The Rings of Fate
Author's note: Please leave comments...I need to see what I need to change. Thanks! :-)
Fire StarterHe stared at the scene before him, terrified. He had a weird feeling in his stomach, but he couldn’t place it. Then by instinct more than anything, he ran. He ran pass the lady in the front desk who was giving him weird looks, he ran past the officers waiting for him on the streets. He ran in to the heart of San Francisca, pass the Golden Gate Bridge and finally home. He doesn’t know why he ran, but he knew that someone was watching him, and it wasn’t a friend. He didn’t know what happened. But he knew that he has to leave his home. The police will be looking for him. And he will be charged with the murder of the two strangers. James would have to run, live in the streets and hope no one would bother him. Not the police, not the strangers either. He ran up stairs, grabbed his backpack, dumped his school stuff on his bed and stuffed anything he might need into it. Two changes of clothes, a blanket, and as much of food and water as he could.
Just as he pulled a sweatshirt over his head, he heard the police sirens coming into his drive way. He let out a string of curses that he wouldn’t dare to use if his mom was there. He grabbed him backpack and exited the back door as the police enter the front one. He was trying to get over the fence into his neighbor’s backyard when he heard them coming closer. Placing his sweaty hands on the top, he tried to pull himself over. He landed with a muffled thump he scrambled up and tried again. This time, he could hear them opening the back door. At the last second, he hoisted himself over the wooden fence and he rolled to absorb the impact.
Praying that his neighbors are not home, he tiptoed around the house, trying to find a way to the front. There was a golden retriever tied to the back of the house. He was straining against the leash, and barking at James. There it is! He found a narrow slot that will give him freedom. But he has to get pass it first. He took off his backpack and placed it on the ground, it would only make it harder to go through. He would grab it once he squeeze pass the slot. Sucking in his breath, he walked sideways between the gap. Then the dog came bounding toward him with a torn leash, snarling and barking. He was stuck for a moment, but he got pass alright. Just when he was pulling his backpack through the opening, the dog sank its teeth into his hand and would let go. He yelped with pain but pulled harder, until the dog gave up and let go. Ignoring his bloody hand, he swung his backpack onto his back and ran as fast as he could away from the police, away from the dog, and away from the horrible memories that plague him.
He kept running, and running, everything beside him was a blur. He didn’t even notice his hand, bleeding freely at his side. When he finally stopped, he could see the orange pinkish hue in the sky that signals the end of the day. James looked around; he was surrounded by short houses. He has no idea where is. But he doesn’t care. The further he is away from home, the better. He was just going to find a spot in one of the alleys to stay for the night when he heard some snickering behind him. Slowly turning around, he saw a group of boys his age behind him. Looking at their matted hair, dirty clothes, and the wild light in their eyes, James realized with a start that these are the runaways.
“So, looking for a place to stay uh?” The biggest boy in the group said.
James gave him a stiff nod.
“Don’t just nod, be polite and talk!” The boy grabbed his shirt and snarled.
“Yes,” he said.
“Everywhere in this neighborhood is my territory, you have to pay a rent to stay here,” he grinned evilly. “Let’s see what you have.”
Hr reached out and grabbed his backpack. James struggle to hang on to it but the kid was too strong. He peered inside, ruffling the contents.
“Blah, nothing we don’t have, you can have this back, it’s useless,” he threw the backpack back at his direction. “Hey, what’s that on your hand? Let me see that.”
He grabbed the hand that has the ring and stared at it.
“No you can’t have that!” James shouted, desperate to keep a part of his family with him.
“Well, if you want to stay here you have to pay the fee…”The corners of his mouth curled up.
“I will go to another place then,”
“We will just keep you here then, won’t we boys?” The groups tightened around James, each showing a cruel, hungry smile on their face.
Suddenly, someone tackled him from behind, pinning him flat to the ground. Then the leader plucked the ring from his finger, and tried to put it on one of his filthy, stubby fingers. The ring seems to shrink making it impossible for anyone to wear it. The boy shrugged.
“I’ll just have to sell it then,” he walked away, leading his gang with him.
Tears stream down James face. It didn’t really hurt that bad, being tackled. He had handled worse injuries in soccer and lacrosse. It is the horrible feeling of letting his mom down that brought his tears. Maybe his mom might be a little crazy talking about all the elements and magic and stuff, but it was still part of his family. And he lost it. He will find it and get it back. But he has to plan it carefully. Determined, he found a spot and drifted off to sleep.
Just before dawn, he woke up to some rustling in one of the bushes nearby. A scrawny kid crawled out from behind. He was about nine and he had emerald green eyes with tousled red hair covering his head. The little boy was no more than four feet tall, and James can see the bones right under his skin, as if he hasn’t eaten for several years. His clothes were tattered and several sizes too small. He had the same wild light in his eyes as the boys who tormented him. But there was also something else in there…it was like a mixture of pity and a hint of steel. He tentatively approached him.
“What do you want?” James asked. He wanted get this over with, he could feel sleep still tugging at him.
“I saw what happened to you. I want to help,” His young voice carried a surprising amount of experience behind it.
“What’s your name?” James cocked his head, studying this kid in front of him with new interest.
“Why do you want to help me? How do I know you aren’t one of them?” James said finally after several minutes of consideration.
“Well, let’s see, first, they steal my stuff and take all my food I get from the Runaway Shelter. Second, they convinced my mom to throw me out because I was ‘using’ drugs.” He did quotes in the air.
“Okay, now do you have a plan we can use?” James started to pack up, not that there is much anyways.
Cody’s mouth turned into a mischievous grin. A wicked light entered his eyes.
“Of course, did you think we were just going to rush in there and get crushed by those fat bullies?” He scorned. “Okay, this is what we are going to do…”
Two hours later, they were both arriving at the gang’s camp in the alley. Cody had been spying on them ever since they took his necklace. He knows who is on which watch, where the stolen possessions are places, and even what time they go to sleep. James looked over his shoulder. He still feels like someone is watching him, but there was no one in sight except for the gang and Cody. They crept along the side of the dumpster, where there is less sleepers. In a second, James totally understands. The rotten smell of food and a bunch of other stuff he can’t identify. He was trying not to gag, afraid of waking someone up.
The plan was simple enough. Cody will make a distraction at the opposite side of camp while James rush in and get the ring. Cody had asked if he can have some food in return for the teamwork. James had reluctantly agreed. He needed this kid’s brain and help; it is a small price to pay for the ring.
Sweat ran down his face. Nervousness twisted his insides. He was not sure if it will work. What if one of them wakes up too early? What if one of them saw me? What if they don’t fall for the trap? What if… He cut himself short. It will work. He told himself. Cody caught his eye and gave him a nod. It is starting. He squatted down behind the dumpster as Cody crawled away. A minute later, James could hear police sirens blaring in the alley. All the boys suddenly jerked awake and started sprinting into a tiny crack between two buildings that James hadn’t noticed before. The sirens are coming from Cody. They took an hour perfecting it. Cody stepped out of the shadows with a big grin on his face. They looked at each other, and then broke out laughing. The sight of terror on their faces was priceless.
After subduing the giggles, they looked around the camp, trying to find the ring. They looked everywhere. Every crack was searched but he couldn’t find the ring. He could hear footsteps coming. The gang is coming back. He scowled. Just give them a few more minutes, and then they’ll find it. The footsteps are getting louder and louder. Just his luck, he tripped over a blanket. He tried to stop himself by putting his hands out, but there was nothing to grab on to. His head hit the brick wall in front of him. He could see spots in his vision. Cody ran over and seemed unconcerned about his head and more interested with the wall.
“So what? The wall is more damaged than my head?” James said, irritated.
“No, but it sounded hollow. There might be a secret compartment here,” he said.
Sure enough, after a series of knocking on the wall, Cody pulled out a brick, revealing James’ ring. He grabbed it and Cody stuffed the brick back. Together, they ran out of the alley as the gang was just coming back. They ran back to where James hid his backpack, behind a bush close to where he was sleeping. James pulled it out and started to empty it of food. Cody started just to eat on the spot like a starved wolf. When he was done emptying, his backpack was a lot lighter. A sense of comfort washed over him as he put on the ring. He was staring at the rubies on it when he heard someone coughing. He looked around and he saw Cody doubling over, choking on some beef jerky. James dug a bottle of water out of his pack and handed it to him. Cody gratefully accepts it and took a drink.
“Sorry, I was hungry and I think I ate a little too fast,” Cody’s cheeks turned red.
“You think? You were eating like you haven’t seen food in months!” James snorted.
“So, what are you gonna do now you have your ring back?” Cody reassumed eating, but more carefully than before.
“I don’t know. I might just be here and there, but I am not really sure.”
“Well, whatever you do, stay out of San Francisco.”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Oh, come on, it can’t hurt.”
Cody took a deep breath. He looked everywhere but James when he talked again.
“Would you believe me? Would you believe me even if it sounds crazy to you?”
“Sure,” James was pretty confident after his mom speech about the ring and the elements, nothing would sound crazy to him.
“I have visions. It can happen anytime, while I am eating, sleeping, or running. It is almost like watching a video, but it is part of the future,” Cody said. “I didn’t exactly watch the gang take your ring. It was in one of my visions.”
James was silent for a moment. He definitely wasn’t prepared for this. First the ring and the elements, now this. His life is just getting better and better.
“Why do I have to stay out of San Francisco then?” James asked.
“I saw some people in black, with knives and daggers, asking everyone about you. They said they are just picking you up to some distant relative but the weapons in their hands scared me.”
The people in black. James realized with a start that it is the same group of people that attacked him in the hospital. He isn’t sure who they are and what they want, but it can’t be good. However crazy his mom might have sounded, she was right about the enemy part. As for the ring and elements…he wasn’t so sure. A bright flame exploded from his ring. He yelped and jumped back, staring at fire dancing on his hand. It didn’t hurt. The blaze only felt warm and it is not hurting him. Water poured down at his hand, extinguishing the fire. Cody held the water bottle upside-down, dumping the contents on James’ hand.
“What happened? Is your hand badly hurt?” Cody rushed forward.
“No, I’m fine.”
James looked at the ring. He was thinking about the elements when it set on fire…so maybe…He concentrated on the ring, imagining a flame springing from the rubies. Nothing happened. Was it because he wasn’t really Chinese? So he can’t work it? His doubts kept popping up like the whack-a-mole game. He concentrated again, still nothing happened. He was wrong about the flame then. Maybe it was an illusion of the light. He looked up, startled at the sight of Cody’s face right next to his. Sweat ran down Cody’s brows, he was looking in to space, as if he was seeing something James can’t see. He snapped back to present. He fixed his crystal green eyes at James.
“You have to go to Los Angelos. I just had a vision. You were safe there and a family took you in. They had a ring just like yours, except it had sapphires around it.”
Can it be one of the other families his mom talked about? But he isn’t even sure if it is real. Even if it is real, James wasn’t positive he would believe it. Plus, how is he going to Los Angelos? He can’t drive. He doesn’t have as much as a penny on him, so he can’t ride a bus. Cody must have seen his expression, because he said:
“Here, I stole some money from them. I saw a stash under the dumpster. It should be enough to get you a bus ticket.”
“Thanks, but what about you?” James handed the extras back to Cody.
“I am going to stay here. Maybe go back home, but that depends if my mom still wants me,” Cody wore a smile on his face, but it didn’t reached his eyes. “So this is it?”
“I think so, but I will come back someday so be prepared to see me again,” the two boys shook hand and took off in different directions.
A weight seemed to settle on his chest as he watched the little boy go. He had been no more than nine, yet he had this air around him that makes him nineteen. He had only known him for one day, but he had seemed like his closest family.
“Don’t get yourself killed by those idiots before I come back,” James shouted across the street.
He caught a grin on Cody’s face before he vanished around the corner. He looked around. There was no sign of life in the streets yet. It’s only six. But in an hour, the roads will be crowded and the sound of cars will be everywhere. In an hour, he could just slip on the bus without anyone noticing. He planned to use Cody’s money for something else. Maybe this trip to Los Angeles is the proof that he needs to see if what his mom told him is really real. If it is, then he will have to learn how to control his element. If it is not, well, he will work it out later. He scrambled up the nearest tree with thick branches and leaves, and waited.