Tag Archive | Mystery

Vestige Novel Chapter 2 (Reworked and Edited): Rena’s POV

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Chapter Two: Rena’s POV

How could this have happened? I watched still as stone as Amos and Constantine reach out and catch Jamie before she hit the ground. She had fainted. Much worse than that, she knew about the Dark Ones now. A dangerous force in the world that Vanessa never wanted her to know the existence of. What was Jamie doing in the woods at this time of night? My mind whirled as I ran my hands through my long dark locks.

            I had met her a few times before when I went to visit my old friend, Vanessa. Jamie was Vanessa’s seventeen-year-old adoptive daughter. As hard as this was going to be for the both of them, and more so for Vanessa, Jamie knew about them now, and something had to be done about it.

Amos and Constantine looked up at me with the same matching expressions on their faces of concern and shock. Neither of them had ever seen a human be so bold as to attack a Dark One without fear. I had never known humans were strong enough to actually take one down without dying in the process.

Gazing down at her now, a silent sigh of disappointment slipped between my lips. Jamie was still out cold. Her dark golden hair and her life drained face was covered in beads of sweat, matting strands of hair to her forehead.

“Is she alright?” I finally asked them, not bothering to check myself. Their guesses were as good as my own.

They placed her down carefully on the ground and looked her over. Amos put two of his fingers to the main vein on the throat of her neck to check her pulse. “She is breathing; unconscious, yet breathing. She will live to see another day.” He examined, his Spaniard accent clear in his voice. He met my gaze with worrisome eyes. “What should we do now with the girl? She has seen too much for human eyes.”

I knew what he meant.

Constantine’s eyes rounded and bulged at the same time we heard his sharp intake of breath.

“What is it Constantine?” Amos and I asked in unisons, stepping closer to him.

“Her arm! Look at the girl’s arm! Tell me it isn’t what I think it is.”

At my son Constantine’s request, I walked over and bent down hovering over Jamie like Amos and Constantine were now doing. He pointed a shaking finger to the nape between her upper and lower right arm. “There,” he pointed.

We followed his gaze and direction with our eyes. Amos positioned his flashlight on the section of her arm, so we could see it better under the fluorescent light. When the light shone over the area, we saw what Constantine meant. In the nape between her upper and lower arm were three distinct needle marks. They were surrounded by bruises and her veins were a vibrant violet color at the moment in hand.

It was clearly obvious to Amos, Constantine, and I what the marks meant. We all stood back up.

“The girl has been marked. She probably fainted from the pain of the change,” Amos shook his head. “She’s so young. They always are.” His gaze fell on her. “The world will never be the same for her again.”

Constantine nodded in agreement. “Because she is going through the change that must be why she had the strength to take down that Dark One. Strange, but intriguing. However, even those going through the change shouldn’t be able to be as strong as she was.”

It made complete sense if one looked at it that way. Still a newly changed Immortali shouldn’t have the knowledge it would require to defeat a Dark One or kill it, let alone one who’s still going through the change.

Amos yawned. The dark lines under his eyes were evidence of his exhaustion. We had been tracking the Dark One for days and chasing him for hours. Ours wards were waiting for us to return home.

“What should we do with her now? We can’t just leave her here and have humans find her. We would be risking exposure.” Amos was right. We couldn’t just leave her here.

I thought it over briefly though I already knew the answer. I knew the answer the second I realized that the girl was Jamie. “We will take the girl to her adoptive parent’s house and see where to go from there. Her house isn’t far from here. A few miles at best.”

Confusion was written in the furrowing of their brows and the stillness of their movements.

“You know this girl and her adoptive parents?” Amos wondered.

I nodded my head in her direction. “Yes, I do. Her name is Kathleen James McKenna, though she prefers to be called Jamie. Her adoptive parents are Mark and Vanessa McKenna of Trenton, New Jersey. They adopted her two years ago.”

Understanding flashed over their features the moment I said Vanessa’s name because they knew Vanessa as well.

Amos kneeled down and slid his hands under Jamie, lifting her off the ground, and put her into his arms without waking her up. She was still out cold.

Constantine’s eyes flickered down to the unconscious Dark One and up to me. “What should we do with him then?”

This was a job they could do without me for tonight at least. My current job was to make sure Vanessa knew what happened to her daughter. This is going to break her heart, I think sadly, but it has to be done. I held out my arms extended. “Give her to me,” I told Amos. He placed her into my arms, and I held her tight against my chest, so she wouldn’t fall. “I’m taking her to Vanessa. I’ll call you when I’m going to return. You two can deal with the Dark One without me for tonight. This is much more important than him.”

Neither of them contested my words.

Amos put his hand on my shoulder gently. “Be careful and return back safely to me, Renata,” he whispered. He worried too much. He knew that I was more than capable of taking care of myself.

Without another word to them, I carried Jamie back to her car on the side of the road. I found it easily in the night, and I put her securely in the backseat. I shut the door silently without waking her. Looking around, I see no one in sight for miles. Thinking over what I should tell Vanessa, I got into the driver’s seat, shutting the door, and I turned the key in the ignition. As the car hummed to life, I drove off on a new mission. A mission that I didn’t want to do, but I knew I had no choice.

Chapter 9 and 10 of Path of Shadows

Chapter Nine: Stone’s Throw (Diana’s Point of View)

“How much longer until we reach Pittsburgh?” Raphael asks the next morning as he walks up behind me.

The map is placed on a table in the kitchen of the church. I hover over it and try to count the miles from here to Pittsburgh in my head. I count the days and divide them by hours of daylight. “A few days by foot. Maybe five or six days tops.” I look up. “Where’s Emma?”

“Outside taking a walk. I would’ve accompanied her, but she’s safe in the daylight,” he says and leans against the counter with one leg lapped over the other. “I was wondering what you plan on saying to your Aunt when you find her. Have you given any thought to what you’re going to say?”

I don’t know what I’m going to say to my Aunt. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. Now, it does make me wonder. “I’ll figure it out when I get there.”

“You have a few days to think about what you’re going to say to her, but you should really think about it.”

Hurrying footsteps get louder the closer they get to us. Emma runs in the kitchen and over to us with a huge grin on her rosy face. “You guys’ll never guess what I just found,” she says. Her voice is high and giddy.

Raphael and I stare at her, confusion on the both of our faces. I question whether or not she’s finally cracked.

“Come on,” she says and pulls me along with her by the arm. “Let me show you what I discovered.”

Raphael’s right behind as Emma leads us out of the church through the front doors. We make our way around the side of the church and over to the wooden garage in the backyard. She pulls the garage doors open. Sunlight seeps inside and lights the garage up.

There inside sits an old green Chevy truck with the logo of the church on its side doors.

“See,” Emma points at it and almost bounces on her heels.

“How do we know this old thing still works?” I don’t want to give myself false hope, though I can feel it blooming inside against my better judgement.

Raphael walks over to the truck and pops the hood open. “Let’s find out,” he says and takes a look under the hood.

Beside him, Emma and I watch him pull tubes, nozzles, and wires out. He open them and look through every little part inside the engine. Satisfied, he walks over to the driver’s side and opens the door. We see him hop into the driver’s seat and have a look around. A few minutes later, we hear the rattling of keys. A moment after that, the rough sound of the engine comes to life.

“It works,” I whisper in disbelief.

The engine dies down and quits. Raphael hops out and walks over to us with a smile on his face. “The truck runs fine,” he examines. “There’s enough gas to get us to where we need to go.”

Emma and I share a look.

“Do you know how to drive it?” Emma asks him before I can.

“Yeah,” he answers and looks between us. “Don’t you two know how to drive?”

“In this type of economic downfall people don’t really drive cars,” I tell him. “No, we don’t know how to drive.”

He nods like he should’ve considered that. “Okay. You both go get your stuff and we’ll head out. I can drive.”

With his reassurance, we run back inside the church and pack up all of our stuff. It’s not much, only two backpacks full of clothes, bottles, and hunting equipment. We had to pack light when we left South Dakota because we were travelling by foot and didn’t want to be weighed down.

Raphael places our bags into the bed of the truck while we get into the passenger side. Packed and ready to go, he gets back in the driver’s seat and shuts his door. He puts the key in the ignition, turns it, and brings the old beast back to life.

“Here we go,” he says as we pull out of the garage and head for Pittsburgh.

Sitting and looking out the window, I have time to think about Raphael’s question. Does my Aunt even knows of my existence, and if she does, would she want to know me. I’ve travelled across the country to seek her out. The least she can do is talk to me. But that’s if I find her. I turn to see Emma. She’s passed out with her head leaning on my shoulder. I hope we didn’t travel all this way for nothing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself if I’m wrong, and I’ve dragged Emma along with me. Sighing, I turn my head to look back out the window.

The day passes before I know it. Hours of sitting in the truck has time lapsing in my mind. I stare at the yellow and white lines painted on the roads blankly. The sky’s a deep shade of purple by the time I see a green sign that identifies the town we’ve entered as Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.

The truck comes to a stop in front of a library and the engine dies.

“Why are we stopping?” I turn and ask Raphael.

He points out the window at the descending sun. “It’s almost night. We’ll stay here and continue travelling at daybreak tomorrow.”

“We’re so close,” I tell him and remove my seatbelt.

We unpack for the night in the former library. There are shelves upon shelves of dusty books with yellowed pages. There are lines pressed into the red carpet of the floor where desks, chairs, and tables once sat. I breathe in the thicker air that mixes with the fresh air from outside now. The scent reminds me of an abandoned building. Emma falls asleep as soon as she lays down on the blanket. I sit next to her on the blanket and stare blankly at the dusty books.

“You need to stop worrying,” Raphael says as he walks over and kneels down beside me. “We’re only a stone’s throw away from Pittsburgh. We’ll be there in the morning. Just relax.”

I know he’s right. He always seems to be right. I lay down and try to relax my tense muscles. Noises outside of the library make me sit up with a quickness.

“Stay here,” he whispers and walks out of the library doors without making a single sound.

 

Chapter Ten: Family (Diana’s Point of View)

Raphael reenters the library and comes back over to me. He shrugs his shoulders as he sits down next to me on the worn-out gray carpet. “No one was out there. It must’ve just been the wind.”

I lay down on the blanket to sleep. The creeping feeling inside of me makes me feel we aren’t alone. Brushing it off, I close my eyes, and know I’m safe as long as he’s next to me. Within no time, I’m comatose.

The next morning we’re back on the road. I grow anxious in my seat as we enter Pittsburgh. Emma nudges me with her elbow and smiles widely; her way of saying we did it. Our premature excitement is thwarted when the truck begins putt, putting and comes to a slow stop.

“What happened?” I ask Raphael when we come to a complete stop in the middle of the road.

“The truck stalled,” he replies and opens the driver’s side door. “We ran out of gas.” He sighs and hops out of the truck. “We’ll have to continue on foot.”

Emma and I get out. We grab our backpacks and follow Raphael down the road. He has the map out again and looks it over as we venture. I try to stay in high spirits as we go. I can’t let one thing like a truck stalling completely destroy my excitement today. Not when we’ve come so far.

Almost an hour passes before we reach the neighborhood of Morningside. I check every street sign we pass by because I know we’re getting close to our destination. All the houses lining these streets are older, Victorian maybe, and once upon a time could’ve been historical houses.

“Wellesley Avenue,” I say under my breath as I stand before the sign.

We head down Wellesley Avenue, the street Thea’s supposed to live on. Rows of houses blur passed me in a haze as I speed walk towards the 1400s numbered houses. 1401, 1403, I think as I pass them. 1405, 1407. I stop in front of a three story reddish-brown brick house with a front porch.

“1409,” I say. “This’ it.”

Standing still, I take a soothing breath to counteract the anxiety. One step before the other, I suck it in and walk up the steps onto the porch. Emma and Raphael are with me as I’m in front of the door. My fist raps on the wooden door.

We wait, but no one answers.

I knock again, a little harder this time.

There’s only silence on the other side.

“Maybe she doesn’t live here anymore,” Emma sympathizes in a soft voice. “She could’ve moved.”

What more can I do? I travelled across the country to get here. I’ve done all I possibly can. I nod slowly and feel my shoulders slump with defeat. I can’t believe we came all this way to discover no one lives here. I don’t protest when Emma leads me away from the door with her hand on my back guiding.

A loud crashing sound comes from within the house and alarms us. We stop and turn back to the door. Raphael puts his hand on the doorknob and twists it. It’s unlocked. He pushes the door open with a gentle nudge. It squeaks as it swings.

“Is anyone here?” He calls out inside.

No one answers again.

We go inside the house with quiet stealth. The three of us split up and have a look around the house to see if anyone’s here. I head up the stairs to the second floor. No one appears as I peek into the rooms: two bedrooms, a bathroom, a room filled with books, and a larger room with unopened boxes on the bare wood floor. There’s no dust. Everything gives me the impression it’s been used recently. The air even smells of Windex, polish, and potpourri.

Where are they at then?

Finding no one upstairs, I head back down to the first floor. Raphael’s at the bottom of the staircase when I get there. There’s a crease forming in-between his black eyebrows. I can tell he found no one either.

“No luck,” I shake my head in confusion.

“Someone definitely lives here,” he observes.

Emma’s voice calls us from below. “Guys, come downstairs. Please.”

We find the basement door in the kitchen. I go down the stairs with Raphael behind me.

“What did you find?” I ask Emma and pause in step as I see her in full view now. She has her trembling hands raised in the air. She’s as still as a statue. All I can focus on is the guy, a year or two younger than us, holding a shotgun. The barrel’s pointed in Emma’s direction.

 

Chapters 7 and 8 of PATH OF SHADOWS: a young adult novel

Chapter Seven: Grounded (Diana’s Point of View)

We walk under cloudy skies down street after street. Raphael walks ahead of us, looking over my map to keep us moving in the right direction. Emma walks beside me and keeps her eyes trained on him. I can’t force her to like him, but I hope she comes to terms with him being here with us.

“How much longer until we reach the border?” Emma asks me without looking away from him.

“Two days, or so. Why?”

She stops walking and pulls me aside. “Diana, are you 100% sure we can trust him?”

Am I 100% sure? No, but I can’t tell her that. If I did, she won’t ever trust or tolerate him. I say the only fact I’m sure of instead. “He saved my life, Emma. That counts for something.”

We continue walking, so Raphael doesn’t notice we stopped in the first place. Emma doesn’t ask me anymore prying questions about him, but she still doubts trusting him.

“What have you been doing since you were grounded on Earth, Raphael?” Emma asks during a momentary break from walking.

I give her a look that tells her not to pry.

“I can ask him a question or two, can’t I?” She raised her eyebrows and arms.

I shake my head in reprove. I know why she’s asking. She wants to know if he’s changed sides. She wants to pick his brain to figure out what he really wants with us. I haven’t told her about Raphael and my arrangement yet. I don’t want her to grow any more paranoid, or concerned, about me. As much as I disapprove of her prying, it does have me curious about his possible answers.

“It’s alright,” Raphael assures me and doesn’t sound irritated or like his privacy is being invaded. “In answer to your question, Emma, I’ve spent most of my time travelling.”

“Yeah? Where to?” She continues questioning.

He shrugs, reflecting. “Everywhere. I was in Europe and Asia for almost fifteen years. The Europeans aren’t fairing much better than the people here in the territories.”

“I wonder why Lucifer chose to make the United States his home instead of another country in Europe or Asia?” I say, verbalizing my thought.

He folds up the map and lowers it to his side. “I guess because countries in Europe and Asia are older, with a deep rooted mindset. Whereas, the United States’ still young. This country is easier to shape and mold into his image than others.”

“So is that all you’ve done?” Emma narrows her gaze. “You’ve just been travelling.”

“Not in the beginning,” he admits. “Weeks after the battle I met a woman named Willow. She took me into her home. We guided each other through hard times. She was the reason I begun travelling.”

Emma loses her edge and grows with fascination. “Did you love her?”

Raphael smiles and looks at the ground as he speaks. “Yes, I loved her. She showed me how to find a new path. I travelled the world to help others and destroy demons. My world had changed, yet my mission to help protect mankind hadn’t.”

The interrogation is over. Emma watches him with curiosity instead of suspicion. Her face softens. The rest of the walk is peaceful, except for my legs wanting to give out beneath me.

Twilight hovers in the sky as night is close approaching. Raphael finds an abandoned house for us to stay the night in. Emma and I set up camp for the night in a windowless bedroom upstairs while Raphael does his patrol outside. Emma and I lay on the blanket. My tired legs relax.

“We’ll make it to the border by tomorrow evening,” I say to Emma excitedly.

Her eyes are ready to shut. “We’re almost there.”

 

Chapter Eight: Borders (Diana’s Point of View)

Exhaustion weighs me down as we travel at daybreak. Hours of walking wares on me and takes a toll on my leg muscles. Emma drags her feet beside me as she pushes on. She flashes me a tired smile and returns to taking in the scenery. I can barely make out the sounds of Raphael’s light footsteps behind us.

The street is almost vacant, except for a family of four scurrying off down a side street. Two guys are on the sidewalk trading poultry. A woman in her mid-forties is on a porch step yelling at her young son for walking off too far. I glance over at a yellow shuttered house and catch the eye of an elderly woman. She locks her window and draws the shades close.

Further down the road no one’s insight. Day is slowly fading with night blooming soon.

Raphael looks over the map and folds it up. “We should be at the border by now,” he says more to himself than us and shakes his head.

“We are,” Emma clarifies and points down the street.

I follow her direction and see it. A rectangular, metal green sign that says Now Leaving Ohio and across from it is another sign saying Welcome to Pennsylvania. I enrapture in excitement. Our long journey is almost to an end. Emma shares in my thrill, but Raphael doesn’t. He has a serious look plastered on his face as he motions for us to follow him with the wave of his hand. We follow behind him and end up behind a bush to a duplex building.

“Stay here,” he orders us.

I don’t understand. “Why? The border’s right there,” I say, pointing in its direction. “If we go now we can make it there before its dark.”

“Exactly,” he replies. “The border’s right there. The demons guarding it are going to be right there too. Let me go check it out. I’ll try to find a safe way across. Unless, you want to take your chances and go now?”

His tone makes my cheeks burn in anger. I don’t like that he’s looking down on me. Like I can’t handle taking care of myself. I exhale my frustration and let it go because I know he’s right. “You go. We’ll stay here.”

He nods and walks off.

Emma and I kneel down and hide behind the bush. My heartbeat quickens and pounds harder with each beat against my ribcage. Sweat makes my hands clammy. Fear prickles up my spine, but I try to keep my face composed for Emma’s sake. She doesn’t appear any more confident than me.

“What if we don’t make it?” She asks in a quivering, small voice minutes later.

I don’t want to answer her question. The very thought of one of us not making it across makes my stomach twist into knots. “We’ll make it,” I tell her in a façade of bravado. “I promise you.”

“Hey,” Raphael whispers from beside us and makes the both of us jump with fright. “It’s clear. Let’s move.”

We stand and distance ourselves from the bush. I feel like a spy as we move along the buildings incognito and inch our way towards the border. The signs are almost in reaching distance now. Relief awaits me on the other side.

Almost there, I think as we approach the signs. I glance in all directions while Emma crosses over. I see nothing or anyone suspicious watching us.

“You next,” he tells me and remains vigilant.

One foot passes over, and then the other. I’m in Pennsylvania now. Raphael is right behind me. Now that we’re safe across, I exhale the breath I held in. Emma can barely contain her joy as we carry on.

I was worried for nothing. My disappointment and worry release from my body. The gravel crunches beneath my feet as we head down another road. Emma hums a song I can’t name. I can’t help but to grin at her. It’s the first time in a long while since I’ve seen her really happy.

Raphael’s long arm shoots out in front of us and blocks us. We all stop. He puts a finger to his mouth silencing us.

“What is it?” I whisper.

“Shush,” he whispers back. His head tilts in the opposite direction like he’s listening for something. A second later, his head snaps in our direction alarmingly. “Run! Run to the church!” He yells at us.

Emma takes off sprinting to the white church down the street off to the right. I run right behind her without any question.

Halfway to the church, I look back at Raphael. He’s still where we left him, standing in the middle of a three-way street intersection. Demons begin to manifest out of the shadows around him. There has to be twelve or fifteen of them. I know there’s too many demons for Raphael to take on his own and make it out alive.

This isn’t right. I stop dead in my tracks, almost spraining my neck in the process, as I glance in between Raphael and Emma.

She notices I’ve stopped and halts. “Come on, Diana!”

“No,” I tell her. “I have to help him.”

“I’m coming with you,” she tells me and tries to walk over.

“Stay,” I demand of her. “Get to the church and lock yourself inside.”

Our eyes meet for a moment. There’s a grave look on her face like she’s trying to memorize my face. Like this might be the last time she’ll ever gazes upon it. Emma turns and keeps on running for the church obediently without looking back. I won’t be able to help Raphael if I know she isn’t safe. I exert all of my muscles to run faster and get to Raphael in time. Fear envelopes me, but I can’t let it hold me back now. I have to help him.

Two demons hold him down on the ground while he struggles to get back on his feet. The others see me coming as I get closer. There’s no turning back now. I pull my sword out of its black sheath and raise it level to my arms. A growl almost like a cry gurgles its way up my chest and out of my mouth.

A demon with a sadistic grin on his face comes at me. Our swords make a clinging sound as they clash. Soon enough, I’m taking on three of them at once. I find an inner strength in myself hidden deep within I never knew was there before. An instinct, a drive, a light to defend myself from their attacks.

I barely notice Raphael’s standing as I destroy another demon. Movement from behind alarms me. Spinning around, I have my sword knocked from my grasp. It lands a few feet away on the ground. A bald demon shoves me and causes me to lose my balance.

The gravel and I collide hard as I fall. He lifts his sword high above himself and drives it down over my heart. My body reacts before I can think of what to do. I roll over and get to my feet. He’s just as quick. The cold metal of his sword is pressed against the flesh of my neck.

Frozen, I stare at him without looking into his black eyes. I know if I move he’ll end me.

His triumphant smile fades and his eyes round as he looks down. I gaze down too. The tip of a blade emerges out of his heart and drips with crimson blood. A sigh slips from in-between his pale lips as he falls to his knees. The side of my neck stings as his sword is removed.

Raphael pulls his sword out of the demon and grabs me by the hand. “We need to run. More of them are coming,” he tells me and pulls me along as he sprints.

The hairs on the back of my neck and arms stand on end as I run at full force. I feel the demons coming after us and move even quicker. I don’t look back. Cold, bone tingling chills crawl up my skin like spiders. Every fiber of my being is hypersensitive as adrenaline courses through mr. I’m still reeling from what just happened. I had no idea how strong I was in body and spirit before this very moment.

The arched church doors open as we near. Emma looks behind us and her eyes widen. I can only imagine what she sees. Raphael leaps in the doors with both of our swords in one of his hands. I take one big leap through; she closes the doors hard when I’m inside. Raphael holds the doors shut. Shadows flit and flash around the outside of the stain-glass windows.

Emma crouches down behind a wooden pew shaking and trembling.

A few moments later, there’s no noises coming from outside. No shadows pass in front of the windows. Raphael walks away from the doors and sits on a pew reclining.

“Where did they all go?” I ask him, but I don’t dare take my eyes off the doors.

He places the swords on the carpet in front of him. “They’re gone, but they’ll be back. We’re safe in here. Demons can’t enter a church that’s still holy,” he informs us.

I trust in his words, so I take a seat beside where Emma hides. “We’re going to have to camp out here for the night.”

 

Chapter 5 and 6 of PATH OF SHADOWS

Chapter Five: Journey (Raphael’s Point of View)

Emma, the blonde friend of Diana, busies herself just outside the laundromat with dinner. She had set up the fire and the contraption above it, so she could cook the fox squirrel a few hours ago. I watch her from inside the laundromat through the glass wall as Diana tells me about Emma and her long journey here to Ohio from South Dakota.

“We’re on our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to find my Aunt Thea,” she says from where she stands beside me. She hands me a folded envelope she produces from out of her back pocket.

I unfold it and read:

Thea De La Cruz

1409 Wellesley Ave

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The envelope is yellowed, dirty and aged.

“It’s the only address I have of hers,” she says when I don’t respond.

“It’s quite old,” I point out and hand it back to her. “Have you considered she might not even reside there anymore? In this time and age, people move all the time.”

She strokes her Aunt’s calligraphy on the envelope with her fingertips before she returns it to her pocket for safekeeping. “I have to at least try. She may be the only family I have left.”

“What about your mother?” I wonder. “What does she have to say about this endeavor of yours?”

Her body stiffens. There’s a sadness forming on her face and fear in the depths of her eyes. I don’t understand her sudden mood change yet.

“She’s…gone,” she answers in a low voice and glances out at her friend. “Emma’s all I have left.”

We stand in silence without making eye contact. There’s no real way to say I’m sorry for her loss. My condolences won’t make her mother rise from the grave.

“What about you?” She breaks our deafening silence. “Do you have a family?”

I have a family. Every angel is my family and, by extension, mankind is too. We were all created by the same Heavenly Father. The Archangels, my brethren, and I are the closest since we all were created for the same purpose. I’ve stood side-by-side with them through war and peace since the dawn of time.

“I have three brothers and three sisters.”

She nods and hops onto one of the old washers to sit. “Where are they?”

“I can’t be sure,” I say, and lean against a dryer across from her. I gaze down at the dust build up on the dryer. Absently, I wipe at the dust with my hand. “The day of the battle, some of them were killed. Some returned to the Heavens. Others, like myself, separated and went into hiding on Earth.”

“I didn’t know,” she says in a low, apologetic tone. “I just thought for the longest time that they, your kind, abandoned us.”

There isn’t a clear way to tell her all of what happened that day, yet I feel an obligation to tell her something. I hold her gaze as I speak. “We never gave up on mankind. Unforeseen events unfolded. We had to make a choice.”

Samael, the Angel of Death’s face materializes in my mind. The sadistic grin on his face as he slaughters his brothers, the three horsemen, never fades from my memory. How the blood splatters across his face as he takes their lives twists my stomach into knots. It’s a memory I can’t erase. I can’t forget as much as I try.

Emma opens the door and pops in. “Diana, I need your help with the meat. I can’t tell if it’s done or not.”

“I’ll be right back,” Diana tells me and hops off the washer.

I watch them walk outside.

There’s no way they’ll make it across the territory borders, I know. The border into Pennsylvania, in the Plain Lands, is heavily guarded by demons. If they cross that border the demons will catch them. The sentence for an illegal crossing into another territory, especially into the ungoverned Plain Lands, is execution. If the demons discover Diana’s a Nephilim I fear her fate. Certainly, it’ll be a fate worse than a quick death.

What can I do? Explaining the dangers to them won’t stop them. I can’t force them to stay. How can I protect them? I wonder and already know the answer. I have to go with them.

Diana returns.

“I have an offer to make you,” I tell her ominously.

One of her dark eyebrows raise as she stares at me suspiciously. “What kind of offer?”

“A proposal, really,” I explain. “The border is crawling with demons. The demons from the other night are still searching for you. I’m offering to go with Emma and you across the border and help you find your Aunt. You can think of me as your personal bodyguard. In return, I want you to let me train you.”

“Why?” She wonders. I open my mouth to answer, but she rolls her eyes. “I know, I know. We’re stronger together than apart. I got it.”

“Precisely,” I say with a smile.

“What do you want to train me for?” She asks and crosses her arms over her chest. “Do you expect to run into trouble soon?”

I stand straight and approach her slowly. “I came back here to find my brethren, so we can right the wrong we made eighteen years ago by going into hiding like cowards. Because of my kind, humanity has suffered. We’ve kept to the shadows for too long. It’s time we make our stand.”

“I get all of that,” Diana unfolds her arms. “But what does any of it have to do with you training me?”

Sighing, I rest my hand beside her leg on the washer. “There’s a war coming, Diana. I can’t say there are many Angels left on Earth. We’ll need all of ones we can find.”

Her eyes round slightly as she realizes what I’m suggesting. “No. I’m not an Angel. This isn’t my fight.”

“Yes, it is,” I correct her. “You’re half-angel. Whether you like it or not, you were born into this war. The demons will come after you whether you fight on our side or not. At the very least, you need to be able to protect yourself. Let me train you.”

I’m right. She can see this much as she bites her lower lip. “Okay,” she agrees. “I accept your offer, but I’m not promising anything. What you’re asking me to do I have to think about.”

“That’s all that I ask of you.” I move away from her and return to my former position by the dryer. “Consider what I’ve said.”

The rest of the day is rather mundane.

When the sun begins to set, they get ready for sleep. Emma lays in the small room on a blanket. She rests her head on a pillow and pulls another blanket up to her head. Diana lays next to her.

“I can make a place for you to sleep for the night,” Diana offers.

Rest is a luxury I can’t possibly afford.

“No, thank you,” I decline. “I’m going to go patrol. You get some sleep. Besides, Angels hardly ever rest.”

 

Chapter Six: South (Raphael’s Point of View)

Patrol turns up no threats. I return to the laundromat and lock the door before I pull the metal guards all the way down to the floor. Making my way to the back room, I turn off the lights. The faint perfume of laundry detergent, dust, and pine sol linger in the air as I make my way down a row of dryers and washers.

Diana and Emma are fast asleep on the floor when I enter. I lean against the wall and watch them sleeping. The only sounds in the night is their breathing. Time passes and I slide down the wall. Sitting on the cold floor, I place my sword on the floor beside me.

Quietness gives me time to think and reflect. I wonder how the world would be today if we had won that day. If the prophecy had played out the way it was supposed to, if evil would’ve been defeated. The Earth would’ve been healed and made anew. Why did it have to go this way? I question myself.

The day of the battle replays in my head now. A memory I return to often with no questions answered. I recall how it all went south.

The sky recedes and glows with a blinding light as the Heavens open. Below, a crevasse splits open wide on the Earth’s surface. Demons follow their formidable master out of the abyss and onto the surface.

Michael with a pure heart and unwavering love for mankind leads the Heavenly Father’s Army of Angels out of the Heavens and into battle. A battle that’ll decide the fate of mankind.

Soaring down to Earth, I pull up and land solidly on my feet with my sword in hand burning. My former brethren, the fallen angels, lead their demons towards us. There’s an electric feeling of anticipation and determination in the air around us. Legions of angels collide with the swarm of demons. I position myself near the other Archangels, so we can destroy any Archdemons who try to stop Michael from fulfilling his destiny. We have to ensure Michael will defeat Lucifer and lift the curse from all of mankind.

The struggle tips in favor of darkness in the midst of the battle as I see Samael fighting on Lucifer’s side. He destroys my sisters and brothers without remorse. Yesterday, he was my brother in arms, but today he stands beside the enemy loyally. His betrayal astounds me. No one saw this coming.

The prophecy, thought for so long to be the only outcome, changes. I look around and see my brethren falling one by one, left and right, by the hands of demons. Grief and hate consumes me as I feel more of my brother and my sisters being stripped from the light. I destroy as many of the abominations as possible.

A demon attacks me. We fight until he stops and gazes upward. I follow his gaze and look up toward the darkened sky. Oh, mercy! I see it.

The gates of Heaven are closing.

Lucifer, followed by his Archdemons, fly up towards the closing gates. They’re too late. The Heavens are sealed off. The crevasse in the Earth gone.

“Run. Hide. Don’t return until you hear my call.” Michael orders in all of the minds of the angels. “Go now! Be well, my brothers and sisters.”

I depart from the battle and separate from the others. I’m lost. I know that until the gates of Heaven open again I’m earthbound.

 

Straight Jacket: A short story

The streetlights of Holland blur pass Tyler through the rear window of the van as he wakes in a haze. His eyes, blurry at first, adjust to the bright lights, and he notices that he’s laying on a gurney. Two men dressed head to toe in white are sitting on either side him.

“What’s going on?” Tyler asks the two gentlemen in a groggy voice.

“You don’t remember?” The taller one with the bald head questions, raising one of his eyebrows. He glances at his partner, but doesn’t elaborate any further.

The sirens cut through Tyler’s head like a sharp knife. He lifts his head to get a better look around and sees the metal framing of the vehicle, the machines, and utensils. Bewildered by his surroundings, he tries to sit up and is stopped when the restraints have been stretched to their limit. “What?” Seeing the restraints fastened to his wrists and ankles, his eyes round. He’s even more perplexed than he was before. “What the heck did you guys do to me? Why am I chained to this bed?”

The men only stare at him as he looks askance between them; neither utter a single word the rest of the way to Whispering Meadows Facility on the far end of town.

The vacant halls smelling of bleach, sterilizers, and soap wafer in the air. A heavy dense feeling consumes the air in the facility. Tyler watches the brilliant tube lights in the ceiling the entire ride up to the west wing as the two men usher him on the stretcher.

In the second to last room, they untether him and stand him upright as a nurse slips a white jacket with all sorts of ties on it over his head. He remains silent while he watches them all work. He can’t fathom how he came to this point of being taken to an insane asylum. Surely, it has to be a mistake. Some sort of mishap. He’s a nice guy. He’s considerate of others. He works diligently as a sale representative; never misses a day of work. And he’s been happily married to his wife Christine for seven years. There’s no way he’s what they think he is.

“There’s been some sort of mistake,” he tries to speak calmly, but desperation comes across in his voice instead. He attempts a whole hearted smile, but it isn’t quite effective when sweat drips down his face.

The nurse finishes tying up all of straps on the jacket so his arms are hugging his chest and the only way to escape is tied to his back far out of reach. “Dr. Hammill will be with you in a moment. She’ll answer all of your questions,” the nurse says in a monotonous tone, void of all real feeling.

In an orderly fashion, the two men in white and the nurse exit the room and shut the heavy metal door behind them, leaving Tyler by himself in the small shell of a room.

His mind begins to whirl while his eyes sweep around the dull hollow room. It’s void of all decoration. There’s a toilet in the far corner, a sink beside it, and a bed on the opposite side without any sheets or pillows. All of the walls are plain eggshell colored, except for the one wall made of entirely of glass that almost reflects like a mirror.

The door to the room opens once more, creating a slight breeze in the already cold room. He flinches at the sudden sound of it, nearly jumping back half a step.

A woman in a white overcoat with a clipboard nestled in her arm steps into the room and shuts the door behind her. “Mr. Collins, how are we doing? I’m Dr. Hammill.” Her crimson shaded lips form a warm smile that doesn’t soothe him at all.

“Fine,” Tyler sits on the edge of the bed and it squeaks. “I’d be even better if I knew what the heck is going on. Why am I here?” He looks down at his harness and back up at the doctor. “Is this really necessary?”

“I’m afraid so, Mr. Collins,” she says, skimming the notes on her clipboard. “Can you tell me what you remember?”

His eyebrows pull together in concentration as he tries to recall the events prior to being in an ambulance. A throbbing ache pounds at his temples like lightning striking and prevents him from recovering the memories. “I don’t remember.” He meets the doctor’s gaze. “Why can’t I remember?”

Her face is carefully composed and her voice is calm and patient. “Let’s start with what you did when you woke up this morning and go from there. This might help you piece it all together. Let’s just take this slow.”

Concentrating hard, he breaks through the fog after minutes of thinking and recalls snippets of his day. “I woke up early. I dropped my wife off at work. Then I went to work. I got out of work at around five and picked my wife up on my way home.”

The doctor leans forward slightly while he takes a deep breath. “Is that all you remember? What happened after you got home?”

She’s hinting at something, he realizes, but he can’t seem to figure out what.

“What are you trying to get at?” Tyler stands quickly with growing frustration blooming inside of him. “Just tell me what you’re trying to say?”

Dr. Hammill stands, backing up toward the door cautiously and knocks on it. A split second later, the two men in white reenter the room. Tyler gets the message loud and clear. He calmly takes his seat back on the edge of the bed, trying to repress his frustration with each intake and outlet of breath.

“Tell me, Mr. Collins,” the doctor fixes her eyes on him, scrutinizing his every movement. “Have you ever been diagnosed with any psychological abnormality?”

He shakes his head. “No, of course not.” He pauses, shrugging his shoulders. “My mother never really trusted doctors. I’ve been to the doctors maybe four, or five, times in my life. Why do you ask?”

“Do you remember what happened at dinner time that night after your wife and you returned home?”

Thinking harder than before he breaks through the fog completely and recalls the memory like a vivid dream, despite the brain-splitting headache. “Christine set the table for four,” Tyler says, piecing the puzzle all together now. “Her parents came over for dinner.”

He hated her mother Margaret. Every time she visited them, she always had something to complain about. In particular, the subject was always Tyler. She criticized everything Tyler did and said. She knew how to push every one of his buttons. Just the thought of Margaret makes his arms tremble and his heart quicken like a beating drum.

“What happened at dinner with her parents there?” The doctor nudge, pushing him to answer.

“Margaret complained and nagged about me to my wife as if I wasn’t in the room with them,” he replies in a low, deep voice.

“How did you react?”

He scoffs, shaking his head slightly. “I didn’t say anything. I had a few drinks and let the liquor calm me down. When I couldn’t handle her bickering anymore, I excused myself and took a walk.” Tyler pauses, waiting for the next memory to come to the forefront of his mind. There seems to be a time lapse when it does. “Next thing I can remember, I was outside walking back to the front door when I saw this guy inside of my house attacking my family. I chased the intruder all the way up to my bedroom and into my closet. I thought he was going to pop out of nowhere and sneak up on me, so I kept a watchful eye on the mirror hanging on my closet door to make sure he wasn’t going to sneak up on me. I can’t remember what became of him.”

Dr. Hammill’s eyes dot between the two men before her gaze returns to Tyler. “You don’t remember hoping over the table and lunging at your mother-in-law and trying to strangle her? Or knocking your father-in-law out cold? Or busting a beer bottle and threatening to hold Christine hostage until Tyler comes home when the police busted into the living room?”

Reflecting on what she has asked, he goes back to the memory. He can only remember Christine elbowing and running away from him as the police officers wrestled him to the carpet and handcuffed him. It didn’t seem real. It seemed like a dream as if he were just watching it all play out from a far off distance. “That’s crazy,” Tyler laughs nervously with his eyes flickering between the three of them. “Why would I hold my own wife hostage until I got home? That doesn’t make any sense. I’m not crazy. This has to be some kind of mistake.”

The doctor shakes her head slowly. The concern is written deep in her expression. Her voice grows softer. “Have you ever heard of multiples?”

“Multiples? What the heck is that?” Standing, he paces the floor well aware of the two men in white watching his every movement carefully, ready to intervene at any moment.

“It means that you have more than one way of dealing with the world, Mr. Collins,” she answers. “It means there’s more than one person living inside of your mind. One of your personalities attacked your family. Do you understand what I’m saying, Mr. Collins?”

“I understand what you’re saying, doctor,” he pauses and spins around so that he’s facing the doctor directly. For a long moment, he stares at her with his expression shifting from fear to anger in a quick flash. “You think I don’t know what you’re up to? You think I’m crazy? I’m not crazy!” He yells, running at the doctor and leaps at her.

Quickly, she moves out of the way. He plops onto the ground, hurting his shoulder in the process. The pain of the injury doesn’t appear to bother him at all. Wiggling, he tries to break free as the two men in white pin him to the floor. A sharp pain stings his rear end as one of the men inject him with sedative to calm his wild rant.

“Mr. Collins, you have to calm down!” The doctor yells in a stern tone.

Tyler’s face twists with deep hate so much so that he doesn’t appear to be the same man. “You can’t hold me here! You tell Tyler that I’m going to find him and make him pay for this! I know that this is his doing. You hear me? I’m going to make him pay!”

Taken aback, the doctor kneels down and stares at him with her head tilted. “I’m Dr. Hammill,” she announces again in a soft tone. “Am I still speaking to Tyler?”

He grimaces at the sound of that name. “I’m Ben.” He wiggles again underneath the two men. “Now, let me go!”

 

Vestige: Chapter 1

I’ve been debating whether or not I want to fix up this novel I wrote this summer. I’m not sure whether or not it’s worth it. Maybe you guys could give me some insight. This is the first chapter of the young adult novel and the premise. Do you think it should be polished or is this just a story I should keep as a memory, a journey.

Premise:

A paranormal fiction set in the modern world but engulfed in a secret world of immortals where a war between the Immortalis and Dark Ones have been going on for thousands of years.

Caught in the middle of this war is seventeen-year-old newcomer Jamie who has just been changed into an Immortali and blood-bound by an unknown Immortali. As she joins her new coven and adjusts to this new world hers alters once more. Dark Ones want Jamie dead, she is discovering that she has other abilities that no one else has, and the search for who creator leads her to an unsuspected person.

An anomaly in a supernatural world Jamie finds that she is more than what she seems. As mysteries are revealed, danger heightens, evil gets closer, and betrayal changes her view of her coven, this may lead to her unraveling or her empowering.

 

Chapter One: Jamie’s POV

Not Again! I can’t be late again!

Driving home late again after another competition, I tried to make it home hopelessly before my curfew knowing that I was going to get in trouble with Vanessa for being out passed my curfew for the third time this week. It had only been a week after my seventeenth birthday and already I had broken my promise to stay out of trouble and behave myself.

She’ll have my head on a stick this time, I thought frantically.

As I drove out my frustrations I began to notice the headache forming wasn’t helping either. Not that a headache ever helped anyone. The headache seemed to have gotten worse in the past four days. I prayed that it would disappear by tomorrow’s soccer match because the team was depending on me to carry them to victory. What’s a team without its best goalie?

With eyes still focused on the road ahead and hands still placed at ten and two on the steering wheel I carefully maneuvered my cotton sweater off without so much as swerving on the road. It was getting increasingly hot in the car despite the fact that not once did I turn on the heat. Add to the fact that I was having a hard time breathing without wheezing. I hoped that I wasn’t getting sick, that it was just allergies, because I would miss out on too many things if I was coming down with something.

The road was deserted except for me and my Audi. No other cars or people were around on this old dirt road. Hardly anyone took this route because the highway was faster and also due to the reason that this road was said to be dangerous because of all the accidents that occurred here when it was a busy road.

The lonely dirt road sat beside a forest on both sides. Rushing and driving fast was a given for me. Besides I knew no police cars would be sitting in wait. They never patrol this road anymore.

I coughed hard and closed my eyes for a split second. When my eyes fluttered open I was caught off guard and blinded as a big boom of florescent light shined in the forest to my right. The car shook slightly though not overwhelmingly so but enough for me to notice that it wasn’t natural. Something was happening.

Startled and starting to panic I found the brakes with my foot and stomped on it, putting the car into a complete stop, while shielding my eyes with my arm from the bright illuminating light. My head felt like it would explode with pain, pulsating. Barely seeing around my arm the booming light slowly faded away after a few seconds.

Removing my arm from my face I looked at the area where the light was still fading back into the darkness of night. My eyes finally adjusted to the sudden change in light and my raged breathing made each wheeze hurt more and more.

“What the heck was that?” I asked talking to myself.

When I finally calmed down to what I thought as reasonable I put the car back into drive and pulled off to the side of the road, parking the car. The flash of light was completely gone when I got out of the car and shut the door. Looking around in the dark of night I headed into the forest which made me feel uneasy. It was too silent for a place where many animals inhabited. Not just silent but absolutely creepy. My heart raced more with each step I took. Something about the forest felt wrong. It felt unnatural. Like the feeling you get when you know in the pit of your stomach that something bad is going to happen and you just don’t know what exactly it is or how it will happen but you expect it.

After minutes of walking I reached the exact point where the boom of light originated and once lit the forest up. Suddenly I felt dizzy and exhausted. My body started to sway as I began to lose control over my balance so I leaned against a tree to steady myself. Unsuccessfully I was trying to get rid of my headache and the vertigo that was forming. The competition must’ve taken a lot out of me.

The silence in the forest stretched on with only the sounds of my labored breathing and heart pounding loudly in my chest present. Then out of nowhere I heard the sounds of tree branches and twigs breaking or being moved. By what? Wondering suspiciously I listened closer to the noises and realized the noises were getting closer to my location. It sounded like the branches and twigs were being stepped on.

Someone or something was running fast in my direction.

“Hello? Is someone out there? Hello?” I yelled, trying to see if they were alright.

No one answered back.

The running kept aiming in the same direction. This time the sounds of whomever or whatever was running became more persistent. Finally I came to the conclusion that if it didn’t answer something must be wrong. Then another thought drifted through my mind. One I should have thought of sooner. What if they were the ones who caused the booming light?

I should have run away or screamed for help but never in my life had I cowered out or away from a problem. The bad feeling within me told me not to leave myself in a vulnerable state. My instincts took over as I prepared in case the person or animal was going to attack me. Everything about its approach felt wrong. Digging my feet into the ground, leveling my arms, calming my nerves, and suppressing my aches, I positioned my body into a defensive stance. I worked myself up for an encounter by praying “you can do this, you can do this” repeatedly in my head. Even though I felt like crap every nerve was on end prepared to fight just in case.

Once again my eyes swept over the direction where branches and bushes were beginning to shake. Squinting, trying to focus my sight in the darkness, I saw the distinct silhouette of a man in dark clothing running towards me. A short distance behind him three figures with flashlights were chasing after him.

As he got closer to me one of the figures chasing him, a woman, shouted out to me catching my attention for a split second. “Run away from him, girl! Do not let him come in contact with you! Run now!” She yelled, out of breath.

I couldn’t make out her face though I heard the panic and anger ringing clear as day in her voice. She was right to say it. I should have listened but I was too stubborn. Running was not how I taught myself to react to these types of confrontational situations. Something inside of me compelled me, telling me that the man running wasn’t even close to a good guy. The unsettling feeling deep in my soul said that he was a very bad guy. Shaking my headache away I got back into a defensive battle stance.

When he came into complete view I watched horrified as he growled at me, gritting his teeth. The inhuman growl that yelped from him threw me off guard but not enough to get me out of the battle stance. He was too much of a threat now, I decided, and he’s in reaching distance. When I didn’t move an inch he came charging at me at full speed and tackled me to the ground before I could make a move, knocking the wind right out of my body.

He was so fast that I barely saw him attack. After a few labored breaths I caught my breath and looked him dead in the eyes. An unusual feature of his stood out. There was something odd about his clearly amber eyes. They held a strange dark red ring around the amber irises. It was stranger than his pale flesh.

He growled menacingly again, in my face this time, as he struggled with me trying to stand back up. He was stupid to think that I would just give up and surrender. Using all of my strength I wrapped my legs around his and disabled him from standing up which made him even madder than before. The dark rings around his eyes grew more intensely and slowly overtook the amber parts consuming them. I gasped knowing that no way was it possible that this man I was fighting with was human. Human eyes could never do that. It just wasn’t physically possible.

The three figures that were previously chasing him halted to a stop nearby not sure what they should do. I looked at them briefly but not long enough to see them and who they were. He caught me off guard for that split second and took advantage of it. Before I could look back at him, he had already unwrapped my legs and hold on him. I turned back around in time to see him hiss inches from my face. Then he did something I didn’t believe humans could do either.

He got a good grip on my arm with his hand and flung me in the air and into a tree trunk. Not extremely hard like I’m sure he wanted to. It was hard enough that I felt beaten and bruised on impact. Ten times worse than the sickness I already felt beginning inside of me. My eyes watered. I blinked my eyelids over and over again in order to see clearly.

It had been only a few seconds since I was immobilized still I had missed a lot. The man was standing up facing the three figures with flashlights in a feral crouch. Watching the man I stood back up, leaning against a tree, and shook my head. When the dizziness faded again I set my view on the scene playing out before me once more. He was too focused on the others to pay much attention to me. It’s now or never, I thought to myself as I worked up the confidence to carry out my plan of revenge. Slowly I drifted away from the tree and over to him without making any sounds. Running at him now I used the full force of my body and tackled him while he was off guard. It was like hitting an immoveable object but somehow I managed.

We fell to the ground hard. He immediately tried to untangle me but this time it wasn’t going to be so easy with me focused. It was payback time. He deserved this after what he had done. I wrapped my legs tighter around his waist and maneuvered my right arm around his right arm and neck then squeezed hard. Squeezing and squeezing until my entire body was engulfed in a burning pain. He groaned and wiggled around trying to break free from the sleeper hold I had him trapped in. His teeth were mere inches from my face.

After a few minutes of struggling his body went completely lax as he drifted into unconsciousness. He entered submission and my heart rate slowed and sweat clung to my forehead. The fight exhausted me beyond the sickness and pain I previously felt. I didn’t care whether I had hurt him or not as I released my hold on him and dropped him to the ground and stood up brushing dirt and leaves off my clothes and out of my hair. My headache returned and I felt suddenly really dizzy. It was a thousand times worse than before. Now it was unbearable.

The woman who had yelled to me before and the other two figures with flashlights stared awestricken at me and dropped their gazes down at the unconscious man. Well I wasn’t sure what he was but I knew he wasn’t human. That much I knew. All of their eyes practically bulged out from their sockets.

The wheezing grew making it harder for me to breathe right. Everything hurt and ached. A searing pain slithered up my spine and spread throughout the rest of my body. My bones and joints kept cracking feeling like they were shattering to bits. Much worse than growing pains. More like what some would imagine death to feel like.

The woman stepped forward and I looked her over closely through burning blurry eyes. She was familiar to me. Her long curly black hair, yellowish-green eyes, and beige skin. The woman was too familiar and I knew exactly who she was. For I had seen her many times before with Vanessa. What is she doing out here at this time of night chasing that awful creature? I wondered curiously.

“Rena? Is that you?” I asked. My voice was sounding hoarse.

Just as I got ready to ask her again I broke out into a harsh coughing fit.

The woman looked up at me wide-eyed when I said her name. She took a slow step forward. Recognition flying through her and she gasped. The horror and sadness out showing her shock. She recognized me too.

“Kathleen? Kathleen McKenna? What are you-” She started to say.

Her voice cut out and disappeared as the dizziness finally won and I fainted, barely seeing the other two figures with flashlights running at me to catch me as I slipped into unconsciousness.

Chapter 2 of Path of Shadows

Chapter Two: Sixteen (Diana’s Point of View)

The word echoes in my head as I turn and run once more. The demon doesn’t pursue me. He stands in the same place I left him and watches me. Nephilim, a word I haven’t heard in years. The memory of my mother calling me a Nephilim as a child comes to the forefront of my mind. My mother’s dark brown eyes gaze down at me as I play with the doll she’d made me before my birth. She smiles sadly and lifts me up into her arms.

“You are special, Diana,” she says to me in a tone that borders happiness and concern. “Diana, my Nephilim.”

The memory is one I don’t want to remember, so I shake it away and focus on the here and now. I find myself passing between two tall brown brick buildings whose paint is chipping. There’s a large metal trash bin at the end of the alley that’s overloaded with debris and trash. I come to a complete stop when I realize I’ve made a wrong turn.

“A dead end,” I say aloud.

There’s nowhere for me to go now. The only way out of the alley is the way I came in. I know I can’t go back that way because the demons will be waiting for me if I do. Every door to both buildings are locked as I try to open them. I look around spinning and try to find another means to escape, but there’s none. I stand in the alley anticipating my death, defeated.

Looking at the only way out, I see the darker than dark shadows slither across the ground. I take a few steps back as if it makes a difference. They encircle me and begin to take shape. Six of them, flesh and blood, manifest out of the night around me. I’m defenseless against so many. Their towering posture, curious stares, and demented smiles tell me they know they have me right where they want me.

I don’t shed any tears, yet I’m terrified. My fate is sealed. Death has come for me in the form of demons. Is this how I end? I wonder as I face them.

“What do we have here?” The blonde one facing me says and takes in my entire being with his eyes.

“A Nephilim. Half-angel and half-human. A rare breed,” the one beside him says.

The others are too captivated by my glowing skin and the odd symbols to add to the discussion.

“What should we do with her?” The blonde one pulls out a knife with a black blade from his back pocket and strokes the blade with the tips of his fingers as he paralyzes me with his piercing gaze.

The other one shrugs his shoulders. “She’s a Nephilim. We must take her to the Master. That’s the law,” he replies and takes a long pause before he speaks again. This time in a deeper voice. “We don’t have to bring her to him alive.”

The blonde one smiles so wide I can see his white teeth.

I want to run. I want to scream. Anything that’ll get me further from them. I need to fight, but I can’t manage to move as I’m lost in his eyes. The only movement I can do is ball my hands into fists and flex them.

They are all in agreement about what to do with me. They close in on me. The blonde one touches my arm. A cold fire spreads where he touches me. Repulsed, I try to shake his touch off, yet I’m immobile.

“This will hurt a lot,” he says. There’s sadistic undertone in his promise as he pulls his knife back to cause me untold pain.

I fight to shut my eyes and I can’t.

“Hey!” Someone yells from the entrance to the alleyway.

They look to where the voice originated. The blonde one looks away from me and breaks his hold over me. I can blink and follow their stares, but I’m too fear stricken to run.

A tall man with dark brown eyes, short untidy black hair, and a slender muscular build stands at the entrance to the alleyway with his hands behind his back. There’s no distinct expression of fear on his face as he skims the group of demons around me. He takes a step closer to us as he speaks.

“Leave the girl alone.”

The demons hiss at him when his hands fall to his side and he shows them the shiny, silver sword with a gold hilt in his right hand.

“Angel,” the blonde demon growls.

The tension building between the demons and him fills the air around me. It’s filled with a deep hatred. The demons ignore me now and focus all of their attention on him like I’m invisible to them.

“I guess the girl wasn’t alone,” the other demon says to the blonde one.

The guy walks towards them now. He looks calm and collected as he strides over to them. The demons run towards him with their weapons out. All of their hate and desire to kill is aimed at him.

He’s going to get himself killed, I think as I watch the demons go at the stranger.

He doesn’t run as they reach him. Instead of cowering or bowing out he raises his sword and attacks them as they reach him. The fierce will and warrior-like strength in his movements as he fights leaves me watching with a growing fascination. One by one he overpowers the demons and defeats them. There’s no hesitation in his attacks.

Minutes later, he rushes over to me after destroying the demons. He isn’t fazed by the glow emitting from my body. He wraps his hand around my arm and pulls me along with him down the alley.

“Now would be a good time for you to start running,” he tells me and releases his hold.

We run as fast as possible down and out of the alley. I look back and notice we’re still being followed by demons. Not the demons from the alley, but others. He leads me down a few blocks and tries to find a building that’s unlocked or unoccupied. No such luck. We cross another street with only one working lamp light.

The goose bumps all over my skin reminds me that we’re still being pursued.

He runs up to a glass door to a five story building that looks like it could’ve been a newspaper business back in the day. He tries to open the door, but we discover it’s locked. I look behind me and see the shifting shadows at the end of the street slowly inching closer.

“They’re coming,” I say to him. My voice quivers and breaks.

“Forget this,” I hear him say as he kicks at the glass door once. The glass cracks and shatters into a million tiny pieces. The shards fall onto the ground sounding like a waterfall. “Come on,” he says and pulls me into the building by the arm.

My legs grow tired as I run stair by stair up three levels on his heels. Another setback awaits us as we get to the door. It’s locked. He takes a few steps back and rams his body forward at the door. It collapses and we walk over it. We walk around the third floor. Cubicles, offices, and conference rooms are all on the third floor.

“This way.” He leads me into an abandoned office.

Inside the office, he shuts the door and takes me behind the desk. He looks out of the window at the street searching for the demons. I don’t understand why he helped me escape, or why he is protecting me now.

“Who are you?”

He turns to face me and puts a finger to his mouth shushing me.

I shut my mouth and stay still as he places his hands over my collarbone. His eyes shut close and he whispers something in a language I don’t know over and over again. I don’t know what he’s doing until I look down and see the glowing fade until it disappears. The black symbols fade away, but not into nothing. I feel them sink into my skin and attach to my bones. They become etched into my bones.

The pain is agonizing as they burn into my bones like a tattoo. I scream, but he covers my mouth with his hand tight. I try to ignore the pain, but I can’t. He wraps his arms tight around my upper body as I wither in pain. It’s the only thing he can do to keep me from convulsing, or ripping out my hair.

Outside of the door, we hear footsteps and see the shadows of the demons walking around from under the doorway. We crouch down, with his hand still covering my mouth, and hide behind the desk.

“They aren’t here,” one of the demons say. “The signal has disappeared. The angel must’ve clouded her signal. They can’t be tracked now.”

A long moment of silence passes before another demon speaks. “All we can do now is go tell Beelzebub that we saw them and see what she has to say.”

Silence comes from outside of the office. The goose bumps go away. I no longer feel cold or a sense of danger.

They’re gone, I think with relief.

He stands and removes his hand from my mouth. I stand and face him still with a burning pain in my chest like I had inhaled smoke from a fire. My throat burns with a dry sensation. He puts his sword into its sheath at his waist and turns to face me.

“What did you do to me?”

“I shielded your beacon,” he answers, and adds more to his explanation when he sees my confusion. “I carved a protection into your bones to prevent the demons from tracking you.”

The office begins to sway around me. I’m spinning and spinning, yet I’m standing completely still. I hold onto the desk for support to keep from falling. My legs quiver as they try to stay in place without giving out.

“I don’t feel so good,” I say, dizzy.

He doesn’t look surprised as I collapse to the ground on my back. I look up at him through hazy eyes. I feel light-headed as I fight to keep my eyelids open against the heaviness trying to close them.

“Happy sixteenth birthday,” I hear him say before I pass out from the pain.

 

My YA Novel: Path of Shadows

     What if the devil and his legions won the Earth at the end of the Revelations battle in the Bible? 

     Eighteen years after the big battle between the Angels and Demons, sixteen year old Diana and her friend Emma are travelling the territories (what used to be the United States) in search of her Aunt. On her birthday, Emma and her are being pursued by black wispy shadows when Raphael, an Archangel, arrives and saves them. Glowing odd, ancient symbol begin manifesting on her skin. Diana realizes her Nephilim (half human, half angel) heritage is at play.

     The three of them–an Angel, a half-angel, a human–trek across the country fending off demons to find the only family Diana has left on this Earth. Along their journey, mysteries surrounding what happened to Diana’s parents and what her role in the upcoming final battle that decides the fate of Heaven, Earth, and Hell, are revealed. As hope begins to dwindle and faith is tested, Diana and her friends must find the remaining Angels and allies on Earth who’ll with them in arms as the final battle approaches.