had begun. It gave him shivers, and not just because he was out in the night's gale wearing only his trousers...
Then, he heard it again. That very same voice that he heard constantly, more and more frequently in the passing days, as he reminisced his dreadful past more and more. And as per usual, that voice brought with it pictures into the back of his mind. Memories he'd thought he'd shut out of his head for good. Climbing up the tree in an effort to escape over that goddamn spiked fence, only to be brought down by his "father's" threats and hunting rifle. Every single time he tried to escape, his father would shoot a round, inches from his body, and would shoot it again if he took another step towards freedom, getting closer with each shot. He had incredible aim, and countless times could Dan remembered the bullet grazing him, taking the skin off his shoulder, and him screaming out in pain and falling down from the tree, hitting the solid ground below, all the meanwhile with his father cursing at him. The following day he'd spend without food or water, locked in chains in the basement, where no-one could hear his calls for help.
This voice brought back to the surface, many memories like these, more than he could count nowadays, and each time, it only got worse! That voice... He feared it, for it was his father's voice.
"You WEAKLING! How can you EVER expect to grow to be tough, if you can't even withstand a few puny whips?!"
"Come on you little piece of shit! Or do you want to go for another 5 whips?"
"What are you doing kid!? Get back here right now! I said NOW! Oh... So you're starting to grow some, are you? Well then, let's see how well your guts do you against a double-barrel, shall we?"
"ENOUGH!" Dan shouted. He couldn't stand it anymore! He turned around, and looked down from the other side of the hill. Directly below him, was a 40 foot drop into a riverbed. He looked at the water below him. Even though he couldn't see anything in it, he imagined the stars in this beautiful moonlit sky, perfectly mirrored in the reflection of the water. He imagined how it would feel if he simply let himself go, and plunged into the depths, into this illusion of the lightless sky, where the reflection of the moon and stars awaited him. To join them in that one moment of freedom. To join them... In that one moment...
"WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU KID!"
Dan quickly spun around at the sound of his so-called father's voice, slowly getting closer with each passing second. He didn't have long.
"Come on," he said to himself. "You've been through so much, and all you need to do is jump! Freedom... You'll finally have it! Come ON!"
Yet no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to do it. It had all been planned out perfectly, and had all gone according to plan so far! The plan was simple! Gather enough pins, paperclips etc. Then at night, use one to pick to open the lock on your chains, one to open the lock on the door of your "bedroom", and one to open the lock on the window (since the door creaked too much). Then make it up the tree, over the fence and into freedom. If he wakes, there's only one choice left. Make it to the edge of the cliff... And jump.
If only he had known that his father had alarmed the windows...
That didn't matter now though, he thought. He was so close to freedom, no matter what way he got it! Death was a far greater fate than living with that man. That monster! All he had to do to escape him now, was jump!
Dan closed his eyes, and focused in on everything around him. The flapping of the birds' wings against the sound of the calm breeze. The hooting of the owl, which now added to the feeling of true peace...
He opened his eyes, looked down at his eventual fate below him, and stepped forwards.
Dan quickly snapped back to his senses, to the fear, and turned around. It was that goddamn voice again.
Only this time, it wasn't. He knew this voice, yet from where, he couldn't tell. It sounded so familiar, yet so unknown at the same time.
"Where are you!" He shouted. "Show yourself"
"Ahh... So impatient. How about a little common courtesy," the voice said.
"Look mate, I'm in a bit of a rush, so why don't you show yourself!" Dan shuddered again. There was something really ominous about this voice, and he didn't feel at all comfortable with it.
"In your head." The voice whispered. "And I've been here for quite a while..." he chuckled.
Dan couldn't help but flinch at this statement. At first he thought it was some kind of sick prank, but the more he thought about it, the more he felt this other being's presence in his mind.
"Oh god, I'm losing it, aren't I? I've officially reached the state of insanity..."
"Oh no..." the voice spoke. "No, not at all. You're just reaching the true turning point of your life."
"Heh... What life? In a few moments, it will all be over."
"Well then, what if I told you that there was another way out, and this way, you could truly get all you deserved from life?"
This caught Dan off guard. "What the hell are you talking about!? Can't you see the state I'm in? If I go back, I'll just be his slave again, but if I jump... I'm"
"Free? Don't make me laugh. Even if you jumped, who's to say things would get better. What if they got worse?"
Dan shuddered at the remark. He had never really thought about it like that. "Well then, what great plan do you have then?"
"Glad to see we're on the same track," the voice said. "And for the plan, well... All you have to do is give into your hatred and let me into your mind and body. I'll take care of the rest. Of course, some *ahem* changes, will have to be made."
Dan didn't like the sound of this, and the being sensed that.
"Well then, if you're still not satisfied, what if I told you that if you join with me, we could make all those who treated you like dirt, like SHIT regret having ever touched you. You shall have the power to do whatever you want with them, and they shall fear to utter your very name..."
Dan didn't want to admit it, but he was very fond of this idea. The being filled his mind with more images, only this time; it was everyone else who was cowering in fear, and HIM who was the one with all the power. Slowly, the being felt Dan being convinced. Then Dan saw the one thing he truly wanted. His father's face, completely encased in fear, begging him for mercy. This did it. He was begging for the power.
"So, are you in?"
"YES! Anything to get me my freedom and make them pay!" Dan shouted, surprised he was even believing this thing. He really must have lost it!
"Perfect... That's all I need," the being said.
"THAT'S IT KID, YOU'RE GONNA PAY NOW!"
Dan turned around, and was met with his father's fist. The uppercut almost sent him flying off the edge of the cliff.
"YOU REALLY THINK THAT YOU CAN RUN AWAY!? FROM ME!!!!!" His father shouted, kicking his already downed body. "Well then," he spoke softly. "Let's see how you'd like it if I broke your legs, just so you won't try that little stunt again, eh!?"
Dan struggled to get free, his fear and rage building.
"That's it." The voice whispered. "Take all that anger, all that pain, all that suffering, and use it to fuel you."
Dan tried to stay conscious as his father beat him to a pulp. After around 5 minutes of beating, his father looked down at him, and spat on his face.
"Boy, I'm normally a forgiving man. But this was a step too far! So I'm going to give you a choice. Either you apologize, get your sorry ass back to the house, and only get 15 whips, or I drag you home and you'll wish you'd never lived a day of your life! So, which is it?"
Dan's hatred had reached new heights, and his father's sick enjoyment of this was making it so much worse. He slowly opened his mouth. And spat blood in his father's face.
This pissed his father off, big time!
"Oh, so you think you're the big guy now? WELL!?" He punched Dan in the stomach, causing him to cough up even more blood.
"NO WONDER YOUR PARENTS LEFT YOU IN THAT FUCKING ORPHANAGE! YOU WERE USELESS TO THEM TOO!"
It was then that Dan finally snapped.
As his father's fist rained down to his face, he raised his hand and gripped it, stopping it in its tracks.
"WHAT!?" His father yelled.
Dan slowly got up from where he was, still gripping his hand, only much tighter now.
"THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE! I... YOU... YOU WERE NEAR DEAD!" His father couldn't help but cringe from the grip his son had on him.
That look, that one single cringe - in Dan's eyes - was priceless. The strawberry cake from the orphanage was now truly forgotten, a memory of an unwanted past. That look in his father's eyes now took its place. The last true memory of his old life... and the first memory of his new life.
His father could only look up in horror as Dan started pushing him back, his feet shifting in the ground as he tried to withstand the pressure. It was then that Dan finally raised his face, and that his father saw what had happened. To his horror, he saw Dan's eyes shift as they slowly began to slit.
"What's wrong?" Dan asked sarcastically, a new confidence in his voice. "You not as tough as you thought you were? You see, I tried to listen to you, tried to play along with your little tough guy act. I tried to make sure I did everything you told me to. But you know damn well know what I got in return, DON'T YOU!?" He flung his father aside using only a flick of his wrist, watching him hit the floor with an amazing crash, as his eyes - now fully slit - turned an incredible silver.
"Perfect..." The voice whispered. It took Dan a while to figure out that the words had come out of HIS mouth! But he didn't care anymore... For the first time in his life, HE had the power to control what happened to him! He was FREE! And he loved it! But what made it all the much better is that he also now had the power to control what happened to everyone else as well. Everyone who hurt him, who tormented him, who treated him like something lower than dirt. He would finally get back at them after all these years. And first on his list he glanced towards the ground was his "father."
Dan suddenly screamed out in pain as he hit the floor, landing on his hands as he tried to keep himself from hitting the ground completely.
"It has begun!" Once again Dan realised that HE was the one who had said these words, and quite forcefully too. This only made him feel even more secure with the power that was beginning to course through him. And slowly, this power began to surface...
Dan looked at his hands in amazement and his father in horror as his silver claws began to grow out of his fingertips. Dan just stared at them in awe, forgetting about the pain for just a brief moment. Yet, of course, this moment didn't last.
Dan screamed out yet again, as another surge of pain kept him pinned down to the ground. His father used this as a chance to gather his strength, and get up off the ground.
"You..." he growled under his breath. "I may have no idea what the hell is wrong with you..." He took out a pistol from the back of his trousers. "But that doesn't matter anymore now, does it?! You see..." He spat up some blood from his "fall" into his hand and smeared it on Dan's face. "NO ONE TAKES ME DOWN AND GETS AWAY WITH IT! NO ONE!!" He pointed the gun at Dan's face and smirked. "Besides... It's not like you've got anyone to care for your dead body, to worry about what happened to you, is it?"
He laughed, and put the gun on Dan's head as Dan yelled out in pain yet again - the skin around his clawed fingers beginning to split, revealing pitch black scales, which began to spread out down the rest of his hand.
"No..." his father said, chuckling to himself, as he removed the gun from Dan's head. "I can't just shoot you! That would be too easy! I need to make you suffer a bit first... Trust me kid, you'll wish you were dead before the time I'm done with you, and I'm going to make sure of that!"
The raised the gun, and shot Dan in the shoulder.
"AAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!" Dan screamed out. He couldn't let it end like this! He had gotten too close to his freedom to just let it slip out of the tip of his hands! And there was no way he could just let it end with that monster LAUGHING over him!
"Just a little longer..." The voice inside his head spoke to him again. "This fool has no idea what a mistake he's making. He's just sealing his fate! Don't you worry. That smile won't be there for long. And you'll be the one spreading the blood on HIM when it happens!"
Dan didn't know what to make of him, but he knew that he wasn't about to give up and let his father win! He groaned a bit more as the scales spread up his arms, becoming a sapphire colour and as his muscles began to grow in order to suit the strength that was slowly surging through him, slowly straining the fabric of his trousers, but his father was too busy gloating to notice.
"So then..." he smirked at Dan. "You ready to die yet?" He laughed as Dan still struggled to get back up on his knees. "No? Let's see about that, shall we?" He fired a bullet into Dan's other shoulder, still smiling with that same grin.
"RRRRGGGHH!" Dan couldn't help but groan, and he hit the floor once again, but this time, it didn't hurt as much. It felt more like a sharp sting than a shot to the shoulder. Dan realised this, and knew that this was it. He was finally going to beat his father. He was finally going to change his fate. His new life was about to begin. He was finally going to be free... All these thoughts gave him the confidence to try just one more time, beating the pain as the scales spread further up to his shoulders, and silver claws began to emerge from his bare feet (now covered in the mud), the changes beginning there as well. His fingers and toes slowly began to fuse, his thumbs moving further towards the back of his "hands" as black pads formed in his palms. Yet once again, his father was too ignorant in his own lust for causing his son pure misery and torture to notice.
Yet when he noticed that Dan was trying to get up yet again, despite having a bullet in both of his shoulders, he stuttered back. This didn't affect his arrogance though...
"Man, you just don't know when to quit, do you. But I swore that I wouldn't kill you 'till you were begging for it, and I'm a man of my word. So then... Where to shoot this time? Maybe if I got you in the leg, you won't be able to get back up again." And just like that, he raised the gun at his son yet again, this time aiming for his left kneecap, and pulled the trigger.
Yet he did not hear the sound of steel meeting flesh, nor the sound of his son's agonizing screams... Instead, he heard a simple "ping" as the bullet bounced of his leg and hit the ground.
Dan heard this noise as well, and knew that it was finally time. He smiled as he slowly began to get back up onto his feet, struggling due to his back that was slowly beginning to arch as his anatomy changed.
"What the... fuck...?" His father said, almost left speechless, as he looked at the bullet hole through Dan's trousers and saw more of the blue scales that he had just noticed were spreading up his arm to his body and neck. He suddenly started to panic. "Well then let's see how good you do when the bullet goes through your thick skull you little-" Just as he pointed the gun at Dan's head, Dan swiped the gun and grabbed it with his now fully "equipped" claws. Despite his now draconic "hands", Dan had no problem pointing the gun at his father, the tip of his claw on the trigger.
His father was not scared though... "Well, you gonna shoot me!? ARE YOU!?" He shouted at Dan almost as if daring him. Dan hesitated, as his father thought he would. He knew Dan never had and never would have the guts to pull the trigger on him. He was never the kind to use force, especially since he was afraid he'd turn out like his father.
Dan hands slowly shook. He finally had the chance to get rid of the bastard once and for all, but he couldn't do it! Why the hell couldn't he just point the gun at this brute and be over with it! All he had to do was pull the trigger, and he'd finally be free. It took him a while, but he finally found his reason.
To his father's pleasure (and his hidden relief), slowly lowered the gun.
"No..." he said softly.
"That's right!" His father gloated. "I knew you wouldn't have it in you!"
But then Dan smashed the weapon down on the ground with his palm, crushing it into bits and pounced on his father, flooring him.
"Like you said earlier!" Dan said with a newfound tenacity, as his tongue slowly elongated and forked... "That would jusssst be too easssy!" He hissed to his own surprise. But it was a pleasant surprise for sure.
His father remained silent, trying to keep his tough act going, but Dan could sense that finally fear was starting to build up inside him. He couldn't tell how he knew that, but he could. The voice in his head was no longer in his head, but an actual part of his being. The two minds had merged, to both minds' satisfaction, so that they could enjoy this next part together.
Dan let loose a half draconic roar as his back fully arched and body started to grow outwards, his spine slowly extending into a tail - which made its way through the only clothing Dan had, ripping it off - covered in the same sapphire scales that covered his arms, legs and shoulders, while pitch black scutes started forming his underbelly.
His father watched in horror as Dan, reaching around 10 meters and thus his weight now becoming too much for the man, pushed down on him one last time with his front paws, almost crushing the man to death, before getting off him. Dan gave him one final look, taking in every detail of his face, which was now mesmerized in fear, and asked him one last question...
"Ssssooo... how doesss it feel to be on the other sssside of the ropes?"
And just like that, his father fainted from the pressure.
Dan grinned in success, but his metamorphosis was not over yet. Honestly, he couldn't care though. As he grew even more, his tail reaching an incredible length, and his neck slowly started to elongate to suit his new body; as his legs cracked as the slowly reversed themselves; as any trace of his humanity other than his half human face disappeared, all Dan could think about was the dumbstruck face of his father as he finally stared death in the eye. He had been treated like shit all his life, but this one image seemed to make it all worthwhile.
Dan looked behind him as spines began to grow out of his back...
He had finally been saved from this living hell that he felt ashamed to be called a life, and was now the king of it all.
He felt two arms slowly grow their way out of his behind, and the "fingers" expand, filling themselves with an emerald green webbing...
No longer would anyone treat him like the scum of the earth. He would be the top dog, the one who controlled his life.
He smiled as these same spines on his back started to grow their way down his tail, each protraction filling him with a new sense of feeling in his tail, as he slowly swished it around, getting used to his new appendage.
For many years, he had been nothing but a slave, but now he was the master.
He tried flapping his new emerald wings as well, the movement coming almost naturally to him.
Yet to begin this new life, he needed to be free of his old life his living nightmare, for good.
As the scales grew up his neck and onto his face, he snarled as his teeth slowly grew into fangs, more suited for the hunt.
He needed to be finally saved from the horror he had lived for the past many years...
An urge began to fill his throat as his now fanged maw began to stretch out, silver horns growing out from his head and cheekbones.
And now, only two things remained.....
The urge slowly found its way up his throat, as his face fully elongated into a draconian muzzle.
His father... The bane of his former life...
And then, the urge made it to the surface.
And his name.
Dan roared out to the skies, letting loose a pillar of flame from his mouth.
And that would soon be done...
Dan's father slowly opened his eyes from the nightmare that he had just had... But woke up to find himself in a reality that was much worse! He got up, being careful not to fall, for he found himself on a tree trunk lying off the side of the cliff he had been on just moments before, the river lying 40 feet below him.
And on the other side... stood a dragon.
The moonlight shimmered off the azure scales of the majestic beast reflecting the true beauty of the night on the surface of this creature, that was holding the other end of the tree in one of his pitch black paws. Yet the worst thing was the eyes... Those silver eyes, the very first sign of this beast's existence, that seemed to stare into his very soul, piercing it to find his inner weakness.... Fear.
This fear that had engulfed him, it was reflected to him in those eyes. And he hated them for it. He was not a coward! He was not afraid!
"Oh... but you are..." the dragon said, almost reading his mind. "And there'sss no point in hiding it anymore. You exposssed the true me, and I'd have to say it sssuits me quite well. Now let me do the sssame for you! You're a weak old man, who takes pleassssure from the pain of otherss!"
"No..." his father muttered under his breath.
"Yet underneath the dissguisssse, you're jussst pitiful and weak!"
"NOO!!" His father started yelling.
"Sssso weak, that you even decided to try and kill your own son, after years of treating him like something lessss than dirt..."
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" His father was on the verge of a breakdown.
"And now... Your son has finally found a chance to redeem hisss life, and free himssself from the chaos you caused him."
"Please don't do this.... Please don't do this...." He was bursting into tears, begging for mercy.
Dan had finally exposed his father for his true self... but it was too late. His new life was about to begin, and very little of his old life remained.
"And now... It'sss about time that your son took this chance... And ended your life for good."
"PLEASE DAN! I'LL DO ANYTHING!!! ANYTHING!!!"
Dan looked away from his father, and said...
"It'sss been 16 yearsss... Dan is gone... Along with the ressst of his pitiful life. My name from now on isss..."
He spat an ember onto his end of the tree, and let go of the log, as it gradually burned up, steadily tipping off the edge of the cliffside.
The embers reached his old father right as the log tipped off the side of the crag, and his father was sent plummeting to his burning death.
And just like that... It was over.
Dan was gone. Only Lethrokai remained.
He let loose a triumphant roar before spreading out his wings, and taking off to the sky, in order to free others from the cages of their lives as well.
His life had finally been redeemed, and he was finally free. Now it was his time to help others free themselves too.
And thus he set off, and his name became one that the world would always remember.
He was Lethrokai.
It's funny really...
Life can work in mysterious ways.
But to toy with someone for so long...
I don't believe life ever wanted it to end.
I was amusement.
On that day,
It was I who redeemed my life.
It was I who made my own lemons...
And now I'm helping others do the same...
It's ironic really,
That my father was sent into the chasm of death,
That life had originally composed for me.
It was this moment that showed me
That if you want something truly in life...
Be it redemption...
It is possible, no matter how little life assisted you with it.
In the end, it's not down to chance,
It's down to you, and you alone.
My life as Dan is over...
It ended on that day.
The world shall never forget...
And now I live my life
As its sole master.
I choose what happens to me...
And I chose to live my life
So... What do you choose?