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Untitled Dream Story
A Dream - currently no title
The sky was a pure, crystal clear blue; not a cloud littered the sky. The suns rays stretched across the land, warming the ground below it. Flowers that reached towards the warmth of the sun dotted the grassy landscape below, disturbed only by a single black bird. The bird sped just inches above the flowers and shot into the clear sky. Below, the ground blurred in greens, yellows, whites, and reds, until the ground suddenly dropped down, revealing a white capped ocean. The bird circled in the sky, its solid yellow eyes sharp and piercing, searching the cliff below.
On the edge of the cliff stood a lone girl, her auburn hair flowing in the wind, stray strands of hair blowing across her face. Her deep, dark green eyes searched the sky for the black Starling bird, then followed it as it circled in the air. A smile spread across her face and a small crater formed in her cheek. She stepped forward, the edge of her shoes hanging off the side of the cliff. She flexed her fingers, sucked in a breath of the cool breeze, and leapt into the air, pushing off the ground violently with her feet. She seemed to hesitate in the air for a moment, her arms stretching out, before she began to drop. She curled her legs under her and pushed them out as if she were pushing against some invisible ground. She shot into the air, her arms at her sides. When she reached the altitude she wanted, she slowed her ascent until she was motionless in the air.
The black Starling bird's wings flapped quickly as it shot through the air to the girl's side. It circled the girl playfully, weaving between her legs and arms. The sky above them melted into oranges, pinks, and blues as the sun began its departure. The Starling continued its dance across the sky, the young girl following close behind, swooping low, letting her hands drag, breaking the ocean's glassy surface below her. She landed gently on the sandy beach as the waves crashed and broke behind her.
"Sadie!" the girl called towards the sky. The dark speck in the sky grew larger as the Starling flew towards the girl, landing on her shoulder.
"We should get back to the town," the girl said. The bird ruffled its feathers and chirped quietly. The bird launched itself off of the girl's shoulder, flying a few feet away and onto the ground. The bird stretched its wings and seemed to stretch its legs onto its tip toes. The wings grew longer and pale, as well as the birds legs. The talons turned into feet and the feathers on its wings separated into five fingers on each hand. The head grew and the feathers separated into long strands of black hair. Within seconds, the transformation was complete, and the bird that once sat on the girl's shoulder was a full sized young woman.
Her black hair fell around her shoulders and over her bare breasts. Her bright blue eyes sparkled in the light of the setting sun. She greeted her friend with a shy smile.
"Did you forget clothes again?" the girl asked her newly transformed friend.
"Not exactly," the girl replied. "I mean, I brought them, but I don't remember where I put them."
Her auburn haired friend laughed. "Sadie, how do you keep forgetting? Just keep them in the same place." Sadie shrugged her shoulders.
"I think they were by that tree back on the cliff," Sadie said.
"I'll help you look," her friend replied.
"Thanks, Maliah," Sadie said. The two girls started across the white, sandy beach, over an old, hand made bridge that lead across a sea of high grass, and onto a dirt road. They darted into the trees on the other side, keeping out of sight of any wanderers on the road. The road bent towards an opening in the trees and the girls darted back out across the street, up a green grassy hill towards the flower dotted cliff.
Just to the right of the cliff Maliah first jumped from stood a small tree, tiny, pale pink flowers blossoming from its branches. Sadie ran towards the tree where a pile of clothes lay. She dressed into her under garments quickly before pulling a pale sundress over her body. A breeze blew the dress around her legs and she joined her friend by the edge of the cliff, watching the last of the sun's rays stretch in the sky before disappearing behind the far mountains.
Maliah and Sadie walked back towards the dirt road and followed it until it grew wider towards the town. Houses lined each side of the road, set back a ways, and slowly getting closer together as the center of town drew nearer. Bakeries and shops lined the sides of the roads; people busied the sidewalks in conversation or on their way to some destination. Lights flickered on as the darkness grew and people headed home.
The girls entered one of the small buildings, a sign above the door reading "Kara Anne's." Inside, people sat along the bar, beers in hand, while others crowded tables, talking rapidly. The girls found a booth and slid in quietly, unseen to all but Kara Anne.
Kara Anne reached their table as soon as they sat down. Her red hair was in a tight bun, though strands of her hair fell down around her face. Her dark brown eyes were lost in the darkness of the room, lit by dim lights above. Around her waist she wore a dirty apron, covering the front of her dark jeans.
"Causing trouble again, ladies?" Kara Anne asked. She placed two glasses of water in front of the two girls.
"Us? Trouble?" Sadie said. "What gave you that ridiculous idea?" Kara Anne laughed.
"Well, a heard of Mr. McCliever's cattle got loose yesterday,"
"And you assume it was us?" Maliah asked.
"Well, you were over at his place yesterday morning," Kara Anne said, one hand on her hip.
"We were just trying to bring out the horses," Sadie said. Kara Anne laughed.
"No harm done, girls, just be more careful next time. You know how George feels about his prized cattle." She rolled her eyes and walked back behind the bar to serve two men that just sat down. Another man walked through the door and peered around the room. He spotted the two girls and gave them a wink.
"How are the cattle today, Mr. M?" Sadie yelled to him. George laughed, though his laughter was drowned out in the sound of the restaurant's chatter. Kara Anne returned moments later to their table.
"You girls getting anything tonight?" she asked.
"Na, we're heading home," Maliah said. Sadie nodded.
"Well, you girls have a good night, now," Kara Anne said. The girls said their good byes and left as George entertained two much younger women by juggling silverware in the air without even lifting a finger. They laughed at his power as if they had never seen such a skill before.
Outside, the girls walked deeper into the town. Many of the shops were empty and dark. Homes were lit as families gathered for dinner or watched t.v. The dirt road turned to concrete as they entered the busier part of the town. The road forked in various directions and cars weaved in and out of traffic. They crossed intersections and waved to familiar faces. Buildings grew further apart as they reached the other side of the town. The road was worn here and split in two different directions. The girls bid goodbye and each took their separate road.
Maliah walked down her road passing homes on either side of the road before reaching her own. Inside, she was greeted by the smell of fresh bread and a very excited little girl; her sister. She ran up to Maliah, her similar auburn hair bouncing around her shoulders. Unlike Maliah's straight hair, her sister's had natural ringlets.
"Maliah! I scared Dad today! I must have been really invisible!" she said. Maliah picked up the little six year old in a giant hug.
"Really invisible?" Maliah repeated.
"Yeah! He didn't even see me!" she said.
"Wow, Mika, that's great!" Maliah said. She kissed her sister on the forehead before placing her on the floor. From across the room, her mother appeared in the door way, wiping a plate in her hands. She smiled at her oldest daughter who was almost at the age of twenty. Like Mika, her mother was able to turn completely invisible. Maliah was like her father in her skill; they could both fly without changing form like Sadie. Sadie could only change into her bird, like her mother.
"Did you let Mr. M's cattle loose, Maliah?" her mother asked. Maliah laughed to herself.
"It was a mistake, Mom. We saw him at Kara Anne's. He's fine," Maliah said. Her mother eyed her carefully before returning to the kitchen. Suddenly, Maliah felt something around her waist. She spun around to see her father behind her, landing quietly on the floor.
"Gotcha," he said. Maliah rolled her eyes.
"Oh come on," her father whined. "That never gets old." Mika laughed and showed off her own skill. The grandfather clock chimed nine times across the room.
"Come on, Mika," her father said. "I think it's time for someone to get to bed."
"But, Dad!" Mika whined.
"Come on, Mika," Maliah said. "I'm gonna head to bed too." She led Mika up the stairs into her bedroom. She sat on the bed as the little girl changed into her pajamas quickly and jumped under the covers. Maliah kissed her sister good night and went across the hall into her own room. She sat cross legged on her bed and flipped through the pages of a book that sat on the end of her bed. She lay on her stomach, her feet crossed resting on her pillow as she read the book. She laid her face against the cool pages and drifted off to sleep.
When she awoke, the grandfather clock downstairs chimed twice. The moon outside her bedroom window shined brightly casting an eerie glow across her bed. She went to the window and heaved it open, letting the cool night air hit her face. She leaned out the window, contemplating whether she could go out for a night fly or not. She peaked into her parents' room; her father was snoring soundly and her mother was curled up next to him, breathing heavily. She went back into her room and crouched on the window sill before leaping into the air.
She soared high above the rooftops into the night sky. Below, the moonlight cast shadows across the ground. She soared around the town, lights from the late night bars glowing faintly. Cars were parked in front of the movie theater as people caught a late night movie with their friends. Outside of the town, the dirt road twisted in and out of the hills and separated miles down into other roads, some busy with cars as they traveled to different cities and towns, almost unaware of Maliah's small home town.
A shadow on the dirt road moved quickly, distracting Maliah's attention from the busy streets off in the distance. Below, a figure darted into the trees. Curiously, Maliah followed the shadowed figure, flying into the trees. The figure darted between the trees, running at full speed, but Maliah was quicker. She dodged branches as she flew through the air and landed hard in front of the stranger. He stumbled on an up lifted root and tumbled to the ground in front of her. He tried to scamper to his feet quickly, but Maliah prevented him from going any further.
Though it was dark in the woods, the bright light from the moon shown through trees just enough so that Maliah could see the shine to the figure's eyes in front of her. The shadowed figure stood motionless, barely breathing, in front of her.
"Please don't hurt me," he whispered a sound of hopelessness in his voice.
"Who are you" Maliah asked. The figure hesitated before replying.
"Andrew," he said.
"Well, I'm Maliah," she replied. Andrew didn't say anything.
"Are you looking for something?" she asked, unsure of who he was and why he ran from her. Again, he hesitated.
"I'm just trying to get home," he said.
"Where are you from?" Maliah asked.
"Not around here," Andrew replied carefully.
"Well, you shouldn't be traveling out this late," Maliah said. "People might get suspicious."
"Is that why you chased me?" Andrew asked.
"I'm sorry," Maliah said. "I didn't mean to scare you, but you startled me, and then you ran."
"Well, you startled me," he said quietly.
"I apologize. Do you need somewhere to stay?" she asked.
"Um, you know, I'm all set," he said. "I'm just heading home."
"The next town is over an hour away if you walk. Why don't you stay with me? I insist."
"Listen, uh, Martha-"
"It's Maliah," she corrected, patiently.
"Yeah, sorry. Maliah, I really couldn't impose. Besides, I'm really kind of in a hurry and I really don't know you."
"I understand," she said. "Let me at least walk you out of the woods; you could get lost."
"Um, yeah, okay, thanks," Andrew said.
The two made their way out of the woods and back on the dirt road. In the moonlight, Maliah got a better look at Andrew. His hair was a dark brown and slightly shaggy and his eyes seemed to be similar in color. His face was a bit scruffy; he obviously hadn't shaved in a few days, and his clothes were worn and dirty.
"You're a mess!" Maliah said in shock. "How long have you been heading home?"
"Listen, this is none of your business," he said. He turned from her and walked down the road.
"You don't know where you're going," she said.
"Sure I do," he said, still walking, towards the town.
"For someone who doesn't seem to want to be in contact with people, you're walking straight into town," Maliah informed. Andrew stopped for a moment and turned to face her.
"Unless you live here," Maliah continued. "you might want to go the other way."
Andrew pushed passed her and walked the other way.
"You're really not from around here, are you?" Maliah asked, following Andrew.
"No, I'm not."
"How did you get here?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said simply.
"Do you even know what region you're in?" Andrew stopped.
"Region?" After a moment, he kept walking.
"You're in Adonis; the region where Lord Adonis himself lives. The town you were headed towards is Toronborough."
"Lord Adonis?" Andrew repeated, still walking, faster than before, but Maliah kept pace with him.
"Lord Adonis. You don't know who he is?" she asked.
"No," Andrew said simply. Maliah rushed forward, blocking his way as he tried to move past her.
"Who are you?" she asked, fiercely.
"Who are you?" Maliah paused. "You're not one of us…" Maliah said.
"What are you?" Andrew asked.
"I, and the people that live here, we are called Power Possessors. We each have our own unique power that makes us who we are."
"Oh," Andrew said. "Well, I don't have powers." Maliah looked at him in shock and confusion.
"I don't understand," she said.
"Listen, I am human. I don't live in this world."
"Human?" Maliah repeated. "Human? How did you get here?"
"It's, uh, kind of a long story…" Andrew said. "That's why I ran. If anyone knew I was human, I don't know what they would do to me. I don't know what you will do to me. I don't even know how to get back."
"You can't stay out here," Maliah said. "I won't hurt you, I promise, but you need to come with me. If Lord Adonis finds out about you, you probably won't make it to Earth."
Andrew stayed where he was.
"Please," Maliah said. "You have to trust me." She held out her hand. Andrew hesitated, considering what he was just told. He pushed past her, towards the town.
"Where are we going?" he asked. Maliah smiled.
"You can stay with me for now. Tomorrow, we'll work on getting you back home."
Together, they descended the path into the town and back to Maliah's home.
"We have to go in through my window," she said. "The door is locked and I didn't bring a key with me."
"How do I get up there, then?" he asked. Maliah giggled.
"You'll have to let me carry you," she said.
"No way. That's ridiculous. This is ridiculous."
"Do you want to get home or not?" she asked. Andrew searched the area around him, looking for another way to get in the house.
"I'm your only way in. You have to trust me," she said. Andrew sighed.
"I'm so helpless here. Fine. Have your way." Maliah smiled.
"I'm probably twice your weight though. How do you plan on getting me up there?"
"Um, you could probably just get on my back. Like, piggy back maybe?" Andrew flinched.
"This is really weird," he said.
"Bare with me," Maliah said, and turned away from him, crouched on the ground.
"This is so weird," he said. "I'm not even like, your boy friend. I don't even know you," he continued to complain as he carefully and awkwardly got on her back.
"Just put your arms around my neck, but don't choke me," Maliah instructed. She wrapped her arms around his legs and pulled them around her. She felt him tense on her.
"It'll be over in a second, just hold on," she said. She launched herself in the air, up towards the window, and into the bedroom. Andrew slid off quickly, dusting himself off and quickly moving away from her.
"Er, thanks," he said, awkwardly.
"There's an extra room in the basement, if you don't mind staying down there." Maliah said. She lead the way down the first set of stairs, and down a second, into the basement.
"It's not much," she said. The walls were bare and consisted of a simple, plane rug in the center of the room. On the far wall was a futon. Other than that, the room was empty and bare.
"It's just for tonight," Andrew said, more to himself. "It's fine, thanks."
"No problem. Just chill down here. I'll come down when everyone's out of the house."
She said goodnight and headed up to her bedroom. In the morning, she knew the first thing she had to do was call Sadie.
In the morning, Maliah awoke bright and early. With both her parents gone at work, it was Maliah's job to see Mika off to school. As Mika dressed and gathered her things, Maliah prepared a plate of eggs for her little sister, fresh from the chickens in their back yard. The two sisters ate their breakfast together, and when they finished, Maliah made an excuse to go down stairs before accompanying her sister to school.
Maliah snuck a plate full of eggs down to Andrew, who she found was still sleeping soundly. She left the eggs on the end table beside him and quietly hurried upstairs to her awaiting sister. She walked her sister into the town and watched as she made her way up the concrete stairs into the school. When she was inside, Maliah launched herself in the air and flew quickly back to the house.
Inside, she found Andrew awake in the kitchen trying to heat up the eggs. She took the plate from him and shoved them in the microwave to reheat.
"Come on, you have to have one of these on Earth," she joked.
"We do. I don't know. All my life I grew up thinking we were the only planet with life forms. At least human life forms. And you guys are human enough for me, despite your special powers. I'm pretty sure we have the same body parts. Except, well, since you're like a girl, and I'm not, we're a little different, but I don't know if we have the same technologies. I mean it seems like we do, which is kinda weird, 'cuz I was expecting you guys to be more advanced or something, but-"
"Andrew!" Maliah said, cutting him off. "Relax. It's all the same. No worries, okay?" He nodded and watched the eggs turn in the microwave. When it beeped, Maliah handed him the eggs and instructed that he eat at the table, because even they, the power possessors, eat at tables.
As he ate, Maliah dialed Sadie's number. She picked up on the second ring.
"Sadie, you won't believe what happened last night! Maliah said quickly, keeping her voice low.
"Maliah? What's going on?" she asked.
"There is a human boy – in my house!" She had to force herself to keep her voice soft.
"A human? You mean, like, from Earth?" Sadie practically shrieked. Maliah shushed her.
"Listen, he's in trouble. If anyone knows he's here, he won't be able to make it home. You know what will happen if Lord Adonis finds out about him. He'll try to kill him. Humans don't know about us, and Lord Adonis is determined to keep it that way."
"So, what do you think we're gonna do about it?"
"We have to try to get him home," Maliah said.
"How are we supposed to do that?" Sadie asked.
"I'm not sure yet," Maliah admitted. "but he can't stay here any longer. We have to get him far enough away. Then we can figure out what to do. I have a feeling he knows how to get back, but won't tell us. We'll figure it out, he just needs to trust us. Please Sadie – are you with me?"
"Well, I can't pass up the opportunity to get out of here, and I'm with you through thick and thin, girl," Sadie said.
"Great! Meet me where the roads come together in an hour." Maliah hung up the phone. She turned to see Andrew behind her.
"What's going on?" he asked, his empty plate in his hand. She took the plate from him and placed it in the sink.
"I'm gonna get you outta here, just like I promised," she said.
"Who were you on the phone with?" he asked suspiciously, his eyes narrowing.
"A friend. She can help us, I promise." Andrew said nothing. Maliah knew it would take time to gain his trust, but she was positive she would have it soon enough. She didn't want to hurt him. She appreciated the human race. They seemed so much freer than the power possessors were, even though the humans had no powers. She could only imagine what it must be like to live among them, as one of them, on their planet.
"What's it like?" she found herself asking. She sat down at the table and Andrew sat beside her.
"I don't know. It's nothing special," Andrew said, rather bored.
"Tell me about it," Maliah pressed.
"It's just like here. Like you said, we have microwaves and cars and houses and roads and beaches and flowers and birds and movie theaters and schools. We have water and land, countries and rules in each country."
"We only have one ruler for our whole world," Maliah said.
"Your world is also much smaller than ours. Earth isn't all peaches and cream, though. It's dirty, polluted, everyone wants to "go green," there are wars between countries, the ice caps are melting, the planet is heating up, and everyone is going crazy thinking the world is gonna end in a few years."
"Well, it seems nice," Maliah said, more to herself.
"How come you knew about me, but I didn't know about you, this planet, your people?"
"Why don't you tell me how you got here in the first place?"
"Why? So you can report me to your little lord and get me killed?"
"I promised you I would to everything I could to get you home safely. You just have to trust me." Andrew said nothing. Maliah didn't bother push it any further. She loaded the dishwasher with dirty dishes and cleaned the kitchen, then proceeded to write her mother a quick note.
"Are you ready to get outta here?" she asked when she was finished. Andrew, who was now sitting on the couch and watching tv, stood up quickly, turning off the set in front of him.
"Uh, yeah, I guess," he said. He followed Maliah out of the house and down the dirt road. After a silent walk, they met up with Sadie, who waited patiently for them.
"Sadie, this is Andrew. Andrew, this is my best friend, Sadie," Maliah introduced. Sadie smiled at him. Andrew didn't move.
"So, what kinda super power do you have?" he asked.
"I'm a shape sifter," she said.
"So, do you turn into animals?"
"Just a Starling. It's a type of bird," she said. Andrew nodded, processing this but of information.
"So, what's the plan?" Sadie asked Maliah.
"We just need to get him out of here, first off."
"And where do we take him?" Sadie asked.
"I'm not sure. I guess it doesn't really matter right now until we can get him somewhere relatively safe."
"On foot?" she asked. "It's gonna take too much time. It'll be suspicious."
"We could fly," Maliah said, hesitantly.
"Would you mind if we did that, Andrew?" Maliah asked.
"Does that mean I have to ride you again?" he asked, obviously dreading ever meeting Maliah.
"Yes. I'm sorry, but it's really the only choice we have. It's just easier than taking a car that could be tracked or walking."
"What if you get tired?" he asked.
"Our abilities are natural for us. If we need to break, we can. It's no big deal."
"Um, well, okay, I guess," Andrew said.
"Hey, Maliah, would you mind holding my bag with you? For my, er, my clothes, you know?" Sadie asked.
"Of course," Maliah replied.
"Great, thanks. I'll be right back then," Sadie said before disappearing behind a tree.
"What's she doing?" Andrew asked.
"She has to take off her clothes when she changes into her bird form and she has to take them with her for when she changes back to human. She can't morph clothes. If there's a way, we don't know of it."
"Oh. Yeah, that's, um, awkward." Andrew said. Maliah smiled. A black Starling fluttered out of the trees, carrying a small, draw string bag in its talons, its weight clearly weighing the little bird down. Maliah took the bag with the clothes and slung it over her shoulders onto her back. She crouched on the ground, waiting for Andrew's mount.
"It's up to you," she said. "We can help you." Andrew wrapped his arms loosely around Maliah's neck, careful not to choke her. She wrapped her arms around his legs and pushed off into the air, the little black bird following at her side before fluttering ahead in the air. When they reached a high altitude away from prying eyes, Maliah leveled herself off so Andrew wasn't hanging on to her neck for dear life. Flying like that was uncomfortable for Maliah, but it was the easiest way to carry Andrew.
"So, where are we going first" Andrew asked.
"I figured we would just fly until it starts getting dark and hit the closest town," Maliah said.
"You know," she continued, "it would be easier if you tell us how you got here so we can figure out how to get you back." Andrew said nothing.
They continued to fly, Sadie swooping in low and ahead every now and then to check the surroundings. As they flew, the clouds above them thickened and grew darker, threatening to break on top of them. Before long, the first few droplets of rain splattered against them, and after another minute, they were squinting through the heavy sheet of rain in front of them.
"Sadie!" Maliah called to her friend. The little black bird flew under Maliah, keeping clear of the heavy droplets that slowed her flying. "We need to land. We can't be flying in this." A roll of thunder echoed above them as if confirming Maliah's statement. Maliah tightened her grip on Andrew's legs, who remained silent for most of the day's trip. She felt him shift his hands, clenching them below her neck, careful not to choke her. She aimed herself towards the ground and descended slowly as the wind whipped her hair around her, making it even more difficult to see where she was going. She felt Andrew's hands pull her wet hair out of her face.
When the ground came into view, threateningly closer than she imagined, Maliah shifted her position so she was vertical to the ground. Her feet touched the ground and she fell forward on to her knees. Andrew lifted her to her feet and pushed her forward, running through the thick, hard rain.
"Sadie!" Maliah called. "Where is she?"
"I have no idea," Andrew yelled back. Maliah turned back and called again for her friend.
"Maliah!" Sadie shrieked! "I'm fucking naked, you bitch!"
"Shit," Maliah mumbled. Up ahead, Maliah could just barely see Sadie's figure, shaking in the rain. She whipped the bag off of her back and tossed the wet clothes to Sadie. Andrew turned, his cheeks burning slightly, though he couldn't see anything through the rain. Sadie rushed towards them when she was decent and the three of them linked arms, running through the rain. Ahead of them, head lights shown through the rain. The lights shown on their faces, nearly blinding the three travelers. The car slowed to a stop beside them. A window must have rolled down because they could suddenly hear an older man's rough voice.
"You kids shouldn't be out here in this rain!" he hollered to them. "Get in!"
Andrew took a step back, behind the girls. Sadie tugged on Maliah's arm, but Maliah dragged them both forward. She shoved Sadie in the car first and pulled Andrew in behind her.
The man in the driver's seat, a grey haired, grey mustached man in about his sixties, peered back at the drenched travelers in his car.
"Where are you kids coming from?" he asked.
"We were coming to see my grandmother in the next town," Maliah said. "We flew most of the way, but the rain made it too difficult to continue."
"You headed to Carlston?" the man asked. Maliah nodded.
"It's about a twenty minute drive back there," he said, pointing behind him, the way the three were headed.
"I'm obviously leaving from there, but I don't mind turning around to save you guys the trouble."
"If you have somewhere to be, don't worry about us," Maliah said.
"Please, it's the least I can do." He said. He turned the car around and in twenty minutes, they were in Carlston. He pulled to the sidewalk of the nearest hotel, as Maliah suggested, and bid them farewell. The three rushed into the warm, dry hotel and edged along the wall to the bathrooms, trying to keep clear of the curious eyes. The two girls quickly pushed through the swinging doors leading to the girls' rest room. Andrew hesitated at the door, only to be pulled in by Maliah.
"Okay," Maliah said, sighing. She glanced at herself in the mirror and made a face. Her hair was plastered against her face, the rain making it look shades darker. Sadie offered her a pony tail holder and both girls threw their hair up in a messy bun off of their backs.
"I say we crash here for the night. It's our only option until the rain stops, which probably won't be until tomorrow morning."
"We don't have the money for a room," Sadie said.
"We'll hide somewhere. No biggie," Maliah replied confidently.
"Yeah, no big deal if we get caught and thrown out," Andrew said sarcastically.
"Will you relax?" Maliah said. "As far as anyone knows, you're just like them. We're simply travelers that needed to get out of the rain. Just keep your trap shut so we can get through this."
"I never asked you to help me," Andrew said.
"Yeah, well we are. We're risking our lives to get you back home safe. If anyone ever found out we were doing this, Adonis could kill us, too."
"So why are you doing this?" he asked. Both pairs of eyes were on Maliah.
"I'm not sure, really," she said slowly. "I don't know why you're here or how you got here, but if you're trying to get back, I want to help you. I know how Adonis feels about humans. I don't know why. There's a lot I don't know. But I do know that I should be helping you. There's no reason for you to have to die for nothing."
"The least you could do is help us out. Give us some information to work with," Sadie said. Andrew said nothing.
"You need to trust us," Maliah said. "We're all you have."
"I know," he whispered.
"I know this is hard for you, but tell me, how did you get here? Why are you here?"
"It was an accident," he said. "At my home, on Earth, I live with my father. I just finished my first year in college. All my life I grew up without a mother. I never knew her, and really never cared. It's hard to care about something you've never known. My father never mentioned her, and whenever the subject came up, it was avoided and changed. When I was little, I always asked about her, but he either ignored me or told me it was nothing to worry about.
"I took care of myself a lot. My father worked two jobs to keep me in school and to give me an education after high school, and when I was of age, I worked two jobs as well. I was all he had, and I had to do what I could to make things easier for him.
"Once I graduated high school, I knew my dad was worried about me going to college, but also relieved that I would be able to and that I could take care of myself there. But he needed me. So I went to a near by college and commuted. My father wanted me to do what I wanted, but I wanted to be with him. I didn't feel right leaving him. I knew there was something he was keeping from me. I knew this my whole life, and now that I was leaving him, I knew it only made things worse.
"One day, I was digging around in the basement for some tools when I found some sort of door beneath this old carpet we had lying on the floor. It had been there all my life, just sitting and collecting dust. I couldn't believe after all these years I never ventured down there and found it. I opened the door and a set of stairs lead deeper underground. There was a room with this strange machine. I don't even know how to describe it, but it was nothing I had ever seen before. I pressed the buttons, played with levers, tried to figure out its purpose, and I got more than I bargained for.
"The machine seemed to whirr to life. It showed this planet on the screen, a planet I had never seen before. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of nowhere. It was like I had traveled in a time machine; at first, that's what I thought it was. The machine was broken; it was like it hadn't been used in years and it just rotted away. I tried to call my dad, but my ell phone didn't work. So I just walked and walked and tried to blend in. I came to one town just before reaching yours where I encountered people doing the strangest things. I saw people lift things without touching them, I watched as people predicted the future, I saw people revive the wounded and sick at hospitals; it was all so surreal. That's how I knew I was in a totally different world. Either that, or the future. But a nearby news stand proved me wrong. It's the same exact time as our time on Earth. It's like a parallel universe or something.
"And now here I am, with you, soaking wet, in the girls' bathroom in some hotel on a totally different planet and no way of getting back home,"
"Your dad, tell me about him," Maliah said.
"I don't know what I can tell you about him that will help except that he's some retired scientist. I just assumed it was something he worked on. But I'm pretty sure no one on Earth knows about this planet, so I don't know how he did."
"Have you heard of Michael DeFelippo?" Sadie asked Maliah.
"The scientist," Maliah said, deep in thought.
"I bet if we can talk to him, he could help us."
"Maybe. We'll have to be careful though."
"Could he fix the machine?" Andrew asked.
"It's possible," Maliah said.
"So, we should try to find him," Sadie said.
"I'll search the internet on the computers down the hall. You guys look around the basement and try to find somewhere we can stay," Maliah said. The three departed the bathroom taking their separate ways. Maliah jumped on the nearest computer and logged into the internet. She searched for Michael DeFelippo only to find biographies and his works. After a thorough search and changing the wording of the search, she found that his lab was located in the Alton region in the town of Lewchenton, about a sixty hour fly from there current location.
She printed the information and stuffed it into her pocket, then made her way to the basement in search of Sadie and Andrew. She found them in what seemed to be an abandoned closet. She made herself comfortable next to Sadie and Andrew who were already half asleep. Andrew stretched beside her.
"So, what's the deal?" he asked.
"It's a sixty mile fly from here to his lab," Maliah said. Sadie flinched beside her.
"Sixty?" Andrew said. "Is there any way we can get there faster?"
"We'll need a car. They travel faster than we do flying. We'll have to ditch it before we reach our destination, just to be safe."
"Let's just get some sleep," Sadie said, yawning. Within minutes, she was breathing steadily and quietly beside Maliah. She glanced over at Andrew who's gaze was fixed on Maliah.
"Thanks," he whispered to her. She smiled.
"That's what friends do," she said. "Get some sleep. We have a long trip ahead of us tomorrow."
When Maliah awoke, Andrew was snoring quietly beside her and Sadie was already up.
"I looked around the city," she said to Maliah. "There's a impound lot full of old cars about a mile down the street. We could take one of them without anyone knowing."
Andrew stirred and turned over, facing Maliah and Sadie. He sighed and opened his eyes slightly. He stared at the two girls in front of him before propping himself up on an elbow.
"Morning," he said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "What's on the agenda for today?"
"We're stealing cars at an impound lot," Sadie said.
"Awesome. I've always wanted to steal and drive an old impounded car," Andrew replied sarcastically. Sadie rolled her eyes.
"We should probably get out of here before anyone comes down," Maliah said. She peaked out of the closet, insuring that the area was clear, and the three dashed up stairs. They slowed their pace as they neared the hotel lobby and pushed their way out of the double doors.
Outside, the air was warm and white, fluffy clouds hung lazily in the sky. Sadie led the way down the busy streets before taking an empty side road. She turned into an alleyway between two buildings and hopped over the chain fence, Maliah and Andrew following close behind. Behind the fence was a cemetery of cars, some rusting away in the light of the son, others piled practically on top of each other and upside down.
They examined each car, searching for one with specific qualities; plenty of gas for the trip, a set of keys inside, and stable enough to make the trip. Andrew hot wired a few of them with no success. Finally, Sadie called over to them.
She stood in front of an old, dark and dirty blue car, the make unclear under years of dirt and rust. A single key shined in the ignition; Sadie turned it and it shook and roared to life. The three piled into the car, Sadie taking the driver seat, Maliah at shot gun, and Andrew in the back. Sadie carefully shifted the car into drive and eased on the gas. The car bounced forward before gliding forward, dust flying up behind them. Sadie drove the vehicle to what looked to be the front gate which stood part way open, and onto the concrete road. She joined in the oncoming traffic and drove along the dark paved roads.
"I'm hungry. Can we stop and eat somewhere?" Andrew asked. Maliah's own stomach growled in response.
"Yeah, me too," she said. She looked at her friend in the driver's seat who shrugged.
"Pull over here," Andrew said, pointing to the side of the road in front of a row of buildings. Above one building, a sign read "The Rooster's Diner."
The three walked into the little building and sat at the nearest table. A waitress came over and took their order quickly before hurrying off into the kitchen. They watched the people around them in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. When their food arrived, they ate quickly, left a wad of cash on the table, and left as quickly as they could.
Outside, the traffic was heavy. Cars honked and weaved in and out of traffic, getting no where fast. Maliah groaned; there was no way they would make it out of the city any time soon, and they couldn't waste the gas sitting around. Sadie seemed to read her thoughts.
"I guess we should keep ourselves busy for a while until the traffic thins out," she said. Andrew searched the city around them.
"Let's go to the movies!" he said excitedly, pointing to a small theater across the street.
"Seriosuly?" Sadie asked.
"Do you have a better idea?" he asked, annoyed and frusterated.
"Yeah, come on," Maliah said. "It will give us something to do."
They crossed the street quickly, squeezing between the tailgating cars moving no where and into the theater. Inside, the line seemed to stretch on forever.
"I'm not waiting in that. By the time we get to the front, the traffic will be gone," Sadie complained.
"Arcade?" Andrew suggested, pointing to the back of the theater. He entered two quarters into a car racing machine and sat behind the wheel. Sadie entered two coins in the machine next to him and for the next five minutes they raced each other, pushing each other out of the way, determined to get to the finish first.
Maliah kept her eye on the crowd around them. People busied themselves with handfuls of pop corn and arcade games. She noticed one girl walking towards them. Her hair was purple, which was why Maliah spotted her among the rest of the people in the busy theater. She peered over Andrew's shoulder at the racing games in front of him.
"Dude, you're getting your ass kicked by a girl," the purple haired girl said. He spun in his chair and eyed the girl carefully. On the screen, the words "Game Over" flashed red on the screen.
"Who are you?" he asked. His gaze shifted nervously to Maliah. She placed herself between Andrew and the girl.
"Sorry," she said. "Just trying to make conversation. I'm Monique. Are you guys from around here?" Monique asked.
"We're traveling," Maliah said.
"That's exciting. I've always wanted to travel."
"How old are you?" Sadie asked, scanning the petite girl in front of them.
"Eighteen," she said. "Why?"
"You're small," Andrew said.
"Yeah, I know," Monique replied. "And I have weird hair, I know." She winked at Andrew.
"Uh, yeah, I was just gonna say that," he said.
"I know. I have the power to see into the future," she said. Sadie rolled her eyes.
"What about you guys?" she asked.
"I'm Maliah," Maliah began. "and I have the ability to fly. That's Sadie and she is a shape shifter."
"A Starling bird, to be exact," Sadie said.
"And that's Andrew. He-"
"I see dead people," Andrew said, a smirk on his face.
"Really? That's fascinating. Are you related to Molly Spinease?"
"You might be, in some way."
"What makes you think that?" Andrew asked. Monique looked at him skeptically.
"Because you have the same abilities," Monique said slowly, as if Andrew should have known this fact.
"Abilities usually run in families," Maliah said. She eyed Andrew carefully.
"Oh, yeah," Andrew said, catching on. "I know. I've just never heard of her. Maybe some distant relationship." Monique nodded slowly. She seemed to gaze past Andrew, past Maliah, standing closely behind him, into some distant nothingness. Her eyes focused on Maliah's and she took a step back.
"Human," she whispered. Andrew took a step back and shifted his gaze towards Maliah, nervously.
"Monique-" Maliah started.
"What's he doing here?" she hissed.
"You tell me. You're the future girl," Maliah shot back.
"I can only see the future if I am a part of it," Monique explained.
"How do you know about Andrew, then?" Sadie asked.
"I saw that he would have told me," she said carefully. "Obviously he won't, now. The future is always changing. What I see isn't set in stone."
"Have you seen anything else?" Maliah asked.
"I see that you don't want me to say anything. I could help you." Monique looked around her carefully.
"I would be an advantage. Let me come with you," Monique said.
"Why should we trust you?" Andrew asked.
"The same reason you trust them. It's the only choice you have to get home."
"Why do you want to help us?" Sadie asked.
"Because I don't agree with the way things are run. I don't agree with Adonis. And I have a weird feeling about this kid. Please." Sadie and Maliah exchanged careful glances.
"I have a car," she added. "Yours is about to be towed." The three rushed outside to see a tow truck rumble down the street. It parked itself in front of their stolen car and men prepared to load the car. Monique appeared behind them.
"The traffic has died down a bit. We'll make it out of the city in just ten minutes." Monique walked down the street and got inside a dark green car. Andrew followed carefully, glancing over his shoulder at the two girls.
"I guess she's okay," Sadie mumbled. Maliah took the passenger seat while Sadie and Andrew took the back seat. Monique smiled at her new friends and pulled into the oncoming traffic. Like she promised, in ten minutes, they were flying out of the city.
"DeFelippo's lab?" Monique said as the future flashed in her mind.
"He might be able to fix the machine Andrew used to get here. If not, he must have some way of getting to Earth." Maliah said. Monique nodded.
"The lab is heavily guarded. I don't see a way that we could just walk in and talk to him," she said.
"We'll figure something out," Maliah said. "Let's just get there, first." She pressed on the gas and the car flew down the deserted high way. The speedometer climbed higher.
"Will you slow down? We can't afford to get pulled over," Sadie yelled.
"We won't run into any cops until we pass the next city, which, if we keep up this speed, will take just an hour to get to," Monique informed. "The faster we go, the sooner we'll get to DeFelippo's lab. We should be there by nightfall."
Just as Monique saw, they didn't see any cops until they went through the next city, and by this time, Monique was already doing the speed limit. And once they were out of sight, the engine roared as she accelerated to her usual speed.
Maliah fell asleep in her seat for most of the ride. When she woke up, the car was back at a reasonable speed amongst other cars. The sun was almost completely set behind the buildings and lights were lit around the city. Monique weaved in and out of the traffic, up and down side streets, until she pulled in front of a large, simple building.
"Is this the lab?" Maliah asked, reaching for the paper she printed out at the hotel.
"Looks like it," Monique said, comparing the building to the paper Maliah held in her hand. The four climbed out of the car and advanced the stone stairs into the main lobby of the building. Maliah approached the front desk with Monique at her side.
"We're looking for Mr. DeFelippo," Maliah said to the blonde behind the desk. Her long, pink nails typed away at a small computer in front of her.
"Do you have an appointment?" she asked in a monotone voice.
"Um, no," Maliah said. "But it's urgent."
"Mr. DeFelippo doesn't see anyone without an appointment," the woman said.
"Can you tell him it's urgent?" Maliah asked. "It's about…a machine we found. It looks to be an Earth machine." The woman snorted.
"An Earth machine?" she repeated.
"Listen, lady," Monique said. "There could be a human here. We need to talk to DeFelippo."
"I'm sorry, but I can't just let anyone through to see him. He's a busy man, and security is tight." Maliah huffed angrily and walked away.
"Now what?" Sadie asked.
"We'll find him ourselves," Monique said.
"Excuse me?" Maliah said.
"We'll have to sneak in," Monique explained.
"Are you crazy?" Malliah hissed at her.
"Do you have a better idea?" she asked. When Maliah didn't reply, Monique walked back to the blonde behind the desk.
"Could you point me to the nearest bathroom, at least?" she asked sweetly. The blonde eyed her carefully and pointed over her shoulder.
"Down the hall, first door on the left," she said before turning her eyes back to the computer in front of her.
"Come on, Maliah," Monique said, urging her forward. "You can use the bathroom here. Let's all go. As I always say, never pass up an opportunity to pee." She smirked to herself as she led the way down the hall. The blonde peered over from behind her desk, watching them file into the bathroom, then continued back to her work.
Monique opened the door just slightly after a moment. When she confirmed that there was no one in sight, she led the way out of the bathroom and down the deserted hall. They read the signs on the doors as they passed, hoping for one to lead to Mr. DeFelippo. They turned a corner and the hall way forked out going straight ahead, to the left, and to the right. Down one of the halls, muffled footsteps were heard on the thin carpet followed by faint voices. They strained to hear the conversation that seemed to be between two men.
"…back from Earth," one voice said.
"Adonis will be furious if he finds out. Michael needs to stop going over there. If the humans find out about us, who knows what will happen."
"He's attached to that machine. He'll just keep going back until Adonis kills him himself."
"What's so wrong about the humans knowing about us?" a third voice asked, coming from nowhere. "We know about them."
"Mr. Defelippo," the second voice exclaimed. "We were just expressing our concern. You know how Adonis feels about what you're doing."
"What he doesn't know won't hurt him," DeFelippo said.
"And if he finds out?" the first asked.
"Then he finds out," DeFelippo said simply. By this time, the voices were much nearer. The footsteps stopped just yards from where the four were hiding, just around the corner.
"Well, if you will excuse me, I must return to the lab," DeFelippo said. "I expect to see each of your reports tomorrow morning."
"Yes, sir," they said. Two sets of voices grew faint as the two men returned to their offices. DeFelippo continued forward and turned the corner, bumping right into Maliah, Monique, Sadie, and Andrew.
"Do I know you?" Mr. DeFelippo asked.
"We're you're new hires," Monique said.
"New hires?" I don't remember hiring anyone new," DeFelippo said, examining the four bodies in front of him.
"Mr. Defelippo," Maliah began. "we need your help. We found what looked to be a machine from Earth. We think there's a human somewhere and-"
"A human machine?" Defelippo asked, curiously.
"It doesn't seem to work," Maliah said.
"I'd like to see this machine," DeFelippo said, excitedly. "Where is it?"
"If you don't mind, sir, you'll have to come with us. We can show you."
"Why can't you just tell me where it is?"
"We found it first," Monique said. "I mean, we want to make sure we get some credit, you know?" DeFelippo laughed.
"Well, what are the names of the credit takers?" he asked.
"I'm Maliah, this is Monique, that's Sadie, and that's Andrew," Maliah said, indicating to each person as she introduced them.
"Well, why don't we get a move on, then?" he said. He led the way down the hall back to the main lobby. The blonde behind the desk cleared hr throat, eyeing the four who supposedly just went to the bathroom.
"Mr. DeFelippo," she said.
"Don't worry, Clarice," he said. "they're with me. They found some Earth machine, isn't that exciting?"
"Uh, yes, sir," she said, sitting back down in her chair. She glared at the group as they left the building.
Monique climbed into her car and started the engine. DeFelippo helped himself to the passenger seat while Maliah, Sadie, and Andrew took the back seat.
"Do you remember where the machine was?" Monique asked Andrew over her shoulder. DeFelippo studied the boy in the back seat.
"You're the one that found it?" he asked. Andrew nodded.
"I don't know if I could find it again, though," he said. "I didn't know where I was," he whispered to Maliah beside him.
"I remember the road you were on when I found you. Do you know where you were coming from?" she asked.
"There was some other city. I landed a few miles outside of that city, I think. I just kept walking until I reached the city, and then eventually reached your town."
"We'll have to go to Toronborough," Maliah confirmed. "The machine should be somewhere outside of the city." Monique spun the car around and drove out of the city, back the way they came. When she reached the outer city, she was stopped by two police cruisers. She pulled over as an officer approached and tapped on her window. She rolled down the window and smiled.
"Afternoon, officer," she said sweetly.
"Mr. DeFelippo," the officer said, looking past Monique. "Are you okay?"
"Of course I am," DeFelippo replied. The officer glared at Monique, then at the passengers in the back seat.
"We got a call from your secretary that you were kidnapped. She gave us the description of this car which we followed through the city. She said she knew these kids were lying when they asked to see you."
"Damn it, she's one of them," Sadie mumbled. DeFelippo looked over his supposed kidnappers.
"There's no machine?" he asked.
"There is!" Andrew said suddenly. "That's not what we lied about."
"Will you all please step out of the car?" the officer said. Monique looked at Maliah in the back seat.
"Go!" Maliah mouthed. Without hesitation, Monique slammed on the gas, leaving the cop taken aback in the dust. After recollecting himself, he yelled into his radio as he climbed into the car. The two cruisers chased them out of the city, their lights flashing and sirens blaring. Monique kept her foot pressed firmly down on the pedal as she navigated through the roads, the two cruisers hot on their trail.
"Stop, right now!" DeFelippo shouted.
"Shut up!" Monique barked at him. "You're not going anywhere; we need you to help us."
"Who are you working for?" he asked.
"Shut up!" Monique shouted again. He slouched against the seat, arms folded across his chest. Monique spun the wheel, turning the car sharply, and sped down another road. She slammed on the breaks, spinning the car down another road, deep in the woods. The car bounced on the uneven pavement as she yet again spun the car down another road. The now three cruisers behind her flew by each road, stopping, reversing, and following her down the road she turned down. Within minutes, they had lost the cruisers amongst the trees.
"We need to ditch the car," Maliah said. "They'll be able to trace it." Monique sighed and nodded. She pulled the car into the woods, driving carefully between the trees before throwing it into park. Andrew grabbed DeFelippo before he had the chance to run through the woods, holding his hands tightly behind his back. DeFelippo gasped and turned to face Andrew in awe.
"Human!" he said in surprise.
"Let's go!" Monique shouted, her eyes focusing back to reality as she just saw the future. The cops were close; their lights and sirens were turned off in search for the kidnappers. Monique ran through the woods away from the approaching cops, the others close at her heels. Monique let her mind fly between the future and the present, turning this way and that through the trees.
"We'll have to stay in the woods for now," she said. "But we're close to the road. We can follow the road from the woods until we get to Toronborough." She slowed to a walk.
"You're the human," DeFelippo said as they walked. "You weren't lying."
"We need you to fix the machine so I can get back to Earth," Andrew said.
"Why should I? You'll just go back and tell everyone about us," DeFelippo accused.
"First," Andrew began. "No one would believe me. Second, we overheard your co-workers talking about how you just returned from there."
"I'm a scientist," DeFelippo mumbled.
"So is my dad, but he doesn't travel to this world and pretend to be one of you freaks."
"He must have at some point if he had that machine," DeFelippo argued. "Spy!"
"Look who's talking!" Andrew shot back.
"Boys!" Sadie hollered. "Shut. Up."
"How much longer to Toronborough?" Maliah asked.
"If we keep walking through the night, we should get there by morning," Monique said. DeFelippo groaned.
"Can't we fly?" Sadie asked.
"They're searching for us. We need to keep low until we get to Toronborough," Monique said. Sadie sighed.
"You're flyers?" DeFelippo asked.
"I am," Maliah said. "Sadie is a shape shifter."
"Starling," Sadie informed, proudly.
"What about you?" DeFelippo asked Monique.
"I see into the future," she said dully.
"A flyer, a shape shifter, and a future nut, trying to save a human. This is an odd kidnapping."
Day turned to night and the five of them continued their walk through the woods, talking quietly amongst themselves about nothing particularly exciting. DeFelippo talked about his lab and his researches and continued to ask Andrew questions about Earth. The first few hours of night were uneventful until Monique stopped suddenly in her tracks. She stared off into the woods, focused on the future flashing through her mind. When she returned to the present, she looked around them quickly.
"We're not alone," she said.
"What do you mean?" Maliah asked.
"There's someone here, near us. He looks like one of Adonis's soldiers; he's wearing Adonis's symbol."
"We can't be seen by him," Sadie said.
"Where is he?" Andrew asked.
"I don't know, exactly," Monique replied.
"He's after me!" DeFelippo panicked. "Adonis knows!"
"Will you shut up?" Maliah hissed.
"He knows about me," Andrew said, also panicky.
"Guys, relax," Monique said.
"How many are there?" Sadie asked.
"Just him," Monique replied.
"Wait, he's alone?" Maliah asked. "Adonis wouldn't send someone alone."
"It's a trap!" DeFelippo said.
"Dude, shut up. He'll find us," Andrew hissed, jabbing DeFelippo in the side.
"That's no way to treat your elders," DeFelippo scolded.
"Dude, I'm almost twenty, and you're, what, thirty?"
"Fourty-four," DeFelippo said.
"That's not old," Andrew said.
"Older than you."
"Both of you, cut the shit," Monique hissed.
"Who are you?" a voice called. Fifty feet in front of them stood the soldier Monique saw. He was dressed in a uniform which was tattered and ripped. His hair was a muddy, scruffy brown, along with the beard on his face, which wasn't quite grown in all the way.
"Who are you?" Sadie asked.
"I'm Gunner, an ex soldier for Lord Adonis," the man replied.
"Ex?" Andrew repeated, searching for an explanation.
"I was banished from his army," Gunner said, solemnly.
"Why?" Maliah asked.
"Why do you care? I've already said too much."
"You rebelled against him," Monique said. Gunner looked at his feet, ashamed and uncomfortable.
"We're rebelling, too," Sadie said. This caught his attention. "And we could use someone with some decent fighting skills in case we need to kick any Adonis ass." Gunner laughed.
"You don't have to worry about me," he said. "I won't report your human friend."
"How does everyone we bump into know I'm human?" Andrew said, stressfully.
"I'm a mind reader," Gunner said.
"Of course we run into a mind reader. First it's the future girl, then DeFelippo – well, I don't know his little power," Andrew studied the scientist.
"When you held my hands behind my back, I knew everything about you in an instant. It only works when I have physical contact, though," DeFelippo said. The others seemed to back away slightly.
"And now a mind reader?" Andrew confirmed. "Just what we need. If we keep bumping into people like this, someone will report me and I'll never get back to Earth."
"No one here will report you," Maliah said, eyeing Gunner. He held a fist over his heart.
"Rebels unite," he said. "I will gladly help you in your quest." Sadie rolled her eyes.
"We need to get going," Monique said.
"To Toronborough," Gunner said to himself. "to fix an Earthly machine." Five pairs of eyes rolled in their heads as the soldier expressed his mind reading ability.
"This is gonna be a long night," Andrew said, sighing to himself.
"I can't help it," Gunner said. "you're thoughts just scream out to me, and they're all so very interesting." They each seemed to squeeze their eyes shut in an attempt to erase any thoughts and memories in their heads. As long as they were near Gunner, their thoughts were no longer private.
"What the fuck, man," Gunner said, turning to DeFelippo, who smirked. "Those visuals are NOT needed."
"Get out of my head, then," DeFelippo said. Gunner spun on his heels and made his way to the front of the group beside Monique.
"Get away, creepo," she mumbled.
"Hey, you asked me to join this clan," Gunner said.
"You kinda invited yourself," Monique said.
"You need me," Gunner said. Monique's gaze shifted as the future played through her head. When she returned, she sighed.
"We just may," she said.
Their travels through the woods continued in silence. Conversation was few amongst pairs as they trudge on tiredly. The hours passed; finally the sun's light began to peak through the cover of the trees. They emerged from the protection of the woods onto a road leading to Toronborough. Cars passed each way despite the early morning hours.
"Can we please just get a room for the rest of the day and the night?" DeFelippo asked when they reached the city. Maliah and Monique exchanged a glance and nodded.
At the nearest hotel, they checked in at the front desk, asking for any available rooms. When the woman behind the desk gave them a hard time, DeFelippo spoke to her quietly. She seemed to give in and dug out a set of room keys, three belonging to one room, and three others belonging to a separate room. They took the elevator to the third floor, quietly, and searched the halls for their rooms.
"Monique and Andrew are with me," Maliah said. "Sadie, I want you to be with Gunner and DeFelippo."
"You can't be serious," Sadie said, glaring at her friend angrily.
"I need you to keep an eye on them," Maliah said. "Please." Sadie sighed and took her the three keys from Maliah. Maliah slid her own key through the door and led the way inside the room, closing the door behind them. Andrew crashed on the nearest bed and before anyone knew it, he was snoring away quietly. Monique sat on the next bed, leaning her head against the wall. Maliah sat beside her, her legs crossed, and sighed. There was a loud bang against the far wall coming from the next room and a shriek from Sadie. Within seconds, Sadie was pounding on their door.
"I can NOT stay with tem," she huffed angrily.
"What the hell is going on?" Maliah asked. Inside, Monique giggled as the future she foresaw just moments ago was confirmed.
"I have no idea," Sadie said. "DeFelippo was just standing, looking at the tv and Gunner slammed into him."
"They're fighting?" Maliah asked as she tried to look around the corner.
"No. Whatever happened must have been some big joke. Now they're trying to find porn on the tv." Sadie shivered and Maliah sighed.
"Fine, stay in here. I'll stay with them." Maliah slid the door key to the next room and helped herself inside. The two men laughed loudly at some joke as they flipped through the channels.
"Let's cut the shit," Maliah said. "You were complaining that you were tired so go to sleep." DeFelippo switched off the tv.
"Yeah," he said. "I am." He shoved Gunner off the foot of the bed and turned on his side.
"Are you gonna stay here and watch us sleep?" he asked as Gunner got up and took the only other bed. Maliah nodded.
"What, you don't trust us?" Gunner said as he fluffed his pillows.
"We don't have to stay here," Maliah said. The two men sighed. Childish, Maliah thought to herself. She sat on the floor against the door and stared at the ceiling above her, letting her mind wander. Before she knew it, sleep over came her.
The high pitched call of a cell phone echoed in the dark room, shattering the silence. Adonis pushed himself out of the chair he sat him and answered the screaming phone on the near by table.
"He's in Toronborough. He's with a shape shifter, a flyer, a future girl, a scientist, and a human," the voice on the phone informed.
"A human?" Adonis echoed.
"They're trying to bring him back to Earth. They think the scientist can help."
"Who is this scientist?" Adonis asked.
"Why are they in Toronoborough?"
"There's a machine just outside the city that the human came in. They want DeFelippo to fix it so the human can go back."
"Keep with them. I'll call Ciara and have her find them. Make sure they get to that machine. Ciara will meet you there. Don't kill any of them." Adonis pressed end then proceeded to dial another number.
"Ciara? There's a human in Toronborough. Find them. They're looking for a machine. Get to that machine. Jacob is following them now. He will meet you there. When they get there, come get me." He hung up the phone. A whisper of a breeze filled the room, the curtains flowing in it's wake. Adonis made his way to the open window. Outside, his city slept peacefully – no human would ruin their world tonight.
Something pounded hard in Maliah's head. It was too dark to see where the sound came from, but it echoed all around her, growing louder and louder. She could hear the faint sound of a girl's voice, calling to her. It sounded like Monique. Was she in trouble? Maliah couldn't see anything, not even her own hand in front of her. Monique's cries grew louder.
"Maliah! Maliah! Maliah, open up the damn door!"
Maliah jolted awake. Beside her, Monique's fist pounded on the door just outside. Maliah shuffled to her feet and yanked open the door.
"What the hell is going on?" Maliah said, her eyes adjusting to the bright light in the hall way. Her head pounded and it reminded her of Monique's fist flying into the door, the sound she heard in her dream.
"Adonis just sent someone after us," she said quickly, keeping her voice low now.
"What do you mean? How does he know about us?" Maliah was wide awake now.
"Someone named Jacob followed Gunner. Adonis must have sent Jacob to follow Gunner to make sure he didn't try to start a riot or something. He told Adonis about us; he's still here, somewhere, but he's invisible; that's his gift, so there's no way we'll be able to find him. He won't appear to us. Adonis called some girl, Ciara I think, to find us. Adonis is hoping that we'll accept her into our little group and lead her to the machine where she and Jacob will capture us and bring us to Adonis." Monique let this information sink in.
"Jacob is here?" Maliah said. Monique nodded. Maliah searched the room with her eyes frantically, though she knew she would find nothing. Even if he wasn't in the room, he was near by, keeping a safe distance.
"What do we do?" Maliah asked. "We can't go to the machine now."
"We have to. Adonis knows there's a machine outside of the city. If we don't go to the machine, he'll know that we found out."
"If Jacob isn't listening in on our conversation right now," Maliah pointed out.
"He knows about my skill. He must know that I know, despite if Jacob is listening or not. Whatever we do, Jacob will report to Adonis." Maliah rubbed her temples.
"Fuck," she whispered. "What do you see in the future?"
"Nothing yet," Monique said. "I don't see things until they're decided. I saw Jacob call Adonis because he decided that was what he was going to do. Until we figure out what we do, I won't know what will happen."
"That's not very helpful," Maliah grumbled.
"I can only do so much with my power," Monique said, apologetically. "There are better future seers than I."
"You've been a great help, Monique," Maliah assured.
"We still don't have any way out of this," Monique pointed out. "If we don't go to the machine, any possibility that we know about this will be confirmed."
"But you'll be able to see their next move," Maliah said.
"So we're supposed to just keep running from them?" Maliah said nothing. "Besides, Adonis isn't dumb; he knows what kind of people are out there. He knows about people with my skill, and others better. I'm sure he has someone in his army with some great gift to be able to over power something as weak as mine. They'll find us, Adonis will make sure of that."
"So, we go to the machine," Maliah confirmed.
"It's our only choice," Monique replied. Maliah nodded.
"What about Ciara?" Maliah asked.
"I don't know who she is or what she looks like. She hasn't even thought about a way to find us or I would have seen."
"What the hell. Okay. Tomorrow morning we find the machine. If we bump into anyone, we run like hell." Maliah said. Monique sighed. The future flashed through her mind in a split second. Maliah saw it in her eyes
"What happened?" she asked.
"Ciara called Adonis. She told him it would be almost impossible to find us because of me." Monique continued to look into the future. "Adonis seems stumped. He knows I'm probably seeing this. Except when it happens, I would have already seen it. He wants Ciara to find us now. He knows that I know and that we will try to run." She paused.
"What?" Maliah pressed.
"She finds us," Monique said quietly. "We don't even make it to the machine." Maliah knew Monique left out details. Were they brought to Adonis? Did he kill them?
"We can't tell them," Maliah said. "Andrew and Sadie and Gunner and DeFelippo. We have to pretend we know nothing and go to the machine. If we run, they'll know there's no hope."
"So you'd rather lie to them?" Monique said.
"Either way, we'll get caught," Maliah said, hopelessly. Monique said nothing.
"What else can we do?" Maliah said.
"I don't know," Monique whispered, so quietly that Maliah could barely hear her. After a moment, Maliah spoke.
"We go to the machine tomorrow. Whatever happens, happens. We know that if we run, there's no hope. Maybe we have a better chance if we go to the machine."
"All I see is them capturing us," Monique said.
"We'll figure something out," Maliah tried to assure Monique and herself. The door behind Maliah opened slightly and DeFelippo poked his head out.
"Is everything okay?" he asked. "We heard someone knocking on the door rather loudly."
"Yeah, sorry," Monique said. "I had to talk to Maliah." She bid Maliah and DeFelippo goodnight and headed back into her room. Maliah followed suit into her own room, pushing DeFelippo back inside. Gunner was sitting up in his bed, watching as the two returned inside the room.
"In a few more hours," Maliah said. "We're going to the machine."
In the morning, the six (plus one invisible Jacob) left the hotel in search of the machine. The air was cool and a strong wind blew, bringing along with it a threat of dark clouds. They followed the road outside of the city with Andrew in the lead. He looked at the sky as he tried to remember the direction he came from, carefully retracing his steps. The road was soon lost behind them and they walked through a field of lush grass waving in the wind. After nearly an hour of what seemed like pointless walking in the middle of no where, a strange shape emerged ahead of them. Andrew broke into a run as he recognized the discombobulated shape; the machine.
The machine looked like useless scraps of metal to the natives of this world. Parts were hanging loose and scattered on the ground while the body of the machine seemed to collapse on itself. Andrew sighed at the sight of it.
As if on cue, Jacob appeared from his invisible state behind the group of misfits. His laughter rang through the air as he caught sight of the machine. Andrew, Sadie, Gunner, and DeFelippo spun around to see the no longer invisible man. Monique and Maliah turned after a moment as they faced the end of their journey.
Jacob was a clean shaven man with dark black hair. In each ear he wore small, golden hoops. He was dressed in a clean uniform, similar to the one Gunner wore. On his chest, just slightly to the right, he wore the medallion of Adonis. He approached the group, smiling.
"Adonis will be very pleased with me," he said. Beside him, a woman appeared out of nowhere. Her hair was long and golden and blew wildly in the strong wind. Her eyes were a piercing blue. She, too, wore the medallion of Adonis.
"Ciara," Jacob said, acknowledging his friend. In an instant, she disappeared, then suddenly reappeared beside Andrew. Before he could register what happened, he was one the ground with Ciara on top of him, his hands held tightly behind his back. She pulled a gun out, hidden beneath her long, dark jacket, and pointed it at DeFelippo.
"Ciara," Jacob said. "I have them under control. Get Adonis." Ciara glared at Jacob before standing up. She pulled Andrew up with her and shoved him to Jacob. Jacob held him tightly and pulled out his own gun, holding it carefully against Andrew's head.
"No one moves," Jacob said. "or the human dies." Ciara ran off, vanishing in thin air.
"Now," Jacob said calmly. "on the ground." They obeyed, their knees sinking into the long grass. Gunner placed his hands behind his head and the others copied.
"Gunner, Gunner, Gunner," Jacob said. "You would have made a great soldier." Gunner glared at Jacob. He shifted the gun pointed as Andrew as Andrew twitched in Jacob's grip. The minutes ticked passed, stretching on into forever, until finally, Ciara appeared again, this time with Adonis by her side.
Adonis was much older than the rest of them. His hair was dark and peppered with grey. His eyebrows seemed to be formed in the most menacing way above his eyes, thick and dark. His moustache was of similar color, trimmed neatly beneath his large nose. Everything about him was large; his hands looked like they could easily cover Maliah's face and could easily knock anyone of any size unconscious. He wore a long, dark jacket which seemed to cover most of his body, possibly concealing any hidden weapons. His dark eyes looked over the bodies kneeling on the ground, then shifted to the human in front of Jacob. Andrew met his gaze momentarily before frantically meeting Maliah's. She dropped her gaze, ashamed that she let her friend down. Was there nothing she could do?
Adonis walked past the bodies towards the broken machine. He examined it carefully.
"The machine must be destroyed at once," Adonis said, still looking over the machine. "Ciara, can you transport it with you?" Ciara, who hadn't moved from the spot she arrived in, was now at Adonis's side.
"I can try, sir," she said.
"Please do so. And when you return, I want them all back at the palace. Jacob and I will meet you there tonight. Keep them in the dungeon. I want them heavily guarded until I arrive." Ciara nodded and examined the machine. She sucked in a breath and held on to a scrap of metal. Suddenly, she and the machine vanished. When she returned minutes later, she kicked each body, urging them to get on their feet. She grabbed Andrew by the collar of his shirt and dragged him over to the others.
"Let's make this easy and cheesy," Ciara said. She took Andrew's hand in her left hand and Maliah's with her right. "Grab on to each other," she said. "Don't even think about letting go or the transportation will just kill you." They obeyed, each grabbing onto the others hand until they were all linked in a small circle.
"It's going to feel weird," she informed. "Whatever you do, do not let go. Personally, I could care less, but Adonis wants you all alive." They each braced themselves for whatever would happen next. Ciara sucked in a breath like she did with the machine and before they knew it, the world around them melted away into nothing. Maliah felt the breath get sucked out of her. She gasped and held on tightly to Sadie's hand, who in turn, held tightly back. Pain seared through as they held onto each other tightly and were flung viciously through nothing. Maliah's head spun and she squeezed her eyes shut. Suddenly, everything stopped. Maliah felt Ciara relax her grip. She opened her eyes to find herself in a small room.
One by one, the rest of the people in the circle opened their eyes and looked around them. The room was lit by a soft, golden light; a chandelier hanging high above the room. On the left wall, windows stretched from floor to ceiling, showing the city below. The rising sun's rays poured through the windows, shining brightly in their faces. Five guards walked towards the new arrivals, each one taking someone else and leading them out of the room. Ciara kept Andrew to herself as she followed the guards out of the large doors.
They waked down a long hall, windows along their right side, the sun their only light. The hall widened into a small room. On the left side of the room was another door, which they took. The door led down a flight of stairs, circling further down and into another room. They walked across the room and down another hall way, down another flight of stairs which circled deeper down, under the palace. They walked through the door at the bottom of the stairs and into what looked to be a large dungeon. The walls were made of concrete blocks and their footsteps echoed off of the concrete floor. They walked across the room and through a door on the far side. There, they were greeted by rows of small cells. Each cell was open and they were each brought into their own cell which was then closed and locked tightly by a large, heavy door with a single window at the top.
Maliah stood at the center of her cell, motionless for a moment, taking in her surroundings and the events that had just happened. Beside her, she could hear Sadie's faint sobs. Maliah sat in the far corner of her cell, burying her face in her hands. This wasn't supposed to happen. She fucked everything up. She knew there was nothing she could do. But there has to be something, she thought. Anything!
She lost track of the time that passed as she sat in the corner of her cell, but suddenly, after what seemed like years, footsteps echoed faintly off the concrete walls outside her cell. She heard doors being yanked open and feet shuffling. Hers was soon open and a soldier came in, dragging her to her feet, and pushing her out of her cell. She stood in front of her door, her hands held behind her back, among the rest of her friends. They all had the same, solemn look on their faces. Sadie's eyes were red and puffy. Monique's were distant as she watched their fate flash in her mind. Her face was expressionless; Maliah could only assume that the future wasn't very bright for them. The soldier holding Monique pushed her forward and she gasped, then quickly turned to stare at Maliah. Maliah couldn't read the expression that formed on her face, but it seemed to be of shock… and possibly hope? But before Maliah could search her face anymore, the soldier pushed Monique forward again, down the row of cells.
One by one, the soldiers behind each of them pushed them forward, following in Monique's and her soldier's wake. They entered in a large room where Lord Adonis stood in the center. He smiled as they entered the room. Ciara stood by his side.
"Alex," Adonis called. From against the wall, a soldier advanced and stood on the opposite side of Adonis.
"Get rid of their powers," Adonis said, then looked carefully at Sadie. "I don't want any problems." Alex approached them each one by one, starting with Monique. He pressed his hand against her forehead as if he were about to suck the brains out of her. Monique gasped and dropped to her knees. She shrieked in pain as her powers were ripped from her body. Maliah had never seen this happen. She had heard stories of people having their powers taken away; they never survived long enough. It was like having a vital organ in your body ripped away from you. Maliah couldn't imagine the pain Monique was feeling, but suddenly realized that she was next.
As Monique lay limp on the floor, Alex approached Maliah. He pressed his palm against her forehead and Maliah held her breath. Suddenly, pain seared through her head. It felt exactly how she imagined; like her brain was being sucked out into nothing. Her stomach twisted in agony and she felt dizzy. She fell to her knees, shrieking. The pain seemed endless.
"Stop!" Maliah shrieked in a sharp breath, but the pain continued. Maliah felt the room spin around her; she was growing unconscious. Suddenly, the pain stopped, and her body fell limply on the ground. The floor beneath her was icy cold and she snapped into consciousness. She lay on the floor, breathing hard, trying to erase the memory of what had just happened, but it stuck in her brain, repeating itself over and over and over. Maliah winced as she thought she felt the pain rip through her body again.
As Alex worked with Sadie next, Maliah suddenly felt the emptiness inside her. It almost felt like the emptiness in the pit of your stomach when someone you loved died. The emptiness couldn't be filled, couldn't be replaced, and it was deadly. She felt the life being drained from her. Was this really how she was going to die? Helpless and powerless? She couldn't do anything to save herself, her friends, or Andrew. She had failed herself, her friends, the world she lived in.
Sadie dropped to the floor beside her, completely unconscious. Alex moved to DeFelippo.
"Wait a second," he said. "I was kidnapped. I don't know anything." Alex pressed his palm against his forehead. "Don't do this," DeFelippo continued. "I'm a scien-" he stopped short as pain shot through his body. He withered like the rest of them, falling to his knees, holding his head tightly between his hands. Alex then moved to his final victim; Gunner.
"Alex, don't," he mumbled. Alex paid no attention to the former soldier and pressed his palm firmly onto Gunner's forehead. Gunner dropped to his knees, his eyes squeezed tightly shut, but said nothing. His powers drained from him quickly, but he didn't even groan in pain. When Alex was finished, he returned to Adonis's side. Gunner, still on his knees, shook slightly, trying to regain the breath he had held in the process. His fingers dug into the cold stone floor as he took slow breaths of air.
Sadie groaned, twisting on the cold floor beneath her as she slowly regained consciousness. Monique pushed herself up so she was on her hands and knees and threw up violently. DeFelippo continued to groan quietly, his hands still pressed to his head. Maliah still lay on her side, watching her friends, helplessly. Suddenly, her eyes shifted towards Andrew. What would they do to him?
In front of them, Andrew fought the grip of the soldier, but with no luck. The soldier held his firm grip on Andrew's arms as he tried to wiggle himself free, only exhausting himself. Maliah only then realized that he had been screaming along with them the whole time. While they were shrieking in pain, he was demanding them to stop. Now, his voice was hoarse, but he continued to mumble, taking heavy breaths between his begs.
"Stop," he whispered. "Stop. Leave them alone. Stop. Don't. Please. Me. You want me. Leave them alone…"
Adonis turned to Andrew, uninterested in the bodies he tortured lying helplessly on the floor in front of him.
"Kill him," Adonis ordered, his voice stern, steady, and quiet.
"No," Gunner groaned. He glared at Adonis. Adonis turned his attention to Gunner, one eyebrow raised, and smiled.
"You could never be loyal to me, but you can be loyal to our enemies," Adonis said.
"They are not our enemies," Gunner scowled.
"You don't know these humans," Adonis said.
"And neither do you!" Gunner stood and the soldier behind him quickly pinned his arms back. "I'm not going to watch you destroy another human life anymore."
Gunner jabbed an elbow behind him, digging deep into the soldier's gut behind him. The soldier bent forward slightly, wincing in pain. His grip loosened just enough that Gunner was able to free himself. He turned on his heels and threw quick, hard punches to the soldiers that dashed towards him.
"Sean!" Adonis called. Another soldier appeared beside him. He was well built with his dirty blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail. Sean shot a hand out towards Gunner who suddenly stopped, a fist out stretched towards the nearest soldier. Adonis approached Gunner.
"You have forgotten what powers my soldiers have," he said, looking Gunner, motionless and helpless, in the eye. He turned toward the bodies still on the floor.
"Don't get any ideas," Adonis said. "My soldiers have powers you couldn't even dream of having. My soldiers can summon storms and tsunamis. They could burn you alive with a single touch. They are no match to your shape shifting, future telling, mind reading, powers." Adonis turned towards Andrew.
"What are you waiting for?" he demanded. "Kill him."
The soldier that held Andrew captive didn't hesitate a moment longer. He pressed his hand against Andrew's back and watched as he withered in pain. His face whitened dramatically as the life was sucked from his body. He grew limp as the seconds ticked slowly by. Maliah couldn't sit around and do nothing any longer, even if it meant her life was next. In an instant she was on her feet and charging towards the Andrew's soldier. Sean's gaze shifted towards her as she ran and his distraction was caught for just a moment too long. His force around Gunner weakened and Gunner shot a punch towards the clueless soldier.
Maliah felt herself being held back by some invisible force. She looked around frantically for the soldier with the power. A sharp scream of pain echoed through the cave as Gunner fell to his knees. The soldiers had brought him down; he was dying.
Andrew was now slumped on the floor, motionless. Tears stung Maliah's eyes. This couldn't be the ending. This couldn't be happening. But it was, and nothing was going to stop Adonis. He would kill them all.
Adonis turned to the remaining bodies still lying on the floor with the exception of Maliah. His eyes flashed; he was done playing with his pray.
"I don't want any survivors," Adonis said. He turned away from them and at that moment, the cave went suddenly still and quiet. One of the soldiers cried out.
"It's her!" a soldier shouted. Adonis spun around, searching the cave. From the far side of the cave, a figure appeared. Her hair was long, wavy, and jet black. She stood motionless, her silver like eyes shining. The soldiers backed away at the sight of her. Some fell to their knees and wept. Others seemed to pray. The force holding Maliah down vanished and she fell to her knees. She gazed at the woman, shocked.
"Adonis," she said. Her voice rang loudly through the room. She approached him slowly, examining the damage around her. Adonis said nothing but held his gaze upon her. He licked his lips as he searched for something to say.
"What are you… you're… I…"
"I'm millions of years old, Adonis, don't play these games with me," she said.
"Why are you here?" he said. "You're a legend. You're not supposed to return-"
"Unless my people are threatened," she said, continuing his sentence.
"They have rebelled against me," Adonis said. "This is my region."
"And it is my world," she said. "And why the boy?"
"He is not supposed to know of us," Adonis stated as if it were a well known fact.
"There are others like him that know of us," the woman said. "And there haven't been any problems with our world."
"We can't run the risk. He must be destroyed."
"You wouldn't dare think of harming my son, Adonis." Adonis stared at her, speechless.
"This is a human boy," he said after a moment. "He is not your son."
"One of my best kept secrets," she said, smiling.
"He's human" Adonis argued.
"Part human," she said. Adonis's face grew red with fury.
"This is ridiculous. Get rid of all of them!" he ordered his men. The woman thrust her hand into the air and Adonis flew back into the far wall.
"You will not harm any of them," she said. He launched himself up and prepared to counter attack, but the woman threw Adonis into the wall again. He screamed in agony on the ground and held his head between his hands; his powers were being sucked from him the same way they were taken from Maliah and her friends. Adonis lay motionless, struggling for breath, on the floor.
By now, the soldiers had all migrated away from the woman, huddled in a corner, gawking at the sight of her. With a wave of the woman's hand, the soldiers disappeared. While Adonis moaned in agony, the woman turned to the powerless bodies before her. She touched them each, one by one, restoring not only their powers, but their lives. She touched DeFelippo, Monique, and Sadie, before reaching Maliah. As their power returned to them, so did the life in their faces. As the woman touched her, Maliah could feel the emptiness insider her fill with the unmistakable warmth of life. She felt as of her body, once in thousands of tiny pieces, was suddenly whole. The energy that left her now filled her from head to toe.
Beside her, she watched as Monique's eyes fixated on the future that flashed through her mind once more. Her lips parted in a smile, bright in the dark and solemn cave. Maliah wondered what she saw; though their powers were back, Gunner and Andrew were still gone.
As if reading her mind, (Maliah supposed she could since she was Eva, the not-so-mythical creator of their world), the woman turned toward Andrew. She knelt to the ground beside the motionless boy and touched her hand to him. As she did so, his eyes fluttered open and he gasped for air. He rolled on top his back; Maliah watched as his chest rose and fell with each lively breath.
When he had caught his breath, he pushed himself into a sitting position on the floor. He stared at the woman before him for a moment before he spoke.
"Who are you?" he asked. His gaze shifted and he stared around the woman at his friends, three of which were alive and on their feet, watching him. He noticed a lifeless body on the ground; Gunner, and beside him, DeFelippo knelt.
"Gunner," Andrew said. "What happened? Is he alive?"
"He's not," the woman said.
"What happened?" Andrew repeated. He looked toward Maliah for an explanation.
"He tried to stop them from hurting you," she whispered. She could feel her throat tighten. She did everything she could not to look at the lifeless body just feet from her. Andrew shifted his gaze back towards his friend. He could hardly believe he called these people, these strangers, his friends, but they had risked their own lives to save him. It was because of him that Gunner was gone.
"Can you bring him back" he asked the woman. She shook her head.
"I can't bring back the deceased. Death is a part of life." Andrew turned away from Gunner's body.
"Who are you?" he asked, his original question before he was side tracked.
"My name is Eva," she said. She held her hand against his cheek. "I am your mother."
"You must be thinking of someone else," he said. "I'm human."
"You are part human," she said. "Your father, like you, came across this world years ago by accident. Like your friends here, I kept him hidden from the rest of the world and helped him find his way back to Earth."
"This can't be," DeFelippo said suddenly, now on his feet, his face flushed with sadness. "You're a myth to some, and to others, you existed millions of years ago."
"Who said I stopped existing?" she asked. "I'm here now, aren't I?" DeFelippo scratched his head, overwhelmed by the presence of the creator of his world.
"Are you like a God or something? Like on Earth?" Andrew asked.
"Our worlds are much more different than you think," she said. "In a way, you could call me a God, but unlike God, I am not a faith you believe in. I am here in more ways than any of you realize. This is my world, my home, and unless the world as we know it ceases to exist, I will live on with it."
"Why couldn't my dad stay here?" Andrew asked. "Why couldn't I stay?"
"People began to notice he was different. I couldn't put his life in danger so he could stay with me. He didn't want to leave, but I wasn't about to let him stay for me. When you were born, I knew you wouldn't be any safer here. You had to return to Earth with your father." Andrew seemed to consider this.
"So, I guess this is the part where you send me back to Earth?" he asked. He wanted to be back home with his father, but he wanted just as much to stay in this magical world with his friends and the mother he never met. Did she really think he would just get up and leave like none of this had never happened?
"Times are different in our world now," Eva said. "but you also have a life on Earth. People know you. How would you explain your sudden disappearance? Your father is going crazy over it right now. Earth is your home."
"Dad would rather be here with you than on Earth," Andrew mumbled. Eva smiled.
"Times are always changing," she said. "there may be a point when we can be together again. Your father needs you now, though." They both stood; Andrew's gaze drifted back towards Gunner. On the far side of the room, a groan escaped Adonis's lips. He pushed himself up on his knees and glared at the sight in front of him – there was nothing else he could do with his powers taken from him. Eva ignored his pity grunts.
"Let's get you home," she said to her son.
The sky couldn't have been any bluer. Fluffy, white clouds sprinkled the sky, far enough apart to keep the sun shining brightly on the world below. Eva, Andrew, Maliah, Sadie, Monique, and DeFelippo stood around a patch of dirt where flowers were dropped carefully on top. The wind blew crisp and cool around them, blowing the waves of grass. Andrew felt his mother's hand on his shoulder; it was time for him to leave.
"Are you ready?" she asked. He nodded; he wished he could have thanked Gunner, but they had fought to get him home, and now that's where he was headed.
"It's been an adventure, kid," DeFelippo said and shook his hand. "But if anyone comes in to my lab saying they're from Earth, I think I might just run off." He gave him a wink.
"I knew everything would work out," Monique said and she pulled him into a tight hug.
"Will I ever come back?" he asked.
"I don't know. The future is always changing. Stay on the right path, and maybe I'll see you before any one else does." She gave him a wink.
"Since your half human, you must have some sort of power inside of you," Sadie said. She looked at Eva for a clue.
"I'd rather not have my son causing problems on Earth," Eva said. "As long as he doesn't know, no harm done." Sadie sighed.
"Well, when you come back, we'll figure it out. Maybe if you're lucky you'll be able to fly and won't have to hitch a ride with Maliah." Sadie wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
"I don't think I'll ever ride anything, ever," Andrew said, turning to Maliah. "No offense." Maliah laughed.
"None taken. You're kinda heavy, anyways."
"Oh, sorry, I'll lay off the sweet," Andrew remarked sarcastically. Maliah smiled and hugged him tightly. Andrew wrapped his arms around her, returning the hug. Her hair blew around them and he could smell the salty ocean breeze as if she flew above the ocean her whole life and the scent was natural.
Maliah released her grip and backed away, smiling. Andrew turned toward his mother, unsure of what to do next. She was his mother; did he owe her a hug as well?
"Dad will try to come, you know," he said.
"I expect you to keep him firmly rooted on Earth," his mother said.
"We'll both be back," he promised. She smiled. Suddenly, the world seemed to blend together like a washed out painting. The colors leaked and ran into each other in a blur of nothing, and then seemed to run back together, forming a picture of another scenery, this one very different from the first. Above him, he could no longer see the blue sky, but the reaching branches of trees, their leaves wet with dew. He walked through the woods, so similar to the woods behind his home. Home; Earth; he was home.
Outside of the woods he could finally see his house just across the field. He dashed through the long grass, so much like the grass in the other world, and into the driveway where a cruiser sat, still and quiet. He dashed up the front porch steps and flew through the screen door, ignoring the cries the hinges made. He dashed through the next door into the kitchen where his father and a police officer sat at the table. They both stood up suddenly at his entrance. His father rushed to him, holding him tightly against him.
"Where the hell have you been?" he asked.
"I know about Mom," Andrew whispered. He felt his father stiffen. He pushed Andrew back and looked into his eyes.
"Can I have a word with my son?" he asked the officer who lead himself out of the house.
"You took my machine," his father said angrily.
"I didn't know what it was," Andrew said. His father hesitated.
"Your mother," he started. "How is she?"
"The same old Goddess as she was when you came back here," Andrew said. His father rolled his eyes.
"I can make the machine again," he said, more to himself.
"I promised I'd keep you firmly rooted on Earth," Andrew said. "For a little while, anyways." He smiled at his father. He was glad that he could now figure out his father; piece out the mysteries that seemed to float around him. Andrew found himself eagerly awaiting the day they would return, together, with his mother and his friends. The day the two of them would finally be home.