Eyes of my Enemies

Previously on Eyes of my Enemies, we pick right back up in the heat of things as Sammie and St. J managed to free Katrina. Despite showing an amazing display of power, St. J still struggles to gain control over his deadly abilities. Even with all his strengths, it wasn’t enough to prevent Sammie from suffering a gunshot injury to her leg. With the combined abilities of Katrina and St. J, the entire team was able to escape. We see Agent Sullivan fail to control the situation, but he makes preparations for their next encounter. Meanwhile, Katrina includes herself to the team as they made way for home. 

Book 1, Chapter 9:

The Angel of Death

 

 

(((In Black & White)))

Surrounded by darkness, this realm was empty, but you could hear the angels chanting. Footsteps tap on the wooden floors as a figure passed through hidden without light.

Seraphim: Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!

Gabriel opened the wooden door at the end of the hall to let God’s domain bring light into the darkness. The Seraphim looked in his direction, their eyes were shielded from the light with their wings draped over their faces. They continued to chant that phrase over and over with lovely repetition. /

Gabriel: My Lord, you wanted to see me.

God spun a realistic globe from his desktop. He stared into it with great intensity as if he were looking for something. Gabriel walked right up to him along the barren all-white plain that is God’s home.

God: Ah Gabriel, you have arrived. (He stood up with him.) I have something very exciting for you.

Gabriel: Is that so? I’m grateful Father, what did you bring me?

God: It’s not what I’m bringing you, it’s what I will allow for you. I have watched over you since your creation. You have been my most beloved out of all my angels and archangels alike. Because of this, I believe you deserve something very special.

Gabriel: Father, this is unnecessary. It brings me enough pleasure to have the honor to stand at your side by your throne.

God: Ah, lies! You know you should get more, and why not, you deserve it. (He sets the large marble globe off the table.) Another thing I have observed is your fondness for Amitiel. I wish for you to wed her, if you both agree.

Gabriel: Are you sure, my Lord!? There has never been a wedding in Heaven. It’s not something any angel has ever done before.

God: This is true, and there will never be another. It is my gift to you, Gabriel. I trust her as much as I do you, and the child you will bear will be the first angel to be born outside of my own creation.

Gabriel: I-I do not know what to say. Thank you, Father.

God: It is fine by me. It gives me pleasure to see you so filled with such joy. Go, go tell Amitiel the news. Go tell everyone! We will throw a wedding so tremendous that we will shake Hell’s ceiling and they will be envious of such a celebratory event.

Gabriel flew out the door with a large grin on his face. //

Gabriel approached a beautiful home. Its walls were made of pure marble and a spectacular yard to match laid out front. The grass was bright and trimmed into patterns with incredible precision layering each blade of grass into symmetrical designs that stretched across the massive lawn. Amitiel was just outside the door, she looked surprised to see Gabriel standing on her porch. She was a beautiful brunette with blue eyes and a thin waist that faded down into a wavy ghost-like entity that made up her lower body. She was the spirit of a beautiful woman, one who now lived amongst the angels in heaven. Through the window, you could see the two of them talking. They both grew happier and more excited with every word shared. They came together to kiss in a picture-perfect location framed beautifully by the window opening. //

Gabriel and Amitiel made their way along a hovering platform to a sacred area elevated several feet above the ground. They seemed to be below Heaven, it was darker here with all the light of their world shining far above their location. Below the platforms, there was nothing, a vast wasteland trenching deep into this dimension. As the two beings stepped onto the hovering sacred island, the land mass rocked with each of their added weight. Once on top, the ground stabilized, and they began to explore it with awe. There were twelve pillars, each made from a different material. Rock, sandstone, wood,  pure vegetation, diamond, gas, metal, and ice, there were pillars made of light and darkness, of molten rock, and the last one which swirled with electric currents. These formations surrounded a white stone bench with a small pond moat circling the bench. (((The pillars were the only thing in color.))) God was behind the bench awaiting the two as they approached.

God: Come before me. (God took a step back and they stood in front of the bench.) Are you both ready? (Both Gabriel and Amitiel nodded silently. They tried to appear serious, but the extreme joy that they felt forced them to smile.) What I am doing with you has not been done in many years. It’s a powerful ritual that you will need my help to complete, because today, it is your turn to make something beautiful. All you must do is think about what you want this child to look like. Picture the baby before yourself. What it will look like, who will they become? Anything, and I will do the rest. I’ll ask again, are you ready?

Gabriel & Amitiel: (After a slight pause, they looked at each other and continued.) Yes, Father.

God placed his hands on each of their shoulders. The light blue flames that God radiated slowly rose until they consumed all three beings and the fire burst up high and roared with bright lights. All of the pillars began to glow growing brighter and brighter until the light was so intense that you could only see a sketch of everyone’s outline.

God: You need to concentrate!

He hollered over the intense sound of rushing energy. God’s holy fire burned with a roaring power as each of the pillars hummed with energy. An even brighter light emerged from the bench followed by a clash of static. After that, all other sound had died out. Each of the pillar’s light went out, one by one, in order. Once every pillar returned to their natural state of elemental quality, the scene was dramatically dimmed down. Even God’s flames had died to a below normal length. A sigh could be heard out of both exhaustion and relief after the procedure had been completed.  Lying there on the bench, naked and cooing, was a newborn baby with gorgeous white wings and marble-like green eyes. Amitiel picked up her child and cradled her in her arms. Gabriel rested his head on her shoulder to get a glimpse of his newly born girl.

Gabriel: She’s beautiful.

God: Yes, a perfect child. What name will you give her?

Amitiel: Katrina, for she will be raised to be pure.

Focusing in on the baby’s polished green eyes. //

(((Back to Color.))) The green in Katrina’s eyes flourished with color as you could now see her as an adult. She’s seated on a leather couch in Sammie’s house. Jo sat beside her, in what little space remained between her and those massive wings. Dan, as always, was in his recliner chair, both in deep conversation with Katrina.

Katrina: But what I can say for sure is that, despite what’s happened, I made the right decision coming to Earth. I saw the influence of Lucifer back in that prison. The guards, the women, they all had so much pain. Together, we can prevent further chaos from breaking loose.

Dan: Are you still talking about your regular scum of the Earth citizens, or are you referring to the actual demons that came out of the dimensional tear, which is how you entered our country, correct?

Jo: Dan, stop interrogating our guest.

Katrina: It’s quite all right, I’m sure you have as many questions, as I do.

Sammie and I entered the room from the basement. You could hear us slowly stomping up the steps, on account of Sammie’s injury. Her leg was bandaged up well for a home job, and after just a day of resting, she only needed a cane to help her move around. I also did my best to aid her up the stairs, or wherever else we went. I allowed her to lean some of her weight on me as she draped one arm over my shoulder.

Dan: I’ve got one for ya. It’s been buggin’ me for a while now. So, you really have no idea what St. J is? (He said looking over towards me as I appeared in the room. I didn’t look too thrilled to be put on the spot or to see Dan questioning Katrina. In fact, everyone gave Dan a questionable look.) What!? I just thought she would know. Wasn’t that the whole reason you rescued her? (Katrina grew a puzzled look on her face.)

Me: Yes, I took a risk hoping she could give me some answers, but it was still a risk worth taking. She can fly, fight, and come on; we have an angel from Heaven right here in front of us. Katrina might not know what I am but think of all the other questions she could answer for us.

Jo: I’m still getting over the whole, she’s an angel thing. Are all angels’ wings really so black?

Katrina: No, none of them are. Not even all angels have wings. My father doesn’t because he’s an archangel, other higher angels don’t need them either.

Dan: So where does that place you?

Katrina: Place me? There is no hierarchy in Heaven. We all have a purpose in God’s plan. Everyone falls in line and all roles have an equal part to play in his greater scheme of things. My Father is strong because that is how the Lord made him. Because of this, he was able to travel to Earth many times. (Pause, Katrina’s head sunk.) I probably should have asked him for a way to return back home before I left.

Sammie: You stranded yourself here to help us?

Katrina: A dimensional rip is only a one-way ticket, so I suppose so.

Me: Katrina, we can help you find a way to get home.

Katrina: Don’t bother. My mission is here, where my Father left off. It’s was his job to maintain the human race, to keep them from spiraling into self-destruction.

Dan: A little late. (He sneered under his breath as Katrina continued.)

Katrina: I hate to say it, but I agree. This world is not at all what I expected from the land of God’s children. Some angels hate humans, but my Father always fought for them. He would describe you to me as lost souls fueled by ambition. I would ask why no one helps you and he would say that you would one day find your own way and our worlds would meet in harmony.

Sammie: That sounds so beautiful.

Dan: Yeah, if you believe in all that…

Jo stomped on Dan’s foot silencing him before he could bring further embarrassment to their species.

Jo: This must all be so confusing for you, I’m so sorry sweetie. We don’t have to talk about all this now if you don’t want to.

Katrina: No, no, you’ve all done so much for me from opening up your home to returning me my freedom. I will answer any question to the best of my abilities.

Dan: Well, alright then. How about this, it’s the question we’ve all been dying to know, literally… What’s Heaven like?

Katrina: (She looked puzzled really needing time to think about this.) It’s bright.

Sammie: Bright? (She said laughing.)

Katrina: I don’t know! How do you describe something as common to you as your home? To me, this place is very different and strange. I don’t know how to use any of these things that you have and manage so easily. (She looked across out to all the different kitchen appliances behind her.)

Me: It’s alright, nobody expects you to be used to life on Earth on your first day. The way I see it, as long as we share similar goals, Katrina, you have a life here with us. (Sammie tugged on my sleeve.) And talking about having a life, this leads me to my next…

Sammie: Do you guy’s mind looking after Katrina for us? We’ll just be out for a few hours.

Jo: You’re going out!? Sammie, where!? You were just shot yesterday, you’re supposed to be resting.

Sammie: Mom, I’ve been in bed all day. I can’t stand being cooped up inside. I don’t know why, maybe because I’m a Warg, but I’m starting to feel better. Like I still have a bad wound, I know that, so I’ll take it easy. But none of us know how any of this works, so maybe I can take a hit better than most people.

Me: It’s true, both of us don’t heal as fast as Nikki, but look at the bite you guys bandaged up for me when I first showed up here. (I rolled up my sleeve revealing a nasty scar.) See, it’s healed.

Jo: I don’t know you t…

Dan: Well, there’s not much I can do against two supernatural teenagers…

Jo: Dan!

Dan: What? At least let me hear what’s so important that they need to leave for. Where are you guys heading? (Jo switched from glaring at Dan to Sammie.)

Sammie: We’re gunna go see a movie. Like we said, be back in a few hours. (She nudged me to help her out the door.)

Jo: What if someone sees you?

Sammie: It’s too dark.

Jo: You two are in major trouble with the law, you can’t be irresponsible like this.

Sammie: There’s not going to be a cop at the movies.

Jo: Then I just plain won’t allow it. (Sammie was beginning to fume with anger.)

Me: I just have to make sure you remember, I haven’t done a normal human thing since a werewolf tore through my chest plate.

Jo: Yeah, now try having kids.

I looked like I had more to say, but it wasn’t worth it so I just flailed my arms back down. Jo, remarkably, held her ground like her life depended on it. Sammie and her mother were battling it out through a fearsome stare-off not even needing words to be in conflict. Dan knew better than to interfere, but I had to do something.

Me: Come on, Sammie, I’ll just stream something online or something. (I trailed my hand across Sammie’s back as I moved around her and back into the living room.)

Sammie: Yeah, or something. (With her eyes still fixed on her mother, she took my hand and walked up to the peak of her stairwell.) Hey, St. J! Catch me.

With her one good leg, Sammie leapt up falling backwards down to the steps. I freaked out as I left her family with horrified faces while I lunged forward.

Me: Shit, Sammie!

I pulsed down the steps in a burst of energy sweeping a gust through the house that slammed the surrounding doors shut. Her mother rushed to the top of the steps and peered down the dark corridor, but there was nothing there.

Jo: Sammie! St. J!

She dashed down the steps in a fury. You could hear her indistinguishably grumbling to herself from the basement below. Katrina was frozen in her seat innocently observing the whole situation with a shocked expression. Dan looked over at her warming her up with his “I-couldn’t-care-less” smile. Suddenly the whining sound of my engine startled Katrina but she seemed to ease up seeing Dan relax next to her in his recliner chair. / My car had pulled out of the driveway and drove off in a cloud of dirt / by the time Jo raced back up the steps and swung open the front door.

Jo: Sammie!

She screamed then disappeared outside. Dip entered the living room from the basement seeming confused by all the disturbances. Dan sipped a half drunken beer then turned to Katrina.

Dan: So, it’s bright.

Katrina: (She laughed if anything out of shock.) If you really can’t wait to know, there are lots of marble formations and golden buildings. Heaven is one big city that you could fly over for hours amazed by its beauty. Everything there is lined with jewels and diamonds.

Dan: Diamonds you say, this whole Christianity thing sure is looking a lot brighter. (Dan went off laughing to himself while Dip crawled up on the floor.)

Dip: It’s a damn good thing none of you ever ask me about Hell ever. //

My hand gripped tightly onto the top of the wheel as we curved around the road. Sammie struggles to sit still and relax.

Sammie: Jesus, I wish she’d get off my back for once

Me: She’s just being protective.

Sammie: Did you see her chase us down the street! What’s protective about that?

Me: I don’t know, she’s crazy. Her heart’s in the right place, though.

Sammie: I suppose, but she was always like this. Before the world fell apart, it was all the same.

Me: Yeah, she was the same with Nikki.

Sammie: And with Becky too, and she’s the oldest out of all of us! It’s like she’ll never learn.

Me: Hey, maybe next time we go out, if you don’t get shot, they’ll ease off a little bit. Like your practically are a superhero now. Controller of nature, animals and beasts alike. If you figure your shit out and I figure my shit out, plus having Katrina, Dip, Blake, and even Nikki is learning how to fight too. We should be able to tackle anything, so honestly, I don’t care if…

As I ranted glancing over to her from time to time, Sammie was beginning to break down. You could see her look away from me as her eyes flicker with blue lights uncontrollably. She grabbed onto her face and cried. A loud sob had caught my attention and silenced me. In the darkness, lights from outside shined down onto her before flashing away behind us.

Me: Jeez, Sammie. I’m sorry if I said something…

Sammie: No, no, it’s not you.

Me: Then why are you crying? (She began to pull herself together. Her eyes faded back to their natural color and she took deep breaths to help calm herself. Her eyes were still puffy and red, but she seemed to be herself again.)

Sammie: I have no fucking idea! (She said sounding hysterical, not crying, but laughing actually.)

Me: Alright, you’re scaring me now. What’s going on?

Sammie: I-I saw something, but not really. I felt something, and it just made me really, really sad. But now it’s over, I feel better.

Me: Uhm, ok. Are you sure, do you want me to turn back?

Sammie: No! No, no, no. I need this, we need this. Let’s go have fun. (She grabbed my free hand and seemed to be very much back to her normal self.)

Me: If you say so. //

I opened the car door for Sammie, she handed me a pair of sunglasses from the dashboard. My silver eyes glimmered from the street lights above before being concealed behind the shades. I flung her arm over my shoulder and lowered myself to help boost her out of the car. Sammie slammed the door shut with a wooden cane she brought that helped us get across the parking lot.

Me: Are the sunglasses really necessary?

Sammie: Do you want to freak out everyone with your pale lifeless eyes? (I shot her a look.) Oh, relax. As if I’d care about that. It’s your face that’s all over the news, so you should try to do something to hide it.

Me: Starting to think this wasn’t the best idea. We look like a blind and a cripple heading out to go see a movie, like having powers doesn’t make it weird enough.

Sammie: So, what do you want to do, lie in my bed for another eight hours?

Me: That could be nice, but I think we’re thinking about two completely different things.

She laughed as I opened the doors to the cinema for her. As we waited in line, I kept getting the weird feeling that someone was watching me. I focused on random things like the music from an arcade game and people’s voices although I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I’d dart my head left and right with a slightly panicked look on my face. But before my paranoia could cause a full scene, I realized that we were up next at the ticket booth.

Staff Member: How many?

I paused to actually pay attention to the girl behind the counter then quickly guessed what she had said.

Me: Uh, two for “Trials of Titus,” please. (I said with an awkward smile, then turned to Sammie.) Good thing I still have some cash from back when working my day job was a thing. (I said to Sammie after handing the girl fifteen bills and walked away.)

Sammie: What about popcorn?

Me: I said I have some cash (I chuckled) ‘sides I brought a little food in my pockets.

Sammie: Uh whate…

She dropped to one knee turning her head away from me and down to the floor. The already blue carpet lit up slightly as her eyes started to glow. / She saw flames everywhere in a dark background. She heard the fire crackling and small explosions echoing in the background as two giant dark lobs that resembled eyes popped up in the center of her vision snapping her out of it. / Sammie’s eyes were wide, she stopped her heavy breathing and tried her best to calm herself down by the time I dropped to her level.

Me: Are you alright? (I said helping her up to her feet.) It’s your leg, isn’t it? Damn, I hate to say your mom was right on this.

Sammie: No! No wait, yeah, it’s-it’s my leg. (She laughed nervously.) Nothing much though, see. (She said holding onto my arm as she got herself up and continued to walk towards the theaters.)

Me: You are really starting to worry me a little bit, Sammie. I just want you to get better.

Sammie: I will. Sitting at home won’t magically fix me. St. J, you said it yourself. We haven’t got to do anything together except dangerous supernatural shit. I won’t let a little scrape on my leg stop this from working out.

I smiled, a bit doubtfully, but I still agreed with her. She leaned her weight on me as we hobbled down the hallway with different movie posters hung along the sides of the walls. //

Nikki was in her room with the lights off and the window shades up. There was a reflective green shine to her eyes like a cat’s at night. She looked very focused, seated on the floor on top of random clothes scattered across her room. By the look of determination in her eyes, it appeared that she’s been like this for some time. Her legs crossed over each other and she shut her eyes finding an inner self. In a jolt of action, her wrists flicked out sprouting with hair that spread to her hands as each finger cringed until hardening into a solid claw. Nikki peeked at the Lycan paws below her. She then shut her eyes again and started to take heavy breaths. Hair grew from her hairline down the sides of her face. Suddenly, her breathing accelerated and veins bulged from under her skin. Her nose began to morph out into a snout bringing her into deep pain, but before the transformation could continue, Nikki balled her claws into a fist piercing the palms of her hands. Blood trinkled down to the floor, but her breathing regulated, and her nose shrunk back to normal. As Nikki opened her eyes they shinned with green lights, and when she panted her next few breaths, you could see her razor-sharp teeth. She seemed to be thrilled with her accomplishment, quickly but carefully, she patted her fuzzy sideburns with massive claws. She then poked one deadly nail through her hair and out popped two wolf ears immediately folding into place. She giggled at herself wiggling her ears around before instantly regretting them. Her cell phone buzzed against a wooden bureau sending the intense vibrations directly into Nikki’s new oversized ears. She flopped to the floor as the phone continued to ring. Her teeth bared out as she cringed in pain until her body finally shifted itself back to her natural state. She sighed out in relief and grudgingly walked over towards her phone.

Nikki: Hello… Oh, hey… Really, what time is it… Oh, right. Sorry, I must have lost track of time, but oh Blake, I did it! I got into the half state!… Yeah, definitely… Be right over. (She looked at her hand while speaking. Her wounds had reduced to nothing but four small red marks on her palm.)

Nikki tossed her phone on top of her bed and spun for the door. / She walked out her bedroom finding her parents, Becky, and Katrina seated on the couches watching a movie.

Katrina: Hello, Nicole. (She struggles to pronounce the name correctly.)

Nikki: Nikki works, but that’s alright. Hi.

Jo: Where have you been all day?

Nikki: I was practicing some new control methods. I have to get better before my next lesson with Blake.

Dan: The wolf-boy.

Nikki: That’s one way to put it, but yes, him.

Jo: Where does this boy live?

Nikki: He’s not a boy, he’s over 300 years old, and where he lives is just as hard to explain.

Dan: Yup, you’ve already lost my interest. (Nikki sighs, Jo pouts and sunk back into her seat.)

Nikki: Are you guys going to be fine if I leave?

Jo: You might as well just go, there’s nothing I can do to stop you anyways! (Nikki stared at her surprised.)

Becky: Sammie and St. J dashed out on her.

Nikki: Yeah what’d you expect, Sammie’s a sneaky bitch. She probably roped St. J into it.

Becky: She jumped down the stairs and disappeared with him through the walls.

Nikki: Wouldn’t doubt it. St. J has no idea what he’s in for. Anyways I’m out. See you soon.

Dan: You need a ride there or something?

Nikki: No, I’ve got my own means of transportation.

She said as her eyes flashed green. By the time she reached the door, she had already begun to change growing fur down her arms and across the sides of her face. When she stepped outside, fur sprouted all over as her body shifted into a full Lycan state. She roared into the darkening sky before dashing off into the woods. /

Katrina: Well, at least I’m not the strangest thing in your home.

Becky: Not by a long shot. //

Sammie and I were in one of the last few rows of the movie theater. I’m eating random little candies out of a plastic baggy. I switch things up and start to rummage through my pocket for a big woopie-pie that I immediately unraveled. The movie had been playing for some time now and was in the middle of an intense action scene. Lights from the screen flashed on and off us illuminating our captivated faces. Sammie reached over for a piece of candy. She put it up to her mouth about to let it slip through her lips when her eyes started to glow.

Sammie: Damn it, not now. /

(((A blue tint formed around the edges of the screen.))) She saw a shadow hovering over her own home which is currently burning up in a huge fire. She heard the screams coming from inside the house as her vision moved her closer to her home traveling through a window. Flames were everywhere creeping across the wooden floors. We move closer as the building cracks and crumbles, an eyeball rolled in front of her sight and started to bubble and sizzle until the body part melted into a goop. / She came out of the vision with a terrified expression as her eyes slowly faded back to normal. Her heavy breaths were muffled through my jacket where I held her close to my body shielding her from other’s view. I heard her partially form words in-between deep breaths. She looked up to me with so much pain in her teary eyes.

Me: Sammie, Sammie, it’s okay, you’re safe. What did you see?

Sammie: (She caught her breath.) We need to go back… We need to stop it. (She spoke loudly and with fear.)

Me: Back where, home? Stop what?

Sammie: Death!

People had already been staring at us, but by now, it seemed like no one in the theater was even trying to stay focused on the movie. Not as our much more interesting drama unfolded.

Me: Yeah, alright. We’re getting out of here.

I gently slide Sammie out of her seat as we descended to the floor making it appear like we were about to lie on the sugar sticky gum riddled floor. But before she touched the ground I had turned us both clear as we disappeared through the tiled floors.

Movie Goer: Ey, getta room, freaks!

A man screamed out two rows behind us in the very last row. The friends he had around him all laughed but soon quieted down as an official cinema worker approached climbing up the steps towards them. He shined a red light stick in the direction of where Sammie and I were last seen, but his face filled with disbelief seeing that no one was there. / Sammie and I traveled through the darkness while in a clear state. / We emerged from under the Earth’s crust nearby my car. I floated up gently placing Sammie in my passenger seat. After setting her down I returned us to our normal states and looked around the lot finding it clear for the most part. Nothing but empty cars and flickering lights.

Sammie: Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Me: Sorry, but we have to hurry. (I started my car engine, pulled back, and peeled out beginning to exit the lot.) When you fell earlier, it wasn’t your leg, was it? (I said without looking away from the road.)

Sammie: (She started to tear up.) No, I don’t know. I thought I was doing the right thing. It wasn’t that bad of a vision. But after this last one… I-I just know, that someone’s going to die.

Me: Sammie! (I shouted out over her and the sound of my old engine. She was quiet, we continued to speed down the street, but I took a moment to make eye contact with her.) You didn’t do anything wrong and no body’s going to die. I’ll make sure of that. (Sammie shuffled back into her seat. I then stomped my foot on the gas pedal accelerating through the straightaway.) //

Everyone still watched the movie in their seats peacefully. Katrina took up most of the couch as her wings were out and extended behind her, so she could lean forward and stare intensely at her first Hollywood movie experience. Becky was at the other end of the couch uncomfortably squished while Dan and Jo sat on the adjacent loveseat.

Jo: Dan, could you get us some more popcorn?

He didn’t say anything, just nodded and got up with a grunt to grab a fresh beer from the refrigerator before searching through the cabinets.

Dan: I don’t think we have anymore.

Jo: Did you check up top?

Dan: I don’t see it.

Jo: There’s more left, I saw Katrina put it away. You’re just too short to see.

Dan: Jesus.

He said wedging his foot on the bottom shelf to lift himself up higher. His hand patted down blindly across the top shelf just missing the package of popcorn with every attempt.

Dan: Come on.

Suddenly a blast hit the house from outside. Dan was flung to the floor as everyone else shifted in their seats. Katrina hovered over Becky spreading her wings over her. The home ached while everyone else was silent, even the film only played a quiet tune with the sounds of footsteps in the snow were barely auditable.

Katrina: We must act quickly, something is outside.

Dan: You two, stay here!

He yelled to Becky and Jo while getting himself up to his feet. Dan then shot back into the living room and grabbed his pistol off the shelf above the fireplace. Katrina stepped in front of him, she swung her arms against each other clinging the metal bands that were strapped to her wrists. This caused two large blades to pull out from slots in her bracelets with some sort of craftsmanship not seen on Earth. The blades snapped out with the ring of clashing metal. They extended three feet out from her hands, which gripped onto bars connected to the base of the blades. Like a Tonfa, the blades continued trailing down Katrina’s forearms where they ended a few inches below her elbow. With her hands wrapped around the handle of the weapon, and its blades riding up and down her own forearm, the sword was a very much an extension of her own body. She swung her weapons downward leaving her body open and ready to move. Dan looked in awe at her elegant combat tools then to his pistol still within its holster in his hand. He placed the pistol back on top of the shelf and moved behind his recliner to where a wooden cabinet was placed on the wall. He dug out his keys and opened the cabinet snagging the pump action shotgun hidden within. He nodded to Katrina then swiftly moved out the room. //

I stressfully drove my car with sweat bleeding from my brow. My body rocked as I spun the wheel hard and at high speeds raced down this windy road. To my right, Sammie’s body was pressed against the right side of the car as we took the harsh turn. Her eyes were glowing, but she seemed to have no control of herself. Almost like she was in a deep sleep as she made no conscious movements, only mild tremors as if she were trapped in a nightmare. She gasped out her next breath and her eyes dimmed to just a shining point.

Sammie: No! Make it stop. (She spoke weakly.)

Me: Sammie, hold on. We’re almost there!

Sammie: St. J?…

After muttering out those words, she screamed in agony as her eyes blared out blue lights again. She fell limply back into her seat but her face continued to quiver with fear. My teeth ground aganst each other seeing Sammi in such pain. All I could do was drive faster, even with no idea of what was ahead. //

Dip barked out into the dark forest right across from the house. He was already outside growling into the night by the time Katrina and Dan arrived on the porch’s wooden steps. It was impossible to see what had caused Dip’s aggression. He just looked like a dumb dog barking out at nothing.

Katrina: Dip, do you see it?

Dip: It’s too dark, but I can feel a presence ahead. (He growled.)

A large black lobe of light whizzed past Dip in the middle of the yard. He quickly rolled out of the way avoiding the attack. The black lobe hit the house crackling its structure. It already seemed to have sustained the first hit with major damage breaking apart the building’s roof. A few seconds later, a gas pipe went off towards the back of the house causing their entire home to catch fire quickly. The fire illuminated the surrounding area bringing a shadow-like figure into the light. The figure hovered before Dip but appeared to be twice the size of an average man. Its form was like a ghost, it wore a dark cloth that was tattered and smoky as it drifted along the bottom of this shadowy figure. With its massive cloak blended with its actual self, it didn’t seem to have a form, but still, it clearly was humanoid in shape. It had a triangular head with eyes even darker than the rest of its body. Two skeleton hands seemed to just appear at the ends of its black sleeves. Down its wavy body, you could see two black shoes that poked out from underneath. It wielded a long black stick, that looked like a scythe, but with two blades on opposite sides of both ends of the staff. The creature floated in the air flapping its two bare-boned skeleton wings. By the structure of its wings, and how it gently flapped them, there was nothing natural keeping this creature airborne. It could levitate like I could along with several other unnatural qualities. / Katrina showed a more terrified look than the others, her eyes gave it away that this fear was more than just from the creature’s eerie appearance. It seemed like she already knew the strength of the opponent they were up against. She refused to speak or move, trapped by her fear. / Dip, as in his loyal nature, sprinted towards the threat with his head lowered and his feet scampering for the monster at full speed.

Katrina: Dip, no! We need to do this together!

She had to scream out to him, but it was too late. She looked back to Dan fearing he would be just as daring, but he seemed heavily shocked with his house up in flames. / Meanwhile, the cloaked being was calm and still, even as Dip drew near. Dip moved fast with confidence, while Katrina cringed in fear knowing it was too late for him.

Katrina: Dip!

He lunged into the air with his teeth bared as flames and slobber flew from his mouth. The ghostly creature didn’t move until Dip was right at its face. It twirled its scythe creating a dark circle slicing cold metal through the air. The scythe hooked through Dip cutting in through his stomach where the tip edged out his back. The scene was still as Dip stayed suspended at the end of the creature’s weapon. There was nothing but the crackling fire in the background followed by a gentile whimper from the dog as blood leaked from his body. The creature seemed to be inspecting Dip as he had him close at hand. Dip’s fight was over, he dared not move and waste the little life he had left, but curiosity struck him too causing his head to lift up to face the demon before him. Its eyes seemed eternally deep sucking in all the light around him like black holes. The hood of its cloak was a part of its body, the same as its eyes, there was no difference. It didn’t seem to have a mouth, nothing moved as they heard the monster grunt before twirling the scythe around again. This time, it moved its staff in a circular motion above its head followed by a downward slash that slammed Dip into the dirt as he slid off the blade. / Katrina gasped out. / The shadow descended to the ground by Dip, whose flames had blown away from just a mere breeze. He laid there motionless appearing to be nothing more than a slightly oversized shaggy black dog. The monster silently shuffled forward extending its arm out to point a skeleton finger Katrina’s way. /

Dan: Explain yourself later. Right now, we need to drop this killer. You go in for a direct approach, I’ll shoot the thing down from an angle.

Katrina nodded, she swallowed her guilt and rushed forward towards the creature with both her blades up in the air. They came crashing down on the creature’s scythe as it moved to block her attack. It then twirled the scythe hooking her two blades and tossed them into the dirt. Katrina spun around slicing into the shadow with the jagged part of her blade below her left elbow. An opening in its form appeared. There was no blood, just a gaping tear right through its abdomen. Even still, the monster remained calm and silent. Ripples flowed throughout the cloak steadily restoring it to its full form. Katrina looked shocked but had to react quickly as the dark figure swung its scythe towards her. The scythe was held high above its own triangular head and came crashing down onto both of Katrina’s blades crossed defensively over herself. Its attack was difficult for Katrina to repel, her arms shook under the creature’s strength, but Katrina didn’t let up. Before it had time to strike again, she pulsed forward flicking the scythe up with a wave of her right arm then drove her left blade through its chest. The creature paused for a moment but was still unaffected. It seemed to let out a demonic low sigh while backing away slowly ascending to reveal Katrina’s blade from within its shadow form. Katrina had never seen a creature fight with such little aggression or show so little signs of damage after a clear hit. It didn’t bleed, cry, or fade away. It’s ripped cloak even managed to repair itself by the time the demon had taken its position above her. Its skeleton hand poked out from its sleeve with a dark energy flowing through its bones to form another dark lobe with swirling purple volts forming around it. Katrina crossed her two blades as the lobe was shot at her with nothing more than a wave of its hand. She was pushed back with a storm of wind rushing against her as the blast of energy struck. She withstood the dark energy for a second, but her blades shook under the pressure as she fought the unnatural power. Dark lights flashed all over her face just before she gave in and the ball exploded with purple and black streaks. Katrina was tossed back and flung through the flames that rose above the house. / Loud blasts of gunfire went off back in the front yard as Dan moved forward dragging the shadow’s face away with an array of buckshots tearing the shadow’s face away. He continued to pump the shotgun over and over with a painfilled look on his face.

Dan: You can take my house (fired a shot) Burn everything I have (fired another shot) But you won’t be the end of me!

That last shot caused the ghostly creature to surround itself with purple volts. It appeared to be in pain but continued to attack. The purple volts concentrated and traveled out from its body and through its boney fingertips. A wave of dark energy pulsed out striking the ground right before Dan. He was sent up into the air and crashed down on one of the cars in the driveway. The windshield cracked from the impact, but Dan struggled to keep the fight going and crawled to the hood. The dark creature materialized above him slowly fading into the night sky. It held the edge of its scythe against Dan’s throat. Stricken with fear and anguish, Dan froze. The monster reeled the scythe back allowing nothing more than a steady swing but it would be enough to end everything. But before it could, headlights blared into the scene brightening it immensely. The tires from my car screeched from behind as Sammie and I came flying down the street. I laid on my horn while Sammie leaned out the window scattering pistol shots all over this thing’s face and upper body. Her bullets and the light from my car all seemed to whoosh right through the demon slightly breaking it down. I killed the engine while the vehicle still crawled forward, I then faded through the roof of my car and floated on top of the hood. In the blink of my eyes, the shadowy figure appeared before me. Sammie screamed at me from behind telling me to run, move out of the way, or do something. I didn’t really listen, I just stared the evil spirit in its black eyes with my own silver orbs fixated right back at him. The shadow floated back a bit.

Me: Get Out!

I yelled in a ghostly voice forcing the shadow backward with waves of energy that flowed out from my shout. All the cars around us shook a little, their alarms went off, and the cracked windshield shattered. The creature’s eyes widened as police sirens whirled and their flashing lights could be seen through the woods. The shadow looked back to me, just as dark and mysterious as ever. It then flew up into the night sky and disappeared out from my sight. //

Katrina couched taking in a large breath then shot herself up into an upright position suddenly regaining her consciousness. She saw Becky trapped under a pile of wood where the back porch had collapsed around her and caught flame in some parts. The fire had spread down from the house too and was already beginning to surround her. Katrina fluttered her wings jolting towards Becky. She dug her arms in through the rubble and scooped Becky up. She was covered in splinters and ash that coated the confused look on her face. She blinked her eyes slowly in a daze and looked up to Katrina who carried her in her arms. Wind rushed against her face after Katrina brought them through the air.

Becky: Thanks.

Katrina hastened to the front side of the house and dropped Becky off in the driveway by her father. Dan stood tall with his hands rested on top of his head as he took heavy breaths. He looked at his family gathered in front of him happy to see all their faces, but his eyes continued to search, and he became more and more nervous.

Dan: Where’s Jo? (He asked Becky clearly fearing the worst. She couldn’t stand to look at him, it hurt too much. She just sorely sunk her head down.) Where’s your mother!?

He hollered out and started to move his legs without thought towards the house while the fire still raged on. I sprinted over to Dan catching him before he got any closer. I clung onto his shoulder and fought off his wild movements until I could better contain him. Dan tossed his arms about starting to break free, but I kept a tight grip on the bend of his arm.

Dan: No! Let me go!

In his frenzy, Dan clipped my jaw with his elbow allowing him to break loose. I reached out to him again, but Dan had moved away, he was only able to make it one more step before being knocked back on his ass by a huge explosion. This one was clearly from their giant boat out back as parts of it scattered into the smoke-filled air. The blast tore apart Dan’s home sending chunks of wood and metal flying everywhere. Dan remained lying on the pavement unable to cope with what had just happened. He crawled up to Katrina getting up to her knees. She had no idea what to do never seeing anyone before in such pain.

Dan: Did-d, did you see her?

Katrina: Excuse me?

Dan: My wife, Jo. Was she in the house?

Katrina: I-I only saw Becky, she was under a heap of…

Dan: Why didn’t you save her, where is she?!

Katrina: I’m sorry. (She squeaked timidly.)

Becky: Dad, she saved my life.

Dan: (Brushing off that last comment.) St. J. You can look for her, you won’t get burned. Maybe, maybe she’s still in there, maybe she’s alive.

Sammie: Dad, that’s enough! She’s gone.

Dan: How would you know!? Huh! How!? How, how could any of this be happening?

He buried his face into his arms slamming a fist into the concrete. I turned to see that Sammie was just as emotional. She walked up to what was once her home in sort of a trance holding her hand over her mouth as tears flowed down her face. As I approached her she fell right into my grasp and began to cry heart filled heavy tears.

Sammie: She-she really is…

Me: It’s okay Sammie. Everything’s going to be…

Sammie: No! I knew this was gonna happen. I knew it and I did nothing!

Me: Sammie… (Becky came up from behind me and tugged the back of my collar. Katrina stood behind her.)

Becky: St. J, the police, they’ll see you.

Me: But, I. (My fist clenched, I was still amped up and ready to fight.)

Becky: Please, St. J. Don’t make this any worse. You and Katrina have to hide.

Me: Alright.

I sighed dragging myself away from Sammie, her hands slowly slipped away from my fingers as I stepped away. It didn’t feel like the right thing to do, my inner thoughts would rather I fought and chased down the monster that did this. That, or continue to hold Sammie and find some way to make her feel right, but I couldn’t see either of those options to be possible at this point. It felt wrong to step away and hide, but with the police already amongst us, and the fear Katrina showed towards the uniformed men approaching, I knew it would be best to flee. I stepped away from Sammie, without parting my eyes from her view, then placed my hand on Katrina’s shoulder and turned us both invisible. Sammie seemed to be in bad condition, it pained me to watch as the family turned their backs on me and await the incoming wave of officers alone. Becky soon came to her sister’s aid with an arm wrapped around Sammie reliving me of my duty. Katrina and I stayed in the general area to observe things as the first cop car bumped down their road.

Katrina: What are we…?

Me: We’re invisible, stay quiet.

Katrina: Oh? (She checked her limbs to see that they were clear.)

Three police cruisers and a trailing fire truck pulled up surrounding the house as pieces of it crumbled down to its foundation. The firefighters did their best to combat the flames with their hoses, but there was nothing much they could do at this point as everything was reduced to wet clumps of ash. Becky, Dan, and Sammie were approached by an officer for questioning. The press took pictures of the scene. Time passed before I saw a blacked-out car roll up into the driveway. The bald, stocky, but small, man who wore a red CIA field agent uniform stepped out his vehicle. Katrina tried to rush at him and break free from my grasp. She reappeared for a second before I leaped back for her returning her to invisibility. I fully came to expect the consequence of tackling Katrina to the ground, but I was surprised to see the angel easily able to manage the impact, if anything, only hurting myself. With the commotion we caused, we were lucky not to have alerted any of the surrounding officers. I crawled off Katrina but kept a tight grip on her arm, my attempt at continuing to assume charge.

Me: Are you crazy? Do you want to go back to that prison and get the rest of us locked up in there with you? (I said barely whispering.)

Katrina: That’s the man who knocked me out and took me to jail, Agent Sullivan.

He stood in front of the Terrain family, flashed his badge at the officers talking to Becky, Dan, and Sammie, and prepared to induct his own investigation.

Agent Sullivan: I’ll take it from here, boys. (He said with a fake smile that dragged away as the men walked out of his sight.) Well, well what do we have here? That had to hurt. (He said looking at Sammie’s leg.)

Sammie: That happened before the fire. I fell off my bike and got jabbed by a stick. (Her voice still cracked with emotions, but she held her composure well.)

Agent Sullivan: Ah, I see. Well, looks like it didn’t slow you down much, that’s good. Now, aw. what happened here? (He said without an ounce of concern in his voice as he crouched over Dip patting his side.)

Becky: That’s my dog. He, uh, he never was too lucky.

Agent Sullivan: I can see that, appears to be quite the injury he went through. Mind explaining to me what happened?

Becky: I’m not really sure, he just crawled out of the fire with scraps of metal in him. I pulled it out, but he didn’t make it.

Agent Sullivan: I see, very sad. (He continued to speak without emotion.) And what’s your story? Awfully quiet back there aren’t we?

Dan: I lost my wife, my house, and all my property. So I’m not fucking sorry for being too quiet.

Sammie & Becky: Dad!? (They sounded concerned.)

Agent Sullivan: (He laughed.) It’s alright girls, nothing I’m not used to. Not too many people are fans of the police, am I right? But a smart guy like you wouldn’t mind me asking why you have a shotgun laying out in your front yard?

Dan: I have a permit for it. Do you want me to go rummage around through the wreckage to go find it? (He snarled with clenched fists.)

Agent Sullivan: (Laughed annoyingly.) Ah, no. I was just wondering how you managed to keep your weapon out of harm’s way but not your wife. (Becky got a grip on her father’s arm to prevent him from upper-cutting another officer of the law. She tried massaging his stiff muscles doing anything to calm him down as his steaming face built with anger.) But that’s none of my business, priorities right. (He made a slight chuckle.) You can see my concern though, right? You have slash marks all across your yard and your car’s windshield is shattered.

Sammie: What are you presuming!? Our home just blew up in flames and destroyed everything we own. What do you want from us?

Agent Sullivan: Nothing much, I was simply hoping that one of you could make sense of the call we received about a dark winged figure that created a massive explosion. (He switched his focus from Sammie to Dan.) Followed by the numerous reports of gunshots in the area. But, I don’t know, your neighbors must have some kind of imagination, right!? (Fake laughed) That is unless you saw something or know of anything like that, or any other bizarre events that took place tonight.

Becky: I don’t know what you want me to say. No, there weren’t any monsters here tonight, just a really bad fire. Now, if you’re done, we need to go find someplace to sleep tonight.

Agent Sullivan: Oh, yes, of course. My apologies for taking up your time only to get nowhere. I’m sure we’ll be able to continue this conversation some other time. Sounds good, yes. Okay, I’ll be seeing you. (He patted Dan on the back as he cockily strolled past them flashing a big smile on his face.)

Dan: I want to rip his fucking head off, that disrespectful bastard.

Sammie: Can we just get out of here?

I lead Katrina up behind Sammie so I could slip my keys into her hands from close behind. She continued to look down but smiled as I placed my hand on her shoulder and whispered into her ear. She closed her eyes and twisted my keys around in her hand slowly closing it into a fist. Sammie stepped in front of her family back to her can-do attitude.

Sammie: Alright, how about we head up to Nikki’s place for the night. (She said casually dangling my keys up. Dan seemed to get the hint, but Becky was still a bit lost.)

Dan: Fine, anywhere but here.

He said leading Becky over to his car. I stood over to the side as Sammie lingered her eyes in my direction while walking to my car. I gave her my full focus when I should have been more cautious while only invisible and not intangible. An officer blatantly bumped right into me forcing Katrina to yank me into the yard to avoid further contact. The cop seemed to be more confused than suspicious as he swiped his hand through the blank space ahead of him. Luckily, he wasn’t as serious as Agent Sullivan and assumed he had just tripped himself up. The officer looked around dumbfounded, but mostly just to assure that no one else had seen the slip up before he carried on shaking his head at himself. / Sammie rode off in my car with Dan and Becky close behind. Becky looked uncomfortable with the idea of driving past this group of cops without even a windshield to help hide her anxious look. They left the few black crispy walls that remained of their home and their mother’s abandoned SUV in the driveway where police officers stood jotting down notes of ever irregularity. ///

Katrina soared on ahead. I descended to the road where Katrina’s dark wings blocked out the moon and created looming shadows that trailed behind the little red car below. I steadily crept into my car angling myself into a seated position in the passenger seat before making my body visible and fleshed-out again.

Sammie: Holy shit! You scared me.

Me: (I laughed.) Sorry, should have knocked… (She half tried to smile. I knew how hurt she was internally and how poor of a place this was for her, so I decided to keep things brief.) I talked to your dad, he knows where to go.

Sammie: Are you sure Blake will be alright with all of us staying there?

Me: He’s got plenty of room. I’m sure we’ll be able to convince him, eventually. (Slight pause.)

Sammie: Have you thought about how we’re going to tell Nikki. That’s all I can think about right now.

Me: Well you’ve got to stop before it kills you. I won’t make your Dad do it, I saw how messed up he was, we all did.

Sammie: Yes, well at least he didn’t see it happen, then choose not to do anything because he wanted to watch a stupid movie.

Me: You’ve been through a lot, Sammie, but don’t forget to learn from your past. When I was gone, I didn’t blame you for my death, I’m sure your mother wouldn’t want you to blame yourself either.

Sammie: This is different. You came back to me, she won’t.

Me: You’re still new to these visions, give them time. Right now, they’re painful and confusing, but I bet they will come clearer with practice. You have an incredible gift, Sammie, you’re going to help out a lot of people with it. As long as you remember that you can’t save everybody and to give it time to grow.

Sammie: I should have been able to save her. This isn’t a gift, St. J, I didn’t ask for this.

Me: None of us did, but we can’t give up now.

Sammie: Give up, we’re not even fighting for anything but our own lives!

Me: That and a hope to live normal lives again, that’s what keeps me going.

Sammie: You really are optimistic. (She sighed) I just need something to go our way, then maybe I can have the hope you’ve got, but if we don’t get a win soon, we’re going to be out options. (The car moves down the road dropping out of sight under a hill.) //

(((Sapy Music Montage))) The two cars pulled up to a small opening in the woods on the edge of a side road. / Becky, her dad, and I trooped through the darkening forest guided by the flashlights in our hands. / Sammie rode on Katrina’s back as she lightly glided her along and made circles around us. Sammie, unamazed by the starlit view she was given, huffed and simmered her face down against Katrina’s bare back letting her tears gently slide off her skin. / As we emerged from the woods we heard the grunts of Lycans brawling in the distance. Nikki and Blake were in the middle of practice. Her clothes and face were covered in dirt, the cuts across her cheek healed progressively. She retracted her claws and made Blake wait in the open field under the treehouse. Nikki looked happy to see us but confused by our random arrival and the solemn looks on our faces as Becky and I met her in the center of the field. / Katrina landed with Sammie easily able to crawl off her back aided by her father who stayed close by at the edge of the forest. The three of them looked out across the field to Nikki whose eyes widened with emotion from the information Becky and I had to offer. Above, World Tree stood magnificently swaying in the summer breeze. Below, Blake, the lone wolf, stood isolated letting the tall grass tickle his shins as he took in the situation. / Nikki spat out a few words then began to cry falling into both of our arms. I looked to Becky, who was teared up herself, I silently dropped my head down with theirs. Her dad walked up from behind placing a hand on Nikki’s shoulder. She turned around and looked up at her dad as her green eyes shimmered with tears held tightly. She released everything allowing her tears to stream through the air as she leapt into Dan’s arms. Exhausted, Sammie leaned her weight on me, I wrapped an arm around her holding her close. My eyes gazed across the field where met with Blake’s. He nodded to me and turned for the base of his home. //

I silently stepped out of a room Sammie and I claimed and peered back inside. The room was obviously made up of all wooden walls, other natural furniture filled up the open space and a hand-woven tapestry was hung for decoration. The room seemed to be carved out of the trunk of the tree. One corner of the room curved along the center of the tree as the treehouse was formed around its base, a darker wood than the rest of the walls. I looked back to Sammie sprawled out on top of the bed in a peaceful slumber. I carefully closed the door behind myself and walked off down the hardwood corridors outside. / The hallway wrapped around the tree’s trunk ascending further up the tree. There were other doors going deeper into the tree’s base and random Native American mementos such as drums, art, and skins draped on the wall. / I stepped into an opening where Blake leaned over a wooden balcony illuminated by the moonlight. From the top of the treehouse, you could almost see the entire forest. But right now, in the midst of night, it was just a dark sea of waves made up from treetops along the horizon.

Blake: ‘Gets hard to sleep when lives are on the line. I know the feeling.

Me: Well, I can say it was a lot easier back when all I had to worry about was passing a few college courses.

Blake: I’m taking a big risk if you choose to reside here permanently. You know, I wouldn’t have let you stay if half of you hadn’t just lost your mom.

Me: I figured as much, but thanks anyways.

Blake: (After a brief silence.) Kid, do you have any idea what you’re doing?

Me: (I laughed for a second then stopped once I saw that he was dead serious. I pitifully sighed out what was left in my lungs.) Damn, I-I guess not. It’s that obvious huh?

Blake: Well look, I know I say I’m the alpha of this whole wolfpack, but that’s just between Nikki and me. In reality, I have no idea what I’m doing like the rest of you. But all those people, in this little group you’re forming. They need a leader. Someone who can get them through shit times like this.

Me: (I laughed.) Yeah, and I’m guessing this is the part where you say that guy has to be me. (Blake looked to me and silently shrugged his shoulders.) Man, I know what you’re saying. We need someone to look up to, but I can hardly control my powers. Why would any of you follow me?

Blake: It’s not always about who’s the strongest, it’s not even the smartest that become leaders.

Me: So, what is it?

Blake: I don’t know, you just have to have that confidence, a little charm. I see that in you, like how you can act like things will work out when they probably won’t.

Me: How would you know…

Blake: Thin walls, Lycan ears, not much you can hide here around me, especially those sweet little conversations with your girl back there. (I grunted slightly agitated but expected nothing less.)

Me: Well, if you know what to do, then why won’t you do it?

Blake: I’m no alpha. I had my chance to have power. It was wild, it was fun, but everyone I loved ended up suffering. I’m not going through that again. The pressure can cripple you if you’re not up for the job.

Me: (I tilted my head down rubbing the back of my neck.) But you have done it before though.

Blake: Yes, and like I said, never again. Look, I can say the right shit every now and then, and I know a little bit about the game. But trust me, you’ll catch on, and you’ll do hell of a lot better than I did. Just give them something to fight for some…

Me: We just need to find hope.

Blake: Yeah. I remember when I had that, but then again, that was a long time ago. Hope will go a long way, but you still have to get past this first step first, then they’ll believe in you. But I swear to God, you let all this go to ya head and I’ll knock the sense back into ya. (He slapped my back and started to walk away giving me one last bit of advice.) For now, just try to get some sleep.

I stood there staring off out at nothing.

Me: (In a quiet raspy voice.) Yeah, that’s not going to be any easier now. ////

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