strike: a faerie tale
Author's note: This a sequel; check out the first. This second book took me one month during a summer vacation... Show full author's note »
encounterI WAS WALKING PAST A MERRY-GO-ROUND AND A SWING SET. It all seemed strangely familiar, like another life I'd had… or something I'd forgotten… I don't know. The trees grew in a circle around three different sets of slides, and there was a drinking fountain. I remembered sliding down the yellow one in the middle, and even trying to go backward up the twirling slide… distant memories. I realized it was Memorial park, the park a few blocks from my house. I walked by it every day on my way to school.
Suddenly I heard a growl behind me, loud and dark like the night. I turned around to find a pair of black eyes look back at me. I immediately thought it was a stray dog.
"Shoo!" I said, though I spoke with an adult male voice. It was a voice I knew, but I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be. The dog growled again, except it sounded angry.
"Go on! Scram!" I shouted. I recognized the voice immediately then. I was Dad. The dog stepped forward from the shadows into the lamppost light.
It was the black wolf with Roxanne's eyes. I still wasn't sure if it really was Roxanne. Either way the wolf slowly came closer, baring its teeth. I quickly looked around to see if anyone was nearby, someone who could help. A family was barbecuing from a long distance, the children playing beside the picnic table. They didn't notice me or the wolf.
Something in its posture told me it was ready to attack; front paws stretched out, his head lowered for the pounce. I quickly looked around me for a branch or something that would help me defend myself, and couldn't find anything. But when I looked back, the wolf was already in the air, coming straight at me.
I jolted awake, sitting up too quickly that my head spun for a bit. There was a thump beside the bed and some scrambling. For a moment, I thought the wolf's silhouette would spring up from beside the bed into view, but it was only Jake.
"What? What's wrong?" he asked coming to sit next to me. I continued to take deep breaths until I was slightly calmer. I didn't know I was out of breath. Had I been holding it?
"I-It's… nothing," I replied with a shaky voice. I got up with trembling legs to turn on the light; it was already night, the clock said seven-thirty. Jake was sitting on my bed, rubbing his eyes.
"It's not nothing when you throw me off the bed like that," he said. I sighed as I looked in the mirror. Ugh. I looked like the living dead. There were dark circles under my eyes. I was pale… but, then again, I was always pale, though I thought I had tanned during the summer. It seemed to have disappeared while I was asleep?
I shook my head. "It's not a big deal."
He scoffed at me. I knew instantly he was going to dwell on this till I gave in. "Clearly there is something wrong." Jake gave me a hard look I tried to fight but I simply couldn't match him now. I went to sit beside him and told him the two dreams I had. I didn't tell him my suspicion about Roxanne because it sounded too insane.
"Whoa," he said when I had finished. "Wasn't this the same thing with Charlie?" I wasn't thinking about Charlie/Ezekiel at all.
"What's this got to do with him?"
He stood up and began pacing. "Didn't you have a dream about him attacking you? You told me about it, remember?" I nodded, understanding. I had dreamt that the night before it actually happened, but I had only figured that was because I was a little worried then. "You're your dad in your dreams, right?" he continued as he paced.
"Only in this one I was. The other time I'm sure I was myself."
"Did your dad go to the movies today? Tonight?"
I suddenly realized what he was saying. But there aren't wolves here…are there?
"No way. I mean, you can't possibly think what I saw was actually happening." The idea sounded outlandish to be true… completely impossible.
"What about that dream about Charlie? That happened, right?" he countered.
I could find no argument there. "I'm sure that was only a coincidence or something…. I didn't see you in the dream but you were still there," I replied. In the dream I had been completely alone. When it actually happened for real, Jake had been there to save me… sort of.
"The future can change, can't it?" He stopped pacing then, eyebrows still furrowed in thought. Someone was running up the stairs.
"Jake, hide!" I hissed as he disappeared.
Josh burst through my door. "Dad's in the hospital--we need to go now! Meet down stairs in two minutes--hurry!" he said, shutting the door behind him just as suddenly as he'd entered.
I was frozen for a few seconds. What had happened to him? Was he really attacked? That couldn't be… it shouldn't be.
"Amy, hurry!" Jake hissed, reappearing at my side. "I'll meet you at the hospital later, okay?" He kissed my cheek then disappeared. I quickly got my shoes and ran swiftly down the stairs, all in a daze.
"Hurry, Amy," said Mom, ushering me through the door. Josh was already in the passenger seat. I slid into the seat behind her as she got in behind the wheel. We peeled out of the driveway and sped into town.
“What happened?" Josh asked. I had noticed my mom's eyes were puffy from crying. I felt a pit in my stomach for what I was about to hear; I stayed out of her mind for she was thinking of the call she'd received on her cell phone just a while ago.
"Your dad was attacked, but… they couldn't figure by what. Some kind of… wild animal…?" She was looking away from us, eyes on the road now. Before, she was carefree and almost never paid attention to her driving. The trepidation was all over her face. Her brown eyes no longer joyful.
The car ride was somehow worst for me. My head was swimming the whole way, my body aching horribly all over. I was afraid I was going to pass out; the air had a heavy, metallic smell to it that made it harder to breathe. I glanced at my mom and Josh; other than looking scared they seemed fine. Why did I feel so sick? Was I simply worried… or was this another thing concerning my being faerie?
When we got to the hospital, my mom was getting more anxious just trying to find legal parking while I was fighting the urge to slip into unconsciousness. After we did find a space, I rushed out of the car and backed away from it, breathing in the fresh air. My worry was growing as my symptoms went away; I made a mental note to ask Alloid or Arial about this. We ran to the hospital entrance; I ran slower to keep pace with Mom and Josh.
"Frank Santali?" she panted to the nurse. The unaffected blond nurse typed something on the computer.
"Are you Sandra Santali, his wife?" she asked calmly. My mom nodded. "Room ten oh two, emergency center." She pointed to the hallway right of us. As we sped through the hall, avoiding doctors and patients, tears were already running down Sandra's face. None of us had ever landed in the hospital before. When we found the room, a doctor was coming out and we'd nearly ran into him. He stopped us.
"Dr. Reyes," he introduced himself. "Are you the family?" he asked. We all nodded. "It appears your husband was attacked by some wild animal. They had to sedate him for he was in too much pain, his injuries were very severe. The paramedics had asked the people who found him if they saw what happened. They all said it was a black wolf, but it was bigger than any they had seen." I tried to look through the windows to get a glimpse of Dad but the blinds were drawn.
"Is he going to be okay?" Mom asked quietly.
"He'll be fine. He's scratched up pretty badly and there are teeth marks all over his left arm, which is broken. We weren't sure what attacked him. We had an expert from the police station called in. He'd said the bites were indeed wolf marks, he assumed it was from a kind of wolf in the northern states.
"We're gonna have to keep him awhile. He's lost a lot of blood and needed two blood transfusions. You may see him, if you wish, but keep in mind he's heavily
sedated. I'm sorry." He stepped aside so we could walk in. It was horrific.
His arm was in a cast, but the other was covered in deep cuts where red showed through the bandages. His face wasn't any better. There was a long scar that ran down across his right eye and deep gashes on his cheeks and across his neck. Every part of skin we could see was swollen, bruised or cut grotesquely. The rest of him, thankfully, was under the hospital blankets. I couldn't bear to see anymore. To see something so horrible happen to someone you love….
Mom had started crying and Josh leaned against the wall. His eyes were watering up along with mine. I walked out and slumped down beside the wall. My head resting on my knees. I sobbed quietly.
This couldn't have happened. If I had just gone with him, I might've been able to protect him. He wouldn't have been mauled by a wolf and we wouldn't be scared like this. I felt horribly responsible… again. The same feelings from May had come back, intensifying now. This time someone I cared about could've… died, and I hadn't been there. I heard footsteps coming my way.
"Amy?" asked Liz. I didn't look up.
"I'll take her, you help Mrs. Santali and Josh," Jake said. I heard Liz's gasp in between my mom's sobs. Jake sat next to me and held me in his arms. I cried quietly into his shoulders. He held me and stroked my hair again.
"It'll be okay," he said softly. "He'll be okay."
No thanks to me I thought. I would've started telling Jake to take me away from here, but I didn't want to leave. I sat there quietly, thinking. There had been other people there, at the park, when it happened.
The wolf, however, only went for my dad. If it was really hungry, wouldn't it have attacked the larger group of people? But then I remembered there had been children there. Then they would have suffered an attack, they would be in that hospital bed. But considering the size of the wolf, the little children would have been killed. But if I had gone with Dad and the wolf attacked them… I would've been able to protect them as well. I sobbed a little harder.
"Come on, I'll take you home," he said. I didn't protest. He helped me up, I continued to lean on him. He told my mom he was taking me home then led me out the hospital. I got off of him and simply held his hand. I turned away from him, I didn't want him to see me cry--as usual. It was dark outside, stars sparkled down from the sky. A full moon cast a dim glow in the street. It got darker as the moon hid behind a cloud quickly.
"What if the wolf is still around?" Jake asked. I hadn't thought of that. We were approaching the same park. I wanted to find the wolf, I wanted to make sure it wouldn't attack anyone else.
"Let's check it out," I said quietly.
Jake looked at me, a surprised expression on his face. "I think you'd better rest, Amy. Don't--"
I shook my head. "I just want to know where it is. If you and I find it, we might be able to stop it from hurting someone else," I said, voice trembling slightly. I guess I wanted to take matters into my own hands. Or revenge… neither of which felt good.
We walked into the park, I was leading Jake through the place I saw in my head. We were passing the merry-go-round… and the swing set.
The slides were coming up when Jake suddenly steered me away and coughed, "Why don't we check over there." He pointed away from the slides, towards the tables. He was trying to avoid the slides.
"What?" I asked. I let go of his hand and tried to turn around but Jake blocked my path. He held my shoulders with his viselike grip.
"Jake, what is it?" Whatever it was, I was sure I would be able to handle whatever he was so concerned about. I immediately thought of the scratches and all the blood he'd lost. I gulped as I imagined small pools of my father's blood on the grass.
"Really. I think we should look over--" he stopped. He was looking over my shoulder. I turned around to see a girl sitting on a bench. Roxanne looked like she was crying. I wormed out of his grip and we walked over to her.
Roxanne looked up at us as we got closer, fear in those black eyes. She immediately got up off the bench and backed away from us.
"Stay away from me!" she yelled. "You're not safe around me. Go away!" I held up my hands like a cop and walked slowly towards her. Jake was close beside me.
"It's okay. We're not going to hurt you," I said softly.
She looked unconvinced as she continued to back away. "Get away!"
Then she turned and ran away with amazing speed.
We followed her easily. She was running to the almond tree orchard. I knew we weren't going to be able to catch her unless we cornered her. I jumped and flew over Roxanne as she looked back at Jake. I landed in front of her as she came to a quick halt. She looked at us with a confused look on her face.
"Who are you?" she asked, astounded at how we were able to keep up with her.
"Never mind us," I said a little harshly. "What are you exactly?"
She just shook her head, eyes wide open in what appeared to be fear and curiosity about me and Jake. "Leave! You're not safe around me! I don't want to hurt you!" she shouted.
"Can you turn into a wolf?" I asked to her shock. Even Jake raised his eyebrows.
Roxanne was absolutely panicking like crazy. "I can't control myself! Leave now! I might--" she stopped and looked up at the sky in horror. Jake and I followed her gaze to see the moon come out from behind a cloud.
A piercing scream made us turn back to Roxanne. She was on her knees, trembling intensely. Jake and I were rushing toward her when she threw her head back. The skin from her face had fallen away, revealing fur and a snout.
The skin on her arms melted off too, and her fingers grew back into her hand, fur covering them quickly. Her hair shot back into her skull to show fuzzy black ears and more black fur growing rapidly. Roxanne was screaming the whole time, until her voice changed to a piercing howl. I stopped running to her when a wolf body caused the clothes to shred away.
I no longer knew what to do. The three of us stood there for what felt like years but were really seconds before what happened next.
The wolf lunged at me, in the air with one jump, just as Jake materialized in front of me and punched the wolf in the chest. She flew at least fifty feet away from us. I
didn't see her hit the ground for Jake had pulled me into the suffocating hole. I found myself on my knees, gasping for breath with Jake.
"What… did you… do?" I panted. He stood up as I continued to inhale deeply.
"Well, in case… you didn't notice," he huffed, "a fricking werewolf was about… about to attack you." I staggered to my feet. Jake had his hands on his hips and also breathed heavily, looking at me disapprovingly.
"You know she had no control," I said before I ran out of air. "She might attack… someone else." I continued to gasp for breath; my lungs hadn't been prepared for the teleportation. I sat on the bed, feeling a little lightheaded from standing.
"I'm not trying to sound negative or anything," Jake began, "but I don't think you'll be able to stop her." I looked up at him, pure confusion all over my face.
"What?" I asked incredulously. "I probably would have been able to take her if you hadn't stepped in."
"I don't mean that. If it came down to… well, killing her, I know you won't be able to do it. I know I wouldn't. She's a psychotic animal who kills… but I guess she's still human."
I stood up to his face, ignoring my confusion about why we would have to kill her at all. "I know you were there, Jake. Are you blind? You saw with your own eyes she can't control that!" It was true. We couldn't just send her somewhere else to kill. She was almost like our responsibility. I walked away towards the mirror then turned back to him before he could speak.
"Do you really think I'm going to let her terrorize our town? Let her hurt other innocent people because of her affliction?"
Jake looked at me in defeat.