Kallima groaned and rolled over again. Her bed seemed lumpier than it had growing up. She had barely eaten in the last four days, either. The food tasted blander every meal, and what she could manage felt like lead in her gut. And with Halloween only two days away, she knew her new ‘brothers’ would want her to take them out for the night. Another toss, and her stomach roared, weighed down by a strangely dense emptiness. She slipped out from the covers and started to the kitchen in search of something to ease the pain.
A whimper stopped her at the steps, though. The old guest room that now housed the boys drew her attention. She prodded the door open and poked her head inside. The aroma hit her like a wall.
Kallima’s mouth watered. Something in this room smelled... delectable, smelled like warm fat sweating through a roast with all its trimmings, herbs seeping into the juices and potatoes, string beans, and carrots soaking up the oils. Her eyes flashed to another whimper and landed on Jack.
Kallima watched as a bead of sweat formed on the boy’s forehead and ran along his brown hairline. She stepped closer. The scent grew stronger. Every line on his face showed clearly through the pitch black of the house. Kallima stared at the twitching face of the thirteen-year-old as she drew even closer to his headboard, closer to the smell.
She placed a soft hand on the child’s head. The boy tossed, making Kallima withdraw her hand and stirring the decadent odor up again. Her fingers felt electric with that little touch. She chuckled, almost silently.
“Fear,” she said.
She placed her other hand on her belly, noticing that its protests had dulled to soft grumbles. She sighed and stared at her tingling hand.
“I’m sorry, Jack,” she whispered. “I have to eat.”
She turned away, eyes shutting, and let her hand fall back to the adolescent’s forehead.
In an instant, she was in her library, though it was empty and barren. No dreams lined her walls in this world. Then she looked down and gasped.
The floor had vanished, as though someone had replaced it with glass, and the scene that played below was plenty familiar to her. A maze of locker-lined corridors trapped the dreaming Jack as he ran along them, arms full of books, tripping every few steps, and a large jock lumbered after him.
“Come on, then, you’ll fit, you little Cockney runt!” the athlete laughed.
As Kallima watched, bright red tendrils of electricity crackled at her feet. The teen sighed in ecstasy, her hunger fading with every pop. She chuckled and dropped her her knees. Jack hit a dead end under her gaze.
“Oops!” she said, pulling a barred gate out of one of the walls and across the hall, locking the boy behind them.
“No!” the boy screamed as he slammed into the barrier.
A jolt of satisfaction rushed through the fae’s veins. Kallima hummed in thought as the lanky brunette attempted to scale the fence and the exhilaration died away. It was cruel, she knew, but the more terrified he was, the more energized she felt. And the most horrifying thing that Kallima could think of was certainly a doozy. She let the boy over the gate.
She let him fall, deep into empty, white space until he landed on his back, no trace of his old dream left. He rose, brushed himself off, and glanced around.
Kallima leaned close and hissed, “You’re just like your father.”
Jack shivered, wide-eyed. His subconscious did the rest of Kallima’s work as a lightly tanned grizzly of a man grabbed the boy from behind. The new arrival lifted Jack by his neck.
“What have you done?” he bellowed.
“Nothin’!” Jack whined back. “I’m not loik you! Mum says I don’t ’ave ter be!”
“Mum says, Mum says,” the man mocked, his age melting off of him like wax. “Mummy is a liar an’ a cheater! You are just like me!”
Too far, Kallima thought, her eyes bulging as the man became an echo of Jack himself, still holding his real self up by the throat. The fake Jack laughed, and the real one cried and screamed defiantly albeit uselessly. Energy coursed through Kallima’s body like a drug and rendered her immobile. Her eyes rolled into her head as she lost control of the nightmare, abandoning Jack below.
“Git off ’im!”
Kallima blinked rapidly. Her heart raced as her vision refocused. She laid on her back, staring at the ceiling until Havard’s face blocked it out. The redhead bit her lip. Between his scowl, Evelyn’s voice whispering to Jack, and Jack’s desperate sobbing, she knew the trouble she had caused. Havard motioned for her to follow him, saying “up” as he did. Kallima obeyed, frightened by the repercussions she undoubtedly faced.
In Kallima’s room, Havard stopped and shut the door.
“What where you thinking?” he hissed. “What did you do to him?”
“I’m sorry, Dad, really. I’m just- Well, I was hungry,” the girl said.
Havard threw his hands up and said, “I give up. ‘No lemon,’ Satu said. ‘Make sure she keeps training over breaks. She won’t hurt anyone.’ Like hell!”
“I didn’t mean to! I don’t know why- I don’t know what’s happening to me,” Kallima cried, her sight blurring from tears again. “There is no one like me at school, no one to explain it! An- And it felt so good, to scare him, and I’m sorry for that; I really, really am, but... I haven’t felt this strong since-”
“Since you came back?” Havard finished.
Kallima nodded before flopping onto her bed and burying her face in a lumpy pillow. She felt a weight next to her and Havard’s hand on her hair.
“Do you have the Fever?” he asked her.
Kallima sighed, “I don’t know. What does it feel like?”
“Your mother said it was like being heavy and empty at the same time. Like you just want to go back. Like this world was rejecting you.”
“Then yes. I had the Fever.”
Kallima pushed herself up and turned to face her adopted father, hoping that once, just once, he would understand her.
“I’m not hungry anymore. I’m not even tired. That’s why I was in there. I could smell his fear, and it was brilliant, like Christmas dinner. I didn’t mean to hurt him, promise. But when I got into his head, when I was in his dream… it was like being home again. The more scared he got, the better I felt. I went too far, I know, but it won’t happen again, Dad. I won’t do that to you or your family anymore.”
Havard shook his head. Then he took Kallima’s hands in his.
“Princess, I know you’ve been through a lot these last few months, going to a new school, finding out you’re an alp. But I’m still your father, and my family and my home are yours, too. You know that, right?”
“You deserve a normal life, Dad, and you’re not going to get that if I’m a part of it,” Kallima said.
“Oi! Satu and I may not have had a typical marriage, but I wouldn’t trade a day of it,” he said. “I got to see a lovely young girl grow into a lady.”
Kallima rolled her eyes but smiled weakly.
“But,” he added, “maybe, over the summer, you should think about visiting the Faerie Realm regularly. Just to keep it in check.”
“And do something nice for Jack. He’s shaken up something awful right now.”
“Sure. He likes cinnamon rolls.”
Kallima laughed, “Well, I’m not tired anymore. I’ll see what I can throw together.”
A tiny scarecrow pranced in front of Kallima and a skeletal Jack, a half-full pail of candy in the child’s hand. Kallima was grateful for the costume Jack had chosen. The long-necked suit covered the bruises on his throat. The girl shivered every time she caught a glimpse of them, knowing that they had somehow come from the nightmare she had given him. His makeup also concealed the black eye he brought home from school that day.
So, while Havard and Evelyn were working, Kallima ushered the two around town to trick-or-treat and do one last nice thing for Jack.
“It’s nothin’,” the boy insisted when Kallima asked him about his eye. “I’m foin.”
“I know how bullies get,” she said. “Why don’t you stand up for yourself?”
“Cor, there’s always sweaties fink they’re better than you.”
“Of course, but wouldn’t it be nice to fight back?”
“I’d love ter teach Skylar a lesson, Kali, but it’s not goin’ ter ’appen. He’s too popular.”
“Come on, Jack! Candy!” the scarecrow known as Evan called.
Jack traipsed after him. Kallima smiled after them from the sidewalk, thinking over her words carefully. The boys accepted their candy as she developed a plan, stretching the weight of the Mortal Realm off her shoulders. The energy she recovered from Jack’s dream started evaporating around noon, and now she wanted more. If tonight followed her plan, she would have it and leave her “family” none the wiser.
“So, Skylar,” she said when the children returned to her side. “What’s his last name?”
“Look, I know your mum is going to want to talk to his,” she said. “Do you know his mum’s name?”
“Marie Perry. Look, don’t tell Mum abat me eye, all right? She worries enough.”
“Wouldn’t think of it.”
Once buckets were filled, children sugared up, and boys tucked into bed, Kallima retreated to her room with a phone book. Unfortunately, she found two Marie Perry’s and a Marie Parry. Miss Parry, when she called, began telling her all about her four children and seven grandchildren as though Kallima were an old friend of hers. She had more luck with the first Perry, though, who did have a son named Skylar around Jack’s age. Kallima sighed in relief.
“This is his step-sister. It seems the boys have had some troubles.”
“Has Sky been roughhousing again?”
“You could say that.”
“I am so sorry. He keeps falling into these bad crowds, and-.”
“No offense, ma’am,” Kallima said, “but are you sure it’s his friends?”
“My son is no bully. I’m sorry, who did you say you were?”
“Thank you for your time, Miss Perry.”
Kallima hung up the phone with a grin. According to the phone book, Skylar Perry only lived a few blocks away. She quickly changed into some dark clothes and waited. When Evelyn arrived home, she ducked out and started towards the address in the book.
The house was quiet and well-kept, normal enough. Kallima slipped into the backyard as silently as she could and peeped into the first window she found. Seeing a large bed and two dressers, she ducked again and moved to the next window. That one was a bathroom. The third window confined a large, familiar blonde boy with huge muscles. He flipped through the pages of a young adult romance with an almost geeky smirk. Then he gasped.
“No, Rachael! What are you doing?” he said.
Kallima rolled her eyes and peered discretely around the room until she spotted a closet. Then she slipped out of the yard and returned home. Evelyn put her hands on her hips when she saw the redhead.
“What were you out doin’, ya lil sneak?” she asked.
Kallima held up her hands in surrender and said, “I just needed some alone time. The boys are asleep. Oh, and you may want to talk to Jack. He’s having trouble with a classmate.”
Kallima shrugged and bid the woman good night. She went to her room, put on her headphones, and listened her to music until the darkness of midnight arrived. Then she slipped into her own closet.
She pressed a hand to the door, recreating Skylar’s room in her mind. When she opened the door, though, her own room greeted her. She growled in frustration. Backing into the closet again, she summoned what was left of her energy and pushed it into the wood. Then she cracked the door open again. A smile cracked her face open as her eyes landed on the very blonde she sought. Skylar snored heavily, his book draped over his chest. Kallima slinked towards him and, closing her eyes, placed a hand delicately on his forehead.
In his dream, Skylar lounged on a beach in his swim trunks, a thin doll of a girl with bouncy hair laughing next to him.
“Wow, Sky, you’re so sensitive!” she said. “It’s nice to just talk.”
“Couldn’t agree more,” Skylar said with a smile
Kallima rolled her eyes, staring down on the dream as she had done in Jack’s dream. She blew on the scene, stirring winds up around the two youths.
“What’s going on?” the girl cried.
“Storm, I think... Rachael!”
The girl ran into the ocean to get a better look. Kallima shook her head, the familiar popping of energy around her legs. With a flick of her wrist, the girl screamed and fell under the water. Skylar called out and ran to the spot where she had vanished to pull her out, but he could not find her.
“Now let’s teach you a lesson,” Kallima chuckled.
She pulled a figure out of the sand, and granules fell to the side until Jack appeared, three meters tall and chiseled. Skylar slipped backwards into the stirring waters. Kallima laughed maniacally as Skylar struggled to talk his way out the oncoming beating.
“Vicious. Cruel. Evil,” Jack said, lumbering towards the boy. “Vicious. Cruel. Evil...”
“It’s an act! It’s all an act!” Skylar blubbered.
Kallima screamed in laughter as power surged through her bones. Skylar fumbled around and fell under the water.
With a snap, Kallima found herself in Skylar’s room again. The boy sat up in bed, panting and stirring the smell of ammonia around him. Kallima, panicking, wrapped a hand around his mouth before he could scream.
“Skylar,” she asked the hyperventilating boy, “Do you know who I am?”
The boy whimpered and shook his head to the best of his ability. Kallima grinned.
“I’m your nightmare, Sky. You learn your lesson?”
“Good. You better be grateful I won’t tell anyone that you’re a bed-wetter. Go change your sheets.”
She stood up and slipped back to the closet which was still hers, listening to Skylar shuffle behind her. When she turned to shut the door, the blonde froze and stared at her, a cricket bat in his hands. She wagged a finger at him and closed the door. Dispelling the magic, she took a deep breath and opened it again. Her room, her bed, her home greeted her. Eager to prove her value to Evelyn, she set off to clean the house with her renewed energy.