By exiting the bedroom window, Kate knew that once again she would be leaving everything behind. Another cycle of leakage was about to take place, another twist in her life. Only that from now on, she would be alone. The question still remained but she had had enough of collecting tragedies. Kate knew that the demons would not cease to search for her and kill anyone that was helping her. She would be doomed to loneliness and suffering. The morning was cold. She was still wearing the black dress. She just wore a jacket on top of it.
Kate walked towards the road with the intention of disappearing as soon as possible from the city. She planned to catch the next bus to a place beyond it just to get out of Alcantes. She approached the booth to check the service times and was disappointed to find that the next bus would leave only at dawn. She had to wait for a number of hours, so she tried to find a place to wait in. She went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and was startled by her own reﬂection. Kate looked awful. Her eyes were red from crying and her mascara had smudged just below her eyes. Her lips were dry and white, her face pale and her morbid features seemed like a zombie in a horror movie. She leaned her hands on the cold marble sink and let out a long sigh. The pain she felt was unexplainable. It tore at every part of her being and reached her soul. Guilt and despair dominated every molecule of her body as she felt responsible for everything. All those damn events had only happened because of her. Secretly, she wished to have died along with her parents. She found it worse move on. Perhaps death was less complicated and easier.
After washing her face, she grabbed a paper towel, moistened it and began to clean the smudged makeup. After that, she composed herself. There was a small snack bar inside the bus station. She bought something to eat. Even if she was without any appetite, her empty stomach rumbled with hunger. Kate settled down on a bench to eat her food. While she ate, she remembered the tragedy and madness of that night, the youngst Guardians with supernatural powers, and worse, the premature and violent death of her parents. She blinked in an attempt to avert the sad images in her head but these were impossible to forget. She tried to remove the depressing and torturous scene she had witnessed. For the other murders that took place, these were easier to overcome because in addition to being a child, she was not present at the time of the massacres. She was safe and secure, sleeping in her bedroom. Not withstanding the painful memories, she began to cry again. She just lost her parents and was already homesick. Disappointed and tired, she fell asleep on the bench. She woke with a start as someone called her by her name. It was the boy at the party, the same one who had received Jake’s punch.
“Why are you sleeping on a bus bench?” Tiago asked her. He looked at her luggage and went, “Seeing this bag, I can conclude that this match ... It’s a ride, or an escape?”
“I do not know ... perhaps an escape ... or a ride.” She sat up and straightened her crumpled dress. Suspiciously, she asked, “Why the interest?”
“I’m just curious. Well, actually I think I have the solution to your problem. If you want, I can help you,” Tiago said.
Kate looked confused at the boy, wondering what the hell he meant. She said, “Tiago, listen. I know you want to be nice to me but I assume that my situation is a bit complicated and unusual. Unfortunately, you and no one can help me.”
“Hear me out first and then draw your own conclusions. If I were you, I would not deny help. By what I’ve been told, your situation is much more complicated than that,” the boy said in a serious tone that made her shiver.
“All right, start talking,” she said.
“Not here. Grab your bag and come with me. I know a place where you can stay and no one can find it, especially the “it” that you have been ﬂeeing from your entire life.”
Kate was surprised. How did Tiago know what had happened to her? And he even knew how to help? At this point, she had nothing more to lose, so why not hear him out? She quickly grabbed her bag and followed the boy.
As they drove to the congregation of Julio, Tiago did not reveal much about how he was going to help her. He just told her that he knew of the tragedy that killed her parents through the Congregation of Longaile, situated in the nearby town. They sensed the demonic passing through the portal. This congregation incorporated the most sensitive Guardians of the country. They were so categorical and precise to detect an invasion or traced any creature that they received the nickname “sniffer.” Tiago was upset and thought it was absurd that the other Guardians did not tell him the truth. Jake tricked her with that lame excuse of research. Tiago exaggerated a little about the attitude of the Guardian in relation to the girl. He would not miss this opportunity as he knew that Jake was falling for her.
The boy explained that it was possible to identify any creature through a human’s aura. He even added that in her case, her aura was totally distorted without any possibilities of identification. He also revealed the true purpose of the existence of the Guardians and how they worked here on Earth. Kate was grateful for the Tiago’ help. Now, at least she knew she was not the only one who had witnessed the creatures.
“It is likely that the intention was not really for Jake to take advantage of me. I think he did not lie and his plan was to approach me first before we talked about it. Who would believe that there could actually be demonic creatures walking around? I just believe because I’ve seen them thousands of times.” She was sorry and could no longer carry all the excruciating pain and the terrible sense of loss and guilt. Kate could not stop thinking about Jake. “Maybe I exaggerated a bit. I was really nervous about everything that had happened and when that smug redhead began to untie the whole story, I felt betrayed and insulted. I acted on impulse and slapped Jake in the face.”
Tiago was fascinated by her. Kate was lovely. Sadly, the girl had just lost her parents due to the incompetence of those pretentious Guardians but still felt compassion for Jake. In his opinion, it was by sheer carelessness that they did not sense the demonic presence. “Don’t feel guilty. Jake is a Guardian and it was his duty to protect you and prevent the murder of your parents, not to ask you out for a date.”
Kate nodded. Disgusted with the conversation, she decided to change the subject. “So Tiago, what is the true origin of you Guardians? Where did you all come from? Are you some kind of avenging angels?”
He started laughing and answered, “No, angels just come to Earth and roam around. For them, it is a little tricky because they are made of spiritual energy. In most cases, they act only as messengers. The Guardians are soldiers. We undergo a rigorous training routine, perfecting us in various types of struggles, and we learn to wield a variety of weapons and spells. We are also well informed about any aspect belonging to the human race. We were sent to this planet to exterminate all kinds of demons that invade the Earth. We come from a distant world called Orpheus, which was created exclusively for the purpose of sheltering our species.
Kate found all these revelations interesting. She could never imagine that there was an unknown world being inhabited by warriors who fought evil. Wanting to know more details, she continued, “How does the congregation work? Is this some kind of cult or something?”
“No. It’s only a corporation led by a conductor who provides a home for a group of Guardians.” He smiled at her. “All Guardians have double lives. During ordinary days, we act, work, and study normally. We can lead a normal life like everyone else. However, when the night comes, we should comply with our true duty and obligation which is to save the human race from the creatures of darkness.
“There are many congregations?” she asked curiously.
“Yes Numerous and scattered around the surrounding worlds. It varies according to the size of the country and the region. Here in Alcantes, there are only two.”
“Yours and Jake’s,” she concluded.
“That’s right. Joining the two, we have a total of ten Guardians operating in the region.”
“Are there many types of demons? I’ve seen a wide variety,” she replied.
“The demons that inhabit the planet Zebheus, known as the Kingdom of Darkness, is classified into three categories.” He accounted one by one with his fingers. “There are the winged creatures, the kind that killed your parents. They pass through a portal to the Earth to terrorize and feed on human souls and bodies. There are also the evil demonic entities that possess humans, invade bodies, and suck out their life, causing a person’s death. Finally, the worst are called the Guardians of Darkness. They were given this name because they no longer belong to the light after leaving the Guardians of Orpheus. They now work for the darkness.”
Kate was upset and felt grief upon hearing the stories about these Guardians. Hugging herself to scare away the chills, she asked another question, “Why do they call the planet Zebheus the Kingdom of Darkness?”
Tiago replied, “Besides being led by a ruthless sort of demon, the planet is not covered by a sun; there is only darkness. It is for this reason that most of the demons only transit through the Earth at night. They are accustomed to and are stronger during this period.”
“How do you know when a demon passes through a portal?” she asked.
“We Guardians are extremely sensitive beings. For each portal that is generated by demons, we can foresee great supernatural activity in the atmosphere. As a result of these phenomena, a major environmental imbalance occurs. However, it does not affect nature and humans. It is only we who can detect them. It is a parallel, timeless expression which does not belong to the human reality.”
“Wow!” she said, dazzled. “I have never imagined something like this. Do the demons generate these portals?”
“In fact, the human being contributes greatly in facilitating the passage of these creatures. In addition to using obscure magic to force a crossing, the demons take advantage of existing loopholes on the Earth,” Tiago explained. Kate looked confused at the Guardian. “Let me illustrate.” He gestured around. “All over the planet circulate large amounts of negative and dark energies. These energies are the result of the evils and atrocities that humans have caused towards nature and himself. Have you ever seen these in a newscast? Do you notice how many human atrocities are taking place?” He reported grimly. “Murders, robberies, rapes, massacres, parents killing children, and entire forests being burned and devastated. They do all this as if it was part of life.” The Guardian continued, “It is normal for people to have no conscience. However, this dislike doesn’t warrant for the killings, war, and atrocities.”
Kate was devastated to find that it all made sense. Humans contributed greatly to the evil forces to transit the planet. “Do you like what you’re doing, living with the function of protecting humans?” Kate asked. Tiago nodded his head and said, “Of course. We exist only for that reason.” Noting that the girl was huddled from the cold, Tiago removed his coat and placed it over her shoulder then continued, “If we fulfill our duty as required, we are rewarded with eternal life after death.”
“Let me get ... You can die?” She had been intrigued with not only this fact, but in all the truth that Tiago unveiled to her. Even though it was hard to believe all that he had told her, it made sense.
“Sure, we die! No one who inhabits the Earth is immortal. However, do not worry kitten, we can live for over a thousand years.”
Kate asked, “What about the demons? They are very dangerous! How can they be destroyed?”
“Never underestimate a Guardian. As I told you before, we are constituted with supernatural powers and spells. These help us in our battles with the creatures of darkness.” He put the suitcase on the ﬂoor and said, “We also have the power to cure. However, much of it depends on the degree and type of injury caused. When battles are very violent leaving us severely injured and maimed, even the body being strong and self-regenerative inevitably ends up dying,” Tiago explained.
“This explains the fact of that boy having caused an earthquake in my house, opening a crater in the middle of my kitchen.” Still puzzled, she asked pointing to his face, “If healing is a snap, why do you still have a black eye?”
He mumbled bland. “The only cure is manifested instantaneously when injuries are caused by massive threats and attacks to the body. These minor abrasions take about at least a day to regenerate.” He offered a wry smile. “Tomorrow, I’ll be without any marks.”
“Do you feel pain? Did the thwack you took from Jake hurt?” Kate asked.
“Of course, I feel pain!” He stared at Kate. “And no, the thwack that I took did not hurt. The punch was not as strong.”
She laughed but did not show it. She laughed at the memory of the two at the party. They were like two teenagers fighting and vying for the coveted girl. She just crossed her arms and said in a reproachful way, “You deserved a punch from Jake and an ear pulling!”
“Do not worry, babe! Our unseemly behavior does not generate negative energies towards the planet and neither affects the environment and humans. Even though it is a similar case, we do not belong to this species. We live here only to expunge the demons.” The Guardian indicated a two-story house that was away from any neighborhood. “We’re here,” Tiago said.
Kate swallowed and was a little nervous. “Are those Guardians also freaks like the others? Are you sure I’m welcome?”
“Do not be distressed. We are very interested in unraveling this tangled aura of yours.” He smiled, ran a hand through his hair, and gave Kate a wink, trying to make some charm. The girl looked at him. Tiago was like a picture.
“Let’s go. I’m freezing.” As she climbed the steps, she felt relieved to notice that the congregation was like any other normal house as Tiago had said. It was composed of two ﬂoors and painted yellow with brown windows. As they entered the house, she saw two girls on the couch watching TV while two men were talking in front of a fireplace. She noticed that the large living room was cozy and had chic and beautiful decor. There was a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling, an ornamental carpet in the center of the room, abstract paintings hung on the wall, and in the corner, there was a mobile- style bar which was filled with crystal glasses and a few bottles of wine. She wondered if the Guardians could drink as she remembered that they lived a normal life. One of the men who were in front of the fire approached her.
“Hello! I’m happy to meet you. My name is Julio. I’m the conductor responsible for this congregation. You must be the famous Kate,” said a well-dressed man in a blue suit. He was tall with light hair and eyes and had a wispy beard on his chin. The conductor approached the girl for a handshake.
“Hi! It’s my pleasure. I’m Kate Miller.” She gave a beautiful smile and shook hands with Julio. “Thanks for having me.”
“We will do our best to help you.” The man seemed sincere. “Before showing you your room, let me just introduce the Guardians. Come here, guys!” He called the other boy and motioned for the two girls on the couch, whom until then had not even looked at Kate’s face. “This is Samuel,” he pointed to a tall, blonde boy with straight hair tied in a ponytail. His eyes were dark brown, and he wore jeans and a tank top. He waved to Kate. Kate wondered if all the Guardians were so strong and beautiful, and if these attributes were also part of their species. Julio continued with his presentation signaling towards the girls. “These are Annabel and Joan,” he said. Annabel was very attractive. She had long, curly dark brown hair. Her eyes were large and were the color of honey. She wore a skirt and blouse. The other girl named Joana was also beautiful. She had short red hair, dressed all in black, and had a punk style. Kate concluded that besides the men of this kind, the women were also very beautiful, including Jake’s girlfriends. The Guardian rated Kate with a provocative look. Filled with excitement, he said, “So you’re Kate. A little bird told me you have a Guardian falling for you.” He whistled on, “By meeting you personally, I can imagine why. By the way, you can call me Sam.”
“Hey Sam, take it easy! I think you’re moving too fast!” Tiago defended the girl and frowned, “Do not scare our guest. She just lost her parents.”
Kate felt slightly uncomfortable as Samuel was a bit intimidating.
“You know girl, you are very lucky that Jake is showing some interest in you. I’m one of the older Guardians here in the region. I’ve spent plenty of time working on Earth. After Barbara, I’ve never seen him take interest in anyone else. I myself have witnessed several other girls trying to invest ...” said the brunette, casting a sharp look at Kate.
“Of course, I have witnessed those who have tried to seduce him,” Sam said, making fun of the girl. He added, “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what women see in that jerk.”
Kate was surprised with all these Jake reviews. He was really, really hot, and he was no asshole. She did not like it one bit that the Guardians talked about him in that way. Julio scratched his beard, read her thoughts, and interrupted the discussion of the evil men. He said sternly, “Stop it! Why are we even talking about this topic? The Guardians must respect others and not spend time on intrigue!”
The punk girl laughed and said, “Julio, stop being hypocritical. Don’t you think we realize how much you and Mark take a bite out of each other?”
“Doing so means not getting up like you brainless guys.” The conductor apologized and then launched a cozy look at Kate. “Come my dear, ignore these zucchinis and rest up a bit. I’ll show you your room.” Julio took her upstairs and showed her the room she would be staying in. The room was spacious. There was a four poster bed, a dressing table with matching pink decor that caught her attention. A large closet was next to a white chair and a round mirror. The room was also decorated with a beautiful frame that hung on the wall. It was all very exquisite. Right after she had settled in, she said goodbye to Julio.
Kate wore her nightgown and before going to bed, she grabbed her purse to check the time on her cell phone. She saw that it was late. She had several missed calls and messages from Jake. She pressed a key and heard a voice message that said, “Why did you leave without talking to me? Do not torture me even more ... Please tell me where you are and I’ll pick you up right now ... I’m very worried about you, lovely ... Please forgive me.”
Upon hearing Jake’s voice in the message, she felt her heart race and a sudden chill in the belly. What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she stop thinking about him even if he lied and acted dishonestly? Containing her emotions, rather than calling or answering him, she deleted all his messages. She did not feel prepared to talk to Jake and decided to take a break, at least for now. She lay down on the bed and searched for some of the voicemails that her mother sent when she was worried or when Kate did not answer the phone. It was her favorite sound. She felt tears ﬂoodingher eyes and sorrow corrupted her heart. Kate listened to these voicemails until she fell asleep.