This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Albert Jenkins jumped into his car, a blue Honda Civic, and drove back toward town. He kept glancing in the rear view mirror as he drove along. All day, he felt as though someone was watching him. It wasn’t paranoia either, he knew having the crystal would make him a target.
Months of research and searching the caves and he had only managed to uncover a single crystal, but it was the biggest one yet. The power it held was unfathomable and he couldn’t let it fall into the wrong hands.
Working at the research lab, he used his contacts and the lab equipment to try and harness the power, but he wasn’t a descendant. The crystal was useless in his hands.
When his boss discovered what he was working on, he called in a new team. There was even talk of bringing in some army specialist. Albert knew he couldn’t let them have it. Taking it from the lab was a huge risk and breach of protocol, but he didn’t have a choice. He would have to lie low for a while, maybe he could get the crystal to Elliot. No one would suspect him of having it and they didn’t know about the help he had given Albert.
Kid’s got brains, Albert thought. He knew more about the crystals than Albert did and it was thanks to him that he had gotten as far as he had.
Albert stopped at his house. He would grab a few things and then find a cheap motel somewhere. Reluctant to let the crystal out of his sight, he put it in his coat pocket and took it inside with him.
He stepped into the darkened house, automatically reaching for the light switch. He flicked it once, twice, but the light didn’t come on. He moved through the kitchen, being careful not to collide with anything.
“Tiddles?” he called to his ginger tabby. The cat always greeted him when he came home, did he escape outside?
I’ll have to find him once I grab my stuff.
Trying the living room light, he felt fear run through him when it didn’t go on either. Were they already here?
He held his breath, listening for any sound that would give them away. The house was silent. Maybe there was a simple explanation, the breaker could have went or there could be a power cut. There had been gale force winds the last few days. They had mostly likely knocked out the power.
Convinced that this was the answer, Albert continued on to his bedroom. The quicker he got out of here the better. Grabbing the small suitcase from under his bed, he unzipped it and started flinging clothes into it.
He went into the bathroom for his shaving kit. Opening the medicine cabinet, he squinted in the low light, trying to find his anxiety medication. It was a recent affliction and under the circumstances, entirely understandable.
He closed the medicine cabinet and saw a shadow dart past the door behind him. Breathing hard, he moved to the door and peeked out. The hallway seemed empty, but if the person was dressed in black they could be easily hiding in the dark.
Rushing forward, he tried to get inside the bedroom. Something sharp pricked his neck and he stumbled forward, hitting the bedroom door and falling to his knees. He crawled across the floor to the bed and dragged himself up onto it, feeling whatever drug they had given him start to take effect.
His attacker stepped into the room. As Albert lay gasping on the bed, he went through his pockets. Removing the crystal, he leaned in and whispered, “Thank you.”
“Please, you don’t know what’s coming,” Albert whispered.
As his eyes closed, Albert thought of the cave. Of what lay within it. And the vision the old witch had told him about. Two heirs, descendants of Katherine Lowe, would battle for control of what lay in the cave. And the town would be torn apart to get it.
I woke up to the sound of a whistle being blasted close to my ear. Not a pleasant way to start the day, but apparently my father doesn’t trust my alarm clock to get me up.
“Breakfast is on the table. I want you ready in ten,” he said.
I groaned and pulled the blankets over my head. I am definitely not a morning person.
“Did you hear me, Kasey?” he said.
“Yes, sir,” I said, flinging the blankets aside to get up. Dad was already dressed in his fatigues. He was a captain in the army and everything in my life was done by a schedule.
“9 minutes 40,” he said, leaving the room.
The floor was still covered in boxes that I would have to unpack eventually, but sometimes I wondered if it was worth the effort. It would be a lot less work if I left them as they were, considering they would all have to be repacked within a year.
I took my time choosing my outfit. I wanted something that said – stay away from me, I’m a freak. It sounded extreme, but I didn’t see the point in making friends when I would be leaving them soon. That’s why I needed to make a statement.
I settled for a dark red shirt, black jeans and my regulation army boots. Leaving my long black hair down, I applied a generous layer of black eyeliner and purple lipstick. I was ready to go.
My brother Tony was finishing his breakfast of bacon and eggs, when I came downstairs. He gave me the once over and rolled his eyes.
“You look like the poster child for Goths everywhere,” he said.
“Shut up, Antonio,” I snapped.
“Whatever you say, Akaisha,” he replied.
Our mother had a sense of humor when it came to naming us. As kids we were adamant that we should be called Kasey and Tony instead, but Mom always used our full names. Or at least she did until she died, when I was five. She was hit by a car when she ran into the road to save a child. The kid was okay, according to Dad, but Mom was hurt bad. She died in hospital later that night. Dad buried himself in his work after that and had been dragging us around ever since.
It wasn’t all bad. We got to go all over the world and meet different people, but not being able to make any long term friends was awful. The first few times we moved, it was too hard, leaving my friends behind, so I stopped making them.
“Hurry up and eat,” Dad ordered. I doubted that the coffee in his hand was the first of the day. He was up at 5am every morning and I know he didn’t go to bed until late, because I could hear him moving around in his study. Starting at a new base, he wanted to make a good impression.
Pouring myself some cereal, I ate it as quickly as I could, but eventually Dad had to head to work, leaving Tony to drive me to school.
Blackrock, our new home town, was fairly secluded, cut off to the west by trees and the east by cliffs. The town itself was set in a valley. Our house was about three miles from town.
We drove along the main road, flanked by trees. The road was empty, not many people lived out near us. I counted two other houses at least a couple of miles from ours. Not good in an emergency.
“What kind of job are you going to look for?” I asked Tony.
“I don’t know. Probably a mechanic job, if there’s anything available.”
Tony loved fixing up cars, his black Dodge truck had been falling apart when he had bought it, but now it was immaculate. He was older than me by two years. He finished high school last year, but was putting off going to college. He told Dad he needed time to decide what he wanted to do, but I was guessing he wanted to skip it altogether. He wasn’t dumb, his grades were good in school, but I know my brother. There was no way he was going to spend another four years in a classroom, when he could be out there doing his own thing. I wondered how much longer it would be before he found a place to stay permanently and we would move on without him. It wasn’t something I liked to think about. It had always been just me and him, even if we did spend most of our time fighting.
When I finished high school, I was definitely going to college. I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, anything would do, as long as I could actually stay in a place longer than a year.
I fiddled with the radio dial, trying to find something to calm the butterflies in my stomach. It didn’t matter how many times I did it, the first day at a new school was always the worst. Staring at the road ahead, I wondered what I would be facing. Nothing could be worse than my last school.
“Do you hear that?” Tony asked.
He switched off the radio. There was a loud roaring noise like some kind of industrial fan, maybe. It was coming from the left side of the road.
“Is that a helicopter?” I asked, even though it didn’t sound like one, but what else could it be?
“It sounds like some kind of machinery,” Tony said.
I scanned the trees, looking for the source. A few seconds later, a tornado hit down in the middle of the road in front of us.
“Crap,” Tony screamed, slamming on the brakes. The truck skidded and I was thrown forward into the dash. Pain shot through my forehead as it collided with it.
Tony threw the truck into reverse and hit the gas. The tornado moved towards us with frightening speed. Staring into the swirling mass, I felt fear grip me. It would tear the truck apart and us along with it.
“Go faster!” I screamed.
It closed in on us, making contact with the front of the truck, sending it spinning across the road. I braced myself, ready to be sucked in, when the truck ground to a halt. The deafening roar fell silent.
We didn’t move for several minutes.
“Are you okay?” Tony asked finally.
I was breathing so hard I was practically hyperventilating.
“Kasey! Are you hurt?” Tony said, grabbing my arm and giving me a shake.
I shook my head, “No. What the hell just happened?”
“I have no idea,” Tony breathed. He opened his door and slid out of his seat.
I got out too, my legs barely holding me up, they were shaking so badly. The tornado had cut a path through the trees before coming after us. That was a stupid thought, the tornado couldn’t think, it just did what it did best and we got in the way.
“Okay, maybe I’m wrong, but I didn’t think tornados were common around here.”
“They’re not,” Tony confirmed.
“Where did it go?”
“I guess it dissipated.”
I walked to the edge of the tree line to check out the damage. Trees had been uprooted as far as I could see. The ground around us was littered with leaves, twigs and other debris.
“We should get out of here,” Tony said.
I didn’t argue. I wasn’t eager to wait around for it to come back. The truck was surprisingly undamaged. We were really lucky.
“Your makeup’s ruined,” Tony said.
I flipped down the visor to check it out. My eyeliner was smeared. I tried to fix it, but ended up making it worse.
“Great,” I muttered.
By the time we arrived at Blackrock High, an unimpressive two story, red brick building, the first bell had already rung.
An eight foot statue of a man stood on the lawn outside. It was made of what looked like black glass. The plaque read – William Johnson, Town Founder, 1763.
He was a serious looking dude.
I didn’t have time to linger. I was met at the front door by a pretty blonde girl in a black and gold cheerleading uniform. She looked shocked at my appearance.
“Oh, you’re one of them,” she said in way of greeting.
“One of who?”
“I suppose I should have guessed with a name like Akaisha.”
“It’s Kasey, and you are..?”
“Late. Follow me, I’ll show you to class.”
“Wait!” I called.
She stopped walking, “What?”
“Where’s the bathroom?”
She sighed and led the way. I cleaned the makeup off my face and checked my forehead. There was a nasty purple bruise forming, but there was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t bring any cover up with me.
The cheerleader brought me to a classroom on the second floor.
“This is your homeroom. Here’s a class schedule and a map.” I took the papers from her.
“Welcome to Blackrock High,” she said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster.
She gave me a tight smile and flounced off down the hall, her blonde ponytail swinging back and forth as she went.
Gee, I’ve made a friend, I thought. Not.
It doesn’t matter what school you go to, the cheerleaders always rule it. I braced myself and knocked on the classroom door.
“Come in,” a man called.
I opened the door and stepped inside. Unsurprisingly, all eyes were on me. I like to think it’s because they were dazzled by my beauty, but I doubt it very much.
“Hi, I’m the new girl,” I said. I’ve said it so often I actually considered legally changing my name to New Girl. Life would be easier if I did. It was definitely better than Akaisha.
The teacher, a small, bald man in a tweed coat, smiled, “Yes, Kasey, isn’t it? I’m Mr. Talbot.”
“Sorry I’m late. Tornado.”
He seemed bemused by that, can’t say I blamed him. Although as excuses went I’m sure it was a first for him.
We went through the usual formalities, I introduced myself to the class, they pretended to be interested etc.
I took a seat at the back of the room, beside a skinny guy with glasses, wearing a green plaid shirt. He had his head bent over his notebook, working on what I assumed was some kind of math homework. It was an equation anyway. Math isn’t my thing.
At least I knew what classification he belonged in. Nerd. It’s easier when you can separate them into groups, like ranks in the army. Nerds, jocks, geeks, goths, loners, losers. Every school has them. I only fit under one category – new girl.
Mr. Talbot went through some daily messages and rather surprisingly obituaries.
“I’m very sorry to announce that Mr. Jenkins has passed away. He died in his sleep, late last night. I’m sure we will all be thinking of his family at this difficult time.”
The guy beside me snorted, “I’m sure Tiddles will appreciate that,” he muttered.
“Huh?” I asked.
“His cat. Tiddles. He didn’t have any family.”
“Oh. Who was he?”
“The science teacher.”
I had to wonder how close he was to his teacher that he knew his cat’s name. He didn’t seem too broken up about his death.
When the bell rang, I checked my schedule. My first class was English. Something I’m actually good at. I opened up the map, then turned it up the other way, not sure how to read it. I could read an ordinance survey map, this was illegible. It looked as though someone had drawn it with their feet.
“Need some help?” my desk buddy asked.
“Could you point me toward English?”
“Yeah, I’ll show you. I’m heading that way anyway. I’m Elliot by the way.”
He hefted his rucksack onto his shoulder and we left the room to join the throng of students in the hallway. As much as I hated idle chit chat, I figured I should be polite since Elliot was decent enough to show me to class.
“So, what’s it like to live in Blackrock?” I asked.
He pulled me aside into a classroom doorway.
“Look you’re new here, so I’m going to give you a heads up. Blackrock is not your average town. It’s dangerous and if you’re going to survive here, then you need to learn the rules.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
He glanced around, “Not here. Come to the cafeteria at lunch. We’ll speak then.”
He walked on and I followed him reluctantly. Just my luck, I managed to zero in on the local loon. I kept my distance. As we passed near the front of the building, I noticed a guy heading my way. He was tall, over six foot, lean, wearing a long black coat. He had dark hair, a pale face and he seemed to have mastered eyeliner better than I had. A total Goth.
He passed Elliot and I heard him say to him, “New girl?”
“New girl,” Elliot confirmed.
“Let’s hope this one makes it,” he winked at me, before putting on a pair of sunglasses and walking out the front door.
Goths and nerds talking to each other? Weird.
Elliot left me at my class and reminded me again about lunch. I gave him a non-committal shrug in reply.
I’d find someone else to sit with at lunch, someone without their own straitjacket.
Jack Barton drove past the chain link fence and up to the hangar. There was a lot less security than he was used to, but this wasn’t an official army base. In fact, this place wasn’t supposed to exist.
It had been a long time since he worked in R&D. Nearly fifteen years to be exact and he never had any intention of returning to it. That was until he was called in by his superiors.
Blackrock was home to a testing facility for a power source and they wanted someone in to supervise the experiments. Jack refused at first, until they offered to make it a permanent position.
A few years earlier, he would have been happy to keep moving around, but now that Tony and Kasey were older, he realized that it might be time to stay in one place. Tony would be going off to college next year, Kasey the year after. If he was in one place, he could be near them. He didn’t like the idea of being on the other side of the world from them, even if they were old enough to be on their own.
The only reason he kept moving was because without his wife, Lorraine, it didn’t feel right to call anywhere home. But it had been twelve years, he would have to stop running away from it sooner or later and he knew that Kasey wanted to stay put.
After all the trouble she got into at her last school, he didn’t want her to end up some delinquent. She was a good kid, but she was impulsive.
Of course in order to make this stay permanent, he had to provide real results.
He entered the hangar and found five soldiers waiting and two doctors in lab coats. The soldiers saluted as he came in. He saluted back, “At ease.”
The two doctors stepped forward. The man was tall, rail thin with glasses. The woman was shorter with red hair.
“Captain, I’m Dr. Flynn and this is Dr. Peters,” the man said. Jack shook both their hands.
“If you come with us, we can get you up to speed.”
He followed them into a small laboratory. His superiors had been vague when it came to information on the power source only that it had something to do with the vibrational frequency of crystals. It wasn’t something that seemed worthy of military involvement.
“I’m not sure how much you know about this town, Captain,” Dr. Flynn said, “But there are reserves of quartz crystal here that are unlike anything we have seen before. It has an energy that can produce some unusual results.”
“Okay, so what are you working on? Some kind of alternative power source?”
Flynn looked amused at that, he glanced at Peters and nodded. She left the room and returned a moment later with one of the soldiers. He was young, barely older than Tony, well built with dark hair.
“Private Cook, sir,” he said, saluting him.
Jack returned the salute, “Private. Perhaps you can explain what is going on here.”
“Yes, sir. My family have lived in this town for generations. They all have the same ability as me.”
“Ability?” Jack asked.
Peters handed Cook a piece of crystal. Black quartz. Cook took the quartz and closed his eyes.
Jack crossed his arms and waited. This better be good, he thought.
Cook bowed his heads, dropped his arms by his side and his entire body lifted off the floor. Jack couldn’t help the gasp that escaped his lips. He was floating in mid-air. Jack looked for hidden wires, but Cook wasn't wearing them.
Cook slowly lowered himself back to the floor and opened his eyes.
“I, uh, I don’t…what is this?” Jack asked. He had seen some strange stuff in his time, but this was unbelievable.
“Some of the residents of this town have the ability to channel power from the crystals and perform, well for want of a better word, magic,” Flynn said.
“You’re a scientist,” Jack pointed out.
“Yes, of course. It’s not actually magic, more energy manipulation, but it is incredible. If we were able to harness this power, transfer it or give it to soldiers in battle, then they would be unstoppable.”
And there was the reason why he had been brought in. To keep it in-house so they could use it. There were so many things to consider, to get on top of. This was potentially the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st century.
“I want to see more,” Jack said.
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Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
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Ben Gauger: Kudos go to the author of ''Equinox: Into the Clouds'' for originality in character development as well as scene execution and in addition plot development, A truly original story if I do say so myself, though the spelling in and of itself could use a little work, but other than that a truly orig...
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