The Book of Gateways Installment 27 (#BOG)

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We all rejoin at seven in the little locked office via the outside window.

“This is why Milo always kept this place locked. He used it to come here. Aw he kept my kitten calendar here.” Desimae goes to change the calendar to the correct month but then decides against it and leaves it. “He touched it last.” She says matter-of-factly.

“Are you ready for this?” Piers looks concerned. “You might feel nauseous and possibly even pass out. Are you gunna be okay?” He slips his arm through his second backpack strap. She nods and pulls her little backpack on. It almost looks like the character Domo but a sky blue version with a ton of multi-colored patches and little legs that swing back and forth when she walks. She named him Phil. We all file through our bags to make sure we have everything we need. Passports? Check. Bank cards? Check. Change of clothes? Check. Looks like we are ready to go.

“I’m a little nervous to put this many people through the gateway.” I swallow hard at the thought of half my body in Singapore and half my body in this office. The police wouldn’t be tired of me anymore.

“How bad could it be to get stuck between space jumps? You’d probably be severed instantaneously.” Desimae shrugs which causes Phil’s legs to swish back and forth. Piers sighs exasperated.

“Can we just do this?” He says opening the book to a page with a picture that read: “100 Year Old Dim Sum Shop…Singapore”.

“Well we know why Milo went to Singapore.” Desimae laughs.

“Grab onto me.” Piers says to both of us. Each of us puts a hand on Piers’ shoulder and another hand around his waist. We don’t want to get disconnected and turn into Swiss cheese.

“Three, two, one. Go.” Piers says as he puts his finger onto the starter circle and just like that we’re sucked in.

Through the blackness, I hear a gasp of air entering deprived lungs. My eyes open to the back of the restaurant before me, Piers underneath me, and Desimae beside me. Her eyes wide and searching her surroundings. “Whoa.” Is all she says as me and Piers stand up already used to the pressure of jumping through gateways.

“Need help up?” Piers yanks Desimae up by her forearm. Her whole body is shaking with adrenaline. “Are you okay?” She nods yes.

“Why don’t we try some food here? Milo obviously liked it. We should try it too.” I say bouncing on the balls of my feet. “It’s ten in the morning here, but anytime is a good time for Dim Sum.” With that, we all make our way into the little shop and are greeted by a small Singaporean woman.

“Ah! Riley! Oh my goodness, you take after Milo so much! Popping in whenever the wind blows you here!” She says with a wide smile. “Please, please come in! Sit down. We aren’t quite open yet, but for you, anytime!” She says and points us to a table.

“You know her?” I whisper to Piers. He shakes his head no.

“My name is Min. Milo has told me so much about you. Who are your friends?”

We all introduce ourselves and sit down at the table.

“How is Milo? Is he well? I haven’t seen him in a long time.” She says sitting next to us. A dread falls over me and suddenly we are stuck in a difficult position. I look to Piers.

“Oh, Min. I am, so sorry…” He looks down to his hands and suddenly Min seems uncomfortable. “Milo, was murdered about three and a half months ago.” Piers fidgets. Instantly Min’s eyes well up.

“Milo was a good man. Who would murder him?” Her voice cracks.

“We don’t know. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind. The police haven’t found anything. I’m very sorry you’re just finding this out.” Piers pats her folded hands.

“And, I am sorry for your loss Riley. Whatever you want to eat today will be free, in honor of your loving uncle. He was a good man.” She says as a few tears dripped from her eyes. “It’s nice to know that so many people loved my uncle.” Piers smiles at her. She returns the kindness.

“I have so many books to return to you then. I was waiting for him to come back. He was going to pick them up the next time he came around. Anyway, I am so happy that you all came to visit. He told me this was his most favorite place in all of Singapore.” Min stood up and smiled proudly. “My husband Eugene should be in soon and we will cook you many delicious things and we will celebrate Milo.” She wipes fresh tears away.

We soon after met Min’s husband Eugene and boy could he cook. They brought us almost everything there was on the menu. We all shared great stories we had of Milo and in an instant, we had another glimpse into what kind of man Milo was. It was a great thing to see another layer of his legacy he left to another family in another country. He truly was a great man.

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The Book of Gateways Installment 26 (#BOG)

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I awake to the sound of a series of taps. I open one eye to see Desimae fully dressed and sitting at her little table in the kitchen area with a single glass of orange juice and her phone in hand. She looks over at me and nods then goes back to her text.

“What time is it? How long have you been up?”

“Ten am. Since seven thirty.” She doesn’t look up. I get up and quickly get dressed feeling obligated and silly for sleeping so long.

“Alright, I’m ready. Should we meet up with Piers?” She shrugs and stands up. Today she sports a pale green shirt with a nineteen fifties pin up styled Medusa that says “Medusa, master sedusa.” Which I wish I owned.

“Want breakfast?” She still doesn’t look up from her phone.

“Sure.”

“Let’s go meet up with Piers and we will eat together.” She looks up at me. I nod and get dressed. We make our way to a little diner not too far from the book store. A fifties styled diner with a blue Cadillac car for its emblem and bright red neon lights that read “Cadillac Sal’s Diner”. Oh San Diego, you so differ from my little town in Maryland. We order in array of food to fill the table, say a prayer to bless it, and then dig in.

“So…” She pauses for a long time. “What’s the deal? How was Milo getting around the way he was? I know you’re doing the same thing.” She leans in expecting something great. Piers spends the next few hours talking to her about the book of gateways and our hypothesis on why Milo was targeted and killed. Which in short, someone became too interested in Milo’s travel and transportation of books, and when Milo wouldn’t give up his secrets…He was murdered. I mentioned Matt, our British canary that has been warning us about how dangerous it is. Desimae looks unsurprised as she sips her chocolate milk and pushes her eggs around in an uninterested way.

“Aren’t you lactose intolerant?” Piers comments. She shrugs.

“Aren’t you even a little bit shocked?” I ask surprised by her unsurprised reaction.

“I suppose not. I saw Milo take that book with him everywhere with his planner, although the book was much harder to catch a glimpse of. He must have figured out the science of the book to make those transporter boxes. I can’t believe that old man kept such a good secret.” She says thoughtfully, her eyes darkening the same way they did the night before. Maybe she feels that pang of bitterness too. The fact that he would hid something so big from the people he loves so much.

“But it’s not like he owes me anything anyways. Not my life to interfere with.” She says bringing her eyes to meet mine, and for the first time I see her smile with that darkened look. A mixture of anxieties and feelings like when a river and the ocean meet, not quite sadness but not joy either.

“So where have you been other than here?” She says calling over for a bill.

“Greece.” I say.

“That’s it? You’ve had this book for several months and you’ve only been to Greece?” Her smile now reminds me of the Cheshire cat from Wonderland. “I think that should change today.” She sends the waitress off with her card.

“Listen, before you get travel crazy this has been really dangerous. We’ve already been attacked and we don’t want you to be involved in this.” Piers says agitated.

“Piers, mah dawg.” She flicks her head in dramatic way. “I was involved the moment you got here in your little jumper machine. There’s no turning back now. Besides whoever is following you is gunna take some time to find you. They can’t track you the traditional way. There are obviously no flight records to San Diego. So you good homie.” She stands up and puts her card in her wallet.

“What kind of a person thinks of a paper trail?” I say jokingly.

“I’m pretty sure I have family in the mafia. Uncle Sal is always acting sketchy. Right Sal?” She hollers over her shoulder.

“What are you saying you crazy kid?” An older gentleman in a pair of khakis, a white shirt, and suspenders sputters to life from the far corner of the diner. I look at Desimae unconvinced to which she mouths “He’s crazy.” And twirls her finger by her temple. I just laugh and shake my head. We walk back to the book store and see that Lannah in all of her flowery woodland fairy glory has opened the shop and adorned the front desk with a new water lily in a bowl. For which an unknown reason bothers me. From the instant we walk in Desimae zeroes in on the lily and plucks a petal from its base and frolics to a nearby sitting chair. We follow her and sit down. This store is different. It’s also two stories but has white inside with geometric bookshelves to give it a sterile but inviting atmosphere. All the furniture is a dark wood and on the sides of some of the bookshelves are little succulents that are perched in little frames. Milo has yet again surprised me with his good tastes in design.

“Let’s go to Singapore!” Desimae smiles devilishly. I nod, Singapore seems like an interesting place.

“I told you, it’s dangerous. We can’t just take trips willy nilly.” Piers huffs as if gray hairs are starting to sprout from his fresh scalp.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Maybe, maybe Milo would want us to all take a trip together.” I say trying to ease his mind.

“I’m not so sure.” Piers huffs and runs his hand through his hair. “Let’s take a trip.” I look my clock which reads: 1:32pm. “Currently it’s four thirty-two am in Singapore. We should wait until it’s a decent time to go over there.” I say look back at my crew. They both nod.

“We’ll go after dinner around seven pm. What do you say? Spend a day in Singapore?” We all smile knowing full well we are about to embark on an adventure.

“Desimae! You little wretch! Stop dismantling my lilies!” Lannah shrieks from the desk.

“Gotta go! Be right-!” Desimae leaps from her chair unable to finish her remark. For the next fifteen minutes I watch two grown woman run around a book store (with paying patrons inside) and bicker over a lily. Maybe we should leave sooner than seven.

The Book of Gateways Installment 24th

By this time I think the police are fed up with coming and asking me about perpetrators who have already fled the scene. Thank God, Piers’ ankle is fine. Just a minor sprain.
Once everything calms down and the police leave Piers and I rejoin. Sitting across from each other on my white living room couch a few inches from where he was pinned down just a couple hours ago.
“This isn’t safe anymore. We need to lay low.” Piers says as he rubs his ankle.
“You need ice.”
“I’ll get it in a second.”
Silence. I don’t think either of us know what to do, and neither one of us wants to give up the book.
“My semester at the college ends in two weeks. I’ll try to finish it out. Maybe by that time things will cool off.” I clasp my hands together at his statement. Two weeks is a long time. Anybody could come back within that time.
“You don’t think they’ll come back? I’m afraid they will. I’m still shaky from earlier.” I fidget in my seat.
“I know you are but you did great today, thank you for helping me earlier.” Piers’ eyes water a little and grabs my hand. I let it rest there for a while. We both need the comfort.
“I don’t think we should travel during the next two weeks. Just to be safe.” He nods.
“The book should stay in the safe.” I nod. “We just have to be careful…that’s all.” Piers’ thumb strokes my hand thoughtlessly. That brings me into his gravity and I find myself drifting into his comfort. Before I know it my back is pressed to his chest. He kisses the crown of my head, but I don’t mind. All of this just exhausts me. I’m not sure how much more I’ll be able to stand.

~*~

Three days go by and nothing happens. Everything seems to return to its normal state. My nerves didn’t seem to receive the memo. Every noise, shifting shadow, and random stranger became a threat. I’m jumpier than normal, but I still return to the book store. I like to think Milo keeps me company while I stay there.
“Hello, beautiful.” I know who it is before I look up from my computer. My skin ripples into goose flesh.
“What are you doing here Matt?” I say clenching my desk.
“Don’t act like this is my fault.” He says advancing to my desk. He makes himself comfortable and sits on my desk.
“Get out.” I stand. “I don’t know what you’re angle is but you’re nothing but trouble. Get out.” I walk towards the door and open it. He sneers at me and walks towards the door, but before I can react he yanks me by my collar and slams me into the wall.
“Listen to me! You stupid half wit. I warned you, I told you to stop this and get rid of it. But you refuse.” He presses against me more firmly. I grown under his weight. “You’re just like him.” Instantly it registers.
“You knew Milo?” Tears pour out of my eyes.
“No.” He releases me. I slap him in the face as hard as I can manage and spit at his feet.
“You’re disgusting.” I say as tears drip onto my collar bones. I look over to see a mother and her little daughter hiding behind a book case. Matt catches on and clears his throat.
“Cesar… I’m-”
“Get out.” And he does.
I lean against the wall for support. Turns out the woman had called the police. They’re definitely tired of me by now.

The Book of Gateways Installment 23

Latest installment of The Book of Gateways! Please comment and like! There is more to come! I actually have a plan this time around… 🙂

After a quick slip through the portal we drop into my shed in my backyard.
“Ow” I say as my knees buckle. Piers rests his head on the wall.
“Didn’t you say something about getting used to the shock?”
“Oh zip it. I’m not a portal scientist.” Piers gags.
The rest of the night seemed like it would be uneventful until we entered my house. All of my book cases were turned over, my couch was slashed, lamps were overturned, and my bedroom was torn apart. Panic rose to my ears as I looked to Piers.
“Stay here, and call the police.” Piers grabbed my wrist and stood me by the door then disappeared into the house. I do as I’m told and call the police. Piers returns shortly after I get off the phone with the police.
“No one is here anymore. Maybe we should look for anything missing.” He rubs his neck in frustration.
“I doubt anything is missing.” I say feeling nauseous. “Matt said I should be careful. I never thought something like this would happen.”
“You don’t know if they were after the book.”
“And if nothing is missing?”
Silence.
We look around and nothing is missing. My gut tells me they were after the Book of Gateways. The police finally come and take notes and pick around. Then we are left to clean up the mess.

“I don’t want you staying here alone.” Piers says grabbing a bedding set out of my hall closet.
“Well where are you going to stay?” I say grabbing the bedding from him.
“I don’t know I’ll stay downstairs. Or in the hallway.” He pauses for a while. “Bathroom?”
“You’re useless downstairs if someone comes back, I guess just stay in my room.” I put the bedding in the corner. Far far away. I shouldn’t really be nervous around him since we’ve spent so much time around each other. Especially when Milo first died.
The night goes on and I have jitters the whole time but I make myself tea and force myself to bed. I snuggle myself in to my soft blankets, give a few wriggles, and make a few squeaks. Then I roll over and realize that Piers is snickering in his stupid sleeping bag which makes me shrink under my blankets.
“Goodnight!” Piers says laughing. Then sleep overtakes me.

My eyes open for some unknown reason and my hairs stand on end. An eerie feeling is clutching my stomach and I’m still unsure for what reason. CRASH! Something down stairs slams into a wall.
“Piers!” I whisper. “Piers!”…No reply. I flick on my bedside lamp to reveal his empty bedding. Oh no.
I slip quietly out of my bed and pull out a safe box from underneath my bed. Push a few numbers and pull out a nine-millimeter handgun. My hands tremble as I load it. I never thought I would actually have to use it this way. I creep down the stairs with my hands clenching my gun. I peek my head around the corner of the hall to see a man in black pinning Piers to the ground. Piers’ face pressed into the carpet. All I can see is his muscles tensed and his shirt soaked with sweat. At this point my heart is beating against my chest so hard I think I’ll throw up. Just do it. My muscles tighten and I launch myself out in the open.
“DON’T MOVE!” I scream aiming the gun at the intruder’s chest. He shoves his foot into Piers more firmly and draws a gun and points it at his head.
“I WILL PUT A FREAKING BULLET IN YOUR CHEST!” I cock the gun. He doesn’t move. “Lay down on the floor and put your hands behind your head and cross your ankles!” Still no movement. “DO IT!” as I scream Piers pulls his arm free and slams his elbow into his attacker’s crotch. The man crumples to the floor. Piers yanks the gun from his hand. Piers immediately stands reversing his position. I crumple into the chair next to me and place my gun in my lap.
“Who are you working for?” Piers says through his teeth. “Cesar call the cops.” I oblige hands still shaking.
“What are you doing here?”
“You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.” The man says into the floor.
“What are you talking about?” Piers yells. “What are you talking about?!” He kicks the man.
“Piers!” I stand from my chair. “Don’t be like this.”
Then the man quickly grabbed Piers’ ankle, twisted it and shoved him to the side. Piers fell to the floor in a disheveled heap. He made a quick getaway after he shoved me into the wall knocking the gun from my hand.

The police arrived shortly after.

Book of Gateways Installment 22

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We spend the day doing tourist things like visiting the Acropolis, Mars Hill, Zeus’ Temple, and of course finding the best gyro possible. We also find out that the Athens Metro is not that bad, and in fact is quite useful.
“It’s almost eight o’clock.” I say as we walk down a crowded street filled with street vendors, tourists, and locals. I smile knowing I’ve spent the last four hours in Greece.
“Ya, I know.” Piers says without looking up from a book, the book of gateways.
“Should you really have that out in public?” My voice tenses.
“It looks like any other book, I’ll just be sure to hold onto it tight. I wanted to see if Uncle had already put a Greece location in here. Maybe he has another shop like he does in California and China.” Piers says leafing through a couple more pages.
“Ya I guess that would’ve been smart before we created an entirely new page. Wait, what do you mean China?”
“There’s a location in the book for a store location just outside Shenghai.”
“That makes sense…You know, that’s where he was right before…”
“Ah he did have a location here.” Piers says changing the subject and shows me the page. A little store by the name of George’s Place. Not very descriptive.
“Wanna try and find it?” I nod my head yes. We ask a few locals and even try to find a map. After a while we find out it’s on the opposite side of Athens. We stand in front of the little orange cream building with a royal blue lamppost outside. To the left a large tree with leaves full and a rich green that provided shade for a couple of homeless dogs. By far the cutest place I had seen yet.
Piers and I walk pass the dogs who ever so slightly raise their heads to notice us, and then go back to sleep. We peer in the front window and see an older balding man with a salt and pepper goatee. He smiles and waves us in.
“Kalispera.” I smile and nod. Piers does the same.
“Kalispera, please come in and sit.” His English surprises me. Although most Greek people we have spoken to speak very good English, this man had no accent whatsoever.
“You work for my employer Milo? We found your store in our records.” I say sitting at a chair across from the man’s desk. Piers sits beside me.
“Yes, Milo a great man…He was a dear friend. I see you have picked up his knack of suddenly showing up.” He smiles.
“Yes, we keep hearing that.” I say returning the smile. “I’m Jazleen Cesar, and this is Milo’s nephew Riley Pierson.”
“Nice to meet you, I have heard much about you. My name is George Georgiades” He shakes our hands.
“What is it exactly that you do?” Piers asks.
“I am a financial adviser for your uncle. I take care of the various financial budgets and things of that sort.”
“You’ve continued to do this without pay? It’s been several months.” Piers’ eyebrows furrow.
“Your uncle was a very generous man, he paid me until the end of this month. I figured I would do my job as long as there was work to do.” George seemed to hold his breath.
“We would like a copy of all of his records he sent to you, and to continue your services.” I say trying to go back to a business side rather than bitter-sweet memories.
“Of course, it’ll take me a few minutes but I will grab them for you. Milo was a very busy man. I still don’t know how he did it all.” George stands and disappears into the back somewhere. Kittens with their mother appear out of nowhere and make themselves at home. Piers is not amused.
“No, Satan’s workers! No!” He pushes one away with his index finger.
“Stop being so mean, they’re sweet.” I say picking up a little black one with green eyes. I play with the cats while Piers sneezes and sulks until George comes back with a large binder of papers.
“This is for the last year or so. I tried to organize them according to location. There are at least fifteen international locations, and several in the United States.” George plops them down on the desk. Piers and I flip through the book seeing the various places in the records book link with the book of gateways location. So many places with so many stores. Milo definitely had a unique niche.
“Did you have a copy of the will George?” Piers asks.
“Yes, I am aware you both have joint custody. Otherwise I would not have shown you these records.” George chuckles a little.
“That would make sense, are we able to get a document of the yearly gross and deficit?” I say looking through a few more pages. “Oh and we will need a billing statement from you so we can continue with your services.” I smile. We continue on with George for another hour or so and gather all the documents. Turns our Milo had minimal deficit and around a seventy thousand yearly gross. Most of which went to churches, orphanages, as well as a little savings he set aside. He was a smart businessman. We say our goodbyes to George and give him our thanks. It’s a bittersweet thing to find out all these secrets Milo had. I wish he was here to tell me them himself.

Book of Gateways Installment 21

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Sun streamed into my window, hitting me perfectly in my eye, so I know it has to be about nine-thirty. I toss and turn for a while until I hear a scratching noise. Where is that coming from? Another scratch. The Kitchen? My hands start to feel numb and my tongue is tingling. Someone is my house. I snatch a knife out of my bedside table and flick it open. I never thought I would actually have to use this. My body starts to shake. I can’t just stab someone. I close the knife and pick up a large cedar staff decoration instead. Then I suck in a deep breath and walk quietly down the stairs. I don’t hear the scratching anymore. The hairs all over my body stand on end as my attacker is somewhere in my home. Then I hear the fridge door go smack.
“Is that your idea of defense?” Piers asks between bites of apple. A green one.
“Are you insane? I could’ve killed you!” I toss the rod aside and slump in a nearby chair. “You’re going to give me a heart attack.” I say as I feel a stress headache develop.
“I doubt you could deliver enough head trauma to kill me with that rod.”
“Don’t test me.” I huff.
“Let’s go somewhere today.” Piers says walking from the kitchen area into the open living room.
“Do you think that’s the best idea after what Matt said?” Piers turns his back to me.
“I seriously doubt he knows anything even close to what we’re doing. Who would?” He says over his shoulder. The people who killed Milo, that’s who. Against my better judgment I can’t help but itch to travel somewhere else. I can go wherever I want… Ha, I can travel and still be poor.
“Where are we going?” He smiles.

~*~
We decide on Greece. Of course, what traveler wouldn’t want to visit the beautiful beaches, and ancient sites.
“Are we sure this picture will be sufficient?” Piers says holding up a picture of a beach with a large harbor in the background just a ways from Athens.
“It should suffice, thank you very much. There are defining factors in them like a café that’s been there for several generations and a government sign. My aunt took this picture for me.”
“If you say so.”
“So.” I say as I open the book of gateways to an empty page and place the picture onto it. The page warms to life and sucks the picture into a nice portal. The border at the ready for instant use. I suck in a deep breath still surprised by this strange magic or science, or whatever this is.
“Ready?” I nod. We sling our bags over our shoulders and lock arms. I take a deep breath as Piers places his finger on the “key hole” and feel that familiar sensation of being whipped around and forced through something entirely too small. Then darkness.
“Whoo!” I say dragging my head up to gather my surroundings. My hand naturally comes up to shield my eyes from the blistering sun. My head still a bit scrambled. I look over to see Piers rubbing his temples.
“Made it.” He grins wide. I nod and put on sunglasses.
“What time is it here?”
“About four fifteen.”
“That means all the locals she be arou-.” My mouth drops open as I see a little boy mirroring my expression. His face drained of all his usual olive color. I see Piers out of the corner of my eye waving and crouch to one knee as he gives his best smile. The boy relaxes a bit and inches closer. Bravery or stupidity (who knows). Then the boy pokes my leg and jumps back. Then I feel a laugh gurgle up into my lungs and out of my mouth. The boy smiles and gives me a curious look. I hold up a finger to my mouth and make a “shh” face. The boy smiles and holds out his hand. I’m at a loss. What do I give? Piers smiles and pulls out a snack bar from his bag and places it in the boy’s hand. The boy takes it happily and disappears.
“That is a future business person.” I say as we walk away giddy with our successful trip.
“A sneaky one at that.” Piers says with a grin.
“Eh, what can you do?”
“Definitely not business with him.” He winks, and it makes me miss Milo.

The Five Providences (Installment 13)

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I open my eyes with Vel right in my face. Her white silhouette still slightly shimmering about her. I push her away from me.

            “What was that?!” I feel outraged. My little flame inside twirling with anger. “You did not say anything about the spirit world. I trusted you!” I sink into the couch. My body is drained but shaking with anger.

            “You are still half in the spirit world now.” She says unsympathetically. My chest is bobbing up and down from my heavy breathing. “It will become easier and easier for you to slip in and out of spiritual sight. Eventually you might not even need the Windstorm Tonic.” She casually sucks on the hookah.

            “I do not ever want to see the spirit world again.” I hiss through my teeth.

            “That is too bad. Eventually you would have seen it. I have just opened a door for you.” She puffs out a series of “O” shaped smoke rings. The smell starts to make me sick again. “An easier door than most.” She takes in another breath. “Tell me what do you see?” I tilt my head a little and bite the inside of my cheek.

            “You can be defiant or you can learn about what you have already been gifted with.” She says in a harsh tone. “Believe me when I say you have had the gift. It just was not fully developed.”

            “I see shimmering lights around you. They change color, and there’s a flame inside of you. Just above your stomach.” I say through gritted teeth.

            “Perfect. And the colors? What do they mean?”

            “How should I know that?” I say getting irritated.

            “Do not play stupid with me, girl.” She blows the tonic smoke in my face.

            “Red is passion. It might be zeal it might be anger. I do not know.” I bite down on my lip.

            “Continue.” She says sucking in another bit of Windstorm Tonic, and I continue.

            “Gray is some kind of distress.” She nods.

            “Graying of the soul, which is the fire you see, begins when you are under stress. The more stress you encounter, the darker it turns.” She looks at me intently.

            “Till it turns black? Doesn’t that mean they are evil? If they have a black soul, I mean.”

            “No… If they give themselves to evil… Their soul will be smothered by a nephtai…” I see Vel’s body try to control a nervous tremor. “Sometimes more than one.” She snaps herself back to reality.  An evil spirit… that does not seem like a gift.

            “Those silhouettes or color shadows you see around a person describe their overall selves. Their soul may be red in the moment you see it, but their overall self might be a neutral white.”

            “I told you I did not want this gift.” I say as all of this information overwhelms my mind.

            “Well, that doesn’t much matter when you were born with it, now does it?” She puts the spout in its holding spot. “You need some kind of defense, tomorrow. Something very big will happen to you…” She pauses in deep thought. “Something very big indeed.” Which does not curb my anxiety. “I have only started you on your journey. There will be much more for you to learn. After tomorrow’s event we will train more. You will grow thankful for this gift. Not many will ever know they even have it… You are fortunate.” I nod, because I know I have no choice. There is no arguing with Vel… I have learned that very quickly.

~*~

I can’t help but keep my eyes glued to the brown ceiling. All the girls in the Wolah house are sound asleep. I assume that their strict well-disciplined schedules keep their bodies on a constant track. My mind flits from thing to thing. Flying, adventuring to different lands, but mostly to tomorrow’s event. My heart begins to pound as I take apart the ideas of my commitment. I am going to willing go to a party with tons of drunk diplomats, possibly be groped, thrown up on, or abused… My head feels like it is going to explode… At the expense of someone’s freedom… My stomach begins to solidify and my heart rate begins to slow. I suppose that is worth it… I nod my head and make up my mind. However, my dreams do not follow suit.

            I shut my eyes and I’m whisked into a large room filled with wonderful exotic foods and wines. Women dance in scandalous clothing. Some women speak with the clearly intoxicated men. One man in particular is half resting on the dancer while his head wrap  leans to one side. My vision blurs and I am standing in front of Jezab and a friend of his. My whole body tenses. He looks at me, but says nothing. Then I realize he is looking through me. He must not be able to see me.

            “I would like to take one of these girls and add them to my collection.” He smiles, the alcohol emanating from his breath. I spit in disgust.

            “How about that one?” His friend suggests. I follow his gaze and my vision blurs again, I am now across the room dancing foolishly to the music as if I have had too much wine. I feel Jezab’s eyes on me and I instantly know he has recognized me. He stands up stiffly and cautiously makes his way over to me. I can’t do anything but dance. My legs unwilling to spring into a full run, only the repetitious dance moves come to my mind. I blink and suddenly he is only a few feet away from me. His strides longer and more robust. Then his muscles contract and he jumps towards me. His hands locking around my biceps as he shakes me. I try to scream, but nothing comes out. Nothing but panic and grief. A pulse goes through my head and I’m back in the erratic world of spirits. Everyone’s color shadows blinding me. I press through and focus on Jezab. His color shadow a sickly yellow radiating from the inside out. His soul a bright and brilliant red… He’s enjoying this. My eyes snap to a dark shadow hovering over his shoulder. It’s hard to focus as he shoves me into a wall. No one tries to help. In fact no one seems to notice what is happening at all. I see the darkness flicker again. The words spill out of my mouth.

“What are you?” And just like that the darkness sharpened into a humanoid being. Well muscled and at least ten feet tall. Large black leathery wings jut from his back folded into a much smaller dimension. His eyes are slits in his head, while the rest of his features are dull and barely exist. His nose barely a small ridge, and the only indication of his mouth a long horizontal slit.  He has an overwhelming power radiating from his very being. My body starts to violently shake from fear. The creature smiles to reveal his sharp obsidian teeth.

            “I my dear…” He leans in close. “am a nephtai. You are afraid aren’t you?” He leans closer till our foreheads are just inches apart. Tears start to spill out of my eyes. My sanity feels like it might fly away like a flock of chased birds. The demon smirks again his breath smells like death.

 

I shut my eyes as I start to lose my breath. The oxygen escaping my body. I feel like I might start to lose consciousness, when suddenly my body screams for air and I’m thrown from my dream world.

I’m back in the Wolah house, sweating spots into my clothes. My hands gripping the sheets in terror, and then… I throw up.