Counting Down To Life Chapter 11

Yellow School Bus

Chapter 11

Between Kansas City, Kansas and Denver Colorado

March 22, 2017

Two weeks later, Brooklyn was sitting in the backseat of her own car. Atifa was driving, Laz was in the passenger seat, and Lyvlen was seated beside Brooklyn in the back. She could tell Lyvlen was studying her from the way the Guardian’s daughter was staring at the young human.

Up front, Atifa was more focused on worrying about Brooklyn than she was on the crowded highway. She had been spacey since they met Laz and Lyvlen in the diner almost two weeks ago. It was like Brooklyn didn’t know what was going on half the time. Atifa wasn’t sure if Brooklyn had another vision when no one was around or what, she had been acting so strange since meeting Laz and Lyvlen. For all Atifa could tell, Lyvlen could’ve done something to Brooklyn. Atifa glanced at the two girls in the back and saw that Lyvlen was staring, more like glaring, at Brooklyn who was quietly gazing out the window. Atifa couldn’t see the expression on Brooklyn’s face, but she could ask.

“What’s wrong, Brooklyn?” The Empathy Guardian asked.

“Nothing,” the young human replied almost immediately.

“She’s scared and confused,” Lyvlen said. Atifa rolled her eyes, annoyed at Laz’s daughter for speaking for someone who was perfectly capable of speaking for themselves.

“I’m just thinking,” Brooklyn said. In truth, she was freaking herself out with thoughts of what the dog could’ve meant. So far, Brooklyn had only come up with things that would happen in a movie, not real life.

‘But isn’t this real life?’ Brooklyn heard Lyvlen say. The human looked at the Guardian spawn. ‘You’re the only one that can hear me right now. I’m using telepathy if you haven’t figured it out yet. I’m just letting you know that I remember everything that happened in the Cavern of Despair. The Hellhound thought I was unconscious so it didn’t use the memory wipe on me.’

Brooklyn remembered what happened in the cave. She remembered the voices. What they said, what she did when the sounds of those voices overwhelmed Brooklyn. She remembered hearing Atifa’s voice telling her to join the voices. No one would miss her Atifa had said, but there had been another voice among the ones that were telling her to take the fall. The voice had told her not to do it, it had told her to stay alive, that the world needed her. The voice sounded so familiar, but at the same time, it seemed so unfamiliar.

That voice,’ Lyvlen gasped, still inside Brooklyn’s head. ‘It’s Zora’s voice. I would know him anywhere. He’s a master of hiding in plain sight, but his voice is always recognizable.’

Lyvlen’s eyes widened, in real life. ‘Why would Zora want you alive? What could he want with some human? Is it because of your connection to him that will help us get to the stones first? Atifa says that your connection could be the difference between us winning and losing this war. Whatever that means, and I will figure that out eventually, just know that the moment you or Zora makes a mistake, I will kill you very painfully.’

Brooklyn huffed and turned back to the window. The past two weeks had made Brooklyn realize how much she hated and feared Lyvlen Drailey. The Guardian’s daughter seemed like she hadn’t had enough human contact to know that people didn’t like having other people inside their heads, but at the same time, Lyvlen seemed like she spent most of her time with other people.

According to Atifa, Lyvlen spent most of her time either passed out drunk or at a party getting drunk. Rather than being useful and helping the Guardians protect the stones that controlled peoples emotions, Lyvlen preferred to waste her potential on useless things like parties, for example.

While Lyvlen may have been an untamable Guardian spawn that could’ve stopped the possibility of the end of the world as we know it.

Brooklyn was shocked out of her thoughts when the car come to a sudden stop. They were stuck in traffic. Brooklyn sighed, the excruciatingly long car ride to Denver, Colorado was just made longer.

An hour later, they were still stuck in traffic. They had moved about six feet, and Brooklyn was beginning to moan and groan like a bored child. Her feet were cramped, and she was incredibly bored.

No one had spoken more than ten words since they got stuck. Brooklyn wasn’t the type of person to whine all the time, every chance she got unless the whining was absolutely necessary to get what she wanted, she just hated sitting in traffic with nothing but silence. There was always some music playing for Brooklyn to sing along to or someone to talk to.

They had tried playing music, but Atifa and Laz began arguing over the music. Laz wanted jazz while Atifa wanted to play some One Direction, Lyvlen just sat quietly through the entire argument, Brooklyn was sure the older girl was asleep but after the Hellhound incident Brooklyn wasn’t going to trust Lyvlen, she wasn’t going to question her either.

Brooklyn had tried starting a conversation, but that ended up in an awkward silence. The discussion began with Brooklyn asking if Atifa or Laz news knew what was causing the traffic jam and how long it would take, and somehow, it ended up somewhat morbid when Lyvlen said something that just ended it.

Now, Brooklyn was bored out of her mind. She couldn’t read because she got car sick. Brooklyn couldn’t watch something on her phone because she didn’t have WiFi or data. None of the games on her phone could keep her occupied for long, and Pinterest could only do so much to keep her attention before she felt sick from reading so much, that is if Brooklyn was lucky enough for Pinterest to load.

Brooklyn was scrolling through the music on her phone. Maybe if Lyvlen hadn’t stolen her earbuds, Brooklyn could listen to something without dealing with Laz and Atifa’s bickering.

Brooklyn was about to tell Lyvlen to give back her earbuds when the cars in front of them began to move, and this time they didn’t stop moving.

Brooklyn sighed in relief, she still wanted her earbuds back because she couldn’t stand the silence for much longer, but at least Brooklyn knew they were going somewhere. When they passed the scene of the accident, Brooklyn put a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. Her eyes went wide and nearly popped out of her head.

The scene in front of her was gruesome and too horrible to describe. There weren’t words for what Brooklyn saw except horrible and downright terrifying. A school bus was overturned, and there were ambulances and police cars all around the scene. Brooklyn caught sight of a body bag on the ground and thought of how many people, kids, were on the bus.

Brooklyn leaned her head back against the seat and stared into space, thinking about those poor people and what could have caused something so horrible.

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Counting Down To Life Chapter 10

Cavern

Chapter 10

Conway, Arkansas

March 10, 2017

Brooklyn’s eyelids opened slowly, weighted down by sleep. The room around her was dark, but it was cold and wet. Brooklyn lifted her arms to rub the drowsiness from her eyes, but her hands were bound. She realized they were being held together by a thick, heavy rope.

The girl with tied hands tried to figure out where she was by studying her surroundings, but it was too dark to tell anything except how cold and wet it was.

Brooklyn attempted to pull herself forward with her legs. She didn’t get far, but she did find out something else about the place. There was a giant pit right in front of her. She tried moving back so she could lean against the wall, but all she found was another chasm. She tried leaning to either side before figuring out she was sitting on an isolated spot in the middle of a pit.

There may have been more ground in what Brooklyn was now realizing was probably a cave. What Brooklyn did know was that she was sitting on a relatively small chunk of rock that was most likely high up.

Brooklyn decided to check how high up she was by kicking a big rock off the platform she was on. She didn’t know if she would hear it hit the ground, but she did know it always worked in the movies. Brooklyn found a big enough rock and shoved it with her feet and hoped she wouldn’t fall backward into the chasm.

She waited and waited, she counted the seconds until she finally heard a small thud echo through the pit. Sixty seconds, that’s how long it had taken, meaning the drop was over a hundred feet, though Brooklyn wasn’t entirely sure. Knowing that she was over a hundred feet in the air made Brooklyn shake with fear.

She was terrified of heights. Brooklyn began breathing heavily. She tried thinking of only good things, but all she could think of was unicorns, and Brooklyn had an irrational fear of the supernatural horse-like creatures. Brooklyn was shaking from the cold and the fear. She needed to out of here. A low growl came out of the pit. Brooklyn let out a cry. She was close to tears, but she didn’t want whatever had brought her here to remember her.

Just don’t look down.’ A voice in Brooklyn’s head said. The sound of that voice instantly calmed Brooklyn, but she wasn’t sure whose voice it was. It sounded like Finn’s voice, but not quite. It was comforting and helped Brooklyn calm down and relax.

Brooklyn listened to what the voice had said. She began taking deep breaths and stared straight ahead of her. The young girl started to stand, her legs shaking.

As soon as Brooklyn was standing completely, she heard a loud crack from across the cavern. Brooklyn stumbled in surprise and nearly fell off the platform-like rock she was standing on. She heard groaning that sounded like it was coming from a human. Brooklyn heard another crack coming from the same place, a person gasping in pain, and a loud thud and another groan.

“Brooklyn!” Someone yelled. “Are you here?”

It was Atifa. “I’m here,” Brooklyn replied when she realized who it was.

“Are you okay,” another person yelled. Brooklyn didn’t know who he was.

“Who are you?” Brooklyn asked loudly from the other side of the pit.

“A friend,” he yelled back. “The name’s Laz.”

There was another person, Brooklyn could make out a human-shaped lump under Atifa.  Brooklyn was about to ask who else was with the two Guardians, but a loud growl came out of the pit. It seemed to be getting closer and closer. Brooklyn screamed at the two older beings to hurry up. Brooklyn curled into a ball in the middle of the rock, making herself as small as possible so she wouldn’t fall off the rock and into the giant pit. Brooklyn’s ear was pressed against the rock, and she was shaking uncontrollably. She was so cold and the voices. There were voices everywhere.

They were saying things, things Brooklyn felt like she should remember, but she couldn’t recall any of them. The voices felt so familiar. Her head was pounding. She put her hands on her ears and tried to shut out the voices, but they only got louder. Brooklyn began squirming instead of shaking.

Atifa stared at Brooklyn’s small form in the middle of the cave. She could tell Brooklyn was terrified from the way Brooklyn was kicking at the ground and cradling her head in her hands. The Empathy Guardian looked at the man standing beside her and asked, “How the Hell are we going to get her over here?”

“I don’t know!” Laz yelled. “I can’t fly, can I?”

“Well, I can’t either!” Atifa rolled her eyes at Laz. “We have to get her out, she’s terrified. Can’t you tell?”

“She’s not scared.”

“What? Look at her, she’s terrified. Brooklyn’s scared of heights.” Atifa turned her head to look at Laz. There was ice in his eyes, ice, and fear. “What’s wrong?”

“When we came here, this place, it seemed so familiar. I realize now that we’re standing in the Cavern of Despair. You can hear the voices of those you’ve killed with evil intentions,” Laz explained. Atifa turned pale and looked at Brooklyn closely. What was she hearing that made her so scared. Brooklyn hadn’t killed anyone, yet.

“I don’t understand it, but she must be hearing something,” Laz said, shaking his head in confusion. “She’s lived a mundane life, but she hears the voices. You and I can’t hear them because we thankfully aren’t in the middle of the pit, where the spirits are trapped. What would want to keep Brooklyn here? I didn’t think anything but the vengeful spirits of those killed in bad blood was here.”

“We can figure that out later, right now we need to figure out how the hell we’re going to get Brooklyn over here,” Atifa scolded.

“Right.”

If only she had an escape. If she could roll over and stop hearing those voices. Brooklyn was tempted to pull herself to the edge of the rock. She wouldn’t hear the sounds of the tortured dead anymore. Brooklyn grabbed the side of the platform and began pulling herself towards the edge. It would be so simple to fall off. Such a simple escape from the voices.

Her chest was off the rock, then her torso was off, and the only thing that was keeping her on the ore was her toes.

“Brooklyn!”  Someone screamed. Another one of the voices. “Don’t do it. They’re just voices, they’ll stop as soon as we figure out how to get you back.” The person continued.

Brooklyn didn’t hear that though. Instead, she heard encouragement to throw herself off the rock that might as well have been a cliff. She heard the voice say, “Please, go. No one else needs to be killed by your worthless self.”

Then, Brooklyn was falling, but something grabbed her right ankle, and she was being pulled back up to the top of the cliff. When Brooklyn was all the up, she was facing a giant, monstrous dog.

Brooklyn’s eyes went wide with fear as the dog stood with its four, black paws surrounded her. Two on either side of her head and two beside each of her legs. Its enormous tail slapped the rock repeatedly. It was growling ferociously but stopped the moment Brooklyn began to scramble back to the sanctuary the pit would give her from the voices, instead it began to howl.

The voices stopped as soon as the dog finished its long scream. Brooklyn stopped moving and stared at the mutt. It leaned its head down, so its massive maw was right next to her ear.

“Remember who your friends are, girl,” it said. “The only reason you are here is that you needed a reminder of who your friends are.”

“What?”

“Remember, the king loves you. I will return you to the Guardians. Your wound is healed, and I have changed the others’ memories. You are the only one that will remember this. Goodbye, Queen,” the dog finished, ignoring Brooklyn’s question entirely.

Brooklyn found herself sitting in a booth in a restaurant. A plate of Caesar salad was sitting in front of her. Atifa and Laz were across from her, and another girl sat beside her. Brooklyn was confused for a minute, but then what the dog said came back to her. She was the only one that remembered their experience in the cave.

Atifa and Laz were stuffing their faces with bread, and the girl sitting next to her was sitting quietly and taking small sips of her water.

“Who’s she?” Brooklyn asked pointing to the girl next to her. Atifa gave Brooklyn a strange look.

“You mean Lyvlen, Laz’s daughter,” Atifa said, raising her eyebrow. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Brooklyn replied. She shoved a piece of lettuce in her mouth and smiled at Atifa while Lyvlen watched the young human girl closely.

Lyvlen wasn’t sure about Brooklyn, there was something off about her.

 

Counting Down To Life Chapter 9

Hole

Chapter 9

Conway, Arkansas

March 10, 2017

Atifa was panicking. Brooklyn didn’t have her phone, so Atifa didn’t have any way of tracking the younger girl, and Atifa herself was no tracker. In fact, none of the Guardians were trackers, making it harder to keep track of the stones that they were chosen to guard with their lives.

An idea struck the Empathy Guardian as she drove. There was one person Atifa knew that could track Brooklyn. Laz, the guardian of the Anger Ruby, had a daughter who was a one of a kind. We didn’t know what she was, just that she was unique and powerful. Atifa had also had children, but they were with a human, while Laz had his daughter with a creature.

Lyvlen Drailey was her name, and she was a spoiled brat. Laz did the best he could to raise his daughter, but he never had time for her, so she ended up getting whatever she wanted whenever she wanted it. At least, that’s how Atifa thought Lyvlen was raised. Personally, Atifa hated Lyvlen, maybe it was because she was much stronger than Atifa or maybe it was because Lyvlen was 300 years younger than Atifa, but still more known and feared then she was.

An hour later Laz and Atifa were sitting across from each other in a booth at a small diner.

“Where’s Lyvlen?” Atifa annoyed at Laz’s daughter. “I don’t have time to wait around, Brooklyn could be in serious danger, and she’s you know, essential to us finding the stones. “

“Lyv is just busy, I’m not sure what she’s doing, but it’s probably something productive,” Laz said, his accent reminding Atifa of the seventy years Atifa spent in England with her husband almost two-hundred years ago. Atifa blinked away the tears that came when she thought about the family she once had.

Atifa cleared her throat. “Are you sure she’s not at a party, because, from what I know about Lyvlen, from what I’ve seen actually, she’s never doing anything productive. Unless it benefits her. I don’t even know if she’ll show up because I doubt saving Brooklyn benefits her in any way. No offense, Laz, but your daughter is annoying and self-absorbed.”

“Calm down, Tia,” Laz said. “She’ll be here.” Atifa rolled her eyes at Laz’s nickname for her. He started calling her that three-hundred years ago and Atifa still didn’t know why. She gave up on telling him not to call her that after a week, now Atifa just dealt with it.

“Whatever. Have you talked to any of the others recently?”

“Amorette and Felix are the only ones that I’ve actually cared to talk to. The other two just piss me off,” Laz replied.

“How are they? I haven’t had time to talk to them.”

“They’re both fine, they’re excited to meet Brooklyn and worried about how close Zora is to finding their stones. After what happened to Tam they’re scared.”

“What happened to Tam?” Atifa asked.

“You didn’t hear? He’s dead.”

“What? How?”

“He captured Zora’s lieutenant and lover. Zora found out where he was hiding the girl, went after Tam and snapped his neck. Apparently, Tam was torturing her before Zora found them,” Laz explained sadly.

“Wait, Zora went after Tam, not one of his minions.”

“Yep, like I said, he’s dating his lieutenant.”

“Wow. It’s so weird knowing that Zora, the evil alien mastermind has a girlfriend. I’ve never seen him, so I’ve always imagined him as some ugly monster thing,” Atifa said.

“No one’s seen him and survived. From the stories I’ve heard, it sounds like he looks like a normal human, like us,” Laz said. “Speaking of Zora, has Brooklyn learned how to use her connection to Zora to track where he is?”

“As far as I know, no. Brooklyn got freaked out after she talked to her sister and drove off, I managed to track her phone to her car, but she was missing. That’s why I need Lyvlen. I don’t know what I’m going to do, Brooklyn has been having these episodes, she keeps blacking out. She just becomes more and more distant after every episode. I’m worried, what if it’s Zora trying to mess with her and stop us from getting the stones back?” Atifa said. Before Laz could respond, someone walked up to their table.

“I’m here, now what do you want?” the person asked, rudely. She was tall and had shoulder length blonde hair and green eyes.

“Hello, darling,” Laz said to his daughter. Lyvlen ignored him.

“Hurry up and tell me what I need to do. I have somewhere important to be,” Lyvlen said.

“I’m sure whatever you have to do is more important than us rescuing one of the few people that can help us save the freaking world,” Atifa growled, clenching her fists beneath the table. Lyvlen rolled her eyes.

“Whatever,” Lyvlen huffed. “Dad said you needed me to track someone. Do you have anything of theirs?”

Atifa pulled Brooklyn’s phone out of her pocket and handed it to Lyvlen. “Is this her?” Lyvlen asked, pointing to the lock screen on the phone. Atifa nodded, it was a picture of Brooklyn and Finn at the carnival.

Lyvlen shut her eyes and clutched the phone tightly. After a minute, Lyvlen opened her eyes, and instead of her pale green eyes, Lyvlen’s eyes were pure white.

Lyvlen walked out of the diner. Laz and Atifa glanced at each other, got up, and rushed to catch up to Lyvlen. They made their way to Brooklyn’s car, Atifa got in the driver’s seat and started the car. Lyvlen pulled Atifa out of the car, then took the Guardian’s spot. Atifa took a deep breath and managed not to hit Lyvlen, then got in the backseat.

As Lyvlen drove, Atifa and Laz talked about the new Guardian, the one that would take the place of Tamarisk, the Guardian of the Judgement Diamond.

“All I know is that he doesn’t know what’s going on with him yet, he just knows that something has changed in the year since Tam died,” Laz explained.

“What’s his name?” Atifa asked.

“Karter Abston.”

“Are you sure his name is Karter Abston, like, 100% sure?” Atifa questioned, her voice filled with shock and denial.

“I’m sure. He lives in Miami, just like Brooklyn,” Laz confirmed. Atifa leaned her head against the headrest. “Why were you wondering?”

“He’s one of Brooklyn’s best friends. They’ve known each other since they were four.”

“Well, that’s convenient. At least Karter will have some comfort knowing he’s not alone.”

“Did I mention he’s utterly in love with Brooklyn, but she devoted to her boyfriend who loves her just as much as Brooklyn loves him.”

“Wow,” Laz said. After that, no one spoke and the only thing that could be heard was the sounds of cars racing past.

An hour later, they were standing in front of a large hole. Atifa had no idea where they were, but she trusted Lyvlen’s abilities enough to know that Brooklyn was down there.

Lyvlen was about to jump in, her eyes still glowing, but Laz stopped her.

“I’m not going down there or letting you go down there without knowing if there is anything that could kill me down there,” Laz freaked.

“Brooklyn is down there,” Lyvlen said, plainly, almost robotically. Atifa shrugged and pushed Lyvlen down.

“Ladies first,” Laz said before shoving Atifa into the whole, but Atifa grabbed him as she fell and pulled him down with her.

All that could be heard in the silent night were Laz’s screams as the three ancient beings fell down the hole.

Counting Down To Life Chapter 8

dogChapter 8

 

Conway, Arkansas

March 10, 2017

Three days later, Brooklyn was finally well enough to get out of bed so they could leave Conway. At this point, every creature in the area knew exactly where they were, and Atifa didn’t want to risk Brooklyn getting injured again, so they left as soon as Brooklyn was able to sit up, even if she was still in pain they needed to leave.

The car was silent, and Brooklyn was lying in the back seat. Her eyes were closing, and she was slowly falling asleep until a shrill ring filled the car. Brooklyn groaned and reached for her phone. She took one look at her phone and moaned. It was Kayla, Brooklyn’s older sister who was probably worried sick.

“Hey,” Brooklyn said, as soon as she answered her phone.

“What the Hell is wrong with you?!” Kayla shrieked.

“I thought you knew where I was going?” Brooklyn said, meekly.

“I did know. Atifa’s parents called and told me about it, and then I told dad, the part I’m angry about is that I’ve been calling you and you never pick up. It’s only been like, what, three days? I thought you were dead! I asked Finn and Lily if they had heard from you, but they hadn’t heard anything either.” Kayla yelled, calming down a little bit.

“I’m sorry, okay, I’ve just been busy, and I just forgot to call or answer my phone,” she apologized.

“I wish you didn’t go. It’s so weird having the house to myself, even though I’ve been living in my own place for a while now,” Kayla said sadly. “I just have a feeling you’re not going to come back, like, I feel like I’m never going to see you again. This is exactly how I felt with mom.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll come back before graduation, I promise.”

“I’m not going to stop worrying, but as long as you promise you’ll come back, I’ll worry a little less.”

“Thanks, Kayla. I have to go.” Before Kayla could say anything else, Brooklyn hung up and leaned her head against the window. She thought about the Noson’s attack and how she almost died, how the thing had nearly. What if Kayla’s feeling was right? What if Brooklyn died and never saw her family again. After her mom’s death, Brooklyn couldn’t do that to her father or her sister.

Brooklyn looked at Atifa in the mirror, and their eyes met. Atifa could tell Brooklyn was about to cry, but she didn’t know what to say to make the human girl.

“Why do I feel like Kayla’s right?” Brooklyn’s voice shook. “Why do I feel like I’m not going to come back from this?”

“Your sister isn’t right, Brooklyn, you will come back from this, and I will make sure of that. You just had the worst injury you’ve ever had, and it was caused by a Noson. You survived that, and you put up a good fight, that’s not easy to do, and that is something that takes some time to come back from,” Atifa trying, and failing, to comfort Brooklyn.

“How are we going to find the stupid stones and how many do we have to find? I just want to get this over with and forget it ever happened,” Brooklyn said, trying not to cry.

“There are six stones, and I can sense my stone, it’s connected to me, so I know where it is at all times,” Atifa replied. “As for the other five stones, we’ll have to track the other Guardians for those, which won’t be hard considering I have all of their numbers.”

“You said you were trying to find your stone and you sensed it nearby when I got attacked, right?”

“Yeah, so.”

“Are you sure you didn’t just sense the Noson?”

“Well, there is a chance everything I’ve been sensing has been monsters that were sent by Zora to cloud my idea of where the stone is. The more monsters around the stone, the harder it is for me to tell what’s what, I usually can figure out which one is  Zora’s minion and which one is my stone, but lately Zora’s had an easier time figuring out where the crystal is,” Atifa explained.

“So you’re saying you can’t tell and we’re probably going to be in more danger than we would if Zora didn’t have a better idea of where you’re Empathy Crystal is.”

“I guess.” Brooklyn thought about her next words carefully.

“Go stop over there,” Brooklyn demanded, referring to the Chik-Fil-A to their right.

“Why?” Atifa asked, confused.

“I want some chicken nuggets, so go get me some nuggets.”

“Fine.”

Atifa drove into the long line for the drive-through.”Go park, it’s quicker,” Brooklyn commanded.

Atifa did as Brooklyn said and fifteen minutes later, they were still sitting in the Chik-Fil-A parking lot, and Brooklyn was quietly munching on her chicken nuggets. When the injured girl was finished eating she dropped the box onto the floor.

“Get out,” Brooklyn ordered, her voice full of anger and pain.

“What?”

“I said get out, I don’t want to be a part of this, you can find your stupid stone on your own. You never needed me, and I never needed you to mess with my life. I don’t want to die young,” Brooklyn yelled. “I don’t want to deal with any of this.”

What she really meant by that was that she wanted to stop having dreams that were full of death and caused her to fear waking up the next morning. She didn’t want to have strange visions that felt like memories.

“Brooklyn, you’ll get better, I told you that. You won’t die, and everything will be fine as long as we do everything we need to do to stop Zora. I do need you, Brooklyn. The reason you’re with me right now is that you are connected to Zora, that monster attacked you that night after your lacrosse practice because of your connection with Zora. I knew that monster was there and I didn’t tell anyone because I was waiting for it to go after someone. It was there to give someone a message from Zora. Brooklyn, we need you to-” That’s when Brooklyn couldn’t stop herself from snapping.

“Get out! I told you to get out! I don’t want to hear anymore!” Brooklyn screamed. This time Atifa didn’t say anything, she just got out. Brooklyn opened her door and slowly climbed out of the backseat. She was in pain and was having trouble waking, Atifa tried to help Brooklyn get into the driver’s seat, but Brooklyn pushed her away.

“Think about this, Brooklyn, you aren’t healed enough to drive, you’re going to get even more hurt.” Brooklyn didn’t listen and shut the door in Atifa’s face.

Three hours later the sun was setting, and Brooklyn was still driving, tears streaming down her face and pain shooting up and down her leg. The girl was falling asleep, so she took a back road. She was still in Conway, so she was trying to find a place to stay for the night.

Brooklyn’s eyes were closing, so she pulled over to the side of the road. She reached into the passenger seat where the cooler full of sodas was sitting to find a Coke. Brooklyn had just opened the cooler when she saw a large dog trotting happily right next to Brooklyn’s car. Being a dog lover, Brooklyn got out of the car and limped to the dog. It stopped as Brooklyn neared it. She looked around, but there was no one in sight, she checked the dog for a collar, but there wasn’t one.

“Are you lost?” Brooklyn asked sweetly. The dog stared at her then began to grow. Brooklyn backed away slowly.

The dog snarled and pounced. Brooklyn froze, her feet wouldn’t budge, and when the dog shoved her to the ground, Brooklyn screamed in pain. She craned her neck to look at her leg. Blood was pouring out at an alarmingly fast rate. Brooklyn’s eyes began to shut, and her body went limp.

Atifa didn’t regret stealing that car when she found Brooklyn’s car parked on the side of the road and a pool of dark blood right beside it. The Guardian checked the car for any sign of Brooklyn.

Atifa had tracked Brooklyn’s phone here, but it turned out to be completely useless when she found the human girl’s phone sitting on the cooler in the passenger’s seat, but no sign of the owner of the phone.

Atifa got in Brooklyn’s car and left the stolen car a block behind where Brooklyn’s car had been. It wasn’t her problem anymore. Atifa’s problem was the fact that there was a pool of blood on the ground and there was no Brooklyn anywhere. There were also several strong presences in the area, and they weren’t friends.

The Elementals – Book 1 – How it All Started

train carsOKChapter 10 – Train Car Mishaps

Distant screams echoed off the train as it rumbled on towards its destination. Everything was dark. An unknown vibration shook the train car.  Something inside Earth told her that she needed to help her friends. But the pain of jumping into the train car stopped her from sitting up. Slowly, carefully, she stretched out an arm. Eyes still closed, she could not see her surroundings, but instead attempted to feel them. There were crates around her, some small, others large. What they were filled with, she did not know. An old lantern sat near her head. Oh, there’s Hickory, she says inside her head as her hand smacked Hickory’s face and he muttered an “ow”. Finally, she opens her eyes and their bright green color penetrates the darkness. She sits up and looks around. There is, in fact, wooden crates surrounding the train car, and they seem to be filled with the strangest assortment of items. Earth grabs the lantern and carefully makes her way to where Blaze lies on the floor of the train car.

“Hey, Blaze!,” she whispers, shaking him to wake him up. “Dude, you need to wake up to light this lantern so we can see!”

Blaze stirs slightly.

“Come on, you’re the one with the fire element!” Earth says, this time hitting Blaze in the face.

“Alright!” Blaze says, rubbing his eyes and sitting up. “But… how exactly do you work it?”

“Work what?” Earth questions, feeling like she knows the answer but wants Blaze to tell her himself.

“The… powers, you know. Our elements!”

“Oh, well, you kinda think about it, and then you close your eyes, and it kind of… bursts out of your hand, I guess. Again, I’m just guessing, it’s not exact.”

“Fine, I’ll try. Hand me the lantern.”

Earth hands over the lantern, and Blaze opens it. He sticks his hand inside it and thinks deeply of igniting the wick. He closes his eyes, and then, as he thinks of how much help the lantern will provide if he lights it, a burst of red, orange, and gold lights shoot from his hand and a flame explodes into life.

“I did it! OH MY GOSH I DID IT!!” Blaze yells excitedly.

Earth screams with happiness and notices that Hickory, after all of the yells of joy, has not made a sound. He still lay unconscious on the floor. Blaze had noticed as well.

“Hickory? Hickory, are you dead?” Earth asks her friend. “At least his leg looks better!” she adds, trying to get a positive outlook on the situation.

“He’s not speaking! He’s d-d-deeaaaaad!!” Blaze wails, starting up a fake cry.

“No…. I’ve got a pulse, Blaze, he’s not dead!” Earth exclaims, taking her hand off his wrist. “Now we have to wake him up!”

” ‘We’? You can wake him up, you’re the expert at it!” Blaze says.

Without warning, Earth smacks Hickory in the face. Hickory wakes right up.

“What did you do that for?!” he moans, rubbing his cheek where Earth smacked him.

“Well, I had to wake you up somehow!” Earth protests.

“Wait…” says Hickory, coming to his senses, “Where the heck are we?! This does not look like school. And where are those skeletons? Don’t they want to KILL US for some reason?!”

“Hickory, calm yourself down! We’re on that train we jumped and… yeah, I dunno where the skeletons are.” Earth says, leaving Blaze with his mouth still open, ready to answer.

A blast to the side of the train car makes the three friends jump.

“I think I know where the skeletons are, Earth,” Hickory says, with a tone of concern in his voice.

“How the pomegranate did they follow us here?!” Earth yells.

“I have no absolute idea but I’m glad this train car door is sealed,” Blaze says, but he spoke too soon.

The door slid open, with a bunch of skeletons attached to it. Earth screamed, Hickory yelled, and Blaze jumped about three feet into the air. Earth immediately shoots some vines out of her hand and they wrap around the skeletons holding the door. One running beside the train fired lasers into the train car, aiming for Earth, Hickory, and Blaze. Earth, unaware of what she was doing, put her arm up and a transparent orange shield in the shape of an acorn appeared. Her eyes widen, clearly startled by the appearance of a shield.

“Boys!” she barks, “Get behind my shield. Blaze, burn those half dead things to the ground! Hickory, learn to use your powers!”

The boys obey and Blaze starts to fling flaming fireballs through the shield, knocking down skeletons and burning them until there’s nothing but ash. Hickory quickly understood how to turn on his powers, and was soon flinging oversized gum tree fruits. (They’re really spiky, by the way) Shortly after, the last skeleton fell.

“Now that that’s done, let’s find out what’s in these crates and get ready to… probably stay here for some time,” Earth instructs Hickory and Blaze.

Blaze carries the lantern over to a large stack of crates, where Hickory and Earth are prying off the lids. They work silently, throwing in comments occasionally. After all the crates are looked at, Earth says,

“Well, it’s like the train car prepared itself for three kids who are escaping a bunch of skeletons!”

Counting Down To Life Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Talon

Conway, Arkansas

March 7, 2017

Almost twelve hours after Brooklyn’s episode in the field, the two girls had reached the city of Conway, Arkansas. They had checked into a little inn, and since Brooklyn had been distant since their training session, Atifa had gotten two rooms instead of one, even though getting one room was the safer option.

Brooklyn was currently sitting in her room staring out the window. She thought about her dreams and visions. They didn’t make any sense, and now some lady was telling Brooklyn that she was her creator. It was probably, hopefully, just some crazy dreams that kept happening. It wouldn’t have been the weirdest thing to happen to her so far. She thought about it. She had left home with her least favorite person who turned out to be some Guardian of a stone that controlled emotion, there were more Guardians and more stones, and there was an evil alien hunting down the stupid rocks so he could destroy them and the world. None of it made any sense at all and Brooklyn still thought it was a dream.

It had only been a few days since Brooklyn and Atifa had left Miami, but it felt like it had been weeks or months. Everything was going so fast, and Brooklyn just wanted to slow down and figure things out. The girl had a feeling that if they kept going as fast as they were going, they weren’t going to find the stone.  

Brooklyn was jolted out of her thoughts when she heard a loud knock on the door. She got up and opened the door thinking it was Atifa, but instead there was a small woman at the door.

“Can I help you?” Brooklyn asked.

“Would you happen to be Brooklyn Miran?” the woman mumbled barely loud enough for Brooklyn to hear.

“Who wants to know?” she said in return. The woman looked down at the floor, a curtain of hair blocking her face.

“I would.” The woman looked up, but now her eyes were pure white and glowing, and her fingers had sprouted sharp talons.

“What are you?” Brooklyn shrieked.

The woman didn’t answer she just lunged at Brooklyn, her talons poised to rip Brooklyn’s throat out, but she managed to dodge at the last minute. Brooklyn pulled a knife out of her boot, she had started hiding weapons on her person just in case of something like the situation she was currently in.

The human girl swung at the thing that was trying to kill her at the moment. Brooklyn kept dodging the talons until she was caught off guard and the thing shoved five jagged claws into her thigh.

Brooklyn took the chance to cut off its hand at the wrist. The monster dropped to the ground, writhing in pain. Brooklyn shoved her bloody dagger into the thing’s chest, but it just kept squirming.

“Die already!” Brooklyn screamed. She was lucky the thing had shut the door when it had attacked. Brooklyn repeatedly stabbed it until finally, it went limp.

The blood-spattered girl was panting heavily as she stumbled back and fell to the ground. Brooklyn looked down at her thigh where the monster’s hand was still stuck. The pain finally hit her, and she screamed in pain. It was a blood-curdling scream, her vision was fuzzy, and the room was beginning to fade. The last thing she saw before she passed out was Atifa barging in and rushing towards Brooklyn, then everything went dark.  

Atifa ran to Brooklyn as soon as she had entered younger girl’s room. She had heard screaming coming from Brooklyn’s hotel room, which was next door to Atifa’s. The only reason Atifa hadn’t come earlier was that she was busy meditating, a way for her to connect herself to her stone, but recently it hadn’t been working and that worried Atifa. If Atifa had heard the screams before she had gotten so focused on figuring out what was wrong with her, she would’ve gone to Brooklyn’s room sooner.

Now that Brooklyn was passed out on the floor, Atifa regretted waiting. She should’ve known not to take a chance when they were trying to find something so many others were after.

Atifa pulled the thing’s, a “Noson’s” or Nighthag’s in English hand out of Brooklyn’s thigh. She was surprised that a “Noson” had attacked Brooklyn since Atifa had never seen one outside of Wales and during the day. They were night creatures, and one had never been seen in the light of day, most people thought they were harmed by light, but no one knew for sure.

They were kind of like vampires, not the sparkly kind, but vampires didn’t exist. Just Nosons which were ten times worse. They couldn’t turn humans into Nosons, but they could poison them with their claws, and since Brooklyn had had the Noson’s hand stuck in her leg for so long, Atifa didn’t know how much poison was in Brooklyn’s system. Atifa was surprised Brooklyn wasn’t already dead.

Brooklyn was sitting in a hard, wooden chair tied up. There was blood all over her, she was panting and in pain. She jolted when she heard a sharp crack and a man’s voice.

“Where is he?” the man growled at Brooklyn. She said nothing, the man flicked the whip, and it hit Brooklyn’s back the leather was hot and sticky with blood. Brooklyn screamed as the whip cracked against her back three more times. Tears trickled down her face and blood ran down her back.

“You know where he is, Zora wouldn’t let his little pet run wild without her knowing his exact location,” the man muttered, the gleam in his eyes was insane. He turned around, and Brooklyn caught a glimpse of the jewel hanging around the man’s neck. It seemed familiar, the power radiating off him seemed so much like Atifa’s.

Brooklyn’s eyes widened. ‘No, it couldn’t be… ‘ Brooklyn thought. If Brooklyn wasn’t hallucinating from the pain, then she knew she was being tortured by a Guardian.

How could it be a Guardian? Brooklyn thought they didn’t know who she was before Atifa found her. Everything that had happened so far just made Brooklyn more confused now that she was tied up in a chair and being whipped.

The whipped cracked again and caught Brooklyn by surprise. She screamed and coughed up blood.

“Where is Zora?” The Guardian screamed at Brooklyn. Instead of answering, Brooklyn’s eyes closed and her head lolled. She had fainted from blood loss.

A loud ‘thump‘ could be heard from within the room after a tall man in a black hoodie broke the Guardian’s neck.

“Sleep now, Tamarisk. You will be missed by no one,” he said as he strode towards Brooklyn’s tied up form. The man untied her gently, held her bloody form in one arm and checked her pulse.

“Still alive,” the man sighed in relief. “I don’t know what I would do without you, my dove.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead and carried her out of the room where she had nearly been killed.

Brooklyn’s eyes flew open. Her body burned and she screamed, writhing in pain. Atifa ran into the room and saw that Brooklyn was awake. She ran to the human girl’s side and unwrapped the bandages on Brooklyn’s leg. The spot where the Noson’s talons had been only hours before was oozing and green. Brooklyn still clenching her teeth and writhing because of the pain was thankfully unable to see the wound. If Brooklyn had been able to see it, Atifa would’ve had to worry about Brooklyn puking all over the floor.

Atifa rubbed the healing salve she had found in her bag on the gash in Brooklyn’s thigh. Brooklyn breathing began to slow down to an average rate. Atifa placed a hand on Brooklyn’s forehead and watched her fall back asleep, worry filling her eyes. Minutes before she woke up Brooklyn had been screaming about how she didn’t know where Zora was, and now Atifa was curious as to why Brooklyn was having what seemed like nightmares about Zora.

Atifa would find out eventually, but at the moment, keeping Brooklyn alive was the most important thing.