“I’m trying!” I opened my eyes glaring at Arden. What did he think I was trying to do this whole time? Lay an egg?
I uncrossed my legs, yanking my hand from his grip as I got up. The smell of damp earth and trash filled my nostrils reminding me I was home. For real this time, and not alone. Somehow I had managed to teleport us both in the middle of Boston. I’ve been trying to take us back for three days with absolutely no success.
I heard him get up from the ground where we were sitting in another poor attempt to trigger my powers. Nothing was working.
“You need to try harder.” His tone was nothing short of a command wrapped in cold desperation. After the initial shock, he had seemed completely confident I’ll get us back to his world. He smiled, he joked and he encouraged me to try again and again all the while asking questions about everything and anything. And while I very much preferred to be back in Jernen instead of this hellhole it somehow felt nice having him here. That was until we woke the next day and this new Arden, distant and angry, faced me for breakfast and insisted we stop messing around and get to work. “We need to go back to Jernen. My kingdom is on the verge of war and while I have full faith in my commanders I am the king and they need me. They need us. Do you...”
I turned slowly, trying to reign in the number of curses that were coming to mind.
“First off,” I said, my voice shaking, “I’ve been doing everything I can. I don’t know how these powers work! And second off, not to be nitpicking here but it is my kingdom now. You gave up your throne to me, to the Chosen. So when I say I am doing everything I can to get us back, you better believe it.”
The expression on his face was something I’d never seen before - and hoped never to see again. I had seen him pissed, really pissed, but it was usually directed towards somebody else. I didn’t like the look of pure rage that brought images of his big hands wrapped around my neck, snapping it like that of a helpless chicken.
“I’m going to get some air.” He said through clenched teeth, voice so low that I almost missed it. I took a deep breath when I realized he was heading towards the door of our makeshift hideout. I had found one of my own squatting places that was no more than an old basement in the West Boston area and we had spent the better part of our stay there. Not that I didn’t want to show him the sights of our thriving metropolis, but I was not entirely sure how long it had been since my last encounter with Verizon and if my status with them had changed. And Arden was like a fish out of the water so he was bound to get himself killed out there.
“You can’t go out!” I shouted as he was just about to open the door. He turned, looking at me over his shoulder.
“Is that a command, Your Majesty?”
I felt shivers run down my spine as he watched me with his jaw clenched so hard even I could feel the strain in it. He waited as if my answer mattered but I was afraid that saying ‘yes’ would only shatter completely the flimsy bridge between us.
The door slammed with a loud bang making me flinch. What was his problem? And why was he outing it on me? I wanted to scream, to go after him, and punch him in the face, but I had to remind myself that this will not help in any way. Apart from maybe making me feel a little bit better. Or a lot.
A low snicker made me turn, my eyes examining the dark basement. There were two small windows, one dirty and one broken, but neither allowed much of the fading outside light in. Apart from the mattress from forever ago, there wasn’t much else besides a few old boxes, broken furniture, and a blanket of dust. It could have just as well been a very talented rat. That’s all I need right now - a judgemental rat that could snicker at my poor life choices and total lack of control over my powers.
I was just about to sit down and try to reach that peace of my mind that was controlling my fickle light powers when the snickering repeated, this time from the other side of the room.
“Who is there?” I shouted, moving towards where I thought the sound came from. I found nothing. “Whoever you are, I’m really not in a mood for games. Show yourself or when I find you I’ll punch first, ask questions later.”
A burst of laughter, a very human, annoying laughter, came from the other side of the room and I started reconsidering my theory about the rat. Now I was working on a theory where they outnumbered me, at least two to one, or my stalker could also teleport and at will on top of that. And without the weird body glowing.
“Anger doesn’t suit you, Raven.” The laughter finally bloomed to fully developed speech but I was still unable to determine the location of the speaker. I was just sure it wasn’t where the laughter came from.
“Well, neither is frustration but here we are. Who are you and where the hell are you?” I snapped. I moved around, my eyes examining the dark corners of the room, the shadows around the boxes. Nothing moved.
“Always so impatient. Good things come with time, you should know.”
“Well, I don’t have time and good things are overrated. Tell me what you want or get out of my basement!” I sound nearly as threatening as I intended but it was just enough to shut him up. Or at least temporarily, until he spoke again, this time from above me.
“You’ve really changed.”
I looked up instinctively and saw a silhouette crouching on one of the supporting beams. I couldn’t distinguish any features and I most definitely didn’t recognize the voice, despite his suggestion that we knew each other. And I was getting pretty fed up with his vagueness.
“Listen, dude. You’ve come all the way to this shithole to say something so go ahead and say it. Your creepiness act is not working for me. And how the hell did you get up there?” I simply couldn’t figure it out. There was only one door leading to the basement - the one Arden left from - and the two windows were too small even for a child to squeeze through. We had barely left the hideout so if they had sneaked inside on the two occasions we did then they must have been there with us for hours, maybe even a day.
“I’ll be happy to but I’m afraid we’re out of time.” The stranger said. “You really should go check on Arden. I get the feeling he is about to get himself in trouble.”
“How did you…” I started but a loud crack interrupted me. I blinked twice, confused before I realized the silhouette was no longer there. I turned around, listening for any telltale sound but there was none. No snicker, no laughter, not even a word. I was just about to go around the room when I remembered. Arden.
What if he was telling the truth and somehow he knew Arden was in trouble? What if Arden was in trouble because of him?
Shit, I thought, turning around and sprinting out of the basement.