We arrived at Devin’s house quicker than usual, even with the addition of Casrial, as Devin had suggested. It was down pouring, and my hair immediately became drenched. The three of us swiftly flung our hoods over our heads, and hurried inside.
The house was loud and lively once I stepped inside and had wrung my hair out. Tess immediately made a bee line towards me and gave me an extremely tight hug.
“It’s good to see you as always!” she sang.
“Like-wise!” I sang back.
“We’ve got our first lead!” she squealed, “Alexander says it’s going to be a big lead, quite possibly a level five!”
“Has he said anything else to you,” I started, “like, what the lead consists of?”
“No,” Tess answered, “But he wanted to make sure you were here so we can discuss that. I think it’s going to be pretty serious—oh, you didn’t bring any clothes, did you?”
“Cas told you, didn’t she?” I asked. I had grown to figure out when Cas had used her special gift of long-distant astral communications pretty well.
“Yep!” she easily admitted. “And don’t worry; I don’t mind giving you some hand-me-downs for the weekend. We’re probably about the same exact size now. We’re definitely going to the beach once summer comes by, the place will be crawling with hot-looking boys!”
“I’ll take you up on that offer!” I said out loud, Devin was standing remarkably close by, so I felt the need to make him jealous.
“Yeah well if you two actually score a number from a member of the opposite sex, I’ll gladly trade in my cane for a curtain rod,” Devin replied. “Wrinkly-old farts don’t count, however.”
“Oh please!” Tess snapped. “Evvy alone would probably snag about ten different numbers! Have you not been checking her out lately?? She should modeling for Victoria’s Secret!”
“I’ll have to wait a couple of years for that one,” I replied, “But I would gladly pose for Gamer girl Magazine!”
“Too bad Archie Long is dead,” Devin started, “I would probably call in to be on his next show and lying in my death bed due to brain cancer after listening to you two babble.”
“That’s not funny,” I pouted, “I don’t want to think about you dying.”
“Yeah,” Tess added, “Besides, we were only busting your balls!”
“And boy do they hurt,” Devin said sarcastically. “But in any case, family meeting in the den room…”
Everybody made their way to the den where we all sat down; Tess and Cas both sat on each side of me, and Othello sat next to Tess. Aaron, Nichelle, and Shaun all sat together next to Cas. Devin, Anna, and Mr. Goldstein all remained standing. Mr. Goldstein took the floor, and began his speech.
“It’s a wonderful evening out,” he started—I smiled as I listened to the soothing sounds of repetitive rainfall while everyone else scoffed or shugged, thinking the contrary.
“Let me first start by saying that through the course of a few weeks, you all have improved phenomenally. The fact that you all have improved so well lets me know that not only you all are serious about your roles in this particular matter, but you are also serious about protecting the lives of everyone and everything that remains alive on this planet, and all of the spirits residing in the afterlife. However, your first big test will come soon. As you all know, everyone in this very room has lost family due to the corrupted spirits known as gheists. What most of you may not know, is that there are spirits far greater than the gheists, spirits whose corruption had eaten away at any purity left for them to return to wraiths, that it bestowed upon them destructive powers far dangerous than our own. These demons have once formed their own network to monitor this realm and the afterlife, and now use this network to prepare their own diabolical scheme. This network of demons is a sole society that is proclaimed the Perfect Cirqule.”
Devin stepped up and continued the speech.
“Alexander has been tracking the Perfect Cirqule for some time. At first it did not look like anything serious, until recently…He’s discovered that the Perfect Cirqule is looking for special spirits known as anomalies. Right now, we have one in our safety; Evenfleu, which you all know now, has an anomaly already in her possession. This anomaly has powers far beyond any comprehension of anyone in this room.”
I felt the cold touch of the icy white-gold chain and locket as it graced the bare skin of my chest. I reached into my shirt and retrieved the locket nestled within. The thought that I was a carrier of an anomaly with powers far beyond my own had left me concerned for the safety of not only myself, but the others as well. Before I could comment on that, Mr. Goldstein took the floor once again.
“Another anomaly is from London, England. A young girl by the name of Windsor Crofte possesses one within her as her own spirit.”
“Her own spirit!?” Tess gasped.
“So the anomaly is actually her spirit?” Aaron added. “That’s far greater of a burden than any of us have.”
“But not as great if we don’t keep her and her family alive,” Mr. Goldstein replied. “Her family has not been sought out yet, and if we act swiftly, we can safeguard Windsor and her parents before the gheists can swoop in and kill them all.”
“London?” I asked. “How are we supposed to act fast if we have to fly all the way over to London, England?”
“We won’t have to,” Mr. Goldstein replied. “Windsor and her parents are both here in the U.S.”
“Not too far, either,” Devin added. “It’s just a matter of bringing them out of their hiding place so we can find them.”
“And once we find them, we can keep them safe while we determine a plot to stop the Perfect Cirqule once and for all,” Mr. Goldstein added.
“So let me get this straight,” I started to gather, “There’s a network of demons known as the Perfect Cirqule, who are seeking special spirits known as anomalies…spirits with powers far greater than any being. I have one, and a little girl named Windsor has another…We have to keep her and her family safe so that the Perfect Cirqule doesn’t acquire an anomaly, and I take it that once we do, our next course of action is to somehow put an end to the demon network…This is where a few questions compile…”
Everyone turned to me, awaiting my questions. I didn’t know where to start exactly, so I started with the question most frequent in the back of my mind.
“Why is the Perfect Cirqule looking for these anomalies?”
The heads of everyone in the room turned to the only head unturned; Mr. Goldstein’s. As we all awaited an answer, Mr. Goldstein paced slowly about the family room, his index finger touching the tip of his chin as though he was deep in thought.
“I am not entirely sure,” he murmured, “but that is why we are currently in the business of paranormal investigation.”
“It ain’t no business if we ain’t gettin’ paid fo’ it,” Othello sang.
“Life has more value than currency,” Mr. Goldstein replied, “which is why we must protect the Order. By doing so we are saving not only our own lives, but the very lives of every man, woman, and child in this world, and every soul in Stycx.”
“Well we’re not doing that by just standing here,” I snapped, “what is our gameplan?”
“There’s an old cabin in a woodland area twenty minutes from here. The Croftes are hiding there.”
“So pretty much, this is what the military calls an extraction, right?” I asked.
“Precisely,” Mr. Goldstein answered.
“It’s not going to be that easy though, will it?” Nichelle asked.
“The Perfect Cirqule has tabs on one of the anomalies,” Devin said as he pointed at me.
“So wait,” I started, “They could sniff me out if I went with you guys?”
“It’s not that they could sniff you out, it’s that they WILL sniff you out,” Devin corrected.
“So are you saying I can’t come?” I asked.
“It’s going to be too dangerous for you if you came along,” Devin started, “But none of us trust you here alone…you might run off with Tess’ favorite shirt.”
Devin gave me the usual smirk to let me know he’s only joking, but I was still concerned for the safety of the others. My very presence there could trigger a problem for all due to the fact that I had an anomaly in my possession.
“Devin is going to be protecting you,” Mr. Goldstein ensured me as he walked over to me and placed his hand on my shoulder, “You have nothing to worry about, Evenfleu.”
“Can I help protect E too?” Shaun asked overzealously.
“You, Othello, and Tess will be staying behind to help protect Evenfleu. This will very well be dangerous, and not only because you will be providing additional support, but you are not yet ready to handle a paranormal investigation to this magnitude.”
“In other words, you guys still suck,” Devin added.
“Then how come Nichelle’s not staying?” Shaun argued.
“That’s easy, bambino,” Nichelle started. “Unlike you, I don’t suck.”
Everyone laughed except me; I was still worried. I did not want anyone endangering themselves at my expense. I wanted to be a part of this investigation; my first investigation. The fact that I’m holding an anomaly was the one thing holding me back in my head, until Cas chimed in and told me otherwise.
“Even without the anomaly, we would very well leave you out on this one,” Cas explained. “It’s far too dangerous, and you are far from ready. We can’t let anything happen to you, Evvy.”
“I’m worried that something might happen to you guys,” I chimed back.
“Things happen to us all the time during investigations,” Cas replied. “We learn from them and grow smarter and stronger, so that next time we won’t run into those same problems again.”
“That’s not helping me calm down,” I chimed.
“I’m sorry,” Cas said apologetically, “Nothing is going to happen to us. We’re the best, and we’ll all come out of this investigation alive, we always do.”
“I guess that’s better,” I teased.
Mr. Goldstein broke up our little astral communication chat by clearing his throat.
“Okay, so everyone get ready and meet up outside by the van in ten minutes!”
“We’re leaving now?” I asked.
“We can’t afford to lose this lead,” Cas answered, “If we do, then the Perfect Cirqule will have an anomaly in their possession; they could very well only need one of them to succeed in whatever plans they have in stored.”
“It would help if we knew exactly why they needed them,” I remarked.
“Don’t worry,” Cas ensured, “we’ll find out soon enough. For now, we need to not be in our school clothes any longer than we have to be. Your room’s still the one down the hall Evvy, so run along, chop chop!”
I watched Cas frolic up the stairs humming a tone that resembled her aura’s harmonic resonance. Once she disappeared from view, I grabbed my belongings and started for my temporary bedroom.
“Ev,” I heard Devin’s baritone voice murmur to me.
“Yes?” I asked as I spun around to meet his glowing-blue eyes.
“I got your back, alright?” he mentioned.
To hear Devin speak those words were like the dream I had the other night, with the exception of the kiss. I wished that he was closer to me so that it felt more like the dream I had of him blurring in front of me to clutch my shoulders, forcing me to make him promise he would protect me.
“I know,” I answered back with a smile. “Thank you, Devin.”
“Don’t mention it,” he replied.
I gave him another smile, a genuine smile, and walked away. I heard the click-clacking of his cane as I headed down the hall, and I turned around to see Devin open the front door and step outside. I exhaled a deep sigh as I disappeared into the room to change out of my school uniform, hoping more than just a “Don’t mention it” from him.
“What’s the deal with the woods?” I asked during our drive to Manorfield; where the Croftes hid from the demons pursuing them.
“What are you talking about?” Devin asked.
“Well,” I began, “if they’re trying to stay safe, then why go to a place that could quite possibly be surrounded by dangerous gheists?”
“You don’t know the Croftes,” Devin replied.
“And you do?” I asked sharply.
“As a matter of fact I do, smart-aleck.”
“Then do tell!”
Devin cleared his throat, and reclined back. There was a brief pause and moment of silence, so I found myself drifting away, listening to the rumbling of the van’s engine, the tires rolling on the gritty texture of the asphalt on the road, and the wind shooting past as the speed of the van cut through it. I listened to the sounds of random cars streak past in the opposite direction, and felt the van rock slightly from the force of the wind whenever a vehicle sped past. Finally, when I started to become lost at the raindrops as they smacked into the window, Devin suddenly spoke.
“The Croftes and I go way back, supposedly. Winston Crofte is an overseer much like Alexander. He’s well seasoned in the skill; having living in London, Winston can handle demons as though they were simple gheists. He must be having a field day out there right now. He was the one, along with Alexander, who helped me that day when I decided it would be cool to fly all the way to London.”
“He helped protect you too??” I asked.
“Yeah,” Devin confirmed, “I was actually heading to London in search for him.”
“You flew all the way to London to look for him?” I asked. “Why?”
“Sorry,” Devin started, “I promised Alexander I couldn’t tell until it was time to tell you.”
I scoffed and hissed, “Why not!?”
“Because Alexander promised your dad that you will learn everything step by step so that you have a perfect understanding of your role in this whole debacle.”
“Is the time-sensitivity of my knowing the truth really this serious?” I asked.
“Why is it?”
“Why why why…you know, you put the ‘why’ in ‘whining,’ and that’s what you’re doing now.”
“Well if you were in my position, then—,”
“I AM in your position.” Devin snapped. “We all are. Do you think it would be so simple to just know everything? You hardly could handle the fact that you’re a clairvoyant, with the ability to pick up rocks, trees, and empty cans of soda with your mind without occasionally going crazy. Just imagine how you would act if you knew everything offhand…”
I started to debate, but the fact that Devin was right became the definite silencer of my voice, and I simply nodded in agreement.
“Your level of knowing is as much as your skills as a clairvoyant,” Devin continued. “Alexander was nice to let you know a little more than what you should know, but until you have more of an understanding about being a medium and not an idiot, we can’t tell you anything…not because we just want to be mean and keep you in the dark, but because of your own safety.”
“You’re right,” I surrendered, “I didn’t think of it like that. It’s just—,”
“You want to find closure in your family’s death, I know,” Devin interrupted.
“Yes,” I murmured.
“You will,” Devin ensured, “but until then, do as your dad tells you…not all sixteen-year-old girls do.”
“Thanks for the words of wisdom,” I replied sarcastically.
“Just doing my job,” Devin answered in the same fashion.
We were quiet for the rest of the ride, although my eyes occasionally drifted over to Devin as he stared out of the window. Shaun was fast asleep next to me, and his head rested heavily against my arm. Devin noticed Shaun sleeping on me and smirked.
“It’s safe to say he still likes you,” Devin teased.
“No, you think?” I threw a bit of sarcasm at him.
“Shaun is an interesting case,” Devin started. “When he gets older, he’s going to be a pain in the neck, but a good kid.”
“We should adopt him,” I suggested out of jest.
“If we do, you’re changing his diaper every day,” Devin teased back.
“Some father you’ll turn out to be,” I teased.
“Well my father wasn’t around enough,” he teased, “so I blame him for my upbringing, or lack thereof.”
“How did Mr. Goldstein find you?” I asked.
“I was in a hospital of course,” he began, “and I was a baby, so I don’t know much.”
“Have you been able to gather anything about your past at all?”
“A little bit…”
Devin sighed and replied, “Like stuff that I can’t tell you yet.”
I grunted, and sat back in my seat. As I crossed my arms, I forgot Shaun was resting on one of them, and so my elbow accidentally struck him in the head.
“What, are we there yet!?” he suddenly mumbled drunkenly.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, “we’re not there yet, go back to sleep.”
Shaun mumbled again as his head once again slumped against my arm. I found it amazing how Shaun was already asleep and we had been on the road for only fifteen minutes. The skies were darkening as I was reminded that it was the season of autumn, and I checked the time on the digital clock on the van’s front console.
“Only 5:25,” I thought aloud.
“You have a keen sense of telling time,” Devin teased.
“Thanks,” I lazily replied.
Staring off out of the van window made me drowsy, so I kept my eyes within the confines of the van, observing everyone within it. Cas was going over details about the current investigation with Anna, Aaron, and Nichelle: who the Croftes were, and how to enter the area once we arrived. Behind me, Tess was talking to Othello about guys and girls, and who they could see dating who in the van.
“Honey, Devin’s out of ya league,” I heard Othello murmur to Tess, “Besides, it’s obvious who he has his eyes on, and it’s certainly not you, gorgeous.”
I blushed a little bit, and looked to Devin in order to tune the two match makers in the back seat out of my head.
“So Winston’s the father?” I suddenly blurted out.
“Of Shaun?” Devin asked. “Good God I hope not!”
“No, silly!” I laughed. “I mean, he’s the father of the Crofte family, right?”
“Well he’s definitely not the mother.”
And the mother…is she a clairvoyant as well?”
“The mother is a normal human, but she is a special case.”
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
“You will see,” is all that Devin said before the van became silent.
“We’re here,” Mr. Goldstein said.
The van slowed down to a smooth stop. The sound of the van’s tires treading over gravel as the van brakes sounds rung through my ears, and then the swelling sound of rainfall took over. I pulled the hood of my sweater over my head and leaned forward to push myself up.
“We’re staying in the van,” Devin said quickly.
“Oh,” I remembered, “We’re not going…Too dangerous, I forgot.”
Devin just nodded his head, and I slowly lowered myself back down into the seat and sighed. Cas, Anna, Nichelle, Aaron, and Mr. Goldstein all exited the car. I pouted as I saw Cas raise her hood over her short, dark-haired head, and wiped the fog from my window.
“Don’t worry!” I heard her muffled voice shout through the glass, “I’ll keep you updated from inside! Sit tight!”
“Okay,” I murmured, still pouting.
Cas made a face as if to say, “awww,” blew a kiss with her hand and waved goodbye before bouncing off with the others. My eyes followed Casrial as she caught up with the group, until my eyes caught sight of their destination. An old, log-stacked cabin looked empty, and through the windows of the cabin, everything was black.
“It’s almost as though no one is there,” I whispered to myself.
“They’re there,” Devin ensured me, “they’re just keeping a low profile.”
“I guess so,” I replied.
I suddenly turned my direction to Devin, whose chiseled face was still as he stared off in the distance through the windows of the van.
“I don’t sense any waywards around,” I murmured.
“That’s because the cabin has been cleared,” Devin said intensely.
“Yo, you guys,” Othello jumped in; I had almost forgotten he and Tess were in the seats behind me, “So what’s the situation with you two? Are you two together or what?”
“W-what!?” I asked.
“What she said,” Devin answered.
“That’s a shame,” Othello shook his head, “y’all two look cute together. You two hang on each otha without even touchin’, but you can tell that you two are practically holdin’ hands in each otha’s head.”
“What the hell are you talking about!?” Devin snapped.
“You know damn well what I’m talkin’ about,” Othello snapped back.
“You guys,” I finally had it, “really? We’re talking about this, here, during an investigation?”
“Yeah, you guys!” Shaun joined in, “Besides, Evvy’s dating me!”
“WHAT!?” I shouted.
“What she said,” Devin repeated.
“Oh my god,” I exploded, “I can’t take this, I’m going outside!”
“No, Evenfl—,” Devin started to shout, but I swatted his hand away and slid open the door.
“DON’T stop me!” I shouted at him.
“Evenfleu, don’t step outside!!” was the last thing I heard before I went against Devin’s pleas, stepping outside into the dark, damp, rainy night.
I heard Devin swear before hearing the van door slide wildly open.
“Evvy!” Devin shouted, “Get back inside!”
I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I should have listened to him. Instead, I needed some air, and so I walked through the woods opposite of where Cas and everyone else had gone. But if I would have listened to him, I wouldn’t have walked deep into the quiet woods for what felt like five minutes. If I would have listened to him, I wouldn’t have realized there wasn’t a single woodland gheist in sight. If I would have listened to him, I wouldn’t have noticed the crippled and twisted corpse of a woman about the same age as Mr. Goldstein, or perhaps bit younger, lying in the wet leaf-ridden ground with her eyes wide open, her dark hair sticking to her pasty-white flesh, and her mouth gaped open as if she had died screaming. The woman looked more like a mannequin, soulless, and inanimate; that’s exactly what she was. I watched in horror until I snapped out of my trance, let out a blood-curdling scream, and sprinted out of the woods.
By the time I made it back to the van, everyone was outside. Devin turned to me as I ran in his direction, and I lunged for him, wrapping my arms around his waist.
“I’m sorry!” I repeated over and over again.
“What the hell’s gotten into you?” Devin asked.
“I-I don’t know,” I stuttered, “but I just needed to get out of the van.”
“Sorry ’bout putting ya on da hot seat, Ev,” Othello apologized.
“It’s okay,” I ensured him, “it’s all good, O.”
“What’s wrong?” Devin finally noticed, “You look like you saw a ghost.”
My telling Devin about the corpse in the woods was cut short when Cas and the others returned with two more people. One was a tall man with a tan hood, the other, was a small girl with golden locks poking from the dark burgundy hood covering her face.
“I’m so used to the variety of places back in London,” The man conversed, “but here in Long Island, there’s only McDonalds, Wendy’s, or Taco Bell! Fast food is slowly killing the human race, I tell you!”
“So how else do you get by?” Mr. Goldstein asked.
“We order Chinese!” the man replied.
“Chinese is bad for you too,” Devin called over to him.
The man turned his head and lowered his hood. His hair was three different shades of gray, and shoulder-length. His eyes were a dark blue tint, and his face wore stubbles of hair which color matched the hair on his head.
“Devin!?” he called out, “Devin my boy!”
The man walked over and gave Devin a hug. As he was closer to us, I noticed that the man was about the same height as Mr. Goldstein; as tall as a tree, if not a few inches taller.
“What in bloody hell are you all doing outside in the rain?” the man asked.
Mr. Goldstein immediately walked over to introduce us.
“Winston, these are the others I’ve mentioned,” Mr. Goldstein introduced.
“Othello, Latessa, Shaun—the little one—and this here…”
Mr. Goldstein placed his hand on my shoulder gently and said, “is Evenfleu.”
“Heavens girl,” Winston gasped, “You look just like your father!”
“Thank you,” I murmured.
“You’ve got hair like my daughter here,” he said.
I looked down at the small girl as she slowly removed her hood. I nearly gasped once I realized that I had seen her before.
“You were at the mall a few weeks ago!” I shouted.
“Yes I was,” she spoke in the same familiarly-calm fashion, “and you were the rude girl who walked right into me without excusing yourself.”
“I said I was sorry!” I pleaded.
“That was only after you had realized that you have a problem watching where you were going,” she continued her attack.
“I like her,” Devin sang.
“Shut up,” I hissed at him.
“My apologies Evenfleu,” Winston started, “Windsor here can be rather direct…she gets that from her mother. Speaking of which, I’m surprised she hasn’t come back yet. It’s not like her.”
When Winston mentioned his wife, the reason I left the woods screaming suddenly returned like a brain freeze.
“Was she wearing a white gown by any chance?” I hesitated.
“It looks white but it’s actually peach, her favorite color,” Winston answered. “Why? Have you seen her?”
“I…,” I didn’t want to tell him that her wife was gone…dead…but then the realization that the way she died could have been due to a gheist attack, and so I took a deep breath, and exhaled as I felt the warmth of tears tricking down my face.
“She’s in the woods,” I murmured. “She’s dead.”
“No…,” he hissed as he pulled his daughter Windsor close to him, “…I told her not to go into the woods. This was my fault. I forced her into this. It was driving her crazy. She just wanted a normal life…we all do. But not when these bastards are ruining everything.”
“I’m sorry,” I murmured to Winston.
“Evvy?” I finally heard Cas’ voice. “What were you doing in the woods…alone??”
She gave Devin a look of death, to which I immediately try to diffuse the situation by saying, “I had to…tend to lavatorial issues.”
“How long were you in the woods?” Mr. Goldstein asked slightly frantically.
I stuttered a bit before answering, “About five minutes, give or take?”
“They’re here,” Mr. Goldstein murmured, “everyone, return to the van!”
Everyone rushed back despite the van only being a few meters away. I kept to Devin like a drenched t-shirt, and we were the first to the car since Devin’s only means of running was dispersing to smoke and teleporting.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “Who’s here??”
“Demons,” Devin answered quickly, “they sniffed them out and followed them here. The cabin was cleared, so they couldn’t come in.”
“So,” I started, knowing the answer, but Devin finished my sentence.
“They knew we were coming, it was a matter of time until we brought them out. Now they know we have two anomalies with us. They’ll be here any second.”
My heart was beating so fast that my lungs couldn’t keep the pace with providing me air. I was breathing heavily, and Devin could sense it. He tugged on my hood gently as he motioned for me to go into the van.
“Get out of the rain,” Devin ordered, “we can protect you better knowing you’re not out in the open.”
I simply nodded and obeyed his command.
“Windsor,” I heard Winston say to his daughter, “you do the same as well.”
“But I want to wait until mum comes back!” Windsor shouted.
“She’s not coming back, dear,” Winston started. “Remember what we talked about? If anything should happen to us, do not worry, everything will be alright!”
Windsor’s eyes were welling up with tears; the realization that her mother was no longer alive definitely kicked in. She clung to her father tight, trying to hide her tears. My eyes started to tear as well; I couldn’t deal with another child losing their family. I held the door to the van open, waiting for Windsor to follow my lead.
“Okay honey,” Winston started, “get in the van. Daddy will be back soon, okay?”
After a moment of protesting, Windsor finally said, “Okay daddy,” scurried past me, and hopped into the van. As I started to embark the van, I felt a hand grab my arm.
“No matter what happens,” Devin said as I turned to notice the hand that grabbed me, “stay in this van.”
Devin’s words sounded as though he was unsure what the outcome may be; it was almost as though he was prepared for the worst, prepared to die. I shook my head, reluctant to agree with his statement.
“No matter what happens,” I told him, “everyone will be alright.”
“Right,” Devin said before letting go of my arm.
I looked to him briefly as his glowing-blue eyes reflected whatever atmospheric light was present in the dark, gloomy, and rainy skies. I gave him a faint smile and hopped into the van.
Windsor was huddled in the back seat, hugging her knees and sobbing quietly to herself. Once the door shut and the sounds of rainfall were muffled, Windsor finally stopped sobbing.
“We are going to die,” she said.
“Don’t say that,” I said sharply, “We will be fine. Your father and everyone else will protect us from whatever dangers are out there.”
“How do you know that?” she snapped, “You are simply going by blind faith, something both my mum and dad never believed in.”
It shocked me that a girl her age talked as though she was older than me; Windsor reminded me of myself. I did not know how to answer her question, which made me feel defeated by the ten-year-old huddled in the backseat.
“When somebody says that everything will be alright, they are going by blind faith,” Windsor continued. “It is a defense mechanism that everyone exhausted of plans say in hopes to be saved by a miracle. My dad never says ‘everything will be alright.’ But when he said it to me just moments ago, I knew that the contrary was evident; everything will not be alright.”
Windsor started crying once again, and I knew then that I had to say something to boost the morale of the only two people sitting in the van.
“There’s no such thing as blind faith,” I began, “it is simply faith. Look at everyone outside, standing and waiting for the worst. If we didn’t have a chance, everyone would have hopped in this van and drove off. This isn’t our last stand, Windsor, and this isn’t a prayer for a miracle either; this is do or die time, and instead of running in hopes to survive, we believe to have the power to stop whatever’s coming after us. All of us, Windsor, have something significant about us, everyone here has a gift.”
I started to think about the words I spoke as Windsor’s crying silenced to soft hiccups and occasional sniffling. I knew then that I truly believed in everyone outside, and I truly believed in myself. Should the demons breach this van, they would not make it out in one piece; I would protect Windsor and myself with my life, and safeguard the anomalies from their pursuers. I then started to think about the others, including myself. I recalled a time a couple of weeks ago when I was back at home; when Barry was walking through the dining room while tossing a football straight up in the air so he could catch it. It was ironic because he always loved defense, being able to oppose the offensive side with his physical prowess, rendering them on the defensive instead and hated to be on the offensive line protecting the ball. I was walking through the living room when I was rounding Beatrice’s favorite vase. I suddenly heard Barry yell, “Hey squirt, head’s up!” and I looked to where he called the cadence. As soon as I turned my head, I was nearly nose-to-nose with the tip of the midair-spiraling football, only a fraction from reconstructing the bridge of my nose upon impact. The only thing I could remember at that moment was my body weaving to the left, and bumping a pedestal from which Beatrice’s priceless vase rested. The bump caused the vase to teeter and fall from the pedestal, which put me in the typical sacrificing decision. If I caught the vase, then the ball would completely obliterate my face, and Barry would never live to hear the last of it from Beatrice. If I dodged the football, then the vase would meet its abrupt demise with Barry and me to follow once Beatrice had discovered her beloved vase’s tragic end. I could have dodged the football, but I would most likely risk the ball flying into something just as priceless; behind me was the wall which was littered with pictures, plaques and trophies. There was also the slight chance that I would not be fast enough to dodge the football or catch the vase, and the destruction of both my face and the vase would have been proven inevitable. Either way I looked at it, I was completely and utterly screwed if I did not act. When I stopped thinking, everything began going in motion as if my thinking stopped time in order for me to come up with a realistic plan to save my face and the vase from total annihilation. The first thing I reacted to was the football practically centimeters from kissing my nose goodbye. I did the most logical thing as I was still leaning away; I tilted my head as far away from the ball as possible, and closed my eyes. The football whizzed past the right side of my face, and I felt the wind whistle into my ear as the ball was passing by. I felt my arm swing up suddenly and tipped the ball so it flipped straight up in the air, and then I felt my left foot cradle the vase as it fell against it like it was a net. My foot flicked upward, flinging the vase up to my left hand. The football began to descend, and so I tapped it back up in the air with my right hand. Another dilemma had arisen as I noticed that the pedestal was also plummeting to the floor. I spun around, catching it with my foot; it was heavy, so I kicked it back up as quickly as I could. It wasn’t enough to stand it back up, but it was enough to catch the vase which was within my reach. I caught the vase with my left hand, and then balanced it on the pedestal before it started tipping over again. I was now in a crouching position as I finally safeguarded the vase. My right hand suddenly felt the urge to thrust out, and so I let it. With my right palm facing up, I felt the football land safely into it. I sighed heavily, both possessing a face of relief and bewilderment. As I rose from my crouched position, I noticed that Barry was covering his eyes. He peeked through his fingers.
“Whoa,” he said after exhaling a deep sigh, “nice reflexes! I was sure that ball had your number! How on earth did you do that?”
I laughed to myself as I remembered that day. And then I started to feel…a way that I should have been feeling since I had discovered I had these powers; powers that would help me to not exact revenge, but to but to restore the order of life and the afterlife, protect those I love and hold close to me, and help bring the ones responsible for this chaos to justice. I started to feel…thrilled. I felt thrilled to be changing…changing from a clumsy, wayward sixteen-year-old with no true direction and no one to talk to but the apparitions of those who were once alive, to a sixteen-year-old with a purpose, a family that fits me like the last piece of a two-thousand-piece jig-saw puzzle, and a duty to protect the world we live in. I had the means to protect, and as I continued to think about that one fact, Windsor finally spoke again.
“Alexander called you Evenfleu,” she started, “is that correct?”
“Yes it is,” I answered after snapping out of my thought sequence.
“Dad says that you are the one who holds the means to stopping all of this,” she continued. “I don’t think that’s true.”
“You don’t?” I asked, shocked at her comment.
“No,” she answered, “I don’t.”
“Why not?” I asked, annoyed at Windsor’s remark.
“Because,” she began, “if you did have the means to stopping all of this, then you would be the one outside, and not them. You wouldn’t be hiding in here like a helpless imp, while others like my father fight your battles for you. You would be out there, protecting us all, sacrificing your life for us, and making sure that we were all safe.”
“What do you have against me?” I finally snapped. “Is it because I bumped into you at the mall? Are you honestly still upset at that!?”
“I am not upset by the past,” Windsor said calmly, “I just don’t like you.”
My heart stopped suddenly. I wasn’t sure why, but the fact that Windsor said she did not like me was like a serrated-edged knife in my heart, turned and pulled out quickly.
“W-why?” I asked in a faint murmuring voice.
“I don’t know,” she answered, “but my presence does not agree with yours.”
Before I could respond, I heard an abrupt banging against the window next to me; I jumped just as high as my heart did from the sudden rapping on the glass. I turned to see what it was and noticed Devin’s face peering through the fogging glass.
“They’re here,” he informed.
Everyone tensed up—except Devin—and awaited their visual arrival. I stared through the glass to assess the situation, and Windsor crawled out from her huddled position, squeezing herself up against me so she could look through the window as well.
“What if they take us?” Windsor asked.
“They won’t,” I answered sharply.
“How do you know they won’t?”
“I know how to fend them off.”