“OASIS” – a short story and photos by Jacob Gantenbein



Part 1: Unclear Beginnings

It’s tough being curious. But we all do it. Might as well embrace it, otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.
Annie was a curious teenager. However, it is not his fault. He was fed stories from generations.

Stories of beasts and magic growing on and on, past the city walls above the ground. Stories of things possible that would never be in his world. It was forbidden to walk among the surface for reasons he never understood. However, that didn’t stop him. If it did, what kind of story would this

Be? He, being the prince of the city, was always under high watch. Always cared for and never given much freedom at all.

How do they know it’s bad?

He asked himself.

It’s not like they’ve ever been up there?

He asked these questions constantly on long nights watching the stars through the front gates that had never been opened.

It was late and the moon still shone through the bars of the cage they called home. Occasionally darkened out by the clouds.

Annie had devised a plan. He had been preparing the night beforehand for hours and had finally mustered the courage to pull through.
He had put sleeping elixir in the guards’ water supply and waited patiently.

He watched them drop one by one.

“What’s happening?”

He said.

“I’m scared.”

He said.

And they believed him. He walked over them and out to the city gates where he climbed. He swung his bag around and tightened the straps and just went up.

Part 2: The Lake Sabrina



Lights. Nothing but lights. Blue trees under a purple radiated sky littered with fireflies that never extinguish their flame. Four legged beasts with horns slowly but smoothly trotting across the moving fields illuminated by the sky.

On the other side of the field, in the light of the forest, calmly stood a girl. She saw him and reached out as she could kill the distance between them just by moving her hand.

He saw her and moved. She sank into the ground like a popped water balloon. He kept moving anyway.

He was scared now. And he wasn’t faking it. Still, he was curious and did not stop. Past the animals which ignored him as he moved. Through the ocean of fireflies where everyone of the lights felt like the small touch of another human’s hand.

Directly to the forest where night seemed like day.

The trees were like soft sponges and every touch was a kiss being passed between Annie’s hand and the tree. He was stopped. Frozen still by the sound of rustling approaching him faster than anything human. He glanced one way and then another. He couldn’t find the noise.

Maybe they were right?
He said.

Maybe this is just a death trap?

He said.

I’m going to die. He cried and the rustling stopped. Tap. Tap. Slush. Slush. It was directly in front of him. He peeked out and looked up. A young girl stood over him with hair like a woven blanket. A dress blue like the trees surrounding them with light. They stared into each other’s eyes.

“Who… Are you?” She said.

“My name is… Annie,” His voice hesitated to work again and again. He’s never been asked that question. He was used to everyone knowing who he was.

“What are you doing out here?” They asked in a frightful harmony.

“I live here,” The girl said. “My name is Sabrina. I am the lake.”

Part 3: Never Ending Endings

Time passed and Sabrina and Annie got to know each other quickly. Sabrina hadn’t seen anyone in a long time. No one ever came out to visit her and she got lonely. Annie liked it above ground.

Sabrina was nice and fun even though she was a body of water in a forest full of large creatures and things that could kill you.
Annie liked it a lot.

Day after day, they made songs and laughed and ate glowing fruit from the trees and telling stories about what it’s like above ground vs what it’s like under.

The city sent for Annie and brought back only the desire to venture out again. The want to explore what else there was. More of what they had tasted. Word spread, that the world is not what it used to be. Led by an orange flag, the city people made their voyage out of the dull underground and to the surface.

A new life for them. A new story. Annie was nothing but ready.

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