“It was probably a hurt animal.”
“There’s no signs of it dragging itself off though and what, it just disappeared?!”
“Maybe an owl killed something?”
“Maybe it was a vampire, don’t they run like super-duper fast?”
“Oh THAT’S lovely thought, a vampire just took a victim outside the cabin.”
“Well, what else would it be?”
I just sat in silence while the other three argued about the bloodstain outside. I didn’t want to hear any of this especially since everyone was skeptical of me seeing someone. There was also a lot of arguing about whether or not to call the police. Finally Aunt Mira did, explaining the situation carefully and before long an officer showed up to check things out. I didn’t want to talk to him but of course I had to. He took down everything I said (even about the person I saw) and examined the blood.
“Well kiddo, it was probably just an animal,” the officer said, snapping his notebook shut. “You were probably still asleep and just imagined the person.” If it was an animal why weren’t there drag tracks? I thought, but I kept my mouth shut. “Thank you for informing us, though.” He gave my head a pat and went to talk to Pa before leaving.
I gritted my teeth, angry at the patronizing manner I had been treated with. Ugggh. I got up and went to the bedroom, utterrrlly unhappy about all this. I didn’t think it was just an animal at all, it had to do with the person who just disappeared. Who could it have been? A vampire? Why were they out there? What was with the blood?
I remembered the feeling I had been getting lately, that feeling that I was being watched. Did that have something to do with it? Dangerous, Rhoen had said. Without explaining the danger. She had reacted so… so like, quickly. To my name. I wondered why. She was fine till she heard my name. Not the Danevbie-Greyson part, but the Zaid. My first name. So it wasn’t my family but me? Maybe? Kinda? Sorta? Possibly?
Maybe in the morning I’ll go back and try and talk to her, I thought, sitting on the edge of my bed, staring down at my feet. Uuuugggghhhh I didn’t like that thought but maybe she knew something about–about this.
In the morning, after breakfast, we went to one of the swimming places to chill out. I didn’t really want to be there though. I just sorta sat on a rock and kicked my feet in the water while my mind raced a gazillion miles an hour. I couldn’t stop thinking about the figure, the blood, and…well Rhoen. I really wanted to go talk to her. I wanted to talk to her and get her to answer me but when I had brought up the idea of going to Rhoen again, everyone shot down the idea and told me it’d probably be a bad thing.
>Stop pouting, and come swim,< Lumie pushed into my head.
>I don’t feel like it!< I protested.
She swam over and splashed me. I shrieked and yanked away, tumbling off the rock and into the water. I called her a nasty name and splashed her but she was too busy laughing to care. I scowled and climbed back onto the rock. “Oh don’t be like that!” Lumie called.
“I want to think!”
“Yeah well don’t hurt yourself too hard!”
Hmph. I scowled, grumbled, and pouted. Pa tried to get me into the water and then Aunt Mira but I stayed put, unhappy and angry. I wished my family didn’t just dismiss me like they did, I mean if I wanted to go back to Rhoen I should and now they all pretty much all thought I was off my rocker. Not just these three but Pa had called Dad in the morning and told him about what happened. He had told Dad that I had ‘dreamed’ some shadow figure. DREAMED! NO! I HAD NOT DREAMT IT! I HAD SEEN IT!
It was not fair, of all people my dads should at least believe me with what they had gone through. Ooookay so I didn’t know exactly what they had gone through, but Vils and I knew they had gone through something bad, with some ‘evil’ person, that put their lives in danger. I never asked them what this was but for a long time Dad and Pa talked about it late at night when they were in their room, thinking we were all asleep and couldn’t hear. Maybe the girls couldn’t hear, but Vils could crack open the door and pretty much pick up every word said with his super hearing, and he relayed everything to me. So we both knew something bad had happened. So if something bad happened before, why couldn’t something bad be happening now as in SOME CRAZY SHADOWY FIGURE I DID SEE I WAS NOT DREAMING!
Lunchtime came and we went into town for that. I knew Pa wanted to keep looking for clues about where Uncle Kay had gone, and he and Aunt Mira discussed the idea of trying to figure out who they had either bought/sold their house from or rented from, since they would have probably left a forwarding address. I poked at my food and asked if it’d be okay if I did my own thing for the afternoon. The adults exchanged looks and asked what I had planned.
“I dunno,” I said. “Just chill on my own.”
“You and Lumie can stay at the cabin,” Pa decided with a smile.
I rolled my eyes, groaning. “Paaaa why can’t I be on my own? I’m fourteen! I’m gonna be starting high school!”
>Maybe if you weren’t so whiny, he’d be more willing to leave you on your own,< Lumie smirked. I gave a quiet growl at that. I wasn’t being whiny. Well. Not super whiny. Was I? No… I didn’t think so. Just pointing out the facts really.
Pa’s eyebrows scrunched together in a worried look. “Zaid, I don’t want you going back to see Rhoen. I don’t think it’d be a real good idea. If you wanna stay at the cabin that’s fine, you and Lumie can stay.”
>Don’t worry, you’ll be on you–<
>ZAID you’re disobeying Papa like that?<
And I would, too, cause I had this super weird feeling that dark stranger and Rhoen were somehow connected. Not,like, maybe like not directly but… maybe the figure was to do with the danger Rhoen mentioned, and so of course I wanted to find out what this ‘danger’ was, and what Rhoen knew.
After lunch, Pa and Aunt Mira dropped us off at the cabin and almost right after the car disappeared, I put my shoes back on and left the cabin, ignoring Lumie telling me she wouldn’t cover for me if the adults got back before I did. I didn’t care cause I knew it’d be a good while before Pa and Aunt Mira came back to the cabin, and Rhoen’s was only like a fifteen minute walk from our cabin if I went the back way (Okay so maybe it was more like half an hour since I got lost…).
I went up to the porch and knocked, hoping she didn’t have a customer or anything. She opened the door and slammed it back shut without a word.”Hey!” I knocked at the door. “Look, I just want to t–okay I’m sorry about yesterday, I’m sorry what I said and did. Please talk to me. I–I have some money you know, I c-can pay for a, um, reading.”
The door opened again. “You know perfectly well I am not truly psychic,” she hissed.
I gave her a smile, as charming as I could. “That’s okay, I’ll still pay. Please?” She looked me up and down then sighed and stepped back. I went in, breathing a sigh of relief. “I need to know about what you said, about the danger.”
“I don’t know.” She went to the table and began shuffling the desk of cards. I wondered if maybe she would try and give me a card reading but she just slipped a ribbon around them, setting the deck down. “If you’re psychic, you would know.”
“I’m not… a hundred percent psychic, just kinda,” I muttered. “You said something was dangerous, and last night… I woke up and–and there was someone out in our yard.”
“You probably imagined it.”
“I DID NOT IMAGINE IT!” I screamed, body tensing up with rage. “I saw someone out there, some shadowy figure and then there was blood! On the grass! The cops said it was just some animal but I don’t think it was, and the person, there was a person there. I didn’t dream or imagine the person…”
She pushed some of her hair back and gave me a raised eyebrow, sneery look that made me feel enraged even more. “I can’t help you, I really don’t know what you expect.”
“You freaked out as soon as you heard my name. You–you said ‘it’ was dangerous… you have to know something!”
Rhoen whirled around, eyes blazing. “I don’t know anything. Not really. I know your name, and I know there is danger. I am a witch, I know other witches and warlocks. Others who know. They’ve told me.”
“Told you what?”
“Look. I can’t tell you.”
I glowered. “Of course not, telling me there is danger, freaking out when you hear my name, nope it’s all some big secret isn’t it?”
Rhoen moved to the couch, sitting down. Our eyes met briefly and then she looked away. “My grandmother spoke of… a future event. Not my true grandmother. My witch grandmother. She spoke of–of an event that would possibly unravel the balance.”
“Balance,” Rhoen confirmed. “There is a scale for–I suppose I should explain, not one you step on to weigh yourself but the scales that have two side and you use it to weigh again–“
“I know what scales are, oh my Watcher.”
“Very well,” she grumbled. “The scales need to remain balanced, and there have been stories for centuries about someone who will unbalance everything.”
I folded my arms, waiting for her to continue since I assumed there’d be a big story but she didn’t continue at all. “And?” I asked. “Is that it? What’s that got to me?”
She sat back, crossing her legs under her humongous skirt. “About… seven years ago… it felt as though these scales were being messed with. We all worried that whoever was going to unravel things was beginning to unravel things. For years it was pins and needles, waiting for whatever was going to drop to finally drop. However it never came. It still hasn’t come. About two months ago… one of my brothers called me…” It felt like she was staring right into my soul. “He spoke your name.”
“M-mine?” I stammered. “Why? Look, uh, I’m fourteen… so uhhh… like, I was born a loooot longer than seven years ago. Seven years ago I was like… seven. So–“
“I told you I don’t know anything for certain!” she spat out. “I was told that one of the names that possibly had to do with the unbalance of the magical world was a young boy named Zaid Danevbie-Greyson! So when you showed up at my house, I was taken aback and–” here she stood, “–am still unappreciative of you being here!”
That was IT!? I began pounding at Lumie’s head to let me in and she opened up, protesting I was giving her a headache. I flooded her mind with the information I just gave her, needing to sorta repeat some of it since we were a small distance away (I was just over a mile away and we had discovered that after one mile our ability got a bit weaker but then again when we were kids we needed to be in the same building pretty much so we were getting stronger so maybe by the time we were adults we could talk from miles away).
>Whoa, Zaid the Unbalancer you should totally use that as a name in some game or something! Use it next time we have a competition with Pa.<
>LUMIE! I am not okay yeah that sounds kinda cool but SERIOUSLY what the heck is this? Some witch and warlock is like TALKING about me and I never knew them.<
>Dude, she’s lying. She’s all pissy you managed to out-psychic her and she’s just being all grouchy about it.<
I blushed, realizing she was probably right. “So like, all witches and stuff know this?” I asked, lifting my chin and trying not to act like I was having a conversation in my head.
“I don’t know who knows and who doesn’t,” was the answer I got.
“Cause where I live, there’s probably tons of witches and wizards and you know, I know one,” I said, since Lumie pointed out to me that we knew a wizard (warlock?) who lived and worked with our dad at the Rag (research and guidance place that Dad ran, that’s what we called it).
“Good! Ask her! Or him!” Rhoen gave me a gentle nudge towards the door. “Give me the money, and leave.”
“MONEY? You… uuugh…” I dug in my pockets and slammed the money into her hand. “You sure you can’t give me any more info about Uncle Kay? The one in the wheelchair?”
She stared fiercely into my face before shaking her head. “I suggested my friend, Sahel Sanos. She resides in Evansdale.”
“Where even is that?” I snorted.
“Goodbye.” She pushed me out the door and shut the door.
“YOU–” I shouted but then Lumie was urging me not to get into another argument, so I cut my angry words off. Ugly old hag, I thought bitterly as I headed back to the cabin. I could barely focus on my steps and I tripped multiple times, banging my knee at one point so by the time I got back my jeans had blood soaked in them. Lumie was waiting with a damp cloth, and some bandaids. I threw my jeans off and stewed while my sis took care of first my wound, then the bloodstains on my jeans. I just got clean pants on by the time Pa and Aunt Mira got home.
“You have a good time here?” Aunt Mira asked.
Lumie and I exchanged looks. “Jerk beat me at scrabble,” Lumie said, sounding exasperated. I just grinned and gave a ‘whaddaya-expect?’ look while mentally thanking her for the lie.
Papa couldn’t really find any more information. The Realtor informed him that the forwarding address was just some rented box in Bridgeport. We tried to enjoy the rest of the days but really with Pa feeling so down and me being ‘angsty’ (as Lumie put it) we ultimately felt a bit better when it was time to head home. The trip back was a lot worse, with me and Lumie snapping at each other and Aunt Mira sorta arguing with Pa (she suggested to just let it alone while Pa kept insisting she never gave up searching for him, and Aunt Mira would say that that was completely different). Overall, it was a crappy end to the road trip and we were allll relieved to arrive home.
Except home wasn’t exactly good since Dad was super extra grumpy, Villy was sulky about still having lack of job, and Glados was all worried cause apparently Mr. Fluffy the Second (the cat belonging to our grams) had been super sick and acting weird when she went to visit Grams the previous day sooo Gladdy was all worried about him. I tried to see if any of my sibs would believe me about the figure I saw but none of them did, they all just told me I was dreaming so I was in a nasty mood for quite a while.
Not even my best friend seemed to care. I talked to Clay about it about four days after I got back when we were both at the park just hanging out. “Dude, I see things all the time,” he said, twisting his swing around and then pulled his feet up so he spun in a circle. “Specially after I wake up.”
“I wasn’t dreaming!” I snarled. “Freaking sick of everyone telling me that. I saw someone out there, okay? Then there was blood.”
“Maybe a psycho murderer the local cops were covering up,” Clay laughed as he spun again. “You know, keep the tourists happy.” He began making the ‘Psycho’ music while stabbing the air. “Good thing you survived the showers dude!”
I couldn’t help but laugh as well. “You watch tooooo many horror movies.” I kicked at the dirt at my feet then shook my head. “Okay so it was seriously horror movie.”
Clay snorted. “Duuuude maybe you have a stalker! Didn’t you say you kept getting that feeling of being watched? Cuz I mean, yeah. Maybe some chick.”
“Oh yeah, that must be it.”
“Must be uh, crazy girl. If she’s choosing you over me.” He tilted his head back, grinning. “I’m so much better looking than you. Errbviously.”
“You are so full of it!” I laughed, kicking him. He kicked back and knocked me off my swing. I hit the ground, still laughing. “Let me explain something to you, Clay. I am… Zaidmazing.”
“Now who’s full of it?” He kicked some of the dirt at me. “You little jerkwa–whoa… hot chick alert.”
I scrambled to my feet, brushing the dirt off me quickly. Clay was up on his feet as well, running his fingers through his hair and puffing his chest out a bit. Three girls were walking along the path and they glanced over before whispering to each other and giggling. One of them looked directly at me then turned her head, saying something to her friend.
Clay elbowed me. “Go say something to them, Mr. Zaidmazing.”
“Noooo!” I hissed as he shoved me forward. The girls all stopped and stared at me while I tried not to go red. “Uhhh… hey. Hi.” All three giggled again and I felt stupid. Ugh I was gonna murder Clay, talk about a horror movie. But they were all cute and seemed to be my age so I decided to try. “I’m Zaid.”
“Zaid?” one of them said. “That’s a weird name.”
“…excuse me?” I. Could not. Believe. What was just said. “Did you ju-mmmmmm!” A hand went over my mouth as Clay popped up next to me, pulling me back.
“Hehehe, hi ladies! Don’t mind my friend here, he’s a bit sick and um, is a bit out of it cause of medicine. Hey. I’m Clay. You beautiful girls must be seniors?”
They all relaxed, smiling and looking ecstatic as their age being so obviously lied about. Seriously obviously they were just barely our age, by my guess. “We’re just starting high school this autumn. I’m Trinity, this is Kimberli with an I, and Tryshya with two Ys.”
Tryshya had been the one to insult my name. I pushed Clay’s hand away. “Tryshya with two Ys and you think Zaid immmmm!” Clay’s hand was back over my mouth.
“Zaid uh, why don’t you head on home and get some rest, I think this medicine is making you a bit loopy,” he said, still grinning at the girls. “You girls are really just starting high school? Which school did you used to go to? Zaid and I will be attending MFHS this fall…” He rambled on, flirting, flashing them his pearly white teeth, and keeping his hand very firmly over my mouth.
The girls all flirted back with him, with Tryshya continually giving me these smirky, annoying looks that okay seriously pissed me off. I just fumed behind Clay’s hand, thinking rude names about Tryshya with two Ys. I was happy when they said they needed to go and Clay finally removed his hand.
“Bye Trinity, Kimberli…” I paused then looked sternly at the third. “Tryshya.”
“Bye… Zaid,” she replied, tossing her ponytail back as she walked off after her friends.
I folded my arms, glaring. Clay fell against me, snickering loudly. “Man she wants you.”
“Oh come on, she doesn’t, she–she–my name! My name is not weird!” I snorted and pushed Clay away. “Trysh-ya is a weird name.”
“Zaid. Your whole family has weird names,” Clay said, smacking my back. “Hint about talking to the ladies. Don’t be rude. You are so rude sometimes. You need to learn to hold your tongue if you ever wanna hold a girl’s tongue if you know what I mean!” He elbowed me hard and I snorted, stumbling away from him. “Which one do you want then? You pick one, I’ll take the other two.”
“Watcher, Clay, you’re such a pig!” I strode off, theatrically covering my ears as Clay jogged after me, insisting that pig or not he was still my friend and well, yeah, that was true cause Clay had been my friend for ages. We had known each other since we had met in first grade, forever ago. He caught up and after we punched each other a few times we headed off to get some ice cream.
The summer began going by way too fast, in my opinion. But of course it would cause yeah as exciting as high school seemed I didn’t want the summer to just end but June rushed by and July, and August. Ugh. I spent most my time with Clay–at the pool, or going mini-golfing, or just hanging out. I kinda missed spending time with Villy but he finally caved in and took a job at the Rag. At first he had to do cleaning duty but Dad quickly got him switched to filing duty, since someone with a super strong sense of smell plus cleaning… I totally understood why he threw up five times (well, Dad said five, Villy insisted it was just the once…).
Sometimes I spent time with Lumie but she was dating what’s-his-face. Saul. Stupid, awful, annoying Saul. I did NOT trust him and it had nothing to do with me being a ‘protective’ brother like Clay insisted I was being, because Lumie was definitely the more protective of the two of us. I just did not trust Saul. Especially since, despite the fact he knew my name, he kept calling me ‘Zayne’. I wanted to complain to Villy, or Presea, or Gladdy… but Lumie kept making me promise to keep her dating a secret from the family so my only outlet was Clay who really wasn’t much of a sympathetic ear.
Usually it wasn’t so hard to keep the secret but the hardest part was one night in late July when Presea came into my room just before midnight. I had been up, texting with Kimberli (ooookay so Clay and I had been hanging out sometimes with the three of them…) and also waiting for Lumie to come home since she was out with Saul. Presea closed the door behind her and I peered over my covers then slid out of the bed, already feeling nervous.
“Lumes is still out,” she whispered, trying to stay quiet but Villy woke up anyway.
“What’s going on?” he asked, getting up, rubbing his eyes.
“Lumie is still out,” Presea said again, facing me. “Where is she?”
“Um, I dunno–“
“Liar!” she hissed, kicking me rather hard in the shin. “You know perfectly well where she is, you two are psychic.”
“She’s–she’s out of range for talking,” I said, trying to look innocent. “I can only sense her. I don’t know where she is…”
Villy looked at the clock. “Reaper’s Cloak, Zaid, it’s eleven-forty-eight!” he snarled. “Lumie is fourteen, she shouldn’t be out!”
“Why are you ganging up on me?!” I demanded, backing up.
“Because you’re her twin and you know where sh–is she out with Heather? She’s out with Heather, right?” Presea stepped closer to me, head tilted just a bit, eyes looking scary.
“Erm, I think tha-that’s who she said she was going out with,” I mumbled which was the truth, that’s who she said. “Honest!” I added since yep, that was the truth. She said Heather. Just because she lied, didn’t mean mine was a lie, since I wasn’t saying yes she was out with Heather, just that she said she’d be out with Heather. Truth. It was important to hang onto that because another truth was Villy could sense lying. Not always, just sometimes. Something to do with the heart rate and crap like that. I tried to stay calm.
This didn’t work apparently. “Where is she?” Villy demanded, crossing the room and grabbing me by the arm. I yelped as he pushed me back against the bookcase, knocking a book off. “Stop lying–“
“Yes you are!” he growled.
“Where is she?” Presea demanded. “If you don’t tell us right now, I’m gonna go wake up our dads and you’d really rather deal with Dad than Villy?”
Villy gave me a ‘see?’ look and I was about to give in when Lumie poured into my head that she was about home. “She’s on her way,” I said. “She’s like, just down the street.” >Thank Watcher,< I added to my twin. >Vils and Presea are practically beating me up.<
“I’ll go see if she’s here,” Presea said and took off.
Villy held me in place, jaw clenched tight, fingers digging into my skin. I squirmed, whimpering in pain. But my brother just kept his grip and waited. The hair all over his chest and arms were sticking up like it did when he got angry, and I felt a bit worried. I had the feeling tonight would be the night Lumie’s secret got out…
After ten minutes Presea and Lumie came in, both out of breath from jogging. Villy let go of me and I slumped down, rubbing my arm, knowing bruises would be popping up the next day. “I was out with Heather,” Lumie said, eyes big and innocent. >She hung out with us a while, that counts doesn’t it?< was added in my head.
>I hope so…<
I guess it did because Villy didn’t press about who she was with. “Damn it, Lumes, it’s midnight. You’re fourteen. You canNOT be out this late! Saya never was! Gladdy never was! I never was! We still aren’t! You’re not old enough! You better be glad I don’t tell Dad or Pa because I really want to and… I probably should.”
“No!” Lumie said. “No, please! I’m sorry. We lost track of time, honest.” I knew she was being honest, and I wanted to block out her reasons since it was mostly kissing. Ew. >Don’t you start,< she thought angrily.
Villy pushed his fingers through his hair and then let out a quick breath. “Fine. I won’t tell, this time, but Lumie don’t you dare stay out this late again or else.”
“I promise,” she said, smiling brightly now. “Thank you! And don’t blame Zaid, he really didn’t know where I was. He didn’t do anything. It was my fault.”
Villy shot a glare my way and muttered an apology. Presea dragged Lumie out to give her a lecturing with Gladdy in their room that I managed to block mentally. “Told you,” I said, unable to resist saying that. Villy answered with something rude before getting in his bed.
I flopped back onto my bed, breathing slowly, furious with my sister that I had even been in this position but knowing perfectly well I wouldn’t ever betray her.