Ashes Magic

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After Kate crawled onto her bed, she could not sleep. She was rolling for the rest of the night and thinking about her dreams. These were becoming more real and painful. She felt a bad feeling as if something very bad was about to happen. She was frightened. Despair and apprehension consumed her body and soul. It was not for her, but for her family. If it happened again, she could not bear such pain. She could not sleep anymore after that terrible nightmare. When she realized that it had already dawned, she felt an overwhelming anxiety and a terrible emptiness. It was the same feeling that accompanied her ever since she was a little girl. She always carried that kind of emotion after a nightmare. Kate checked the time and saw that she lacked the time to watch the sunrise. She stood up, grabbed a towel, and went to take a shower. Maybe a nice bath would wash away that monstrous feeling.

After a long, relaxing bath, Kate went on to get ready. She chose to wear a tight white blouse and a denim skirt. She spent some time putting on makeup to hide the dark circles of the sleepless night. She used a nice brown shade and put lipstick on her lips. She took her stuff and headed for the kitchen. She was never hungry in the morning but did not pass on the delicious espresso that her mother prepared. Kate took the opportunity that her parents had not yet left for work and asked them for a ride. The weather was scary with the cloudy sky, storm clouds, and lightning that threatened a possible storm. It was warm and stuffy.

Across the courtyard of the university, she received several looks. Kate did not know whether these were of admiration or horror. She raised her head and moved towards her classroom. Fuck anyone who would find her strange. Before they even got to know her or before she remembered someone’s name, her parents would have already accepted a better job offer.

“Look who just landed on planet Earth! Kate the Alien!” Amanda said with a smile on her face. That would be impossible to forget.

Kate said, “Hi, Amanda. Are you okay?”

“Hi Kate, how are you? Sorry about yesterday. I just found it a bit sinister that a pretty girl like you walks around with those magazines in your bag.” She pointed towards Kate’s arms. “I see you did not bring those bizarre items today.”

“You are right. I talked with my friend and I explained to him that I would only do UFO research on weekends. I also told him about what happened in the classroom and he thought it was better to leave those dreadful articles at home,” Kate replied.

Amanda said, “Cool. But even so, I advise you to do a DNA test. One never knows. Perhaps you are a relative of some alien or something.”

Not believing what she had just heard, Kate looked perplexed towards the girl, her mouth open. Amanda smiled at her and said, “It’s a little joke! You need to unwind!” Amanda poked at her arm and added, “You should not take all the bullshit I say seriously!” She looked thoughtful and said to Kate, “You need to be more firm and confident girl! I have a book of self-help at home that will be great for your case.”

Kate nodded and blurted, “Sometimes I feel like that, exactly as you just mentioned.”

“I’m sorry about yesterday. I was just extrapolating. To make you feel better, sometimes I feel as if I were from another planet most especially when the roots of my hair begin to appear in two colors!” she said, smiling and grabbing a tuft of dry hair in hand. “You need not worry, it happens to everyone. I think in this world, no one actually feels normal,” Amanda said with a reassuring look.

Jake, who was following the two girls, could not help but laugh about that frustrating conversation about self-help. Humans with identity crisis were really hilarious!

Kate heard some sarcastic giggles behind her and as turned to check who it was, she came face to face with him. “Amanda, can you excuse me for a moment? I need to resolve a problem,” she said and faced the Guardian.

“Of course, we’ll talk later,” Amanda replied.

Kate waited for the girl to leave then pushed Jake against the wall. She came very close to him and fired, “It’s your fault, you gossip!”

“What are you talking about? What did I do this time?” he defended his mischievous ways.

“You know what I’m talking about! Do not play dumb. Would you rather I refreshed your memory?” she said.

“Okay, go ahead,” he suggested.

Kate replied, “Let’s cut to the chase. Yesterday, before we bumped into each other, you heard my mantra.”

He could not contain himself and let out the biggest laugh as he remembered what Kate had said. What’s wrong with these girls nowadays? Suddenly, Jake froze. My God, was she really from another planet?

Totally enraged, Kate approached him. Jake was taller so she had to tiptoe and lift her head to get close to his ear. With a trenchant voice, she whispered, “Look here. If you are not discrete and don’t stop laughing like a moron, you’ll regret it.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “I hope you do not intend to have children because after the lesson I’ll give you, you can forget it!”

While Kate threatened the boy, she could not help but smell his intoxicating scent. Jake smelled of aftershave mixed with some woody scent along with his natural smell, an irresistible aroma.

“Hey, it was you who brought the bag of magazines about bizarre and alien things! I particularly found it super sexy. I have a thing for girls who have interests in the supernatural and extraterrestrial affairs.” Looking seriously at Kate, he said, “I did not tell anyone about your mantra.”

The aura of the girl was different, that he could not deny. However, something inside him felt that she was no threat. Jake looked deep into her eyes and said softly, “Kate, honestly, I do not know what your problem is and do not know why you are so complex.” He lifted her chin and with a twinkle in his eye, added, “You’re beautiful and lovely. I have no words to describe it.”

Embarrassed and with cheeks on fire after the sudden praise, she looked down, unable to face him. She said in a melancholy tone, “This is the problem! You and no one know nothing about me!”

After the outburst, she put her head down and didn’t look back. The Guardian was dumbfounded by her last words. Certainly Kate knew there was something wrong with her. However, how far did she know about it? He urgently needed to help her unravel these mysteries. Jake cursed silently when he saw three Guardians approaching.

“Hey, wake up! What are you doing standing here?” Nathan asked with a mischievous smile.

“Daydreaming about the alien?” Olivia pointed to the classroom. “With the aura she has, she can even be one.”

“Shut up, Olivia! Just mind your own business,” Jake growled.

“Stop that, children!” Lana scolded them, her green eyes widening. “Leave him alone!” The blonde turned to face Olivia and Nathan and added, “I’ve never seen Jake in love before. This will be the biggest story! I’m excited to see the brunette get him tired. From what we know, the girl is a hard nut to crack!”

Clearing his throat, Jake said, “Hello! I’m right here so please don’t address me in the third person.” He rolled up his sleeves. “I’m just probing. Mark found her strange and wanted me to investigate. I would be eternally grateful if you would stop with all this nonsense.” He asked, “A hard nut to crack? What does that mean?”

Lana and the others began to laugh. “Stop being stupid, Jake! Do you think we were not told of your failure yesterday when you invited her to have lunch with you and she refused?” Lana nudged his shoulder.

Jake glared at the Guardians. “What are you are here for, huh? To work or gossip? At least I am fulfilling my part.” In a gesture with his hands, he amazed the Guardians. “Get lost, you busybodies! Stop teasing me or I will take care of your lives! What nasty creatures!” He turned his back and went angrily to the room.

Jake spent the whole class retracted, and looking forward, ignoring the presence of Kate. He remained quiet, seemed to be worried. Professor Mark was also strange, staring at her and always making an excuse to approach and talk to her. At lunchtime, Kate went to the canteen and bought a sandwich. When she opened her backpack to put the change away, felt someone pulling her arm. Instinctively, she screamed and dropped all the money on the ground.

Jake pretended to be outraged, “I’m starting to believe that I must be ugly and scary like a monster! You’re traumatizing me.” An outline of a smile began to form on his lips. “This is becoming bullying. I’ll probably have to look for a psychoanalyst,” Frowning, he completed, “then I’ll send you the bills!”

Kate narrowed her eyes at him, put her hands on her waist, and gave Jake the biggest earful. “So, you want to scare me, huh? Go away! This is already looking like a chase up!”

Kate nodded as she crouched to pick up the coins that were scattered on the floor. “Excuse me? Will you stop laughing like a fool and help me with this?” she asked.

Jake was very amused with her reactions as he had never found a girl that was so witty. This feeling caused him some inner conflict. When stooped to help her, he lost his footing and hit his head on hers. Kate fell sitting. The Guardian avoided falling over her and put his hands on the floor. Discreetly, he looked between her skirt. Kate quickly closed her legs and put his hands on his face, covering his eyes.

“What the hell, Jake! Why do you have to be so nosy?” Still plugging his eyes with his hands, she added, “Damn ... I’m wearing a skirt! Haven’t you been taught that it’s not polite to stare at the lower parts of a lady in an awkward situation like this? I know you saw my panties!”

“Cool down! I saw them but it was not intentional!” Smiling, he tried to justify. “You want me to have done what? Close my eyes? Excuse me, I could not help it. It’s a normal reaction of a man. You should be happy with my attitude. This indicates that I am virile. Of course, you need not worry or have doubts about my ...”

“Shut up, Jake! Enough with the lame excuses! If you dare to utter another word, I will take care of canceling all those characteristics with one accurate shot, and you know where!”

Realizing there was a shadow covering her face, Kate looked up and saw Professor Mark looking at them with a look of disapproval on his face. Clearing his throat, he said, “For exactly how long do you two want to stay on the floor? Are you rehearsing for a circus show?” He crossed his arms over his chest. “If you look around, you will notice that you have won a very significant audience!”

Kate gulped and looked without lifting her head completely. What a blunder! She could start charging admission! Rising rapidly in one leap and still embarrassed, she straightened her skirt and did not look at anyone. When Kate was in the company of the boy, she concentrated solely on his presence and forgot the rest of the world. Jake stood up and said nonchalantly for the curious, gesturing with his arms, “What is it? Are you amused?”

Professor Mark let out a huff and left the cafeteria, leaving them alone. Curious students returned to their activities and talked among their groups. Kate looked at him. Frowning and tilting her head to one side, she asked, “To whom do I owe the honor?” Taking advantage of how the boy was quiet and dull, she added, “Or was this your foolproof plan, to scare me and spy on my panties?”

Jake was really screwed. He had only approached her with a simple goal but by being a bumbling idiot, just complicated the whole operation. Now what? Still needed to ask her things but somehow felt apprehensive, knowing it would be an almost impossible task. He began hesitantly, “Actually ... Well Yeah, I was wondering ...” he stammered nervously.

“Spit it out, you stuttering creature of God!” She already suspected these attempts to approach her. He was probably up to something. But, he felt insecure. It was not part of his repertoire. Jake was extremely confident.

“Will you go out with me on Saturday?” Jake asked in a squeaky voice.

Kate widened her eyes and was silent for a moment. Then, she had a long bout of laughter.

He became angry and crossed his arms. “What’s so funny? Do I look like a clown now?” he said.

Kate stopped laughing and said, “No. Sorry, I can’t!”

He said, “Please? It’ll be cool! A friend is having a party and I thought of you. I think you would be great company.”

She replied, “You’re wrong. I am a terrible companion, you cannot imagine!” Over his shoulder, Kate noticed that the redheaded girl, Olivia, looked angrily at them. At the same table, there were two younger students she could not identify, a blond boy and a short haired girl. These two seemed to be having so much fun with that embarrassing situation. “No, Jake. I entered this university just two days ago. I barely know you. What’s worse, you have just looked at my panties!” She looked askance at the boy. “With such a wacky guy, I’d better not. Anyway, I do not like parties. What am I going to do there, watch you brag while you’re surrounded by girls?”

He rolled his eyes. “What girls? I told you that I did not peek at your panties on purpose. It was an accident!” Impatient, he let out a breath of air. “And just to clarify, I’m not a psychopath. Incidentally, my social tact is elusive. Do not worry because you’re not in any danger.” See that the girl was still shaking her head, he decided to appeal, “You know Kate, right now I have a huge list of adjectives to describe you, my dear. I think ...” She turned away from the boy and left him talking to himself like a slob. “Neurotic, boring, exaggerated” Jake said as he ran after her. “Unyielding, tough, stubborn ...”

Kate just ignored him and continued to move forward. While the girl fled and tried to get rid of Jake, many college students looked curiously at them. The Guardian spoke loudly without any discretion. She remained adamant and Jake began to sweat, pondering a possible failure. He walked fast and passed her, blocking her path.

“Listen Kate, there is a great possibility that I may be the great love of your life. You should not miss this amazing opportunity,” he winked at her and grinned. “Where else could you find another cool and gallant guy like me?”

“You want me to continue with this?” she asked grumpily.

“Sure, it’ll make me smile!”

“The answer is still no!” she screamed.

“Kate, have you ever heard of love at first sight?” he said, fanning himself with his hands. “I think I have these symptoms!”

“Search for a psychoanalyst and get out of my way!” she said and looked at him coldly as he put his hand dramatically on his heart. Still, Jake continued to pursue this torturous courtship. He could not fail as it would be a matter of honor. That stubborn girl!

“Obstinate, intolerant” With a psycho expression, Jake smiled, “I do not know about you, but I can keep this up all day.

“Dude, you’re lame.” She looked at him and asked, “Was it just me or did you just call me tough?”

Jake said, “By doing this, you do not leave me much choice.”

She said, “You will not convince me!”

Jake challenged her, “Want to bet? How much?”

She screamed, “Stay away from me, you’re insane!”

When Kate entered the room, she ran to the nearest seat. The tireless boy wasted no time and sat beside her. She prayed in silence for the teacher to come soon and begin the lesson. While the students arrived, she continued with her prayers. Jake had no intention of giving up. He came close and spoke in her ear, “Kate, my dear. Do not be fooled. It will not stop here. We have the entire lesson for me to make you change your mind. Ah! This is a classic and it always works.” He began to sing, “An elephant bothers many people ... Two elephants bother much more ... Three elephants ...”

Kate turned to him and screamed. “Enough! For God’s sake, I will!” She accepted, surprising herself. The other students looked startled at the two as she begged, “Please shut up and stop tormenting me. It’s unbearable!”

“See? I knew you would not resist all of that glamour!” With a restrained smile, he added, “Give me the address of where you live. I will pick you up on Saturday at eight o’clock.”

She narrowed her eyes at the boy and warned in a low voice,“Take this, you bastard, before I regret it.” Kate pointed his finger accusingly at him. “You just beat me with your stubbornness, you know?”

Jake sighed with relief. He was almost losing hope and felt almost defeated. This encounter had been more difficult and painful than shipping any demon to hell. The other Guardians, especially Mark, would laugh at him for the next hundred years. This girl was driving him crazy. With the battle won, Jake smiled.

Once a week, the conductor of the congregation summoned everyone to a meeting. Mark was an experienced, tall, dark, dark- eyed and striking Guardian with an athletic build and attracted attention wherever he went. He had been on Earth for more than 250 years. He had total control, assisting and training new Guardians who came to Earth. In recent years, he moved to Alcantes where he got appointed as a university professor. It was because in this region, the rate of invasions and demonic possessions used to be alarming.

The Guardians that formed the congregation were considered by age and experience still very young among his kind. They began to expand attitudes and behaviors consistent as veteran warriors and reached adulthood after the first century of life. Olivia was one of the older girls. She was six decades and Nathan was younger. He had four decades. They were thus indistinguishable in their ages.

The Guardians had the appearance and behavioral aspects as any other young human in their twenties. They were endowed with a huge youth and began to age only from 800 years. Due to this long life cycle, they could not remain long in the same region. They were permitted to lead a normal life and live among humans as long as they perfectly executed their work and never disrespected the rules of God, the Creator. Above all, they were commissioned to protect and care for the human race and eradicate any demonic threat that was to invade the Earth through the portals of Zebheus.

The conductor had always been very attentive and benevolent towards his Guardians. He had a special affection for them, especially Jake. He dearly loved that boy. He was sent to Earth at a very young age as he was neglected by his own father. Mark was apprehensive and had a bad feeling about Kate as he could not identify her true origin. Mark had noticed the danger in the boy showing interest towards her. After Barbara, Jake spent decades without relating to or even being interested in any other girl. Until now.

At eight in the evening, they were all in the boardroom. It was a messy place they called the library. The room was very spacious, consisted of a round table with chairs, a black armchair, a sideboard that stood in a corner full of trinkets on top, and some bookshelves packed with books. There was also a huge Persian rug which they said was the charm of the room.

“The reason we are gathered here today in this cozy and organized room,” Mark gestured to the whole environment, “is to discuss the possibility of another kind of unknown species or some blatant entity that might be chasing a body right under our noses.”

Jake looked disgusted at him and warned him, “Do not talk about her like that! She’s just a girl in trouble. Kate is not the victim of a possession!”

“Listen, boy. I spent the entire morning contacting all congregations here on Earth trying to extract information. No one could explain the fact that there is another kind of creature or a human being that has a distorted aura without the characteristics of a demonic invasion. They have never even heard of a case like this. From this, you can deduce what their verdict was,” Mark explained patiently to everyone, his gaze directed to Jake.

“Direct connection to the planet Zebheus?” Nathan wondered.

“That’s right. They were also interested in meeting her personally. They think the girl can be dangerous,” Mark completed.

“No way!” Jake said, frowning. “No one will turn her into a lab rat!”

“It’s not for you to decide!” Mark did not like to be challenged.

“You are right Mark, she is a very strange girl. We all have to agree on that. She can pose some danger,” Olivia warned, with a teasing tone.

“Perhaps the danger here is you. You’re always a bad mood from hell!” Jake retorted angrily.

“How was it earlier today? It seems you had some success in inviting the strange girl to a date.” Still mocking, Olivia continued, “I think your phony charm did not work with her a lot, did it not, Jake?”

“It may have not worked with her, but with you I’m sure I’m the buzz!” he said, smiling and staring at the redhead. Olivia did not answer. She just scowled at him and made an obscene gesture with her finger.

Lana found the redhead’s attitude childish and advised, “Listen Olivia, I do not know what the reason is with all your girl peeves. What we need to do is unite, to discover what’s really going on with her.”

“Or what she is,” Olivia provoked.

Nathan, who was just watching that inconclusive discussion, risked giving his opinion.“I’m on the fence. I do not really know what this girl is. Perhaps Lana is right.” He looked out of the corner of his eye to Jake. “Who knows, Olivia ...” He added laughing, “However, the bid involves both Olivia and Kate, I can even imagine ...”

“Nathan, quiet!” Jake warned him. “You’re a kid! Your opinion does not count! You still don’t even know how to clean up right!” Jake chafed at that ingratiating comment.

Mark, who was sitting in the armchair taking his tea, said to him patiently, “I know you sympathize with this girl, Jake. However, there is something strange and sinister in this story. The truth is right in front of your face and it’s something you won’t want to see!”

“The way you refer to it, you are jumping to conclusions,” Jake was determined to defend Kate.

“Not at all, I’m just saying that there is something about this girl outside the normal standards.” Mark stood up, placed the cup of tea on the table, and started walking around the room with his arms behind his back. “I’ve been thinking. It’s crossed my mind that her aura may be purposely being blocked.”

“What do you mean by that?” Lana was curious like everyone else.

“Yeah, that point of view is very enlightening!” Jake thought that his theory was well-founded. Gabriel had told him the same thing. However, he could not mention this to the conductor as he would be confessing that he had already begun his own investigation. The best solution was to play dumb.

“Calm down people! Stop looking at me. You guys are scaring me!” Mark screamed.

“It’s you who is scaring us with this story of an aura being blocked! We’ve never heard of anything like this,” Olivia grimaced and put her tongue out. “Sounds like an alien!” The redhead emphasized that last word with casting a wry glance directed at Jake.

“Enough!” Mark pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his forehead and neck which were beginning to sweat. “You seem to be part of Julio’s congregation. I will not tolerate this kind of childish and outrageous behavior here.” He looked at the Guardians and concluded, “What I’m trying to say is that someone may have done it intentionally, trying to camouflage her aura. Whoever did this used great magic to protect her and that no one could identify her.” He stood still frowning, “I do not know what it is, but there is certainly something much grander behind it.”

“Does she know? Would Kate be hiding the game?” said Nathan, who was amazed by the whole case.

Mark doubted it very much. He would not risk it. “I don’t know, Nathan. We need to be vigilant and investigate it.” Towards Jake, he motioned his head. “You will be in charge of it. I do not want to hear any whining or complaints.” The conductor gave him a sharp look. “At least you’ve taken steps to invite her to a meeting, and ...” He started laughing. “It was a difficult and demanding task. Answer me honestly Jake, what could persuade her to say something? A knife to her neck?”

Soon after the sarcastic comment, the others began to laugh, too.

“What a bunch of bananas,” Jake thought. Then, spoke with disdain for the jokers, “I see no grace! Even if Kate is a tough girl, she accepted my invitation.”

Mark looked suspiciously at him and warned, “Just do not forget that all you have to do is investigate. Don’t be excited! Although she does not pose any threat, we do not know anything about this girl. Be consistent and act in a professional manner, do the appropriate action ...”

Of course he had taken appropriate action! The conductor did not realize just how much it had been difficult and even painful! Gabriel’s puppy had not been friendly towards Jake. Sitting on the chair, he directed a beautiful smile to everyone and removed the image from his head. Thankfully, the Guardians could not read minds. Otherwise, he’d be dead in a black bag. Mark would end his race if he figured out that Jake had come into contact with his friend Gabriel.

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