20-Foot Tall Bamboo Lanterns Light Up San Francisco
These Chinese lanterns entitled Sui Sui Ping An – Peace All Year Round
by Hong Kong artist Freeman Lau
were so mesmerizing in the dark. They were magical against the majestic San Francisco City Hall back draft.
I enjoyed taking pictures and walking among the tall 16-20 foot colorful lanterns while breathing in the cool air.
The exhibit is free and will be around until March 2017.
Summary: Barry’s younger sister was also hit by particle accelerator explosion while helping take care of the animals at the animal preserve. Now, she has the ability to communicate with any animal.
A/N: This was an idea that has been playing about my brain for a while. I’m not sure how many parts this will have, but I love the idea of a meta having a connection with animals. This is also going to be in third person and the OC is named.
A year and half ago…
“Animal symbolism is prevalent
throughout many of the world’s cultures. While some are revered as sacred
symbols, others are seen as mischievous and cunning, bringing chaos wherever
they go. The Coyote is one such animal that is a trickster in Native American
lore, though the Raven, Crow, Spider, Blue jay, Rabbit, and Bear among others
have appeared in similar trickster lore in some tribes. One animal can mean
different things to different groups. While Malaysians said monkeys
possessed artistic abilities and introduced writing and sculpture, Chinese
legends state they perform brave deeds…”
“Hey, whatcha up too?” Ava
startled as her older brother, Barry, leaned over the back of her chair at
Jitters, quickly reading the article she was studying. “Animals in
mythology? Interesting. What’s it for?”
“A small assignment in my
animal behavior class. We got to talking about how certain animals behave and
how it correlates with how they are perceived in different cultures. While
there are differences, some animals are portrayed the same way in different
myths and lore. The assignment is to prove whether this is due to how humans
have observed animal behavior in the wild, either by hunting or just
observing,” she answered quickly, barely sparing her brother a glance as
she wrote down a couple notes. She did steal a small peek and smirked at the impressed
look he was giving her.
“I didn’t realize how
interesting animal behavior really was,” Barry replied. She shrugged and
“Mr. Baxter likes to think
outside the box on occasion.”
“Sounds like you have an
awesome teacher, Ava.”
“He really is. Hey you going to
that particle accelerator thing with Iris tonight?”
“Nah, it’s not really her
thing.” Ava couldn’t help but hear the disappointment in his voice; her
brother had been in love with Iris since childhood. Barry was her favorite
person in the entire world aside from Joe and Iris. It was hard watching him
pine after someone who was oblivious to what was right in front of them the
whole time. “You want to come?”
“I would, but I already
promised Diane I would help feed. After Mark fired Jack for drinking on the job
and harassing the animals, we’ve been short-staffed at the preserve.
“No problem. I’ll take lots of
pictures to show you later. Bye, Short-stack.” He kissed her cheek as he
grabbed his things.
“Love you, Sasquatch,” she
teased, grinning at her brother. Even though there was a four-year difference,
the two of them were always close, practically in each other’s back pockets.
Ava didn’t know what she would do without him. Having lost their mother and
their father go away for murdering her at the tender age of six, she didn’t
want to even consider the thought of not having Barry at her back, protecting
her as only big brothers could. He was her hero, best friend, and confidant all
rolled into one giant pain-in-the-ass package she couldn’t live without. The
world just seemed darker without Barry Allen in it.
After a bit more research, Ava
packed up your things and headed out to the rescue preserve she volunteered at.
Hopefully, in about two years’ time, she would be graduating with both a
Computer Science degree and Veterinary Technician, both of which would be used
at the preserve she loved so dearly. The owners/managers, Mark and Diane,
rescued domestic and exotic animals from situations such as abandonment,
neglect, etc. It was also a rehab center for animals that were brought in
injured or blown in from storms. It happened quite often during tornado
Ava and Diane worked seamlessly in
tandem, feeding and cleaning up after the big cats, horses, llamas, birds of
prey, macaws, African Grays, foxes, snakes, and the huge tortoise Diane
lovingly nicknamed “Crush” from Finding Nemo. It was dark when both finished.
Ava were going through the final check when a large explosion echoed in the
distance. Looking up, she was shocked and frightened to see a mushroom-shaped
gold halo surrounding the middle of Central City…right where STAR Labs was.
The particle accelerator was exploding and the effects were catapulting across
the city. Soon, it would hit the preserve.
Ahead of her, Diane was already
screaming for the employees to head inside for the tornado bunker. “AVA,
COME ON!!” She bolted for the entrance. About halfway there, a tall figure
bounded out of nowhere and shoved violently aside. Ava hit the side of the
tiger enclosure with enough force to knock the wind out of her. Dazed and crumpled
on the ground, she caught a hazy glimpse of a man bounding for the bunker. It
was Jack Morgan; the guy Mark had fired two days prior. She wasn’t sure why he
was back and right now it didn’t matter; she needed to get inside. Dazedly getting
to her feet, she stumbled a few steps before crashing to the ground. Ahead, she
heard Diane screaming, Jack shouting, and then the worst sound you ever hear:
the bunker door locking shut. Jack had forced his way inside, possibly hurt
Diane, and shutting Ava outside.
Bastard, Ava thought. Looking up, she saw the gold halo of dark
matter hurtling towards her, making impact in possibly five seconds. “Barry,
Dads, Iris, I love you,” she whispered, tears streaming. She barely had
time to curl into the fetal position when the dark matter hit.
The world turned gold, then red,
then white with pain. There was screaming all around: the tigers, the horses,
the foxes, the wolves, hell even Nemo was somehow screaming. She could barely
hear herself screaming with all the panic and chaos. Then, the roars and the
screams and the whinnies turned into a cacophony of panicked voices, all
screaming nonsense and words all at the same time. Her head was exploding with
so much pain, she barely registered the panicked animals escaping. Gates busted
open, fences came down, hooves stampeded, wolves howled, and a tiger roared a
challenge from above.
Before Ava fully lost consciousness,
she heard a deep, regal voice shout, “LEAVE THE CUB BE!”
A falcon soared across the dark
skyline of Central City. It dodged around the skyscrapers, gracefully catching
the air currents that blessed it with its unhindered freedom. Flapping a couple
times, it looked around and caught sight of a few pigeons roosting on a
nearby ledge. Gleefully, it tucked its wings and dove for the small flock,
catching a current back up above the skyline as the smaller birds scattered,
squawking angrily. Settling into the last leg of its flight, it peered back
down at the ground. It caught sight of the red blur that had been so prominent
the past three months. It belonged to a meta-human named by various bloggers
and conspiracy theorists, The Flash. The Flash was a speedster, one of the
first meta-humans of many to come out of the particle accelerator explosion
nearly a year ago. There had been a few others who used their powers to create
trouble, but The Flash was only one able to take them out and protect the city.
Of course, those same metas were never heard from again, so anyone who was
affected and not evil were keeping quiet, afraid of the retribution that might
Mentally shaking the dark thoughts
from its head, the falcon caught a warm updraft and turned south. Within
minutes, the falcon caught sight of a clearing, bordering a chain link fence.
In the middle of the clearing sat a young woman, legs crossed and hands resting
over her knees. The falcon tilted his wings back and dropped with a screech. He
landed in front of her as she opened her eyes with a smile, easily pulling her
consciousness back into herself.
“Did you enjoy the flight with
me?” a soft, melodic, male voice
echoed in Ava’s mind.
“I did. Thank you for allowing
me to fly with you, Regan." Ava
stretched the stiffness from her back and legs; she and Regan, an American Kestrel
Falcon, had been flying for close to three hours, the longest she had ever gone
from her body. "I think it’s about dinner time now, if you would
like to return.”
“Will there be any of those
nice fat rats again? Seemed a shame to waste them on the snakes.” Ava snorted as she allowed the falcon to hop onto her
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Silently, the two of them walked back to the preserve. Dropping Regan off at
his enclosure with the promise to bring him something special, Ava headed
towards the building. A lot had changed in the year and half since the
explosion. When the dark matter hit her that night, she was given abilities she
only read in myths and fantasy books. While she hardly remembered anything that
happened that night, Mark and Diane said they’d found her in the tiger
enclosure with the breeding pair protecting her. It had taken some coaxing, but
Chakrii, the male, had allowed Diane to get Ava and take her to the hospital.
It wasn’t until a few days later, what she thought was a hallucination from the
concussion was the ability to understand animal language. A few months later,
while her older brother was still in a coma from getting struck by lightning
that same night, she realized she could also enter an animal’s consciousness to
use their eyes and ears. Mark and Diane, bless them, had taken the changes in
stride and allowed the preserve to be a haven to explore her new
“talents”. And if it improved the wellbeing and happiness of the
animals, well then, that was a perk.
Ava told Iris after Barry had woken
up. She handled the news with her usual grace, quickly becoming your confidant
and the person to keep you grounded. But when other metas started popping up
and causing trouble, she froze at the notion of telling Joe and Barry. What
were she supposed to say? “Hey Barry, so I got hit with the same matter
and even though you didn’t get any abilities, your little sister can talk to
her favorite animals now?” Yeah, that would go over well. For now, it was
better to let things flow.
She quickly got started on the
feeding routine, checking in with the animals as she went. Regan got his
special treat - a live rat she had managed to negotiate the boa constrictor in
the reptile house out of - and were getting ready to go home when she saw Iris
talking to Diane. “Hey Iris!” Ava called out, hugging her foster
sister. “How was your first day as a big-time journalist?"
"Nerve-wracking honestly, but
it went well,” she replied. “You want a ride home?” Ava nodded,
grabbing her backpack and clocking out. Both girls chatted about each other’s
day, Iris telling Ava everything about her new job as she drove. About halfway
to the house, the conversation eased into familiar territory.
“So, Diane told me you were at
the clearing for three hours today.”
“Regan was due to stretch his
wings after that hit he took. He allowed me to tag along and we flew over the
city for a bit. His wing is fully healed. He should be able to be released soon
enough,” she answered, fiddling with a hole in your jeans.
“You know at some point you’re
going to have to tell Dad and Barry,” Iris said softly, turning onto the
street. Ava sighed, leaning your head against back against the seat. This was an
old argument that wasn’t even an argument. It was more of a disagreement of how
stubborn they were being. She knew she had to come clean about this. There were
aspects of her powers she didn’t understand, such as how she could talk to the
animals in the first place and how far her powers could even go. But she was
scared at how her family, more importantly Barry, would react to their baby
being a meta. She wanted to remain as Ava in their eyes: stubborn, energetic,
and mischievous with a restlessness and independence that ran for miles. She
was Barry’s baby sister. It would crush her to see the pain and fear in their
She also knew that deeper part of
her, a part connected directly to her powers, was uneasy at the idea of
telling. They might shackle her, out of fear and over-protection, and not let
her fly anymore. Oh, how she loved to soar.
“How? You know Barry’s new
friends work at STAR Labs, the whole origin point of all this. And they work
with The Flash. How am I supposed to tell them about this?”
“They could help you better
understand what is going on!”
“Or they could try to cure me
of it. Or lock me away wherever they’ve got those other metas. Don’t lie and
say you haven’t thought of that.”
“Okay, I have, but this is Barry we’re
talking about. Your big brother. You two have been in each other’s back pockets
for as long as I can remember! He’s not going to let anything like that happen
to you!” Ava sighed and stared out the window, feeling tears prick at the
corners of her eyes. The car turned into the driveway and stopped, though the
engine continued to idle. Iris reached over and took one of her hands,
squeezing gently. “Ava, talk to me, what is going on?”
“I don’t want to lose this,
Iris. This power…this gift. Being able to finally soar above the clouds,
above the skyline, it’s the best feeling in the world. I can’t fully describe
it and I know that I don’t want to lose it. This is who I am. I can’t lose
that, Iris.” After a moment, Iris reached over and drew Ava into a tight
hug. She hugged her back tightly.
“You won’t, Ava. I’ll make sure
of it, even if I have to go and yell at Wells and his team myself.” Ava
chuckled at that, already feeling better about it.
“You are the best sister I could
have ever asked for, you know that, right?” her voice muffled slightly.
“So are you,” Iris
replied, smiling. Both glimpsed the curtain in the window moving and knew they needed
to head inside before questions were asked. “Come on. Dad said he was
making lasagna. After dinner, we can go upstairs and watch a movie. Your tips
look like they could use a refresher.” She tugged at her blue tips cheerfully.
“Cool. Legally Blonde?”
“I was thinking of The Mummy
“Brendan Fraser kicking mummy
ass? Even better.” Both got out and headed towards the front door. Hooking
an arm around hers, Ava leaned her head-on Iris’ shoulder. “Thanks
Ming Dynasty era stone carvings next to the entrance door of a private home garden in Shanghai. The garden, which was developed during the Ming Dynasty, was one of many family gardens through the walled city of Shanghai. In the late Qinq Dynasty, a Cantonese family purchased the property, which they have owned and maintained ever since. These exquisite stone carvings are amongst finest examples of classical Ming era carving in Shanghai.
17th-Century Chinese Jade sculpture, about 11inches high, showing a Daoist Paradise. It depicts a peach tree of immortality, from which bearded men are eating. Daoists came to believe that immortality was achievable by people who practiced a combination of alchemy and philosophical reflection in imitation of eight legendary “immortals,” stories about whom started to emerge in the 1100s CE.