Waking Other Lives

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Chapter 5: It All Ends Here

I drove back home, trying not to think too much about the strange happenings of the day, but it was nearly impossible. I turned off the radio on the last few notes of Blower’s Daughter, as Damien Rice’s haunting voice finally trailed off into silence. With the ensuing silence there was nothing but the changing landscapes blurring past me, becoming distant in my rearview mirror and my fuzzy thoughts on Seth. What had happened right there, right then between us? I had no clue. When I got home, the first thing I did was to take a warm shower, and wash away the memory of what had transpired between us. As I was soaping my body, I cried in pain. The birthmark on my chest blazed with pain, but worse yet, it seemed to have grown in size. I pressed my finger softly around the edges which were sensitive to the touch. Damn, it was time to see a doctor probably. I was out of the tub, drying myself when my cell rang.

“Hi, babe. How are you feeling?” Baran asked.

“Not bad, I’ve just had a shower and now I feel much better, believe me. Where are you?”

“I’m at the practice, but I’m taking it easy. I wanna come and see you later tonight, is that okay? I wanna make sure all is well. I’m so damn worried about you, I don’t know, it’s just a feeling. A bad feeling, I have, that’s all. And, the thought of that guy touching you ...it still enrages me so,” he said in a voice I barely could hear.

“Sure, you can drop by whenever you want. Do you want to join us for dinner? Grandma would be happy to see you. You know how she dotes on you.”

“I wish, but God knows when Coach Tucker will let us go home. No, I wouldn’t want you to hold dinner for me. I’ll come whenever I can, but I will. I love you,” he said.

“Love ya, back. See you later,” I said, smiling.

I dressed, and went to see Grandma.

She was watching Casablanca, her favorite movie, in the entertainment room. She patted the seat next to her, and I obliged her as I sat down, folding my legs underneath me. We watched the movie together in complete silence for the next two hours. There was something so magical about this movie, despite the sad ending, that one couldn’t help but envy what Rick and Ilsa had, because as unattainable as their love was, it was so timeless, so eternal, and so out of this world. And, as Rick said, they’d always have Paris. With the last scene wrapping up, there were tears in Grandma’s eyes. She sniffed a few times, blew her now running nose with her crumpled tissue, and then turned to me.

“Sierra, you are a balm to my wounded soul, child. How are you, child? How was school? Anything I need to know about?” she asked, as if that was the first time she noticed me in the room.

And, then it suddenly dawned on me what she was asking me, and what she had previously warned me about, even if I’d thought she was not herself at the time! Seth and I had touched today, unwillingly, and certainly not in the way I’d imagined it to be when Grandma had put that specific action in the forbidden list. But, in the literal sense, our skins had made contact with each other, yep it had happened. Did that brief encounter count? After all, it was not a slow dance, not a passionate kiss, not a warm hug or embrace really. Nope, it was none of those things.

“No, nothing to tell really,” I said, as I scratched the skin on my chest. What had made me lie, I knew not. The deed was done, and there was no turning back from it.

“Why are you scratching that spot? Let me see, child,” she said as she came closer.

“Uhm, don’t know. It’s the birthmark, I think. It was sore earlier, but now it’s itching like crazy,” I said.

“What birthmark Sierra?” she asked in shock.

“The one on my chest, are you pulling my leg?” I laughed.

The humorous Grandma I knew and loved was gone, what replaced her was this serious, delirious woman constantly talking in riddles. “This can’t be happening. Shoot! Shoot, a million times and then some more. How is this possible?” she muttered to herself as she rolled my top to look at the skin beneath it. “Crap, crap child. How did this thing come back? I had erased it with the power of the pendant last night.”

“Uhm...” I said. She was talking gibberish again, what did she expect me to say? “It’s always been there. Are you okay?” I asked. “What do you mean you erased it?”

“Of course, you don’t remember Sierra. But, believe me I did. I erased it so the Drakon wouldn’t feel you, I did it so the second test wouldn’t come to pass. But it’s been all for nothing. Not only is it back, but the fire in it burns stronger in search of its Drakon. If I can’t stop it, we’ll be heading towards destruction on earth. Don’t know what to do, don’t know what is going on anymore”.

“Me, too Grandma. Join the club,” I said jokingly. But, perhaps it wasn’t the right time to joke, I thought as I stared dumbfounded at her stern-faced expression.

“Crap, did you touch the Drakon child? Because something did trigger the mark, for sure.”

She was scaring me. “Uhm, Grandma...” I was ready to explain. I was just trying to find the right words.

She cut me off. “Never mind, is that boyfriend of yours heading this way anytime soon?” she asked, frustration hinted at her tone.

“Yes, in fact he’ll head over tonight, why?” I replied back.

“I need to talk to him, it’s urgent.”

“About what exactly?” What urgent business could she have with Baran? I had absolutely no clue.

My cell rang again, it was Mom telling me she and Dad had a dinner appointment with some clients who had unexpectedly arrived from Japan.

“Your brother is staying at a friend’s, so don’t wait for him. It’s only you and Grandma tonight, I’m afraid. There are still lasagna leftovers from yesterday and I made berry turta. It’s all in the fridge.”

“Sure, okay,” I said. When she hung up, I turned to Grandma for the explanation that never came.

“Later child. Why don’t you heat some food for us, it’s almost seven o’clock and we can talk later,” she said, smiling. But, the nervous tapping of her foot gave it all away, she was restless beneath that calm exterior, but she wouldn’t tell me why. I guess we all had our secrets.

I went down to the kitchen, took out the food from the fridge and put it in the microwave. Then I heard the sound of slow heavy footsteps coming from the stairs, my grandmother was coming down slowly, guiding herself by the banister. Since it was only the two of us, we set the small round table in the kitchen and seated ourselves as we listened to the world news. What happened afterwards happened so fast that I couldn’t believe it. One minute everything was fine, and next everything went ballistic as a black hooded bulky figure with a gun entered inside, from where, and how, I had no clue. All I saw was his two black eyes in darkened orbits gleaming threateningly beneath his dark hood. His eyes flickered in between us for a second, indecisiveness halting his actions. It was Grandma’s yelling, “Run child! Run Sierra....run for your life, ” that made him finally decide, he raised the gun and shot at her. Right before my eyes, blood came out of her chest, dripping onto the marble floor, spreading in a puddle that got larger with each second. I screamed and screamed, as she slowly closed her eyes, her barely audible whisper still telling me to run, as if on auto-play. He smirked and said, “I guess I have to do it all by myself.” He raised the gun at me.

I expected the pain, I expected the blood, I even expected to wake up from this nightmare, but I didn’t expect to be still standing in the kitchen while my grandmothers’ immobile body lay on the floor, and I certainly didn’t expect to see Seth leap at the villain who still had the gun in his hand. Seth’s incessant fists were pummeling him to the ground, but the asshole still held the gun. I was almost thankful that Seth knew how to fight well, as he’d always had ample practice at school. Seth grabbed the hooded figure’s wrists, slamming the hand holding the gun against the floor over and over again until he lost his grip, the gun finally flying from his hand, skittering off towards the far ends of the kitchen. I ran to get it as the sound of fists and kicks continued to reverberate in the kitchen. After I seized it, my legs gave up on me, and I collapsed.

Getting down on shaky knees, I crawled to Grandma’s side. I could not breathe with the impossibility of what I was witnessing, yes I had seen her fall, yes I had seen her blood pour and yes I had seen her warm loving eyes close. But, none of this was real. It couldn’t be. I held on to her body as I cried, like I never cried before, no longer caring as to what was happening at the other side of the room. With a glimmer of hope, I knelt by her side, and put my ear to where her heart was, but it was utterly silent. How could this have happened? How could I have lost the one person I loved so much in the world, just like that? A person I watched Casablanca with, ate dinner with, chatted with only a few minutes earlier. The air around us felt heavy, dark as if the world was mourning her loss. I finally dropped the gun from my hand. It was when I felt Seth’s arms around me a few minutes later, that I was assured, that it was finally all over. The hooded guy now lay on the floor, unconscious from Seth’s fists. The darkness had passed, but not without leaving behind an irreparable woe and loss. I held onto him and buried my face against his chest, my tears and Grandma’s blood on my hands soon wetting his shirt.

“How did you end up in here?” I asked in between my hiccups. He smoothed my hair, and said, “I was following him, I didn’t know he was coming for you.”

“How did you even know?”

“I didn’t. I had this hunch, since he came to pick up his truck from the garage where I work. He was shady. It’s hard to explain. My tattoo...as crazy as it sounds, it was as if the dragon roared when he was leaving. It was as if I was compelled to follow him.”

“Baby, why is your door open? I finally made it. Sierra? Where are you?” Baran’s familiar voice reached us long before he did. “What the hell is this? What’s going on in here?” he asked, as he entered the kitchen, trying to make sense of the ghastly scene.

“Somebody attacked them,” Seth explained as he continued holding me.

“Wait, is that blood on your hands?” Baran said in shock, pointing at Seth.

“She’s dead Baran. Grandma’s dead. The bastard killed her,” I said, sobbing all over again.

“Is that blood on your hands Seth?” asked Baran again.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I shouted. “It’s Grandma’s blood, can’t you see she’s dead? Dead I’m saying!” I screamed.

Baran picked the gun lying next to me. “The protector is dead, I understand, but I had to make sure Sierra,” he said, sadness in his tone. “I had to make sure the third test had not already succeeded, I am very, very sorry, you don’t know how much. But, all will be well, trust me. I have to do this, for the good of all, and for your good, too” he said, raising the gun at my face and pulled the trigger. Before I could even grasp his words, or get over the shock of what I was witnessing--that Baran, the gentle kindest boy who had professed to love me so much, was trying to kill me-- Seth jumped in front of me. The bullet passed right through him, his shirt now painted in his own blood, his face pale and etched with pain.

“Damn it, now he’s gone and done it, he finished the fucking third test!” Baran cursed, as he held the gun at my face and pulled the trigger one more time, “Bang!”

*******************************

And, that is how Sierra’ parents found the three of them when they came home late that night, their still bodies lying on the kitchen floor next to one another, their spilled blood from the fatal bullet wound all mingled on the once spotless floor, as if cementing the triad’s unison in sacred oath.

The only sound that pierced the silence was Sierra’s mom’s screams. Scream she did, but it was futile, as she knew well that there was no return from death’s final embrace.

Somewhere far, far away in space, the beginnings of a new world began to take shape, one that was created and triggered by the Drakon’s death. The Uruloki was finally awake.

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