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choice: a faerie tale
Author's note: Began when I was 14... since then have written two more following manuscripts.
IT WAS TUESDAY MORNING, ABOUT SEVEN TWENTY-SOMETHING OR SO, WHEN THE ALARM ON MY CELL PHONE BUZZED ME AWAKE. I groggily got up to get myself ready for school, trudging to my--small, but at least it's my own--bathroom.
Not only was it Tuesday, but it was one of eight school days left before school was finally over--not including Memorial day on Monday. In about two and a half months I was going to be a junior. It was definitely an upgrade from being a sophomore, but it was never going to beat being a senior (I couldn't wait for that too).
After my cold wake-up shower, I brushed my hair and tried to look for something to do with my face. I was no-fun-in-the-sun white; I had no freckles, no scars or anything to make my face distinct. Okay, maybe not white white, just creamy white. The really light skin only seemed to make my button green eyes seem darker, like emerald; sometimes I thought I looked possessed or something. To make myself look even lighter, I had silky, straight-as-pencils, light brown hair. Everything about me was light… even I was light. I couldn't gain any weight, no matter how much I ate; freshman year I weighed only ninety-one fricking pounds (a lot of people soon thought I was anorexic). And to top it off, I sometimes fell due to lack of proper balance because my feet are so small: five and a half size shoe--not much to walk on.
While I slowly picked through my closet, I started to think about the party I'd gone to on Saturday. I didn't know whose house it'd been, I just knew it had been fun. Most of the time I'd spent with Liz Martins, one of my three closest friends. She was a quiet smart girl who was always willing to let me copy her math homework--though she would still scold me about it. We had been talking about my… problem.
The problem was that I had a very annoying yet pleasant crush on Jake Robins. He was a very cool guy--athletic, funny, and cute--who was also one of my three close friends: problematic. Of course I wanted to go out with him, but if we somehow screwed everything up--or maybe if I screwed everything up--we might not even be friends anymore. So I'd been on the fence about asking him out and worrying about whether I will ever ask him out before some other chick did--or before he asked out some other chick.
Well, Liz and I hadn't been able to hear each other well, and we'd wanted to dance with everyone else, so we cut the convo short.
I'd said "What?!" about three times--and she'd had to repeat herself five--before I could hear her properly.
Over the bass she'd told me… "Don't worry. Things will work out. You guys have a lot in common."
With little relief, I danced afterwards, thinking about what Liz had said. Liz was my girl BFF, but Jake was my boy BFF; like, when I wanted to just mess around and act like a kid, I could do that with Jake. So he was a great guy. I mean a great, great guy. You know, that guy that gets along with everybody. Though, sometimes, he'd be that guy you see all the time--maybe even be friends with--and you just wait for him to pull you away and ask you out on a date because he's had a crush on you--or he somehow suspected that you've had a crush on him for about five years and never had the courage to tell him because you were afraid he didn't feel the same way--and when he doesn't ask you out, you start to think of him as some kind of jerk who you always end up forgiving immediately, then start to get your hopes up for the next time.
But overall a good guy. After I'd realized why I liked him so much, falling for him had been absolutely effortless.
It was the fifty percent chance of rejection that chickened me out of asking him.
What the frick? I was still looking through my closet when I heard her, my hair constantly falling in front of my face, which I constantly had to flip back like someone from a shampoo commercial.
"Amy, you're running late! Josh! You too!" yelled Sandra Santali--my mother--from downstairs.
"I'm coming!" I shouted as I threw on the first things I touched. Hastily slipping on some shoes, and simultaneously grabbing my things and shoving them into my backpack, I made my way out the door, bumping into my older brother Josh.
"Watch where you're going," he said, sounding very irritated. "You could have pushed me down the stairs." He'd only bumped into the wall, the top of the stairs being five feet away. Josh's dark brown hair was in a disarray like he'd just woken up, there were bags under his brown eyes, and the really light peach fuzz on his upper lip looked a bit more noticeable this morning. He looked like a bum.
"Don't be a drama queen," I replied as I followed him down the hallway. I knew to expect that attitude from him like it was his time of the month. Josh had also been at the party Saturday, though I barely saw him then. But, buzzing around the bobbing heads in the living room with the music blaring in our ears, Liz and I had heard that Josh had caught his now ex-girlfriend "playing baseball" with the school quarterback in one of the bedrooms. He'd locked himself up in his room all weekend, coming out only for food and bathroom necessities.
For the record, Josh was a good guy, and I'd always known Amelia Cervantes was kind of trampy and had a big mouth, so it hadn't surprised me Josh would end up being hurt. I just hadn't known it would happen in front of half the school, at a party many would remember--unless they'd had one too many drinks.
Voices floated up the stairs from the living room as Josh and I descended. No one but Liz and Jake would appear at seven in the morning--unless we were running late--which we were. They were at the door, my mother propping it open with her shoulder. She donned a baby blue bathrobe she wore in the mornings, though recently the temperatures reached about seventy before eight o'clock.
My father--Frank Santali--was a contractor for a small construction company and worked most of the day. Sandra was dubbed a stay-at-home mom. The only time I saw my father was once a week on Friday nights, where he got off work an hour early. I would only see him five minutes before I went to my room for bed; he had dinner an hour or so later than we did.
Mom smiled up at me and Josh. "About time. You all might have to run to school now." School was a long walk, and--as mentioned--we were late. Josh and I kissed her goodbye and followed Liz and Jake out the door and across the lawn.
Once we were on the sidewalk, the tension had thickened intensely now that Mom's cheerfulness was gone and we were in the heat of the rising sun. Josh walked a little ahead of us, while Liz, Jake, and I stayed safely behind him. Jake and Liz hadn't come over during the weekend; I'd warned them about Josh's unstable position.
"Hey," Jake said quietly, sneaking a look at Josh as he we walked, "did either of you do Rodriguez's homework?" Mrs. Rodriguez, our Spanish teacher, usually piled on homework with no end in sight--even if it was almost the end of school.
"Nope," I said. "That was one assignment I didn't do."
"Well, I did it," answered Liz. Of course; she was the smart one… and the pretty one. "And no, Jake, you can't copy."
"Will you all hurry up? I want to get there before school starts," Josh scolded, who was angrily speed-walking ahead of us. "Alloid's probably waiting. Ugh."
Alloid had just found a microscopic meteor that happened to be a piece of something called 'Crystalus' and wanted us to go to the tree house before school the next day. We only let Alloid stay in said tree house to hide him.
Alloid was from another planet called Actocrystailon (Awk-toe-kris-TAIL-on) and is considered an alien; he claims to be our age in his alien years. He was technically a 'Shape Shifter', meaning he could change his form on demand.
He never told us why he ever came to Earth, he just didn't seem to want to tell so much, "sworn into secrecy," he said. Alloid is a nice alien; since we had gotten to know him, he seemed pretty cool and it didn't take long for all of us to become good friends.
We had left a half hour early to be on the safe side time wise. It wasn't far but it wasn't close either.
"Is it just me," said Jake, breaking the silence, "or is the whole meteor thing a little too coincidental? I mean, he said it landed right in front of his door. Don't you think it's a little odd? Why didn't it hit the tree house?"
The tree house was in a forlorn forest that had become so small, no one went there anymore. So, summer before freshmen year, the four of us had built a little hut out of old logs. It can be called tree house, right? Since then, it has surpassed itself to resemble a mini home, equipped with a bathroom and everything, thanks to Alloid and his mysterious ways.
Before I knew it, Liz was already knocking on the small wooden door. The little ramshackle house always made me wonder how on earth it was even standing.
"Who is it?" He sounded annoyed, like we'd interrupted something. He'd been the one to invited us there.
Alloid slowly opened the door; someone of his status always had to be careful who he opened the door to, even if anyone other than us four ever visited a place no one went to. When we walked in, Alloid was no longer a blue teenager with antennae, but a man in his twenties--a good-looking one.
"Where're you off to, sir?" said Jake.
He rolled his human eyes. "I gotta go into town later." He spoke as we assembled ourselves inside. "I just wanted to give you the 411 on the meteorite so you'll have reason to come back later. One basic principle is that it's extremely dangerous--"
"You can't call it a 'meteorite' when it's smaller than a marble," Jake interrupted, gesturing to the little blue-green marble rock on the wooden table. It glowed faintly. "And how dangerous can it be, I could flick it across the room."
I clicked my tongue. "You don't know anything about this rock to know it's safe, Jake. I know it's difficult, but, please, don't act stupid," I said. "We don't have time to discuss it now, we'll come back after school."
Alloid rolled his eyes again. "Alright," he replied, "but I hope you all come back in a somewhat more pleasant attitude." He looked at Josh when he said that. "You're all sometimes very annoying."
As he looked at me last, I suddenly felt the pleasant sensation of a weight being lifted off me. It felt great, like nothing could get me down. I glanced at the others and saw everyone looked… well, relaxed. Josh's face was clear of that 'what's-that-funky-smell?' on his face.
As soon as we reached Lincoln High, I somehow knew today was going to be different.
For instance, I got an D on my Algebra II test (not my first one, by the way) but couldn't help but smile; no anger or annoyance was present. Jake had gotten a F.
At lunch there was a horrible food fight in which we ended up being splattered with unidentified flying soup head to toe and yet I couldn't help but laugh, as did Liz, Jake, and Josh. We all just laughed and hid under the table while dressed in our lunch along with everyone else. I would have been even angrier since Liz and I couldn't get the stain out in the bathroom. There were other victims who had it much worse.
After school ended, the four of us headed to Alloid's place.
After a long day of thinking about it, I brought it up. "Is it just me or were we a little too happy today?" I said, breaking the silence.
"Come on," Jake replied. "You don't suspect Alloid would have anything to do with it, do you?"
"Well can you explain why we have been feeling extraordinarily happy today, especially after we left Alloid's this morning?"
"Yeah," said Liz. "This was a new blouse that cost twenty precious bucks but is now covered in soup stains, and I don't really care."
"Well…uh…" Clearly he didn't have any response. "There can be another explanation."
"Right," I replied. "I think it was him."
When we reached the house there was a note pinned to the door:
Meet me behind the tree house
and make sure no one can see you
Josh frowned. "Why does he want us to meet in the back?" he asked as we walked around the little house. I was absolutely stunned to find Alloid standing behind a green-blue glowing boulder that reached his waist at his original five foot figure. He looked like himself except without the antennae and blue skin color.
"Alloid," I said, "please do not tell me that is the same rock from this morning."
"Unfortunately," Alloid replied, "it is. I should have told you it grows incredibly fast, but it can get back to it's original size I can assure you. The hardest part… is shrinking it, which… is why I wanted all of you to come as soon as possible. It won't stop growing on it's own." There was a moments silence involving all of us just staring, stunned, at the giant sphere.
"Well… how do you do it? The shrinking," asked Josh. He looked very worried of the answer, like he somehow knew it wouldn't be pleasant.
"Well, an organism or group of organisms with no mutated genes containing intensified astronomical phosphate would be able to--"
"In English, please, Alloid," said Jake. I noticed the happiness was starting to wear off on all of us; Liz was beginning to look nervous.
"What I mean is that, well, a human or group of humans," I noticed he had put a lot of emphasis on that part, "must acquire the energy from the rock so it will evaporate….into them. That is the only way to stop the rock from reaching exponential growth. Bigger-than-this planet type of growth."
"You make it sound like it's the easiest thing in the world," Jake interjected.
"What happens to the person who…acquires it?" asked Liz. She was twirling her hair nervously.
Alloid shifted his weight to his other foot, looking uncomfortable. "Well," there was a little bit of edginess in his voice, "the human that had acquired it--"
"Wait, wait, wait," Jake cut in. "There've been others who've done this? How could that happen? Why doesn't anyone know about it?"
"It happened years ago, I guess in your nineteen hundreds," replied Alloid thoughtfully. "My race at the time had to modify the memories of many witnesses so it seemed as if it never happened."
"What happened to the person who had already done it? How did he ever find it in the first place?" I asked.
"I can't really give you the details, for it is a sworn secrecy among many others of my kind. Our… 'researchers' you would call them, were testing it outside our gravitational barrier. It has many properties, making it the most valuable power source for my planet. During a field test, something went wrong and it… got away from us. It apparently landed in the man's yard which took us a week to find--it was only the size of a beach ball. He lived after he had acquired it, but… he disappeared. None of us could find him." There was a long pause in which we were all absorbing what had been said. Alloid shifted his gaze to each of us, worried, I assumed, about how we were all taking this.
"Before you tell us," I said in a shaky voice, startling everyone else but Alloid, "let me see if I figured all this out. You want us: Jake, Liz, Josh and I, to acquire this…this rock?" As I said it, I noticed that everyone, except Alloid, seemed to be holding their breath. When we looked up, Alloid was nodding his head sympathetically. There was a brief silence. Followed by--
"No way!" said Liz in a petrified voice, breaking the silence. "I am not going near that thing."
"You don't understand," said Alloid. We all looked at him as if we were going to say something. When no one answered, he continued. "My race will stop at nothing to find people using it for evil. So they won't find you four." When he noticed we were not convinced he rushed on. "Don't you realize what hangs in the balance, what relies on your decision? Your families, your-your countries, practically your world. It has to be gone or it will never stop growing. Then who knows whose hands it will be in." He looked us all in the eyes before continuing. "Plus, it should be acquired now, while it's still somewhat small. The bigger it gets, the more extraterrestrial properties it will emit, the kind of properties your carbon-based structure was not built to handle."
No one said anything as Alloid's words hung in the air. We just waited for him to continue, since none of us had an answer.
"Listen," he said quietly, "I know this seems like a lot, but I am only asking you to do this. This is the only way to save your race against the Actocrystailon before they come." He said the name of his race instead of saying 'my race' like he usually did. I knew now that this seemed to be important. "The man might still among us; he was detected five years ago." Alloid looked pleadingly at everyone afterwards. Josh just stared at the ground; Liz was trembling, obviously scared; and Jake, to my surprise, looked like he was pondering the proposal Alloid just gave us with a thoughtful expression.
Every single thing Alloid said didn't sound real at all. We'd accepted his quirkiness, even listened to his out-of-this-world stories of his home. But never had he said anything like that. We'd seen movies about Earth being in danger all the time. I never thought it could get wiped out by a gigantic meteor that nobody on the planet knew about.
It was as if someone else had spoken through my lips, I murmured three words:
"I'll do it."
LIZ, JAKE, JOSH, AND EVEN ALLOID LOOKED ALARMED AS THEY TURNED TO LOOK AT ME IN COMPLETE SHOCK.
"What did you say?" asked Alloid with a very surprised look.
"I-I said I'll do it. I mean, it's my choice, right?" I said uncertainly, surely expecting this reaction--five seconds ahead of time, though, I hadn't been completely prepared for it. Alloid was about to speak when Josh came up, grabbed my arm and started pulling me away. He obviously wanted to give one of his lectures explaining wrong from right, smart and sensible… stupid from plain insanity.
"Amy, what the hell are you doing? You are not going to volunteer for some half cocked idea." He had anger, frustration, and fear in his voice, all at once. All I usually got was frustration that made me feel like a four-year-old who scribbled on the walls and thought it was a masterpiece.
"If I don't do it, then who will?" I replied with the same tone but to my surprise, no fear. "This isn't like going to fight a bully after school or-or taking a test you didn't study for. This is big, 'saving the world' big." I made my fingers for quotation marks. I couldn't help not throwing in some sarcasm.
"Are you crazy? You're starting to sound like a character from a comic book," Josh replied, voice rising slightly in volume.
"This happens to be real life the last time I checked," Jake appeared behind Josh, along with Liz.
Perfect, I can barely take on Josh alone, now the odds were really against me.
"You realize this is dangerous, don't you? What if you… explode or-or something?" said Liz, again, with a shaky voice. She was trying to direct her question to me with a sure voice; I couldn't hear any hint of certainty.
"Well, then, who else is going to do it?" said another voice.
Liz, Josh, and even I looked at Jake with an expression of complete shock. Before I could reply, though I didn't know what I was going to say, Josh cut in.
"Are you both out of your minds?!" he shouted looking at me and Jake, ignoring Alloid's attempt to not notice the argument. "What is the matter with you two! I'm even surprised at you, Jake. I didn't realize that you would ever agree with Amy about something so incredibly stupid like this!" Jake moved to stand beside me facing Liz and Josh, a battle that I knew I just had to win. The world practically depended on it, as unnatural as it sounded. Alloid stood by the huge ball, continuing to unsuccessfully try to ignore us.
"Josh listen--" I began but I was cut off unceremoniously by Jake.
"She's right, you know!" he said. "You don't see the Feds here, do you? We can't take this to police or Alloid gets in trouble. I don't think anybody else is going to… acquire this thing or-or whatever." He didn't sound like much defense.
"What about you ?" said Josh in a now angry voice. "I don't see you volunteering! Especially since you think 'she's right'!" That was definitely a retort as far as I was concerned.
"Oh yeah! Well… then… maybe I've decided I will too."
There was a long moment when no one said a word. Josh was glaring at me and Jake with his arms crossed. Liz was still twirling her hair, looking at her shoes. Alloid was avoiding us at all costs, and Jake and I couldn't help but watch Josh.
I love my brother, and I sometimes appreciated him looking out for me. But, for a few times more than once, I hated that he had to be so overprotective of me.
"We're going home," said Josh in a surprisingly calm voice. "Now."
We left without a single word. Josh made Jake and I walk in front of him and Liz, probably to keep an eye on us and prevent us from sneaking back.
I am coming back tonight… nothing they can say or do will stop me.
I tried to think of ways to sneak in and out that night without Josh noticing. It was six thirty when we got home. Jake and Liz left without saying good night. Liz was behind Jake until they disappeared onto the dark street. Silently, Josh and I went inside and headed straight to our bedrooms. I was a little fumed but not as much as Josh. Dinner was especially difficult.
When you have an alien hiding in your tree house and you have just volunteered for something celestially dangerous, it's very hard to not let your parents find out or notice anything suspicious enough to ask. Josh and I told them the usual stuff: school activities, class assignments… the normal, including the explanation of our clothes stained with unidentifiable soup, not like meeting an escaped alien, finding a dangerous meteorite, and especially volunteering for something celestially dangerous. One good thing is that my dad got off work early today to even have dinner with us; it was almost like old times with the four of us, conversing and eating. I sort of wished it was permanent.
After dinner, I headed for my room to do my homework (and get ready to sneak out). I decided to start my creative writing paper for my English class, followed by Algebra and Lab Bio homework. Ugh.
I glanced at the clock, which said it was half past eight, when there was a knock on my bedroom door.
"It's me," said Josh.
Great, he's probably going to come in and talk to me, overprotective brother to annoyed sister. I sighed. "Come in."
He walked in looking just as uncomfortable as if he was in a women's clothing store.
Josh sat down on my bed next to me. "Listen," he said in a hushed voice, "I really don't want you to do this. This is a very dangerous… thing, and I don't want…" He clearly didn't want to say what was on his mind out loud. And, I didn't want to hear it either. Like I said, I don't like dealing with emotional stuff. I also don't like to cry, especially in front of people, even my parents.
"Don't worry," I said, trying to sound less uncomfortable as possible. "I decided not to do it. I'm sure Alloid can handle this on his own."
I rarely lied to Josh, and when I did, I didn't like it one bit. He was too caring. And lying now felt even worse, especially when he was already going through a lot as he was; cheating girlfriend and a semi-suicidal sister who's way in over her head was not helpful at the moment.
Josh, who seemed satisfied with what he heard, just hugged me tightly, as if he was never going to let go. However, I, not wanting to stay there forever, broke it up.
"All right, don't go sister on me now," I said.
"G'night." He walked out and closed the door. After I got over the mushy moment, I finished my work and I got my things ready for school. In case I make it back in one piece.
It was nine something, usually when everyone went to sleep. I set my alarm for eleven, the time I planned to sneak out. I got into bed, turned out the light and fell fast asleep.
Unlike my usual dreams of chocolate ice cream, I was, for the first time, in a forest. Not like the abandoned one Alloid hid in, but it was vast, lush, and green. Someone was with me, but the person was out of focus, blurry and distorted as he stood in front of me. I was on my knees now, yelling my head off at the sudden pain I could actually feel.
Something was stabbing through my back; no one was behind me: the stabbing was coming from the inside going out. I could feel four long sharp… things force their way through my skin. Then the cut lengthen, and something thin sliced its way through, so that I could now feel two long slits in my back as I screamed. The blurry figure came into the focus, and I was able to see that it was Jake. He was gaping at me in horror, just straight-out freaked. I had just stopped screaming now that the pain was over in a flash. I felt oddly off balance, trying hard not to fall backwards.
"What is it?" I asked. My voice was a little hoarse.
His eyes were still incredibly wide. "Do they hurt?" he asked quietly.
"Do what hurt?"
What? I reached behind me, planning to sweep my hand to the other side of my back and expecting nothing to be there but blood and possibly bone … maybe a disgusting flap of my skin.
But when I tried, my hand hit some sort of soft barrier, softer than velvet. I grabbed the end to find that when I followed it, it reached down in a long spike, like a huge claw. I looked down at the ground as the sun came up behind me.
The only normal parts of my shadow were my head, arms, legs and feet. Coming out from my sides were wings with long spikes coming out from their ends.
I was about to scream when I woke up to hear the faint buzzing beside my bed. My alarm from my cell phone on my nightstand went off. I relaxed a second, trying to get over the ridiculous dream and got up, careful not to make a sound.
The dream was beyond extraordinary, unlike any I've ever had. Stupidly, I ran my hand across the small of my back, and sighed in relief that nothing was there. I was able to forget about it. I was still pretty shook up about it.
As I got ready, I could hear my dad's snores from two doors down. No one was making a trip to the bathroom. I opened my bedroom window, glad that a tree was close enough to jump to.
I had never snuck out at night before (it really is the truth), but on weekends when I was younger I'd jump onto the tree from my window, drop to the ground, climb back up to my room and do it all over again.
Back when I was innocent
Soon enough I was on the sidewalk. There was a half moon out so I had no need of using my flashlight, though I wore black clothing; a cool-looking precaution. It was safe to walk at night in the housing district, but in the middle of town there was a lot of crime. Thoughts rushed at me as I tried to shake off the risks; what if I exploded, deformed or vaporized to some other planet? What if I flashed into nonbeing?
I said I'd do it and I was going to do it… the world might be at stake here I assured myself. Anyway, I wasn't doing this alone; Jake had said he would do this with me. I hoped he wouldn't chicken out just when I needed the support.
I found myself at Alloid's door and was about to knock when I heard voices. With curiosity, I pressed my ear against the cool dark wood and listened.
"Shouldn't we wait for her? She was the only one who said she would."
"If you're scared you don't have to do this, you know," I heard Alloid say.
"I'm not scared," said Jake. He sounded a bit defensive "I just don't feel right doing this without her--I mean it'd be like going behind her back." I knocked on the door. There was rustling and the door opened a crack.
"Amy, get inside!" he said, pulling me in. Jake was sitting in a chair obviously nervous to bits. When he looked up at me, he seemed to be ecstatic.
"I didn't think you would come!" he said, almost jumping up in his seat. I felt involuntarily safe in his arms, but I let go only to keep my cool.
"I didn't think you'd come either."
"I'm glad you have so much faith in me."
We followed Alloid cautiously towards the huge glowing orb in the middle of the room. It looked like it hadn't grown much since this afternoon, but I definitely considered it big, passing my waist.
"Lets get this over with," I sighed. The stone glowed slightly brighter as we got closer.
"Every little particle affects the orb," Alloid explained as he cleared some space for us to step on either side of it. "It's very sensitive to the surrounding environment. It senses the tension in the atmosphere."
"The atmosphere is definitely tense," said Jake nervously.
"How does this work exactly?" I asked, looking deeply around it for some sort of key or lock or even a press pad of some sort. Its glow became brighter as I got nearer.
"I guess we'll find out, won't we?" Jake said with a nervous smile.
"All you have to do is touch it at the exact same time. That way it'll… filter out evenly," Alloid answered in a confident voice. It didn't reassure me, since I felt butterflies bump against the lining of my stomach, dizzy with anxiety. The butterflies passed out to fall to the bottom as Alloid walked to the door.
"Whoa! Where're you going?" said Jake.
"I can't be in here when it happens, only those who are going to do the acquiring," he said in a matter of fact tone.
"Are there any… side effects?" he asked.
"Um… no." Alloid's tone was not reassuring. "Good luck," and then he turned, opened the door and shut it behind him.
"Okay," I said in a shaky voice. "I guess we should do a one-two-three count." There was so much tension I could feel it suffocate me. Then I noticed I'd been taking very deep breaths, getting slightly dizzy.
"I--" he said in a high-pitched voice. He cleared his throat. "I agree." His face turned lightly pink, though it actually looked purple with the bluish light reflecting off his face. We approached the huge sphere in the middle of the room, which glowed fiercely.
"One," Jake said, I didn't want to count, "two…..three."
I touched it a little before three. My hand seemed to be pulled into the sphere, I felt something wrap completely around my hand… liquid and cold. I was blinded by a sudden spectrum of colorful light, unable to see Jake, or anything else, but I felt his presence… and the pain.
My feet left the ground, all the while I felt electricity flow throughout my whole body, hot and cold, fast and slow, burning and tearing at my insides. It felt like a fire was burning underneath my skin, sizzling me alive. I was sure for a second that I was screaming, but I wasn't sure I heard any sound. I couldn't think or breathe or think of trying to breathe. The wind I felt around me was pulling the little air I had out of my lungs. I couldn't feel anything but the pain and my feet suddenly hit the ground.
The lights began to fade gray and grow darker. I felt myself slip to the ground, a painful bow to my head. I couldn't move or feel a muscle nor see; my eyes must have closed. I felt a small thump of someone falling to the ground beside me. I hoped it was Jake, not dead. Then I finally slipped into oblivion.
ZZZZ! ZZZZ! MY PHONE ALARM GOING OFF. When I reached for it, my arm hurt like hell, aching and weighing like fifty pounds. Whenever I moved even an inch, it took whatever strength I had to not yelp in pain. I slowly and carefully got my aching body out of bed. It felt like I did one hundred and fifty push-ups and sit-ups and ran ten miles--when I could barely run one.
It was all a dream I thought to myself as I remembered yesterday. Today is going to be a normal, uneventful Tuesday I checked my phone's calendar; it said today was Wednesday. I groaned.
I got up to go to the bathroom for a quick shower. The hot water was heaven on me, calming every scream my body made from agonizing soreness. It was when I was brushing my hair that I happened to glance at my left hand and gasped. My palm was really red, like it'd been burned. But it didn't hurt.
"It can't be possible," I whispered aloud to myself. Flashbacks of last night flooded my mind this time. Again I saw the sphere, the lights, and almost felt the same painful sensations I did before.
"Amy!" I heard my mother yell, making me jump in surprise, "Time for breakfast!" Recovering from shock, I changed into whatever clothes I found, and checked myself in the mirror. I took deep breaths to calm myself down and began looking for something to wear that would give me an excuse to wear gloves. When I reached the end of the stairs, Liz, Josh, and Jake were at the bottom.
"Do you always have to take so long?" said Jake, rolling his eyes.
"I am a girl, aren't I? It takes work to look this good," I said with a smirk.
Everyone ate quickly, said goodbye to my mom, and left for school. I had noticed Jake was wearing a long sleeved shirt in the heat of May. I knew it was his attempt to hide what I assumed was a burn like mine.
"Are you two alright?" asked Liz. Jake and I were unusually quiet; I had hoped Liz and Josh wouldn't notice. I silently cursed.
"Yeah," replied Jake, "I was just trying to remember if I did my… Spanish homework."
"I did," I lied--we didn't have Spanish homework. "Need help?"
"I don't need your charity." Liz didn't find a reason to say anything since Jake and I always messed around like that.
The entrance through the gates of the school were full of football players messing with some freshmen, even though the year was nearly over. I'd figured they would've gotten bored of the same students.
As we approached the school, I winced at a very sharp pain in my left hand. Jake must have felt it too for he had suddenly looked down at his hand.
"Are you two okay?" Josh asked looking concerned.
"Oh, I-I…uh…stubbed my toe on the, uh… on the step," I stammered. Josh looked at me curiously.
Jake came to the rescue. "Why don't I take Amy to the nurse; she might've broken her toe. We'll meet you at break by the tree." I pathetically limped behind Jake as Josh and Liz started walking away.
We went behind a classroom building where no one would notice us. Everyone was inside eating breakfast or hanging around outside with friends. I looked around to make sure no one was near enough to over hear us.
"What the hell was that!" Jake exclaimed. He had a worried expression on his face as he looked down at his red hand.
"How do you expect me to know?!" I snapped back, taking off the glove to look at my own hand. It seemed to glow then fade as well. "I don't exactly deal with this sort of thing everyday. I don't even remember what happened afterwards. Do you?"
"No, I just remember waking up in my bed," he replied. How on earth could we've possibly made it home?
We both jumped as the bell rang. We took one last look at our hands before walking to our next class, carefully concealing them. I put my glove back on, while Jake pulled at his sleeve to make it longer at his wrist. A few people looked at me weird; well, I was wearing gloves in the summer. My outfit looked even weirder.
"We have to get to Alloid's ASAP," said Jake quietly as we slid into some seats at the back our Biology class.
"But how do we sneak pass Mom and Dad?" I asked, taking out a sheet of paper to take notes from the overhead. Jake and I always referred to Liz and Josh as the worrisome and overprotective of the group, making them our other parents. Josh and Liz always hated being called that.
"We can go during lunch," Jake suggested quietly as we scribbled notes on our finals review. "You can say you're going to study with some of your other friends and I'll say I'm eating with some other guys."
"Maybe you should change your story," I whispered, erasing a mistake I made, spelling cell as s-e-l-l. "It makes you sound gay."
"Shut up," he hissed back. "At least I'm thinking."
"Yeah, that's what scares me."
He nudged my arm, making me mess up and scribble. "Anyway, how much time will we have without being late or raising suspicion?"
"I think we can get away with it," I said as I watched for the teacher, who was at her desk reading a magazine--then I made a line across Jake's paper. "Liz and Josh have been keeping to themselves lately."
"You don't think…." Jake let his voice trail off as he tried erasing the line without his notes.
I thought about it for a second, then snorted. "No way," I said, understanding what he meant. "It's impossible. That's like saying me and--" I stopped myself. I'd been thinking about Jake, something that never stopped happening lately.
At the moment, Jake looked curiously at me. I hoped he wouldn't dwell on this, for he usually never let things go. He'd held onto a grudge back in fourth grade when he'd accused me of stealing his little pocket-sized truck (What? It was a cool truck with flames on it and everything… the little steering wheel even turned).
He raised an eyebrow. "You and who exactly?" He was paying more attention to the conversation than to Miss. Abrams, who began the lecture about what our finals will consist of.
"No one, it's none of you business," I said quickly as I tried not to let my face burn red. This was the last thing I wanted to ever discuss with Jake.
"Tell me," he urged. "Is it someone I know? Is he on the football team?" He knew everyone on the team, and he knew I knew too. "Wait… is it even a 'he'?"
"Shut up," I snapped back.
When the bell finally rang, I was one of the first to shoot out the door, hoping to ditch Jake. But he was stuck on me like white on rice. I admit I did like having him around, chasing me, but in this case he was pretty annoying.
"I won't tell anyone. You know me," Jake said with an unconvincing innocent smile. I knew I wouldn't get away from his suspicions, forgetting about why he was even so curious, so I decided to toy with him; it was all I had left.
"Fine, I used to like someone… on the football team," I said, trying to sound defeated and sarcastic as possible.
Okay, it isn't a total lie
I was thinking of the new senior receiver for the varsity team named Charlie Atkinson, for he was kind of cute but only physically attractive, eye candy. He wasn't known by a lot of people, meaning he wasn't as popular yet, meaning I didn't know him as well as I knew Jake. It was smarter for me to just stick to fantasy, not insane impossible fantasy; could someone like me ever hook a football player?
"Who is it then?" Jake pestered as we entered our second period, Spanish. To my bitter disappointment, Jake and I had two more, aggravating classes together until lunch hour. Not to mention the next two after… and the walk home.
"Will you just drop it?" I hissed at him as he abruptly stopped naming football players past and present. "It's not even a big deal. Gosh." He hadn't said one name: Charlie's.
"Why can't you just tell me?" Jake begged. "It's not like I'm going to tell Josh." I hadn't thought of that. If Josh knew, I'd never ever have a boyfriend (I was desperate--only a little, okay?). This was an example of how overprotective Josh could be.
"What's the point?" I said, hoping to get him to shut the hell up. "If you know, so what?" I turned to the paper the teacher had passed out, trying to decide how to conjugate 'caminar' (walk) in the preterit form. The teacher was walking around helping students.
"Exactly," Jake whispered as the teacher was close to where we were in the back. "What does it matter if I know--wait." He stopped to think as I became petrified waiting for him to continue. "Are you messing with me or something? I'm not a toy you know." I almost shouted in joy when he seemed to have dropped it. Then… "I thought we didn't keep secrets?" he said curiously, wiggling his eyebrows, which amused me. He was right; Jake and I were best friends. We knew each other inside out.
It was the break before the last period before lunch when I just lost it, the irritation finally getting to me. Jake had seemed to be somewhat upset too.
"Is it so important for you to know?" I asked, a little too loudly and incensed than I had expected. "Why does it matter so much to you anyway? It's just a stupid crush."
"Because I want to know who you like."
"I'm free to like whoever I want, and I'm free to keep that to myself, Jake. It's a free country. I don't have to tell you nothing."
Jake then stalked away, angry for some reason.
The bell rang signaling that the break was over. I walked in to our fourth period class, History, hoping for a less uncomfortable hour as possible. My hope wasn't unheard because Jake didn't appear at all.
Maybe he decided to drop by Alloid's a little early
The teacher droned on about some war in a foreign country who knew how many years before my parents were even born. I wished I had thought to do the same thing--ditch class. But while the teacher talked, I kept thinking about Jake's reaction earlier.
Something was up with him, that's all. Since his dad left, he got a little moody sometimes, but that had gone away now and he was regular funny Jake… sometimes.
Just thinking about Jake kind of hurt sometimes. I can't say I was in love with him, that's too strong a word, but I couldn't help feel something about him that made me feel… unbelievably happy whenever he talked to me. It took all I had to act cool in front of him. And when it came to Valentine's Day, Liz, Josh, Jake, and I would switch partners each year--this year had been Liz and Josh, and me and Jake. I'd tried very hard to hide my pleasure that time. But I knew Jake was only a secret crush and best friend, and he could never be more than that.
Trying to keep focus on much more important matters, I began thinking through theories about why Jake's and my hands burned earlier when my own hand started to sting at that moment. I winced but no one heard. My head began to throb painfully like it would explode, like a migraine on steroids. I tried to hide it while trying to look as normal as possible; my eye twitched. Charlie Atkinson, a senior in a sophomore class stood there.
"Can I help you with something?" I asked, smiling a little.
"Hey. I was wondering if we could be partners for tomorrow's review assignment?" He looked at me funny. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." The bell rang. "But sure, I'll be your partner," I managed to say. "Gotta go." I rushed pass him, shoving people out of my way and was out the door when my headache vanished. I didn't stop to think about it, I had to get to Alloid's as fast as I could.
I dashed across campus and sure enough, Liz and Josh were waiting for me and Jake by the cafeteria.
"Where's Jake?" Josh asked. "They're serving grilled hamburgers today. Grilled." We all knew Jake wouldn't miss that for the world--on a normal day.
"He went to eat with some of his other friends," I said. "And I have to go too. See ya." I turned for the door of the cafeteria when Liz and Josh caught up with me.
"Where are you headed off to?" asked Liz.
"Oh, I was invited to join a writing group," I lied on the spot. "I'm going to eat with them. See ya."
I was off. I had escaped. I checked my watch. Okay, I have one hour. It'll take me ten minutes to get there and likewise back, so I have less than forty minutes to talk to Alloid. But if there was traffic…. I had to go through town to reach the abandoned area that lead to the forgotten forest.
In the end I wasn't exactly sure how long I had; I had never been good at mental math, not to mention anything else that involved numbers.
In this town, it's unusual to see any ditchers around; it was small and everyone practically knew each other. So I was lucky it was lunch hour and had the excuse of being off campus for lunch. I stayed in alleys, avoiding the occasional passing squad car. By the time I arrived outside Alloid's door, I heard voices inside again.
"Just tell me what the heck is going on, why can't you just tell me?"
"She has the right to know just as much as you do, perhaps more," said the voice I recognized as Alloid's (for it had some patience).
"Oh sure. Just because she said she would do it first, she gets all the info, right?" Jake snapped. I couldn't understand why he was still upset; our little spat was not a big deal.
“Just calm down. You always get worked up over nothing," Alloid sighed in annoyance. He sounded like a grown up. "I'm not saying anything until she gets here so you might as well wait."
"All I'm saying is that it's not fair," Jake complained. "Amy probably would have backed out hadn't I taken her side." I scoffed. Though I had to admit he was probably right--he was, in a way, my rock.
"Get over yourself, Jake," Alloid replied. I checked my watch and realized how much time I was wasting. I knocked on the door. Alloid answered the door, looking relieved as I walked in. He was, in fact, in his twenty-something-year-old disguise.
"About time," Jake muttered.
I narrowed my eyes and scowled at him. "At least I attended class like a good student," I snapped. "I wouldn't want to start a reputation--unlike someone I know."
"Is there something going on between the two of you?" Alloid asked with a curious look on his face.
"No!" we both shouted at the same time. We glanced at each other then looked away. He didn't know I was a little fumed at his idea that I couldn't handle this. I assumed he was mad about our little quarrel earlier, but his comment did go a bit below the belt.
"Can you please just tell us what's going on?" I said, breaking the cold silence. "Our lunch hour isn't long. It's less than an hour."
"Well," Alloid began with a nervous look, "I know your hands have got burns on them, but--"
"Should they still be burning?" I broke in.
He furrowed his eyebrows. "What do you mean?"
"Our hands burned this morning," said Jake. "I thought you might know something about it."
"I'm not sure what that means. But I went through my archives--"
"What archives?" I asked. "You have files?"
"No. I managed to get into my government's system--"
"You guys have a government?" asked Jake.
"Will stop asking questions! I went through the files. They've given up on the case since there's been no evidence the man did anything with the acquired Crystalus. But I did find out he had a son. Then that son had a son, and moved to town."
"Can we at least have a name?" I asked. "The kid might even go to our school."
Alloid started pacing. "The man's name was Ezekiel… his son was named Evan… he named his son Charlie, after his father's father, Charles Ezekiel Atkinson."
"We know someone at school with that last name," said Jake, "a Charlie Atkinson. He's a football player."
"Our hands burned when we walked past him this morning," I added. "And the same thing happened to me again as I talked to him during fourth period, but this time I got horrible headaches. Then when I got away from him, they went away instantly."
"Why were you talking to him?" Jake asked suspiciously.
"That's none of your business." Alloid paced the floor for a couple of vexing minutes while Jake gave me a scathing look.
Worry. That had to be the reason why Jake was so mad about me talking to Charlie, or liking a boy. Maybe he was worried I'd get hurt, which was good and bad. Good, because he was my best friend and knew I would do the same for him. Bad, because he would be another Josh. Unlike the real Josh, who was mature and responsible, Jake would probably do something rash/stupid if I were upset by some guy--just like I would do for him, if he was ever hurt about a girl--which I hoped not.
I glanced at my watch. "Shoot! We gotta go!" I shouted, jumping out of my chair and heading for the door. "Well sneak over tonight," I said, rushing out with Jake right behind me. We had less than seven minutes to get to school, cross campus and get to class.
"Why weren't you paying attention to the time?" Jake said, running along side me. We went through all the shortcuts, racing through alleyways and slowing down on the sidewalks. The school wasn't a long way off when we reached our last intersection. We stopped to wait for the lights to allow us to cross the street when--
"Oh no!" I said, spotting her first. "Your mom. Look!" I pulled Jake behind a bush as the car passed by. I peeked over the bush until she was gone and the light turned green.
Jake emerged from the bush first. "Coast looks clear to me." We were in the middle of the street when the loud horn blared from the vehicle.
I froze, watching the red semi truck come flying down the little road between us. Like anyone else with a brain, I knew that if I didn't move I'd be just like the bugs on the truck's grill, yet my body wouldn't obey.
Before I knew it, I was already sprawled on the sidewalk--I'd been shoved out of the way. When I turned back, I saw Jake disappear under the truck. There was no sound, only a very loud thump. When it had passed, all I saw was a Jake's body on the road, completely still and silent.
I looked after the truck which actually sped up; so this was a 'hit-and-run'. With whatever will power I had left in my legs, I got up and sprinted over to Jake; he'd somehow thrown me quite far. I looked both ways now; no one was on the street. No one had seen it happen. What the frick?
"Please don't be dead, please do not be dead." I nearly screamed when I saw him properly.
His shoulder was in the wrong place… hanging lower than it should. The arm itself was twisted the wrong way. His forehead was bleeding, probably so severely hit that I could see a bit of white through the flowing blood. Bone.
I kneeled to check his pulse--if he had one--when he suddenly coughed. I nearly jumped back, startled. He still hadn't woken up, so I tried to help him to the sidewalk behind another bush across the street, though I mostly just dragged him; I wasn't that strong. I leaned him against the brick wall of some building.
I unbuttoned his shirt to get a better look at his shoulder. I struggled to remember what I knew from first aid, but I hadn't learned anything about this. I started to panic at my uselessness.
"Jake? Can you hear me?" I asked, shaking him a little; his head lolled from side to side a little, his neck making odd noises. I peered through the bush to find the street still empty. Where had everybody gone? It was like they all disappeared so that no one could help. I was startled by Jake's low groans of pain, eyes closed shut tight. I went over to him and sat next to him, holding him in my arms. I glanced down at his injured arm, nearly fainting at what I saw.
"Oh my gosh."
JAKE WAS CRINGING AS HIS ARM PULLED ITSELF UPWARD. His arm twisted completely, making a grotesque sound as it did; I could hear the bone rubbing against muscle, the mushy parts making squishy sounds that made me shudder. I shut my eyes but continued to hold Jake as he moaned in pain, making me open my eyes again.
Had he been able to control it, I'd say he would have stayed that way as to avoid the pain. The wound on his forehead was closing, the blood that was spilling flowed back into his head. The skin grew on itself so that it looked like it had never been hit.
When it was over, I tried to lift Jake from the ground. He woke up looking like he just gave birth to a watermelon.
"Are you alright? How's your arm?"
"What's wrong with my arm?" he asked, looking up at me with a dazed look of panic then quickly examined his arm.
"Uh… nothing. Should we head back to school?" I asked. He was so pale that he looked luminescent in the shade. He was taking deep breaths to calm himself; I was too, the nasty sounds were echoing in my ears that I shuddered involuntarily. When he was able to breathe normally, I handed him his shirt. He looked at me with wide eyes then looked down at his bare chest and smirked at me.
"I think I can manage. Though I can't see why you had to strip me," he said as I helped him up. As he put on his shirt, his shoulder popped.
"Shut up. Your gigantic ego's fogging your brain," I said as I checked for traffic and we crossed the street; it was suddenly full again. We walked along the street trying not to attract attention. It was almost impossible for Jake, who stumbled every few steps, a dizzy look on his face. I took his hand and wrapped it around my shoulder to help; he turned pink.
As we walked up the steps of the school, Jake managing to walk without my help, we were greeted by the principle, Mr. Beckons.
One way to put it is that Mr. Beckons and Jake and I don't really get along. Ever since we'd asked if we could change our schedules at the beginning of freshman year, he seemed annoyed at the time. Afterwards, when we came to the office for other reasons, he still acted annoyed. It was all really annoying.
"So," he said with a sly smile "What were we up to that we are late for class?"
"Mr. Beckons," I began, kicking my brain into overdrive, "we were late because… there was a hit and run on Main and 7th . The police wouldn't… let any witnesses leave without being questioned first. There were a lot of people." Jake was so shocked at my ready response, he swayed back, managing to catch himself.
"Really?" replied Mr. Beckons with a rather dazed expression. Of all the lies he'd probably expected, he certainly didn't seem to expect one like this.
"Oh, yeah," Jake added, catching on. "It was really…uh… traumatizing. The guy's alright, but I overheard the paramedic say… he might not be able to walk again. His leg was going to have to be amputated."
I tried not to laugh as I saw the very shocked look on Mr. Beckons face; it was absolutely priceless. I just hoped he didn't expect the accident to be on the news.
"Alright," he said in a defeated voice, "you are excused for now, but next time," he pointed his index finger at us threateningly, "be on time." He left to get us a pass as we followed him into the office.
"Wow," Jake said in a relieved voice with a surprised face, "how did you manage to come up with that?" This, of course, wasn't my first time telling school authority a little white lie.
"It's a talent." After a minute, Mr. Beckons appeared with a pass. We took it and headed to our class.
Why hadn't I come with abilities? Compared to this morning, I felt completely fine. It wasn't fair. Even if it came to the supernatural, I was still a late bloomer.
"Do you have any idea how that happened?" Jake said, breaking the silence. Since the school was so big we had half the place to cross, so we had time to talk without anyone over hearing. It was the middle of fifth period and thankfully everyone was inside. I thought for a bit, then answered.
I thought about it, remembering anything from movie. "The closest thing to an idea I have about what happened," I replied, "is that you seem to have an ability similar to that girl on that one TV show, tissue regeneration I think it was called. Or maybe a… healing factor?" It sounded so logical even I believed it.
"Wow," replied Jake. "That sou--" Jake stopped as he saw someone standing outside our classroom door; none other than Mike Jennings.
Mike was the only person in the world that Jake, and soon enough myself, hated the most.
The result came from the fact he was the one who started the rumor that Jake and I were going out (I was secretly flattered and I never told Jake of course) because Jake had beaten him at some sport last year--multiple times. Back then, everyone didn't mess around with Mike because he was overly competitive, short-tempered, and quick to action--and really buff.
It was hard to believe anyone would believe him--or even listen to him--anyway, yet everyone still thought we were together, though we kept on protesting we weren't. I was a little shocked that anyone even cared; we were not popular. And Mike seemed to get a kick out of it, as stupid as it was. He was only one grade ahead of us, yet he believed this was his kingdom. His joining the football team this year only made matters worse; most of the players made kissy faces at me and Jake. Their girlfriends wouldn't talk to me anymore and spread rumors about me.
We were face to face, at least Jake and Mike were, I was behind Jake; they both had smug looks on their faces.
"Sooo, Robins and Santali," Mike began, wiggling his eyebrows. "Wonder what you two might've been doing to make you late. Your hair's a bit messed up, Amy."
Jake moved forward. "Just shut up and get away."
"Hey, Amy, are you as easy as all the football players say you are?" I tried to move forward--even though he could literally snap me in half--when Jake held me back.
He laughed. "Whoa, sorry. I should've asked Jake first. You're probably hard to please."
"That's funny," said Jake. "I bet your girlfriend knows the feeling."
Mike was ready to respond when our teacher opened the door.
"Mr. Jennings," said Mrs. Beckett, her eyes filled with annoyance, "I assume you were on your way to the Disciplinary office." Mr. Jennings sulked away as I sighed in relief. It took all the restraint I had not to kick him where the sun didn't shine.
"Miss Santali and Mr. Robins, if you would kindly come inside and take a seat." She gestured into the class room. I gave her the pass as we walked in.
Everyone was staring at us as if we were ghosts. Jake and I sat in the last two available seats in back. I felt my face grow hot every time someone glanced back at us with a curious expression on each of their faces. And by the look on Jake's face, I knew I wasn't the only one. Mrs. Beckett barely noticed, for she was too fascinated about finding probabilities. Jake passed me a note that said:
What was that all about outside?
I blushed quickly and wrote:
Mike Jennings is a conceited pig who should have his butt kicked!
Jake smirked at that and replied
No arguments there.
As the minutes passed by--I was ticking off each one, there were only twenty minutes left--there was a phone call for Mrs. Beckett. Automatically, the whole class seemed to have put their heads on their desks for a quick nap. What Mrs. Beckett thought of "short" conversations tended to lengthen during fifth period, but this was a little different.
"…alright," she said in an annoyed voice, "as long as you send over another desk with him. I am fresh out." It sounded like we were getting a new student; it was kind of late--well really late--to switch classes, so he must have pulled some very powerful strings. Maybe it was even a new student. There'd been rumors spreading about an exchange student.
Awesome… I hope he's interesting.
"I doubt it," came a voice that interrupted my thoughts. I looked around to find Jake rolling his eyes at me.
“What did you say?"
"I said 'I doubt it' because I heard you say 'I hope he is interesting' which, of course, I doubt." He said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. I thought for a second as Jake put his head back down.
"But… I didn't say those words," I said slowly. "I…thought the words."
No way had he just read my thoughts
Jake's head shot back up.
"There--!" he lowered his voice, "there it is again! You just thought 'no way had he read my thoughts'." We both thought about the idea that now not only can Jake heal himself, but now he can read my mind. It was totally unfair.
When are my abilities kicking in? I whined mentally. Jake looked at me and smirked. I glared.
What seemed to be out of the blue, my head was engulfed in staggering pains, eyes watering in pain. I merely glanced at a blurry Jake who had his head in his hands, surely going through the same thing. We turned to the door as a teacher from the neighboring classroom pushed in a desk and stepped aside to let a student walk in. The student was none other than Charlie Atkinson.
"You can set the desk in the front please, Mr. Markings." Mrs. Beckett gestured to the front. They got stronger as he passed by us then got less painful as he walked away. For the rest of class, Jake and I had small migraines. The bell rang as we were the first ones out the door.
"Damn it!" Jake said, shaking his head; it hurt my head too when he'd yelled. "What we have to stay away from is in two of our classes. Now I know I won't pass finals."
"Calm down, Jake. Gosh," I said as heads that had turned still looked at us. They had heard Jake and were curious. I knew there was no point but to deal with it since we could no longer change class schedules, except for Charlie apparently. I was slowly getting over my own headaches. For one brief second, the inside of my head felt cool, fresh, like a cool breeze had blown through. It was sort of nice.
It was when we walked into our last class--thankful that the day was almost over--that I realized that we had Liz and Josh for sixth period. We knew that we wouldn't be able to discuss our "issue" since I wasn't sure if we should tell them, since they seemed to always worry and look at the negative of things before the positive--whatever positive there was.
Make sure you do not say anything in front of Josh and Liz I thought right before we entered the classroom.
Jake must have heard for I heard him say--I mean think: Got it.
I sort of jumped when I heard him in my head and I was sure he noticed that too.
Now you have something Jake thought, laughing in his mind. It echoed in mine.
Ha ha I glared at him. We approached Liz and Josh at the front of the classroom and, to my disappointment, there were two desks between them.
"What's with the arrangement?" I said to Josh with a fake smile. "Going to interrogate us?" Josh, however, didn't not have a smile but rather a serious-curious-almost furious look. Liz, to my astonishment, looked the same.
"We," Josh said, his expression the same, "as in all of us, need to talk."
I hope he doesn't mean what I think he means I thought to Jake. For the first time, I hated study hall; it provided a lot of time for talk, and in this case it was bad.
"Lets move to the back," Josh said getting up with his things. He lead us to four chairs conveniently arranged in a group of four. Liz took the left front, Josh to her right, Jake behind Liz, while I sat behind Josh. I knew that Liz and Josh were lucky that the teacher said to do book work and didn't lecture on what we were to be working on, so that we were able to talk freely.
"We've been wondering what you two were up to," Josh said, breaking the short silence. "We didn't see you at all after we arrived to school, between breaks and we didn't see you two at lunch either. So tell us what the heck is going on."
"Well," Jake began semi-awkwardly, "Amy and me--"
"Amy and I, genius," I interrupted, smirking.
"Like I was saying," Jake retorted, "we had an argument and didn't talk to each other all day until… well, right now." He looked towards to the teacher, who was reading a magazine. Did all the teachers in the school read People magazine or what? Didn't they have something called a life?
"And pray tell what this 'argument'," Liz said with her fingers representing quotes, "was about that made you two," she said with raised eyebrows, "stop talking to each other."
"He was curious about who I--"
Damn It! Please don't make me say it. Let's try something else I pleaded to Jake who leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms behind his head, and smiled an evil grin at me.
Let's see if you can get out of the this one
"Well?" Josh said impatiently. "Jake was curious about who you what?" I looked at the clock which told me we had forty minutes left (Fast, huh? Unfortunately not fast enough). I will have to endure forty minutes of hell from Josh, Liz and now Jake.
"Okay," I said irritated, and Jake knew it. "Jake wanted to know who I had a crush on. Please note the past tense." I paused, hoping this would suffice.
"Well…aren't you going to tell us?" Jake asked.
Damn it, can't you let anything go?
He smiled again, enjoying the show. I was just glad he wasn't cheating by peeking into my head, or he would either be mad at me or laughing at me.
"Well…Why does it matter? I mean, I don't like him anymore," I replied. At this, Liz raised her eyebrows at me. She must've assumed I was talking about Jake, but there was no way of telling her it wasn't without letting the boys know. "Why do you care, Jake?" I challenged. It was priceless when he went from smiling to shocked in a second. We all turned to stare at him.
"I-I don't care," he stammered. "I'm just curious, that's all."
"But how would this make you two stop talking to each other?" Josh asked. "It doesn't seem like much to get angry about."
"Well, I wouldn't tell him and you know he never let's anything go," I answered.
You big baby I taunted Jake. He glared at me. We sat silently for five minutes. I glanced at the clock, we still had fifteen minutes.
"Well… I'm okay with that," Josh said, turning around in his desk like Liz.
Who said you were supposed to be okay with anything? Jake thought.
You're lucky he can't hear you
He rolled his eyes at me.
We decided to get to work for we didn't want any homework. The bell rang as everyone dashed towards the door. When we got to the middle of the campus, we said our byes; Josh and Liz were staying for tutoring while Jake and I didn't bother. He and I walked towards the front gates, I walked a little faster; I was still upset at how he sold me out today. It was totally unfair while he let me hang like that--he was lucky I survived.
"Why are you mad at me?" he asked, trying to keep up.
I think you should know by now
What did I do?
You practically embarrassed me in front of Liz and Josh!
Will it help me redeem myself if I say sorry? he asked. I stopped; he bumped into me. I turned and faced him.
Only if you mean it
"I'm sorry," he said. We both laughed a little. We resumed our walk, staying side by side, moving a little closer every other step.
So, I thought, how was your day?
Jake and I laughed again.
Oh, I don't know, he replied, got hit by a truck and can read your mind, the usual
We continued on, smiling at what had been thought when I noticed my favorite Starbucks.
Hmm. I hadn't been there in a while
"Do you wanna stop for a coffee or something?" Jake asked to my surprise. He always thought coffee shops were for feminine guys and lifeless middle-aged women. He never mentioned which group I was in, I never asked (ha ha). When I looked up he was slightly pink.
"I would love an iced coffee." We walked in, the aroma of coffee beans and baked goods filled me up. I walked up to the counter, Jake trailing me.
"Hey Tyler," I said to the guy behind the counter (alright, I'm a coffee addict, you caught me). " Can I have the usual?" My usual was iced coffee with chocolate with whipped cream on top and cinnamon sprinkled on it.
"Two twenty," I said promptly, reaching for my pocket.
"No, I got it," Jake said handing over three dollars. "Keep the change." I looked up at him as he tried to get used to the scents in the air, trying to find their source. What brought this up? I turned to the counter as Tyler gave me my order. Jake and I walked out of the shop, I slowly sipping my coffee. There was a long silence which I just had to break.
"Why did you by me a coffee? You never have before," I said. I continued to stare at the pavement as we walked; I didn't think he would answer with me staring at him. He was thoughtful when he wanted to be, but…he hates showing his Goody-Goody side.
"I--well I heard you hadn't been there in a while and…I happened to have some money so…" he also looked down at the pavement as he spoke. When I looked up we were already at my house. I looked up at Jake (he was wonderfully tall), his face returned to his normal color.
"Well, try not to get hit by anymore trucks," I said as I turned to my door. When I looked back, Jake rolled his eyes.
WHEN I WENT INSIDE, I THREW MY CUP IN THE TRASH AND MADE MY WAY TO MY ROOM. My mom was in the kitchen, washing dishes.
"Hey, Amy. How was school?" she asked, turning back to the sink. I was suddenly on the verge of hysterics as everything that happened today rushed at me at once. So much happened, in and outside of school.
"It was…fine," I said. "I'm going upstairs to do my homework." I walked to the staircase, chuckling to myself.
If she only knew
I opened my door and set my backpack on my bed and looked for my agenda since I hadn't really finished my homework in Study Hall; yep, I was that lazy. Apparently, I had a lot of math, had to read a section about story analysis in my English book, and answer questions one through twenty on page three hundred and ninety-four in my science book. Not to mention study all of my study guides thoroughly. Whoa.
I sat down at my desk and began my English homework, which was much easier, when I noticed the story I was supposed to be analyzing was about aliens. Fiction, of course, I became intrigued.
It was about a man who supposedly spoke with an alien who told him about the past and what was to come, including how he will die. It was absurd but fascinating. After reading it, I began to think about Alloid. Then I remembered why Jake and I tried to get to Alloid's today in the first place: so he could explain everything.
My phone rang; it was a text message from Jake: 'meet me @ Alloids 2nite @ 11'
I quickly finished the rest of my homework, not bothering to check what exactly I was writing--maybe that's why I'm failing Algebra 2. After that I took a nap to rest up for tonight. I was in the middle of another chocolate ice cream dream--why I have so many chocolate ice cream dreams I don't know, but they're great--when at around five in the afternoon, my mom knocked at the door.
"Amy," my mother said, "Liz is here." Josh for sure had already arrived, but surprisingly hadn't bothered me.
"Tell her I'll talk to her later. I'm busy," I said. I really didn't want to be bothered or questioned. I was positive Josh sent her to investigate why Jake and I were so secretive. The whole day seemed to have worn me out--and I wanted to get back to my dream.
"All right then," my mom replied, then walked away. A short time later, there was another knock on my door.
"Amy. I'm going out with Liz." There was a pause, followed by, "I mean I'm going to go hang out at Liz's place." I didn't have to see Josh to know that he was red. I didn't answer, so Josh left.
At six, I was called for dinner. I went down, groggily, to find only my mother, eating alone.
"Josh is eating at Liz's and your father had to work late," she said. Being a contractor was hard nowadays with the housing problem going on and such. Dinner was quiet, and short, for my mom only cooked enough for two.
After the awkward quiet dinner, I said good night to my mom then went to my room. At seven, my dad and Josh arrived, Josh continuing to ignore me. Around nine, there was a soft knock on my door.
"Amy," Josh called softly. Again, I didn't answer, hoping he thought me asleep. I really didn't want to lie to his face again. There was a pregnant pause, then footsteps saying he was leaving. I tried to fall asleep, guilt poking at me a little as I ignored it.
Ten thirty found me dressed and ready to go. I opened my window and jumped onto the tree. I slowly got down, partially unaware of what I was doing, for I was thinking I was getting used to sneaking out at night. The walk over to Alloid's was peaceful. No one or nothing was outside and the moon gave enough light again, two days in a row seemed pretty lucky to me.
As I approached Alloid's house, I saw the lights were on.
I knocked on the door. There were footsteps and the door opened a crack.
"Who is it?" Alloid asked, he wasn't looking out the door.
"Julia Roberts. Who else could it be?" He opened the door, then rolled his eyes at me. My eyes popped open wide as I walked in to find the place had been turned upside down.
The walls were torn and the furniture horribly matched the place. The furniture in question was everywhere, ripped and shredded to pieces. Alloid himself looked a little disheveled.
"What the frick happened here?" I said observing the kitchen, which didn't look any better.
"That's the thing," Alloid replied. "I don't know, I arrived a few hours ago to find it like… well, like this." He looked dead tired. I was about to look in the bathroom when--
"Gah!" I gasped as Jake came out. "What's the matter with you?" I leaned against the opposite wall to catch my breath.
"Whatever," Jake smirked. "Do you have any way of knowing who did this?" I opened my mouth to say no but closed it; Jake had asked Alloid. I couldn't find anything else to do but look around.
"What do you think I was telling Amy a couple of seconds ago?" Alloid replied in an annoyed tone.
We began to help Alloid fix up the furniture, which was quite pointless. Being an alien as he was, he had most abilities I wish I had. For instance, when Jake and I couldn't lift or move the sofa--"Gosh. I thought you had some muscle, Amy," Jake jeered at me as we gasped for breath--Alloid simply made it levitate to where it had been. He also replaced the table and chairs, bookcase, and probably did the bedroom from the living room--we heard some things moving around through the walls.
As we sat down, Alloid remained standing. I looked at Jake and he looked back. Ask him, he thought to me. I glanced at Alloid, who was looking out the front window.
"Um, Alloid… Jake and I would like to know what exactly is happening. That's pretty much why we came earlier," I said as Alloid continued to look out the window. He turned and walked towards us, looking at me.
"Can I see your hands?" he asked. We obeyed. He examined Jake's first, barely glancing at it, then his eyes lingered on mine. The burns had disappeared to the center of our palms, in little squiggles.
"I don't mean to sound wise and all-knowing or whatever but apparently you're the one, Amy," he said. At that, Jake and I started laughing. It sounded ludicrous. I mean what was I? A 'chosen one' or something? When Jake and I looked up at Alloid, he was surprisingly serious.
"And what is so funny?" he asked. We immediately got serious too.
"You can't be serious, right? I mean, I'm just a teenager in the suburbs. What kind of 'the one' am I?" I asked seriously.
Alloid was quiet for a moment. "Did anything 'special' happen today?" He used his fingers for quotations.
"Well, I was hit by a semi truck," Jake put in. "I think that's special."
"And Jake and I can communicate telepathically," I added. Alloid again stood still, pondering something.
"This is only the beginning," he concluded. "I do believe you will develop more abilities. What they will be, I don't know." I thought a little more of today, which I then came to Charlie.
"Oh, I got terrible headaches when Charlie was around again. Jake too." Jake was nodding his head in agreement.
"Oh boy, this is worst than I thought," Alloid said in a disappointing yet frightened tone to himself. I started to get a little worried. "If you're already getting weak near him, then that means he's already began his transformation."
"Wait, what transformation? He looks the same to me," Jake said in disbelief.
"Maybe not a physical transformation," I thought aloud, remembering what Alloid said yesterday. "But maybe he has his great great-great-grandfather's abilities already." I looked up at Alloid, he must've thinking the same thing.
"What do we do now?" Jake asked. "How much time have we got before Charlie goes complete 'evil villain'?"
"If you're already being affected by him, not much time. You still have some more abilities to develop so you need to learn how to use them before that happens," Alloid said. I looked at my watch, it was already 11:30.
"We should go," I said to Jake. When we got up, there was a knock on the door. Alloid cautiously approached the door.
"Who is it?" Alloid said, embarrassingly deepening his voice.
"It's Josh and Liz," Josh answered. Jake and I looked for a place to hide. Jake was stupidly turning in circles.
"Sneak out the back door and wait there," Alloid whispered to us. "I'll try to get them to leave as soon as I can." I led Jake to the back door as we heard the front door open.
I sat on a bench while Jake tried to look inside, without being seen.
"Quit that," I whispered loudly. "You don't want them to see you, do you?" He quickly got away from the window sill and began to pace. I wished I had brought a sweater; though it was near the end of May, there was usually a cool breeze at night.
"Is it my fault that I'm a little curious?" Jake shot back after a while. "I'm only human."
"Curiosity did kill the cat, you know." He narrowed his eyes at me and was about to respond when we heard someone shout.
"What aren't you telling us? Where's Amy?" Josh said.
"You're obviously hiding something," said Liz. "Why only keep them in the loop? Don't you trust us?"
"I told you I'm not hiding anything. I don't know where she could possibly be. She's your sister."
"She's supposed to be here. I got a text saying to meet here at eleven. Jake must have sent it to me by accident. Alloid just tell us what is going on," said Josh.
"Damn it," Jake said quietly.
"Nice one," I said. I continued to listen, now taking position next to Jake. I could tell Josh was trying to hold back his frustration. There was a pause, then Josh said, "Where is that meteorite you had, Alloid?" I hoped Alloid had an answer for that.
He was quick. "I had to destroy it myself. None of you wanted to acquire it and Amy and Jake never showed up so I had to contact my race to come look for the descendant themselves. They were furious," he said. I was thankful for the quick answer, but I hoped the 'furious extraterrestrial beings' part wasn't true. But if they really came and were furious… I didn't want to think about it.
"What do you mean they were furious?" Liz asked right on cue.
"What I'm saying is that they didn't want to have to come for it. I was told to make sure no one saw the Crystalus land. I had to make sure I found the right people to acquire it and fight the descendant." Wait, what? Did he search for us and decide to land here? Were we really chosen or something?
“So you have no idea where Amy is?" asked Josh.
"Let's go," Jake startled me. I forgot he was there. We ran as fast and as quiet as we could home. It was a long way but we never stopped. When we came to his house, he thought See ya tomorrow to me. I repeated it back and continued to my house. The front door was unlocked.
Stupid Josh, a burglar could've just waltzed in
I quickly jogged up to my room, skipping the third step that creaked. I then dived into my bed, checking the time; it was 1:15. The run was longer than I'd thought.
Alloid had probably lied to Josh and Liz in order for them to leave. Josh and Liz were probably mad because they didn't catch us or that they came to the wrong conclusion about me and Jake. Either way, it seemed that Jake and I had gotten away with it.
I then moved on to think about the abilities Jake and I were going to get.
My imagination immediately went to all the movies I had seen about superheroes: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men… Most of the abilities I thought up were already taken. They had been done before. Maybe we would develop an entire new set of abilities, the kind that never crossed the minds of those comic book or movie writers. I tried to think of some but just came back to the usual ones.
One thing that brought relief was that the acquiring had been done, it was out of the way and finished.
THE SILENCE WAS UNBEARABLE FOR ME; NO ONE SAID A WORD FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE DAYS. Until Josh, who was not as red anymore, spoke up.
"What are you two doing here?" asked Josh in a quiet yet disappointing tone. I don't know what scared me more: the fact that Josh wasn't angry or the fact he wasn't yelling his head off. Was he about to be sick or something? I searched my brain for something to say. Jake, however, took it upon himself to speak up.
"We have our reasons," Jake said in a matter-of-factly, "and what are yours?"
"Ours," Josh's voice rose, "are wondering where you two go in the middle of the night, and yes, I know you leave at night, Amy,” he said glaring at me, who surprised him by showing my own anger. "And why are you so upset?" I felt I was going to burst, but it took all my strength to shout like a maniac.
"Well, dear brother," I said with a sneer, "I'm upset because you don't seem to realize I have something called a 'life', something that doesn't always necessarily concern or revolve around you." At that, Josh walked down the steps, grabbed my arm and began half-dragging me around the house. I tried to struggle free but I must've forgotten how strong he was.
"We are going home right--" Josh began when he was pushed to the ground, taking me down with him. I twisted my arm free and stood near Jake who pinned Josh to the ground.
"Don't just grab her like that--" Jake sprang up holding a hand to his mouth. I could only assume Josh had punched him. Josh got up was about to hit him again when, to my surprise, I jumped up and got Josh in midair and both of us hurled to the ground, scrambling to break free of the other's grasp. When we got up, Alloid had Jake while I tried to hold Josh back. Liz was still at the door, frozen with shock at us.
"How can you defend him!" Josh shouted to me as I held his arms back with all my strength--which surprised me at the amount I had.
"I'm not defending anyone!" I yelled into his ear. A thought occurred to me. "You want to know the reason why Jake and I are here!"
"Amy! Don't tell them!" Jake said all of a sudden. He looked threatening.
"What's the point?" I told him. "It's too late, anyway. We acquired it already."
Josh quickly broke free and whirled to face me. "You did what?"
"You heard me," I said defiantly. "We acquired it."
He gave me a look of disdain. "How-how could you?! What if you'd died?"
"We didn't, did we?" said Jake, still in Alloid's grasp.
Shut up I thought to him.
He narrowed his eyes at me. "Don't tell me to shut up!"
"She didn't," Josh spat back. "But shut up anyway."
"I did." He turned to me. "We can communicate with our minds. It's an… ability we got from the meteorite." The momentum was gone.
Josh started backing away. "So… you guys turned into freaks. You both suddenly have powers?"
"Don't touch him!" Liz suddenly sprang to Josh's side. "Get away from us. Both of you!" She turned to Jake, pulling Josh away. The look she gave us… Josh looked at me in disbelief. It hurt. I started crying. I wanted to go to sleep and believe this was all a dream.
Then I realized I was asleep as I jolted awake. The time told me it was an hour early before I or anyone else in my family usually woke up. I really wished I'd had a chocolate ice cream dream instead. I couldn't fall back asleep so I thought I might as well get up.
As soon as I was ready and had a quick breakfast in me, I decided to go to Jake's house early. I left a note for my mother and left carrying my books and work in my green backpack.
As I walked I had a lot of things tumbling around in my mind; what happened last night and how Jake and I were going to survive the next days of headaches with Charlie around. And if Charlie also didn't pass Algebra II, summer school too. The dream was… depressing. I didn't know how Josh would take it if he knew. His sister a freak?
I barely realized I had passed Jake’s house and was almost around the block when Jake shouted to me.
"Where are you going? Are you high or something?"
"What?" I said brilliantly, walking back to him as he stepped onto the sidewalk. "Oh, I was just thinking about something." I noticed the expression on his face had changed.
"Something," Jake said, pretending to ponder. "Or the something that happened last night?" Jake kept a very curious stare.
"Okay, first of all," I said, "your creeping me out with that stare." Jake looked away quickly. "Okay I was thinking of last night, but also about us--" Jake raised his eyebrows at that, "--putting up with Charlie the rest of the year." Jake seemed to have let out a sigh of relief. I didn't like it.
I wondered if he thought something differently when I'd said the 'us' part.
"Let's…uh," cough, "…get to school," Jake said uncomfortably. "Before Mom and Dad get there." Jake and I, awkwardly, walked along side each other to school. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jake's eyes darting from me to everywhere else. We walked with Liz and Josh to school all the time. We’d been being alone like this a lot lately.
The rest of the walk to school was silent. There were casual waves to other kids we knew on our way to school. When we arrived, we began to keep a lookout for Charlie, which was awkward enough as it was; Jake would not keep eye contact with me for more than half a second. I tried to read his thoughts but he blocked me out somehow. I made a mental note to learn how to do that; Jake smirked at me.
When the bell signaling that school had started rang, Jake and I headed to class. Then we ran into Mike's best friend, Tom Watson. He was the most conceited person on the team, even when he didn't make quarterback.
"Well, well, well, look what the cat coughed up," said Tom. He had also encouraged the rumor Mike Jennings started (I don't know why Tom disliked us, we didn't do anything to him to really be treated that way). "And where are you two coming from," he said chuckling to himself. "Whoa, let me guess, you two were making out behind the science building. Hey, Amy, when will it be my turn?" He laughed before realizing we had walked away.
"That guy is such an idiot," I said. I looked up to Jake who had an expression on his face that I couldn't read, like he was seeing something else other the packed hallway full of kids. "Are you okay, Jake?" Jake seemed to have come out of his trance.
"What? Oh yeah, total idiot," he replied uncertainly. I knew something was troubling him but it went away as we entered class
Jake and I were the last to enter the class. Unfortunately, Miss Abrams seemed to have been waiting for us, or me to be correct.
"I see that you are late," she said, to me. Jake stood awkwardly at my side.
"The bell hasn't rung yet," I replied. Unfortunately--very, very bad timing--the bell rang right after I finished my sentence. Miss Abrams, however, seemed to find it amusing and smiled a wicked smile. This clearly wasn't a good morning for her.
"Miss Santali," she said with sneer, "if you would kindly find your seat so we can at last start our lesson." I angrily found myself a seat next to Jake, who had left me helpless.
"Got detention?" Jake asked casually.
Once he looked at me, I gave him a dogging look; he turned away before I said anything. The rest of the hour was horrible for me. Miss Abrams asked the most difficult questions.
While the smartest kids of the class sat straining to keep their hands in the air to get her attention, Miss Abrams waited for me to answer. She already gave Jason Santiago detention for whispering the answer to me from behind.
Before the period was over, she assigned the class a Venn diagram on meiosis and mitosis--having to do with a question that I had gotten wrong--then write a three-page essay about the differences and similarities of each of their phases and their function. She kept repeating that it would be a major part of the final. I swore I would never be late ever again.
"I can't believe her," I said as we headed for our second class.
"What's up with her today?"
I shrugged. "She probably got her period or something."
The rest of day went normal, except in our fourth period when we had tried with all our might to get through the class with Charlie in the room. Thankfully, the teacher moved the class around to sit in alphabetical order for the finals, so Charlie was on the other side of the room. We had little migraines throughout class but survived.
Lunch was alright. We managed to avoid Charlie along with Liz and Josh. We ate behind the library, doing the math homework we never got to. Mostly we joked around.
It was in our fifth period when I was on the verge of passing out. Jake, miraculously, made it through. Charlie was three chairs way from us while Jake had me for a shield. He seemed amused by my covering him so I made him do my work; it was hard enough to even demand it.
Our last class was the most awkward of all. We had to work in pairs, so I paired with Jake. We sat away from Liz and Josh and avoided all contact. They walked out first when the bell rang while we took our sweet time.
The walk home was sweet relief for Jake and I as we blandly told Liz and Josh that we were going to hang out at Jake's house. We probably were, but then we were going to go down to see Alloid. Hopefully Josh and Liz wouldn't happen to go there.
"Alright," Josh had replied, "whatever." They walked away together, Liz and Josh. Jake and I went in the opposite direction. Mike and Tom were walking in the direction we had come from. They made kissing noises at us. Again, it took all the restraint I had to not attack them with the little force I had. I was stunned by how Jake was so tolerant; he was more calm. And quiet.
We were already walking off the school grounds when Jake said,
"Aw crap!" slapping his hand on his forehead, quite hard. "I'm supposed to be in tutorial." He rubbed his forehead.
"For what class?" I asked curiously. I didn't know how he was doing in in any of our classes, but obviously he wasn't getting A plus's.
"History," he replied, exasperated. "I swear, it's so pointless that even I don't get it anymore." He then sprinted off saying what sounded like "See you there" or "Meet me there." I headed off towards the crosswalk, shuddering at the fact that only yesterday, Jake could've died at the spot I was walking over right at that moment. I looked back towards the school to see Jake enter a classroom across the center of the school.
I stopped at the small coffee shop and bought myself a glazed doughnut. I was pondering whether or not to go straight to Alloid's. Though there was a chance that Josh and Liz would try to sneak there before we did. I was giving it some more thought when I dropped my doughnut onto the sidewalk.
Great. I haven't even bitten it yet I picked it up with the napkin that stayed in my hand. I was about to toss it into a trash bin when I heard someone say,
"Hey Lady, you aren't going to throw that away, are you?"
I looked around, expecting to find a homeless man or something, but only saw no one but a small, scruffy dog. Feeling completely stupid, I asked, "D-did you…say something?"
"Of course," he replied sarcastically. "No on else is around." Stunned out of my wits, I turned around, eyes still wide open in shock.
This is not happening You are not talking to a dog This is not happening
"Is for horses!" I shouted ridiculously. I immediately felt like an idiot because of my response and because I had responded to a dog in the middle of a public street. Taking a deep breath I couldn't help but stare at the dog.
"You humans are weird," he snickered.
SHAKING, I TRIED TO IGNORE IT OR HIM RATHER, PINCHING MY ARM TO MAKE SURE I WASN'T HAVING A FREAKY DREAM. I tossed the doughnut inside the trash.
"Hey!" the dog yelled again; I jumped a little. I turned slowly around to stare in amazement, eyes probably comically still wide open.
"Yes?" I said in a quiet voice. I looked around but the street was disserted. I was thankful no one was watching my display of insanity.
"Do you mind giving me that perfectly fine," he licked his furry lips, "doughnut from that cylinder thing? I'm really hungry and it's hard to find food around here, especially dodging crazy drivers just to cross the damn street. But I don't want to go to the pound," he shook his head and shuddered, "too harsh. Anyway, do you mind?"
"Uh… n-no," I said in reply as I reached in and pulled out the doughnut with the napkin. I then walked slowly toward the dog.
"Don't worry I won't bite you," he said with a smirk, at least I thought it was--his whiskers went up a little. I took the napkin off and gave it to the dog and he took the doughnut from my hand.
" 'anks," the dog replied with a stuffed mouth, "see ya 'round." He then trotted across the street and disappeared behind the block. It took a few seconds for me to gather myself together. No other words could describe the experience as… whasifaladida? I checked my watch and realized I should've have been home ten minutes ago. I continued to walk when my phone rang, startling me. It was a text from Jake.
The message said, 'Hey, I'm on my way 2 Alloid's come 2 -Jake' Tutorial wasn't that short, so I only assumed Jake decided to just bail out; no wonder we weren't doing so hot in school. I changed directions, then noticing the path I was on was the same path the talking dog took.
It's just a coincidence I thought. As I approached the tree house, I saw the one and only talking dog waiting at the front door.
"What are you doing here?" I asked incredulously.
"I see you've just met Rufus too?" came a voice from the side of the house. Jake came out with a smirk. I was about to ask how he was able to get here so fast when the dog looked back at me.
"What are you doing here?" Rufus asked raising a furry eyebrow at me.
"For your information," Jake answered for me, "we are here to see a friend."
"I can talk you know," I said to Jake, who turned red. I didn't know what was up about that.
"And…," Rufus replied thoughtfully, "that would be Alloid, wouldn't it?" He spoke with perfect articulation.
"How do you know Alloid?" I asked, a little impressed. Just then the door opened and Alloid poked out his head.
"Can you three please come in?" he said agitated. "You might be making a scene." He held the door opened for us as we walked in. It was impossible to make a scene with no one around to actually watch.
The main room was a bit more organized. It seemed as though Alloid tried to mend the furniture, unsuccessfully, by hand. Jake and I took seats at the table while Rufus sat by, or under, a window facing the front of the house.
"Who's this mangy dog?" Jake said, rudely, breaking the silence.
"Who are you calling 'mangy dog' pretty boy?" Rufus replied, growling. "I'm smarter than you are, you--"
"PLEASE shut up," I told to both Jake and Rufus. Alloid looked quite nervous. Rufus actually rolled his eyes at Jake and vice versa
Alloid sighed exasperatedly. "Rufus here--"
"Excuse me," Rufus interrupted, and annoyed, "but I would like to field that one, if I may?" Clearly, Rufus wanted to make sure the story was his way. Pushy.
Rufus was about to begin when there was a knock on the door. We all froze ("Can't I say anything?" Rufus muttered). I slowly went to the window and peeked outside. There was a black SUV and two men in black suits standing by the car while another stood by the door, waiting for someone to answer. The SUV's license plate said ATKIN.
"Alloid, you've got to hide," I said quietly. "Some guys are here, and they don't look friendly." Alloid jumped up and went out the back door, Rufus followed. Jake was fixing the table as if only to people were sitting there moments ago.
"What will we say? Who are those people?" Jake said in a quivering voice.
"Don't worry," I replied, the idea playing as I spoke. "Just… read my mind and follow my lead." Before Jake could protest I opened the door.
"Excuse me, miss," the man said in a deep voice. His brown hair was cut in sort of a flat top style. His black glasses hid most of his face. He was about to say something but I cut in.
"Can I help you?" I asked in a typical arrogant teenage sort of way. Out of the corner of my eye, Jake looked at me like I'd taken on a totally different personality.
"I am sorry," the man replied in broken English, more of what sounded like an Australian accent, "it's just that we got a tip off saying an unauthorized person was living here. We would like to search the, uh, residence."
It's just a tree house Jake thought. Does it look like someone could live here?
"But it's just a tree house," I repeated, pretending to chew gum. "No one lives here. We just hang out here." The man stood with a bit of a disappointed look on his face, utterly perplexed. The other man looked like he felt he didn't belong.
"Excuse me for asking," he said, "but are you over the age of eighteen?" He smiled a little. "If so, I would like to see your identification card." I was frozen, and Jake in mere shock. How would I get out of this one?
"We're fifteen. Is something going on? Are you guys, like, FBI or CIA or something? Do you have a gun?" I said, talking fast and sounding stupid. He just stood there for a second. Then another man came up behind him.
"Sorry to disturb you, but do you know a Jake Robins or Amy Santali? They go to Lincoln High School, just down the road." It took some tough thinking before I could answer.
"We knew them, but Amy moved to New York and Jake moved to Florida, I think. We went to their going-away parties. It was so fun you just had to be there!" I said, twirling my hair around my finger. Jake looked at me as if I was crazy; I probably seemed that way. The men looked disappointed again, but they seemed to believe me.
"Thank you and sorry for disturbing you." He and his friend turned and walked to their car. I was about to shut the door when I had a sudden thought.
"Hey!" I shouted. The men turned. "Are they, like, in trouble or something? Did they, like, break a law?" The men looked at each other then the one with the broken English answered.
"You can say that," he said with a sneer. They both got in their car and drove away. I closed the door and leaned against it with my eyes closed.
Are we wanted criminals?
Jake heard me. "No way. We did nothing wrong!"
"What about the acquiring? What if those guys have something to do with Area 51 or something?" Jake snorted at that. I narrowed my eyes at him.
"Yeah, and I'm a rock star. Come on, Area 51? You mean they somehow know about Alloid and the meteorite?"
"NASA has satellites and stuff. Maybe they tracked it here." Then I suddenly remembered the license plate on the SUV. "Jake, did you see the license plate? It had 'Atkin' on it." Jake's eyes opened wide.
You don't mean--? His thoughts were interrupted when Alloid came back in with Rufus at his side. Rufus seemed a little angry.
"What did they want?" he asked.
"Apparently, Charlie's probably looking for me and Jake. They said they heard some sort of disturbance that was reported from around here." Alloid seemed to be taking this in so I continued. "Are you sure no one saw you or-or the…acquiring happen? Was there any way Charlie found out and snooped around?"
"No. I put a reflective protection around the house. People would only see the trees behind us. And I only venture out in my human form." He was right about that, for his regular form was blue skin. I was about to ask how did those men see the house.
"Well," Rufus said, plopped on the couch, "may I continue my introduction?"
"Some other time, pup, we've got to go," I said looking at my watch. It was already six. Rufus growled loudly, probably annoyed at the 'pup' remark.
"Make sure you two bring Liz and Josh with you Friday," Alloid said as they headed for the door.
"Why? What are you talking about?" I asked. Jake and I couldn't scratch our minds about what he meant. What did Liz and Josh have to do with anything?
"Well tomorrow is Friday," Alloid replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. I lost myself in thought. I thought of how we deceived Josh and Liz. If Alloid meant what I thought he meant, how was Josh going to be able to deal with the acquiring that took place and the coming of our abilities?
"Oh," Jake said, "yeah…right…I guess we'll see you tomorrow then." He led me out the door. Rufus followed out and trotted away towards the rest of what was left of the trees. We walked for a short distance in silence. I was pondering whether the outcome of the following meeting will go smooth. I hoped that it would seem that Liz and hopefully Josh will be understanding.
"How do you think Josh will handle it?" Jake said, obviously having read my mind. Nosy.
"Probably murderously furious at being kept out of the loop," I replied, looking down at the sidewalk then up at Jake. He really did look hot in the sunset (What? I can't express my personal opinions?… It's my book…). I then got on to what I was saying. "I mean, Josh is so narrow-minded while Liz is…well… an unbelievable worry-wart."
"But wouldn't Alloid be able to explain things better and more…" he thought for a moment, "clearly?"
"Maybe they'll understand, but they won't like it one bit." I glanced up the sidewalk as we turned the corner.
Two tall, muscular gangster-looking guys noticed us. They were scary looking as they stared at me. Scars and tattoos covered their arms and their pants sagged like there was something heavy in their pockets. One of the guys muttered something to the other in Spanish I couldn't catch, keeping his eye on me. The other nodded his bald, tattoo-covered head in understanding. I looked around; the street was empty except for us four--no sign of authority or anyone to call for help.
Jake, act like you forgot something so we can turn around Quick! He had noticed them then slapped his forehead again.
"Aw man. I forgot my math book at your house," he said loudly. I was too scared to care how stupid he'd sounded. We quickly turned and ran (I don't know why we ran) into an alley that led to another street. One man was following us. Where was the other one?
We were close to the exit when the other man appeared out of nowhere and grabbed me. I screamed but he quickly put a hand over my mouth. The other man had Jake pinned against the wall, knife to his back, looking through his pockets.
"Hey calm down, pretty," the man whispered into my ear as I tried to struggle and screamed silent screams. "We'll just get some money from your boyfriend and take you somewhere nice."
I continued to struggle and managed to elbow him in the stomach with the adrenaline that pumped through me in fear. The instant he let me go I punched him with all my might in the face, then he staggered off. At that point, the other man grabbed me. Jake was on the ground, probably unconscious; his head was bleeding badly. The man shoved me against the wall, making me hit my head I lost all thought and sight while my head throbbed in pain.
His body was pressing against mine, just holding me. He held me up for my brief knockout and was kissing me up and down my neck. Suddenly, crying from fear about what he would do next, I tried to push him away when I felt something cold pulse through my arms. Next thing I knew, the guy was blown away from me, something transparently purple was all around him. He hit the wall with an amazing force and slumped to the ground, unconscious. There was a small indentation where his back had met the wall, bricks littered around him. I stood there in complete shock. I thought only about what I did… whatever it was I did. What the hell was that?
"Are you okay?" Jake said at my side. He wrapped his arms around me as I cried a little. We were lucky we had these abilities or who knows what could have happened this evening. When I pulled myself together, taking deep breaths, I pulled away from Jake.
"Let's go home," I said, my voice shaking a little. We walked as fast as possible, avoiding some curious stares through the suddenly filled street. Finally being able to calm myself down, we slowed our pace.
"What happened?" asked Jake in a quiet voice. "What did you do?" I thought for a moment, playing it over in my head. It all seemed so quick at the time, now it slowed down for me to analyze it.
"I don't really know," I replied, unsure of myself, "but the only thing I can come up with is that I probably made some sort of… shield or something. Like the Invisible Woman… without the invisibility part--and mine's purple, I don't know. Don't look at me like that. If you think you can explain it, go right ahead." A thoughtful expression replaced his 'Is she crazy?' look at my challenge.
"I have… got nothing. Let's just get home." We walked in silence for a while, the detour got us farther from home. I was just glad I was able to go home.
"Let's recap," he said, his voice forcefully cheerful. I just listened. "We can both read each other's minds, I can heal myself and you can be my body guard." I nudged into him, smiling and laughing with him.
"Well," Jake said as we reached my house, "thanks for…you know…that thing you did back there."
"It's the least I can do after you saved my life," I replied smiling up at him.
He looked confused. "What? When?" .
"That day on our way back to school remember?… the truck?"
"Oh…." He turned pink. "Well…."
Never expecting it--never even considering Jake Robins was capable of it--he bent down and kissed me on the lips. We stood there for what felt like a blissful eternity--which, in reality, was like half a second (the best of my life). I had my eyes closed when we pulled away. He was just opening his eyes, too, smiling. When I was able to focus my eyes, his face was as red as a tomato; I was probably no different. Before Jake could say anything--all thought wiped from our minds--I turned and walked into my door. Smooth.
"Bye," Jake said, voice cracking with a hint of laughter. He walked to the sidewalk, cutting across the lawn and almost tripping over his own two feet. I watched him walk home; he was moving slower, almost bouncing.
Once he disappeared around the corner, I entered the house smiling and stumbling on the carpet in a peaceful oblivion and headed to the kitchen to find a note on the refrigerator door. It said:
You remember that your father and I have been given a three day cruise vacation for your father's promotion. When we get home, we are all going to celebrate after your three day Memorial weekend
You two can take care of yourselves for a couple of days
Love Mom and Dad
I had totally forgotten about the trip--I've been busy. It had been two weeks ago when he got the news I vaguely remembered them telling Josh and I that if we needed anything, that we could call Liz's parents or Jake's mom.
At least they wouldn't be here when Josh murders me and Jake.
I opened the fridge and took a green apple, then headed to my room, thinking of starting my homework. I heard voices as I passed Josh's room. Curiosity getting the best of me, I leaned against the door.
"Don't you still think you overreacted back there? They probably didn't even go," said a girl's voice. I leaned in further.
"No, I don't and if you're going to side with them, then why don't you join them," That was Josh's voice so the girl was definitely Liz. I stood by to listen (call me what you like, but I prefer ‘attentive listener').
"I didn't say that!" Liz retorted. "I just meant that … didn't they try to do the right thing? Didn't they want to actually do something about … about whatever is going on?" There was a brief silence then there were footsteps coming towards the door. I ran into my room as quietly as I could right before his bedroom door opened. I shut my door and pressed my ear against it to hear what they were saying.
"Maybe they didn't," said Liz. "There really isn't anything different about them. They're just always together." I couldn't believe she was saying something like that to Josh. She was the only one I entrusted my secret crush to. I had half a mind to barge in there and shut her mouth before she said anything else.
"Are they always together?" asked Josh.
"I still don't think they did the… acquiring," Liz answered, hastily changing the subject quickly. I sighed in relief.
"I just don't know what we're going to do," Josh was saying. "We'll just have to wait and see tomorrow. Let's just have some fun while we can. Why don't you call Jake to come over, we can all spend the night here and figure all this out. Amy should be here by now."
"Sure, I'll ask my parents if I can stay. See ya in a bit," Liz replied. There were more footsteps as they walked away.
I stayed by the floor pondering about what I had just heard. Did Liz really think Josh was going to able to handle all of what 'supposedly' had happened? Of course, she couldn't know: she didn't know about anything either. And how can Josh delude himself into thinking having some fun will smooth things over?
Just then there was a knock on my door. I quickly got up and opened it. Josh stood there with a fake smile.
"I was about--when did you get in?" Josh asked suddenly curious.
"I got in an hour ago, I guess."
"Oh. Anyway, Liz and I were thinking, since Mom and Dad aren't here, we thought me, you, Liz, and Jake should have… you know…a little rendezvous."
"Yeah, that'll be awesome," I said, feeling dread for the next day and masking it with fake excitement.
"All right, I'm gonna order a couple of pizzas. Why don't you get the sleeping bags while we wait for Liz and Jake."
"Yes sir," I replied, giving a military salute as Josh went downstairs and I went for the hall closet and found four sleeping bags. When I pulled them out with all my might (my parents are what most would call disorganized, but who am I to talk. You should see my room), a small golden thing fell from the top shelf of the closet and hit me on the head. I picked up from the ground.
It was a necklace with a golden sparrow as a pendant. It was small, flat and pristine. I turned it over to find something engraved in it: 'Amy Keeper of the Unspeakables' in pretty calligraphy.
Who are the 'Unspeakables' ? And why am I a 'Keeper'?
"Amy!" Josh yelled from downstairs, "Jake and Liz are here!" I quickly pocketed the necklace; I’d worry about it later.
"Coming!" I got the sleeping bags and headed down stairs. Jake and Liz had duffel bags and looked extremely happy. I hadn't seen any one of them this happy for days.
"My parents think Josh is at Jakes' house," Liz told me. "And that you and I are here." We giggled.
"Vice versa," said Jake. "I think." I couldn't help smiling. He blushed; what happened earlier hadn't left his mind, I guessed--he blocked me out.
"That's pretty good for me," Josh said to Liz and Jake while I walked down the stairs with the sleeping bags. "So, I ordered four pizzas and downloaded some movies. They're on my laptop so I'll need your help,” he said to Liz, "to hook it all up to the big screen in the living room."
"Awesome," I cut in. "I'll keep an eye out for the pizza and set up the sleeping bags while you make yourselves at home." I began spreading the sleeping bags out on the living room floor; Liz and Josh went upstairs to work on the laptop, and Jake was sprawled on the couch, watching me.
"Do you mind helping?" I asked as I spread out the second sleeping bag. Jake merely smiled like whatever. It's like our kiss never happened I suddenly felt rejected but hid that the best I could and pushed it out of my mind.
"I prefer to remain like you said--" He stopped and looked down at the ground. I followed his gaze to find the necklace. I dived to get it, but Jake was quicker and happened to be closer. He looked at it and turned it over, clearly noticing the engraving on the back.
"Do you mind telling me what this is?" he asked, holding up the necklace. I lunged for it but he moved aside. I landed on the couch and looked up.
"Give it back, Jake Robins." He was standing in front of me, waving the necklace mockingly in front of me.
"Ooohhh," he taunted, "you said my full name, I'm quaking with--" I jumped on him and we both landed on the ground. I managed to wrestle it out of his hand, "Ha!" as Josh and Liz came down.
The scene seemed pretty crazy and plain out weird. I was on top of Jake, my arms in the air and knees at his sides, his hands on my waist. Jake and I were frozen, Josh and Liz were just as bewildered. Jake was the first to say anything.
"Uh … we were just …uh…" Even he couldn't say anything. His hands were still on my waist.
"We were, uh… you know, um… messing around," I cut in. I got up off of Jake, shoving the necklace into my pocket and helped him up, both of us donning red faces. I didn't bother to read Jake's mind; I was too confoodled myself. (Yes, confoodled is my word; it means 'confused'.)
"Oookaay …" Josh said, "anyway, the movies are ready to be seen," the door bell rang, "and there's the pizza."
THURSDAY NIGHT WAS ONE OF THE MOST ENJOYABLE NIGHTS I HAD IN A LONG TIME. After getting over the brief, unusual moment between Jake and me, we settled into our sleeping bags and began to eat. In between the first two pizzas, we began to watch the first movie but no one seemed to be watching; we were conversing over gossip we heard around school.
When the movie was over, we played Truth or Dare. I was afraid Liz and Josh were going to sneak in a question regarding Alloid and such. Instead, we were busy trying to get Jake to confess a crush he accidentally admitted. (I tried to read his mind but he would not say--think--the name). Around eleven o'clock, we finally decided to sleep.
I felt extremely happy to sleep--given today's events, but then thoughts of tomorrow night made me feel sick to the stomach, probably the pizza.
Of course, there was a fifty percent chance it all would resolve itself, same chance for the opposite. I was mostly worried about Josh's reaction. I knew he meant well, wanting me to be safe. I loved him but I could never see things his way. In addition, Liz… what could I say about Liz. She would probably be upset that I had not told her. We had never gotten any talking time together; we were drifting apart.
There was nothing left to do
Unless Alloid had the power to reverse time, our choices were going to have to play out. What surprised me was that I felt no regret to the choice I made; it saved me already. It saved Jake too. The worries tumbled around and made me sleepy.
The next morning, I woke up feeling a bit light in a way. I was neutral. When I went to the kitchen, Jake, to my surprise, was making breakfast.
"What brought on this lovely occasion?" I asked, smirking.
Jake nearly dropped the frying pan in surprise. "Well … I just thought I'd do something nice for everyone," he said with a boyish smile. He turned to make sure the bacon wasn't burning while I got lost in the funny patterns his rumpled hair made in the morning. I finally snapped out of it before he noticed and began making scrambled eggs along side him. Every now and then, he would nudge me and I would nudge him back.
I had just put the eggs back in the fridge when I turned to find Jake incredibly close to me, an unreadable expression on his face, his hand on the fridge door--he was probably going to open it. Instead of moving back like I thought he would, he put his hands around my waist while I put my hands on his shoulders; he had me up against the refrigerator, his body perfectly against mine.
We looked into each other's eyes; not one thought was in our heads. I was sure this was an involuntary action our hormones were making us do as we slowly leaned in for another kiss, millimeter by slow millimeter… yesterday… all over again…
Until we heard Liz and Josh coming, in which Jake and I immediately broke it up.
He quickly went for the bacon, which was burning--like my face. I quickly got the eggs onto plates, all the while avoiding eye contact with Jake, Josh and Liz. I didn't read his mind and he didn't read mine, which was good because I was excessively confoodled. I was putting the little mental alertness I had in the morning on double time.
"About time you did some cooking, Amy," Josh said, laughing.
I laughed at him, mockingly amused. "Just for that," I said in my normal voice, "you're getting the burnt bacon." Liz went to get some plates; Jake for the bacon--which was all burned, but still edible; Josh was coming from the fridge with orange juice; I had went for some forks and glasses.
As we sat down, we realized we had half an hour to eat, get ready, and start walking to school. We gobbled up our breakfast, washed all the dishes, and went into separate rooms to get dressed. Liz went to my parents bedroom, I went to my room, Jake to the bathroom and Josh into his room to change and get ready. I kept the necklace in my front pocket, to keep it safe. Maybe Jake and I could sneak to Alloid's and ask him about it (he apparently knew everything).
Soon enough, we were waiting by the door so Josh could lock it.
When we reached the corner, we noticed a black SUV following us. My thoughts immediately went to Liz and Josh's safety. Jake and I exchanged nervous glances while Liz and Josh, to our surprise, seemed quite unconcerned. At least Josh wouldn't be going crazy with curiosity.
"Why don't we split up," I suggested subtlety (yeah right), interrupting a normal discussion, "Liz and Josh take the short way while Jake and I go the long way." There was nothing subtle about the way I phrased it. The long way took us around the vast park, big enough that Josh and Liz wouldn't notice anything suspicious--should a suspicious even occur.
Liz, for some unfathomable and amazing reason, didn't question the idea. "Right," she said, probably construing it into something else. "Let's meet at the usual spot." We split up and soon enough Liz, pulling a confused Josh along with her, disappeared behind the corner. Jake and I went in the opposite direction. I discreetly peeked behind us--pretending to move hair out of my face--the SUV didn't move. The driver was probably confused on whom to follow. I turned and looked straight ahead, as did Jake. Sure enough, I could hear the car's tires on the pavement behind us.
What does he want? Jake thought to me. Why's he following us?
Maybe the guys from yesterday found us out I thought back.
It felt like an eternity. Jake and I were involved in pretend conversation, constantly turning back just to see the black car about a hundred feet behind us. Every minute I got more anxious, expecting a bag to slide over my head. Everyone on the street and sidewalk walked by without notice to the black car following us. Again, what the frick?
Jake and I were on the sidewalks that lead to the entrance to the school grounds when I saw the car was gone. Students walked in swarms towards the gates, completely unaware.
Walking into the center of the school, we heard shouting erupt from the amphitheater. I turned to see the one and only Mike Jennings, pounding the living daylights out of a boy two-thirds his size. Groups of students continued to huddle around in the circle, alerting more students to the cause of disruption. Jake and I were constantly looking around for a security guard to find only kids chanting and yelling encouragement. The little kid was just taking punch after punch; his eyes drooped a little. Mike was practically killing the little boy--and he looked like he was having fun doing it.
Come on I thought frantically how was I able to create that thing yesterday?
I held out my arms in Mike's direction and racked my brain until I a)felt the cool sensation in my arms and 2)heard people gasp in loud astonishment. I looked up to see Mike fly into the air, landing about a hundred yards away; no brick wall stopped him. Everyone turned his or her attention to Mike, ignoring the boy as he slumped to the ground. I rushed forward to help, Jake following closely behind.
"Can you stand?" I asked the boy, he looked like a freshman. He merely nodded, looking up at me with a glazed look in his eyes, blood coming out of the cut just a millimeter next to his right eye. His other eye was swollen shut. Jake and I helped him to his feet, trying to keep the blood off me; the kid's shirt was soaked.
A security guard was outside the office's door, chatting with a woman from one of the windows. When he noticed the boy stumbling along next to us, his eyes popped open in surprise or shock. When we reached inside the building, the nurse gasped at the sight of him and immediately began patching him up.
"Why did Mike beat up that harmless little kid?" Jake asked as we hurried along to Liz and Josh.
"Because he should be in a mental institution," I replied. "Let's just go with Liz and Josh and tell them all about it, only the fight, I mean." Half way through the scene of the fight, the bell rang.
"We'll meet them at lunch," Jake assured me. My head was full of the events that had taken place in the short hour, wondering what could happen next. Will a meteor fall from the sky and hit me on the head?
By the time we reached the door, I stopped and realized we had a review test that day.
Damn it The one test I didn't study for. Jake led the way to some seats in the back. Five minutes into the class, the phone rang the same time the bell did. The teacher answered as the class waited for instruction by talking loudly.
"Are you sure both of them have to go? They have a test…. No, I don't mind. Will they be back Tuesday?… Alright, thank you." She turned to me and Jake. "You're both wanted in the office." She talked over the still animated class.
"We're not coming back?" Jake asked as we stood up.
"I suppose not. Just remember you'll have to take the test Tuesday." We headed out the door and made our way across the school.
"Who do you think called us out?" Jake asked.
I shrugged. "I don't know. I'm just glad we get out of class. My brain hurt from the worries I had all week. I was glad about the break; I was not looking forward to this afternoon. When we entered the attendance part of the administration office, I was surprised to see Josh and Liz sitting in the small waiting area.
"What’s going on?" I asked as Jake and I took our seats next to them.
"Someone called us out," answered Josh.
"Yeah, we kind of figured that out ourselves, thanks."
He rolled his eyes. "We were thinking it was probably Alloid." He then leaned in closer, as did Liz and Jake. "However," he whispered, "there is a chance it could be those people that followed you and Jake this morning." Sheesh. He’d noticed. "Amy, who were they?"
"I don't know," I said.
Jake cut in. "But why would they call us out? They wouldn't be stupid enough to expect the school to let us leave with complete strangers, do they?"
"I don't know," Liz replied. "Who knows who they could be? For all we know, they could be from the government or something. It was a fricking black SUV." Liz and Josh continued to watch the students and staff members walk by.
"I don't think it's them," Jake whispered to me, crossing his arms.
"That doesn't mean you can rule out the possibility," I replied. I had the idea to debate about the issue, when a short senior office aide came. She kept tossing her bangs out of her face every few seconds.
"You guys can leave now," she replied dully, tossing her bangs aside as she went to her desk. The four of us rushed out in anticipation about who excused us from school. We had agreed it was Alloid, to my dismay. Today was the Friday I was anxious about for the very first time.
"Why can't Alloid do this more often?" Josh wondered. Liz and I skipped ahead and walked in front of them backwards.
"I know," Jake said, "and it's a good thing that--" He suddenly had a worried look on his face.
"Jake, what's wro--" I turned. A man in a black suit was waiting for us. He was standing in front of a black van, looking exactly like the cars that came to Alloid's.
"Hello kids," he said. He spoke in the almost-Australian accent I immediately recognized. I knew that this was not a good thing.
"Hi," I said, feeling my friends' shocked faces gaping at me, "the kids you asked for are waiting inside for you. The office aid needed for you to sign out for them in person. We're waiting for my mom to pick us up."
The man's face faltered. "Oh. Uh… thank you," he replied with a troubled look, "excuse me, then." He quickly ran into the building.
"Why did--?" Josh said with a confused look on his face.
"Move," I said as I grabbed his wrist. "Let's get out of here before he comes back. He's probably realizing it was us he wanted." I practically dragged him down the steps, looking back to make sure the other two were following.
"He's coming!" Liz shrieked.
Jake grabbed me and pushed. "Quick!" he whispered. "We'll hide in the bushes and wait 'til he leaves." They dived into the bush after me, tumbling through to the other side. I was the first to find a little hole to look through. The man was wildly looking around, then got into his van and peeled out of the school gate and disappeared into the traffic. I looked at the other three, who were trying to untangle themselves from their thick pile up.
"What did you see?" Jake asked, releasing himself from under Liz.
"He just left," I reported.
"What should we do now?" Liz seemed to be getting over her trauma; brown eyes wide open.
"I think we should stay away from town and head home," Jake suggested. Josh raised his eyebrows. Liz also had a quizzical look.
"Why? Are they really looking for us?" she asked. I wasn't sure how to respond.
"No… but it doesn't hurt to be…." Jake struggled for words. Careful I thought. "Careful," he finished.
"Of course not," said Josh. "But what are we going to do? We can't go home, they'd simply follow us there." I really wasn't paying attention. There just had to be a way to get Liz and Josh away from us so they won't go after them. Yet if they discover that they're not us, who knew what they would do with them. If we leave them alone, we won't be able to protect them. They wouldn't be able to defend themselves--
"Amy?" Jake asked, startling me.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked. Josh and Liz were trying to peek over the bush. I was about to ask why he was paying attention to me in the first place, but Liz and Josh were present.
"I think we should head to Alloid's," Josh piped up. "Doesn't he have some sort of protection around the house? Those people won't be able to find… whatever it is they're looking for there."
"I don't think we should," I replied. "If they see us disappear or whatever happens when we go, it will only make them curious and want to investigate. We might get Alloid in trouble. I think we should stay away." Josh and Liz thought about it for a moment.
Nice one Jake thought to me.
"Why don't you want to go to Alloid's?" Josh asked me. I was a little puzzled by his question since I just answered it.
"I just said why we shouldn't go to Alloid's."
He shook his head in disagreement. "Really. Why don't you want to go? You seem to be hiding something, I can tell." That statement really threw me. I knew I looked stressed but I never thought he would ever notice.
"What do you mean by that?" I asked, sounding offended.
He rolled his eyes at me. "Oh, come on. You look stressed all the time now. Just spit out whatever it is you're hiding. You've kept to yourself a lot lately. Jake too," he shot at him.
"Whoa! When did I get dragged into this?"
"Quit it, Jake," Liz broke in. "We rarely see you and when we do, you two always have something going on." There was no way to avoid it; it was technically true.
I started off stuttering until I managed to spit it out. "But what about you guys?"
"What about us?" Josh asked in disbelief.
I rolled my eyes. "It's you two that we don't really see. You and Liz are always talking about something without us. Why don't you tell us what's going on?"
"Hey, we're not the ones who sneak out at night," he accused.
"How did you know?" Jake asked before I could stop him.
"I didn't! Ha!" Josh exclaimed in victory. Ugh. I hated when he fished like that. At this point, it really didn't matter since it was already out of the bag.
"It doesn't matter--" I began
"The hell it doesn't matter!" Josh cut in. "I think you've been lying a lot lately. I think you did that… acquiring thing." I was really blown away. I couldn't imagine how he could come to that conclusion--
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" I cried out. "Had I really done that I would have come to you right after. Plus, wouldn't you see any difference in me?"
Josh just turned red.
"So, you didn't do it?" Liz asked softly. It almost hurt as much to lie to Liz than it had when I lied to Josh. This wasn't your average little white lie.
"No, we didn't," Jake answered. We all sat there for a minute.
"What do we do now?" Liz asked. "I want to go home."
"Maybe we can," Josh said. "Didn't that guy leave already?" I peeked through the bush to double check; the black van wasn't there.
"Why don't we hang around town?" I suggested. "Today's Friday so a lot of people will be at the sales in the stores."
"I don't have any money," Josh said as he turned out his pockets.
"I have two hundred dollars from my paycheck left over," Liz said. "We'll stop at my house and get money, since my parents are at work." Already at sixteen, she was able to get a part time job. Lucky her. Unfortunately, the fast-food place she'd been working at was bought out by a printing shop a few months ago. I had to wait till November to even ask my parents to let me get a job.
"Perfect. Can we stop at McDonald's? I'm hungry," Jake asked.
I smirked. "When are you not hungry?"
We headed to Liz's first, leaving our backpacks there, and waited outside as she went to get her money.
"Wouldn't you rather save that for a rainy day?" I asked her as we left.
She shrugged. "Maybe. But when do get opportunities like this?"
We made our way to town. We stayed in the most crowded places so no police will think we were ditchers. Entering the mall that opened recently, it was quite full. Our first thirty minutes were spent in a line we thought was to McDonald's, but turned out to be a line for the restrooms; I thought there were too many guys in line.
After finally eating something, we walked around the mall looking in the store windows. I dragged Liz to the bookstore--promising her we would be able to go to the shoe department afterwards. Josh dragged Jake to the electronics store--saying they'll go to the art supply store next; Jake needed some new drawing pads and sketch pencils.
My being a bookworm usually irritated Liz. She always wondered what motivated me to stay inside and read all day.
"It's the way the imagination works," I said as she waited for me to make a selection. "You wouldn't know anything about that--you're not imaginative."
"It's not my fault you're not logical," she retorted as she browsed the teen magazines. I finally decided on a vampire-love story over a new vampyre finishing school series; there were too many vampire books to choose from. I vowed to get it later once I'd skimmed through the synopsis.
After we paid for the book, and Liz had finally chosen a pair of new sandals, we waited at the designated bench in the middle of the mall for Jake and Josh. I began reading while Liz impatiently people-watched. Five minutes had barely passed--I was almost halfway through chapter one--when Liz tried to start a conversation.
"So…." she began. I looked around, hoping Jake and Josh would materialize from thin air--I dreaded the possible topic on her mind.
"So… what?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes. "What's with you and Jake? You two spend a lot of time together. Do you guys talk or something?" I tried to think up a response that would both satisfy her need for info and also not let her know what was actually going on.
I coughed unnecessarily. "Well… we mostly just--"
"How long have you been waiting?" Josh shouted as he and Jake came empty handed. I was saved.
"Forever," I said exasperatedly. "You guys didn't buy anything?"
"No. I need to find an adapter, but I don't know which one is right for the laptop," Josh said. "I didn't see which one I had at home before it broke and I threw it away."
"Well, don't ask me for help," I said. "You know I never understand your technological mumbo-jumbo lingo." I had said it too quickly so it all sounded like gibberish. Jake laughed at me.
"I'll go with you to help," Liz said as she stood up. "We'll be right back. Stay out of trouble." She and Josh chuckled. Being the oldest, they had more fun being with us, who were the youngest.
"Yes, Mother," Jake retorted. They walked away to the store while I pulled out the book again. Jake sat next to me and smirked.
"What?" I asked.
"How can you read so much?"
"How can you draw so much?" I replied. "At least I don't use a million trees worth of paper."
He narrowed his eyes threateningly. "At least I'll make millions of dollars with my hobby," he countered. I rolled my eyes and brought them down to the book… but I could no longer see the page from my point-of-view; Jake was invading my head.
"Can I help you with something?"
"What?" he replied innocently. I looked up to see him turn away quickly.
"Don't 'what' me, you know what."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You're intruding my head," I said. Jake looked like he was trying to find Liz and Josh coming back. They weren't on their way yet.
"Why would I do that?" The innocence way too obvious. "Romantics aren't my thing." Perfect.
"How do you know there's romance in here?" I countered. "Whenever I talk about it, I only describe the vampires and the cool parts. I never mentioned romance….. Do you like this?" He turned red immediately.
Crap he thought. "Fine. I… kinda like that stuff. It just depends," he allowed. "I just want to know who she chooses."
I raised my eyebrows. "You've read the other three?" I asked incredulously. Jake didn't seem like the kind of guy who could like romance novels--even any other kind of book for that matter.
He nodded. "Just don't say anything."
"My lips are sealed."
"Since when?" he scoffed. I punched him in the arm. "Ow!" He immediately blushed as an elderly couple looked at him curiously. I laughed.
I finished the second chapter, wanting to savor what I'd just learned, when I looked at the huge digital clock in the center. It was already ten.
"Where are they?" Jake asked. I suddenly got worried. We had left them alone in this big mall….
"Let's head to the store they went into. Do you know where it is?" I said as I gathered my bag and stood up.
"The new RadioShack? It was next to the art store," he replied as we jogged through the crowd. I saw the RadioShack sign up ahead and the entrance to the art supply store. We split up, checking all the aisles to the annoyance of the customers. Once I got to the last one, I saw a bag from the shoe store Liz and I had gone to. And beside it was a small package with wires in it and their cell phones. Liz and Josh were no where in sight.
Jake rushed to my side as I stood there, completely frozen. The harsh truth cut at me from all sides. Unless they ran away together to elope, they had just been kidnapped.
THE LAST COUPLE OF HOURS SEEMED LIKE A NIGHTMARE. After realizing the harsh truth of Liz and Josh's disappearance, we set out for Alloid's. I first decided to go to my house for some brainstorming(and if Liz and Josh had decided to simply ditch us at the mall). Jake, however, thought it all to be a waste of time.
"What's the point of even coming here?" he complained when we entered the undisturbed house. "Won't they just come over here and strip this place upside down while looking for us too?"
"If they were," I said in an irritated tone, "they would have done that already."
I went up to my bedroom, closely followed by Jake. He seemed a bit too paranoid to be left alone. I showed Jake to Josh's pigsty of a room.
"A bit of a slob, eh?" Jake muttered by the doorway. Josh's room was more messy and disorganized than mine. And that's saying something.
"Just look for something that could fit you." I looked Jake up and down, he seemed a bit disturbed by this action. "You two are probably the same size, or is he still taller?" I left him there to dig through the mess while I went to get a backpack from my room.
I began grabbing as many items of clothing as I could. I then went to my desk, wrenched open the third drawer and lifted the secret board in it. There, I had two hundred dollars of birthday money saved for a very rainy day--or something incredibly awesome yet incredibly expensive I just had to have.
When I was finished, I took one last look at my room and then reached into my pocket; the necklace was not there. I quickly ran to Josh's room and without thinking, I yanked the door open to find Jake with nothing but boxers and a shocked look on his face. Before he said anything, I closed the door.
"There's this new thing, it's called knocking!"
"I'm sorry!" I shouted back, my face burning against the door. "I was just looking for the necklace. I don't have it."
"What? Oh, I had it in my pants pocket--where are they?" Some movement could be heard. "Somewhere in here," he muttered to himself. I became nervous and pressed myself against the door in anticipation. I didn't know what the necklace meant, but I thought I would ask Alloid. I heard some more steps and before I knew it, the door opened and I found myself an inch from the floor. Jake grabbed my left arm and his other hand was around my waist.
"Nice of you to drop in," he said as he helped me straighten up to my feet. "Especially now that I'm properly dressed." As I gathered myself together, more uneasy about our incident, he grabbed one of Josh's bags. I was about to ask for the necklace when Jake held it up in a humorous smile.
"So," he said as we walked out of the room and to the stairs. "Where did you find the little wonder?"
"I found it in our hall closet…" I thought for a moment for we had stopped in front of the very closet, "but I don't remember seeing anything in there the day we moved here." I tried hard to remember that day, about who packed that closet. "I had packed that closet, but I didn't see anything in there at the time." Jake was gazing at me with a concentrated look on his face; it made me kind of nervous.
"Didn't anyone live here before you?" he asked while he looked through the closet.
"No, this house was brand new when my dad bought it. We'll talk later; we should leave now." Those people should've have realized by now that Liz and Josh were not me and Jake; what would they do with them then? We walked down the stairs together, almost tripping all the way. We had reached the bottom when Jake pulled me down to my knees.
"Shh!" He pointed to the window; a silhouette of a man was trying to look through the blinds. Jake motioned for me to crawl to the back door.
"What do we do now?" I whispered. "Won't they see us open it?" He didn't answer but instead grabbed my hand. It was difficult crawling with one available arm.
"What are you--?"
"Look." He pointed to the refrigerator. I turned to look.
The refrigerator was shiny enough for you to see your reflection. It had been my mom's choice for a fridge, saying that a white one was too ordinary and that this blended with everything (she believed so anyway). All I saw was the kitchen behind us where I should have been looking directly at our reflection.
"How are you--" I began but Jake held up his hand to silence me. We made our way under the table and to the door.
"If we're invisible," I grunted as I crawled on my aching knees behind Jake, "why do we have to crawl and hide if they can't even see us?"
He took a while to answer. "I don't know," he replied. "I haven't done this with someone else before."
We'd just reached the door and pulled it open when a window from the kitchen shattered, glass raining down on us. I shrieked as Jake instinctively shielded me, more gunfire shooting just above our heads and destroying my mom's wedding China.
Jake pulled me out the door. We ran across our backyard and jumped the fence into the alley behind the neighboring houses. A few neighbors peeked out their windows to see me and Jake running madly towards the street. I spotted a little old diner that was usually empty around this time.
"In here, quick!" I pulled Jake by the shirt collar. We quickly moved to the back, avoiding the stares of the three people at the counter. I slipped into the booth farthest from the door while Jake sat opposite me. He had the same fatigued expression on his face as the day the semi truck hit him.
"What do we do now?" Jake asked.
I felt hysteria well up from being shot at. "Well, for starters, why don't we discuss what happened a while ago? How come you never told me you developed another ability?" I tried to give him a hard look but I didn't have to; anxiety was already etched on his face.
"I--well … you know--with all that was going on," he sputtered, "I was meaning to, uh, tell you, but … you know Liz and Josh were always around and we were never alone--I mean," his face turned pink, "to talk. I was just as surprised I was able to do it with you." He turned red the moment he finished saying it. "I mean--"
"I get what you mean. We better get going, we shouldn't stick to one place at a time. Those guys can be anywhere." We got up to leave, making sure we hid our face without raising suspicion. When we reached the sidewalk, we then tried to decide which way to go.
"We need to think of a plan and yet we don't have a clue about where they can be," I said. "But we have to make sure those guys can't find us before we find them." We thought long and hard for a minute.
Then Jake got an idea. "Why don't we go visit my friend Miguel?" he suggested. I. Could not. Believe him.
Miguel Reyes was one of Jake's old crazy slacker friends who'd tried to jump from the school Gym to the science building on a dare at the beginning of sophomore year. He ended up in the hospital for a month due to two broken legs, a fractured pelvis and a concussion. The whole time in the hospital, he said, was what he called paradise and he was happy he won forty bucks for the stunt. How could he think of his idiot friends when Liz and Josh were missing?
"How can you--" I began.
"Whoa, let me finish. He has a computer. We can use it to e-mail Alloid to see if he knows what's going on and/or where Liz and Josh are. Plus, his house is out of the crowded part of town. No one can suspect us there." I hadn't thought of that but I wasn't going to apologize.
"Why can't we just call Alloid? He does have a cell phone doesn't he?" I suggested. Being an alien had its perks. For instance, he was able to create a false persona and was also able to duplicate money. Every time we asked him to loan us cash, he made us pay back with interest, so we quit asking.
"What if they're monitoring phone calls?" he asked. Touché.
"Fine, just as long as Miguel doesn't know what we're doing."
We set out for Patton Street and Fifth Avenue, where Miguel Reyes lived. It took most of the day to get there; it was a huge town and he lived on the other side of it, and all we had were our feet for transportation. When we arrived, music could be heard pulsing throughout the house. Kids were on the porch dancing, talking and drinking, or making out.
"Well…" I scoffed. "I wonder if he's home."
Most of the kids from school were there and, since I didn't have a watch, I assumed it was around five or six in the evening; the walk had been a long one. We made our way inside; no one seemed to care. Once inside, the reggaeton music was blaring, people filling up the living room with barely any space between each person.
"Have you seen Miguel?" Jake asked over the loud speakers in the living room. The girl looked up, pulling away from some guy's lap and lips.
"Who's Miguel?" she asked. The girl continued to make out with who appeared to be her boyfriend.
"Great," I yelled to Jake, "now how are we going to find Miguel now?"
"Let's head up to his room, his computer's in there. I'm sure he won't mind." Jake took my hand and guided me throughout the house to the stairs; I was shocked to see the staircase since it wasn't visible from the front door with all the people on it. We passed two doors and a bathroom to reach the door at the end of the hallway. When we went inside, we found a couple was in there, making out.
"Who are you?" the girl spoke in a high pitched voice. Both were sitting on the bed, sprawled on each other (both were fully dressed and, thankfully, weren't doing it).
"I live here!" Jake barked back. The couple quickly got up and closed the door behind them.
Jake smiled and sat at the desk. "Let's see… I hope he didn't change the password." I heard typing while I looked at the pictures on the wall. There were recent pictures with who appeared to be Miguel and some girl; she seemed familiar. After more thought and digging through memories, I suddenly realized the girl was Josh's ex-girlfriend. I gasped in astonishment.
"Who went out with Amelia Cervantes first, Josh or Miguel?" I asked, staring at the picture. They seemed happy together, sitting on a bench in each other's arms. Amelia smiled at me, not knowing she will or had broken my brother's heart. If she wasn't bigger than me, I would've beaten her into the next year.
When I heard no answer, I turned to see Jake turn slightly pink. "Well?"
Jake looked away first then turned back and sighed. "Josh went out with her first. I told Josh about them… you know…before it was spread around. She was seeing him behind his back." I knew perfectly well what had been spread around. I was there (sort of) when Josh came home with blood shot red eyes, fuming at me for asking for a pen. The painful rumor had reached Josh first, then the rest of the school. And he took it out on whoever made contact with him the next week; I hadn't been careful enough and I didn't decide how much allowance he got, so I was his punching bag--figuratively speaking--for a couple of weeks.
"She's such a slut," I said. I couldn't believe my brother's choice in women.
There was a crash downstairs that brought me back to focus. He clicked on the Internet icon and now we just had to wait for the home page to pop up. I thought about asking if Miguel had a separate line when a guy with black hair and red highlights walked in. "Hey! When did you get in here?" he said to Jake; I assumed this was the infamous Miguel Reyes. He was muscular, like Jake, and I noticed he had tried out for the football team last year--I hadn't known at the time. He didn't make it on account of having tested positive for marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
"A couple of minutes ago. Where the hell have you been?" Jake asked, slapping Miguel on the back. Miguel then noticed me standing awkwardly away from their precious reunion.
"And who's this pretty lady?" he asked enticingly, looking sleep deprived and possibly drunk. He walked over to me to stand nearly right in front of me, his midst barely touching my chest.
"Amy," I replied taking a step back. I looked over Miguel' shoulder. A little assistance?!
Jake took Miguel by the shoulder. "Hey, you don't mind if I use your computer, do you?" He glanced from Miguel back to me nervously. Miguel seemed to be just… looking at me without blinking; creepy. Jake tapped him on the shoulder again.
"Hey, you okay, man?" Miguel seemed to have snapped out of his trance.
"Huh? Yeah, uh, what were we talking about?"
"He asked if we could use your computer to e-mail a friend of ours." I tried to speak as clearly as possible. "It's okay, right?"
Miguel looked he was going to pass out any second. "Yeah, it's cool," he walked to the door then turned. "I hope you two stick around for the rest of the party. You will, won't you?" He looked more at me than he did at Jake. If he was here, I had no intention of staying long.
"Actually--" I began.
"Why not?" Jake cut in. Miguel gave a last smile at me before leaving.
"What the hell, Jake?" I shot as Jake resumed his seat at the computer. "We can't waste anymore time. We just need to find out if Alloid is alright and then head for Liz and Josh right away."
"Relax," Jake replied to my astonishment, "we'll just call the cops--"
"Oh, please!" I shot back. "They won't do anything and, for all we know, the cops will be on Charlie's dad's side--if he's the one we're running from." Charlie's dad was considered the richest person in town, so he probably had authority, no matter how new he was. Jake
continued to wait for the internet to load up.
"And what side are you talking about? You sound like those potheads who think the government's out to get everyone."
"Are you almost done?" I said, trying to sound the way I felt: irritated.
"I just logged on," Jake replied, clearly not showing any sign that he heard the frustration in my voice. "I'm just waiting for the internet to finish loading up. Miguel clearly is still stuck with the outdated plan he got three years ago. He's still on dial-up. He should of signed up for internet that actually works. Or asked for a laptop. I asked for one for Christmas, I just hope I get it."
For the next ten minutes Jake sat at the desk staring at the screen while I sprawled on Miguel' comfortable single bed. As I stared at the white ceiling, I couldn't help but think about what Liz and Josh could be going through. Those men probably thought that they were me and Jake; that they acquired the Crystalus, which probably concluded that Jake and I were technically responsible. The guilt was overwhelming.
I was nearly dozing off when Jake exclaimed,
He began typing the address to the home e-mail page and Alloid's e-mail address. Then I heard some more clicking.
"What are you typing?" I asked, peeking over his shoulder.
"First letting him know it's us and that we're checking up on him." Jake began typing: 'Hey Alloid it's Jake and Amy, Liz and Josh are missing Are you Ok? What's going on?'
I stood over Jake's shoulder as we waited for the message to be sent. There was a minute before the response appeared : 'They have Liz and Josh. The men that looked for you two are here.' Then Alloid's screen name disappeared.
I STARED AND READ THE WORDS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Jake put his head in his hands while I sat on the bed stunned. First they took my brother and best friend. Now they probably have our one and only help we will ever have to straighten everything out. How long would it be before they get our parents? What will they do?
I just knew that if I hadn't volunteered, Jake probably wouldn't have either, then no one would be looking for us, and no one I truly cared about would have disappeared. With everyone gone, I was scared.
"It's all my fault," Jake whispered. I got up and put an arm around Jake.
I shook my head. "How is it your fault? If it's anyone's fault, it's mine." Jake immediately got up to face me.
"Don't say that." He then moved closer to hug me but I wouldn't let myself and backed away. "Don't even think it."
"You know just as well as I do Jake." To my frustration, tears began to fall; the last thing I wanted to do was start sobbing uncontrollably, no matter how badly I wanted to. "If I had just… listened to Josh," my voice rose slightly, "none of this would have happened. We wouldn't be chased around town! Liz, Josh, and Alloid wouldn't be taken! It's only a matter of time before they get our parents. And then what are we going to do?!" I was now so weak from sudden sorrow that I just let myself fall into Jake's arms. I sobbed into his shoulder, failing to calm myself down. He continued to hold me, resting his head on mine, stroking my hair gently.
We needed to figure this out… on our own. No Josh, Liz and Alloid to help us now. We needed time. I needed to time to think. But everything was so out of our control.
After about five minutes of falling tears and slowly gaining self-control, I pulled away and walked out of the room without a word, leaving Jake standing confused. I just didn't want to cry anymore, I didn't want to be in this situation. I was glad Jake didn't try to read my mind, all he would find was guilt, guilt, and more guilt.
I literally felt numb all over; no possible sense of self any more. Walking down the stairs, I realized I barely managed to see because of my stupid puffy eyes. When I turned the corner I bumped into someone.
"Hey pretty… what's wrong?" came the voice of Miguel. I kept my head down, letting my hair shield my face. I didn't want anyone to see me cry--again.
"I don't want to talk about it," I replied. I again let myself lean against the wall, giving into the guilt. Miguel unnecessarily caught me, yet I didn't bother to pull away.
"Want a drink? You know… to pull yourself together."
I subconsciously nodded yes. I thought I would feel a little better with a drink or two, to numb away the mental pain and physical depression. Then, later, when I had my head on straight, Jake and I could figure out a plan.
Miguel put an arm around me and led me to the pristine kitchen that seemed to be the only room in the house that was empty. I sat down at the counter while Miguel rummaged in the fridge and pulled out two bottles of beer.
"Do you want to talk about your problem?" Miguel asked in a soothing voice. I was about to answer 'no' when a better response came to mind.
"Aren't you going out with Amelia Cervantes?" I said, looking up at him. His eyes were dazed, he swayed a little as he leaned onto the counter. I had a pretty good idea on what was on his mind, but I figured my brain wasn't thinking straight enough for it to seem true.
"Yeah, but…" He leaned closer. "It's an open relationship." He then reached across
the counter and grabbed me and tried to kiss me. I tried to pull away with the little strength I had as he reached down to my chest. I only managed to get away by slapping him as hard as I could. He jumped back against the refrigerator and was cursing at me as I ran out into the party to hide. I thought about leaving without Jake, but I didn't know where to go.
I couldn't help but glance around; everyone was having fun, hooking-up or just hanging out. I longed to be young and carefree again, to be one of those teenagers who had fun and no worries.
The living room bar caught my eye where there were cherry-flavored wine coolers. I loved cherry; but preferred apple best. I looked down at the cooler on the floor and saw nothing but red wine coolers. I made my way to the bar.
Deep down inside I knew better than to drink, but I couldn't find that place anywhere; it evaporated along with my self. And besides, there were other things I could be doing that would be much worse than one little drink. Maybe they had something non-alcoholic here, but I doubted it.
As I made my way through the crowd, avoiding the girl from earlier making out with different guy, I managed to get my hands on one of them. Surveying the nearby crowd, I deduced that Jake and Miguel were not in the room. I opened it and took a sip. It was sweet with a certain kick.
Pretty soon, it was all gone. I grabbed another and walked to the couch. I opened it and began to drink in an estimated speed; it was soo good. As I drank, a tall guy with spiky blonde hair sat next to me. He had a brown suede jacket and slacks and was soaking wet. He looked tired and yet still good looking.
He turned to me and smiled. "Do you live here?" he asked. He gestured to the torn up noisy living room. I hiccupped and giggled.
"Nope. Why?" I hiccupped again. He seemed to go in and out of focus but I still continued to gaze at him.
"'Cause we tried to fit as many people in the tub and broke the shower head. But," he counted his fingers, "we got forty-six people." He reached into his brown leather jacket and pulled out a can. He looked at me since I had my eyes on it.
"Do you want one, it's a root beer?" He turned the can. It was in fact a soda, not a beer as I had suspected. I raised my now empty bottle, giggled, then reached for another cherry wine cooler.
Why is it so dark? I thought to myself. I was in a dark place with no windows or doors, yet I felt a disturbing presence nearby. I frantically waved my arms for a wall, but I just caught air.
"Hello?" I called into the darkness. A few seconds passed by before a recurring voice replied,
"Hello, Amy. I've been waiting for you." Something about the way those words were spoken made me timorous. I took a hopeful guess to his identity.
"Jake?" I replied with a trembling voice. I realized how stupid that was to ask. Jake wasn't here; and it didn't even sound like him. There was a sinister chuckle that made me take a step back. I, no longer able to tolerate the anxiety, called back,
"Who are you?" I had meant for it to sound strong, yet it gave away my trepidation.
"Giving up so soon?" he replied in a sort of sneer. "Your first guess is humoring." There
was a bright light coming from the space in front of me as Charlie Atkinson stepped forward. I would have screamed, but only a yelp could escaped my throat.
Charlie no longer looked like himself as he glowed like a dim light bulb, the once handsome was… handsome but chilling to the bone.
His eyes, a smoldering yellow, stared back at me; his skin, porcelain white, glowed; his smile, however fierce, was red with blood that dripped from his lip; and his over all stature… he was like Michelangelo's David. Except it was a work of horror. He wore normal clothing, though it really didn't help. He didn't even sound like himself. The voice he spoke with was like a dead, evil version of his.
"I wish you'd showed up much earlier. I really wanted a whole meal." He crouched into a position which meant he was ready to pounce yet I was still frozen in shock. “Now you won't reach the Unspeakables." He lunged at me as it all went dark.
I JERKED UP IN MY BED. I couldn't get the image of Charlie out of my mind. I looked around the room, expecting to find him standing over me. But I didn't recognize the room at all. I had no idea where I was.
Then last night came to me in a quick blur. We were at stupid Miguel's house. I remembered the e-mail, the wine coolers, the guy I was with on the couch, and then the crazy nightmare.
I closed my eyes and put my head on my hands and knees. I had a massive headache (or hangover, whichever you prefer) and a pit in my stomach as to why I had a nasty hangover. Not only did I feel guilty about everything, it increased with fact that I had gotten drunk; I was sure I'd had no more than three bottles… I think.
A knock came from the door which, to my ears, sounded like cannon fire. I checked myself without getting out of the bed; my body felt like it's weight in cement multiplied by fifty… like I'd acquired another meteorite.
"Who is it?" I asked in a hoarse voice. The door opened with a creak that made me cover my ears and wince at the horrid screech. Jake walked in with a cup of something steaming like coffee.
"How ya feeling?" he asked quietly.
I cleared my throat. "Okay, I guess. First hangovers and whatnot." I pointed at the cup. "Is that for me?"
"Why, yes it is, milady," he said. He handed me the cup and I sipped it. I felt the warmth go through me. As I drank I noticed Jake was staring at me with an expressionless face. That usually made me nervous.
"What is it?" I asked. "Did I do something wrong?" A horrible sense of dread began to well up.
Jake seemed to have snapped out of his trance. "What? Oh, everything's cool," he got up to leave. When he reached to the door, he turned back to me. "By the way, we're going to Alloid's. He's fine, but he wants us over there in fifteen minutes so hurry and fix yourself; you're a mess." Jake then turned and left, shutting the door behind him. I got up, trying to ignore my brain's cry for sleep. I found my backpack on the floor and rummaged for some clothes.
As I was finally dressed, I made my way to the bathroom. I looked around, no one was in the hall, yet I felt a familiar presence.
"Jake?" I called into the hallway. Immediately he became visible in front of me, making me bump into the wall.
"Don't do that!" I socked him in the arm the hardest I could as he recoiled. He put up his hands in defense.
"I'm sorry but there's no one--metaphorically--alive right now. Miguel is still passed out on his couch along with a few other kids," he said, gesturing to the living room. "Anyway," he rushed on, "I have something really, really cool to show you." An excited expression lit up his face, like a little kid on Christmas. I was quite uncertain as to what to expect but I didn't feel like prying into his head; mine was still waking up.
"Is it something I'm going to hate?" Jake was sometimes a little irritating, but I was able to see past that.
"That depends. Do you want me to tell you, or show you now, or are you going to put on your make up?"
"Ha ha. Very funny." I opened the bathroom door and closed it behind me in Jake's face.
"Ha ha! Try not to take so long, Princess!" Jake shouted through the bathroom door.
I searched through a few drawers until I found a relatively new hair brush. Once I'd inspected it thoroughly, I fix my tangled mess of hair. I found some lotion, perfume, and soap so I would smell clean and not like beer; I wasn't showering at a stranger's house.
I was about to turn on the faucet when I felt my stomach do a sickening flip and I found myself bent over the toilet, totally and disgustingly sick.
Once I finished, I flushed the toilet and carefully stood to my feet. I was dizzy, but it soon passed. I hoped that wouldn't happen again and vowed to never drink again for as long as I lived.
Finally sure that I was completely stable, I washed my face and rinsed my mouth. When I finished, I looked myself up and down in the mirror. My gaze fell on my bare neck, and I suddenly remembered about the necklace. How could I keep forgetting about it?
I threw all my stuff back into my bag and dashed out the door, nearly crashing into Jake, who had been leaning against the wall dangling the necklace in his other hand. I took it, gave him a smug look, and walked away from him.
"What's wrong?" Jake asked, trying to keep up with me as we walked out the back door. A part of me enjoyed the chase.
"You should have at least let me know that you had it. You made me worry," I said as I climbed over the backyard fence into the alley. It was smarter to avoid the revealing streets (you never know).
"I knew you weren't thinking about it. You keep on forgetting. You're lucky I
remember things," he replied as he landed beside me. I continued to walk down the alley towards the street. "You were too drunk to notice anything."
"Shut up and walk."
We both went down the street, trying to look as normal as possible; it was a Saturday, everyone was out. There were other pedestrians, and I suddenly became fearful of every single one of them. Jake just kept glancing up and down the street, a nervous edge to his mental tone.
"Wait! I wanted to show you something," he exclaimed once we were at a four-way stop. We waited for the light to change.
"Oh no. Not now, whatever it is."
"Come on. It'll get us quicker to Alloid's."
"You're not going to fly us there, are you?"
"I wish, but this is close enough. Come over here." He nodded to a big tree. "I don't want to do it in public." Jake moved towards the tree, I followed closely behind. When we were well out of view Jake got even more excited. "I don't know what to call it or how to describe it. It's just so awesome!"
"Easy there," I said. "Just get it over with."
Jake moved closer and grabbed my hand. "Just take a deep breath."
When I inhaled, I immediately felt like I was trying to squeeze through a one-inch hole, unable to breathe or move or… anything. I could see the street in front of us shrink away into a white distance. Jake was being pushed against my left side. I could no longer feel the ground beneath me. I felt like I was about to implode.
Then the scene changed and I saw a familiar door rush at me. When I felt my feet hit the ground, the compression snapped away like a rubber band. Jake dropped my hand as we were able to breathe in precious air.
"So," Jake panted. "How was it?"
"Never… do that… again," I panted back, doubling over with my hands on my knees. "When did you… discover this?"
"This morning. You were asleep and I needed to go to the bathroom. But I was still asleep too and I was just thinking about the toilet so much. Then the next thing I knew, I was breathing for air in the bathroom!"
"Charming. Let's see if Alloid's here." We knocked on the door twice. Movement could be heard throughout the house, as if Alloid was in a rush.
"Who is it?" Alloid shouted through the door. "I'm warning you, I'm armed!"
"Alloid, it's us," Jake yelled back.
"How much older is Josh Santali than Amy Santali?!" Alloid shouted back.
"Alloid, you know I never answer!"
The door opened. Alloid looked sort of human except he was now blue in skin color, metal-like antennae were sticking out of his forehead, and regular clothes--not to mention an extra finger on each hand. I hadn't seen Alloid in his true form since a year ago, when he first crashed near our tree house.
"Where have you been?" Alloid pulled us into the house. I noticed he'd put it back the way it was. Jake and I sat at the small round table while Alloid remained standing, which usually meant he was about to talk about something important.
"Ezekiel took Liz and Josh, hoping to exchange them for you. You have to go and find them." His voice shook with tension, or something else just as nervous.
"Wait, who's Ezekiel?" I asked.
"Ezekiel is basically the boy you call Charlie. He has already taken his true form, mostly by possessing the boy, and is ready to pretty much dominate everything, just like his great-great grandfather tried to do years ago. On a sadder note," he cleared his throat, "he needs to sacrifice the Keeper of the… of the somethings. Ah… what was it?" he muttered to himself.
"The Unspeakables," I whispered as it hit me. I reached into my pocket and took out the sparrow shaped necklace. "I found this in my hall closet," I said as I handed it to Alloid. "I've never seen it before."
"How do you know all this?" asked Jake. "I bet you can't Google it."
"I have sources, Jake." He examined it intently for a couple of minutes. "Then you have already been visited by an Unspeakable." He noticed our confused faces. "I'll be brief. The Unspeakables are faerie-folk who live in Altorania. That's where Ezekiel has taken Liz and Josh. Amy, you've got to go to Altorania and stop him. He'd have to…" he hesitated, "…kill you in order to gain complete control."
I ignored the last statement. "How do we get there?" Jake made a sputtering noise of incredulity. "We're gonna stop him." Even though I didn't have the slightest idea how.
"Follow me." He led us through the little hall and stopped abruptly in front of what looked like a hall closet. A hall closet? Once he noticed our skeptical looks, he motioned for us to step back.
Green and gold flames erupted from the door when Alloid opened it. I shrieked as Jake pulled me back, causing him to bang his head on the wall. We were supposed to walk through the flames?!
"You've got to be kidding," I said.
"It won't burn you. It's supposed to scare people who don't know about it." I walked up to the flames and put my hand in. He was right; it was like a fresh breeze.
"Well, are you ready?" Alloid asked.
"Who knows what could be happening?" he said incredulously. Liz and Josh had been gone for hours.
Jake stepped forward. "I'll go first," he said.
"I guess ladies first doesn't apply here." I moved aside. Jake took my hand. We both took one step then Jake leaped in and I jumped right after him.
It was like being in a colorful tornado without the debris or fear. We were flying effortlessly. Millions of colors from basic to unnamed blurred and twisted past us. Up ahead, I saw a small white hole that got larger as we started to slow down. For a moment, I thought we were going to fall. I looked down to see nothing but dark blue; there seemed to be no bottom.
As we got closer to the hole, I felt the familiar force squish me into Jake as we squeeze through the hole. When we finally got through, we immediately fell unceremoniously to the hard ground. Right then did I hear footsteps gather around us and a gruff mean voice.
"Get up ye filthy codpieces!"
VERY SLOWLY, JAKE AND I GOT TO OUR FEET. I was dusting off my jeans while Jake put up his hands as if at gunpoint. When I looked up (or down, rather), I saw twelve short, wrinkly beings looking back at me with shocked expressions on all their faces.
"Mistress!" one of them gasped as they all bent down on one knee. I stared dumbfounded at them.
"Um, why are you kneeling?" I asked.
They all looked up at the same time, their faces in awe. "Why, Mistress Amy, surely you know? You are our savior from Ezekiel," said the one I was sure who had earlier called us 'filthy codpieces'.
"This is weird," Jake muttered.
Jake, please, not now
"Who are you anyway?" asked another little person. They all must have ignored him before he spoke.
"I'm Jake," he answered defensively, "and this is--"
"They already know who I am," I cut in. I turned to the little men. "Do you know where Altorania is? It's important we get there."
"You are in Altorania! Of course, we've been expecting you. Nevertheless, you must hide yourself. You must not be seen," replied the little person. They started walking towards the woods. We were in a vast and barren meadow; miles of forests stretched in every direction.
Some of the little men looked ancient while others looked like little children, though all of them came up to my hip. A few talked amongst themselves, but the rest looked straight ahead as we went through the trees, avoiding surfaced roots "Excuse me, but… how do we hide ourselves?" I asked them as we walked in a straight line like soldiers. All their steps were in sync.
"You can turn invisible, of course?" the eldest replied incredulously.
"I can," Jake piped up.
"You must hide her! She is very important to us elves, must be well away from danger she must!" The little man practically jumped up and down, nearly tripping over a broken branch. What was I? Queen of the elves? I took Jake's outstretched hand and we were invisible.
One of them dropped something, ending up behind us. "Where are you--Oof!" said the last elf as he bumped into my leg.
"Don't worry!" I said. "We're following, just lead the way." Jake and I continued to follow the line of elves through the trees. It was eerily quiet, a loud silence except for our footsteps. There were no normal forest-like sounds one would normally hear. I was about to ask about it when up ahead I saw a little woodland village.
The homes were carved into the large tree trunks, a few them with ornate carvings on the circular doors. Some windows near the top of the trees had light coming through them, like wooden apartments. The dimness of the forest made the small village look eerie and ominous. We walked through the village on a set path.
As we went along, some of the soldiers dispersed one by one, saying 'ha-ut' as they left the line; I assumed it was 'goodbye'. We must have officially left the village for it had grown dark along the path. It was just us and one little soldier. He seemed middle-aged because he didn't have as much wrinkles as the other old ones. He continued to look ahead, keeping a steady pace on the uneven ground.
"Where exactly are you taking us?" I whispered, causing Jake to jump at my breaking the long silence.
"I am taking you to our leader. He will be most honored to meet you. He also has a room for your hopeful stay, Mistress Amy," he replied.
Jake snorted; I glared at him. We continued to walk until we came to a very wide tree that stretched past the sky. At its base was a hole, about five feet wide was my estimate.
"Here is where you must venture alone. When you were to arrive, he wanted--" He turned around, looking for something. Jake and I copied him, turning about.
"Where are you?" he asked loudly. Jake and I looked at each other; we were still holding hands therefore still invisible. Right when we let go, the little soldier jumped so violently, he nearly fell into the hole. After he pulled himself together, he continued.
"As I was saying, when you were to arrive, our leader asked us to bring you to him. He will be most pleased to see you. Now, if you please," he gestured to the hole, motioning for us to go in. Jake stepped forward but was stopped by the little soldier.
"STOP!" the little soldier said at once. "The leader wants to see Mistress Amy only! You must not go!" he was shaking his head vigorously.
Jake looked back to me. Are you sure about this? he thought to me.
If I need assistance, I'll call you
I stepped forward as the little soldier stepped aside, pushing Jake back at the knee. I cautiously stepped into the hole; there was a stone step. It grew darker as I continued farther. I moved to the side to feel for a wall as a guide. It was a tunnel, for the walls curved from the ceiling to the ground. I hadn't realized how far I'd gone until I looked back; I could no longer see the opening.
I was a little out of breath when I reached the bottom of the steps. I continued to walk with the wall. I was trying to see my hand in front of my face when I noticed a dim glow ahead. I began to walk a little faster when an intense ache came over me and the mark on my hand began to glow.
Why is it so dark? I thought to myself. I reached the bottom of the steps, but there was no source of light. I felt a haunting presence in the room/cave/place. I frantically tried to find a wall, but I just caught air, probably waving my arms around like an idiot.
"Hello?" I called into the darkness. A few seconds passed before there was an answer.
"Hello, Amy, I've been waiting for you." Something about the way those words were spoken chilled me yet I couldn't figure out why it was so familiar. I took a hopeful guess to his identity, though I felt like I was missing an inside joke.
"Jake?" I replied with a trembling voice. I realized how stupid that was to ask. Jake wasn't here; he was still outside. A sinister chuckle that made me take a step back. I, no longer able to tolerate the anxiety, called back into the darkness.
"Who are you?" I had meant for it to sound strong, yet it gave away my obvious fear.
"Giving up so soon?" he replied in a sort of sneer. There was a bright light from an unknown source as Charlie Atkinson stepped forward. I would have screamed, but only a yelp escaped my throat.
Charlie no longer looked like himself; the once handsome was… still somewhat handsome but chilling to the bone.
His eyes, a smoldering yellow, stared back at me with amusement; his skin, porcelain white, glowed in the dim light; his smile, however fierce, was red with blood that dripped from
his bottom lip; and his over-all stature… he was like Michelangelo's David. Except it was a work of horror. He wore normal clothing though it really didn't help. I suddenly remembered why this was all familiar; this was my dream… or should I say nightmare.
"I wish you showed up much earlier. I got tired of waiting." He squatted into a position which I instantly took that he was ready to pounce. "Now you won't reach the Unspeakables."
He jumped at me with surprising speed, but already knowing what would happen, I jumped out of the way, falling hard onto the stone floor. When I looked up he was already in the air towards me. I quickly put up a shield and he rebounded back against the wall. That was when Jake appeared.
He was at the entrance, Charlie was between us. Charlie just smiled as he turned his head from me to Jake and back. Jake looked angry though I couldn't see how he could be; this was the most frightening moment in my short life.
"Awe, he really does care!" he said, amused. Then he lunged at Jake. Jake, amazingly, disappeared just when I thought Charlie had him. Charlie stood there as stunned as I was: Jake had left me behind. At least I thought he did.
"I know you are here, Jake Robins! You cannot vanish out from this cave, I have made sure of that," he snarled.
"Don't be too sure," Jake's voice echoed throughout the cave. Soon Charlie grunted in pain as he staggered back. Completely invisible, Jake had punched him in the gut. Charlie groaned in anger as he began to glow light green.
He continued to glow brighter as the light started to burn into my eyes. A huge explosion followed, blowing me against the rock wall. Everything had gone dark quickly as I staggered up to my feet. When the light was dim again, Jake was on the ground (breathing?). I couldn't see for myself because that was when Charlie took his chance.
He appeared out of no where and caught me by the throat. He lifted me clear off the ground, effortless. I tried to support my weight by pulling myself up his wrist, but whatever strength I had left was creeping away along with the air.
"Finally," Charlie whispered as he grinned, his eyes blazed into mine. "I've disposed another Amy." My vision went in and out of focus. My eyes drooped as I slowly fell into unconsciousness. He then lowered me to the ground, hand still to throat, his ragged breath on my neck. The last thing I felt was a knife-like piercing and then I lost sense of everything.
AFTER THAT EXPLOSION, I REALIZED I WAS ON THE GROUND, UNABLE TO MOVE. I looked up to hear gasping noises and to my horror, I saw Charlie holding Amy by the neck in the air. I tried hard to get up but no part of me would move, I couldn't even whisper a yell. Charlie then lowered her to the ground and crouched over her. Her body did not move a muscle and her eyes were already closed as he bit her neck.
Anger rose inside of me as I managed to get up and ram into Charlie, knocking him into the wall. I struggled as he tried to grab my neck. I was punching him with an amazing strength I never knew I had. Charlie shoved me back and then he disappeared. I looked around, ready to cover myself from any potential blows. When none came, I immediately knelt down to Amy.
Blood was pouring out of her neck and she lost so much color in her face already. After I checked to find a slow pulse getting slower, I took off my jacket and ripped it up to cover the wound. I stayed there until the bleeding stopped, which took a while.
She was breathing, shallowly. I wasn't sure what to do but wait. When she had some color in her face I had decided to head to back to Alloid; he would know what to do but what could he really do? He wasn't a doctor. I could take her to a hospital…. But I didn't know how to get back, out of Altorania.
I was starting to panic, and trying hard not to. Will she turn into a vampire? What if she just died?
I KNEW SOMEONE WAS CARRYING ME, I WASN'T SURE WHO EXACTLY, BUT I FELT PEACEFUL IN HIS ARMS. For one scary moment I thought I was dead. Then, of course, I involuntarily inhaled extra air so my mind quickly came at ease.
The person carrying me was panting and stumbling. I was worried he would drop me but he lowered me ever so gently. The fallen leaves were soft but cold as I was laid onto them. Then I felt someone fall near me, surely the one who was carrying me. That's when I managed to open my eyes.
The sun hit me hard that I was blind for a moment. There were tree branches above me, moving with the breeze, shading me then revealing me to the sun. I sat up to find Jake lying by my side, looking horribly scratched up. His jacket was gone, exposing cuts on his arms that were slowly disappearing. It ached dreadfully when I turned to look around. I reached for my neck; a sleeve from Jake's jacket was wrapped around it. It must've been important to keep there so I didn't unwrap it.
Apparently, Jake was not only carrying me, but also our packs. I reached for them, remembering I had brought a First Aid kit, when I heard a twig snap, in which I froze. Then, as quickly as I could, I lifted my arms to form my shield but was too late. A dart pierced my right arm; the effect was instantaneous. I fell to my left side, darkness closing around me, and Jake still in front of me. The last thing I heard before I was completely out was a far away voice:
"Oh no! Arial, quick!"
Ah, this sucks
I felt hot all over as well as painful throbbing. All of me felt like it weighed fifty times more than it should have, including my eyelids; screw it--it felt like another hangover. Every inch of me ached as I inhaled deeply. The air smelled pleasant, like flowers and clear, breathable air. After what felt like forever, I opened my eyes. The first thing I saw was pure white above me. For a moment, again, I thought I was dead (then realized I still had a body).
I turned slowly, my neck still aching when I did, and realized I was in a tent. Inside with me was my backpack and a wooden board on the ground next to me. On the board was a cup of something warm. I reached for it, arm aching but I didn't care as long as I reached the damn cup. It was a small distance from the little grass bed I was in so I had to painfully sit up, but it was worth it. When I finally seized the cup, I looked inside to find the liquid inside was sparkling. I took a deep breath (regretting it as my neck ached again) and sipped it. Almost immediately, I felt warmth fill my body, calming me down a bit.
By the time I finished (I pretty much downed it), I felt completely energized (my neck still throbbing slightly). At that moment, the flap for the entrance to the tent was opened and a pretty blonde girl, possibly in her twenties, walked in. One thing different about her was that
she was light green in skin color that glittered when she moved. And her eyes were a beautiful gray.
The young woman smiled. "I see you didn't hesitate to drink the tea," she said. She walked over and sat next to me.
"Are you an Unspeakable?" I asked right away. I remembered what Alloid had said once I noticed her pointed ears. She nodded as she walked closer.
"How old are you?"
"I'll be sixteen in November," I answered, feeling self-conscious about my age.
"Mmm, so much to learn," she mused. "How much do you know, Amy?" Huh?
"What do you mean exactly?" How does everyone know my name?
"Well, do you know where the ones you call Josh Santali and Liz Martins are?" she asked quickly.
"Ezekiel has them, at least that's what I was told. He's my brother and she's my best friend," I said solemnly. I really hoped we were close to finding them; I really hoped they were okay. She looked a little disappointed at this.
"Oh, poor Amy. You cannot have a blood sibling. You are a Keeper. You are not held down by siblings." Wait, WHAT?!
"Of-of course I have a brother--"
"Don't you wonder why you look and are nothing like your supposed relatives?" she broke in. I had no argument here. I had always thought that, but just considered it not important enough to worry about.
"If they aren't my family," I said skeptically, "then who is? Where are they?"
"Your biological parents… died during a war fifteen years ago. Your mother and your father were killed after he gave you to me."
"Why was there a war? Who killed them?"
"Some of his followers believed if they took the Keeper at an early age, Ezekiel would be more powerful. The people of Altorania refused to hand you over and fought to protect you. We… sort of lost, but not before I found a worthy family and left you with them. I left a note stating your first name, after your mother, and your birth date. She was a sort of queen to Altorania, and now you are some what a princess." She said this in a matter-of-factly tone, a small smile playing. I didn't really care about the princess part. I only worried about the delivery.
"How were they willing to take me in?" I asked, suddenly curious. "How come they never told me?"
"As I searched in the nearby town in which you come from, I overheard your adoptive mother saying she wanted a girl now that they already had a boy. The father said the doctor had told them they could no longer conceive. I didn't hear why, but I knew they wanted a girl. So I put you in a basket early in the morning and put you on their doorstep. When they saw you, the mother burst into tears," she smiled as she reminisced, " and she said she felt like their prayers were answered." I soaked it all in, surprised I wasn't sad like I thought I should be. I guessed I had been subconsciously expecting this for a long while. I found it so simple to believe.
"If I was born in Altorania, am I even human?" I asked, feeling stupid as I said it. She laughed then quieted at my curious face.
"Sorry for laughing. Yes you're human. The only difference is you have faerie blood in you." I was a faerie! No freaking way!
"No, you can't do magic magic. You'll just have more than one ability. There are millions of types of faeries. The ones from Altorania, the most distant land from other faerielands, have one ability. Keepers usually have more than one, a mark their singularity" she said. "That's just from your mother, who was a faerie, a Keeper faerie. Your father was mortal. When you acquired that Crystalus, it enhanced your faerie blood's little power and your friend now has the abilities of a Keeper faerie as well. So technically you're half faerie and half mortal."
AFTER THE TALK, I LEARNED THE YOUNG INFORMANT'S NAME WAS ARIAL. She told me where to find Jake, saying he was down by the creek, sitting at the bank. She said he told her to not let me go until I was perfectly fine. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought he was turning into Josh (where were they?).
She gave me a small light green gown and slippers for me to change into; my clothes were all blood stained. The dress was beautiful. It reached to my ankles and the sleeves extended to below my hips. I felt so enchanting, like a princess before her coronation.
It took an hour to convince her to let me go. She wanted to examine my neck wound; it wasn't bleeding but it was a little swollen, just two mosquito bite-like bumps. When she was satisfied, Arial led me out of the tent and pointed me towards the trees. A pathway ran into it.
I took my time getting there. So much was on my mind: I was adopted, a Keeper faerie. A lot has happened this week, like a dark, horrible fantasy. Then I realized I didn't know if it was Saturday or Sunday.
"It's still Saturday," Jake said aloud. He was sitting by the little river that crossed the path. More trees could be seen in the distance and the ones around us formed a canopy over us. The little sun that stabbed through the blinds was reflected on the water which made it look gorgeous. I walked over and sat down next to him.
"So," I said casually, "how are you doing?" He smirked like he always did when I did that: acting casual when there was nothing casual about anything.
"So what did Arial tell you?" he asked conversationally. I thought for a minute, for a way to repeat everything back; he didn't want to listen in my head, in case he heard more than I wanted him to hear.
I took a deep breath and started. I told him that I was adopted, my real parents died during a war, why there was a war, Arial playing stork, my mom having been a real faerie, and that I'm half faerie, half mortal.
While I talked, Jake had his eyes open wide the whole time. I was watching little things float by in the water; I just couldn't look him in the eye. When I finished, all he said was,
"I know." That was one of the many things I liked about Jake. He wouldn't pity me or say things like, 'I feel so bad for you.' He didn't make me feel low.
"Wait," he said after a minute or so, "what am I? Your body guard?" I had completely forgotten about Jake.
"Oh. Well, Arial said you got the abilities of a Keeper faerie when you did the acquiring, but you're still human. I'm half and half." I was watching an ant float by on a leaf. It constantly moved around, poking it‟s head in the water every now and then. I wasn't sure if he was doing that on purpose.
"So what exactly happened to me?" I asked, eyes on the ant. I didn't bother looking at Jake, he probably wouldn't say it if I had my eyes on him the whole time.
"Well… I know this sounds crazy…," he said, from the corner of my eye he was pink, "but Charlie's a vampire." I wasn't sure how to react so I said nothing and sat still--something I did when I didn't know how to react. But when I turned to follow the ant down the creek, my neck ached badly. My neck…
"Bite you? Yeah… that son of a--"
"Hey," I said. Jake, however, was serious as he turned on me. "You're unbelievable." He said it like I had offended him.
"What did I do?"
"You get bitten by a vampire and all you do is joke around? Can't you take anything seriously?" That one stung.
I stood up and glared at him. Irrational anger came to my aide. "Well I'm so sorry to disappoint you, but what do you expect! I found out I have no biological family, I'm a freak of nature and was just bitten by a vampire! For all you know I could be in shock from all the things that have happened to me!" I stormed off. I was too angry to stay any longer.
He tried to keep up with me. "Amy," he puffed; I was walking as fast as I could. "I'm sorry. I know I should be the last person getting upset--"
"No doubt about that," I cut in.
"I just don't know what to say that won't make you feel like some dumb, pathetic hopeless basket case." I stopped and turned around; he nearly crashed into me.
"So you're not calling me a dumb, pathetic, hopeless basket case?" I asked, my mood lighting up slightly as I watched him get nervous.
"First, quit doing that. And yes, I mean no. I mean--" he struggled for an answer--I couldn't help but laugh a little. "I mean, yes, I'm not calling you those things. Will you accept my apology?" He put on those cute puppy dog eyes I could never resist.
"Yes… if you mean it," I challenged.
"Then I am sorry." Then he hugged me and let me go quickly, turning pink again.
"So," I asked, "if Charlie is a vampire…and he bit me…will I… you know…?" I didn't want to make him uncomfortable but I was curious. He looked a little unsettled as he thought
for a moment. I decided not to peer into his head, because I was scared of what I might hear.
"Well, Arial said any other person would become…you know," he said. "But she said your case was…different."
He struggled for a bit. "Well, she said that vampire venom or whatever doesn‟t work on faeries; their blood sort of makes it defective." That took a load off, though I didn't get it; I'd ask Arial about details later. We continued to walk back to the tent when my stomach growled.
"I guess we never ate," he laughed.
I grimaced. "What is there to eat?"
"Well, they have a soup of fruit, rabbit, vegetables… pretty much everything is soup."
"Are any of them good?" I asked.
"Well, the fruit soup wasn't that bad, just really sweet. I didn't dare touch the rabbit," he chuckled, "and the vegetable soup was tolerable."
When we reached the village everyone looked up to see me. These people looked human but with pointed ears and light glittery green skin color. Everyone looked radiant, inhumanly beautiful; making me feel sort of plain. Whenever I passed someone they would say things like, "Pleasant to see you" or "Good you are well" or simply "Hello." When we reached the tent I had been in, two little girls gave me flowers.
"Thank you," I said. Then they curtsied to me and then to Jake. We went inside; I sat on the little bed while Jake stood casually by me, looking around the tent.
"So, does Arial have a plan?" I asked. I silently hated myself for not putting Liz and Josh first. They were, in fact, were our top priority
"No, she hasn't told me anything," he replied. "But I asked her to let us know when we could go for them ASAP." At that moment, Arial herself rushed into the tent.
"You need to hurry," she panted. She was carrying a bundle in her arms; she looked frantic.
"What's going on?" I asked, getting to my feet. She went to our packs and began organizing her items with ours.
"Ezekiel's followers have found us. They're on their way here. They will be here in half an hour, which means you must leave. Now. What's this?" she asked as she set aside the First aid kit.
"But where do we go?" Jake asked. When she had finished packing our stuff, she motioned for us to follow her out the tent. The people were all running around trying to pack as quick as possible; at least the women and children were. The men had found various types of weapons and were merely helping as the women cried. She pointed to a mountain range that looked a thousand miles away. Clouds hid the peaks, which made the forest at its feet look more like a green rug.
"You see there?" she said. "Between the fourth and fifth mountains, there is a huge cave. That's where it's rumored where Ezekiel took them."
"Are you sure?" I asked. "I mean, this isn't a wild goose chase, right?"
"Yeah," Jake put in. "How do we know the rumors true?"
"The person who saw them said Ezekiel attacked him. But since he doesn't have much power at the moment, he was not hurt. He saw them yesterday." That was probably after we had left the school.
"How long will it take for us to get there?" I asked, trying to calculate the distance. Jake scoffed at me. "Come on. I can get us there in two seconds," he said.
Arial was shaking her head. "He would have put enchantments all around that would prevent anyone getting there. Try to go ten miles or so at a time. There is a chance you would merely bump into a barrier if you're close." Yells could be heard along with the sound of swords clanging against each other and grunts from men who brandished them. We turned to find only the village men practicing.
"You need to leave quickly," Arial said, giving us our backpacks. I took Jake's hand and once again I saw the village and Arial zoom into the distance, all the while being squished into Jake. Trees zoom into view as I was released by the tension. I fell to my knees again, panting with Jake by my side.
"That is…not fun."
"Beats…walking," Jake replied. We stood up and looked back; we could see the now microscopic village. We turned in the opposite direction; we were halfway between the mountains and village. The mountains still a long way off.
"Shall we?" Jake said, extending his hand.
"No thanks," I replied as I turned and walked towards the mountains. Jake walked alongside me.
"Why not? We'll get there faster."
"Sorry," I said, "but I do like to breathe." I was looking at the mountains as we walked. I was hoping they would get bigger as I stepped closer.
We continued to walk for about an hour when Jake fell to his knees.
"Let's stop. I can't… go on," he said dramatically, panting heavily.
"What? You can't handle it?" To be honest, I was afraid I would pass out from exhaustion myself. "Please? I give in," he pleaded. That was what I wanted to hear.
I fell beside him. "Finally," I muttered as I began to rummage in my pack. Jake laid out on his back as I found what appeared to be the soup Jake had described earlier.
Jake looked at it. "Ah, man. She left us rabbit soup," he moaned.
"Well, there goes my appetite," I said. I looked around the little clearing we were in, stomach growling, when I saw a bush with little red dots on it: berries.
"Bingo," I said getting up. I jogged to the bush, as fast as my tired legs would let me go. I examined them, picking one and squishing it to make sure there were no seeds (I don't like eating fruits with seeds, okay?). I tasted one, it was like strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and apple all rolled together in a small juicy package. I ate as Jake sauntered over.
"What is it?"
"Here." I held one up to him. "Try it."
He took it and examined it. "What is it?" he repeated.
I rolled my eyes as I picked some more. "Just try it. It's so good."
He ate it, taking his time chewing it, then his eyes opened wide. He began picking more off the bush like me. We were stuffing our mouths when we heard what sounded like hooves hammering the forest floor. We froze and slowly turned to our left.
I couldn't believe my green eyes; four centaurs walked towards us (I'm sure most people would know what a centaur might look like, but in case you don't…). From their midriff and up, they were strong, fierce men with long, sleek hair ranging in shades of brown, black and blonde.
From the midriff and down, they had the body of powerful horses, a few like Clydesdales. They looked at us with curious eyes, as if they never saw a human before. All of
them ranged in age, though they were all radiantly handsome. It was hard not to stare stupidly at them.
"What-what do you want?" I stuttered. How rude.
"Who are you?" said the one in front, he seemed to be the leader. "Why do you disturb this forest?" He spoke in a harsh manner that made me freeze with fear.
"I-I'm Amy and this is--" I didn't get to finish for they all knelt down on one knee. I turned to Jake, he stood watching them all in fear or astonishment.
"We apologize for our harsh manner. We did not know," said the leader again as they all rose.
"That-that's alright. What's your name?" I asked, getting over my fear. The leader stepped forward, his hoof steps sounding like anvils on the ground. He had amazing gray eyes and the darkest black hair I had ever seen. I noticed another one next to him. His eyes were an amazing blue. His hair was the same shade as mine, but much more… better.
"I am Carlyle, leader of the Centaur Clan that guards these forests. We were on our way to help with the battle. Excuse us, Mistress." They began to walk past us, each of them looking at us curiously
"Wait!" Jake called out, startling me. Carlyle turned while the others continued onward. "Is Ezikuel in that cave?" He pointed towards the mountains. Carlyle nodded and galloped away.
"WELL, AT LEAST WE KNOW THEY'RE ACTUALLY THERE," SAID JAKE AS WE GATHERED AS MANY BERRIES AS WE COULD, STUFFING THEM INTO OUR PACKS.
"Yeah, but will we get there in time?" I replied. In time for what? Jake said nothing.
We began walking again as soon as our packs were filled. I usually am not 'one with nature'. I usually find that kind of thing sort of boring. But being in the forest gave me a new perspective.
The trees were grazing the blue sky in the breeze. The sun constantly peeking in and out of the forest's canopy of leaves. I could only look in one direction, wishing I could see the whole forest in one glance. It was like the forests I usually saw on TV on those nature channels, but seeing it from the ground up. I never wanted to leave.
As another hour wore on, I grew tired again, as did Jake.
"Why can't we go my way?" he said quietly. He looked like he ran ten miles, glistening in the brief sunlight, a drop of sweat rolling down his face every so slowly (what?).
"Can you even get us there?" I asked.
I sighed and took his outstretched hand. The forest zoomed away again, then we into an invisible force that caused me to lose sight for the rest of the suffocation. When the smothering feeling left me, Jake immediately fell to the ground. I bent over my knees, panting. We were back where we had left, the same distance as before.
"Jake?" I said.
He barely stirred.
"Jake! Can you hear me?"
"Sorry about that," he panted back, barely audible. I sat down by his side. He continued to lie down, eyes closed. For a minute, I thought he had passed out. Then he tried to get up.
"Whoa, pump the brakes," I said. I pushed his shoulders down which didn't help; he was stronger than I was.
"What do you mean 'what'? You're in no condition to move. It's your own fault." He looked at me in disbelief. "How is it my fault?"
"It was your dumb idea to try to get there quicker in your condition."
He looked confused again.
"You're exhausted," I sighed.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," he said, trying to sit up. "Nothing gets me tired." He tried to stand up a little too quickly. He staggered a bit as I got up to help him sit back down.
"As I said, you're exhausted, probably from carrying that inflated head around." I rummaged threw my pack and found the two ice cold water bottles I'd packed; they were pretty much room temperature now. I gave him one as I drank from mine. We sat there for a while.
"What are we going to do when we get there?" he said all of a sudden.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, how are we going to get Liz and Josh back without getting ourselves killed? He probably won't let us just go in there, ask for them back, and walk out of there like nothing." I thought for a minute. I was positive Charlie definitely knew how to attack while we don't know crap about our abilities. If it came down to a fight, we'd have to be coordinated.
"We're going to have to learn how to fight," I said confidently. This seemed to be what Jake had in mind. His smile then faded.
"How are we going to learn so fast?" he asked.
I scoffed at him as I stood up. "Well, we have no one else to practice with but each other. All the more reason to start now". He stood up slowly, energy coming back.
"Whoa. I don't want to hurt you," he said warningly.
"Hey. Just worry about yourself." It felt like we were just playing around and not focusing on Liz and Josh. But we did have to prepare somehow. This whole trip would've been for nothing if we ended up getting ourselves killed.
“Well, what do you want me to do?" he asked nervously.
I shrugged. "I don't know. Attack me."
He seemed off guard about that. "How?"
He stood there watching me, thinking. I didn't want to read his mind; I doubted I would have time to read Charlie's so I had to be able to act on instinct.
Jake was already running at me with an alarming speed. I instinctively put up my arms, but I was too late. A blow to my stomach made me fly backward till I felt my back and head meet a tree; the sound reverberated in my ears. I fell to my hands and knees, a little shocked that I felt only a dull pain--and just amazing strength. So much energy coursed through me, ready to be put to use.
Jake was in front of me, trying to help me up. I put on a little show of staggering into his arms.
"Can you hear me? Are you okay?" he said in a worried tone.
I looked up and smiled at him, putting my hands on his chest. "Never better."
The cool flowing sensation sped through my arms and out my hands. Jake was thrown back a farther distance than where we had started. He hit a tree, falling down to his hands and knees on the ground like I had. I ran over to him, my legs more powerful than they should ever be and helped him to his feet.
Jake instantly turned invisible, but the forest floor gave him away. I threw shields around me, and mostly heard him running around me. We he became quiet, that's when he would strike. There wasn't much I could then, but the second he hit me I threw a shield at him and he'd back off.
After twenty of minutes of this, we both called it quits.
We laughed as we inspected the damage we made; broken or slashed trees, welts in the ground. Both trees that we had rammed into had snapped in half with no injury to either of us. We walked back to the little campsite to have a mini feast in our newest revelation.
"To recap once again," I said as we ate some more berries, "we can read each other minds, I can… I'll call it shield , you can heal yourself, and we're super strong and fast."
"Ah, you forgot I can turn invisible and teleport," he said, putting a handful of berries in his mouth.
"Ah. Correct." After we had our snack we set off again. We walked for hours. The mountains were getting larger quicker as we didn't stop.
The sun was setting while the forest started to dim. I wasn't physically tired, but my involuntary yawn alerted me that I was sleepy.
"Time for bed," Jake said. I smiled as we took out the sleeping bags I had packed. We went behind separate trees to change our dirty clothes; I put the dress in my bag, pretty enough to keep. We laid them side by side--with some space in between. We then stretched out on our backs and looked at the sky.
"It's so beautiful, the stars," said Jake.
"Yeah--look." I pointed at the long streak of a shooting star cutting through the blackness of space. I sighed in awe.
We laid there for a long while in silence, looking up at the night sky. I thought about Josh and Liz on our last peaceful night together; watching movies, eating pizza, laughing together. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Just thinking about it made me sad…. Would we be able to have times like that again?
"So, who do you have a crush on?" I asked Jake. Even in the dark, I could tell he turned tomato red. This for sure wasn't what he had expected for conversation.
"What--what did you say?" he asked unnecessarily.
"Who do you have a crush on? Is it someone I know?" I silently hoped not. He was still looking at the sky, not meeting my gaze. I got up on my elbow and looked at him. He sighed heavily.
"You could say that."
"What does she look like?"
He stayed quiet for a moment. "Human," he said. I sighed in pretend frustration. He just smiled, clearly enjoying toying with me.
"I meant describe her appearance," I said.
"She has brown hair," he said, getting up on his elbow like me.
I rolled my eyes. "Who doesn't have brown hair," I said. He somehow blocked me out of his head--I was starting to get annoyed since I didn't know how to do that.
"She's funny… smart… quick. She's pretty. Um… she's unpredictable." He got up
and hugged his knees, looking into the surrounding trees. "And she has bright green eyes," he said quietly.
"Amy," he said quietly, "I've had a… I don't know, I guess you can call it a crush on you since, like, seventh grade." I sat up next to him silently stunned.
I sat up. "Why didn't you say anything?"
He scoffed. "Isn't obvious? I wasn't sure if you liked me back. But when we were at the party…you said you really liked me. But I wasn't sure if you were just too drunk to know what you were saying." He clearly looked uncomfortable. I laughed quietly with embarrassment; had I really said that?
He turned on me, misinterpreting my laugh. "It's not funny." I straightened up and got serious.
"I know it's not. It's just that--oh my gosh--I've liked you since, like, before seventh grade. When you kissed me outside my house, I got my hopes up. But I never had a clue you liked me that way. I just thought you were being nice." What a lame way to tell someone you care for them in a deeper way than friendship.
"Wow," he said.
"I know…. So… where does this leave us?"
"I don't know," he answered, lying back down. "Where do you want to be?"
I couldn't figure out how to answer. I thought about all the worries I had about this situation: To be or not to be his girlfriend.
"Be my girlfriend, then?"
"Jake, I don't know--" "What? You don't want to be?" Why did he have to be defensive?
"It's not that--of course I want to be, but…," I sighed. "What will Josh and Liz think? What will everyone else think?" He laughed at me.
"It's not funny."
"It's not that. It's just that… well… since when did you ever care what people thought of you?"
I narrowed my eyes at him, then sighed. "This is… different."
I stood up and paced, trying to find the words to explain this as easy and understandable as I could make it. "I don't know. What if things don't work out? This is…all new for me." I stopped; he was standing in front of me.
"If we work at it, it will work out. You know better than anyone else that this is new for me too," he smiled back. He got down on one knee.
"Jake, what're you doing?"
He took my hands. "Will you, Amy Santali, be my girlfriend?"
"We're not getting married, are we?" I said sarcastically.
"You know I can't afford a ring."
I sighed again. This was what I wanted. To be his girlfriend. For him to be my boyfriend. "Yes." He jumped up and kissed me.
I don't know how to describe it; it was beautiful, better than ever (I wouldn't really know, this was my first real kiss I should say). There were fireworks, sunsets, Christmases and Valentine's Day embraces--all rolled into one. I pulled away, his hands still holding me perfectly to his body.
"I've pictured this a million times," I said, looking into his bright hazel eyes. I never really thought I could be romantic, but now was my chance to see if I could; I've seen a lot of movies, so it shouldn't be hard.
"How does this rank?"
"A million times better." He seemed satisfied as he let go. He put his arm around me again as we walked back to our sleeping bags. We got in (into our own separate sleeping bags), scooting a little until we were closer and fell asleep. It was peaceful, under the stars, in this beautiful place. That night I dreamed of only Jake.
The next morning, I woke up unbelievably happy. I felt like nothing could get me down now. I felt even more confident about today. It was a whole new world. A world--my world--that now revolved around Jake.
Jake was on his side facing me, sleeping peacefully. I got up quietly and got some berries and water, ate a little. After my little breakfast, I went over to the trees we broke yesterday and found some sticks and twigs; it was a little chilly.
Getting the 'fire' going was tough. I used up five different twigs before I finally got a spark going. I quickly fed it some dry grass and a few little twigs. Some dirt had to put around it, and I fed it some more twigs.
Jake was looking up to the sky when he opened his eyes. He looked like he was thinking about something.
"Good morning, sleepyhead."
We ate quickly then packed up and started walking. The mountains were so close I could see the base. Jake reached out and took my hand. I thought he just wanted to walk holding hands, but I was unfortunately mistaken.
He pulled me into the clear hole (instead black hole) once again. I was sure I was going to pass out this time because I hadn't taken a big breath before. I closed my eyes, voluntarily or not, I wasn't so sure. When I opened them I fell to the ground, gasping for breath with all my might.
"Are you okay?" Jake asked.
"You…didn't…warn me," I panted back.
Jake chuckled. "What did you think I was going to do?" I wasn't panting as heavily as I tried to stand on my own shaky legs.
"I thought…you just… wanted to…hold hands," I replied. I staggered a bit, Jake quickly catching me. I stayed in his arms for one more minute before letting go.
"I'll warn you next time," he said letting me go.
"Yeah right…. next time."
We turned around and looked up. The so-called mountain was more like a stone skyscraper. It was so vertical I couldn't see the top.
"How are we going to get up there?" I asked skeptically. Jake smirked again. He held out his hand for me.
"Shall we go up, milady?" he said in a horrid accent. I drew a deep breath this time; Jake smirked as I took his hand.
When we were compressed once again, I felt I like I slammed into an invisible solid barrier hard and was thrown back into the suffocation. When I was able to breathe again, we were in the same exact location as before, sprawled on the ground.
"What…the hell?" Jake panted, looking up. I suddenly remembered what Arial said.
"The…enchantments," I puffed in reply. We stood up and looked up at the great big gray obstacle that was in our way.
"Great. So how are we…going to get up there?" he asked. He was still looking up, his head craned all the way back.
"There is an obvious answer," I said. I dropped my backpack, glad of the sudden weight loss, and reached for a hold in the rock. I found it and pulled myself up, grabbing another one. I was reaching for one more when Jake suddenly grabbed me and pulled me down.
"That's too dangerous. What if we fall?" We stood there for about five minutes thinking. I felt a little lighter; I was sure it was because we hadn't had a proper meal for about forty eight hours, and the pack felt like I was carrying another me. Every thought about how to get up there came back to climbing our way up.
"We're gonna have to climb up there. There's no other way."
He rolled his eyes. "I've already expressed my opinion about that," he said. I was irritated by his stubbornness; but I was one to talk. I continued to feel like all the little body weight I had was evaporating along with my patience.
"Jake, we can't go around it, we can't go through it and you can't get us up there," I said, quoting that old nursery rhyme story. "We're going to have to--" I stopped suddenly for I no longer felt ground beneath my feet. I looked down; I was floating. Levitating? I was a few feet off the ground, thrashing in midair.
"Jake!" I shouted. He jumped up and merely grazed my outstretched hand. He jumped once more and grabbed my hand and pulled me down. Well, I actually fell on top of him. "Thanks," I said, getting up off of him.
"Ow. No problem," he said as I helped him up. "Wow, Amy, did you lose a lot of weight," he snickered. I socked him playfully; the impact reverberated in my ears.
"Well… I think I just found our other option," I said.
He rolled his eyes. "How convenient. But no way, it's still too dangerous. What if you dropped me?"
I scoffed at him. "Do you really think I'm going to drop you?"
Jake took a while to answer. "No," he said quietly. "But I might tear your arm off."
"Come on, this could work. Do you trust me?" I asked.
I rolled my eyes. "Do you trust me?" I repeated slowly. I held out my hand and looked him straight in the eyes.
He looked back at me and sighed. "Fine." He took my hand. Unsure of how to defy gravity, I concentrated on leaving the ground. My feet felt nothing but air. Jake was not holding on to my hand, but was holding it as if he were flying too.
"Can't you go any faster?" he said. We had been floating up slowly for the last five minutes.
I playfully narrowed my eyes at him. "I'll see what I can do." All of a sudden, we zoomed up in an alarming speed that even I was terrified for a moment; Jake's hold tightened. I giggled as I was able to slow to a stop as we came to a small ledge. I landed gracefully onto the ground while Jake fell to his knees.
"I like my way better," he said, dusting off his pants.
"At least my way you can actually breathe." We looked up to find a big hole in the rock.
It was about ten feet wide and tall. I followed the stone upward; it kept going into the clouds above. There were no other caves so I assumed this was the one.
I FELT JAKE MOVE CLOSER AS WE MADE OUR WAY INSIDE. There seemed to be no end in the distance, like it went on to eternity.
"Too bad we can't see in the dark," Jake said. His voice echoed so his words repeated a few times before finally disappearing.
"True," I whispered. We continued to walk in the darkness. I felt my pupils were growing larger; it hurt for a while. I was starting to feel depressed. Maybe this wasn't the right cave, maybe it was just a rumor we foolishly believed.
No, don't think like that I thought to myself. I only tried to think positive. We were going to find Liz and Josh. They were going to be okay. We would then go home. I repeated it all in my head, and felt calmer.
After what felt like hours of walking in what felt like a circle, Jake started chuckling.
"What's so funny?" I asked. Really, what was so funny about walking in a pitch black tunnel?
"You didn't even notice I'm waving my hand in front of your face," he laughed. I raised my hand and smacked the air in front of me.
I laughed then quickly stopped; I heard something--other than my echoing laugh--that sounded like distant screams. I held out my hand to stop Jake, bumping his chest a little too hard and caught him in mid breath.
"What?" he gasped.
"Shh. Listen," I said. I could hear a girl's muffled scream, followed by a guy's yell. I looked at Jake, though, I could barely make out his face, but I knew he was looking at me.
"I don't hear anything," he whispered. The yells sounded the same to me. Why didn't he hear it?
"I hear a girl and a boy yelling," I reported. I concentrated on the only sound of them; they were more distinct.
"Liz and Josh," we said together. We ran straight forward as fast as we could. We kept our arms in front of us our faces wouldn't meet the walls. I was getting more anxious, letting that crazy energy flow through my legs.
We ran until we came to a split. The tunnel branched out into two smaller ones; they looked exactly the same.
"Which way--?" Jake began.
"Shh," I said, cutting him short. From the left tunnel, I heard nothing. The right seemed to have amplified their yells for better help.
"The right one," I said. We ran through, not slowing down. There was a small light in the distance. The light, I soon realized, was an opening with stone bars going from the ceiling to the ground.
"Josh! Liz!" I called as we arrived at the door. Liz appeared at the opening.
"Oh my gosh, Amy!" she yelled hugging me through the bars. She stepped aside, Josh came and hugged me tighter as Liz hugged Jake. I felt like I was flying with my feet still on the ground.
"How did you guys find us?" he asked when he let go.
"Get back. I'm getting you both out of here."
Josh didn't budge. "It's solid rock, Amy. How the hell are you going to do that?" he asked looking at the stone bars as if it were impossible. I sighed in irritation. "Move and I'll show you," I answered. He and Liz stepped back, Josh rolling his eyes. I examined the stone bars, they were as thick as my wrist (which isn't that thick at all). As hard as I could, I grabbed the stone, and yanked. It shattered into pieces, one piece still in my hand. I looked up to the ceiling which--thankfully--remained undisturbed. I pulled out two more.
When I looked up, Jake was clapping, and Liz and Josh just stared at me in complete shock. I rolled my eyes and turned to Jake.
"Let's go," he said. Liz and Josh were frozen in amazement.
"How the hell did you do that?" Liz asked, looking down at the shattered stone at my feet. I grabbed their hands and pulled them out.
"I'll explain later," I said. "Let's go now!" I pushed them ahead of me and Jake to make them run faster out of the cave. I started worrying about whether Charlie was going to wait for us at the end, or maybe pop out of nowhere.
"Where's Charlie?" Jake asked as we ran.
"What's going on?" Josh replied back.
"Where's Charlie?" I repeated.
"Tell us what's going on!" Josh said. He stopped and I crashed into him, knocking him to the ground. I helped him up. It was frustrating enough with them slowing us down. We could've been at the bottom of the freaking mountain already.
"We'll explain later. Just run!" I pushed him forward. We kept running until we were out of the cave.
"Where did Charlie go?" I asked Josh.
He looked frustrated. "First tell--" I didn't let him finish as I grabbed him by the
shoulders and shook him, a bit harder than I had intended.
"Where. Did. He. Go?" He looked terrified by this action.
"I don't know. I-I never saw him," he answered.
I let him go and turned to Jake. "Let's just knock it down," I said. "He might think they're still in there and won't come looking for them." He nodded in agreement. We strode over to the cave and punched the sides with all our might, which we didn't need much.
We had become strong enough for it to cave in after a few punches combined. The cave from the inside fell. We looked uncertainly up at the rest, it remained still. They followed me and Jake towards the edge. Josh and Liz had to jog a little; we covered the distance in what felt like two strides. I looked down; I didn't realized how far I had gone up earlier. I couldn't even see our backpacks at the bottom.
"You can get us down, right? All of us?" Jake asked uncertainly. I got Jake up there easily. He was probably only able to fly as long as he held my hand; I probably passed it on through contact. I was strong enough to break through stone; I was positive I could bring Jake, Josh and Liz down safely.
"Absolutely," I answered. I turned and outstretched my hands. Liz and Josh looked at me like I was insane.
"Are you insane? We're not jumping," Liz said in her worried tone. She still walked over to me, but not daring to look over. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to fly us down," I answered. Josh laughed so loud it startled me. For a second, I thought he was in hysterics.
He took a while to calm down in order to speak. "Seriously," he said, "how are we going to get down?" He walked over and looked over the edge. "Holy crap! That's too far to climb!" he exclaimed.
I rolled my eyes in annoyance. "Jake, take my hand and hold onto Liz. Josh, hold my other hand." Josh looked at me--again--like I was insane. I turned to Jake; he had Liz's hand. I looked out in front of me; I could see the whole the trees go on to the horizon. There was a lake close to the mountain range that went on from this mountain.
"Ready?" I said. Liz and Jake nodded. I noticed Josh didn't give me his hand. I looked over to him; he looked at me like I was crazy. I sighed and waited.
"What are you--?"
"Did you hear my first answer?" I interrupted in annoyance. Seriously, he saw me punch through stone. Was it hard to even grasp the idea I might be able to fly?
Who was I kidding? Of course it was.
"Then there you go," I replied, grabbing his hand. I took a leap forward, unexpectedly pulling everyone down with me. I was letting us freefall at first, concentrating on the speed I wanted. We all screamed until we ran out of air, but Liz was screaming nonstop; it was amazing how long she held out. As the ground rushed up to greet us, I slowed us down a bit. It was difficult to understand how my flying worked. It felt sort of natural, like walking. That, or I just made us fly like I just wanted it to happen, and it would.
I had us land perfectly on the ground, letting go of Jake and Josh's hand. Jake set Liz down; she was as white as a sheet and possibly on the verge of passing out.
"Are you alright?" I asked kneeling beside her. She was panting heavily.
"I'm…okay," she said. Okay, she was fine; that was my main concern at the moment.
I turned to Jake. "Get her some water." I had noticed our packs by the side of the cliff.
As Jake got the water, I turned to look at Josh. He was staring at me as if he didn't recognize me at all, like a stranger.
"Who are you?" he said, his voice quivering; I had never heard him like that before.
"What do you mean?" He looked up at the mountain then back at me, eyes wide open. His body was half turned, like he was about to run away.
"What did you do?" he replied, voice slightly hysterical. What was he doing? I had just found him. I thought he would at least be happy that we were all okay. I took a step towards him.
Not a good idea.
"Josh, what--" I began.
"Get away from me!" he yelled, startling me. He backed away towards the trees, his body still half turned, ready to run. I couldn't believe it; he was acting like he was… afraid of me.
"Josh," I said softly, "it's me, still me. I'm still the same old Amy."
He was shaking his head vigorously. "No. What are you? You can't do that!"
"Yes, I can! Just let me explain." I moved closer. He backed away again, fear in his eyes, fear of me.
Jake was immediately at my side. "Josh, just calm down, man" he said, walking towards him.
He backed away the same, with the same fearful expression. I looked back at Liz, she was looking at Josh like I was, confused. Why was Josh being so difficult? I had expectedly Liz--the most worrisome of us all--to react like this. I was almost afraid to tell him what I really was. I doubted he would even listen to me now. "Josh," said Jake, "we'll explain everything."
Josh continued to shake his head at me. "No!" he said, pointing an accusing finger at me. "I don't know what you both are but she is not my sister. What kind of freak are you?"
The way he said it made me feel contaminated, like I had some kind of terrible virus… like I was a virus. As much as those words stabbed me, there was no way to deny it; it was the truth.
He wasn't biologically my brother… and apparently I wasn't his sister in any other sense. I thought of a different approach in order to make him understand, though his reaction did have a negative effect on me.
"You know what? You're right," I said, my voice a bit shaky. "I'm not your sister, okay?" This was not the way I had pictured of telling him. "I was adopted. Mr. and Mrs. Santali are your parents, Josh. I was left on their doorstep. My parents are dead! Are you happy, Josh? Are you finally happy you know the fricking truth?!" I yelled hysterically, practically trembling. I was breathing hard, having run out of air. Josh continued to look at me with fear; surprised I didn't explode--literally--like I was.
Tears were running down my cheeks as Jake came to hold me in his arms. The harsh truth and proper emotions I should have felt when I learned the truth finally caught up with me. Liz walked over to Jake and I as we broke apart, I didn't want to breakdown sobbing--even though I really just wanted to call it quits.
She was glancing at Josh, who remained by the shelter of the trees. "Is it true?" she asked softly. I nodded, wiping tears from my eyes. She was about to hug me when I held out my hand. I smiled to make sure she wasn't hurt. She understood, but then walked towards Josh; he didn't back away.
"Josh," she said. He looked at her for a second, then looked back at me. Liz turned to us and said, "Explain." I wasn't sure if I would've been able to. Josh's reaction didn't leave me any hope he would accept this.
Jake and I started from the very beginning: the acquiring, our abilities as they came, who Charlie really was, what we did when they were gone (we left out the party scene), when we got here, and Charlie being a vampire. We had left out: the mind reading, invisibility and my shield thing, the attack in the alley and my being bitten. I rubbed unintentionally at my neck; I felt two small bumps that stung a little when I touched them.
"Do you understand?" I cut in. Jake was about to get to the part where I found out about my parents and my being a faerie.
"Yeah," Liz said. Josh was looking at the ground. I was still shocked; he wouldn't even look at me. "But why are your abilities different?" she asked. I thought about it and looked at Jake; he was stumped, too.
"I'm not sure, but I'm guessing it… depends on… the individual?" I theorized. "Maybe that's it."
"But how did you find out you were adopted?" she asked.
I sighed. I told her what Arial told me: I was a Keeper faerie and I wasn't sure what I was going to keep, the war and reason, my parents faeriehood and death, and my being half faerie and half mortal.
When I finished, Josh stood up and walked away to stand by a tree, his back to us. I shakily got up to talk to him when, to my relief, Jake stood up.
"I'll talk to him," he said, giving me a comforting smile that made my knees go weak a little. He headed to Josh. Grateful I didn't have to talk to him, I gathered up some wood trying to keep my mind off things; Liz followed, looking around the forest in fear.
When I got a fire going (I needed only four twigs this time), for it was getting dark already, Liz scooted next to me. She was looking at Jake and Josh then turned to me, for I had been watching Jake. I waited for her to speak, but she kept giving me a look.
"Well?" She used that tone when she wanted to know something.
She scoffed and rolled her eyes at me. "What's between you and Jake?" she whispered. It was my turn to roll my eyes. With all that had happened recently, she hadn't changed at all.
"Well, I don't know if it's official but I think Jake and I are a…." I faltered, searching for words, "a bit like a couple, I guess. We're together." Liz was eccentric but kept quiet; I didn't want Josh any more upset then he already was.
"How? Details, details," she hounded. I told her about last night. He had said he had a crush on me, that he wanted me to be his girlfriend and so on.
Liz was in pure awe. "I can't believe it," she said.
"Me neither," I replied. It would be a cruel joke from fate if all this turned out to be a coma dream or something.
Jake walked over. "Josh wants to talk to you." I gulped as I stood up. My legs shook as I walked over. I sat down next to him, he was looking into the dark forest.
Josh cleared his throat. "First, I'm sorry how I… reacted earlier." I let go the breath I was holding in in suspense. He wasn't going to start freaking out like before. My head felt a little lightheaded for a second. My ear itched for a second, but I quickly ignored it; maybe I was
just relaxing to Josh's apology.
"It's okay. I'm sorry I dropped the bomb on you like this. I should've have told you everything before."
He smirked and continued. "I know I shouldn't blame you for what you did… and I'm not. It's just that… you never came to me for help or even to warn me. You kept me in the dark, totally clueless."
I had never thought of that and immediately felt guilty. "Would you have let me if I'd told you what I planned to do?"
"If I had, Jake and I wouldn't have been able to find you guys."
"Yeah… but Liz and I probably wouldn't have been kidnapped," he said in a matter-of-fact tone. He got me there. But at least he wasn't yelling his head off at me.
"True," I agreed, "but someone else would have been. Charlie would have become… whatever he is… with or without your consent. He would've hurt more people than just us." He stayed silent for a couple of minutes, pondering, I assumed.
"So," he said. "What's with you and Jake?"
"I'm sorry, what?"
He cleared his throat unnecessarily. I could tell he was trying to keep his emotions in check. "I asked, what's with you and Jake?"
Oh no, should I or should I not?
"N-nothing's going on. Dealing with new abilities, looking for you two; nothing in particular," I replied nervously. He looked at me with a calculating expression then turned to gaze out towards the forest. "Are we good to go?"
"Go where?" he asked.
I smirked. "I meant are we okay?" He looked at me for a second, then he hugged me. As uncomfortable as I was, I didn't want to upset him by breaking it up. When he let me go he said,
"You'll always be my sister."
"Likewise." He punched me in the arm playfully. If he had punched me with all his strength, he probably would have broken his hand. We got up and went to Liz and Jake. Liz was already curled up in a sleeping bag. Jake just sat by the fire, watching us.
It was a while after we went to 'bed' that Jake shook me awake.
"Follow me." He started walking away while untangled myself from the sleeping bag to follow. We were a few yards from Josh and Liz, though we could still see them, before he stopped.
"Try to read my mind," he said.
I sighed. "You woke me up for this? Jake, I'm tired."
"Just do it. I'm think of a number. Say it."
I listened… and listened. "Are you even thinking at all? I can't hear anything."
"Exactly. I can't hear you either."
"Don't mess around, Jake." I was still trying, but I felt like I'd gone mentally deaf.
"It's changed or something, this ability. I can hear Josh's mind now. Liz's too…." He was saying something else but I couldn't pay attention to him anymore. I heard another voice saying It's blue… no, green… nope, it's yellow… orange--no red…. Then I was being shaken
by the shoulders, immediately snapping me back.
"Amy? What's the matter?" Jake hissed worriedly. He gripped me like a vice.
"First of all--ow!" I hissed back, freeing my arms. "Did you hear someone?"
He looked at me funny and I immediately felt insane. "Other than you, no."
I sighed in relief. "Then it must've been Liz I heard." I wasn't crazy.
"Oh," he said. "The colors? I heard that too; Liz was probably thinking in her dreams or something. I wasn't paying attention to that since you drifted off into space."
"Speaking of Liz," I said. "Did she ask…you know…about us?"
He rolled his eyes at me. "Have you met Liz?" he chuckled. "Of course she did. It was tough to answer…I wasn't sure what to say." He turned Kool-Aid red again. I glanced at Josh and Liz's sleeping forms. "So why didn't you tell Josh about us?" he asked casually. I couldn't keep up with the sudden subject change.
"Was I supposed to?"
"I figured you would." I noticed one thing unrelated to the subject: Jake seemed to dominate most of our private conversations.
"Well…he did get a little curious," I said slowly. He seemed to not be totally satisfied with my answer.
"Why didn't you tell him?" he pressed. He sounded a little anxious.
"Why is it so important? He's just getting over our little episode earlier. Why bombard him with more… unexpected news? I don‟t want to give him an aneurysm.
"Then when can we tell him? I hope I don't sound corny when I say I hate not kissing you for so long. He's around too much." Even in the dark I could tell he flushed quickly.
I moved closer, letting him wrap his arms around me. "I can't say you sound corny because I feel the same way. When we get back, we can tell him. But," I said teasingly, "you can kiss me all you want right now." He then leaned down to kiss me, for like three minutes straight; it was pure heaven (oh, this was making out; it was nice). After a while, I told him my lips were exhausted as I gently pulled away.
"Am I that good?" he whispered as we made our way back to Liz and Josh's still sleeping forms.
I rolled my eyes.
THE NEXT MORNING I AWOKE PLEASANTLY PEACEFUL. I got up and looked around our little campsite; Jake and Josh were gone while Liz was eating more berries. She looked at my confused expression.
"The boys found a small waterfall slash creek and decided for a quick bath. Since you were asleep, I was overruled."
I heard her thoughts. I want to go home I want to go home Liz was actually terrified of this place. But she didn't want us to think she was a wimp, so she kept quiet. I tried to not appear sad for her for no apparent reason.
"Well, we'll wash up and pack. Then we'll head over to the village and head back home," I said all leader-like.
"What? We're not going to stay?" she asked to my surprise.
"But I thought you--" thought you wanted to go home, I finished in my head. She wasn't supposed to know about the mind reading; I didn't need to be entirely truthful--it's not obligatory.
She caught this. "You thought I what?"
"I… thought you would like to head home ASAP," I replied innocently.
"But I thought you were a…Keeper?" I was surprised she had even remembered. "Aren't you supposed to keep something?" she continued.
I let her have this one. "Alright, but it would do some good to see what went down in the village." I quickly informed her about what happened before we came looking for them. When I had finished, the boys were coming back, laughing.
They were playfully shoving each other like old times, except Jake nearly shoved Josh into a tree. "Alright ladies, your turn," Jake said.
I stole a glance at Josh. He seemed happier, though I could see an unusual glint in his eyes. Why hasn't he told me yet? he thought as he glanced at Jake. That thought startled me, like he already knew. Did he already know? Did Liz tell him while Jake and I were away last night?
Liz began to walk in the direction where the boys had come from when she stopped and turned around.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I don't have any clothes," she said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, and it was. I looked through my pack, grateful Arial left me my clothes.
"I have some but you know I'm smaller than you," I said as I handed her sweatpants and a T-shirt (yes, I packed more than one outfit).
I hadn't noticed Jake and Josh were watching me with curious eyes. I didn't look directly at them; I turned to look for clothes for myself. I still felt they were watching me. I found some clothes and chanced a glance at them; they immediately took to looking busy--but there was nothing to do. Did I look wrong or something?
"Where's the bathroom?" Josh said, raising his hand.
"Anywhere we can't smell it," Jake scoffed. "Don't get lost!" Josh laughed and went behind a wide tree. I took my chance. Jake was destroying the fire by kicking it around as I quickly came up behind him.
"I think he wants us to tell him soon," I whispered into his ear. He shuddered for some reason.
He turned around, pink in the face. "Don't do that," he said, blushing some more.
I was confused. "Why not? All I did was whisper?"
He blushed even more. "How did he sound?"
"He sounded annoyed… mostly at you. I think he sus--" I stopped for Josh was coming back. I knew Jake and I aren't as big a deal as what is really going on, but Josh was still overprotective; he was still gonna look out for me, abilities or not.
"So," he said casually. "Where are we headed?" He directed his question to me as Jake turned to me also. I couldn't believe it; I had become the leader of the group now. Pressure.
I shuffled from one foot to the other, uncomfortable in the spotlight. "Well… as soon as I'm done washing up, we'll eat and make our way to the village and go home." My actual plan was just to send Liz and Josh home; Jake and I still needed to find and get rid of Charlie. Josh and Liz didn't need to know that.
"Okay," he said simply, to my surprise. No argument?
Liz was coming back from her bath. The clothes I let her borrow made her look… mature. They made me look like me; I could never find clothes to fit my super-slender form. I sometimes got jealous of Liz's 'full figure.' Still, she looked perfect in sweats and a t-shirt.
"I'm decent," she said. She sat down as I walked to the creek
It was way more beautiful than I expected. Trees created the perfect shade beside the small two-feet-high waterfall. The water itself was gorgeous as it fell gracefully into the little pond. Flowers grew all around the edge of the small pool, creating a pleasant, floral aroma all over.
I saw a little cave behind the waterfall, but didn't want to waste my time exploring; I had to dump Liz and Josh and search for Charlie. I was also getting anxious of what I would find in the village… if there was anything left to find. I stepped into the cool water. It was super clear; I could see the stone floor.
After my quick bath, I quickly dressed. When I had finished, I started to head back to the campsite when I heard a sound: a small thud behind me… like a footstep. I was frozen in sudden fear, my back tingling with the anticipation. I heard another thud and instinctively turned around too quickly.
I was dizzy from the sudden movement, and it took me a few seconds to stop everything from moving. I looked up, expecting someone standing over me but there was nothing. I exhaled heavily, barely realizing I had been holding my breath. I hyperventilated for a few seconds, clearing my head from the remaining panic.
I shouldn't worry. If someone was going to attack me, they would have done so already. That thought calmed me down only a little bit so that I was able to walk, stumbling a little at first.
When I got to the camp, I was close enough to hear what they were saying. Curiosity got the best of me so I hid behind a tree; they were sitting around the extinguished fire to notice. I figured they wouldn't continue talking in front of me; they talked while I was away.
"Are you sure she didn't tell you anything else?" Liz asked. She showed a hint of double meaning I didn't catch.
"No. I asked but she said Arial didn't mention anything else," Jake answered. It was quiet for a moment. I was about to go greet them when Josh spoke, causing me to nearly fall getting back behind the tree before they saw me.
"How do you know she wasn't lying?" Ouch.
"But why would she?" Liz interjected.
I heard Josh scoff. Ouch again.
"Have you seen her track record? You would just have to take what recently occurred into account here."
"So, what, you blame her for this situation?" Jake said defensively.
"That's not what I meant--"
"So what did you mean?" Jake cut in. I didn't want to be left out of the conversation any longer, so I stepped out.
"Yeah, Josh," I said, startling them all. "What did you mean?" He went a little pale as he struggled for a response.
I won't say it to you, you'll just lie to me again
That just made me angrier. He wasn't looking at me when he thought this; his expression would be a dead giveaway.
"I don't think you should be talking so much right now," I added. He didn't like that one bit.
Josh stood up and was facing me, but he didn't come any closer. "Oh, really? And how do you figure that?" I couldn't believe how weak he was at the moment.
"First of all, who's the faerie here? Second, Jake and I are the only ones actually able to handle this situation. And thirdly, you and Liz--don't be offended, Liz--will only make this a lot more harder for us since we're going to have to look after you." They all took in what I just said… or shouted. To stop them from interrupting, I continued. "So, the plan for today is this: Jake and I are going to escort you to the portal we came from, drop you off at Alloid's and then Jake and I will start looking for Charlie. You wanted the truth? There it is."
It was so comical the way they all looked at me. Liz, to my surprise, looked understanding. Jake looked at me in awe (it took a lot not to blush in the admiration). Josh was red in the face as he stood up and walked until he was in my face.
"No. I'm not letting you do this. You've put yourself in too much danger already. Aren't you concerned what Mom and Dad," he said it like it was nothing, "are going to be like when you don't come home?"
The parent card didn't work on me; I was too upset already.
"Well," I started, temper rising. "You're in no position to boss me around anymore--you can't stop me. Also, if Jake and I don't stop Charlie, who will? You?"
He looked like he had just been slapped; maybe that had been a low blow.
Either way, I continued. "Jake and I are the only ones who will be able to stop him. Because if we don't, he might come to our--your world and who knows who he'll hurt or kill. He will be dangerous and I don't want you or Liz anywhere near him when he is."
He was finally rendered speechless. He continued to glare at me while I continued to ignore him. I went to get my stuff as Liz and Jake stood up. Liz walked over to me.
"Sorry for the fuss," I said before she said anything.
She merely shrugged. "I understand," she replied. "I know the extent of things." We smiled at each other; no matter what the situation, we were always in sync.
I hope she comes back she thought to herself.
We were already halfway towards the village. Our only compass was the place where Jake and I had destroyed the two trees and the bush with the magnificent berries. The journey along that distance was quiet. I was desperate to say something (some things never change) but I didn't know how to start. I couldn't ask 'Did anyone do their science homework?' Then Charlie popped into my mind.
I looked at the others; Liz and Josh were panting along. Jake, on the other hand, was perfectly fine like I was; I guess our super strength applied to walking.
"Alright, break time," I announced, dropping my pack. We all sat down and ate some more berries. I swear we were going to be addicted to them, but we couldn't help it; we were only human (ha ha).
"Okay," I said loudly to get their attention. "There's no point in not acknowledging the purple elephant so I will. I just want to get a few things straight here, the facts right. I think it will help us--Jake and I--stop Charlie. In order for that to work, you'll have to cooperate." I looked everyone in the face, last Josh.
"Okay then. First question: Who actually took you guys?" I asked.
"Well, we went to the store," Liz began, "two men asked us if they had seen two kids; they'd described as you. They told us you were missing once we said we knew you. They said they were from the police and were going to take us home. We asked for ID to prove they were; the badges did look real. When we got in the van, they immediately put bags over our heads and tied our wrists and ankles." What surprised me was she said all these things in a matter-of-fact tone as she showed me the welts on her wrists. I hadn't noticed them before.
"We tried to take the bag off our heads," she continued, "but they said they would kill us if we did so we remained still. After about several hours or so, I guess they knocked us out because we woke up in that cave place." I analyzed all this looking for clues; nothing she had said helped.
"Did you recognize any voices?" Jake cut in.
Charlie's and his dad's voice thought Josh. I quickly glanced at Jake, he had heard too.
"I didn't," Liz answered. Knowing so already, I turned to Josh, who sat sulkily eating berries.
"What about you, Josh?" I asked.
"Well, one or two… sounded …familiar," he said vaguely. I was a little disappointed he was keeping this from me, even though I already knew about it; he knew he was still lying.
"You're lying to me, aren't you?" I said. It came out a little to harshly than the way I had intended. From his expression, he knew he was busted, but he didn't know exactly.
"Well…one of them sounded…like Charlie. A man who was sitting next to us sounded like…his dad," he said sheepishly.
"Well, then I say five minutes then we head on out," I said, lying on my back to rest.
I looked up through the trees to see the magnificent blue sky. I realized that I never took the time to appreciate nature and it's beauty. I looked around; Jake was lying down, his head next to me while Liz was lying down and Josh sitting nearby. They were facing away from us but I didn't want to pry.
"What are you thinking about?" Jake asked quietly.
"Why do you want to know?"
He sighed. "I hate not knowing what you're thinking."
"What'll we do when we find Charlie. We have no strategy." Our vulnerability was frustrating.
"Don't you think Liz and Josh know something? Something they're holding back from us?" he said apprehensively. I refused to believe they would keep something vital from us, especially given the current circumstances and their probable significance.
"Why would they do that?" I asked.
He scoffed. "You heard Josh. He doesn't want to leave you here. I figure he wants to use the info as a bribe to let him stay here or for you to leave with them."
I pondered this for moment. There was a chance Josh would stoop to a lower level in order to keep informed of the current events, but would he risk his own life? He knows we aren't biologically related, though I can't and won't get rid of the feeling of him being my older brother. He seemed too content in throwing my adoptive parents' worries in my face, trying to guilt me.
"By the way, I… uh," Jake started, "um… well… crap." I could hear the difficulty in his voice. His loss for words was astounding.
"Don't strain yourself, Jake."
"I told him about…us." If Josh and Liz weren't close I would have yelled my head off at him for not letting me be there when he did tell. Plus, he technically disobeyed me (Shush. I'm not bossy).
"Amy?" he asked when I didn't respond. I took a deep breath in order to clear away the frustration he inflicted on me.
"Why couldn't you just wait? Why do you have to go so fast?" I asked incredulously. For one thing, I had managed to keep my voice down, but I wasn't sure how long that would last. He was about to reply, pink in the face, when I cut across him.
"Look, we're getting off track here. We'll go to the village, dump Liz and Josh at Alloid's, ask Arial to help us, and then we'll have something of a plan." His eyes went wide open, his hazel eyes glowing with excitement.
"Excellent," he said, smiling mischievous. I got up and walked towards Josh and Liz, they must've scooted farther. As I got close I heard whispers; I wished they were actual words but that died away quickly as I got near.
"So, are we ready to go?" I asked innocently, knowing they were talking about me behind my back. Why can't she mind her own business? I heard Josh think. Well, sorry
"Yeah," Liz replied. "How long will it take to get there?"
"Well, that depends on how fast you can move," I answered, slightly acidic. Josh caught it at once, seemed to have forced himself to ignore it.
"Okay, then. We'll pack up real quick and keep going," Liz said cheerfully. It kind of stunned me how she was so cheerful when there was an evil half-vampire half-possessed teenager running around. I walked away putting my hands in my front pocket when I felt something inside. I pulled it out. It was the sparrow necklace… and it was glowing.
I IMMEDIATELY WENT TO JAKE. Hopefully he would be able to help me interpret the shinning necklace.
"What?" he asked, looking up. I let the bird on the thin chain swing steadily like a pendulum in front of his face so he could see.
"Why is it doing that?" he asked.
I scoffed at him once more. "Why do you think I came to you? I don't know how long ago it started doing that but I don't know what it means."
"We'll ask Arial when we get there. I'm sure she has all the answers," he said, proving his confidence. I sighed and put the necklace back in my pocket. I turned to see Liz and Josh walking towards us.
"Are you ready?" asked Josh. He tried to hide his annoyance; he wasn't doing a very good job of it.
"Aye, aye, Captain," Jake answered giving a naval salute. Josh rolled his eyes and sighed.
It was silent as we walked. I didn't bother saying anything for I was lost in thought. Where could Charlie be? Why was I even thinking about Charlie? He was Ezekiel now. I was sure by now he would know Jake and I had successfully retrieved Liz and Josh--or thought that they died in a cave-in. Then he'd realize he had no leverage. How long will we have till he came looking for us?
I imagined we were extremely lucky to have got there before he noticed. I started to tab off the things he would know about us: our acquiring, our abilities (hopefully not what they actually were), that we knew about him, and that his venom had no affect on me. Ezekiel was probably furious to the core at me or his plans sucking real bad. One thing I had to admit, his second attempt at getting at me nearly worked. We both didn't know I wasn't going to be affected by his venom.
But if it had, would I be just like him?
My thoughts were interrupted when I bumped into Josh, knocking him straight into the ground.
"Sorry," I said as I helped him up. He didn't look at me; I thought he was going to react like he did yesterday. But I followed his gaze; he was looking at what remained of the village.
Almost the whole place was in smoking ashes. Surrounding trees were now black, jagged splinters spiking out of the ground, others had fallen to the ground. What stood out more was the chilling fact that there were no bodies lying on the ground, no traces of blood, not even on bit of evidence of weaponry anywhere.
"What happened here?" Josh asked softly. He looked at me as I glared at him with a do-you-really-have-to-ask? sort of look. He quickly turned away. Then we heard a twig snap and Jake and I instinctively stood in front of Josh and Liz. To our relief, Arial stepped out from behind an undamaged tree. She ran to me and hugged me tightly.
"Oh, I was so worried! I thought Ezekiel had gotten you," she said letting me go. She looked to Liz and Josh. "You found them," she said in happy relief.
"Yeah," I said. "Listen, we need a portal home, back to Alloid's as soon as possible," I said quickly.
"You're leaving?" she said in disbelief.
"Yes," I said. Since Liz and Josh were behind me, I was able to wink at Arial; she understood at once.
"Alright." She motioned for us to follow. I made Liz and Josh walk ahead of me. Jake immediately rushed to my side.
"Are we leaving?" he whispered into my ear.
"You and I aren't. That's the only way Liz and Josh are going to leave, if they think we are too."
Arial led us to a tent that remained unharmed. When she opened the flap, gold and green flames erupted. Liz shrieked like I had.
"No way! Are we going to charbroil to death?!" Josh asked Arial. I rolled my eyes as I stuck my hand through, feeling the familiar breeze. Josh looked at my arm as I pulled it out, eyes wide open.
"It'll lead straight to Alloid's place. All you have to do is go in," I said. I gestured for him to step forward. He walked in and jumped; I heard his yell of surprise. I turned to Liz; she was looking at the flames in fear.
"It's okay. We'll be right behind you," I said, soothingly and convincing. This seemed to bring up some confidence. She stepped forward, drew in a deep breath and jumped in. I heard her piercing scream fade away.
"Close it," I said quickly to Arial. She stepped forward and muttered something I couldn't catch. The flames extinguished as she turned.
"Tell me what happened," she asked. We explained about meeting the centaurs, my being able to fly, and Jake and I not being able to read each other's mind but Liz and Josh's.
"Well, you both seemed to have fully transformed, you in particular, Amy, though, you are only half-faerie. But one thing I don't understand is how you can read anyone else's mind but not each other's anymore," she said. I was a little disappointed she didn't say anything enlightening.
"What about my mom?" I asked to her surprise. "She was able to read people's minds, right?" It was easy to talk about my parents for some reason. She smiled as she seemed to be reminiscing.
"I think so. If she had been able, she would only hear mortals, not other faeries," she said, smiling. "But I remember that she couldn't read your father's mind. She always said she wished she knew what Jacob was thinking. He was a man of science, and it interested her very much; she never told me what he studied. Anyway, he told her all about the human world, and she rarely left his side. He always took her by surprise, so she was sort of glad she didn't know what the was thinking. That's way she married him in the first place."
"My dad's name was Jacob?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. His name was Jacob Miles. Altoranians don't have last names, so your mother was just 'Amy'. In Altoranian, it means 'small force'." Jacob Miles. I liked the name. "She met him when she was exploring the mortal world. He had bumped into her, making her slop herself with coffee. He had offered to buy her another one," she laughed a little, "and when he asked her out, after she'd said yes, he'd admitted he'd bumped into her on purpose but didn't mean to spill her coffee on her." I smiled, picturing it in my mind.
"Anyway," Jake cut in, disturbing my fantasy. "What are we going to do now?"
"During the battle," she said seriously, "Ezekiel himself came demanding where you were. Someone said you left and he was furious. He ordered his followers to burn everything and kill everyone."
"Where are…the bodies?" Jake asked quietly.
"When a faerie dies, they merely disintegrate into the air and…go on," she answered. I didn't ask who and how many. The fact that they were killed because of me was overwhelming enough. She was quiet for a minute. When I looked back at her, she was looking at my neck.
"It hasn't healed," she said. I put my hand on it, wincing when it burned at my touch.
"Is that bad?" Jake asked.
"I really don't know," she replied. "This is the first I have heard of a Keeper being bitten by a vampire. Even half of one." Arial made it sound like it was her fault.
"Where's Charlie right now?" I asked. She looked up at me with a confused look on her face.
"Ezekiel," Jake added.
"Oh. He headed the way you just came from. Back towards the cave, I think. He was probably looking for Josh and Liz. If you plan to fight Ezekiel, it should be now. Though since he is possessing his great-great-grandson, he may just leave his body when he is defeated. Charlie shouldn't know what happened so you'll have to bring him to me so I can alter his memory. Then he can go live like normal." I thought about how close we were to ending this. Butterflies were bumping against the walls in my stomach.
"But how are going to finish him off?" Jake asked. "A crucifix?"
"I can't help you there, I'm sorry… but--" she said suddenly, "there is this theory that faerie blood can kill a vampire, only if it reaches past the skin."
"Will it work?" I asked.
"I don't know. Like I said, it's only a theory," she shrugged. "No one has tried it. I'm sorry I'm not much help."
"It's okay, Arial. We can handle this," Jake said reassuringly. He held his hand out to me.
I sighed. "Don't you remember how we got there the last time?" I asked. He thought for a moment then dropped his hand. I took it and then we lifted off the ground, waving to Arial our goodbyes.
I took my time getting there; I was extremely nervous about what we were about to face. Jake didn't notice my speed; he was looking down at the forest, enjoying the view. We were going straight for the cave which looked microscopic from where we were. As we got closer, I got more tense.
"Why is your hand shaking?" Jake startled me. I looked at my other hand; it was trembling sporadically.
"I guess I'm just a little nervous, that's all." My voice cracked
Jake didn't seemed convinced. "Take us down, we'll take a break," he said to my relief. I practically let us freefall when Jake exclaimed,
"What are you doing?!"
I twitched violently at his sudden outburst; I slowed us down. "I thought you wanted to take a break."
"I didn't think you would want to stop now that we're so close. And are you planning to kill us? Don't do that." We were already grazing the trees as we slowly landed; I on my feet and Jake on his knees.
"You can't be scared," he said in disbelief.
"I am, okay? I'm freaking terrified. He's more advanced than us, Jake. For all we know he could blast us to smithereens. I'm not going to--" I felt an incredible burn come from my neck and flow through the rest of my body in less that half a second; I fell to my knees, unable to stand.
"Amy?! Can you hear me?" Jake's voice was miles away. I couldn't scream, could barely breathe; every part of me burned like fire.
AMY WAS DOUBLED OVER, TREMBLING VIOLENTLY. Her hands were to her neck, her hair hiding her face. She whimpered.
"Amy?! Can you hear me?" I asked, kneeling next to her. She continued to shake violently then fell into my arms. I laid her out, her head in my hands. She appeared to be unconscious. I shook her softly.
"Amy?" Her eyes opened so fast it made me jump. What scared me most was instead of her bright green eyes, they were pitch black as they burned into mine.
She calmly got up off my arms and stood up, facing the mountain. I walked in front of her; she continued to gaze ahead without blinking. Then she began to levitate like she was going to fly away. I grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her as she came to the ground.
"Amy! Snap out of it!" I shouted to her. She twitched when I said her name. She looked up at me with no thought or expression on her face. Amy then put her hands out in front of her, her palms facing me.
I knew she was going to try to blast me away.
I strengthened my hold on her. When the force erupted from her hands, I only felt I strong gust of air hit me. After the blast, she just continued to gaze at me, no expression whatsoever.
"Amy, talk to me!" I said desperately. What the hell was happening to her? She just stood there like a statue. Then all of a sudden, she was falling. I nearly missed her by surprise. I loosened my grip then felt a blow to my chest, knocking the air out of me and making me fly back till I hit a tree and fell to my hands and knees.
When I looked up, Amy stood there for one more second, gazing at me. Before I could stand, she flew into the air. I screamed after her, but she zoomed away towards the mountain.
The cave. I immediately thought of the cave and pulled myself into the suffocation. When I emerged, panting, I saw her standing in front of the cave with Ezekiel.
EZEKIEL JUST SMILED AS HE GRABBED HER AND TURNED HER AROUND TO FACE ME, HIS ARM AROUND HER NECK. I looked at his other hand; he held a dagger to her heart. He looked exactly like he did when we first arrived. Amy continued to be out of it, no emotion showing on her face.
"Nice of you to join us, Jake," he said, disgustingly happy. "I usually prefer an audience."
"What have you done to her?!" I called out. I tried to think of a way to get Amy away from him. He seemed mildly interested as he walked closer, his arm still around her, enough to continue his conceited monologue.
"Well, she was vulnerable as she had her little breakdown. I, being so close to complete power, had enough to control her mind while she wasn't paying much attention. It was my venom. Though it wasn't strong enough to convert her, it was enough to linger around in her bloodstream for awhile. I was able to control it in her while she didn't notice." He repositioned her and held her by her waist, her head lolled back onto his shoulder as she stared up at the darkening sky overhead. "I really shouldn't waste anymore time," he said, suddenly impatient. "She's already slipped past me once."
I was frozen as he lifted the dagger and plunged it into her heart. She gasped, eyes opened wide as they returned to their normal green, revealing her horror as she slipped to the ground, turning away from me. Ezekiel nudged her with his foot for her to turn on her back. Her eyes were closed, her chest wasn't rising and falling to show her breathing. Shiny crimson spilled quickly over her shoulder. My stomach churned at the sight of her blood as I unwillingly held on to my conscious. Amy was dead.
Before I could think, I was already holding Ezekiel by the throat, crushing him into the wall of the fallen cave, my head full of unimaginable rage. I punched him in the chest, his torso, hoping to break some ribs and so they could stab his filthy lungs. I thought I had him before he hit my stomach with amazing strength, making me gasp, fall to my knees. He stood over me, laughing. He was perfect.
"It's okay, Robins." He gestured to her body. "You can always upgrade." I was right next to her, her blood still pouring out, glowing red in the sudden darkness. I struggled to keep my eyes open.
Her blood. Faerie blood.
I got the bloody knife, pulled it out and before he noticed, I plunged it into his left leg. He yelled in pain as he fell to his knees and pulled out the dagger, but it was too late. The blood made it past his skin. Ezekiel fell to the ground twitching and screaming, then fell silent, but I didn't pay much attention to him.
I was on my knees next to her, fighting the dizziness. I held her head on my knees and looked at her face, peaceful and undisturbed. Tears filled my eyes as I turned away; I wouldn't let one tear fall on her.
I should have told her how I felt ages ago. I held her tightly, willing for her wound to heal I like do, unsure if I was doing anything. After what felt like a century, and nothing happened, I sobbed harder than I ever cried before. It made no sense whatsoever at all. How was I going to tell her parents? Liz and Josh? That she was murdered by a vampire?
I heard a gasp, thinking it was my sharp intake of breath but… I looked down to see no more blood on her shirt, no blood was spilling from the wound that was no longer there.
Amy gasped for air, shaking as she sat up quickly, a shocked expression on her face as she looked at me. I came closer to her and embraced her. She was trembling in shock as I fiercely wiped my eyes; I wouldn't let her see me cry no matter what the reason. I was in shock that she was alive.
I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I WAS. Jake was holding me against him, and I was on the ground. I was shaking uncontrollably, feeling weak and tired.
"Jake? what happened?"
"Oh, God. I thought you were dead," he said softly into my hair. His voice cracked on the word 'dead'.
"Was I?" I asked, pulling away. His eyes were red and wet; he must have been crying. "Explain to me what happened, every-every detail."
He cleared his throat. "We were arguing, your neck… it burned and you fell to your knees, shaking…" he said uncomfortably, looking away. "He was possessing you, Ezekiel was. His venom was still in you…he was able to control you when you least expected it." I tried to stand up. I staggered a little; Jake immediately was at my side.
"I think you should rest," he said. I shook my head. Charlie was lying in front of what used to be the opening of the cave. I immediately went to him, ignoring Jake's attempts to hold me back.
He looked exactly like his human self; he had some color in his face, but he was turning paler.
"What did you do to him? Did you kill him?" I asked as Jake knelt down beside me.
Was Charlie dead? It was Ezekiel we needed to kill.
"Jake?" I asked worriedly.
He slowly turned to look at the ground. "He stabbed you first, Amy. Your faerie blood was all over the knife, so I pulled it out and stabbed him too," he said quickly. He then stood up and walked to the edge, merely gazing out into the forest. I looked down at my skin, checking for a wound. I didn‟t see any blood on me at all. I looked at Charlie; a knife stuck out of his leg. I cringed as I pulled it out, then Charlie breathed, startling me. He was now just unconscious. I realized what Jake had done: he killed Ezekiel.
"Jake!" I called out.
At once he was already beside me as I stood up. "What? Are you hurt?"
I shook my head in excitement. "No. Don't you realized what you did? It's over! You killed Ezekiel. Charlie's back to normal. No more vampire!" I kissed him, harder and rougher, fueled by the finality of it all. When I became a little dizzy, I pulled away.
"What do you want to do now?" he asked me.
I thought quickly. "First… we take Charlie to Arial, let her do that mind thing. Then we head home to tell Liz and Josh the good news. What day is it?"
"Today should be…Monday. Right?" he said uncertainly. What was this weekend? Memorial Day weekend. Dad's promotion. Cruise.
“Oh crap. My parents are coming home from their cruise today!"
"I'll get us to Arial," he said quickly. He grabbed Charlie's hand and pulled us into the asphyxia (use context clues, genius).
When we emerged, we were in front of the tent that was the portal. Arial appeared out of no where and hugged me. "Oh! I was so worried!" she said, letting me go. She looked down and noticed Charlie at our feet. "You did it!" She was about to hug me again when Jake cleared his throat loudly. I put up my hands to stop her.
"Actually, Jake did it," I said. She ran to him and hugged him.
"Well, the portal is ready to take you to Alloid. I'll take care of him and take him back," she said, gesturing to Charlie's unconscious body. I looked around, there was no one around. The village was exactly the way it as we had left it; charred and deserted.
"Arial," I asked. "What are you going to do? Where will you go?"
"Amadia, the biggest faerie village in this faerieland. It's the village I live in. Where you were born actually," she said as Jake helped her move Charlie into another tent.
I followed. "Could we… visit?" I felt childish immediately when I said it. She looked completely taken aback.
"Of course! You're our Keeper. I'll explain everything when you need to know. Now get going." Arial scolded us, giving us our packs, till we jumped into the swirling colorful vortex. I enjoyed the ride laughing uncontrollably, mostly light after a giant weight was lifted off of me. Jake held my hand which made us spin in circles. When we squeezed through the microscopic hole, we fell to our knees, gasping for air and laughing.
We were back in the hallway of Alloid's tree house.
"Before we go, I'll do the talking. I want to edit a couple of things," I whispered quickly.
"Shouldn't we stop keeping secrets?" he whispered back.
I couldn't argue but pulled out the only counterargument I could think of. “I just don't want Liz and Josh to worry so much. Alloid neither."
He sighed in defeat as we walked to the living room.
Alloid was standing there. "About time you guys got back," he smiled.
He let us change and fix ourselves up first. I changed in his room while Jake was stuck using the small bathroom. Once we were done, Alloid motioned for us to sit at the table in the small kitchen. There were two root beers for us. He was so cool like that sometimes. He never babied us.
"It so wasn't a walk in the park," I said as I opened mine. Jake and I clinked the plastic bottles together and sipped.
"Well, I'll be brief because I know you're tired and I won't bombard you with questions, today anyway," Alloid said. "Liz and Josh are informed with what you told them and they didn't ask me any questions. I assumed you edited a couple of things, didn't you… Amy?"
I sputtered a little root beer and coughed. "Well, I… you know… I didn't want them to worry," I said in a self-justifying tone of voice. Jake laughed.
"Of course. They were in shock about a couple of things like how Charlie was possessed and such. I had them go home to meet your parents before they arrived. I told Josh to come up with a little white lie for your lateness. I suggest you should go." I thought about finally getting home when I remembered the last time I was there.
"Oh! Alloid, can you fix the windows in the--"
"Kitchen?" he finished. "It's all taken care of. I fixed everything when I escorted Josh and Liz to their homes."
I sighed in relief. "Thanks a million, Alloid."
"What did you tell Liz and Josh?" Jake asked.
"All that I know. It's up to you two to fill them in. By the way," he studied us, "are you two… you know… together now?" "You could say that," we answered together. We said our goodbyes Alloid and left.
"Shall we, milady?" asked Jake, extending his hand to me.
I laughed and pushed him softly. "No thanks. Let‟s just walk. We need to talk about a few things," I said a little seriously.
"Can we at least hold hands?" he asked. I laughed again and took his hand as we walked closer together. "Am I in trouble already?"
"No, it's just that… we should keep a couple of things to ourselves."
"Like what?" We arrived to a busy part of the street and merged with the other pedestrians.
I hesitated. Where was the need to keep more secrets from Liz and Josh? Didn't they suffer enough with worry and curiosity? But I didn't want them to worry about what had happened to me.
"Like my stabbing, and being possessed. It's weird enough without having to be explained," I said. I shuddered just thinking about it
"I only ask that you watch your strength. I want to be the toughest," he said.
I nudged him in the ribs as hard as I could. It boomed like thunder, causing people on the street to look up at the sunny sky. We mimicked them, laughing. We stopped on the sidewalk outside Jake's house.
"When can I ask you out on our first official date?" he said.
I rolled my eyes.
"Maybe tomorrow. I'll try to tell my parents to make sure they're okay with it."
He seemed worried. "Will they be okay with it?"
I snickered at his anxiety, only because I worried about that too. "They should. I mean,
they already know you. Until then…" I tiptoed to kiss him on the lips. He kissed me back, more intensely that I was quite surprised.
"What was that about? It's not like you'll never see me again."
He blushed quickly. "Well…I have to wait until tomorrow," he said. He headed up the walk towards his door.
I blissfully walked out onto the sidewalk.
My parents should be okay with it. They want me to be a happy, and I'm happy with Jake. I was sure they would be okay with it. Then I realized that I was trying to convince myself to believe that. So if they weren't alright with it, I would do whatever it took to convince them that we were together. I never knew how important their approval meant to me.
I hesitated outside the house. No blood family was in there. Just a family. My family, of course… but I knew the secret Mr. and Mrs. Santali kept from me and Josh. It was suddenly overwhelming, the only thing I could think they're not my parents, they're not my parents….
But of course they were. They kept me… raise me… put up with me…. They loved me. The brother put up with me, and he loved me. And Mr. and Mrs. Santali didn't know I knew, so I was able to enter.
Josh and my parents were sitting to dinner. They were having pizza… pepperoni pizza; my favorite. I closed the door as they looked up. I quickly analyzed the kitchen, which looked like it hadn't been shot up. We were all home.
"I was rather hoping to enjoy some peace and quiet," said Josh. I rolled my eyes at him as I walked to my seat next to Dad.
Why is she so tan? he thought. I never realized I'd been to so much sun in Altorania. I ignored it; it wasn't that intriguing.
"Really. What's more fun than annoying you to death?" I said to Josh as I received a huge slice. I turned to Dad. "'ow was or ooze'?"
"What did you say?" he said as he took a bigger bite. It was tough getting it all down; it burned my mouth. I downed some soda to extinguish the fire.
"I said, how was your cruise? Did you bring us anything?" They told us about the activities, people they met, even spotting a celebrity as they got off. My mom had gotten me a seashell necklace and my dad had gotten Josh a cap that said „Paradise is Expensive."
After dinner, we went to bed. My parents said they were tired and wanted us to go to bed early to wake up early for school tomorrow. It took me awhile to fall asleep.
I couldn't imagine any other teenager with a more complicated life. The choices I dealt with, the dangers I had faced, the amazing abilities I now had, even my new boyfriend, all of that was something I would have never expected. My favorite part was knowing I'm a real faerie. I was just glad that I didn't have annoying wings, but I can now fly. For fun, I made myself levitate over my bed.