The Guild – Chapter 4 – Andrei

    My door closes with a click and I listen to the tick of the clock on my nightstand. My room is a mess, there’s laundry everywhere and school notes are strewn across the computer desk. I spot an empty plate peeking out from under one of my journals. The clutter bothers me but I’m not exactly tired yet so I start to tidy the mess.

    Kaitlyn, Logan, monsters, and magic? It all seems a little far-fetched, like I’ve just been thrown into a cold pool and am expected to keep my head up, no problem. Heck, I know what I saw though. Fire came from her hands like it would a BBQ lighter. The guy was controlling those ooze monsters like it was second nature. Is there really a place where you could learn this stuff?

    I toss a crust of bread into the bin and stack the notes neatly, hiding them in a drawer. So much has happened today. I mull over the events while I set my room in order. The cleaning soothes my uneasiness.

    I’m not the only one who feels this way. I can hear a muffled conversation in the next room, Kae and Caroline are still a little upset. Caroline has some sort of trick too, though she was completely unaware of it, until now. I can’t help but wonder what she can do.

    At last, the room looks presentable. I sit at the desk and pull a half-filled journal from the bookshelf. I rifle through the pages to a blank one and grab a pen from the cup under the lamp. I start to record the events of the day. I can’t forget a single detail. I relive each moment, feeling my heart skip when I saw Kaitlyn by the library, smoking. My muscles tense as I fight the ooze monster, and my mind races as I plan how I’m going to ring Logan’s neck.

    Who the frig does he think he is anyway? Enough crime happens on campus nowadays, I can’t let some freak get away with what he did to Caroline. I mean, it’s our fault for being on campus, to begin with. I gotta find those missing students, it’s the right thing to do.

    I finish the journal entry and lean back, the chair creaking. It’s eerily quiet. Maybe they’re all asleep by now. I glance at the clock, it reads one thirty. I can’t believe I’ve been up this long.

    My mind wanders back to her, the flaming hair, the skittishness. She’s an odd character. I wonder about her and what she’s been doing. Could the white-haired freak really be scared of her? Why?

    I stretch, yawning. It’s late and I’m feeling the excitement wear off. I switch off the lamp and pull off my shirt. The light of the moon comes in through the window, falling across my bare skin, making it glow faintly in the dark. Seeing the faint pink lines of my own scars from the past reminds me of how Kaitlyn had healed herself. Her skin is marbled with burn scars. Did she had an accident with the fire?”

    Questions plague me but I feel it’s too inappropriate to ask; we only just met. I have to be patient, but it’s hard. I want to know! I want to know all I can. I look at the books on my shelf, titles of ancient histories, their ink reflecting the moonlight. I love their stories. I can faintly make out the ends of sticky notes poking out at the top from corrections I’ve made from my own travels.

    I finish undressing and crawl into bed. I anticipate tomorrow’s planning. I can’t wait to take action. Now if only I had my fencing sword. I smile in the dark and pull up the covers, drifting into sleep.

~*~

    The sun shines on my face and wakes me from my deep sleep. I groan and roll out of bed. I take a look in the mirror and run my hands through my hair, fixing the shape. When I’m happy with how it looks I head to the kitchen.

    The floor is cold on my feet and feels a little damp. Was the floor always this damp? I double check to see if there’s been a flood from the laundry machine but I see nothing. Weird. I enter the kitchen and flick on the light switch. Time for food.

    In no time at all, I have a plate of eggs and mini sausages and I’m pouring a cup of coffee. I wander into the living room and freeze. Shit, I forgot the new girl was here. I look around wildly for a shirt. Nothing. I put the plate down, thinking it best I grab one from my room, but the sleeping girl catches my attention.

    She’s sprawled out on the couch like a drunken sailor, arm thrown over her head and mostly covered by a weird fuzzy orange blanket. I don’t recall owning an orange blanket. Weird. My eyes wander over her until I notice a faintly flickering light near her wrist. It glows slightly red and is about two inches long. It looks to be the shape of a flame. I’ve never seen a birthmark or a tattoo that glows. It looks slightly raised too. I lean a little closer for a better look.

    My hand reaches towards it.

    “I would advise against that,” a deep voice says. I jump back, nearly tripping over the coffee table. The blanket spoke.

    “Shoot, Rhoan. You scared me.”

    I hear a groan and she starts to move. Her eyes flutter open, resting on me before she gasps and I hear the couch creak as she tries to jump out of it. Fortunately, this time, Rhoan seems to restrain her, and the couch shakes a little with her effort.

    I watch her, eyes wild and fearful. She seems to relax as she recognizes me. Suddenly I’m self-conscious and wish I’d grabbed my shirt before taking a closer look at her strange flickering mark. I feel heat in my cheeks and I stutter.

    “Uhh, s-sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you,” I back up, knocking my heel on a leg of the coffee table. I quickly grab my plate and dash off to my room.

    What was I thinking? Stupid idiot! Great way to make an impression, frighten her to death … again! I’m such a fool. I set the plate on the desk and grab a shirt. Suddenly, I’m not so hungry, but I can’t let it go to waste so I wolf the meal down and head back out to apologize.

    I glance into the living room, she’s just sitting there on the couch, looking confused. I feel bad. I step in and look at the floor. “I’m so sorry for earlier. I didn’t – I shouldn’t have … uhh… disturbed you.”

    “It’s ok,” she whispers. “People don’t usually come that close to me, except when they’re trying to kill me. You’re very… different.” She adds as an afterthought.

    “Kill you? My god, where did you grow up? Normal people don’t try to kill each other,” I point out, surprised by her comment. I feel sorry for this girl if that’s her regular routine.

    “People do crazy things when they’re afraid. I don’t hold it against them.”

    “Well, you should! It’s not like you’re living in the year 200,” I say coming into the room and kneeling in front of her. “That’s not normal. If anyone says otherwise then they’re crazy too.”

    She looks at me with sad eyes, so sad it hurts to look back at them. “I set things on fire, without even trying. I’m not normal.”

    I realize what she’s trying to do – trying to justify others irrational fears of her unique ability. But I can’t accept that. I have to tell her. If we’re going to work together, she has to know.

    “By that logic then no one here is normal, but that’s not the point. They shouldn’t try to kill you just because they don’t understand. I… I know how ‘not-normal’ feels. I’ve been not normal all my life,” I hesitate, how do I say this so it doesn’t sound stupid.

    “I… time jump,” there. It’s out. A weird shiver courses through my body and I fear that a jump might be at hand, but it calms down. It’s not every day I reveal my little secret to a stranger.

    “I’m sorry,” she says, completely serious. “That must be terrifying.”

    I nod my head in agreement. “Yes, it was the first few years. When you’re seven and you’re suddenly not in class but in the middle of a ship that’s sinking, it can be a shock. And yes, it really fucks with regular life. But who cares! Regular life, to be honest, is pretty boring, which is why I want to help out. That is why Kaede is so excited all the time. He wishes he was like us,” I say with a wink.

    She turns pink and smiles. It’s really cute and I cough to hide my own smile.

    “Anyway… Breakfast. Want anything? I can make eggs, we got cereal or toast. What’ll it be?”

    “You don’t have to do that… Just coffee is fine. I’m okay.”

    My jaw drops and I give her a big frown. “That is so not healthy. I’ll make you a real English breakfast,” I flash her my best smile and jump into the kitchen. It takes some time to prep but soon I have the tomatoes sliced, sausages and mushrooms cooking and perfectly fried eggs glistening in the sun.

    I plate it and bring it into the living room as I see Kaede’s door open and the two of them come wandering out to join us.

    “That smells delicious!” Caroline says.

    “Woah dude, any left for us?” Kaede asks.

    “There’s stuff left on the counter if you want any,” I set the plate down in front of Kaitlyn and grin. “That’s a real breakfast. Enjoy!”

    She looks at the plate, a little overwhelmed. “I…Thank you. You really didn’t have to…”

    “My treat,” I grin.

    “Stop flirting with the new girl!” Kaede shouts from the kitchen, I hear him laugh quietly with Caroline.

    “It’s not like that,” I shout back. “I’m just being nice,” I say, feeling the heat in my cheeks again. Damn it.

    She slides to the floor and picks up the knife and fork, carefully cutting each bite into small pieces before eating. I take a seat on the floor across from her and lean back on my hands.

    “So, why don’t we plan while you eat, hmm?”

    She pauses, reaching beneath her hair to pull out a mouse, putting him on the table. The blanket, I notice is gone. The mouse talks and I quickly look to the kitchen to see if the others hear it.

    “Andrei, be a dear and bring me something to draw a map,” he says in his deep voice, so uncharacteristic to his current form.

    I check Kaede’s desk and find something to draw on. “Here,” I set it down and return to my spot at the coffee table. I watch closely as the mouse shifts into a disembodied hand and lays out some plans. Freaky…

~*~

    Standing in front of this old, rundown warehouse, the severity of the situation hits me. We’re really here, we’re going to find this guy and the missing kids and take him down. Kaede had insisted on joining us, but I’d somehow convinced him that if anything should happen to us, he should stay behind to call the cops. So now, at ten in the morning, Kaitlyn and I stand out front of this decrepit warehouse off Snidercroft with the shapeshifter, Rhoan.

    “So…” I say, looking at the fence that surrounds the property. I do a quick check for any cameras, the coast seems clear.

    “I hope you can climb,” she muses as she grabs hold and starts.

    “Whoa! Really?” I look around again, it’s still early morning and I’m hoping no one can see us on their commute. “Here, let me help you,” I offer. I grab the chain link fence and try to hold it steady. She gets to the top and waits for me.

    The holes in the fence are too narrow for my shoes and it’s difficult to find my footing. When I reach the top, I look at Kaitlyn. “It’s really happening, eh?” she nods and starts to climb down. I swing my leg over and grab the pole for support but my jeans catch on the top where a stray wire sticks up. It tears through, gashing my calf as I lose my balance.

    I fall off the fence and land hard on my shoulder with a small grunt. “Shit,” I breath through clenched teeth. Kaitlyn drops down next to me, nimble like a cat on all fours, clearly having witnessed my embarrassing acrobatics, a panicked look on her face.

    She holds her hand out as if to help me up but then freezes, second-guessing the action and pulls away. “Are you okay?” she asks instead, hand still out but too far away to really help. I watch her carefully as I prop myself up.

    I look at my torn jeans and sigh. They were new too. “Yea, I should be fine,” I say, holding the fabric up to get a closer look at the cut. The gash looks to be three inches long and is still bleeding. I’m such a clutz.

    She looks at the blood, biting her lip. It’s really quite cute. “I could close the wound, but … it’ll hurt.”

    I look at her in disbelief. “Really? I can handle it. We just got here and I already put a wrench in our mission. I probably can’t walk on it otherwise,”  I give her a nod, curious about how healing really feels.

    She rolls the rest of the pant leg up to my knee, well away from the wound. She pauses, hesitating again. “I’m sorry,” she says before she’s even touched it. Then she pulls off her right glove and places three fingertips over the cut.

    I feel a wave of heat rise up from the wound as if it’s bathed in flames. I grit my teeth and try to stifle a moan as the heat and pain intensifies. I throw my head back, trying to keep my cool. I can take it, really. I don’t want her to see me complain. It’d be more embarrassing than falling.

“Sorry,” she says, again and again.

    “It’s fine,” I try to mutter. “Perfectly… fine,” I swallow the whimper that threatens to escape.

    “Sorry, sorry… sorry,” I hazard a glance and see a tear in the corner of her eye. I thought I was the one in excruciating pain?!

    Suddenly the heat is gone and I look down, the wound is gone, my leg is smeared with dried blood. I see a light burn mark where the cut was – another scar to add to my collection, but heck, it’ll remind me of her, I think with satisfaction.

    “Thanks,” I say, truly grateful. I roll down the pant leg and try to stand on it, I feel a slight discomfort, but it’s good to go. “Alright, let’s get this show on the road,” I say with a grin, hoping to cheer her up.

    I hear her take a deep breath as she stands up. “Rhoan, go with Andrei,” the mouse jumps from under her hair and lands on my shoulder. I jump a little as I feel his tiny claws through my shirt.

    Kaitlyn removes her other glove, stuffing them both in her back pocket. “You should probably keep a safe distance from me.”

    I raise an eyebrow, wondering what she means. I take a single step back.

    She shakes her head and suddenly sprints for the building door. I dash after her. “So, Rhoan, how about we turn you into a fencing blade, hmm?” I feel the excitement taking hold as we begin our chase.

    “As you wish,” he leaps from my shoulder and becomes a very shiny fencing blade, complete with an ornate cross guard.

    I give him a toothy smile. “So cool.”

    Kaitlyn stands at the door, unmoving. “What are you waiting for?” I ask.

    She shrugs and grabs the handle. For a moment I see her staring at it with great intensity, then the handle begins to glow bright orange and melt. “Whoa…” Is all I can say and the door swings open and we enter the dark warehouse.

    There’s a darkened hallway lined with doors. The floor is covered in dust. It doesn’t look like anyone’s been here in ages. I wonder if Rhoan really saw Logan come here last night. I creep down the hallway, trying to keep my breathing quiet as I follow Kaitlyn to the end of the hall where a double door blocks our passage.

    “This has got to be the storage room,” I whisper, stepping to the side as she considers our next move. I drop the sword to my side and wait.

    She places her hands on the crack of the door and pushes, squeezing her eyes shut with the effort. The door slowly gives way and she tumbles through the opening she’s made. Once through, however, the door slams shut behind her before I can get through.

    “Hey! Kaitlyn! Wait up!” I shout, tossing Rhoan to the ground.

    “Oww… That was rude,” he mutters as I try to push the door open.

    “Sorry, I thought you’d change or something,” I push with all my might but the door won’t give. How’d she do that?

    “Kaitlyn!” I yell, banging my fist against the door! “Kaitlyn, hold up!! Heyyyy!” I hear nothing though.

    I continue to bang my fist against the door, the sound echoing down the empty hallway. I hear a faint scream from the other side and suddenly the door shakes a bit as something bangs against it from the other side.

    “Kaitlyn! No!!!” I yell, sinking to my knees and banging the door. “No…”

    Rhoan rolls over to me, knocking my knee. I look down at him, worried. “Are you going to just sit there, or are we going to find another way in?” his remark makes me think a moment.

    “Another way… in?” I look at Rhoan, eyes lit with determination. “Another way in,” I say, more confidently.

 

By Kayla West

Kiki's Tales

    My door closes with a click and listen to the tick of the clock on my nightstand. My room is a mess – laundry everywhere, school notes strewn across the computer desk. I spot an empty plate peeking out from under one of my journals. The clutter bothers me, and I’m not exactly tired yet. I start to tidy the mess.

    Kaitlyn, Logan, monsters and magic? It all seems a little far fetched, like I’ve just been thrown into a cold pool and am expected to keep my head up, no problem. Heck, I know what I saw though. Fire came from her hands like it would a match. The guy was controlling those ooze monsters like it was second nature. Is there really a place where you could learn this stuff?

    I toss a crust of bread into the bin and stack the…

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