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Published by Mingxuan Chen, 2019-05-03 12:09:15

Seventeen Minutes

Seventeen Minutes

Now Not Really an Award-Winning Film! 


The Time We Were Told 
We Only Had Seventeen 

Minutes Left To Live 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 


To my dog.  



The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live  3 

When Catastrophe Struck 16 

The Great Depression

The Ceremony of Choosing

Hold up, what?


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

When Catastrophe Struck 

In a small magical town named Belovia, the year is 3096, and Catastrophe has struck again. 
What or who is Catastrophe you may ask? Well, it’s my dear old cat’s name of course. Why did I 
name my cat Catastrophe? Other than the fact the world had five major natural disasters since 2050, 
my family is full of peculiar names, like Bexley, my mom, Arlo, my big brother, and Ember, me. I’m 
15, my brother’s 17, and my mom is 37. Aside from our peculiar names, our appearances are rather 
unusual too. My mom has flaming red hair, hazel eyes, and impossibly clear skin. My brother had 
light brown hair, blue eyes, and pearly whites. Me, on the other hand, lost the genetic lottery 
miserably. I had dark brown, almost black hair, in a messier-than-my-room hair, and braces. I’m 
getting them off next week, but the last couple years of my life has been awful. 
Five decades ago, ​extraterrestrial intelligence (cooler way of saying aliens) came to Earth. After 
world war three (this time against extraterrestrial intelligence), there was a strange disease. The disease 
only happened to infants that were born from human and alien blood. If the infant survives the 
disease, they receive special abilities. Now that the alien blood has gotten weaker, the time that we get 
the disease is pushed all the way to our 16th birthday. Modern day medicine has allowed us to survive 
the disease no matter what, so in a way, our 16th birthday told us if we were special or not. 
Nowadays, we all call the people with abilities sorcerers. 
You may ask, how does people with magical abilities and people without them live together? 
Well, after the Ceremony of Choosing (more on that later), if they choose to do it, and the person 
doesn’t have any magical abilities, all of their memories of magic are erased. In addition to that, we 
also live in a realm that consists of sorcerers and sorcerers only. If a child in the realm does not have an 

The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

ability, the child is sent off into the normal world without any memory of magic. His/her family 
could visit her, but has to wear magical clothes or jewelry to prevent them from using magic.  

As you know, I’m fifteen, my birthday is in a week. So, this means that in a week, I will either 
be living with my parents or separated from them forever without even knowing it. 

While I was walking home from school, I heard a small whimpering sound coming from 
somewhere. I listened closely and tuned my ear to the sound. It was coming from a bridge nearby. I 
walked slowly to the bridge and climbed under it. I was definitely getting closer to the sound, but I 
still don’t know where the puppy is. I climbed to a small nook under the bridge. There, I found a 
cardboard box with a short-legged dog in it in it. I looked around the box for a any clue to who the 
owner is. Instead, I found a puddle of blood that was coming from her stomach. 

“Shhhhh, it’ll be alright,” I whispered to the puppy, “You’ll be okay. ” I picked up the box and 
brought her home. On the way home, it started raining. It was always raining here nowadays, always 
gloomy and sad.  

When I got home, the house was quiet. The light buzzing from the sewing machine came from 
upstairs. Arlo was on the couch, watching the sports channel and eating pizza. Arlo jumped from the 
couch at once and ran towards me. 

“Ember! You’re home!” Arlo embracing me in a hug, “I missed you so much!” I was the 
support in Arlo’s life, and he was the support in mine. Of course, we both love our mother very 
much, but she always worked so hard trying to provide for us that I never get to see her a lot.  

“What’s this?” he asked, pointing at the wet cardboard box, “and what’s that sound?” 
“It’s a puppy I found under a bridge, she’s so adorable, but look at her gash. ” I looked at her 
“The cut isn’t that deep, so she’s going to be okay. Do you want to keep the dog or 

The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

My heart raced with joy, this was going to be my first pet, my first responsibility, my first big 
friend. (that isn’t human) 

“Can I? Please? I’ll take the best care of her and you won’t have to worry about her at all.” 
“Maybe, but you’ll have to ask mom first. While you go do that, I’ll treat her gash.” 
I sprinted upstairs and went to the sewing room. The crack of the door showed scraps of fabric 
of different colors spread all over the floor.  
I lightly knocked on the door, careful not to disturb my mom of her work. My mom had the 
ability to excel in arts. Back when I was small, she would draw beautiful paintings of the sky and sea. 
She was always so focused on her work, as to keep her distracted from...something. She never had the 
time or guts to tell me, and when she would try, she shuttered and fainted. My mom’s red hair never 
stood out from her room, since the scraps of fabric consisted of colors like scarlet fever, Indian 
sunrise, emerald green, Barney the dinosaur purple, Curious George brown, and so on.   
“What do you need?” My mom asked, without even looking at me. 
“There is a puppy that I want to adopt, I’ll take care of her, and I’ll give her the food that she 
needs, I promise.” 
“That’s fine by me, as long you pay for her needs.” 
“Thank you so much! I promise you wouldn’t even know that she’s there.” I squish my mom 
in a hug.  
I run out, slowing down to leave a perfect crack in the door. My mom always liked it like that. 
I sprinted down the stairs, making sure to jump over the little hole in the middle of the stairs. 
Arlo was supposed to fix that last month, but he wouldn’t do it. So, to make everything easier, I just 
put some popsicle sticks on top, it works…... so far. My little puppy was on the kitchen table, with her 
fur dripping wet, like she lived her entire life under water and got pulled onto the surface just a 
minute ago. Arlo was using a little with of alcohol to clean her wounds, carefully cleaning the wound 
with the softest touch. Arlo has been dreaming of becoming a veterinarian since I could remember. 

The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

He would often take the injured little critters from our backyard and fix whatever was wrong with 
them. Last year, on his 16th birthday, he got the disease. Our family has been preparing for the disease 
for ages, and immediately gave him medicine. After the disease, we realized that he had the ability to 
connect with animals. Now that he had that ability, the little critters were never afraid of him, 
instead, they run into his arms. 

The little puppy had incredibly short legs, and from what I saw before in a book, she was a 
corgi. Her eyes slowly closed as she drifted off into her sleep. Her light snores was in the background 
as Arlo went back to finish his pizza. 

“Did she say yes?”Arlo asked while stuffing his face with pizza. 
“Of course, and I got the perfect name for her.” I smile. 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

The Great Depression 

“Well, since our cat’s name is catastrophe, I was thinking of naming her the Great Depression. 
We can call her depression for short. Well, we could also say the Great DOGpression. Hehehehe.” 
“Your humor is horrible.”he chuckled. 
“Well, I only learn from the best.” 
“You’re welcome.” 
I sat down at the kitchen table, admiring every single thing about this puppy. From her rose 
pink nose to her golden fur, she was beautiful. It almost felt wrong to give her this name, but that was 
the state she came in and how this world is. Besides, how fun would it be to say that depression was 
chasing you? 
I went back up to the second floor and quietly went to the sewing room. I grabbed a few 
fabrics scraps that I know my mother hates and went out of the room. My second floor was like this : 
the sewing room all the way to the left, with my mom’s room right next to it, with me and Arlo’s 

The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

room to the right. I went across the hallway to my room, and used my ten-year old Disney Princesses 
key to unlock my door. You know how I said my room was messy? Imagine the messiest room you 
have ever seen. Multiple that by a million, and then you have my room. You might say that your 
room is messier than mine, but it’s not. Nope, nope, nope, don’t even argue with me. Every time I 
vacuum the house, I skip my room because you can’t even see the floor. 

I jump over all my clothes, pretending they’re the lava instead of the floor, since there is an 
abundance of it. Of course, every single time I play this, I fail, miserably since YOU CAN’T SEE 

In the corner of the room, there were the remains of a pillow Catastrophe got to a few months 
ago. I grabbed a needle out of a needle case and started working. 

After a two or three hours and 10 bags of chips later, my work was done. It was a dog bed 
made out of multiple different colors and multicolored thread. The bed was soft, with ‘The Great 
Depression’, embroidered on it. I brought the bed back downstairs and placed it next to 
Catastrophe’s bed, which is also in the same style. Arlo was back at the kitchen table, preparing 
dinner. Depression was on the couch, with new bandages around her stomach. 

I went up to Arlo. “Should I call mom?” 
“No, she already ate when you were in your room.” 
“Alright, what are we having?” 
“Some curdled milk sprinkled on top of sauteed tomatoes spread on top of whole wheat 
“Holy moly, we can afford that?” 
“Hahaha, it’s just pizza.”He laughed. 

The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

“Ugh, you are so annoying sometimes.”I punched him lightly in the stomach and headed into 
the living room. Catastrophe was on the floor, licking something he found from the backyard. I 
flopped onto the couch, and cuddled next to Depression. 

I woke up to Arlo shaking my shoulder softly. “Hey, pizza’s ready.” 
I went to the kitchen and stuffed down half the pizza in one second, literally. At this point, 
you are probably wondering where my dad is. Like I said, our whole family has an ability, and his was 
intelligence. A year ago, he was working on a time machine at night when all of us were sleeping. 
When he added the fuel source, there was this noise that woke up everybody in our neighborhood 
except for us. When my mom when downstairs to make breakfast, her scream woke us. From that day 
on, my mom changed into the person we know today.  
Of course, I miss my dad very much, but I never had a connection with him. He spent all his 
time at his work and never has time for us. All I have left of him is snippets of memory of him. From 
the pictures my mom had deep in her drawer, he had brown hair and hazel eyes. His face always had a 
cool tone to it, but his eyes looked different. In every single photo my mom has left, his eyes were 
always drifting off somewhere, never looking at the camera. In between his eyes were two fine lines 
from his concentration. 
Finally, I was going to see my grandma and great aunt again, after four years! To our surprise, 
my mom took a break from sewing and was actually doing something. However, that only lasted for a 
moment as the she ran upstairs upon hearing the sound of motorcycles. I should inform you that my 
great aunt and grandma pretty crazy.  
I opened the door and saw the most horrific thing of my life; my grandma, Nanana Continari, 
and my great aunt, Ava Crimson, were here. Grandma Nanana was dressed in blue jeans, a christmas 
sweater, with her grey-blue hair in pigtails and wearing fluffy socks in place of shoes. Meemaw 

The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

Crimson was also dressed in a christmas sweater with leather jackets and pants. She wore her 

white-blond hair in tiny man bun and were wearing tennis shoes. I call my Meemaw ‘Meemaw Fire 

Crimson’ since her ability was fire and call my grandma ‘Grandma Everything Continari’ since she 

can shapeshift into anything she wants to.  

Meemaw Fire Crimson ran her motorcycle into the bush, “MY HIP !” 

Grandma Everything Continari turned into a frog and jumped into the bush. 

“AHHHHHHH!”Meemaw Fire Crimson screamed. 


“Help me Nanana!” 


“And all those years of taking care of you, I thought you would do something in return.” 

Meemaw Fire Crimson blew fire on the bush. 


“No I don’t care about your shopping day at Bergdorf.” 


“No I’m mom’s favorite.” Meemaw Fire Crimson climbed out of the charred bush as 

Grandma Everything Continari jumped aside her. 

Meemaw Fire Crimson walked the motorcycle to our house, with her blond hair slightly 

charred. Grandma Everything Continari turned into a dog and began barking at the Great 

Depression. Great Depression’s wound was already mostly healed, so she went outside and barked at 

Grandma Everything Continari. 

Meemaw Fire Crimson and Grandma Everything Continari came to prepare me for my 16th 

birthday, which was in 6 days. A week before Arlo’s birthday, they also came to prepare him. 

Meemaw Fire Crimson and Grandma Everything Continari strongly believed that if you drank milk 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

tea with strange pearls inside of it, you would get the ability that you wished for. What did I tell ya, 
they are crazy old ladies.  

Meemaw Fire Crimson strongly believed in the Ceremony of Choosing. Ceremony of 
Choosing is basically where a spell is cast on the subject by a person with magical abilities. The spell 
makes the subject hallucinate and eventually pass out. After what we call the Passing, they subject is 
placed in front of four spheres. Inside each sphere is a different kind of ball casted by the magician. 
There is the physical, mental, nature, and magical. When the subject reach the deepest part of his/her 
sleep, four drops of blood are taken from their hands and dropped into each of the jars. If the blood is 
magical, then one of the jars will glow after five minutes. The part that lights up will spell the power 
you will get. So, for example, if a person has a strength ability, then the physical jar will glow. If the 
blood isn’t magical, none of the jars glow in all of eternity.  

Grandma Everything Continari already began the process of calling people with magic abilities 
to see if they are available in her monkey form. That didn’t work too well as no one could understand 
her. Meemaw Fire Crimson began preparing the jars by cleaning them over and over with her fire 
powers, even though it just made the jar oddly shaped. Arlo was going to his first internship at a local 
vet. Normal people would had to go to school for four years to become a vet, but sorcerers just had to 
intern at a local vet for one year, sometimes even less, and off to work they go.   

Meemaw Fire Crimson ordered Arlo to come straight home after her went he finished 
interning. Meemaw Fire Crimson wanted Arlo to calm me down. What the heck is wrong with her? I 
am literally the calmest person on earth. The only thing I did for the last hour was pacing around the 
room after all. 

Tomorrow is my sixteenth birthday, and it's time. 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

The Ceremony of Choosing 

¨It’s time,¨ Grandma Everything Continari hissed in her snake form, “Get dressed in this black 
cloak. NOW.” 
“Fine, but please get out of my face.” I dragged Grandma Everything Continari to the kitchen. 
You know those old houses that smells all weird and strange? Imagine that smell being bottle 
into glass bottles and dumping them all into a tub and the cloak soaking in it, that’s how it smells like.  
Arlo came by and added the final and the most terrifying thing to the procedure. “During your 
deep sleep, you will see the thing you fear the most. You may have seen the figure before, or you 
might see it later in your life, but it will challenge your personality a thousand fold. Be. Careful.” He 
explained in a stern expression. 
Even Nanana Everything Continari wasn’t being her usual cheerful self. “You must 
understand that you may not be startled by the figure now, but there will be a reason that you will be 
later. This person may be your closest friend, or your nemesis.” 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

The cloak was heavy, while the smell makes me think it’s at least a hundred years old, the 
stainless fabric and shiny metal buttons makes me think otherwise. When I put it on, everything 
became blurry. The plant in the kitchen, the chair in the living room. Even though everything was 
blurry, I could see a strange man walking towards me, a stick in one hand and a book in another. This 
must be the magician, who else could it be? 

The world turned black and the only sound I could hear was the sound of my heart and the 
shuffling sound of the magician at work. What was happening to me?  
Suddenly, my brain was filled with the sound of pounding, possibly my heart, possibly 
something else. The pounding slowly turned into a low voice talking to me, repeating the same 
sentences to me over and over again. 
“Huh, you look different.” The low voice mumbled 
Get out of my head! ​I yelled but couldn’t make a sound, fearing that the figure was going to do 
something to me. 
“I missed you, my darling,”  
Who in the world said that I was your darling? ​I asked 
“Wow, attitude.” 
Attitude? You better watch your mouth.​ I gritted my teeth 
“Huh, you’re personality changed so much since I last saw you. ” The figure thought out loud. 
Have I met you before?​ I said calmly, as a wave of comfort rushed through me. This must be the 
magician’s work. 
“Finally calmed down I see.” The figure walked slowly towards me. 
I tried to walk away, but was stunned when my body wouldn’t listen to me. 
“Stop trying, it’s no use.” The figure was less than five meters away from me now. 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

My whole body felt like I was being jabbed with fifteen thousand needles at once when I 

The figure was less that a meter away from me now. “So, let’s have a small chat shall we?” 
Sure? ​ I answered quietly. 
“Excellent.” The figure, who I guessed was a he, smiled. “Now, how is your family doing?” 
They’re doing fine. I​ replied. Better to make friends with your greatest fear than being enemies 
with them, right? 
“Wonderful. How’s Bexley doing?” 
Fine. Wait, how do you know her? I​ tried to sound calm while I could clearly hear my heart 
“My, my, you don’t know, do you?” He sighed. 
Know what? 
“I know your family better than you think I do.” 
You do? ​A thought suddenly went across my mind. N​ o, it can’t be.​ I quickly brushed the 
thought away. 
He went even closer, almost touching my face. “Huh, you got your mother’s nose.” 
He pulled of his cloak, showing the face I thought I would never see again. 
The world slowly came back, and the spot where they pricked me started to sting. My head felt 
like somebody drilled a hole into it and poured molten lava into it.   
“Congratulations! You finished the ceremony,” Arlo spun me around, “let’s get you resting for 
now, and then you can find what your power is.” 
My face was still frozen as I couldn’t believe what I saw. This couldn’t have been possible, I 
must have gotten something wrong. Instead of resting on the couch like I was supposed to, I ran to 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

my mom’s room, not even bothering to be quiet. Good luck for me though, my mom wasn’t in that 
room at that time. I threw open the cabinet door and searched the shelfs for the photo.  

When I finally found the photo, I was still trying to convince myself that it wasn’t him. Then, 
I saw it. In the photo, there was a fresh cut on his upper lip, and when the figure came close, I could 
see a dark spot right where the cut was. I was baffled, my greatest fear is my father. 




The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

Hold up, what? 

Adding on to the fatigue, I fainted, right then and there, in a pile of random cloth strips. I 
know, I know, I should’ve taken my brother’s advice and rested, but I’m just stupid like that.  
I woke up. It’s as simple as that. I moved around in the pile of random cloth strips, confused 
on where I was.  
Downstairs, there was chatter from a familiar voice, Estonia Gille. Estonia has been my best 
friend ever since I was seven. She was from a rural village in Russia and moved to America after the 
nuclear bombs destroyed most of Afroeurasia. Estonia has a beautiful purple eyes, a petite stature, 
and wavy silver hair. She was only a couple of months older than I was, so she already received her 
ability. She probably had the most amazing, wonderful, magnificent ability that I have ever seen, 
I ran downstairs to greet her. I haven’t seen her in such a long time since she was using her new 
found power to travel around. 
“Estonia! Where were you?” I squeezed her in a tight hug. 
“Mainly northern Argentina. Do you realize how dry it is there? I would stay there forever, but 
I wanted to come back in time for you birthday.” Estonia smiled 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

“The psychic is here.”Arlo came over and informed me, “How was your nap? Oh, nice to see 
you Estonia.” 

Estonia blushed. She. Blushed. Absolutely, definitely, totally, utterly, completely, 
undoubtedly, disgusting. The worst thing is, Arlo blushed as well.  

As I stood between the Bella and Edward, I cursed my luck. Was I the Jacob in this situation? 
Am I going to have a crush on their son? Am I going to turn into a dog? Wait, wait, am I going to 
howl at the moon? AM I GOING TO BE FROZEN IN TIME?!?! 

Beatrix poured a bucket of water on my head. Who is Beatrix you might ask? She’s my next 
door neighbor who always mistakes my houses for her own. 

“Stupid rat. Get out of here peasant. Get out of here. Beatrix don’t like peasants very much.”  
“Mrs. Westerman, would you mind stepping down from the table? Also, you seem to be in the 
wrong house.” I tried to speak in my calmest voice. 
Mrs. Westerman was a psychic, after looking at the possible futures of many people, she started 
to have problems with speech and could only speak in third person, so you could say she’s pretty 
You might be yelling at the book now, why couldn’t you just ask the psychic what your power 
is? Why couldn’t you just ask a witch or something? To answer your question, my family is 
old-schooled. You’ve seen Meemaw Fire Crimson and Grandma Everything Continari, you know 
they are coo-coo in the brain. Also, psychics are expensive.  
Suddenly, someone from the living room gasped. We all ran to see who or what it was. Nanana 
Everything Continari stood in the corner of the room. It was nothing, a jar just fell to the ground. 
Well, just hope that that wasn’t t​ he ​one. 
Mrs. Westerman sat at the end of the dining table while I sat at the other. Her crystal ball sat in 
the center, with gleaming lights of colors i’ve never seen before in the center. Around us, dark purple 


The Time We Were Told We Only Had Seventeen Minutes To Live 

sheets were pulled up into a tent, with one single dot of white right in the center above the crystal. 
Mrs. Westerman came to a halt, staring at the glowing ball with blazing eyes. 

“Beatrix wonders…...could this be?” Beatrix stutters. 
Things like this don’t surprise me anymore, people not understanding me, people thinking 
that the world is more complicated than it seems. 
“Beatrix things that Ember’s ability is an entire category, not just confined to one.” 
“Um…...what does that mean?” 
“That means that Ember gets the power of the elements, she can control water, fire, earth, 
wind, even the weather.” 


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