not on the prompt.
“-Aiden? Aiden? Wait, are you awake? You’re awake!” Casey says, and she stops shaking me.
“Urgh.” I say, sitting up. “What happened?”
“How much do you remember?”
“Screaming, then, not much.”
“You screamed and I heard it, then I came in here. You were on the floor. Your eyes were open, and they were grey, instead of their normal blue. You were twitching, and you kept flickering.”
I touched my forehead. My head hurt. A lot.
When I brought my hand down, I noticed something. I gasped.
“What- oh my God.”
My wrists were severely burnt red. I pulled up my pants gingerly, and sure enough, my ankles were, too.
“How did you get burnt?” Casey asked.
“A Shifter. It has to be.” I described my dream to her.
“Hoc est non bonum.”
“Of course, dummy.”
Sometimes, I would practice my Latin skills on a public library computer. I knew just enough to know she had said, This is not good.
I had left out the part about betrayal. I didn’t want to share my suspicions, fearing that acknowledging them would give them a right to become real.
“So, do you still want to go tomorrow?” Casey asks, breaking the silence.
“Yes. Nothing can stop me from doing that.”
She walks toward the door, and before she leaves, she throws a little smile over her shoulder.
After Casey leaves, I decide to actually read and try to get some rest.
I am reading the words, but I can’t focus on them, can’t gather their meanings.
Your darkness and anger and pity will swallow you, and before you know it you’ll be fighting on my side.
Will I? I mean, the only people who even remotely welcomed me here were Casey and Jack.
I’m not going to talk about Caleb.
I felt like I was in a difficult place. Leave now, without Casey, take my chances getting back to L.A., and try to live a normal life? Or go with Casey tomorrow, and become part of this prophecy that warns me of a betrayal?
You don’t know that. My brain said. Creepy Wall-of-Darkness Guy could have been tricking you into trying to back out.
If I left right now, what would stop them from zapping me right back here? Nothing.
I will do this quest. And when I come back, I’ll just have to hope that all is forgiven.
“Shut up, me.” I mutter.
Even though it’s only ten in the morning, all I want to do is just go to sleep. No creepy dreams. Just regular sleep.
Instead I find myself lying on my back with my eyes closed. Trying to make sense of just random bits of thoughts.
Betrayal. Shifter. Cave. Fighting at my side. Darkness and anger and pity will swallow you..
I, personally, do not want to be swallowed.
I soon find a tennis ball in my hand, and I’m throwing it up and bouncing it off the ceiling. Faster and faster with each catch.
Thwack. Thwack. Thwack thwack thwack.
I eventually nod off, and it's too bad to expect a normal dream, isn’t it?
“Aiden, help! Help!”
I look around, and there she is, struggling, trying to teleport away from her captor. Whoever he is, he’s strong, because he’s got his arm, which is as wide as a log, over Casey’s chest.
Casey! I try to shout, but no words leave my throat.
Her captor presses something against her neck, and she goes still. She says one thing before she goes under:
“He’ll find you, you know.”
Then she falls completely limp in the man's arms. He looks over to the point where I’m standing, then turns and throws Casey over his shoulder. He walks off with Casey, and I watch. My feet are cemented in place.
I sit bolt upright in my bed, shocked by what I have seen. I reach out my senses, finding a way to Caseys room and appear in front of it.
I knock. “Casey, are you there?” Knock, knock. “Casey?”
I burst open her door. “Casey?!”
Her bed is disturbed. And she’s not in it.
I tear through her room, opening drawers, even going into her bathroom, which would be really embarrassing if she were actually in it.
She’s not, though.
Then I notice a piece of paper on the floor.
Montauk Lighthouse Museum.
This is where she is. I pick up the paper and tuck it in my pocket.
“What are you doing?”
I turn, and standing in the doorway, is Jack.
“I had a dream, and...she’s gone.”
Jack’s eyes scan the room.
“Do you know where she might have gone?”
I pull the paper out of my pocket. “Montauk Lighthouse Museum.”
“Go. I’ll pretend I didn’t see you, if Caleb asks. I’ll keep in touch with you.”
“How? I don’t have a phone.”
Jack tapped her forehead. “Shifters can telecommunicate with other Shifters.”
“Okay. Thanks, Jack.”
She nodded and disappeared.
“I’ll return her.” I vowed to the room. The room didn’t respond, and that was probably a good thing.
And I leapt out the window and into the night.
Looking back on it, jumping out the window was probably not a good decision.
The first three seconds were great. I felt like a superhero.
Until gravity took hold.
I plummeted, momentarily forgetting I could go literally anywhere else in the world. I hit the asphalt feet first, sending a painful jolt into my legs.
It felt like something was eating my ankle. I looked over at it, and it was severely bent in an unnatural way.
I summoned my power to fix it. At once, it painfully popped right back to place, and the only evidence it had ever happened was the trace amounts of pain it had left.
I remembered hearing somewhere that Oakland’s gangs were so much worse than L.A.’s. I decided that I should probably get moving before I was mugged.
I drudged down MacArthur Boulevard. I looked back towards the mansion, but instead I only saw a Goodwill. Caleb had cast some sort of magic, probably to keep away any unwanted guests or door to door salesmen.
I went streetlight to streetlight until 35th Avenue. I turned left onto 35th and kept following it west.
I eventually came to the Fruitvale BART station. I made some money appear and bought a ticket to Antioch.
I had to transfer at 19th Street to get on the right line for Antioch. I watched out the window, the streetlights making a constant line outside the window.
In Antioch, the train rolls to a stop. I stepped out and looked around in the darkness. The sun was just starting to rise. Highway Four raced by me.
I was less than a quarter of the way to Montauk.
Sure, I could teleport to Montauk. But what if something went wrong and I ended up in China? I decided I would pace myself. Go slow. Two hundred miles at a time.
I left Antioch and imagined myself two hundred miles away.
I stood on a desert road in the middle of a barren looking wasteland. A sign stood in front of me:
I had been through Nevada a few times, and I mostly remembered being bored, and watching the seemingly endless plains of sagebrush as they stretched out for miles.
Lucky for me, Fallon was a pretty populated town. The sign also read:
The sign told me all I needed to know: There were people, which meant hotels and food.
I was also really tired, and I guessed that was from teleporting. I wasn’t used to it, and I would have to get more comfortable until I could go longer without falling asleep.
I stumbled my way down the road, until someone pulled over and said, “Hey, kiddo. Want a ride?”
Against my better judgement, I said, “Sure.”
I climbed into the car, a slick black Lincoln Navigator.
“Are there any...good hotels you’d recommend around here?” I asked, narrowly avoiding falling asleep. I was getting more and more tired by the minute.
“I know of one.” The woman who was driving looked over her shoulder at me in the backseat and smiled. “Sleep.” She said, and waved her hand. There was no fighting it. My body fell into a calm, peaceful black.
I woke up and looked around me. I was in a plain, white room. I tried to sit up, but found I couldn’t.
Straps were secured around my chest, wrists, ankles, and thighs. I tried to teleport out of them, or even turn invisible. No such luck. I screamed with rage as I tried to escape.
Stupid Aiden, I told myself. You were always told not to get in strangers' cars. Now look at where you are!
“Can’t get out?” The woman who had been driving the car had appeared there.
She had long dirty blonde hair, the same color as Casey’s. She wore a beanie, a t-shirt, and jeans, with hiking boots. Her eyes were green, the same as Casey’s. I decided this is what Casey would look like as an adult.
“Letmeouttahere!” I yelled and struggled against my bonds.
“I can’t.” The woman crossed her arms. “Not until I have some answers from you. Who are you? Why are you going to save her? Why do you care?”
I try to calm down and fight the knot in my throat. “My name is Aiden Bennett. I’m from L.A. I assume when you say her, you mean Casey? I’m going because whether she likes it or not, I’m her friend.”
She smiled, and the ropes opened and I was set free. I gingerly rubbed my burnt wrists and asked, “Who are you? Why did you bring me here, wherever this is?”
“My name is Avery Skye. I brought you here because you were on my daughters trail. I wanted to know why you were trying to find her. Don’t worry, you’re safe here. I’m not going to hurt anyone who’s on our side. I’m like you.” She winks.
Two things hit me:
Casey? Daughter? This woman, Avery, is Casey’s mom?
I’m like you. An orphan? A Shifter?
Avery makes a cup of cocoa appear in her hands, then gives it to me. I guess that answers the Shifter question.
“You’re Casey’s mom?” I say, blushing for unknown reasons.
“Yes, I am. We didn’t get along very well. I tried to help her with training, but as soon as she heard about Oakland, she left.”
“It was probably for the best.” Avery said.
“So, how did you hear about Casey going missing?”
She tapped her head. “Jackson.”
“So,” She says. “My daughter thought you were the one of the prophecy?”
“Apparently,” I said. “Except no one will actually tell me what it is.”
“That’s probably best. Heroes go out of their way to try and avoid their fate, but they usually just end up hastening it. I do not think you would like the specific wording of the prophecy.”
“Anyway, how much training did you get before you left Oakland?”
“None. I’ve been going all on instinct.”
“Come on. Let's go train, then. What you’ll be taking on...if it could capture Casey, it’s powerful. Someone inexperienced would be killed immediately.”
I know she means, You. You’ll be killed instantly.
I follow her to a room like the one in the mansion.
“Have you summoned a weapon yet?” Avery asked.
I thought about the twin daggers Casey had, and Zoe’s bow. “No.”
“Okay. So you need to do that. Imagine the perfect weapon. Preferably unbreakable. Made just for you.”
I close my eyes and imagine a sword with a three foot long black metal blade. Unbreakable. In a concealed form, so I can’t lose it. Something I could summon quickly.
I open my eyes and a tube of chapstick sits in my hand. I grin. It’s perfect.
“Aiden? That isn’t a weapon.”
“Not right now.” I pull the cap off and it grows to the same sword I had imagined.
Avery is noticeably stunned. “I can’t...I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.”
I smile and touch the cap to the tip of the sword. It shrinks back to chapstick form.
“Do you know how to fight with it?” Avery asked.
I uncapped it again and slashed at a practice dummy, cutting its head off. “Yeah.”
“Good. That means we can work on your powers, and not on your swordplay.”
For the next hour, Avery had me summoning things from A to Z, like Jack had been doing. After I had done the whole alphabet, she had me make them disappear one by one.
Then, she would call out random animals and I had to make them appear.
Two hours later, I was so bone tired. Avery noticed that, and said, “Go rest, and when you wake up I’ll send you on your way.”
I murmured my assent and staggered towards a room. I really wished I had thought more about sleep, because as soon as I lost consciousness, dreams found me.
“Aiden! Can you hear me?” Casey sat in front of me, her hands tied to the light pole of the lighthouse tower. Her ankles were bound as well.
“Yeah. Are you in Montauk?” I asked.
Even before she answered, I knew. The gray ocean expanded for miles, waves lapping up on the white beach.
“Yes. I’m so glad this is working. He took me, Aiden, he took me and he’s here. You’ve gotta be careful.”
“Who took you? What?”
She was about to answer, then footsteps pounded up the ladder. “He’s coming! Go! Be fast!” She closed her eyes, and the dream dissipated as a voice said, “Who-”
The next dream I was back in the mansion. Jack stood in front of me, weapons drawn. I could tell, he was a he today.
“Aiden! Things aren't going well here!”
“Monsters, bad things are attacking!” My view ran with him as he jumped up to fight a massive pelican.
“That is a large pelican.”
A spear appeared in his hands, and he ran the spear through the pelican’s neck. That should have killed it. Instead, it stood and charged again.
“You think?” Jack asked.
“Where is Caleb? Is he helping you guys fight?”
“No. He left a note. Something about a potential Shifter in Quebec? He apparently left some time early this morning, before we all woke up.”
“Oh. I’m sorry I can’t be there. So it’s just you and Zoe holding down the fort?”
“Yes. Me, Zoe, and…Cranberry.”
“Zoe’s pet cougar.”
“Pet cougar?” I never thought I’d use the words pet and cougar together in a sentence, maybe other than the cougar ate my pet.
“Yeah. She summoned it and tamed it, somehow. She’s just good with animals.”
“Incoming!” Zoe yelled, as the pelican tramped angrily towards Jack. Maybe because it still had a spear lodged in its throat.
“Travel safe, Aiden!” He yelled, and ended the vision.