“Why are you just sitting here?”
I looked at the food on the plate in front of me, figuring it was self-explanatory, then back to Davis. “I need to eat and rest occasionally or I won’t be able to do crap.” I told him wishing he would just go away. He was a magic user himself, or I’d try to make that a reality. I didn’t know enough about this mage stuff to be sure it would work, and worry that he would do something worse in retaliation. Then again, if he kept getting in my face I may have to find out what I could do to him.
If it hadn’t been for him talking my best friend Erin, into meeting all these power hungry, demented morons, she would be here still—then I could drag her, kicking and screaming if need be, far, far away. So yeah, Davis was at the top of my wish list to have something bad happen to him.
He gave me an unamused look.
Like I cared what he thought of me.
“It is working though, isn’t it? You assured me you could work it from this distance.”
It had been working for over a week, and he just thought to ask me that now? Sighing, I set down the sandwich I really wanted to eat, deciding if I answered him, he’d go away. “Yes. It took a few days to find one that I was able to get into.” I’d never encountered so many closed minds as I had in that search. I was almost afraid to see the bodies that went with them. Good thing for me I didn’t have to. Other than the one I was mesmerizing, I’d never have to see these royals Davis and his crew had so many issues with.
“Are you certain it’s one of the royals? If you’re tapped into some servant, it’s completely useless.”
My first thought was to pour my juice over his head and walk away—but then I’d be thirsty, and he’d probably just follow me. “You make it sound like it’s as easy as scrolling through a list and picking one.” I cocked my head to the side and gave him a blank stare. “People don’t walk around thinking my name is Bethany. My name is Bethany. All day long.” Great, now my appetite was gone. “Yes. It took me an entire day to find his name and reversing it. Just to do that, and be sure, cost me another day to recharge.” I scowled at him. “Magic—my kind of magic comes with a price, using my magic too much, knocks me out.” He continued to stand there and look at me like I wasn’t even speaking. I sighed again. “His name is Leone.” I waved my hand at the door. “What’s his face said that was one of the royal brothers.” I pointed a finger at him. “Are you sure they’ll trade Erin for him?” A look of what may be described in a comic book as ‘pure evil’ appeared on his face. It was creepy, to say the least.
“Oh, they’ll trade one of their brothers for anyone we say.” He grinned. “Tomorrow we’ll move you to the other side so you can draw him in.”
I shrugged. “Sure. Just as long as I get Erin back, I’ll,” I made quotes marks in the air, “draw him in.” Dropping my hands to the table, I gave him my best ‘go away’ look and held it, hoping he’d go be creepy in someone else’s face.
He nodded and then turned to walk out of the room.
I exhaled, letting my shoulders sag. The sooner I was rid of that guy, the better it would be. Looking back at the plate, I picked up the sandwich again. I wasn’t hungry now, but I knew if I didn’t keep up my strength, I’d never get Erin back.
Taking a bite, I chewed it slowly. It was like chewing cardboard, no flavor at all. I looked at the drab colored walls of the wrecked building they had some of us in. Talk about no flavor, this crumbling place had seen better days.
Pausing with the juice bottle raised to my mouth, I checked to see if Leone was still sleeping. He was and I was happy about that. I took a few sips and picked up the bread again. A mesmerizing spell could almost be left on autopilot when the person was sleeping, taking very little effort. But when he was awake, it took every ounce of my energy to stay in his head. If he hadn’t had a weak moment, I never would have gotten in to begin with, so there was no way I was losing it and starting all over again. Usually when doing this spell, the person was within sight—I still didn’t know how I’d managed to without even having a visual target, but somehow, I had.
I didn’t know where we were going. The other side didn’t tell me much. Other side of the city, other side of the lake? Who knew? If it was closer to him, it would take no time at all to draw this Leone into the trap creepo and his friends had been working on. I frowned at my juice bottle, I didn’t have any more details than that. I should be asking more questions. Just like I should have dragged Erin out of here when she’d brought me to some of them. Any and every sixth sense alarm had been going off when she did. The warning bells in my head, a feeling of dread in my stomach, my skin crawling, and just about every other descriptive phrase that meant ‘run the other way ’.
These people were lunatics and should all be locked up. And what was with the weird colored contacts these people used? Sure, getting a bit freaky for a rave or party was doable, but they did it for no reason at all. To add to their complete weirdness, half of them were deep into medieval roleplay and dressed like they should be running a dungeon.
This crap about bringing down the gate, or wall, or whatever they called it, to allow people to cross over… I snorted out loud. Pretty insane. Dropping what was left of the sandwich, I rubbed my temples. My head had a dull ache that wasn’t going to go away until this was over. Grabbing the juice, I got up and walked to the corner where my cot was.. Laying down was the only way I could maintain contact when he woke up. If I tried standing, my legs would just give out and I’d do a face plant on the floor.
I thought of Erin for a moment. She was going to owe me for a long, long time after this. Setting the juice on the crate, I sat down and rolled my shoulders. “Okay, Leone, lets pick up the intensity a bit.” I lay on my back and looked at the cracked ceiling, that I knew every mark on now. “What am I saying to you today?” I closed my eyes, “not that it matters, all you want is me out of your head.” I felt bad, but there were no other options.
I stood there staring at Davis, some creeper named Herman, and some big sweaty, bald guy whose name I couldn’t remember. The bald one stood there watching the other two walk around the room waving their hands in the air. Usually, I was the strangest person in the room. I mean I could do magic, and that just wasn’t something you ran around telling people. These guys here were mages and aside from waving their arms around like they were guiding planes to land…I really didn’t know what it was they could do.
I glanced out the window and left them to do their thing in the bedroom. They’d already done their little dance in the hall and bathroom. I decided I was wasting my time watching and hoping they’d do something to jazz me. We’d crossed over last night and after I threw up, I realized we’d actually teleported. To where? No idea. A tiny little house in the middle of nowhere, was all I knew.
When my brain wasn’t throbbing from staying connected to Leone, I’d have to find out a lot more about that. Imagine being able to get from one end of the city to the other without riding buses or subways full of people crammed together. Wouldn’t that be something?
Lifting my arm, I looked at the strange watch thing they’d told me to keep on. When I asked what would happen if I didn’t, they told me ‘bad things’, so I was wearing it.
“Are you sure he’s coming out this morning?”
Davis practically yelled in my ear. Scared the crap out of me. I turned and stepped back, putting some space between us. “Yes. He’ll be up shortly.”
He nodded like a bobble-head. “Good. Draw him to you, then we’ll sedate him to get him inside.”
“And then what?” I watched the other two go out to the kitchen.
“Don’t worry about that. All you have to do is stay here with him until we call you with the time for the trade.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “How am I supposed to make him stay here?”
He waved me off like I was an idiot. “He won’t be able to leave the house.”
My brain was prodding me to ask more, but right now I just wanted to get away from these guys. “I’m going outside to find somewhere to get comfortable before he wakes up.”
“Fine, fine. Just let us know when he’s close.”
I watched him go to the kitchen. Shaking my head, I went out the door and then stopped and looked around. Endless fields, no matter what direction I looked. Turning I started walking to the one and only tree beside the house. Whoever lived here, they clearly didn’t like people—or anything.
Sitting down, I leaned back against the rough bark and tried to relax. Staying tethered to Leone since we’d teleported had been a lot easier. I don’t know where he lived, but he was much closer than before.
“Okay, Leone, time to wake up. Let’s get this done so we can both get back to our regularly scheduled lives.”
Not that I had a phenomenal life to return to. After bailing on my job when Erin was taken, I was definitely unemployed—which was no big deal. Being a cashier at the supermarket wasn’t exactly my dream job. I had two weeks to come up with rent or Erin and I were homeless. Our one-and-a-half-bedroom apartment wasn’t the Ritz, but it was a roof over our heads. The creativity of calling a one bedroom with a room the size of a closet a one and half bedroom still got me.
I blew out a breath to focus. Maybe Leone’s life was a little more interesting than mine. Closing my eyes, I reached for him. Suggesting he should wake up now. It was a beautiful day today. Perfect weather. Great time to get out for some fresh air…
I stood in the door listening to the commotion. Something crashed and hit the floor. I cringed at another sound that sounded like a yelp of pain.
“Did you give him the proper dose?” The bald one asked, sounding like he was doing some serious straining.
To me, it sounded like they were wrestling. Then again Leone turned out to be some kind of giant. I hadn’t expected that at all. His thoughts and persona, internally, didn’t come off as some sort of he-man body-builder.
“I gave him a full dose.” That was Davis.
“Give him….” Creeper dude grunted, “more.”
Hurried footsteps echoed the hall. Davis came running into the room and opened his bag. He glanced at me, a panicked look on his face. “Come and help us.”
I jolted like he’d slapped me. “Do what? Get trampled by a giant when I get in the way?” I’d always felt like my body had forgotten to grow. At five feet tall, there was no way I was going to try to help them ‘tame the beast’.
He filled a syringe from the little bottle. “No. I’m going to give him more sedative. We need a sample of his blood.”
“For?” Warning bells were chiming in my head again.
“Proof it’s him we have.”
As far as proof went, that was solid. I guess the one thing you can’t fake would be someone’s blood.
He held out a small vial and another needle. “Take these, stay out of the way until he’s more compliant.”
I snorted as I took them. “Good luck with that.” I was really feeling like this was a bad plan, but still followed him to the bedroom.
The room was wrecked from the four of them wrestling. Leone had been groggy when they carried him in, but he was wide awake now.
I stood in the door as the three of them tried to hold him still so Davis could drug him again.
Baldy went flying into a wall as Leone snarled and shoved him with one arm. The Herman guy was trying to hold his other arm, unsuccessfully. Leone raised it up and Herman’s feet left the floor, as he dangled from it.
If this was the drugged version of this man, how many did it take when he was alert? My mouth was probably hanging open—but seriously this guy was a brute.
Using his shoulder, Leone knocked Davis back again. Swinging he caught Baldy in the jaw. I stood there, eyes wide, waiting to see if he hit the floor from the force of that blow.
“Bastard, Davis,” Leone growled.
Davis had gotten close enough to stab him and empty the contents of the syringe into him.
A few seconds later, Leone shook his head like he was trying to clear it. The three men dove on him and down he went. The cracking of the little table by the bed filled the silence in the room.
“Now.” Davis looked over his shoulder at me.
I rushed in and held out the needle to him. There was no way I was sticking that in anyone.
Leone moaned and tied to swing his arm, but it ended up giving Davis the access he needed when Herman grabbed on and held it.
Leone kicked out when Davis started to draw his blood, I stepped back further.
Getting up, Davis came over. “Here.” He nodded to the vial I held.
I pulled the stopper and held it out for him. He started emptying the blood into it. Leone kicked out again and bumped Davis, who squirted blood on my hand.
“Uh, watch it with the bodily fluids.” I handed him the vial and wiped my hand on my jeans. Looking around him, the other two were lifting the rest of Leone’s body onto the small bed. He didn’t exactly fit. “Now what?” I looked back to Davis who stood looking at the vial of blood.
“He can’t leave the area from the bathroom to the bedroom, so all you have to do is watch and feed him.”
I nodded. “I can do that.” I looked at Leone and again and the feelings of guilt started to hit me. “How-how long do you think?”
Davis glanced to Baldy and then looked back to me. “We’re supposed to give them two days to panic and try to find him, then deliver the message and blood.”
“Try to find him? What if they do?” My heart was beating so hard inside my chest I felt like a cartoon character-where you could see it beating.
“Don’t worry,” Herman said pushing past us, “this house is so well cloaked even people that know it’s here can’t find it.”
I followed him. “Does that wear off?” This would teach me for not asking questions before I agreed to do things. If the people looking for Leone were even half the size he was… I would not stand a chance.
He shook his head, then stopped and shrugged. “In about fifty years.”
I smirked, feeling relieved. “Okay. So-so, two days, no biggie.”
Baldy came in wiping the sweat off his face. “Kitchen is fully stocked for you. We’ll call you as soon as we have a time.”
They headed to the door.
“Okay. See you in a few days.”
They left without another word.
I closed the door and locked it. “Jerks.” Turning, I leaned back against the door. The silence was a bit eerie after the last few weeks of being surrounded by the contact-wearing-role-playing crew. “So, Bethany, what would you say is the weirdest moment in your life?”
Pushing away from the door I went to check the kitchen. “Well, there was that time I was in an invisible house with an unconscious giant…” I nodded and opened the fridge. It was full. At least in all this bizarre crap, I’d fallen in with people that liked to eat. After too many times of living on gross handouts from soup kitchens and food banks—I wasn’t going to complain.
Closing it, I looked toward the bedroom wondering how long he’d be out. The next few days were going to be awkward. I should check on him, right? They didn’t exactly measure the dose they pumped into him. Wouldn’t that be the worst move ever if they killed the hostage needed to get my friend back?
I looked around for a weapon and then stopped and shook my head. “Stupid, you are the weapon.” With my hands raised in front of me, I walked cautiously to the bedroom. I stopped in the door. He was still out. His large chest was rising and falling. So, still alive. I glanced down at my own petite one and felt a bit inadequate. So what if his pecs were bigger than my breasts, he was a giant right? His everything was bigger than me. I stepped closer and looked down at him. His hand could probably wrap around my whole head.
With my hands on my hips I checked over the rest of him. He had red hair, not the bright orange-red, but a deep rust color. My own was a brighter, deep red, more like dark fire. His was cut into spikes of red all over his head. I wondered if it was meant to be that way, or if it was a brush cut left too long. Whatever, the style suited his jaw of steel. I wondered what color his eyes were. It had been a little hard to see them while he was wrestling three guys—and winning, for the most part.
He made sound and I almost tripped, stumbling backward. “Great, now you’re turning into a creeper.” Spinning on my heel, I went back out to the kitchen. For the first time in two weeks my head wasn’t pulsing in time with my heartbeat. I could eat and rest without having to hurry back into his head.
They’d stocked the fridge well at least, so that was a bonus. One thing I appreciated was food. I’d gone too often without it, or very little of it. Most would binge after living the way I had, but I savoured the abundance and would make it last. Life could talk odd turns without warning, and it was better to always be prepared.
I found a pan and figured out what to make. Scrambled eggs, couldn’t go wrong there. As I waited for them to cook, I stared off into space.
That nagging feeling was back, the one that kept trying to tell me there was something wrong in all of this. Sighing, I stirred the eggs around. If I were being honest, I’d known from the moment I agreed, that it was all wrong. I didn’t have a choice. If not for Erin getting me off the streets eleven years ago when I was fifteen, I’d probably be dead by now. I still remember when she offered to let me stay in that crumbling building she’d been squatting in. It was condemned and falling down, but it was dry and out of the weather. Not to mention, it kept me away from all the weirdos on the streets. We’d sealed it up, so no rodents could get in and that had been out home for a year. When they’d torn it down, we worked odd jobs, saved money, then lied about our age and found the one and a half bedroom apartment. I couldn’t abandon her when she needed me.
Scraping the eggs onto the plate, I set the pan in the sink and sat down. Davis and his crew weren’t telling me the truth, I knew that, but no one was getting hurt. Leone would be home again in a few days and Erin would be free. Then I was done with all of this, and if Erin thought for even a millisecond I was letting her see any of these douchebags again, she was in for a really big surprise.