Mina pushed the door open forcefully, the wind almost knocking her off her feet. The temperature had dropped quickly and the wind was howling over the ocean. The waves underneath the pier were rough, crashing hard against the stilts in the water. Mina could taste salt on her lips as she headed down the pier, back to land. Behind her a white fog was rising from the ocean, but she didn’t seem to notice. She pulled her hood up, shielding her face from the wind and sea spray. Vanessa’s eerie last words were still echoing through her mind, and she couldn’t help but wonder what she meant. It was an odd thing to say, even for Vanessa. Mina assumed that Vanessa knew about the guilt that Cade carried with him, but Mina was sure it wouldn’t kill him. Cade was her friend, and she told him that they would get to know each other again, how would that possibly kill him?
Unless he still has feelings for her, feelings Mina knew she could never return? Is that what Vanessa meant? That Mina shouldn’t give Cade false hope because it might, figuratively, kill him? How could she know all those things though?
Mina shook her head to clear it. This was all just too complicated and confusing. Vanessa was just being dramatic as usual. She wanted control over Mina to make sure she didn’t try to steal her spot. Vanessa was just playing mind games.
Mina walked faster, almost running back to the mainland. Once her feet touched solid ground she felt better, but she kept her pace as she moved in between the buildings and down the street. She knew she was being stupid, and that she should have called Cade or her mother, but she wanted to walk home. She wanted to walk the same path that she and Ridley took two years ago, with the hope that she might remember something. The Jetty didn’t give her back her memories, so she had to keep searching, and the best way to do that was to retrace her steps.
The road next to the coast was lined with shops, hotels and houses. The streets were deserted, and when Mina looked at her phone she discovered it was already well past nine. She hunched her shoulders and pressed on, her eyes taking in the scenery. Her house was only two blocks away from the Jetty, and she took the route she knew they would have taken two years ago. If you kept to the coast road for two kilometres and turned right you would find her house at the end of the road, but there was a shortcut that ran through alleyways at the back of the coast road. It was the shortest route, and the most logical one. It was the one they would have taken back then.
She turned right, away from the coast and toward the back roads. She could only hear the sound of the wind blowing past her ears, giving her a push from the back. She never found Alder Port to be a scary place. It was a nice little town, nothing spooky or creepy ever happened there. Mina always felt right at home in Alder Port. The side streets were cute, made out of cobblestones and had interesting little stores on them, but like every town in South Africa, it had its fair share of crime. They were taught to always be careful, that you never knew who or what was waiting around the corner.
The fog was creeping up on her, milky white tendrils wrapping around her feet. It was not uncommon for Alder to be covered in fog from time to time, especially in the winter months, but this was a different kind of fog. It wrapped around Mina’s feet like it wanted to bind them together, moving up her body as the fog got thicker.
A strange sense of déjà vu washed over Mina as she looked down at the fog. It was definitely not normal fog. The fog moved, pouring into the street like water, becoming more and more. The fog was up to her knees by now, and Mina couldn’t see her feet anymore. Panic shot through her body, it had been in this position before, and nothing good could come of it. Instinct kicked in and Mina started to run, aware of the fog following her. She could feel its cool, misty tendrils creeping up her back and she pushed her legs harder. She didn’t dare look back in fear of seeing the white wall that was closing in on her. Her feet hit the cobblestones as she ran, the buildings flashing past. Mina was a hockey player, but she was never fond of running, and she wasn’t very fast. Now she was running faster than she thought was possible, and she shouldn’t have been able to move like that.
The fog curled around her ankle, yanking on it and causing Mina to tumble to the ground hard. She groaned, her arms and legs throbbing from the fall. Mina turned, looking over her shoulder at the fog moving over her. Panic shot through her as she tried to move away from the fog, but it just kept moving in on her. She scrambled to get away, but it was no use, the fog was holding her in place. She knew she had seen the white fog behave this way before, but she just couldn’t remember when. The fog was going to envelop her completely and she didn’t know how to stop it. How do you fight fog anyway? Her panic increased as the fog wrapped around her waist and she tried pushing it off, but it was no use. Mina felt a small ball of heat growing at the bottom of her spine, making it’s way through her body. It felt like she was burning inside, but it wasn’t actually hurting her. It was the strangest feeling, but somehow she just knew what to do. Mina willed the ball of fire to move through her body and out of her fingertips.
A yell of surprise escaped her lips as brilliant white flames shot out of her fingers aimed at the fog. The fog receded, letting her go long enough for her to get back on her feet. She looked down at her hands, expecting them to be burnt to a crisp, but they were fine. There wasn’t time to process any of what just happened, for the fog was moving back in on her.
This time she wasn’t powerless, she could move, which meant she could fight, although she wasn’t sure how she was supposed to fight fog. She knew the fog, knew what it would do to her if it won and she tried her best not to panic too much, she just ran. If she could make it out of the fog she would be fine.
Her lungs should have been burning by now, but she kept going. The cold fog seemed to seep into her bones, making her shiver and filling her with dread. She felt it wrap around her arms, legs and neck, getting thicker and thicker. It was going to suffocate her, and she was not about to let that happen. Her hands shot out, punching the fog; but instead of going right through the white wall, her hand came into contact with something solid.
“Ouch! Bitch!” A female voice came from inside the fog. Mina stopped in her tracks, breathing hard. Did she imagine the voice? Or was it real? She still couldn’t see a thing, but the fog was no longer trying to eat her alive. She stopped, holding her breath as she listened. The wind had stopped blowing and all she heard was the blood rushing in her ears. She let out a breath, thinking the worst was over, but she was wrong.
The fog suddenly rushed in on her, slamming into her chest and knocking the air out of her. It wrapped around her, so tight she had no hope of escaping. Mina’s fear spiked and she thrashed, trying desperately to escape. She had to escape, she was not going to let the fog win.
“She’s a bit over the top isn’t she?” The same female voice from earlier pierced through the fog again and Mina whipped her head around, trying to determine where it came from. It was a strange melodic voice with an Eastern accent. “Too theatrical for my taste. If it was me I would have just thrown a bag over her head and gotten it over with.”
“That’s because you have no appreciation for the fine arts,” a male voice broke through the fog. He had a British accent and sounded irritated with the female voice. The fog crept around Mina’s neck, squeezing her hard. She choked, her hands clawing at nothing as she tried to get away.
“You call kidnapping someone an art form? That’s seriously screwed up,” the female voice said. Mina’s eyes widened, her panic increasing. Kidnapping? The fog was kidnapping her now?
“Theatrics,” the male voice hit back. “It’s all about the theatrics.”
“Help?” Mina managed to get out, wishing that the voices would stop bickering like an old married couple and just help her. If they were in the fog too then they could help, it didn’t sound like they were being suffocated by it.
“Oh right,” the male voice said as if he had forgotten Mina was there. She felt two cold hands wrap around her wrists, the fog around her neck getting tighter. She was sure this was it, that she was going to die or worse, someone would kidnap her, but the hands around her wrists tugged her back hard, pulling her out of the fog and into a tiny alleyway. Mina stumbled over her own feet, coughing as her hands went to her neck where the fog was only moments ago. She looked back, seeing only a white wall of fog at the entrance of the alleyway. It stayed put, like something was keeping it from coming into the alley, and relief washed over her. She bent over, trying to get her breath back.
“I thought that would be harder,” the female voice said and Mina looked up. Standing in front of her was a tiny woman with flaming red hair and piercing silver eyes. She was dressed in all black clothing and black boots, and what looked like two swords strapped to her back. She had pale skin, but with an olive undertone and high cheekbones. There was something in the way the tiny woman held herself that reminded Mina of a queen or princess. She just had a regal air about her.
“I’ve seen her bag of tricks, the fog really isn’t that impressive. She could do worse.” Mina’s head was spinning. Who were these people?
Mina’s gaze travelled to the man standing next to the red head. He was a good deal taller than the red head and Mina. He was leaning against the alley wall, his arms crossed over his chest. They were bare, showing off his toned biceps. He had a tattoo on his left arm, an orange flame inside a ring of silver fire. He also wore all black, a sword strapped to his side. He had blonde hair, almost the same shade as Mina’s, and when his eyes met hers she discovered that he had the same silver eyes the woman had, and the same silver eyes she now had.
“The fog was just to scare her, nothing more,” the man said. He offered Mina a hand and she took it, straightening up. “Are you alright?” He asked, genuine concern reflected on his features. He had a handsome face and kind eyes, but Mina got the feeling that he was not someone you messed with. She nodded, not really knowing what to say or how to process what just happened to her. It was all too weird and too much for one day.
“She looks like she’s going to faint,” the woman said. “Or throw up.” The red head took a step back and Mina couldn’t help throwing her a glare.
“Who are you?” She asked, rubbing her head. The weirdness level of the day had just spiked to abnormal and she wasn’t sure how much more she could handle.
The man opened his mouth, about to say something, when the woman cut him off. “We’re friends.”
Mina raised a brow at the two characters standing in front of her. “Okay first I get chased all the way from the pier by a mysterious white fog that tried to eat me, then you two show up and pull me out of it, while bickering my ears off, and dressed like you just walked out of the Matrix. I think I deserve a better answer than ‘friends.’”
The man and the woman exchanged a glance, a silent conversation seemed to be happening between the two of them, which just made Mina feel more uneasy. She had seen most of the people in Alder Port, and she was pretty sure she would have noticed the two of them. They stood out with their pale skin and freakishly silver eyes.
“She’s right, all we need is a pair of rocking sunglasses and we could be in the Matrix,” the red head said and the man just rolled his eyes at her.
“You’ve never seen the Matrix, how would you know?”
“Oh like you have time to go a movie theatre with that stick up your ass.”
“I’m surprised you even know what a movie theatre is, you old hag.”
The red head’s eyes flashed red, and Mina had to look twice to make sure she wasn’t imagining it. The red head reached behind her, her hand gripping the handle of one of the swords and the man took a step back. “Say that again and I’ll cut your tongue out,” she threatened.
“Guys!” Mina yelled, causing the two of them to look at her with their eyebrows raised. “Explain. Now.”
The red head sighed, letting go of her sword and taking a step closer to Mina. “I’m sorry about this kid.”
“Sorry about what?” Mina asked, but before she could get an answer the red head’s fist connected with her face and the world went black.
The dark haired woman cursed under her breath, her hands gripping the parapet as she watched the scene unfold below. She was standing on one of the rooftops of the buildings along the coast road, out of sight from the Firewatchers. It gave her a better view of the street below, and kept her out of harm’s way. It took her most of the night to summon the white fog, and it only took those bloody Firewatchers a few minutes to beat it.
She could hear their conversation clearly, now that the wind had stopped sound travelled far again. They were right, it wasn’t one of her best tricks, but it was effective in small towns near the coast. She mostly used the fog as a cover, it had a paralyzing effect on humans, which meant she could move freely between them without being seen. Unfortunately it didn’t have the same effect on Firewatchers, as they could move freely within the fog and escape it.
“Bloody hell Chloe,” Shane cussed from below, pinching the bridge of his nose and glaring at the red head. The dark haired woman couldn’t help but smirk. Mina had crumbled to the floor like a doll after Chloe’s punch, her blonde hair covering her face where a purple bruise was most likely already beginning to show. It would be gone in the morning, so no real harm had been done.
“She was asking questions we couldn’t answer yet Shane. Now we have to take her home and she’ll wake up thinking it was just a bad dream,” Chloe said, kneeling next to Mina. The dark haired woman opened her hands, moving them away from each other to clear the fog below. She couldn’t take on Shane and Chloe by herself, even with her bag of tricks by her side. She would have to come up with some other way of getting Mina.
Things weren’t exactly going to plan, thanks to those meddling Firewatchers. If they hadn’t intervened that night two years ago then Mina would have surely chosen the right side. Now they were going to fill her head with lies and she was powerless to stop it. She would have to wait for the right opportunity, or create one, whichever came first. For now she would focus on other parts of their mission.
She did find it interesting that they hadn’t told Mina yet. She was already one of them, her body had gone through the change and she must have noticed it by now. Why where they waiting? Why not just tell her?
“And how are you planning to explain showing up in her dreams when she meets you for the first time tomorrow? You can’t dream about someone you haven’t met.” Shane was always the one who thought of everything, and it got really annoying.
“We’ll have Jared deal with that, now come on, we’re still being watched.”
Shane bent down next to Mina, scooping her up into his arms as if she weighed nothing. The dark haired woman watched the Firewatchers leave, her hands fisting up. He was not going to like the fact that she lost Mina, again. She turned away from the parapet, making sure that there were no humans in the vicinity before dissolving into black smoke and disappearing into the night sky.