Monday, February 24, 2014

Only A Test

“These the ones?”

“Yeah, that’s all of ‘em.”

“That’s who they chose?” He shook his head. “Pretty pathetic if you ask me.”

“Nobody asked you. Do your job and lock it up.”

The two dockworkers sealed up the rocket door.

“I don’t know who’s getting the short end of the stick: those sorry stooges or us.”

“They won’t survive out there. Where are they gonna go?”

“But we ain’t gonna survive here. That’s for sure. At least they have a chance.”

“No they don’t. They’ll only get as far as their fuel will take ‘em. Then they’ll drift around in space ‘til they die.”

He thought about that for a minute. Well, less than a minute. His capacity for critical thinking was minimal. His mind was simple and it turned to simple things quickly. “I’d rather die here with a steak in my belly and a whore in my bed.”

Slapping his friend on the shoulder, the other man chuckled. “Even if it’s just another test, I’m still gonna find me a whore and a steak tonight. Let’s go before all the good ones are gone.” They left the platform.

“In T-minus 15…14…13…”

The countdown blared from the speakers in the cabin. Of the twenty people the world put on the ship, the soldiers seemed most out of place. The doctors, lawyers, professors, and scientists were obvious choices. They could share the world’s knowledge with the rising generation. The fertile young women and the alpha males in the group were even more essential than the geniuses. They would make as many babies as they possibly could. With their ideal genes, the new humans would have advantages of carefully selected traits and characteristics for the highest probability of survival.

But soldiers? They wanted soldiers to influence their new civilization? Soldiers weren’t smart. The stereotype of soldiers being too stupid to do anything else with their lives was pretty accurate. Soldiers didn’t contribute anything to society but violence. All men were violent, whether trained or instinctive. What did they need the soldiers for?

“To protect the budding colony,” they said.

Because Paul was a soldier, no one paid attention to him when he argued with the Commission.  “The chance of us finding a planet that we can live on is a million to one. The chance of us finding that planet before our fuel runs out is a billion to one. If by some miracle, we happen to find one planet out of a billion, what are the odds that life-sustaining planet will already be sustaining life? High. You think a handful of soldiers stand a chance? If you do, you’re dumber than I am.”

Most of them knew he was right, but they couldn’t tell him that. The Commission, even when staring death in the face, wouldn’t stoop low enough to take advice from a soldier. So they ignored him and put him on the rocket.

They’d run this drill four times now and hadn’t moved an inch off the ground. It always ended the same: the Commission came in from the front doors telling them they were all expendable.

“What makes you better than the ones being left behind?” As if the Commission hadn’t single-handedly selected each person to abandon the world to its fate and try to propagate the species on some unknown planet.

The procreators defended their importance while the geniuses argued their value. The soldiers? They just sat there. They were only obeying orders.

Each time the shouting started, the same thought ran through Paul’s head that had been there a thousand times before. “The smarter they get, the more important they think they are.”

Which was the reason for the flight in the first place. The world was a nightmare, if you lived long enough to realize it. It all started in the courts. The geniuses started taking whatever they wanted: property, businesses, women, children. They were more suited to possessing those things, they argued. The cases went to court. The judges didn’t debate their argument. It was a good one.

Soon, the geniuses released studies that warned the soil was useless. Nothing could grow anywhere. The world had limited resources. Their solution to the crisis: limit every couple to only one child. Governments accepted the studies without understanding them. No one dared ask for an explanation of the research, fearful of the geniuses’ intellectual retaliation. It was law by the end of the week. If a family already had more than one kid, they didn’t anymore. Extra kids were taken away and given to families that didn’t have any. Once every family had one kid, the leftovers were abandoned to fate, which was a mildly less gruesome way to say they were left to die. 

A new class of geniuses, fresh from the universities, informed the world that some countries were simply producing less than desirable offspring. Those nations had nothing to contribute to the development of the world, so read the report, that their rations were being wasted. The smart nations immediately set about annihilating those nations.

It seemed to Paul that the geniuses’ brains abolished morality from their systems. Once the geniuses reached a certain level of thinking, they couldn’t see the difference between right and wrong. Maybe there was only room in human minds for one or the other—brains or morality.

The latest report said all previous efforts had been useless. There wouldn’t be enough food for the rest of the population to live longer than a month. The soil was stripped of its nutrients. Nothing grew anymore. Everyone was doomed to die.

The World Commission responded by creating this group. They’d been selected out of society, quarantined really, and trained for days. There wasn’t much to train for. When the alarm sounded, they ran to their seats on the rocket and strapped themselves in. That was all there was to it.

Paul didn’t believe any of the things the geniuses said. He didn’t think the world had too many people. He didn’t believe the soil was useless. He grew a flower in his yard a day after the report came out, just to see if he could. And he certainly didn’t believe his daughter should have been taken away from him because she was his second child.

He rubbed his chest, his unconscious physical reaction to her memory. He knew someday someone would prove all of the geniuses wrong. That’s why he argued with the Commission. He wanted to be kicked off the mission. He wanted to be on the Earth when it failed to self-destruct. And he wanted to be there to find his daughter again, to bring her back home. He’d lost that fight though. He was still on the rocket they sentenced him to.


His fists clenched the seat he was strapped to. The rocket trembled. The seats shook. His whole body rattled as the enormous ship lifted off the ground. Dockworkers shrank as he rose into the air. He watched the people that weren’t worth saving shrink as the ship lifted higher and higher. He kept waiting for someone to come out and tell them it was just another test. He waited for them to say that the people who had faded from view on Earth were safe and that the simulation flight would end now.

No one came.

As the blue sky turned to the black expanse of space, he still waited. He watched the Earth grow smaller. They weren’t supposed to really launch until the last possible minute of the Earth existence. Sure it was crumbling more each day, but it wasn’t completely uninhabitable yet. There was still life on Earth to be lived.

A gas spewed from the ventilation system.  They’d been informed that they would sleep while traveling. This was their ticket to deep, space sleep. His eyes grew heavy.

Noises of people stirring filled his ears. He glanced around. The information panel on the wall read Time Traveled: 284 days. His heart palpitated as he digested the time he’d been on the ship.     

The lights cut out. A haunting red glow filled the space. “Warning: fuel low. Warning: fuel low,” shrieked over the intercom.

The geniuses raced to the computers. Frantically, they pushed buttons, readouts flashing across the screens. One turned to the group. “Which one of you was awake?”

Paul looked around. No one said anything.

“I know someone didn’t sleep. We all know it. The supplies have been used up. Someone was awake and used all of our food.”

“And water,” another genius squealed.

The group looked from one to another, mouths open. Their supplies were gone? Their fuel was low? Where was this planet they were supposed to colonize?

The genius who spoke turned back to the computer. More accurately, he turned to the genius still typing at the computer. “It was you.”

The clacking on the keyboard stopped.

“I know it was you. You’re the only one smart enough to make an antidote for the gas. Where have you steered us?”

The computer genius looked at him. “Why would I want to stay awake? I don’t know anything about space. But you’re right—I am the only one smart enough to make an antidote.”

They both turned to a scientist scanning a star map. “You’re the only one who knew anything about our destination. Why didn’t you let the auto-pilot steer us?”

"I didn’t steer us anywhere. I plotted the original course. Why would I change it while everyone slept?”
Paul could almost see the wheels churning in their brains. Together, they fixed their eyes on the procreators. “Which one of you is pregnant?”

Everyone automatically scanned the midsections of each woman. None of them showed any of the typical bulges of pregnancy.

“One of you must have been awake. Or better yet, two of you. What? You couldn’t wait to get off this ship before you started tearing each other’s clothes off?”

The alpha males jumped out of their seats. Rushing at the geniuses, they started throwing punches. The Commission knew what they were doing when they chose them. They were physically superior in every regard. Most importantly, they were stronger than the geniuses could ever hope to be.  

Soldiers down the row from Paul unstrapped their belts and ran into the fight. The geniuses didn’t stand a chance against the alpha males. Two were already dead. Even as he looked at their empty faces, Paul could see the condescension. He wasn’t sure what the soldiers were going to do, but he wasn’t inclined to break things up.

He turned to look out the window. The rocket steered them closer to the rotating blue planet. It was a perfect place for them to live. It didn’t matter to him who survived the fight. He watched it grow closer and heard the auto-pilot accelerate with the last of their fuel. They would need it to enter the atmosphere.

The fight stopped. People, however many were still alive, scrambled to their seats. They fumbled to strap themselves down as they sped toward the face of the planet. Paul let a little smile form on his face. There was one other person on this flight who could make an antidote for the sleeping gas. He’d researched it the minute he’d been let out of the briefing about it. It was a good thing the genius who came up the antidote published the equation. It took a lot of bartering and late night deals to get the ingredients, but he’d figured it out.

It had taken him one hundred and forty two days to learn how to override the auto-pilot. He was a soldier after all. Then he backtracked the way they'd come for one hundred and forty two days until he had steered them back to Earth.

As far as he could see through the dense forest they landed in, grass and plants and trees grew uninhibited. When everyone piled out of the rocket, they gasped at the breathable air on the planet they were going to colonize. They would do a great job colonizing the planet they just left. With all they had to do, they wouldn’t notice his absence.

He proved the geniuses had been wrong about the soil. Paul grabbed his pack and headed north. Rubbing his chest,  he went to find something that belonged to him. Something the geniuses had been wrong about too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Two Lives, Same Heart

"Mommy, where's my twuck?", young Parker stood in the doorway with his mouth turned down in a pouty face. Carolyn looked up from her suitcase that she was busily, but meticulously packing with clothes.
"I don't know, buddy, when were you last playing with it?"
"I don' renember!" He threw his arms up in the air, as if even trying to remember was too much effort. He fell to the ground and sat with his face in his hands. Carolyn stopped packing and went to her son. She placed a comforting hand on his back and ran her fingers through his white blonde hair. He'd obviously gotten the hair from his father, because her hair was jet black. She and Jeff always joked that they worked so well because with his almost white blonde hair, and her black hair, they were yin and yang.
 "Its okay, buddy, lets go find it." Parker sighed deeply. "Okay. You are good at fin'ing things." They made their way to his room and started sifting through the littered toys on the floor. It was only a moment or two before they heard a deep voice from the doorway of Parker's room, "Are you looking for this?" Jeff, Carolyn's husband, stood in the doorway holding Parker's favorite truck. Parker's face lit up with absolute joy. "You foun' it daddy!" He ran to his dad and hugged him tightly. Carolyn just stood and smiled at the scene in front of her. Parker grabbed his truck and ran down the hall. She walked over to Jeff and kissed him on the cheek. "Looks like you're the big hero of the day." Jeff wrapped his arms around her and said, "It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it." They kissed again, with a little more intensity. Carolyn pulled away, "I'm sorry, as much as I want to take this to the bedroom, I have to finish packing, or else I am going to be late."
"Okay," He said letting go of her reluctantly. "I'm going to miss you. I always do. A week is just too long without you." He winked and swatted her on the behind as she walked away, turning back and giving him a sly, seductive grin. "You should be used to it by now. Don't worry though, I'll more than make it up to you when I get home." Then she winked.
Twenty minutes later Jeff held Parker on the porch, as Carolyn loaded her bag into the blue sedan. She came back to her boys and kissed each one of them. Parker, who still clutched his truck, had his pouty lip again. "Why you hab'd to go?" She kissed him on the cheek, "Because mommy's work needs her to go to some boring conferences and meetings. Don't worry though sweetie, I'll be back soon. You know I love you so much, right?" He nodded and finally smiled. "I love you too mommy." She mentally took a picture of this moment. Moments like this reminded her that what she had to do was so important. She kissed Jeff one last time and turned to walk to the car.
Her heart beat quickly as she stealthily made her way down the large mansion's staircase that led her closer to the target. Stealth was her specialty. It was the sole reason she had been chosen for this mission. She could get in and get out with hardly making a wave. The stakes were higher for this mission though, and she was sure that tidal waves would be the product from tonight's stealthing; but it was all for the greater good.
As she got closer, the thumping sound of music and young feminine giggling got louder. Her right hand lightly touched the gun in her thigh holster, that simple gesture calming her and slowing her heart rate. She had taken care of two guards already without having to use it, but just knowing it was there, like a faithful sidekick, made her more at ease. She'd always felt more comfortable with a gun in her hand. She closed her eyes and mentally visualized the planned route she would take once she had what she needed. She had studied so much, she felt as though she knew the lay out of the mansion better than the contractors themselves. This mission had been planned and calculated for the better part of six months. Mr. Chen, the owner of the estate, had sent his wife and two sons, to China to visit family. Which meant the staff and guards would be minimal. It was the perfect opportunity to get what they needed.
 The giggling and splashing was louder now and she could see the lights that led to the pool in the basement of the palatial estate. The giggling made her stomach turn. She wasn't like most women. That's why she was so good at what she did. Giggling was something she wasn't familiar with at all. Women who giggled like that were women who were bought and paid for by men like Mr. Chen; and Mr. Chen was filthy, dirty rich. Filthy and dirty were actually quite complimentary if she was looking for words to describe him.
His story was, that he had crawled and scratched his way out of the squalor of the streets of China and made his way to the top of the drug trade. But that wasn't good enough for him. He decided to expand and go international. He had come to America, posing as a harmless international businessman, only wanting to provide more Americans with more jobs. His marketing company was just a cover, just like his family. They hid who he really was. He had been quoted in the New York Times, "I came here to live the American dream." According to him, the American dream now consisted of international drug trade, prostitution, gambling, sex trafficking, you name it, he had his dirty hands in it. As much as she despised the man personally, he wasn't necessarily the mission. He was a key part of it though.
The splashing, music and giggling were just around the corner now. The ear piece in her left ear came to life as Mason's deep, clear voice beat through it, "There are two guards in front of the entrance to the pool. Mr. Chen and three women are in the pool area. You may be able to take out the guards unseen if you can lure them away." There was no way to signal to him that she understood, but she knew the drill. She and Mason had worked on enough missions together that they didn't need verbal communication. They trusted each other, knew each other's strength and weaknesses, they were a team. The ideal team for this mission. He was outside setting the explosives, while she infiltrated to get what they came for.
The music was too loud to make any sort of sound to draw out the guards, so she pulled out her small flash light and beamed it across the hallway a few times. It seemed an amateur move, but the plan would go better if Mr. Chen didn't expect her arrival. She shined the light a couple more times, hoping to draw at least one of the goons from his post. It had worked, she heard slow thudding footsteps headed her way, she crouched low and waited for him to turn corner. The hallway was dark where she was and her dark hair and clothing would help her blend easily. The heavy footsteps were louder now and before the goon even had a chance to process she was there, she swept a leg under his feet and he thudded to the ground dropping his gun and hitting his head. It was loud enough for the other guard to hear, as she heard his footsteps now running her way.
She quickly checked the first guard to make sure he was knocked out. A trickle of blood had started along the floor from where his head lay. That was proof enough for her. She quickly jumped up ready to take on guard number two. As he rounded the corner and took in the scene of his comrade on the ground, looking a bit stunned, it was just enough time for her to take the offensive and kick him in the face. His head whipped to the side, but came back quickly, almost un-phased. He reached for his gun, but she was too quick and kicked it out of his hand just as he got his grip, it went scattering across the floor. Still, their fighting sounds were minimal to the thumping party mix in the next room. Apparently these weren't well trained guards, or he was just a coward, but instead of fighting her he decided to chase after the gun. She rolled her eyes and quickly leaped onto his back, swung her right arm around his neck and proceeded to choke him out.
Once he was taken care of she stood up, wiped herself off and took a deep breath. Stepping over the now unconscious guard, she made her way to her target. Each step she took had purpose. This was the moment. She was still unseen, but was able to see through the glass doorway to get a good surveillance of what looked like a scene from a teen movie. Mr. Chen sat back in the hot tub eyes closed, arms outstretched cradling a bikini clad caucasian woman, who was softly kissing at his neck. The other two women were at the bar off to the left of the hot tub, where Mr. Chen was marinating. They must have been the giggling culprits. The large underground pool was off to the left, which left about twenty feet between her and Mr. Chen. He was unarmed and unsuspecting. Perfect.
Now. She mentally told herself. She pushed her way through the glass door, causing everyone to look up at her in shock as she strode across the room until she was about 12 feet away from Mr. Chen.  She placed her hands on her hips and made a power stance. "Weren't expecting me were you? I didn't get an invite to the pool party." Mr. Chen quickly stood up and tried to scramble to a table a few feet away where most likely a firearm, or alert button was located. "Don't bother trying for it." She said as she pulled her gun out of its holster with lightening speed and aimed it right at his head. Mr. Chen slowly turned around and sat on the edge of the hot tub, feet still dangling in the water. He stared her down, not saying a word.
In her peripheral vision she saw one of the women at the bar, a big chested blonde one, start to move to the side. "Move one more inch Blondie and I swear I will put a bullet in you faster than you can say silicone." Blondie didn't move, she just held her hands up in surrender. The other woman at the bar followed suit in raising her hands. "You, " She nodded at the woman in the hot tub, gun still aimed right at Mr. Chen's head. He continued to sit on the edge, stoic, unreadable. He just stared at Carolyn, even when she was ordering the other women around. "Get up and turn off this music. And you two, keep your hands up in the air and move to the front of the bar and lie down on the ground." The dark haired woman in the hot tub got up and slowly walked to the stereo system on the wall, turned off the music then turned around. The room felt empty, as their ears adjusted to the silence."Now go lie down by the others." She did as she was told. With the music off, every noise echoed just slightly. Carolyn put her gun back in its holster. "Okay, thats better."
"What do you want?" Mr. Chen said flatly.
Carolyn gave him her best smile, "Like I said before, all I wanted was an invitation to the party." She shrugged her shoulders, "Is that too much for a girl to hope for?" Mason's voice sounded in her ear, "Quit toying with him, get the keys and get out, I'm almost done out here. I'd estimate 10 minutes so you better hurry." Carolyn made her way closer to Mr. Chen. She could see the set of keys around his neck now. Thats what she needed. "I think you know exactly why I am here Mr. Chen. You have something that doesn't belong to you and I am here to retrieve it."
"Okay, well, we can do this the easy way, where you hand me the keys around your neck and I lock you all in here while I go get find the safe. Or, I shoot you, and get the keys anyway. Those are the options. Which would you prefer?"
Her tone was simple, as if she had been talking to Parker about eating his dinner, or not eating the rest of the night, giving him the option to choose his fate. Mr. Chen stood up slowly. "You, American spy, you will never get the keys, even if you did, you need combination to unlock the safe." Even though he had been in America for a few years, his accent was still present and condescending.
 "Oh you mean the combination, three-three-nine-seven-five-one... that combination?" She saw his eyebrows rise slightly.
"We've known that for a week now. All we need is the keys." He stood still, blinked a few times, as if he was processing what his next move would be, but he had no more moves left, she had backed him into a corner. She held out her hand, "The keys, Mr. Chen." He took a deep breath and then lifted the chain from around his neck. He looked at the keys in his hands, then threw them at Carolyn, they fell just short of where she stood. In the time the keys flew in the air and she bent forward to get them, Mr. Chen had run to the table to grab his gun. She should have expected that. She had gotten overconfident. As she was down on one knee, she pulled her weapon and right before he got his arm up with the gun pointed her way, she shot him in the head, sending blood splattering on the wall behind him, and he crumpled in a heap to the ground. The echoing from the gun shot made her ears ring. The women lying on the ground screamed and Carolyn thought one of them started crying, but she didn't care. She had what she needed. Her intent hadn't been to kill Mr. Chen, but he left her no choice. She picked up the keys and she walked out of the pool area, leaving the women to fend for themselves. They were not her concern. Mason sounded in her ear. "What that hell just happened in there?!"
"I had to take him out, he pulled a gun on me."
"Damnit woman. Hurry and get to that safe. I'm waiting on you now, everything is set. Get what's in that safe, set the detonator and get the hell out of there. I'm at the northeast corner, the chopper is arriving in 5 minutes. Hustle!"
"Okay, okay, I'm on my way." She was halfway there by the time Mason finished his lecturing. The room she needed to get to was up two flights of stairs which she cleared effortlessly. Once she made it to the landing she found the door to the study. It looked like any other businessman's study, a large desk covered in papers and files, a couple computer screens, a wall of books to the left.
She went to the desk. According to their intelligence, the safe was located under a rug under the desk. She heaved and pushed the heavy desk enough so she could lift up the rug. Sure enough, there was the safe. She used to two keys to unlock each side, then entered the combination on the keypad in the middle of the safe. It opened. Perfect. She thought. She swung the safe open and noticed that it was filled with an enormous amount of money, she had no idea how deep the safe went, but on the top of the piles of money was a few files, and one giant velvet bag. She grabbed the bag and the files. She quickly thumbed through them to make sure they were what she needed. Bingo. She slammed the safe shut and made her way out into the hallway.
She found the area that Mason had told her was the "sweet spot". It was located in the main hallway, it was the best place to set the detonator that would signal all the explosives he had strategically placed around the estate. She set the detonator for five minutes and pushed the red button. The timer started counting down. Done, time to get the hell out of here, this whole place is going to blow in less than five minutes. She turned around, ready to run as fast as she could, but just a few feet ahead of her, blocking her path, was a young asian boy. He looked to be just a little older than Parker's age and he stood there in pajamas and held onto a stuffed monkey that looked worn and well loved. A million things were running through Carolyn's head. The little boy sniffed and then coughed, a deep croup sounding cough. Before she could process anything, she asked, "What are you doing here?" He just continued to stare at her, "Who are you?' He asked as he swiped his arm across his nose and he sniffled again. "I...I'm... What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here." He just stared at her again. What was she supposed to do? Leave the kid to die?? He was just a kid! But he was a Chen. This is just a job, you can't let emotions cloud your judgement. You need to leave. But... he's just a kid!! Could you really live with yourself if you left him here just to die.  Her head was hurting and she quickly processed this information. Mason shouted in her ear, "Get the hell out here Carolyn! That place is gone in four minutes!"
She made her decision. She could never live with herself if she left this young boy to die. Without even saying anything, she grabbed the kid and hauled him over her shoulder and ran as fast as she could down the stairs and out the back door, all the while carrying the now screaming, crying child.
The chopper was there waiting already by the time she made it to the northeast corner. Mason hung halfway out the door ready to grab her and help lift her in. When he saw what she was carrying, his eyes went wide in shock. "What the f..."She barely heard him over the noise of the chopper, but before he could finish his sentence, she cut him off and yelled, "Just shut up and get us the hell out of here." The boy continued to cry and cling to his monkey.
Mason couldn't stop staring; the chopper started to lift as Carolyn buckled the crying boy in a seatbelt and placed a helmet over his head. Mostly for protection, or it could have been to stifle the screaming, at this point she didn't really know. She was still trying to process what she had just done. The chopper was only a few yards off the ground when the explosions started. One by one, explosions happened all around the enormous estate, making it look like the largest bon fire ever made. The chopper rose quickly and soon the Chen estate was consumed in flames. Within five minutes of flight, the boy's crying had reduced to whimpering. Carolyn had placed her seatbelt and helmet on and now sat with her helmeted head in her hands. What have I done? What have I done? What have I done? That question just swirled in her head, around and around. It wasn't until she heard Mason's voice through her ear piece that she was able to focus on something external, "You know what you just did right?" She didn't answer. she just looked up at him. Willing him to understand, willing herself to understand. He nodded his head, glanced quickly at the boy and then back at her. "You just kidnapped Mr. Chen's son." Shit.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Death Watcher-Section 2

Here is Section 2 of Death Watcher. If you haven't read the first section, you can read it here: Death Watcher-Section 1 Hope you enjoy, sorry for jumping right into it.

“Stop him,” I managed to whisper. “Jake, please stop him.”

“Stop who? You’re not making any sense! What is going on?” he demanded again.

“The man across the street; don’t let him drive away. Stop him at any cost. Please, Jake. Please,” I begged. My vision was getting clearer and I saw the confusion in his eyes. I wish I had time to explain, but it might already be too late and I couldn't handle that thought.

“Run!” I practically shouted, my voice a little stronger now. Jake gave me one last bewildered look before he sprinted away. I knew Jake was fast, one of the fastest in our school, but I could only pray it would be fast enough. I leaned my head against the steering wheel and slowed my breathing.

Seconds turned into minutes and the nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach started to fade away. I slowly sat up in my seat and looked around for Jake. I noticed there were only a few cars left in the student parking lot and hoped no one had seen my bizarre behavior.

I returned my attention to searching for Jake when suddenly a dark figure blocked my view and startled me so bad I jumped up in my seat and smacked my head on the top of my small car.

The death creature stood before me, eyes gleaming with malice, and with it came the cold. I’ve never been this close to one before, usually they kept their distance, and the annoying drop in temperature I associated with them now felt like I was standing outside in a full on ice storm without a coat.

The creature’s eyes narrowed dangerously at me and I knew something was terribly wrong. Was Jake too late? Did this thing already claim its prize? My fear spiked as another thought occurred to me. What if the creature wasn’t satisfied with just one person today? I shrieked when the creature reached a disgusting hand toward me and slid its sharp talons down the glass of my window, leaving long scrapes behind.

I covered my ears at the sound and my heart pounded out of control. When the noise stopped I dropped my hands and held absolutely still, afraid if I moved too fast it would attack. How was I going to get out of this alive?

Suddenly a loud thump crashed into the passenger side of my car and I let out a blood-curdling scream. Jake glanced at me anxiously as he scrambled into the seat next to mine.

“We need to go now,” he told me quickly. I didn't even hesitate. Tires squealing I got us out of the parking lot in record time, grateful to get away from the nightmare that would stay with me long after it left this earth.

Jake's shaking hands fumbled with the seat belt and I wondered if he had actually been able to see what stood outside my door just moments before.

“Did you—” I broke off unable to finish the question. I couldn't stand the thought of what it meant for that man if we failed. My hands trembled as I drove us swiftly away from the school.

“I stopped him from going anywhere for a while,” he replied brusquely. I felt instant relief, but something in his tone had me glancing at him. He refused to look at me.

“What's the matter?” I asked, feeling part brave, part desperate. His blue eyes flicked to mine and I saw the pain there. My heart fell and I instantly regretted getting him involved. 

“I knocked him out,” he told me miserably.

“You what?”

“I knocked him out! I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't listen to me. He pulled out a bat and I panicked. I took it from him and just sort of bonked him over the head with it.” I realized I was gripping the steering wheel so tightly I couldn't feel my fingers. I forced them to relax, peeling them away from the wheel one by one and adjusting my grip. 

“I checked his breathing and he’s fine,” Jake continued. “But I can’t believe you made me do that! Raelynn, why did I just do that?” We pulled into my driveway and I longed to dash inside where I felt safe and wouldn't have to answer Jake's questions. I had no idea what to tell him. I was relieved he stopped the man from being killed, but it felt too soon to discuss, even if I wanted to tell him what I could see. Which I didn't.  

I was still reeling from the creature that approached me. It was strange enough I saw two of them in the same day, but for one to actually come up to me had me more scared than I thought I already was of them. I wanted to believe it was just because it knew I could see it, and had nothing to do with Jake stopping the thing from taking its victim. But deep down I knew something wasn’t right. I could feel it in my very core.

Want to read more? Click here for Section 3.

*Copyright Jayne L. Bowden*