I wake up with a stiff ache in my neck. How in the world did Kaede ever put up with sleeping on the couch? I wipe the sleep from my eyes, rubbing my neck to ease the cramp as I sit up. I look at the second bed they had brought in for Kaede. He’s sound asleep. Lucky him.
I don’t need to look at the clock to know it’s early, 5:37am. I yawn. It’s too early for life to start. I lay back down and mull over my memories, trying to piece them together without the aid of my journal. Some are still a bit fuzzy, while others are clear. It’s really messed up.
Sometimes I find myself remembering her name and her face no problem, and I feel a strong longing in my heart, then, suddenly, I can’t recall anything and I find it strange when others mention her like she’s our best friend. I hate it.
Time ticks by and before I know it, Kaede stirs and I hear the shower start, meaning Caroline must have woken up too.
“Oh, you’re up too?” Kaede asks from the bed.
“Yea, got a stiff neck,” I groan.
“Ahh, I remember those days.” he chuckles. He gets up and moves to Caroline’s room to change.
I sit up, combing my hand through my long hair. I too could use a shower. As Kaede steps out of the room, dressed in a pair of jeans and a plaid shirt, a knock comes at the door. Since he’s already up, he goes to answer.
“Morning,” he smiles as he cracks the door open.
“Can I come in?” A distinctly British accent comes from the other side. I feel a wave of guilt wash over me as I recall our last conversation. I wasn’t particularly nice… I still don’t feel that great… I worry what she’ll say to me. I find that she all too often criticizes my actions and reads my thoughts.
“Sure, we all just woke up, Car’s in the shower. She won’t be long,” Kaede gestures, opening the door wider and stepping aside.
Selene steps in, looking quite… human. Her aura seems stronger than I remember it, but she looks as nervous as I feel. Her gaze settles on me and I freeze. As soon as our eyes meet she looks away and starts to wander around the room. I guess I know what comes next. It’s always me that has to start.
She wanders over to a chair, looking unsure and takes a seat, settling on the edge like she doesn’t want to disturb the cushions. Usually, she’s so indifferent to us. Why is she so… on edge?
I exhale and look down at my feet. “Selene…” I begin. “I’m sorry for my… behaviour last time we, uh, spoke,” I say with uncertainty.
She frowns, confused for a moment, then waves her hand. “Oh, that. Don’t worry about it. I don’t fault you for being upset.”
I look up, confused. “You don’t?” I guess I’ve become accustomed to being at fault for my actions of late.
“No,” she answers bluntly. “Besides, there are more pressing matters at hand.”
“There are?” I ask. Kaede takes a seat next to me on the couch. I hear the shower stop. Caroline must be done.
“It’s Kat, isn’t it?” Kaede says like he knows how to read minds too. She nods once, staring off into space.
Caroline stops in the doorway, wrapped in a towel. “Why’s there a meeting in my living room? Why’d everyone come here?” she asks.
Selene looks up, a seriousness in her tone. “You should get dressed,” Caroline cocks an eyebrow, then disappears. A few moments later she comes out, combing her hair and taking a seat next to Kaede.
“So, what’s going on? Everyone looks so serious,” she says.
Selene takes a deep breath. “You need to go after Kaitlyn, now. There is no time to waste.”
Now seems to be one of those moments, I realize as I say aloud, “Who?” Kaede and Caroline shoot me a look. I raise my hands in defense. Kaede shakes his head as Caroline elbows him, pointing to my journal on the coffee table. He passes it to me and I take a second to read it over.
“Oh, right. Sorry, is something wrong?” I ask Selene.
“Very,” she drops her gaze. “She’s become trapped in the Veil; the spirit realm, if you will. I feel her fading,” she clenches her fists. “You have to bring her back here at once before it’s too late!”
“And how are we supposed to do that? I’ve never heard of this spirit realm,” Caroline says in a serious tone.
Selene lets out an exasperated breath. “You have to find her body. Bring it here, before it withers and dies.”
“If it’s so urgent, why can’t you come with us? It sounds like we won’t even have time to make it back,” I say.
Her lips twitch, brow creasing. She stands up suddenly and starts to pace. “I can’t. It has to be you.”
Kaede nods and I look to him questioningly. “I think I know where she might be. As I’ve told Car and Andi, I traced her phone to somewhere just outside Tulsa. With that, we can work as quickly as we can to find her, and bring her back.”
“We’ll need a gate,” Caroline adds.
“But…” I interrupt, all eyes turning to me. “But… what if we can’t find her? What happens then?”
“She dies,” Selene answers, cold and blunt as usual. Though, there’s a tremble in her voice.
“Don’t say that. We won’t let that happen,” Caroline states firmly, standing. “Come on. There’s no time to waste. We have to find Kat and bring her home.”
Kaede nods, looking to me. I stare at them for a moment, unsure if anyone realizes what we’re getting into. I still wonder though, “Why can’t you come? It would make all of this faster. Is she not your friend too?” I look at Selene, waiting for her answer.
Her silver-blue eyes turn to me, a desperation in them. “That’s why I can’t go. He will come for me the moment I step foot off this island. If I could go, I would have left weeks ago!”
Caroline looks at her, worried. “Don’t say that. You’re our friend. Why would you want to leave?” she sounds hurt by Selene’s words.
Selene raises an eyebrow. “To find Kaitlyn, obviously. Do you have any idea how frustrating it’s been, watching the lot of you squabble in petty drama while I could feel her out there, in pain?”
“If you knew, then why didn’t you tell us sooner?” Caroline raises her voice. I wonder that too, but I don’t say a thing.
Her icy gaze turns to me. “Because he was not ready.”
Caroline’s face turns red. I wish she’d let it go, but she doesn’t. “If you know things about Kat or what was going on with Andrei, you should have told us sooner instead of leaving us to figure out how to fix it on our own. That’s how a team works. You don’t just leave us in the dark and expect us to accept your urgent news when you feel good and ready to tell us,” she scolds. Sometimes I wonder if Caroline is older than she really is.
Selene is unfazed as she meets Caroline’s glare with equal fury. “Yes, I could have, and you could have come to me. You, in particular, know what I’m capable of.”
“You were still in possession of information that could have been useful much earlier and decided to keep it to yourself. If you weren’t already aware, Kaede and I have had our hands full dealing with Sam and Andrei and trying to track down Kaitlyn ourselves. Your help would have been great if we had seen you,” she shouts.
“My room is four doors away from yours. You know that. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps I had my own problems? Including a kidnapping attempt, courtesy of that little whore you brought here.”
“We didn’t bring her here-”
“ENOUGH!” I shout, standing. “Shut up! Your argument isn’t going anywhere! If Kaitlyn needs us, then we have to go now! It doesn’t matter who didn’t tell who what or whatever! Come on. Let’s go!” I stalk towards the door. Before anyone moves, I spin around and glare at Selene. “And as far as I’m aware, no one asked Samantha to come. I wish she hadn’t come either. I didn’t choose to get caught up in her webs, so instead of accusing us, the people who rescued you from that damn prison in the first place, let’s work together and get this place back to normal.”
I stalk out the door, leaving everyone sitting in silence. I need to find Cliff.
I hear footsteps following me but I don’t turn to see who it is. “I was not accusing you of anything, but they did invite her here,” she scoffs as she turns the opposite direction, “Before they even bothered to ask her name. Children…”
“Did you ask her name?” I ask, wondering if she knew all along what Sam was doing here from the start.
Selene pauses, glancing over her shoulder. “I wasn’t there.”
“You were there when Ryan died. You could have asked then,” I point out, recalling what Caroline had told me about Ryan.
Selene shrugs. “I didn’t need to ask. I got a general idea of who she was as soon as I walked into the room. It was only a few days later when her plans became apparent.”
“It doesn’t matter now. What’s done is done, but you know, sometimes I wonder. You have this grand ability to read minds and know things other people don’t, but you never tell us a thing until it’s almost too late. Caroline’s right. If we’re going to work as a team, you have to start telling us things before you think we’re ready. That’s how teams work.”
She actually scoffs with a smirk. “What do you know of teamwork? The boy who thinks he’s always alone, and that everyone leaves him. I have decades of experience, and believe me when I say, too much information too soon is what gets people like you killed.”
“Jumping into random wars is what gets people like me killed,” I stop, turning to face her. “You have no idea what it’s like when you’re seven years old and you’re suddenly not in your own bed, standing out in the cold of some unknown time where you don’t recognize a soul with no idea how you got there. We all have problems, Selene. We all lived different lives before coming here. But that doesn’t prevent us from learning how to work together.”
“You’re right,” she agrees. “But had I told you while that girl was here, she would have jumped at the chance to hunt Kaitlyn down and slit her throat. You can’t begin to imagine the darkness within that child. She had plans to leave here with both you and I, as gifts for her master. She tried to poison me. When that failed, she attacked with her vile magic. I very nearly killed her on the spot, for being so arrogant.”
“Then why didn’t you?” I feel a seething hatred towards Sam and what she did. Why did Selene hesitate?
Selene glares at something off to the side. “She has a destiny to fulfill,” she speaks through grit teeth. “Her punishment will come, in time.”
I sigh, feeling my frustration dissipate. “Selene, you’re strong and often wise. I think you make a great part of the Guild. I just feel… sometimes it feels like you don’t trust us. We can be… reckless, and ever since Kat brought us back here, things have gotten pretty difficult, what with Logan and the Master and now Samantha. I just… I want you to know, we can work together. It would be a great help if we could all work together. Now there’s what, three Guardians? True Guardians. It’s unheard of. And you’re all very powerful. If we can find the others, then maybe, just maybe, we can take care of this Master freak and stop all this crazy shit from happening. So… What do you say?” I look at her, hopefully. Working together would make this a lot easier on all of us.
Selene heaves a heavy sigh. “You misunderstand me, Andrei. I admit I’m not very good at sharing. It’s been… Oh, maybe half a century since I had friends. Perhaps I’m rusty on the concept. I have access to a vast amount of knowledge, most of it irrelevant. I only withhold this sort of thing for your own good, for her safety. You must understand. The danger that girl poses, to you and to Kaitlyn.”
“Just how old are you?!” I raise an eyebrow. “Nevermind that, I realize now that Samantha is dangerous. I never knew she had magic. She never told me before. All I know about her comes from when I dated her in high school. She left in a mystery, not a word. Hopefully, she’s gone now, and we won’t make that mistake again,” I sigh, feeling the time ticking strongly. We need to get going.
“She will return, for revenge, if nothing else,” the corner of her lips twists up. Is that a smile?
“And when she does, we’ll be ready for her. But right now, we need to get Kaitlyn back,” I spot Caroline and Kaede jogging towards us down the hall.
Selene glances at them briefly. “You will find her among friends. She’s safe, at the moment, physically. I’m not sure how long they can hide her from him.”
“Great. We’ll be back as soon as we can,” I say as the others join us.
As I turn to leave, Selene catches my arm. Her grey eyes bore into mine. “Andrei, trust your instincts. Your memory may be a mess, but your heart is true. Do not doubt it.”
I wish it were that easy.
Cliff stands before the gate, ready to send us on our way to Tulsa. The warm air makes it feel like Winter never came to this island. I know that where we’re going, we’re going to need coats. Lucky, for us, we’re from Canada, so we all brought our jackets when we moved.
I stand in the back, wearing my black felt coat, feeling hot, Caroline has a chique knit sweater and a thick scarf and Kaede is wearing that old scarf Caroline got him. None of us have really been through the United States, so we’re expecting it to be like home.
“Alright, I’ve set the gate up. You have Caroline now, so she can help you get back. You remember how to activate the gate?” he asks her.
She nods. “You hold the handle and imagine the place you need to go. Don’t break contact or it will cancel the spell.”
“Right,” he confirms. Caroline steps up and places her hand on the doorknob. We crowd around watching her.
“I can’t go with you, I have business here to attend too, but I’m sure you guys will be fine. Go bring our Kaitlyn back,” he wipes a stray tear from his eyes. It’s still hard to imagine this hulk of a man being so tender.
I turn back to Caroline to watch the process when I’m suddenly grabbed around the shoulders in a vice grip bear hug. I cough, losing my breath as Cliff squeezes the life from me.
“Take care of her Andrei. I know you’ve been hurting, but she probably has too,” he says loudly in my ear.
“Sure…” I try to say without any air in my lungs. “Cliff… can’t… breathe,” he releases his grip and I gasp for air, folding over and bracing my hands on my knees before I keel over. Someone needs to teach him how to hug like a normal person.
I look up to see a faint blue glow coming from in front of Caroline. Apparently, her tattoo lights up. She pulls the door open and turns, giving Cliff a wave. “Come on guys. Let’s go,” we follow her through the doorway and into a raging windstorm of Tulsa.
“Can I go back to the Island? I don’t think you really need me,” Kaede complains.
“No, you’re the one who tracked her down. We definitely need you,” I say, grabbing him by the shoulder and pushing him out, into the wind.
We find ourselves on a side street, coming from the back door of some shop, along an alley. The wind seems to be able to find its way even in this cramped space between two buildings. We trudge out into the windstorm, looking for any sign as to where we might be in Tusla.
Kaede pulls out his phone and does some tapping. In a matter of seconds, he’s pointing for us to go right out of the alley. “The lake is that way. It’s pretty far though. We’ll have to walk for like… five hours,” he says.
Caroline and I both stare at him.
“In this?!” she says, voice rising in pitch.
“That’s insane dude. We can’t walk that long in a storm,” I say with disbelief.
He shrugs his shoulders. “Unless you wanna call a cab,” he says.
Caroline’s already dialing a cab number.
The cab takes its sweet time, cruising through the pushing wind as it takes us towards the drowning site. While we drive, he plays the radio softly, Bruno Mars 24 Karat Gold playing in the background.
I find myself staring out the window at the wind as it sweeps across the landscape. It reminds me of the white desert sand of the dream I keep having, though it’s been a while since I last saw it, and the Roman woman. I can almost hear her in the wind as it pushes against the car.
Caroline taps me on the shoulder and I turn to see what she wants.
“So, I was thinking. This is where her phone signal ended. Doesn’t mean we’ll find her here. We’re looking for clues, right?”
I nod, still not feeling much in the mood for all this adventuring. I know everyone else feels an urgent need to go find this girl, but I still can’t remember everything. My backpack sits between my feet, a few of my journals inside in case I have time to reread them. It’s moments like this that Caroline said to read the journals.
“I’ve been practicing a way to locate water-based organisms in a large vicinity. Not only that but water signatures too. It might be difficult, but magically, Kaitlyn’s water signature is different than a regular person’s, like Kaede. Even you have a different water signature,” she says.
“Really?” I ask. It sounds pretty revolutionary.
“Yes,” she nods.
“No one has a signature like me,” Kaede gloats. “Only tech mage there is. One of a kind.”
Caroline gives him a flat stare. “No, you’re not. Technically, you are most like every non-magical person out there, sorry Kae,” she pats him on the leg and grins.
Kaede huffs and crosses his arms in mock disgruntlement. “Sure, whatever.”
“Anyway. I was practicing with Andrei, not that you knew it, but I was trying to find you in the Guild using your water signature. If my theory is correct, then I could maybe locate Kat anywhere within a 50 mile radius.”
Kaede and I both snap our heads towards her. “50 miles? That’s insane!” we say at the same time.
“Jynx! You owe me a coke,” Kaede adds.
“Arghh, really?” I pout.
The taxi finally pulls to a stop alongside a bridge that spans the Arkansas River. Caroline asks him to wait for us to come back, handing him a hundred dollar bill. Hopefully he stays. I wouldn’t want to walk back in this. We grab our things and walk out onto the bridge. The wind is pretty strong on the bridge and I feel like it might push us over to the other side at any moment. I look over the rail, cautiously, watching the water churn below in a white frothy mess. Looks like marshmellows floating around, as little islands of built up frost and froth shift around below in the waters strong current.
“If she really fell here, she would have been swept downstream,” I say, drawing their attention to the river’s current.
Kaede pulls out his phone and points ahead. “The last signal came from just ahead. So she was definitely here.”
“Doesn’t the signal usually ping off a nearby tower and you use the radius of that tower to determine a location?” Caroline asks.
“Usually, but I use a different system that gives me the direction of the ping too. It’s called Imagenious,” he smirks behind his scarf.
“Oh har har,” Caroline mock laughs.
We stop in the centre of the bridge, far out of sight from the cab.
Caroline stands beside the rail, spreading her arms wide closing her eyes in concentration. I wait, expecting a sign that something’s happening but the second tick by and still nothing.
Suddenly, I feel a pulse emit from her and her aura erupts into a blinding blue light. I stare in wonder as she holds the position for more than five full minutes. This must take a lot of magical energy to track something up to 50 miles away. Not to mention looking at each water signature, as she mentioned in the cab.
She finally opens her eyes and heaves a tired sigh. Kaede immediately grabs onto her as she wobbles.
“So… did you see anything?” I ask her, curious and amazed all at once.
She looks up at me a little groggily. “I think so,” she says, shaking her head and trying to stand on her own.
“Details?” Kaede persists.
“North. That way,” she points behind us, across the endless expanse of water. “We’ll want the cab,” she adds.
By Kayla West