Death. Doom. Destruction.
WARNING - STRONG SCENE AHEAD
The car was eerily silent.
I had a feeling everyone expected something different when we pulled up to the school, and either their expectations were met or they weren’t. It wasn’t my place to hold their hands or tell them what they were getting themselves into – by now they should know, they were getting themselves into death, doom and destruction – probably their own.
I was already out of the car before it had stopped – running up to the gate were the guard waiting, sitting on a plain black stool reading yesterdays newspaper. He barely glanced up when I approached the bullet-proof glass; his thick framed reading glasses glued to the story in front of him.
Closing my eyes I concentrated, making an apparition of myself appear behind him, tapping him on the shoulder before disappearing. The guard looked behind him, only to find there was nothing there. I took his moment of distraction to tap on the glass, a sweet smile plastered on my face even though I was aching to get inside to find Karter.
“Ello Miss” He nodded his head with respect, a slight southern accent coating his words.
“Hello, has Karter been by?” I asked, cutting straight to the chase, I didn’t know if we had time for pleasantries, and I wasn’t willing to find out.
The guard frowned, taking in my appearance and I straightened my spine, making me look taller and more sophisticated – like someone who had the authority to be asking about a runaway student.
“No Ma’am. Karter Harris hasn’t been seen in over a week.” The guard supplied and I huffed – this was the only place I knew Karter could come.
“Do you have him home address?” I hedged, and the guard took another look at me before using one the many keys to pull out a thin manila file.
“Yes Ma’am, he lives a few blocks away.”
I nodded my thanks, jotting down the address in the corner of my notepad and jogging back the car. I told the address to Celeste, who in seeing my face had already started the car and was ready to go. I braced myself in the car, my hand wrapping around the hand hold on the door, knuckles turning white.
We pulled up to a grand estate a few blocks from the school – it made sense that Karter went here considering half of the schools population was rich. There was a line of trees on either side of the road leading up to the house, and we took out time, all looking at different aspects of the house and gardens we could see. From my prime vantage point I had the ability to see the most, including the marble fountain of a beautiful mermaid her hands raised, as though she was commanding the water.
“Can you do that?” Dolly asked quietly of Celeste, and in my peripheral vision I saw her smile smugly, as though saying ‘darling, I can do better.’
Something on the other side of one of the trees gave my pause, and I put my hand on Celeste’s arm, in that moment I was glad I didn’t need words to convey the fact that I needed her to stop the car. The brakes screeched and I opened the door before it had rolled to a stop.
I was running faster than I had ever run in my life – I didn’t try half this much during the running tests at school, or even when I was miserably late for class. But I ran for the life of me, not for one second taking my eyes off of the scene in front of me.
Karter was attached to the tree, a plain brown rope attached to a low hanging branch, he was only a few millimetres of the ground, his eyes were closed and I wondered if he had struggled at all. I quickly conjured a knife and cut through the rope, his body falling like dead weight onto mine, pushing me to the ground.
Tears sprang in my mind and for the first time in what seemed like forever, I wished I had a more useful power like healing. The kids had finally made their way out of the car, slowly inching their way closer except for one of the boys who had rushed up the second he had seen Karter fall from the tree.
The boy fell to his knees on the other side of me, his eyes searching Karter’s body for a moment before his eyes locked with mine.
“I can help.” He whispered slowly, and I remembered his name was Grey, and his power was healing.
I nodded mutely, slowly releasing the body from my iron grip, watching intently as Grey’s hands hovered over Karter’s head, neck and then chest, wincing slightly. Though his eyes were closed I was sure he knew I was watching him.
“There are some things I cannot fix.” He mumbled, and I had a feeling the comment was just for me.
I cringed, knowing that Grey meant he could do nothing to heal Karter’s broken soul, and I knew I had to be careful with him from that moment on, knowing he might take any chance he could to take his life.
Are you sure you want him back?
The voice asked and I turned a sour look in Kaleb’s direction. He was standing away from the crowd, watching me, and I wondered how long he had been standing there watching me have a mental break down.
It’s a cruel thing to make a man live with that kind of pain.
I heard the same kind of pain lace Kaleb’s voice and I wondered if he was talking from firsthand experience.
“We need him.” I murmured, knowing he would hear.
I sensed a feeling of disdain, though he said nothing in return, as if he was wondering when I would stop lying to myself – it’s not that the group needed him, it’s that I needed him. I was beginning to wonder when I would admit it to myself when Karter took a breath.
My senses were on high alert and everyone back up as Karter’s amber eyes fluttered open, for a second there was hope and joy, before he crashed back down and an indescribable sadness filled his eyes. He looked around the group before spotting me, a thousand emotions went through his eyes before they settled back on being sad – and I knew that was an expression he would wear for the rest of his life.
“Why?” He questioned quietly, and I knew the question he was really asking – why would I do this to him? Why would I make him suffer in a life where he had no soul-mate? And honestly, I wasn’t able to answer him.
Knowing I couldn’t answer Karter just closed his eyes, seeming to compose himself before sitting up slowly, taking his first real look at the ragged group of kids gathered around him. He assessed each one slowly, sizing them all up. They all stood a little straighter, glaring him down, and I was proud of them in that moment – they wouldn’t allow themselves to be intimidated.
Karter looked at me, and for a second I could see the hint of a smile playing on his lips before his face fell, motioning to the group before us.
“So this is who’s going to save the world as we know it?” He asked; voice harder than what I remembered it being and I nodded, still unable to form coherent words.
Karter laughed darkly making me shiver, and the group collectively stepped back, glancing at me warily, unsure if Karter was a threat to their safety. I wasn’t sure where to look since Karter was now standing and had walked up to the smallest member of our group – the fortune teller who had no real offensive powers like the rest of us.
Karter moved to strike her, but before he could there was a different person in her place – one of the older guys who were telekinetic had moved the girl out of the way and placed himself in her position instead. The guy caught Karter’s wrist defiantly, their eyes locked for a moment and I saw the guys eyes furrow as though he was concentrating very hard.
“Don’t bother, I’m immune.” Karter smiled and sucker punched the guy in the gut before coming to stand back beside me – taking on the role of co-leader without even being asked.
This was how Karter had become so popular in school, he radiated leadership and power; and no-one was willing to question his judgement, but now with a broken soul I had to wonder what his mind frame was like and whether he was really mentally and physically prepared for what he had gotten into.
“You need to learn not to rely on your powers, from what I know this Winston guy can combat anything you guys throw at him.” I wondered briefly how Karter had known about Winston since I was pretty sure no-one told him – but maybe his partner had been held captive and like us had gotten free.
Karter looked at me for a moment, and I nodded slowly, knowing what he said was true, and that we needed to get these kids ready to fight with their fists and not just their powers.
“I’ll teach you, starting tomorrow.”
Karter turned and walked away towards his house, but everyone stayed behind, looking at me for confirmation – but I was too busy staring at Karter’s retreating figure to really notice. Celeste made a sound and my attention was suddenly snapped back to the majority of my group.
“What Karter’s said is true. We need to learn how to fight. Get some rest, and we’ll figure out the rest tomorrow.” I dismissed them and they all heaved with relief.
The majority of the group scampered towards the house – from the looks of it everyone would be able to have his or her own room – unless partners wanted to share, I glanced curiously at the pairs I knew of, who were huddled close together talking in hushed whispered making their decision.
Celeste put her hand on my shoulder and I jumped half a mile – I was so distracted it wasn’t funny – but having someone come back from the brink of death was fairly distracting. I blushed and tried to turn my full attention to her, but I know Karter was waiting to talk to me, I could almost feel him in my peripheral vision, silently sitting on a bench, waiting.
“We need to discuss who’s going after more recruits.” Celeste spoke calmly and I nodded resolutely – knowing we would need more bodies to even have a chance at fighting Winston, cause I was sure whatever he was fighting for, we were fighting against.
“Right. I want you and Dolly to go, as well as the fortune teller, and take one of the telekinetic guys.” I ordered swiftly.
Celeste looked stunned for a moment and I saw her brain thinking through the order. It was pretty perfect considering. I knew Celeste could do a scrying spell looking for any singular individual, and the fortune teller would also be able to peer into the future at any point, and if there was a fight, they would need one of the telekinetic guys to make a safe and quick getaway.
“Try to get three or four and then come back and we’ll swap groups.”
It was the most diplomatic thing to do, plus it meant that everybody got a chance to go out into the field, and everybody had the chance to stay and learn how to fight. I know it was dangerous ordering one of our youngest into the field so soon, but I knew she would be vital to the mission, plus if I had my way, she wouldn’t need to fight anyway.
It’s not that I thought she wasn’t capable, but it wasn’t in my DNA to put someone so young at risk.
It doesn’t matter, we’re all at risk.
The though protruded my mind but I ignored it, squaring my shoulders and heading in the direction I knew Karter was waiting.