Deleted Draft: Drelkensoul Story

This was started with the prompt, “As our story came to a close, I realized we were the villains all along.” Where I went became a bit of a mess. I created a species, the drelkensoul, for N’Zembe, but didn’t have a solid idea how the function. Not only that, but I didn’t have any sort of plan and my loose plot was a convoluted idea. This may get a rewrite/complete restart, but for now, here it is:

As our story came to a close, I realized that we were the villains all along. By then, though, it was too late. All was said and done, we had already faced our judgment, we were dead. I had always assumed that after death was nothing, but it seems I was wrong. Otherwise I would be unable to record our story. It is my hope that others will avoid our path to destruction, learn from our mistakes, be better than we were.

I don’t blame anyone who assumes this whole tale, including our deaths, is a hoax. But what does it matter? I lived it, so did they. I won’t try to convince anyone of the truth of my recollection by claiming to have been tasked to write my adventure by one of the gods. Yes, there is a multiplicity of deities. There are many, both benevolent and malevolent, in balance.

This is not a religious text, so I shall move on. Surely it is more important to know who we were and what we did that was so terrible. At least, terrible in retrospect. I never realized until after we had died that we had done anything wrong, inflicted pain upon so many. I didn’t know what we truly were until it was too late.

I had my suspicions that we were villainous, but never were they very great. Our people were not known for their kindness anyway, but rather our cruelty and ruthlessness. We were drelkensheath.

I’m not sure how old I was when I became aware of another entity within me. Yes, another entity. A literal separate being inhabiting my body.

We fought for quite some time over control of my being, the external portion of it, at least. Eventually, I was offered a compromise.

Share this vessel with me, and I will grant you unfathomable power–power that will free you from your dependence on the sea. I can still hear those words in my mind, even now that I’m dead.

Knowing the alternative was to continue fighting, as the spirit had made clear he was unwilling to leave, I readily agreed.

Peace brought a strange sense of cohabitation within my own body. I was no longer one person, but two in disguise, if this other creature was even to be considered a person. Are they even a creature? The gods are unwilling to entertain my questions, so I’ll likely never know.

When I rose upon the fertile land, I soon met others like me–drelkensheath who were now cohabiting their own bodies, vessels as the spirits called them. We decided to band together, the seven of us. Perhaps we’d survive better, figure ourselves out quicker, understand these new abilities.

“Hey, we need to leave! Everyone get up!” I yelled at the five still laying on their mats.

Adesola consistently woke up early enough for us to leave, but she had also been out of water the longest–she was the most at home on land.

Don’t Risk the Mind-Wipe (Short Story)

This is a sequel to The Hunters and the Hunted. It is from a different perspective than the first part. It’s also based on a prompt, which is the first two sentences.

“That is a terrible, horrible, incredible, foolish idea. Let’s do it and see what happens,” Lail proclaimed.

“You’re not serious, are you?” Alwin asked, hoping that Lail would not proceed.

“I was joking, you know,” I feel obligated to clarify, hoping Alwin and I can convince him.

“So? It would be hilarious!”

Alwin audibly groans, frustrated, “Why do you want to release those Draupnir? We could be fired and mind-wiped.”

“Hey, it was Zarol’s idea!”

“I said I was joking!”

“Both of you, calm down, you don’t want Hyrah to overhear, do you?” Alwin cut in before Lail could further increase the tension.

“We’re not actually doing it. It would be really stupid.”

“Why do we keep them locked up, anyway? It’s not like they could actually escape, is it?” Of course Lail still wants to find a reason to convince us…

I try thinking it through when Alwin responds, “If they knew the layout of our building, they could plan an escape, which could work. Despite our abilities to subdue and dominate them, their powers enable them to work around that. Maybe, at least. They know some of what we can do and could plan around that strategically.”

“I’m going to go visit them,” Lail notices my condescending gaze. “What?”

“What do you think?” I spit out, hoping he doesn’t lose all three of us our vocations and memories.

“I’m not going to let them out,” mischief sparkled in his eyes; he was clearly going to do something far more dangerous.

“I’m coming with you then,” if we were caught, we would probably lose our jobs… even if we weren’t letting the Draupnir out…

“Don’t trust me? Fine. It was your idea anyway…”

“Still at that? It’s getting old.”

“Don’t start fighting, or you’ll both be caught for sure. At least try to get along,” she would never let us live through this if we did get caught for being stupid.

“’Kay.”

We walk down the long white halls, our muffled footfalls the only sound as our regulation boots contacted the carpet repeatedly. Turn after turn, corridor after corridor, my heart beat harder and faster.

What if our break ends? What if someone comes into the hallway before we get to the cell? Endless what-ifs…

“Hey, calm down. You’re breathing really loudly.”

“Sorry…”

Finally, we reach the password protected steel door. 4-7-6-2-9-9-5 would open the door, unless it was changed since two days prior.

I exhaled, holding my breath as I shakily entered the numbers. The soft bleep, bleep of the keypad constituted the only sound in this white space. As soon I pressed the five, a click signified our successful entry.

Lail opens the door, entering just as I think, The cameras! We forgot about the security cameras!

“Lail, wait!” I whisper harshly and he turns, “What about the cameras?”

“Pfft, security won’t know that we weren’t told to check on the Draupnir after our break. They also won’t know if our earpieces conveyed special instructions from Orva, who isn’t here today.”

“Orva’s not here? How do you know?”

He rolled his eyes, “My office is across from hers, duh.”

I nod, feeling ridiculous for forgetting, “Right, uh, nevermind.”

I slide through the doorway after Lail, sitting on the metal bench in the room.

“What do you want?” a shaking red haired girl asks with contempt.

I lock eyes with her, stunned by how bright her blue irises are, “Nothing. We just came to talk to you.”

“Hallan,” she whispers, “Hallan, wake up.”

A blond boy stirs at her touch, “Ana, what is it?”

“Them,” she tips her head toward us.

Hallan props himself on his elbow, glaring at us, but says nothing.

The two of them keep glancing at each other and then at us, but no words pass between them.

“Hello, I’m Zarol.”

Hallan stands up and walks to the bars, “What do you want Zarol?”

“Lail and I just wanted to talk to you.”

Sure. I don’t believe that for a second,” his gaunt frame shook visibly with anger.

“We actually came in to talk to you. We might be able to help you get out,” another girl stares at us at Lail’s words, her black hair covering half of her face.

“You want to help us escape?” Ana moved to stand just behind Hallan, a hand on his shoulder.

Lail nods, but I sit still, expressionless. I knew he would jeopardize our jobs. I knew it! How dare he!

“Lail,” I whisper sternly.

“You don’t want him to help us,” I freeze when Hallan says this.

“What?”

“You’re worried he’ll cause you to lose your job.” I shiver as I hear his voice in my mind, You’re worried you’ll be fired and mind-wiped for helping us.

“Lail, if you want to help them, fine. I’m going back to work.”

Just before I open the steel door to leave, I hear Ana whisper, “Hallan, you scared him. Now he won’t help us.”

Hallan muttered, “He wasn’t going to help us anyway,” just as the door closed behind me.

~*~*~*~*~

“Lail, where have you been?” Alwin and I caught Lail in the parking garage just after our shifts ended.

“You weren’t with the Draupnir all day, were you?” the concern in Alwin’s voice didn’t require reinforcement from her facial expression.

He shook his head, “’Course not. I left when my break ended. No one noticed that I was a few minutes late in returning to my desk. Probably because Orva wasn’t there…”

“It was stupid to go in there in the first place. You’re not going to –”

“I am. I don’t care if I lose my job. We have no further reason to keep them locked up.”

“Don’t tell me you care for those inhuman beasts!”

Alwin cut in urgently, “Calm down! You’re going to call attention to yourselves. We can discuss this at my apartment and have dinner.”

For once, Lail and I left our disagreement behind us, seething silently.

~*~*~*~*~

“What do you want for dinner?”

“Anything’s fine.”

“Do you want anything specific, Zarol?”

“No, whatever you have on-hand will suffice. I’m not particularly hungry anyhow.”

She nodded, rummaging through her pantry and fridge. She pulled out a number of ingredients, and began cooking, though just watching her confused me. How do people understand cooking at all? I can analyze data and invent a device utilizing the natural proponents of the Draupnir’s “powers,” but I’ll never understand recipes and cooking. The most I can do is boil water with pasta…

“Zarol, despite your prejudices about the Draupnir, I’m going to help them escape.”

“They could be dangerous! They have the power and strength to hurt people! We can’t let them go!”

Lail glared, “They’re more human than you think. All of the time before we captured them, Hallan, Analyn, Colby, Shelly, and Leynard never hurt anyone.”

“How can you be so sure?” venom oozed through my teeth unintentionally.

“I called Garter’s Family Grocery. Mr. Garter, the owner, attested to Hallan’s account. Hallan or one of the other Draupnir would come in, wash up, work for the day, and he’d pay them with food.”

“If you won’t be convinced not to destroy your job, fine by me! I’m not involved anymore. Just because one man was treated well says nothing for anybody else.”

Alwin spoke, “Lail does have a point, but so do you, Zarol. Is freeing the Draupnir really worth your job, Lail? Is it that important? What if they are dangerous, and you’re responsible for their freedom?”

Lail sighed, “Forget it. I’m done talking about this. I’m going to free them.”

I shake my head, disappointed that he refused to listen to reason, When will he ever learn?

~*~*~*~*~

Alwin and I saw but did not speak to Lail after that night. Most times, during his break, I would notice him walking toward the steel door, but I said nothing. Whether my knowledgeable silence would cost me my job as well, if Lail succeeded, I couldn’t know for certain, and I hopefully wouldn’t have to find out.

“Orva, is Lail here today?”

“No, Zarol, he called in sick.”

“Oh, okay, thanks,” I turned and walked back to my cubicle, closer to the break room.

I open the door when Hyrah rounds the corner.

“Zarol, I’ve been looking for you since lunch!”

“You have?” the confusion must show in my eyes, because she nods emphatically.

“I was wondering if you know why Lail’s been acting strange lately. He called in sick, but he sounded… elated over the phone.”

My eyebrows come together, puzzling over this revelation. Lail probably freed the Draupnir, or at least told them how to escape… If I tell Hyrah… But if I don’t…

I shake my head, “I’m not sure… Alwin and I haven’t been on very good terms with him lately… He hasn’t been talking to us.”

“Okay. Well, if you find out anything, please tell me,” she starts walking off toward the copy room.

“Hyrah, wait,” she turns on her heel, waiting. I hesitated to reveal my friend. Eventually I spoke, “Sorry, nevermind. I thought I remembered something, but I didn’t.”

~*~*~*~*~

After work, I decide to call Lail. Despite everything, I don’t want him to lose his job. I want to help him somehow if I can.

“Hello, Lail. Can I talk to you for a few minutes?”

“Zarol, why are you calling?”

“You weren’t actually sick today, were you?”

“No. I told the Draupnir how to escape yesterday… You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”

I hesitated.

“You did?!”

“No, no! I didn’t. I thought about it, but I didn’t.”

He sighed, “Good.”

“If you show up at work tomorrow after the Draupnir escape, they’ll likely assume you were responsible. Especially after reviewing the security tape…”

“I’ll call in sick again, then.”

“Wait, that’d be suspicious too… Tomorrow, come to work, and go to ‘check’ on the Draupnir like you have been. You be the one to report their disappearance.”

“That seems like a good idea. I’ll be in trouble, but hopefully I won’t be mind-wiped…”

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Bye.”

~*~*~*~*~

Zarol. Zarol, wake up. “Zarol!” I jolt awake, jumping further at the sight of shadowed faces in my bedroom.

“W-who are you?”

“Hallan”; “Analyn”; “Colby”; “Shelby”; “Leynard.”

“The Draupnir?! How did you get in here?”

Hallan, closest to me, spoke, “Easy, through the window. Colby opened it for us.”

“What?! How?”

Colby chuckled, “Hallan can speak and read thoughts. I can open locked doors, windows,… and other things.”

My eyes widened, my foggy mind comprehending how dangerous these five children could be. If they were even human… or even actually children…

What are the Draupnir? I think wondrously, hoping they do not decide to harm me.

“We’re like you,” Hallan replies aloud.

“W-what? O-oh, right… Why are you here?”

“We thought we might visit you. Lail suggested it actually, thought you’d think more highly of us if we did.”

“So you broke into my apartment? That’s not a great way to convince me you’re good news.”

“That’s what I said, but they wouldn’t listen to me!” Analyn exclaimed.

“I was hoping he’d have food for us, actually. Otherwise, it wasn’t a good idea,” Leynard put in.

I cut off their impending argument, “Do any of you want something to drink? I can give you a small amount of food, but it’s” I look at the clock, “3 AM.”

“Awesome,” the lights flick on when Shelly speaks, and I see the faces of all the Draupnir.

None of them are standing by the light switch?

“Oh, sorry. That was my fault,” Shelly explains sheepishly.

“It’s alright, I’m just still getting used to your… powers?”

On Hiatus: Shapeshifter Story

This is a new series featuring partial and incomplete drafts of stories that I hope to come back to sometime after I finish Mystical Warriors. The length and quality vary and the amount of work I would need to do to revive the story are debateable.

This is all of this particular story. I didn’t get very far along before abandoning it. I have some clue of the plot and where it is meant to go, though, so it’s still a story I could come back to.

The darkness pervaded the room as well as my thoughts. They had arrived early; I wasn’t ready for what lay ahead. I was different; they had sent that back after the rigorous tests had been analyzed in three stages. No one has ever known for certain what they’re testing for, just that they’re trying to separate something. Anyone who has it gets sent away to the somewhere that supposedly exists nowhere.

They rapped on the door again. I knew if I didn’t go out to them, they’d come in to me. Rolling off my bed, I opened the door. As I trudged across the room, I snatched up the heavily-packed bag containing my basic belongings.

“You take nothing with you into the Nowhere,” the leader-looking man dead-panned, though I sensed the capital n on nowhere nonetheless.

As my mind started to go into overload, I dropped the bag. I was allowed no personal belongings but the clothes on my back, and I was being forced from my home. I crossed the threshold of my bedroom, my personal space, my hand lingered on the door frame.

“We must leave immediately.”

“Can I at least say–”

“No,” the voice is firm and I recognized my inability to argue here; I had no rights.

I nodded, submitting, following them out to the government-issued van that would transport me. The blackness, seemingly no stars, the missing moon, encased me without hesitation. How fitting that on this night I was to be taken away to the Nowhere. As the spacious van rumbled away, the inside as black with the lights off as my bedroom and the night outside, I found myself tensing in anticipation of the worst.

The ride was long and dark as well as silent. I didn’t realize I was sleeping until I was shaken awake by rough hands. Once I was somewhat conscious, I was dragged from the dark van toward a large, poorly-lit building.

“You will be assigned a dorm in the morning. Tonight you will reside in this guest bedroom. You will also be assigned a gray uniform–once you are in your section you will receive a colored uniform.”

I was too tired to fully take in what was said as I collapsed on the twin bed, falling asleep once more.

~*~*~*~*~

Bright light passing through my eyelids woke me. I sat up, rubbed my eyes, and looked around at the cramped “guest bedroom” I had lodged in.

I’m still wearing my shoes, I thought suddenly.

I didn’t bother taking them off, but sat with my legs hanging off the edge of the bed while reading a list that was on the bedside table.

I had just finished reading this long list, seemingly of things I needed to to today, when the door opened.

“Follow me,” a black haired woman wearing a gray uniform quickly turned around without waiting for a response.

I quickly moved to obey. No reason to start my time in this new place punished. Without consideration, I abandoned the to-do list in the guest bedroom.

She guided me to an office-like room. The woman at the desk stood and came over with a measuring tape.

After measuring me, the woman led me through the next door. She handed me a gray uniform and then left. I quickly changed into it, not sure what to do with my clothes. I hoped to keep them, but realized that was unlikely.

“Leave those here and come. Classes are starting soon.”

I followed her through hallway after hallway, hopelessly confused about direction.

Finally, she stopped in front of a door. She opened it and gestured for me to enter.

“Good morning, Miss Reinback. Class, please welcome our newest student, Meran Fonshil.”

Everyone clapped, but they seemed quite bored.

The teacher, Miss Reinback gestured to the room’s only empty desk, “Please sit, Fonshil.”

I sat down and the black haired woman spoke, “Fonshil will be sharing a dorm with Crein. Twilth will move in with Gohn.”

I glanced around to see three girls nodding, knowing one of them was now my roommate.

The black haired woman left, and Miss Reinback finished the roll she had evidently been taking, scribbling my name at the end.

“As most of you already know, you have been brought to the Nowhere to unlock your full potential. The way to that will be different for each of you. Once you have accomplished this task, you will be sorted into a color category.”

Miss Reinback pulled down the white sheet in front of the board for the slide shows. She walked to the back of the room, turning on her computer.

“Blue, red, yellow, purple, orange, green, black, and white. You will be in one of these categories. You’ll be in classes with others of your color and will share a dorm with another of your color.”

A boy in the front raised his hand.

“Yes, Lenthris?”

“Will we ever get to see the color uniformed students before then? And anyway, what even is our ‘full potential’ that you harp on?”

“No, you will not. I can’t tell you what your full potential is because I don’t actually know.”

A number of students groaned.

Ignoring their protests, Miss Reinback droned on about what things would be like after we had colored uniforms.

Finally, she stopped and said, “It is time for you to all go to the gym.”

Everyone stood and filed one after another out the door. I followed in silence with everyone else. I tried to note how to get there, but found myself confused and lost again.

 

The Hunters and the Hunted (Short Story)

This was based on a prompt, which is the first two sentences.

“Should we let him know we’re on to him?”

“Now where’s the fun in that? The enjoyment is in the chase and capture, not the fear!”

Whispering voices are audible from my place deep in the alley. I hang in the darkness, watching, waiting. The two figures hover near the walls of the alley, looking out into the dimly lit street.

If I didn’t know better, I would assume they were speaking of someone else. But I do know better. Lucky for me, the speakers are oblivious to my location. They seem to think I am roaming the street, which I was, shortly prior to overhearing a small portion of their dialogue.

“Where is he? He should have passed this alley by now!”

“How should I know? Doesn’t he live near here?”

“Yes. Unless he ran away from home… At which point he’s unpredictable.”

I never had a home. Not that you could know that.

I bring a hand to my forehead as I notice one of the figures flinch. I sent that thought, albeit accidentally.

“He’s close by. He heard us,” the voice shivers, hardly a breath.

“How do you know?” Suspicion from his counterpart, though his voice lowers as well.

“He spoke to me…”

It was unintentional, I swear.

Both figures stiffen at my now purposeful invasion of their minds.

“Where are you?”

Not your business. Close enough to hear and see you without being seen.

They bolt from the alley, unsurprisingly. Once they are gone, I sigh, realizing I had been holding my breath. Had they heard me, found me… I hate to think what would have happened… What I would have been forced to do

I release the brick of the building I was perched on, dropping silently to the concrete below. My cloak fades, the fabric dissipating into the surrounding air from whence it came. I could not explain how I was able to accomplish this feat if I tried, I still do not know.

My fingertips graze the red-black brick as I lurk out of the alley. A filmy encasement materializes around me, invisibility of a sort, matching my movements.

I stand under the street lamp, deliberating. Do I go home, or do I leave entirely?

Home, as I call it somewhat jokingly, is barely a suitable shelter, and I am alone. Leaving entails forsaking all I have ever known, all I have assumed I would ever know.

But those people… I call them Hunters, and I have no clue what they could do to me. Not long ago, there were others like me, living with me, but they are gone. I do not know what happened to them or where they have been taken, only that it was the Hunters who took them. All the things I might be able to do to them, it might be futile if they are truly Hunters, like those who took my friends…

Leaving is the best option, in the morning I’ll gather my few things and disappear from this place.

Nothing more could be done. Later, perhaps it would be safe to return. Perhaps leaving would prove more disastrous than remaining, but I couldn’t know that until afterwards. I do not know what the world beyond this single city entails, but I will risk that discovery.

I slink home, thinking along the way about departing and what I will need for the journey. Even as short as the trip will be, it will be exhausting. Moving discreetly always is, especially as I will need to steal the provisions, using more energy.

I arrive at the building, lifting myself to the roof in a seemingly effortless manner. I quietly enter the dilapidated roof apartment, falling onto my heap of moth-eaten blankets.

“Good night, world,” I mumble as black overtakes me.

Morning light streaming through my dirt streaked windows wakes me. I roll over onto my back, rubbing my eyes with one of my dirty hands. I pull myself to my feet, looking out the dingy window closest to my bedding.

My thoughts jump back to the previous night and my determination to leave.

No, I can’t. My friends might still be here. If I had been taken, I wouldn’t want them to leave me. I have to find them, even if it puts my life on the line, or almost kills me.

I still need supplies, and I still need to avoid the Hunters from the alley.

~*~*~*~*~

“Hallan, be careful!”

“It’s okay, Analyn, I can do this.”

I clung to the side of our building, most of the way up, about to let go.

I released the building, and Analyn screamed. My feet gently touched the concrete before I immediately returned to stand by Analyn.

Tears streamed down her face and violent sobs choked her.

“Analyn, I’m okay,” she looked up, eyes already red.

“Hallan, you could have died! I thought I’d never see you again!”

I pulled her into my arms, struggling to console her, “Shh, I’m alright. I wasn’t going to get hurt.”

“Don’t do that to me again! I couldn’t bear to lose you, you’re like a brother to me!” She wrapped her arms tightly around my torso, tears beginning to soak my shirt.

“Okay, Ana.”

~*~*~*~*~

“Hallan! You’re back! Oh, I’m so glad you’re safe!”

“So am I. How was everything here at home, Colby?”

He smiled, “Analyn worried about you the whole time, saying things like, ‘He promised he wouldn’t do this to me!’ and ‘I can’t believe he’d do something so reckless!’”

I laughed, “That’s just like Ana! Worried even when I’ve done this a million times.”

Colby nodded, “She wasn’t the only one worried when you didn’t come home on time, though. Leynard and Shelly were too, as was I.”

My face hardened, “I had to take a longer route because there were Hunters.”

His voice shook, “Hunters? You almost got caught?”

I shook my head no, “Of course not. I noticed them, heard their thoughts, and moved away from where they were posted.”

He sighed, “Thank goodness! Were they close to Garter’s?”

“No. They were halfway between his grocery and here.”

He nodded, “Good. I’m glad you’re safe, and the others will be too.”

~*~*~*~*~

“Hey, Leynard! Wake up!”

A grunt escaped the sleeping boy, “No!”

“It’s morning. We have food!”

He sat up sleepily, but with sparkling eyes, “Food?”

“Mhm, food. Want some?” I knew he did, we all did.

“Duh!”

Analyn and Colby laughed. Of all of us, Leynard was the most obsessed with food, eating as much as we would let him and asking for more if there was any.

“I made a cake!” Shelly exclaimed excitedly, having used her powers for one of the first times.

“Mmm, cake!” Leynard practically drooled as Shelly handed him a chunk of icingless chocolate cake.

Each of us received a chunk, leaving only a piece for Shelly to eat.

“This is so good!”

“Leynard, stop spewing cake in the house! Keep your mouth closed!” Analyn scolded him.

~*~*~*~*~

“Shelly!” Analyn screamed as Shelly fell off the roof, reaching an arm over the edge desperately.

I jumped over the side, quickly hovering just below the youngest of our group.

My feet hit the concrete and I bounded back to the roof. Shelly clung tightly to my neck, eyes  squeezed shut.

Safely on the roof once again, I set the girl down.

Tears streamed down their faces, sobs cracking their throats. I understood the fear they had experienced, adrenaline was pumping through my veins too.

“Are you alright?” I fought to keep my voice steady, to be strong for them.

She nodded, shaking, “I-I think so. Th-thank you, Hallan!”

“You’re welcome. Are you okay, Ana?” I placed a hand on her shoulder reassuringly, concern laced through my gaze.

She nodded, and I engulfed both of them into my arms, glad everyone was alive.

~*~*~*~*~

I have to save them! If they’re still alive, I must save them! I just… don’t know how.

I left my small shack, soaring from rooftop to rooftop for about fifteen blocks. Garter’s small grocery store was still in business, thankfully.

Garter’s Family Grocery was the one place I was unafraid of showing my face, unafraid of the regular human population. Mr. Garter was a kind old man and often gave me food, so long as I helped him out a bit in the grocery and washed my hands and face.

Hello, Mr. Garter.

The old man looked at the door, startled. He saw my dirt-covered face and smiled.

“Hello again, Hallan. How can I help you?”

“I came to help you in exchange for more food.”

His smile continued, “Wash your face and hands in the bathroom first. I could really use some help today, a new order came in recently.”

I nodded, walking to the back corner of the somewhat small grocery.

An hour later, I left Mr. Garter’s grocery behind, carrying two paper sacks with supplies. Some things were perishable, and some needed cooked, but nothing required refrigeration.

I walked a distance down the sidewalk before pulling my invisibility fog into existence. Several pedestrians’ eyes widened, looking at where I had just stood.

You’re not as crazy as you think.

The pedestrians quickly turned to face forward, unhinged by my invasion of their minds. They would definitely think they were crazy, after watching me disappear and then hearing my voice in their heads. Luckily, I would not be sending them more thoughts any time soon, if ever.

I quickly bounded home in the same way I left.

Upon closing the door, I simply deposited both bags on the floor.

How can I save them? How can I even find them? The only people who know of their location are the Hunters… Obviously the Hunters won’t help me rescue them… But they could lead me to them!

I began pacing the small front room, finger to my chin, elbow resting against the arm crossed over my chest.

As I turned towards the door again, an arm wrapped around me from behind and a hand pressed a cloth forcefully against my mouth and nose. I shoved the hand away quickly, a dizziness pulsing through me. A strong hand clenched over my wrist, and the cloth again smothered me.

~*~*~*~*~

I groaned, rolling onto my side, my head throbbing. The surface beneath my skin was searingly cold, and I shivered as my cheek rested against it.

“Hallan,” a soft voice whispered, “are you awake?”

I cracked my eyes open, Is that you, Ana?

Yes, she responded calmly.

How long have I been here?

I’m not sure. The Hunters brought you in unconscious and locked you in with us.

All of you are here?! I start to sit up, but groan and quickly lay down again.

Yes, but Colby was taken out not long ago. Shelly and Leynard are resting.

Where did they take Colby?

A sadness seeped into Ana’s thoughts, We don’t know. Whenever they take us out, they blindfold us.

I wanted to save you all, but it seems I was too late.

I don’t know that you’d have been able to. They know how to fight back. How to resist our powers.

Do I Know You? (Short Story)

This was written quite a while back. It was based on a prompt. If I can find it I will add it to the end of the post so as not to spoil the story.

“He’s stirring! Oh, thank goodness!”

Azlyn opened his emerald eyes sluggishly. The blurred image before him refused to focus, colored blobs shimmering, pulsating almost.

“Azlyn! Oh, Azlyn!” A hand clasped his own joyfully, “I’ve waited nearly two months for you to wake up!”

When he opened his mouth to speak, his throat was dry and his voice sickeningly froggy, “I can’t see you. Who are you?”

“Don’t you remember me?” A sharp stroke of pain oozed into his tone.

“No… Am I Azlyn?”

The shimmering blob shook, “Yes… Oh, Azlyn, I’m Talmir! I’m your best friend!”

“Excuse me, Mr. Boriska, I’m going to have to ask you to leave Mr. Conory’s room for now.”

“Doctor, can’t I please stay a bit longer?”

“No, Mr. Boriska, you must go. Mr. Conory needs medical assistance now that he has awakened.”

~*~*~*~*~

Talmir drove home from the hospital dejectedly. At least, he walked out of the hospital dejectedly. Once he was alone in the parking garage in his vehicle, he dialed an accomplice of his.

“Myra?”

“Yes? What is it, Talmir?”

“Azlyn’s awake.”

“Good,” Myra’s voice moves to sickly sweet at the news.

“Tomorrow I’ll visit him again.”

“Did they make you leave?”

“Mhm. Said no more visitors until tomorrow. He needs glasses or contacts, and he has amnesia.”

Myra laughed, a chilling sounds to any other ears, “Even better.”

A chuckle burbles in Talmir’s throat, “Which part?”

“Mostly amnesia, though possibly bad eyesight as well.”

“I’m about to be on the road, I’ll stop by your apartment to talk further.”

“Bye, Talmir,” silky smooth as usual…

~*~*~*~*~

Who am I? The thought echoed through Azlyn’s mind, echoing, echoing, echoing still.

No response. He simply had no notion of who Azlyn was, who he was. It was lost.

“Azlyn? Hello, Azlyn? Are you listening to me?”

Azlyn snapped out of his stupor to see Talmir’s cloudy blue eyes close to his own bright green ones.

“Sorry… What were you saying?”

Talmir shook his head with a sigh, “So you weren’t listening… Tomorrow you leave the hospital. Where will you go?”

“I don’t know… I’ve been told my parents are dead… And all my other relatives… they’re too far away. They don’t even know about the accident.”

Talmir took Azlyn’s hand, “You could stay with me, Az. I could try to help you remember, and if you can’t, I could help you start over. Figure out who you are now. Y’know?”

“Not really… I have no idea who I am, I don’t know you – sorry – I don’t know anyone right now! How can I go back to life when I don’t know where I’ve been or what I’ve done, when I feel like my own name is unfamiliar!”

Talmir looked away forlornly, “I don’t know, Az. I don’t know either.”

Azlyn removed his hand from Talmir’s grasp, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know that I could live with someone it feels that I’ve never met.”

“At least stay with me until you have a better plan, until you get back on your feet.”

“All right. But only until then.”

~*~*~*~*~

“Myra, great news. Azlyn is staying with me until he can afford his own place.”

Myra pecked his cheek, “Good. Try to keep him there.”

“So far he’s had no luck landing a job. No one wants to hire someone with amnesia.”

She laughed her chilling laugh, “Better still for us. Better still.”

Talmir smiles, lacing his fingers with hers as they stroll through the deserted park.

“He may eventually catch on, you know. That would not work well.”

“No… Just never let him know that he’s a billionaire, never let him know.”

“Of course. No one will ever know. Except us.”

Myra stopped walking, pulling him into a swift, noxious kiss under the trees before slipping away toward her sleek black convertible.

~*~*~*~*~

“Azlyn? Az? Are you here?”

Silence, a wide nefarious smile formed on Talmir’s lips.

“All the better,” he mumbled, pulling an orange envelope from his backpack.

Talmir signed Azlyn Conory on the bank note, but he had just finished when the door opened.

“Hi Talmir… What is that?” Azlyn came closer, and seeing his name on the paper, he looked at Talmir incredulously, “Talmir, what have you not been telling me?”

Talmir set the paper and envelope on the counter, stalking to his bedroom.

~*~*~*~*~

“He knows.”

“What!” Talmir shuddered at Myra’s anger, even over the phone.

“He walked in when I was signing the papers…”

“How could you be so careless!” She was shouting in his ear.

“I… I’m sorry.”

“Sorry doesn’t fix this. We were going to be RICH, RICH! You’ve RUINED everything!” She hissed then screamed.

Talmir quickly hung up, unable to take her rage.

What have I done? he thought. Azlyn obviously won’t trust me… I might go to jail. Talmir froze.  I might go to jail. I might go to jail. I might gotojail. Imightgotojail. The thought repeated endlessly, blurring together.

Befriending Vinny (Short Story P2)

Be sure to read part one!

This is a backstory piece I wrote for Mystical Warriors. The main characters, Mara, James, Vinny, and Drake, are probably about seven. This takes place after “Thief!”

It was almost time for the Kitumas to come over. The Williamsons had finished making their food, and James’ family had come over after preparing theirs, and Drake’s family was on their way over.

“Mara,” Mrs. Williamson called from the kitchen.

“Yes, mom!” Mara said, running downstairs.

“You can go with James to take the Kitumas that the food is almost ready,” Mrs. Williamson said.

“How did you react when Dellie told you you were having a potluck for the new neighbors?” Mr. Richards, James’ dad asked Mr. Williamson.

“I wasn’t surprised, really. Think about what we did when the Meltzins moved in!” Mr. Williamson said. “It could have been way more of a hassle.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Mrs. Richards said laughing. “Lara, why don’t you go with James and Mara.”

“I don’t wanna. I want to wait for Patty to come,” Lara said.

“Okay,” Mrs. Richards said. “She thinks she’s–”

Mara and James ran out the door, oblivious to the adult’s conversation happening as they left.

“Mr. Kituma! Mrs. Kituma! Vinny!” James yelled when they reached the door, and before Mara had rung the bell.

Ding, dong!

“Yes?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“The food’s almost ready!” Mara said.

“And you can meet my family and Drake’s!” James said.

Mrs. Kituma was shocked. “So it’s a party now?” she asked.

“Kind of. It’s to welcome you to the neighborhood!” Mara said.

She softened. “Well thank you very much. We’ll be right over.”

“okay! See you soon!” Mara and James said.

**Mara and James ran back to Mara’s house.

“They’ll be here soon!” They cried, interrupting the adult’s conversation mercilessly.

“Thanks. Why don’t you play for a few minutes until they and Drake’s family come over?” Mr. Richards asked.

“But!” James said. “They’ll be here in just a minute!” Mara said.

“Okay, okay.” Mr. Richards conceded.

“Mara, it was rude of you to interrupt our conversation,” Mrs. Williamson chided.

“I’m sorry,” Mara hung her head.

“Thank you.” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Anyways–” Mara and James tuned out the conversation and talked about whatever came to mind, from toys, to the new neighbors, to what was taking everyone so long, to being hungry, to school, to the new neighbors, to Vinny specifically, to siblings, back to the neighbors, and did they mention they were hungry?

It was, in reality, only about five minutes before The Meltzins arrived, and two minutes after that for the Kitumas, but Mara and James were excited enough that time passed in milliseconds that they could perceive. Forget minutes, they experience milliseconds.

Lara scoffed. “Why do you care so much?” she asked.

“They’re the new neighbors and they have a girl our age!” Mara exclaimed.

“That means new friends!” James said.

“So what?” Patty, Drake’s older sister asked.

“Why are you so rude?” Drake asked. “We just like to have fun!”

Patty stuck her tongue out at her younger brother.

“Mom! Patty stuck her tongue out at me!” he said.

Patty glared at him. “Did not!” she said before Mrs. Meltzin could respond.

“Patty, don’t stick your tongue out at people, it’s rude,” Mrs. Meltzin said.

“Okay,” she said, sulking.

Ding, dong!

Mara, James, and Drake sprint for the door.

“Hi!” Zmara said. “Come on in!”

“Hello!” James said.

“Hi, we’re so glad you’re here!” Drake said.

Mr. and Mrs. Kituma smile.

“Thanks,” Mr. Kituma said.

“We’re glad to be here,” Mrs. Kituma said.

Vinny hides behind her parents, silently watching the others.

“Vinny, why don’t you say hi,” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“Hi,” Vinny mumbled.

“Hi, Vinny!” Mara said. “Everyone’s in the kitchen,” she continued, gesturing and leading them into that part of the house.

Mrs. Williamson stood up from her seat. “Hello, I’m Dellie,” she said. “You must be the Kitumas.”

Mr. and Mrs. Kituma smiled.

“Yes,” he said. “You can call me Bill. This is my wife, Lou.”

Lou waved.

Everyone introduced themselves.

Mr. and Mrs. Williamson or Dellie and Erik were Mara’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richards or Lloyd and Margie were James’ parents, and Mr. and Mrs. Meltzin or Gregory and Kalen were Drake’s parents.

Patty and Lara introduced themselves to Vinny, after being asked to do so.

Vinny forced a wave and said, “Hi,” after her parents told her to because she was being rude.

“Can we eat now?” James asked.

“Yeah, I’m hungry!” Drake said.

“We’ve been smelling the food for hours!” Mara said.

The Kitumas laughed, but the other parents chided their children.

“It’s fine, really. You all worked hard to make all this for us, and they were very excited to meet us and invite us here,” Mr. Kituma said.

“Yes, it is all quite a lot, and we really appreciate it,” Lou said.

“I’m hungry too,” Vinny mumbled.

“Okay, then we can start!” Dellie said. She passed out plates to the children, first, and the parents helped them with what they couldn’t reach so they wouldn’t make a mess.

After they went through the potluck choices, the kids were made to sit at the kitchen table, while the adults would sit in the living room for lack of space.

~~~

Time passed, and mara, James, and Drake repeatedly tried to convince Vinny to come out and play with them. Each time, they were soundly rejected.

“Vinny, why won’t you play with them at least once?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“I don’t wanna,” she said.

“Please, today if they come to the door, go out and play with them,” Mrs. Kituma said.

“Fine,” she mumbled.

“Thank you.”

Sure enough, later that day, the doorbell rang, and it was Mara.

“Hey, is Vinny home?” she asked.

Mrs. Kituma smiled. “Yes. Vinny, Mara’s here to see you!”

Vinny came to the door. “Hi.”

“Do you want to come play at my house?” she asked.

“Um… I guess so,” she said.

“Cool!” Mara said.

Vinny put on her shoes and a jacket and followed Mara over to her house. “Is it just us?” she asked.

“Yeah, James is sick and Drake had a birthday party to go to,” Mara said. “We can play whatever you want. I have dolls.”

“Okay,” Vinny said. She thought about it. She hadn’t played with anyone since she moved in, not even at school. She played by herself or read a book, even outside on the playground. Was she lonely? She would never say so if she was.

“And my mom said we could have a snack if you want,” Mara said.

“Okay,” she said. “What kind of snack?”

“Whatever is fine. We have lots of choices. Fruit snacks, cookies, real fruit,” Mara said, listing a few things off the top of her head.

“Okay.”

They walked into Mara’s house.

“I’m back!” Mara called. “Vinny’s with me, we’ll be in my room!”

Mrs. Williamson peaked out of the kitchen. “Okay. Hello, Vinny, it’s nice to see you.”

**”Thanks,” she said. She followed Mara upstairs to her room.

The walls were a muted pink, and there were a variety of toys, from dolls and action figures to stuffed animals to books to electronics.

“What do you want to do?” Mara asked.

“Um… I don’t know… Dolls?” Vinny said.

“Okay. I have loads to choose from, but I don’t have any houses or anything. We can use this shoebox structure I made, though,” Mara said. She pulled out a bin from a shelf against the wall. It was overflowing with dolls and what would be called action figures, really just “boy dolls,” but they were all the same to Mara.

“Wow, that is a lot,” Vinny said. “What are these?” she asked, pulling out some of the more oddly shaped ones, which were army men or superheroes or other figurines that sold more to boys than girls.

“They’re dolls too,” Mara said. “I think they’re supposed to be boy dolls, but they’re cool.”

“Oh, okay. I want to be this one,” Vinny said, pulling out a doll with braided blond hair.

“Okay. I’ll be this one,” Mara pulled out a doll with short cropped, jagged hair that was a ghastly shade of green.

“What happened to her hair?” Vinny asked, astonished.

“I tried to give her the same haircut as my mom, but it didn’t work out. Then I wanted to dye her hair green with fruit juice mix, which my mom has done to y hair once, but it didn’t work either,” Mara explained.

“Oh.” Vinny looked at the doll kind of sideways. “It doesn’t look too bad,” she said.

“You don’t have to say that, it’s bad,” Mara said, grinning. “I don’t care though, she’s still my favorite.”

They played dolls for a while until Mrs. Williamson knocked on the door.

Mara jumped up to open it. “hey, Mom. We’re playing dolls.”

“That’s wonderful. Would you like to come downstairs for a few minutes and have a snack?” she asked.

Mara looked to Vinny. “Do you want to?” she asked.

“Sure,” Vinny said.

“Okay. Thanks, mom.”

They went downstairs and Mrs. Williamson helped them get their snack.

“Vinny, I’m glad you decided to come over and play with Mara. Are you having fun?” Mrs. Williamson asked.

“Yeah,” Vinny said. She smiled.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “That’s good. Do you think you’ll play with Mara some other time?”

Vinny nodded.

~~~

It took a long time, but Mara, James, and Drake didn’t give up on befriending Vinny. They kept trying, and eventually, she decided to be friends with them.

Befriending Vinny (Short Story P1)

This is a backstory piece I wrote for Mystical Warriors. The main characters, Mara, James, Vinny, and Drake, are probably about seven. This takes place after “Thief!”

This is rather long for a single blog post, so the second half will be out tomorrow.

It was a bright, sunny day in Connilville when a moving truck pulled into the neighborhood. Mara and James stared.

“Who do you think it is?” Mara asked.

“Do you think they’ll have kids?” James asked excitedly.

I hope so!” Mara said. She ran to her front door and inside the house. “Mom, Mom! We’re getting new neighbors!”

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “Do you want to make them cookies and we can take them over later?”

Mara clapped. “Yes!” She ran outside and told James, “We’re going to make cookies for them! Come on!”

They sprinted back into the house, Mrs. Williamson slightly surprised.

“Hello, James. Are you here to help us make cookies for the new neighbors?” she asked.

“Yeah! Let’s make chocolate chip!” he said.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “Of course. I should have some in the pantry.”

She helped them gather the ingredients and prepare the cookies. When the cookies were finished baking, they placed them on a paper plate and took them to the house with the moving truck in the driveway.

James ran up to the door and Mara followed more slowly, carrying the cookies for them. James knocked on the door. “We have cookies!” he shouted before the door opened.

A middle-aged Asian man answered the door. “Hello.”

“Hi! We’re your neighbors now! We have cookies for you!” James said.

Mara presented the cookies.

“Thank you,” the man said. He took the plate of cookies, then called into the house. “Vinny, there are some kids here who would like to meet you!”

A young girl, probably a year younger than Mara, came to the door. She wrapped her arms around her father’s leg, peering at them shyly.

“Hi, I’m Mara!”

“And I’m James!”

“We’re your new neighbors!” they said together.

“I’m Mr. Kituma, and this is my daughter, Vinny. They brought us cookies,” the man said. “Wasn’t that nice?”

Vinny nodded. “Thanks for the cookies.”

“Do you want to take a break from unpacking and play with them for a bit?”

Vinny shook her head. “Not right now,” she mumbled.

Mara frowned. “Okay, well it was nice to meet you, Vinny!”

“Bye, see you!” James said, following Mara away from the house.

Vinny watched them go. They had wanted to play with her. They had even brought over cookies. “Can I have a cookie?” she asked her dad.

“Sure.” He lowered the plate and let her take one. “Why don’t you want to go play with them? They seemed nice.”

“What if they’re like Lilly?” she whispered. “What if they’re not nice?”

“If you go play with them, and they do anything that’s not nice, you can come right back home and tell us about it,” he promised.

“Maybe later,” she said.

James and Mara went back to Mara’s house, sitting in the front yard.

“Why do you think she didn’t want to play?” James asked.

Mara shrugged. “I don’t know. We might have to try again later. Do you think Drake can play now?”

“He said three o’clock. Let’s see what time it is.”

They went into Mara’s house.

“How did it go?” Mrs. Williamson asked them.

“We gave them cookies and they have a daughter, but she didn’t want to play,” Mara said.

“Yeah, I really wanted to get to know her,” James said. “There’s only the four of us kids.”

“There’s your older sister, James, and Drake’s older sister too,” Mrs. Williamson pointed out.

“They never want to play with us,” Mara said.

“What time is it?” James asked, changing the subject.

Mrs. Williamson pointed to the clock. “The little hand is almost to the 3, and the big hand is at the 9.”

“So… two forty-five?” Mara asked.

Mrs. Williamson nodded.

“Thanks, Mrs. Williamson!” James said.

Mara and James went back outside.

“Just fifteen minutes til Drake can play!” James said excitedly.

“Maybe he can play now,” Mara said. “Look, he’s outside!”

James looked across the street to Drake’s house. His best friend, a tall black haired boy a year younger than he was, closed his front door and waved.

“Can you play?” James yelled.

“Yeah!” Drake said, looking both ways before barreling across the street to Mara’s front yard.

“We met the new neighbor girl,” Mara said.

“We gave her family cookies, too. You missed out, we made the cookies ourselves! It was so fun,” James said.

“Was she not able to come play?” Drake asked.

“She didn’t want to,” Mara said, shoulders sagging.

“Yeah, I don’t know why, but she seemed nervous,” James said.

Drake thought for a minute. “Maybe she’s shy.”

Mara nodded thoughtfully. “Hey, Mom!” she called suddenly.

“Yes?” Mrs. Williamson asked, pushing aside a curtain from the window.

“Can we make something else to take to the new neighbors?” she asked.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “I don’t see why not. What do you want to make?”

“What if we made dinner and invited them over?” Mara asked.

“That’s a lovely idea. James, Drake, would you like to help too?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Drake said.

“Yeah! Can we eat dinner with you, too?” James asked.

Mrs. Williamson nodded. “Of course. Do you want to go invite them over for dinner? They might want a heads up.”

“Okay! Thanks, Mom!” Mara said, turning and running across the lawn toward the Kituma’s house.

“Yeah, we’ll be back soon!” James said, running after her.

“Thanks!” Drake said, following James and Mara.

Once they were all together on the Kituma’s porch, Mara rang the doorbell.

“Coming!” a female voice called. “Hello?” an Asian woman, presumably Mrs. Kituma asked once she’d opened the door.

“Hi! We were wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner since you’re new to the neighborhood!” Mara said.

“Bill, are these the kids that came here earlier?” she yelled into the house.

Mr. Kituma appeared behind the woman. “Yes, they are. James and Mara. And who’s your friend?”

“I’m Drake,” he said, offering his hand.

Mr. Kituma shook his hand. “How can I help you?”

“They invited us to dinner,” Mrs. Kituma said.

“How lovely. What do you say, Lou, shall we accept their invitation?” he asked.

“Sure. Do your parents know about this?” she asked.

Mara nodded. “Yeah, my mom said we could!”

“Which house is yours?” Mr. Kituma asked.

“It’s two down, number 15,” Mara said.

“What time should we be there?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“Uh… Mrs. Williamson didn’t tell us… she just asked us to invite you,” James said.

“Okay,” Mr. Kituma smiled. “Just let us know when it’s almost ready, then.”

“Okay!” Mara said.

“See you later, Mr. Kituma!” James said.

“Bye!” Drake said.

After the Kitumas closed the door, Vinny spoke from behind them.

“So we’re eating dinner with them?” she asked.

“Yes, sweetheart. It will be a good opportunity to get to know them and their parents,” Lou said.

“Okay,” she said.

Outside, Mara, James, and Drake ran back to Mara’s house.

“They’re coming for dinner!” Mara yelled as she ran into the house.

“Awesome. What do you want to make for them?” Mrs. Williamson asked.

“I don’t know,” James said.

“We should have asked what they liked to eat!” Drake said.

“Yeah, why didn’t we?” Mara asked.

“I’d soy go asked them but you already rang their doorbell twice in about fifteen minutes, so that might not be a good plan,” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Okay… we could make one of our favorite foods!” Mara said.

“What if all our families came over and brought lots of food, like a party!” James said.

“Yeah! Then they can eat whatever they want and we don’t have to worry about it!” Drake said.

Mrs. WIlliamson smiled. “Okay, James, Drake, how about you go invite your parents over for an impromptu potluck dinner with the new neighbors. What were their names?” she asked.

“Mr. and Mrs. Kituma, or Bill and Lou they called each other, and Vinny,” Mara recited.

James and Drake nodded.

“Okay, tell your parents to come over for a welcome dinner for the new neighbors the Kitumas and to bring food!” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Okay!” James and Drake said, running out the door and to their respective houses.

“What do you want to make for dinner?” Mrs. Williamson asked Mara.

“Can we make mac ‘n’ cheese?” she asked excitedly. “It’s my favorite and maybe Vinny will like it too!”

“That’s a great idea,” she said. “do you want to make anything else?”

“Bacon!”

“How about smokies wrapped in bacon?”

“Yeah, that’d be better!” Mara said.

“Anything else?” Mrs. Williamon asked. “Do you know of anything you think they’d like?”

“Um… well they looked Chinese…” Mara said thoughtfully.

“So they’re Asain,” Mrs. Williamson said. “We could make rice.”

“Yeah, we should do that!” Mara said.

“Okay, I think we’ll make that and then see what James and Drake’s families are bringing,” she said.

“Okay!”

~to be continued~