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He Thought He Saw – Conclusion

He Thought He Saw redAfter talking to the police, they go to Chase’s house to wait for news about Brain. Soon, Heath calls to give them an update.

“Doctor decided a tree root got him when he fell. It’s great what a little compulsion can do. Never saw anyone as good at it as Claude, except maybe Clifford. Everything okay there?”

Jordan told him how it had gone with the police. Her father chuckled. “See what I mean? Stick tight, I’ll be there soon. They’re keeping Brian overnight. Might keep Maribelle too. She’s a wreck. Miles is going to stay up here. I’m going to run him up some clean things, but first, I want to get my girls home.”

“We’ll be waiting, Daddy. I love you.”

“Love you too, honey.”

The news of Brian’s condition was greeted enthusiastically. Everyone cheered and laughed except Jordan. Her mother noticed how subdued she was.

“I thought you’d be happier than anyone.”

“I am, Mom. I almost lost him. He’s my best friend and he almost died!” She burst into tears.

“But he didn’t. You saved him with your quick thinking. We couldn’t have done this tonight without you and the others. You saved our lives.”

“Is he dead?” Jordan asked. “Mr. D. Is he gone for good?”

“I don’t know. Somehow, I doubt it. I think it will need a more concerted and organized attack to kill him—if he can be killed. But for now, he’s gone.”

Heath arrived and everyone went their separate ways. To save them from having to drive all the way home at that late hour, the folks from Louisiana spent the night. Andre and his parents were with Chase. Louisa’s family went with Marissa’s and the Sweets came to Jordan’s. Brian’s house was a crime scene, so Heath gathered spare clothing for Miles and Maribelle. There were a few of Brian’s things in the clean laundry. Jordan packed those for her father to take.

“Can I come too?”

“Sure, honey. I’m sure Brian will want to see you when he wakes.”

Brian looked pale and the skin was tightly drawn over the bones in his face. He had a warming blanket over him since his body temperature wanted to drop. He looked terrible. Jordan gave a little cry when she saw him.

Maribelle was in the bed next to her son. Miles sat on the one chair in the room. There were pillows and blankets in the oversized window seat. He accepted the clean clothing gladly, and went into the bathroom to shower and change.

Jordan walked over to Brian’s bedside. She sat on the edge of the bed. Heath pulled the curtain between the two beds to allow her some privacy. He talked quietly to Maribelle while Miles was in the shower.

Jordan took Brian’s hand, lacing her fingers with his. “Hey, you goon. Get better, okay? I still owe you a smack with the pillow.” She put his hand to her cheek as she leaned over and gave him a kiss on the lips. His skin felt unnaturally cool, frightening her. Jordan blinked back tears.

“We drove him off,” she said with quiet triumph. “Mom says he may come back, but he’s gone for now. Because of you. You were so brave—stupid, but brave. Why did you grab him? Don’t you dare scare me like that again! You’re part of me now. If anything happened to you….”

She rubbed her cheek on his hand again, kissing the fingers. With her other hand, she brushed his hair from his forehead. He was bruised up, but his color looked a little better. Jordan kissed him again, her lips lingering on his. Brian’s other hand rose, brushing her hair, as he deepened the kiss.

“Best way to wake up, ever,” he murmured. His eyes opened and he smiled. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Me too—you, I mean. I’m glad you’re all right.” She pulled back the curtain. “He’s awake.”

Miles heard the announcement as he came out of the bathroom. Laughing with relief, he carefully embraced his son.

“Is Mom okay?”

“I’m right here, honey,” she called to him.

“She got pretty banged up before you got there. Your mom fights like a tiger. She kicked some serious ass.”

“She sure did,” Heath admitted. “Jackie too.”

“But Maribelle’s condition….” Miles stopped himself.

“You mean her eyes?” Brian asked.

Miles blushed, gazing lovingly at his wife. “Uh, why, no. Your mom is—that is, Mom and I….”

“You’re pregnant?” Jordan laughed, clapping her hands. “How exciting!”

“I thought you’d been gone for months on end. When did this happen?” Brian demanded.

“Well, to be honest, I’ve visited a few times. You just didn’t know.”

“What? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Misdirection. Even Maribelle didn’t know where I was the whole time, or where I’d been. But I had to see her. You’ll understand when you get older. You have to renew that bond.”

“It was the bond that saved you,” Maribelle said. “If anyone but Jordan had tried to raise you, it wouldn’t have worked.”

“But why?” Brian and Jordan asked together.

“She’s your other half,” Maribelle replied. “She’s been a part of you since conception.”

“I’m not really comfortable with this whole destined to be together thing,” Brian said.

“Get used to it, my boy. It can’t be avoided,” his father replied. “Believe me, I tried to play the field and date other women. Couldn’t do it.”

“Why?”

Miles took Maribelle’s hand. “Because no one else measured up. Once you’ve found your perfect match, there’s no competition.”

“We need to let Maribelle and Brian rest now,” Heath said. “Say good night, Jordan.”

They kissed quickly, saying good night. Jordan hugged Brian’s parents and she and her father left. As they were driving home, Jordan reflected on all that had happened in the last few days.

“Do you think he’ll be back?”

Her father shrugged. “I don’t know, honey. I don’t think he’s dead, if that’s what you mean. But for now, he’s gone.”

“We’ll have to be stronger next time. He almost killed us.”

“We weren’t prepared. But we’ll study and train.”

“Next time,” Jordan vowed. “We’ll be ready.”

THE END

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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He Thought He Saw – Part 65

He Thought He Saw redAfter a tense few minutes, they finally dig Brian out of the ground, to find that he’s not breathing. Heath, Miles and Claude work on him, trying to heal him.

Jordan insisted on taking over the artificial respiration. She knew what she was doing, her father had trained her himself. As she waited for the doctor to do his compressions, she looked Brian over.

“His amulet,” she said. “Where’s his amulet?” She gave him the breaths before insisting that the others look for it.

Her father traded off with her so she could look around for Brian’s necklace. It was nowhere to be seen. Determined to find it, Jordan cast out with her mind, calling to it. She knew it, had touched it, it was part of her just as it was part of Brian. She saw it in her mind, deep in the earth.

“Zofia! Janus!” she called to the dogs. Touching their heads, she showed them what she needed.

The two dogs moved to the hole, digging quickly. Dirt flew several feet into the air as they sank deeper. Jordan stood beside them, moving the earth as they clawed it up. Soon, she saw a glimmer of metal. A few more inches and she saw part of the crystal. She hopped into the hole, digging with her hands until she had freed it.

“Got it!”

With the help of Andre, Chase and Sweet, she got out of the hole. She slipped the amulet over Brian’s head and kissed him on the cheek. His skin felt cold, clammy.

“Don’t you dare die,” she whispered in his ear. “You come back to me, dammit. You’re mine and I’m not letting you go. You gave me my first kiss. You have to be around to give me more. Besides, I owe you a whack with a pillow for that panties remark. Don’t you dare die, I have to get even.”

Jordan put the amulet close to his skin, right over his heart. She placed her palms on top of it. Glancing over her shoulder at her friends, she called them to her silently. Standing in a circle around Brian, they knelt down, taking hands. Chase was to Jordan’s right, Marissa to his left, then Andre, Louisa, Sweet and Ginnifer, who clung tightly to Jordan.

“Breathe!” Jordan commanded. “Breathe! Heart, beat.”

Mist swirled up from the ground, heading for Brian. It dove into his nose and mouth, expanding his lungs. Gasping, he started breathing on his own. His chest tightened under her hands and with a flutter, his heart started beating.

Moments later, the ambulance arrived. Paramedics strapped Brian onto a gurney and loaded him into the waiting vehicle. Dr. Beauchamps went with him. Heath drove Miles and Maribelle to the hospital, leaving the others to explain to the police what had happened.

“Let me do the talking,” Cliff Finley said as they waited for the officer to pick her way through the mud.

“Go for it,” his son replied. “Never saw anyone as good at Dad as talking himself out of a ticket.” He put his arms around Marissa, who shivered next to him.

The police and ambulance drivers had doled out thermal blankets. Each couple shared one, holding one another close as Mr. Finley talked to the sergeant who had been at Brian’s house. He wove some story about coming out here for a cookout when an earthquake struck.

“Brian must have been right on a fault line,” he said. “Sucked him right in. We dug him out, but he was in a bad way. Fortunately, we had Dr. Beauchamps here and another fellow who used to work as a paramedic. They got him squared away until the ambulance got here.”

“That’s quite a story, Mr. Finley.” She didn’t sound like she believed him.

“Well, maybe you’ll like this one better. We came out here to hunt a demon that’s been causing trouble around town. When he went back on down the abyss, he dragged Brian with him and we pulled him out by magic.”

The sergeant laughed, shaking her head. “Clifford Finley, you were always the best story teller in school. I swear, I don’t know how your wife puts up with you.”

“Cause I keep her laughing,” he replied. “Thanks for your time, Amy.” He took her hand, gazing into her eyes. “You know what went on here. It’s plausible and looks good on a report.”

“It’s plausible,” she murmured. “And looks good—on the report.”

“We’d best get these kids home to bed,” Cliff said. “Is that okay, Amy?”

“Yeah. Sure.” She sounded slightly dazed. “Yes, get the kids to bed.”

They loaded up in the vehicles and drove to the Finley’s house, which was closest. Everyone had hot chocolate and leftovers from the bonfire evening. As they were cleaning up, Jordan’s phone rang. It was her father.

“Hey, honey. Good news. The doctor said Brian’s going to be fine.”

“How did you explain the gore in his side?” she asked.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 64

He Thought He Saw redThey successfully wound Deidrich, but he keeps fighting. The last they see of him, he’s gored Brian and dragged him underground.

The other teenagers wandered over, staring at the place where their friend had disappeared. Their parents came up behind them. Putting their hands on the shoulders of their children, the parents moved into a ring around the churned up, muddy ground. Seeing what they were doing, Jackie and Heath joined them. Miles and Maribelle were too horrified to participate. Jordan sat beside them, clutching Maribelle’s hand as she wept.

A multitude of voices rose in chorus, chanting loudly. Jordan didn’t understand the words, but she knew the intent. They were calling to the elements to find Brian and bring him safely back. She looked around the circle for the first time, examining all the unfamiliar faces. Because of their positions in the group, she could make assumptions as to who they were.

The blond giant and his pretty wife were Marissa’s parents. The Finleys were there with Chase. A couple who looked like they’d just stepped in off the beach, clung to Sweet. A beautiful Latina and an olive skinned man stood with Louisa. She recognized Andre’s father from the film. He had his arm around a pretty woman with caramel colored eyes and a café au lait complexion.

They continued to chant. Nothing happened. The earth stayed closed. Brian did not reappear. Neither did Deidrich.

Maribelle screamed. Struggling free of her husband’s grasp, she flung herself on the ground beside Jordan. She dug wildly at the earth, her sobbing voice joining the chanting. Miles took her by the shoulders, pulling her into his arms. He spoke quietly, calmly and she turned her face to his chest, sobs wracking her body.

“No,” she whispered. “No!”

Jordan burst into angry tears. Standing, she kicked at the ground.

“You betrayed me,” she screeched. “I asked for your help. Instead, you took him from me! I hate you! I hate you!”

She took up Brian’s bo staff that lay where he’d dropped it. With both hands, she drove it into the hole she and Maribelle had dug. Words tumbled from her mouth in the lyrical language they used. Energy coursed through her, driving deeper into the ground. Her grief and anger fueled her as she searched for a flicker that would tell her if Brian was alive.

“You took him from me. Bring him back! Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, I command you to find Brian and return him to us—alive and whole! I demand with the voice of the trees and sun, bring him back alive. I speak with the authority of my kind—return him to me. Now!” She drove the staff deeper into the earth so hard it cracked. Holding the other half toward the sky, she chanted.

The others took up her chant, their voices weaving through and blending with hers as they summoned the elements. The earth shook, slightly at first, then harder. Water gurgled nearby, flowing nearer. The air whipped into a small dirt devil directly over the hole where Brian had fallen. A ring of multicolored flames burned around the depression, fueled by the water that trickled in and around it.

Gradually, a hole appeared. The earth contracted like a woman in labor. An outstretched arm appeared through the dirt, pale and still. The top of his head came next, followed by his shoulders, his other arm, tight to his side.

The men reached for him, grabbing him beneath the arms as the earth birthed him. They pulled him free. The hole closed, the fire went out, the wind died down and the water seeped into the ground.

Andre came back with blankets from his truck. Louisa got lanterns and Ginnifer brought a camp stove. Sweet summoned water and fire, lighting the stove and boiling water. Others came forward with herbs to add, each working eagerly to help the fallen.

While Heath and Dr. Beauchamps concentrated on Brian, the others checked one another for wounds, washing and binding them with clean cloth steeped in herbal mixtures.

Brian lay completely still, his face pale, eyes closed. Heath checked his airway and Dr. Beauchamps tried to get a pulse. His tight lipped face told them he hadn’t found one.

“Did you call 9-1-1?” he asked his son.

“Already done. It may take some time to get here. There was a lot of trouble in town.”

“I’ll do what I can, Maribelle—Miles.”

“We know, Claude,” Maribelle said quietly, gulping back her tears.

Between the two of them, Heath and Claude Beauchamps did CPR on Brian. Heath drew on the power of the elements to heal him, but saw little change. Others who had healing powers, joined him a Claude massaged his chest and Heath breathed for him.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 63

He Thought He Saw redThe teens and adults find themselves in a pitched battle with Deidrich and his familiars. He is able to call up creatures from nothing, using them as weapons against the others. Things take a turn when Deidrich turns himself into a huge, black buffalo.

The buffalo snorted, his focus switching to Jordan. Another evil smile twitched the snarling lips as he took her measure.

“I’m not afraid of you, Deidrich,” she yelled. Squaring her shoulders, she stared the beast down.

Brian crouched, ready for the charge he knew was coming. Jordan didn’t move. Her dark hair whipped around her head as the wind rose. Brian could see her speaking, her lips forming words he couldn’t hear. The wind whirled around her, growing stronger, moving determinedly toward Deidrich’s buffalo form.

The ground beneath the beast rumbled. Deidrich lost his footing as the earth undulated. The wind trapped him, bearing down on him as it spun and whirled. The earth rose, shackling his feet. Deidrich shuddered, snorting. The wind lessened and the earth receded. Jordan took a step closer. Brian joined her, taking one of her hands. His voice joined hers and the wind renewed its strength.

The birds and bats left off attacking the others, changing the focus of their attention to Jordan and Brian. A wall of fire sprung up between them and the pair of teenagers. It circled the birds, trapping them, squeezing in on them. The bats flew upward, scattering as the flames engulfed the birds.

From the woods behind them, a sparkling net ascended, trapping the bats in its glittering blue mesh. A hard tug brought them down as it tightened around them.

Brian saw his parents and Jordan’s rallying. The other teenagers joined hands in a line as the adults formed a circle. Andre took Maribelle’s hand and another wall of flames rose up and started moving toward the buffalo.

Other people joined the battle, surging out of the woods. Adults stepped into the circle, teenagers joined the line that now extended to Jordan and Brian. Boldly, Chase stepped forward, grabbing Jordan’s hand.

Deidrich’s eyes raked the clearing, taking in the details. His imps were crushed, his birds and bats gone. He was stuck in the buffalo form until the battle was determined. It would take too much time and energy to change. He had the choice to stand and fight or retreat.

The two impulses raged within him. They were strong and growing stronger by the second. His strength was diminished with the ending of his minions. With a snort, he lowered his head, drawing energy from the depths of the earth. The humans controlled elements, but so did he.

Stones shifted, earth rumbled, under their feet. Jordan lost her concentration when a hole opened in front of her. She lost her balance and fell several feet before Chase and Brian were able to pull her back up. With a thought, she sealed the hole beneath her, finding firmer footing.

“Earth elementals,” she cried. “Hear me! Don’t answer his call. Answer mine. He would use and destroy you. Look how his minions fared against us! Join me! Fight!”

Earth shifted slightly and Jordan felt energy from the ground swell inside her, filling her with the strength to do battle. Others around her felt the difference and she knew instinctively that the were also Earth Wielders.

Maribelle Casey struggled to her feet, calling on the water elementals. Jackie called to the wind. Brian’s voice rose above them all, calling fire to him. His body shook and he roared with pain as flames surged from inside him. They burst from his chest, blasting Deidrich like a furnace.

The water rose, forming another glittering blue mesh. It hovered above the glade. The earth rose around the demonic buffalo, trapping it as the fire did its work. Air whipped at the flames, feeding them to a blazing frenzy.

Brian’s hand slipped from Jordan’s. He walked closer to Deidrich, hands outstretched. He grabbed the horns of the buffalo, the fire still billowing from him.

Deidrich lunged. The ground beneath them opened as the water descended, hissing on the flames. The net fell apart before it reached Deidrich. The wind stilled, but the ground continued to rumble. With a groan, the earth shifted once more. Deidrich lunged, goring Brian with his horn. Together, beast and boy fell into the ground. The hole sealed itself, pulling Brian into the gloom.

“Nooooooooooooo!” Jordan wailed. Falling to her knees, she clawed at the dirt. “Brian! Brian!” Screaming and babbling, she dug with her hands, but there was no sign of the hole that had swallowed her friend and Deidrich.

Weeping uncontrollably, Jordan gasped. She couldn’t continue. Her strength was gone. Jackie rushed over to her, taking her daughter in her arms. Maribelle Casey crawled to the spot where her only son had disappeared. Miles came after her, cradling his arm. Heath Barrett joined his wife and daughter.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 61

He Thought He Saw redWhen they come out of the dojo, they discover that their parents are missing and there are signs of a struggle. They call Andre of the Louisiana group, only to find out they are already on the way.

“No. The house is well built and the dojo is soundproofed. We didn’t hear a thing,” Jordan said, tears in her eyes. “How can they just be gone?”

“Go by my house first,” Brian said, giving directions. “That would be their first stop. Heath knew Dad was there.”

They knew something was wrong before they arrived. Police cars, lights flashing, lined the road. The house stood with all the doors and windows open, lights blazing. A smell of fire lingered in the air, but nothing was burning.

Brian leaped out of the truck before Andre came to a full stop. He ran up to the nearest police officer.

“I’m Brian Casey, I live here. What’s wrong?”

The officer directed him to the sergeant in charge, a woman with dark hair. She stood by the barricade, talking into her radio.

“Excuse me, Sarge, this kid says he lives here,” the officer said, by way of introduction.

“Thank God, we thought you were home when this happened.”

“When what happened? Are my folks okay? And the people with them?”

“We’re still piecing it together. Neighbors reported sounds of an altercation. When we got here a few minutes later, we found it like this.”

Brian didn’t wait for her to finish. He vaulted over the barricade and ran up to the house. Jordan and the others followed him, with the police in hot pursuit.

“You can’t go in there. It’s not safe!” The sergeant yelled after them.

Brian ran in the front door to find utter devastation. Shards of glass riddled the walls and floor. Burn marks led from the fireplace and kitchen. Nearly every piece of furniture was splintered and torn. It looked like a full scale war had been fought here. Strangely, there was no blood. Where were their parents? Why couldn’t they find evidence that they’d even been here?

Turning in a circle, Brian took in details rapidly before rushing to the study. This room was also trashed. All the books lay in shreds on the floor. The shelves had been ripped from the wall, the furniture smashed and overturned. He looked among the wreckage for the book that hid the key. He didn’t find it.

Next, he ran to the dining room. The room was pristine as if it had never been touched. Moving on, he ran through the kitchen, to the basement steps. A wave of nausea swept through him, making him gag. Grabbing the nearby garbage can, he heaved the contents of his stomach into it.

A horrible smell lingered in the air of the stairway. Forcing himself to breath through his mouth, Brian descended. He felt Jordan directly behind him, her tonfa at the ready. She hadn’t puked, why had he? The others joined them, moving slowly and quietly, wondering what they would find.

The basement reeked of sulfur and wet ashes. The entire room was gutted by fire, the floor and walls scorched. An inch of water pooled around their feet as they walked across the room to the backdoor. This hung at an odd angle, pieces of it scattered across the room and buried in the walls. The extra covering had been ripped from its hinges.

Without stopping to consider his actions, Brian raced up the steps with Zofia and Jordan right behind him. The others picked their way across the room more slowly, but they joined their friends as quickly as they could.

The vast expanse of swampy trees greeted them. Strangely, there was no snow back here. Footprints in the damp ground, led parallel to the line of trees, skirting the swamp. Four people had gone this way. And one big dog.

Zofia sniffed the footprints and whined. She started off after the tracks with confidence. Brian didn’t hesitate. He followed her quickly, running top speed. Jordan followed, her shorter legs having trouble keeping up with Brain’s stride.

Andre and the others ran with her, following Brian’s path. Brian disappeared between two trees. Jordan ran after him, her steps sure on the uneven, muddy ground. Here, her height was an advantage as the trees grew thick, their branches low to the ground. She saw a few broken limbs and knew that Brian and others had run this way. The ground was churned into muddy lumps, growing more treacherous as they moved deeper into the swamp.

Behind her, Andre and Sweet cursed as the low branches clipped their heads and grabbed at their broad shoulders. The girls moved ahead, slipping through the tight gaps easily. They caught up with Jordan, letting her lead. Not far ahead, they heard sounds of a fight. Loud voices, the barking of the dogs, weapons striking weapons. Jordan held up her hand, halting the others. She crept closer, crouching to see between the trees. She felt the others come up beside her, finding their own vantage points.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 60

He Thought He Saw redBrian and Jordan decide to spar in the Barrett’s dojo. When they come out, Zofia is waiting for them, clearly upset.

Brian walked behind and to her left, his own eyes trying to pick out details in the gloom. He felt the hairs on his neck rise and knew something was horribly wrong. Where were their parents? Why hadn’t they warned the children? Why hadn’t they asked them for their help?

The smell of sulfur assailed their nostrils when they got to the front rooms of the house. A fire burned in the living room fireplace, nearly down to coals. Furniture was knocked over, black singe marks marred the hardwood floor and area rugs. Grit crunched under their feet. Brian stooped to investigate as Jordan turned slowly, taking in details. Crystalline grit clung to his sweaty fingers. It had a familiar odor to it that he could detect, even with the sulfuric smell.

“Cumin,” he whispered. His tongue flicked out. “And salt. They were fighting something.”

“But what? And where are they? Why didn’t Zofia warn us?”

“I don’t know.”

They searched the downstairs thoroughly, but the living room was the only place that showed signs of violence. Jordan shivered.

“There must be a door or window open somewhere. Let’s look.”

They made the circuit again, this time finding a window in her father’s office open. Someone had used it. The screen was out, lying in a broken heap on the ground. The snow below was trampled as if hurrying feet had jumped out and run away.

“Where did they go?” Jordan’s voice squeaked like a little child’s.

“I don’t know, but your dad’s car is gone.”

“They left us?” Her voice rose to a near shriek. “All alone? They left us?”

“We aren’t alone. We’re together and we have Zofia. Maybe they figured we were safer where we were.” He closed the window, locking it. “And they were right. Misdirection, remember?”

Grabbing Jordan’s hand, he dragged her back through the house.

“Go upstairs and change into warm clothing. Boots, hat, gloves. We’ll need food and water. Do you have camping gear?”

“In the basement laundry room, on the shelves. The backpacks are already full of anything we’d need in an emergency. Dad’s pretty OCD about that.”

“Great. Change and meet me here in five minutes.”

“No. Get your stuff and come upstairs. I’m not going in that room alone.”

“Jordan, don’t be ridiculous. Take Zofia with you.”

“I don’t want to be alone up there. I’m scared.”

Brian took her elbows firmly in his hands. He gazed intently in her eyes, commanding her with his voice. “Jordan, you’re not a coward. Put on your big girl panties and do it.”

Her spine stiffened and he could tell he’d made her mad. Good, if she’s angry, she can’t be afraid.

“I’ll get you for this,” she muttered, storming past him.

“Sorry I don’t have a pillow handy,” he countered. “Must have left it in my other pants.” He dodged her jab with the end of the tonfa.

Brian changed quickly and went downstairs to get the backpacks. They were fully stocked as Jordan said they were. He grabbed a few more weapons from the dojo and scurried upstairs.

Jordan met him in the kitchen. She had a square of leather across her chest and she put several knives in slits.

“They aren’t just for cooking,” she remarked. “Steel, full length tang, oak grip, brass rivets.”

“Good. I got some things from the dojo. We’re as prepared as we can be.”

“I called Andre. He said they were already on the way. Ginnifer got a warning. They’ll be here soon.”

“We need more provisions.”

“They’re set. I asked.”

Andre’s truck pulled up outside. They bustled down the steps and dropped their packs in the truck bed before hopping in back seat with Sweet. Ginnifer and Louisa sat up front with Andre. Zofia hopped in the back with the packs and lay down between them.

“What’s wrong?” Ginnifer asked.

“Our parents disappeared. We were downstairs in the dojo and they were gone when we got upstairs.”

“Freaky, man,” Sweet said.

“You didn’t hear anything?” This from Louisa.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 59

He Thought He Saw redJordan and Brian find it a little intimidating knowing that they are destined to be married in the future.

“Even if it wasn’t written in the stars, or whatever, I would’ve wanted to meet you and get to know you. You’re smart and funny and you get my sense of humor—even if you do hit me with pillows when you’re mad.”

Jordan bopped him with a small pillow from the ratty basement couch.

“Dammit, do you have one in every room just so you can hit me?”

He laughed, taking the pillow from her, popping her on the head with it. They wrestled around, grabbing the pillow, giving one another playful blows with it.

“I have an idea,” Jordan said, breathless and laughing. “We have a sparring mat in the other room.”

“What other room?”

She beckoned to him, leading him passed the laundry room to an almost invisible door. Inside, Brian was surprised to find a small, well equipped dojo. He slipped off his shoes and socks, following Jordan on to the mat that took up most of the space.

“What do you study?” Jordan asked after bowing to him.

“Aikido, mostly. You?”

“Kick boxing. A smattering of American Martial Arts.” She started stretching.

“I just started Krav Maga a few months ago. The Sensei wouldn’t take me until I was fifteen. I wish I’d remembered some of it when I got attacked in the swamp.” He stretched too.

“Tell me about that again. And about the whirlwind.”

“Why? You know all about it already.”

“But when I heard it before, I didn’t know anything. I think we need to look at our experiences and see what we could do differently. Before, they were attacking us when we were weak and uniformed. We know something now.”

As they stretched on the mat, Brian told her again about his encounters with the fog creatures and the whirlwind. Jordan retold her experiences as well. Afterward, they sparred and discussed what they could have done differently. They pretended to attack one another and made suggestions on how they might fight off something in the future.

They spent over an hour working out. Brian showed Jordan ways to use the staff. She showed him some combinations of kicks. Both were hot, thirsty and sweating before they had finished. As they made their way up the basement stairs, Jordan’s fingers slid between Brian’s. She tugged on his arm, halting his ascent.

“Thank you,” she said quietly. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had with a guy.”

“Most fun I’ve ever had with a girl,” he replied, stepping closer. “Except for that kiss….”

Brian lifted Jordan, setting her on the step ahead of him, so her face was nearly on a level with his. He drew her close, lips barely touching. Zofia whined behind them, nudging Brian’s foot with her nose.

Ignoring her, he kissed Jordan lightly, then deeper when she parted her lips. It felt good and right to hold her in his arms. He never wanted to let her go. The idea that they were destined to be together no longer felt strange.

Zofia whined again, tugging his pants leg with her teeth. Brian looked down at her.

“What’s wrong, girl?”

He listened closely to the rest of the house. It seemed awfully quiet. He let go of Jordan, motioning her behind him. She protested mutely. Casting about for a weapon, Brian signaled that they should do downstairs. He led the way to the dojo, quietly shutting the door before he would speak.

“Something’s wrong. Get a weapon you’re comfortable with and we’ll investigate.”

Jordan picked up a pair of tonfa, wooden batons shaped like police nightsticks. Brian took a bo staff from the wall, swinging it for balance. The solidly crafted length of red oak made him feel better prepared.

As he walked to the door, Jordan stopped him. “Dad always says to use this on them if you need them for real,” she said. She picked up a small spray bottle. “It’s mugwort oil. It’s really supposed to be used on crystal balls or divining tools, but Dad likes it on his weapons. It’s good for protection.”

“God knows we can use that,” Brian said.

They sprayed the weapons quickly, spending more time than Brian liked, but he knew they were ill prepared for an encounter. Muttering every prayer he could think of, he led the way.

At the door, Zofia waited, the ridge on her back standing at attention. A low, thrumming growl rumbled in her chest. The air in the house was chilly as if a door or window had been left open. The house was fairly dark, the only illumination coming from scattered night lights. Jordan took the lead since she was more familiar with the space. Her dark eyes flickered around the rooms, watching, waiting.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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