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“Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.”
I was running. I couldn’t remember for how long, but my body felt weak and totally spent. My breath only came in short gasps, and I could feel my mind begin to blank as the first stages of unconsciousness passed over me. I was going to run myself to death. Suddenly I slid to a stop at the edge of a clearing in some woods, unsure of exactly where I was. A shadow slipped out into the light, its shape becoming clearer as it neared me. Not a man at all, but a wolf the size of a large Great Dane. I skipped back a few steps, chest rising and falling uneasily. The wolf’s silent, empty, bottomless black eyes bore into my own bright green. It seemed as if it knew me. Then it opened its mouth and spoke. It’s resonating voice echoing through my bones.
“The times that are coming are going to change you. Know this, daughter, when you feel like you have been defeated, and the world you knew comes crashing down around you. When right and wrong begin to blur around the edges, and the way to victory will be an impossible path to follow. I promise you this; you will succeed, for you will be a graced wolf and others will bow at your very presence. But you must come to us first. You must find us, or it will be too late…”
It was a deep woman’s voice that struck a chord of recognition in the back of my head. I shook myself loose, for I had been stuck on her every word. Then another shadow slipped from the trees, this one darker and more sinister than the last. It consumed the she-wolf, who yelped and writhed in pain. It hurt me in the center of my chest, and I stepped forward, one hand outstretched.
“No!” I hardly recognized my own voice as it shrilled through several octaves. The shadow turned to me and laughed mechanically.
“You’re next, Skyes.” The shadows voice was harsh and breathy, and it sent shivers down my spine as he muttered my last name. I felt an unearthly snarl bubble up from the back of my throat, and burst from my lips menacingly
“Try and take me.” I challenged, not sure where the anger was coming from. All the shadow man did was laugh, and suddenly, all I knew was darkness…
I made myself wake up, and rolled over in my warm bed. My huge black lab, Cally, whined at me from where she slept near my feet. I sat up, rubbing the back of my neck nervously, before reaching out to stroke her back. Whether it was to calm me or her I’m not sure. I glanced at the clock, and it showed me it was only 5:30 in the morning. I didn’t have to be awake for another hour, but there was no way in hell I was going back to sleep. I sighed, and switched on my lamp. Cally’s face became clear as light filled the room, her huge golden eyes staring at me worriedly. I smiled at her, reassuring us both temporarily, then swung my legs over the side of my bed and padded out of my room.
I was startled to see a light on in the kitchen, and slunk down the stairs to investigate. I peered around the corner of the open doorway that led to our old, country-styled, farmhouse kitchen. My father sat at the table, drinking a cup of tea and reading an old battered book. I straightened, almost embarrassed at having felt a moment of fear, I walked into the kitchen silently, and he did not notice me until I spoke.
“Why are you up so early, Dad?” I asked in a soft voice. My father swore in return, spilling a bit of hot tea on his shirt as he was midway through taking a sip when I spoke.
“Good gracious, Nicole, don’t you make any noise?” He asked in anger, though it was ebbing from his face as he took in my bedraggled appearance. I grinned, taking the seat next to him at the kitchen table.
“No actually I don’t.” And it was true; somehow I had a gift for being sneaky.
“Well, why are you up at the butt-crack of dawn?” He asked. The question was humorous, but real worry lay behind his dark, smile-lined eyes.
“Just had a strange dream and couldn’t get back to sleep,” I answered back. Cally walked in, a little disgruntled at having to be up so early, but not wanting to be away from me. She lay down with a huff at my feet. “What about you? Isn’t tomorrow your day off from work?”
“Yes, it is indeed.” He mumbled to himself, before smiling slyly and meeting my own eyes, “I just had a strange dream, and decided an hour wasn’t worth going back to sleep.”
I rolled my eyes, getting up to pour myself a cup of tea from the pot he had already made. It was honey lemon, my favorite. I sat back down, and blew across the top of the hot liquid. The steam swirled angrily at me, and for a moment I could have sworn I saw a shadow. I shook my head, shaking it off before taking a sip. I scalded my tongue and burned all the way down to fester in my stomach. It felt amazing for my nerves. Meanwhile, I examined my father.
His skin was dark and tan from years of exposure to the sun, and laugh lines made his face seem older than his thirty-six years. His hair was the same color as my own, though his was cut short, and my fell almost to my hips in a black so vibrant it shown blue. In build we are the same as well. Both of us were tall, wiry, and athletic. The only real difference between us really was personalities and eye color. My eyes were an electric blue-grey that I’ve heard some people compare to ice, where as my fathers were a warm dark brown. Personality wise he was the easy going type, as opposed to me, who never backed down from a fight. Both of us were silent though, and calculating. Smarter than we looked. I smiled when he noticed me staring.
“You excited for school?” He asked me, even though he knew the answer. He laughed as I groaned, closing my eyes. I hated school. It wasn’t that I got bad grades or anything, I just had troubles staying out of, well, trouble.
“Oh, you know it.” I said sarcastically, before opening my eyes again and taking a sip of tea. I was so not looking forward to school.
We sat for a while, just talking things over and having a bit of a heart to heart, before I had to go get ready. I sprang up the stairs to my room, anxiety radiating from my every stiff move. I dressed hurriedly in my normal attire of tennis shoes, jeans, and a tank top. My hair I left long, letting my thick loopy curls to themselves. I didn’t need makeup, my skin was a flawless ivory color that never wavered from pale, and rimmed with thick curly eyelashes. I grabbed my backpack, shouldering only one strap before heading downstairs. I blinked as a camera flashed in my face. I glared at my father before eating a quick breakfast.
I guess I understand how he wants to document every single moment of my life. I was his only child, and mom had died when I was really little. So little I don’t even remember what she looked like. But even so, this was my senior year of high school, I was seventeen, he had to realize at some point I wasn’t going to be able to stick around forever. I stuck my tongue out at him between bites of cereal as he took pictures of me eating. By the time I had finished, and rinsed out my bowl, it was already 7:45, and the bus was at its normal stop. I made face at my dad, who made one back and pointed towards the door. I scowled heading outside and down the walkway, then turning down the sidewalk to the bus. I got on, ignoring all the students and picked a seat near the back, trying to just get this over with. If I had known then, that this day was going to be my very last day of normality, I would have never gotten on the bus. I would have never even stepped foot outside my door. Because this day was the one that would change me, forever.