Antonio sat there silently as Sylvia paced back and forth in front of him. “When are they going to get back? What if this is permanent? What are we going to do?”
Antonio reached up and took her hand. He pulled her into the chair next to him and put his arm around her shoulders. “Honey, it’s only been fifteen minutes. The doctor said it would be at least an hour. As for the rest, we will do what we need to do.”
Sylvia lay her head on his shoulder. “How?” she asked, feeling completely overwhelmed. The doctor had ordered another MRI, this time of Carlos’ lower spine.
“I don’t know, but we will,” Antonio promised.
There was a quiet knock at the door and Jen looked in. “Any news yet?”
Antonio shook his head. “It’s going to be awhile.”
“How are you holding up?” Jen asked as she went over and sat on the other side of Sylvia.
“My baby can’t feel his legs, Logan is going to blame himself, and I have no idea how to help either of them,” Sylvi said, choking back a sob.
“Sweetheart, Carlos will be fine, The doctor said that temporary paralysis is common after an injury like this,” Antonio said.
“What if it’s not temporary? Sylvia asked, tears pooling in her eyes.
“It WILL be,” Jen said hugging her friend.
John was still sitting in the cafeteria with Kendall and James. He was watching the two boys like a hawk, and wasn’t buying their sudden obedience. The two were talking quietly about their last hockey practice and how they could improve their passing skills. He yawned and was in desperate need of another cup of coffee.
“I can get you a refill,” James offered.
“Not a chance, you two are staying right there,” John said firmly.
“I was just trying to help,” James pouted, trying to cross his arms over his chest.
“Hey!” Kendall said, yanking his own arm back.
James pulled his arm back. “Knock it off!”
“YOU knock it off!” Kendall said, pulling back.
James immediately yanked his arm over again. “What are you going to do about it?”
Kendall glared and suddenly jumped on James and the two tumbled off the chair. “THIS!”
“Hey!” John yelled and jumped up. He grabbed each boy by an arm, hauled them up, and pushed them back into their respective chairs.
“He started it,” James said.
“I did not, YOU did!” Kendall said, yanking his arm back over.
“Do not start that again!” John ordered. He stood up and pushed a chair between the two boys. He kept a firm grip on Kendall’s arm as he unlocked the handcuff and pulled it through the opening on the back of the chair and then hooked it back on Kendall’s wrist.
“Hey!” Kendall protested.
John looked down at them, satisfied. He slipped his keys back into his pocket. “Good. Now I’m going to get another cup of coffee and you are both to behave. Is that understood?”
Kendall yanked on the cuff, moving the chair and bumping John’s leg, but it didn’t go any further.
“This isn’t fair,” James huffed.
John smirked and ruffled his hair. “Life isn’t fair, kiddo.”
“MY hair!” James shrieked, trying to smooth it back down with his one free hand.
John laughed. “Behave, I will be right back.”
James leaned towards Kendall as John walked towards the coffee stand. “Well?”
Kendall smirked and dangled John’s keys. He watched John carefully and as soon as the man looked away to pour his coffee, he quickly unlocked the cuffs and then palmed the keys again. He took the cuff from James’ wrist and hooked it to the metal brace under the table. “Hold your arm still and wait for my signal.”
James smiled and nodded.
John walked back over to the table. “Well, I see you’re both still here.”
“Very funny,” Kendall glared.
John smiled as he set his coffee on the table. “Maybe this will teach you little monsters to behave.”
“It’s not very comfortable,” Kendall said pulling on the cuff a little.
“Yeah, we have to hold our arms funny because of the chair,” James complained.
John looked at them. “Alright, if you promise no more fighting, I’ll remove the chair.”
“We promise,” they both said.
John went over to the chair, and the next thing he knew, his right arm had a handcuff on it. Both boys scooted out of reach and Kendall smiled at him, holding his keys up. “Missing something?”
“How did you do that?” John asked in shock.
“Trade secrets.” Kendall smirked.
“Give me the keys,” John ordered, yanking his arm and moving the table an inch or so.
Kendall snorted. “I don’t think so.”
“Give them to me now and we’ll forget this ever happened,” John promised.
Kendall shook his head, no.
“You’re going to be sorry,” John warned.
“Yeah, we hear that a lot,” Kendall said.
“I mean it!” John said, exasperated.
James reached over and ruffled John’s hair. “Life isn’t fair, old man.”
John grabbed for him with his left hand, but James was too quick for him.
“Well…bye!” Kendall smiled. He and James took off running through the cafeteria doors again.
“Great,” John said as he reached for his cell phone, only to realize it was missing as well. He shook his head as he sat down. “It’s going to be a long night.”
Joanna shook her head at Logan as the boy giggled and tried to touch the monitors. “Mama, my hands are on upside down.”
“Why do you think that?”
“They won’t go up!” Logan said trying to figure out how to move his immobilized arm.
“You have a shoulder brace and a splint your arm,” Jo told him.
Logan looked at her, shock on his face. “What did I didn’t do to do that?”
Jo laughed at him. “Sweetie, why don’t you try getting some sleep.”
“S’not funny. When do they bring the elephants back, they didn’t find them, did they?” Logan asked as he yawned.
Joanna pulled out her phone and set it to record. “What elephants, Logan?”
“Shhh, the ones in the attic. Papa G will make us take them back if he finds them.”
“Maybe they’re with the giraffes,” Jo suggested.
“Pshh, mom, you CAN’T hide giraffes with elephants,” Logan said.
“They’re too tall! Only zebras and elephants can hide together. Giraffes have to hide with the chimps,” Logan told her, yawning again.
“Why is that?”
“Because the chimps can swing from them so people think they’re trees,” Logan said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“That’s a new one, and I’ve heard a lot of interesting things here, in recovery.” Dr. Barnes laughed.
“Well, this is new to me so I’m recording it for posterity,” Jo said.
“They’ll be taking him to his room in a few minutes and he’ll probably sleep the rest of the night,” Dr. Barnes told her.
“Thank you doctor, I really appreciate everything.” Jo said.
“You’re very welcome, but I might want a copy of that recording, he definitely has an amazing imagination.”
“I’ll send you a copy,” Jo promised.
Half an hour later Logan was in his room, sleeping. Jo was quietly talk to Antonio and Sylvia, who were still waiting to hear about the MRI results.
“They don’t know anything?” Jo asked.
“They should be bringing him back any minute. The doctor said she should have results in the next half an hour or so,” Sylvia told her.
“She also said that temporary paralysis is fairly common with this type of injury,” Antonio said reassuringly.
“So he’ll be alright,” Jo said, hugging Sylvia.
“I hope so,” Sylvia said, trying not to cry again.
“M-Mom, C-Carlos is paralyzed?” Logan asked quietly. He had heard voices and had woken once he realized the tone was serious.
“It’s just temporary,” Jo said, going over and sitting next to him.
“N-No, this c-can’t be true! It’s all my fault, I did this!” Logan said.
“Logan, it’s alright. He’s going to be just fine,” Antonio said going over to stand next to him.
“It’s my fault! Why did I even consider it after last time! It’s all my fault!” Logan cried, completely inconsolable. He started to hyperventilate and the alarms on the monitors started beeping.
“Honey, calm down!” Jo said trying to hold him.
“I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry! Please, please make him be okay!” Logan sobbed, He lost consciousness, as the nurse came running in.
To ANYONE thinking about going through Inkitt, if you value YOUR work, YOUR rights,YOUR profits, DON’T do this. This is not a legitimate publishing house, they publish on Amazon, which costs NOTHING. You can do it yourself. If you need help with editing/proofreading/formatting/covers there is a place called Fiverr that has people who do this (at a greatly discounted cost). You will be signing away the rights to your work for NOTHING. They have NO clear marketing strategy, other than sending out vouchers to readers to purchase the book on Amazon. This is also HOW a book gets to a best seller list, because people have to purchase it within a certain amount of time. The vouchers are usually a dollar, which means they actually get 75 cents of that back and YOU get a quarter. You will have NO say in what happens to your work, AND they also hold the rights to any subsequent work you may try to publish in the future. If you still think it’s a good deal, print out their contract and have an attorney look it over…they will not like what they see, and tell you to run from anything like this. There are actual legitimate places that you can publish for low costs or none. Createspace costs you nothing. There is also a place that holds contests that ARE legitimate and they have cash prizes. Try this site http://www.usissc.com/, you’ll have a better chance of winning, and retain all rights to YOUR work. It’s cash prizes so if you do win, you can use that to go through a legitimate self-publishing company.
Some other links to check out:
I joined Inkitt on May 23rd, 2015. I know this because after they deleted my account, I started feeling a little retrospective and wanted to verify just how long I’d given that site a chance before they decided to pull the plug. Also, I want to show that I wasn’t just some recent fly-by who’s salty because they only entered one contest and didn’t win. I had eight or nine stories on there, the most popular having a little over 1000 reads and the others somewhere between 50-200. Not that I can check that anymore, since my analytics are gone with the account, but it should go to show that I was in there for a good while and gave it a pretty good shot, in my opinion.
With that established, let’s get to the goods. Inkitt, as some of you may know, is a story publishing site similar to…
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I don’t usually post a lot of things that aren’t writing related, but a friend’s grandmother passed away, and he is responsible for her burial. While there is family, most don’t seem to be interested in helping him with this, so I’m asking if anyone can spare anything, this lovely lady deserves a decent funeral. Thank you.
In nearly every culture there are stories of those who walk in darkness, or shadow people. Souls who linger here, unwilling or unable, to move on to the next realm. Some are believed to be good spirits who look over those they have left behind. Others though…others are believed to be malevolent spirits who come in darkness to feed off of anger, sorrow, and despair. In Turkey it is called Jiin, Phi Am in Thailand, Pinyin in China, Kanashibari in Japan, Madzikirira in Zimbabwe…and so on.
Modern science tells us that these creatures do not exist… that what people experience is actually something called, sleep paralysis. You awake, or so you think, to find you cannot move or speak. You can sense something in the room, perhaps you can even catch a glimpse of the shadow as it moves closer, you feel it as it climbs on top of you and presses down until you cannot breathe. Doctors tell us all you have to do is concentrate, move a finger or toe to wake yourself up. Religious leaders tell us to recite The Lord’s Prayer, or sing a hymn, and for some people, these things work.
What if BOTH versions are true? What if there are souls that need to feed off of the living? Have you ever felt something pressing down on you in the middle of the night. Been unable to speak or scream? Have you felt drained and confused when you awoke? Have you seen handprints in the bedding as you tried to turn your head. Perhaps it was just a dream… or maybe, just maybe, it was something else.
It watches… It waits… It hungers for the tears and screams of the innocent ones. It revels in their terror… but somewhere, deep inside, It mourns for what It used to be. There are times It wants to reach out and comfort those whose silent screams It steals, but shadows and darkness have taken the place of any form It used to have. So now…It watches and waits as the hunger grows.
March 2001, Shakopee, Minnesota.
The little boy opens his eyes. The room is dark, with the exception of a faint sliver of light from the outside streetlight that makes its way through the closed blinds. The house is quiet and he yawns slightly, wondering why he is awake when it is still dark outside. He starts to nod back off when hears a faint noise coming from the direction of his dresser. He freezes, trying to figure out what it is. His eyes dart around the room and he thinks he sees movement out of the corner of his eye, but when he tries to turn his head, finds he cannot move.
Not again, please not again! he begs as his heart beats faster. His tries to move his arms and legs, but he is immobilized. He tries to call out, but his voice is gone. Suddenly his eyes catch a glimpse of a shadowy figure at the foot of his bed. His heart races as he desperately tries to move, only to be held down as something crawls over him and starts pressing down. He looks up into a hollow-faced figure of darkness and screams as the light goes out. “MOMMY!”
Nearly three hundred miles away near Red Lake, a young Objiwe woman, named Aki, tossed and turned in her sleep. Visions flashed through her mind and she was filled with dread as the screams of children resounded in her ears. Her eyes snapped open and she sat up quickly, taking deep measured breaths as she tried to slow her racing heart. Her eyes were drawn to the foot of her bed where her calico cat, Feather, lay. Feather’s ears were back, her eyes focused on the wall by the window, and a low growl escaped from her throat. Aki turned on the light and looked around but nothing was there. Her dream fresh in mind, Aki jumped up, grabbed a sweatshirt, and raced out of her house and down the lane to where her grandmother lived. She’ll know what we need to do!”
Wenonah Young was roused from sleep by a pounding at her door. “Nookomis, I need you!”
The woman opened her eyes and quickly got up, spurred on by the urgency in her granddaughter’s voice. Aki was a very rational child and did not panic easily. Keeping calm in stressful situations was one of the reasons Nookomis Wenonah had chosen her to follow on her path as Mashkikiikwe for their people.
She opened the door to find the young woman still in her pajamas. Her dark hair was loose and blew freely in the night wind. “What is it child?”
“They’re coming, some are already near,” Aki managed to get out as she walked in and closed the door behind her.
“Who are coming?” Wenonah asked, fearing she might already know the answer. She had felt an uneasiness in the world around her, but nothing clear until now.
“Jiibay gimoodishkiiwinini,” Aki said.
“Come inside and sit,” Wenonah said, ushering her granddaughter to a chair near the fireplace. She sat in the rocking chair across from Aki and watched her silently for a moment. “Tell me what you saw,” she instructed.
Aki nodded and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes for a moment, gathering her thoughts. “There was a child, no…children. So much sorrow, so much pain, and the shadows move towards them. Nookomis, I haven’t felt any Jiibay gimoodishkiiwinini since I was a child. There are several and they scream to each other as they hunt.”
Her grandmother nodded. “Go home and pack, tomorrow we follow them.”
“How will we know where to go?”
“We follow the dreams,” she said simply. “Now go, but be back here before dawn. I need to prepare the Mshkiki and make an offering.”
“Yes Nookomis,” Aki said, standing up.
Wenonah smiled softly at the girl. “Don’t be afraid child, we will stop them.”
“Are you sure?”
“Noozhis, have I ever been wrong?” Wenonah asked with a laugh.
“No Nookomis, never.” Aki smiled.
“Then go, for tomorrow we hunt,” the old woman said.
“Eya’ Nookomis,” Aki said and kissed her cheek. She rushed out the door, pulling it closed behind her.
The smile faded a bit from the old woman’s face as she went over to a chest and opened it. She pulled out a large leather bag and started filling it with assorted items, chanting as she worked. She sent a silent prayer to Gitchi Manitou to watch over the little ones and keep them safe until dawn.
Officer Antonio Garcia groaned as he grabbed for his ringing phone. He looked at the caller ID and then the clock. “Hello, this had better be good because I’m off duty until Tuesday.” He quickly sat up as the person on the other end spoke. “What the hell happened?”
“We’re not sure. His parents heard him scream and by the time they got to his room he wasn’t breathing. The medics are on scene and still working on him, they say it looks like cardiac arrest,” Officer Johnson told him.
“He’s only ten!” Antonio said as he pulled on his clothes.
“That’s not all…”
“What else?” Antonio asked.
“The window has some marks on it that the parents say weren’t there before,” Johnson said.
“Was it broken?”
“No, it’s not broken. The glass itself has some strange marks on it… it’s really hard to explain. You’ll have to see it for yourself,” Johnson said.
“I’ll be there in ten minutes,” he said as he grabbed his lock box, opened it, and took out his revolver.
Sylvia Garcia had awoken at the commotion and looked over at him. “What’s wrong, what happened?” she asked, sitting up.
“I’m not sure yet, honey. I have to go, but I’ll let you know what’s going on as soon as I can,” he promised, as he ran out the bedroom door.
Sylvia tried going back to sleep and sighed in frustration as sleep evaded her. She got up and went to make herself a cup of tea, these were the times when she hated Antonio’s job.
After finishing her tea she headed back upstairs and decided to check on Carlos before turning in again. She shivered as the wind howled outside and she tucked the covers tightly around Carlos and kissed his forehead. He opened his eyes and looked up at her. “Don’t worry Mami, everything will be alright,” he whispered.
“What will?” she asked.
“Bisabuelo Roberto said he won’t let it come,” he said.
“Won’t let who come?” she asked.
“El oscuro,” he murmured as he drifted back to sleep.
Sylvia shivered again and jumped when there was a rapping at the window. She could see the shadows of the tree branches moving as the wind blew and went to check the latch. She noticed a strange mark on the window and rubbed it with her finger. That’s odd, it’s on the outside, she thought as she inspected the dark smudge.
Two streets down seven-year-old Logan Mitchell tossed and turned in his sleep. He whimpered and was jolted awake by something in his dreams. He looked around the room as he tried to remember why he had awoken so suddenly. He started to lie back against his pillows, but decided he didn’t like the quiet, lonely room. He grabbed his favourite blanket and padded down the hallway to his parents’ room.
His dad woke up as Logan crawled into the large bed. “What’s up Partner?” Alex yawned as his son curled up next to him.
“Bad dream,” Logan said.
“Are you alright?” Alex asked, pulling the blankets over his son.
“Mhmm,” Logan mumbled as he fell back to sleep, feeling safe and secure lying in-between his parents.
It watched from the shadows as the little boy woke and turned on the small table lamp next to his bed. It watched as he left the room and hissed at the light. The light brought pain, the light brought memories…including those of what It used to be. It had a name once…It had a form, now It was only a shadow. It was called An Brón by the others like It, who hunted in the night. The ones who ruled over them used only the name, It, for those who sought out the sorrowful, the fearful, the angry, and the lonely. Each hunted the world to feed off of the mortals while they slept.
This was the third home It had visited tonight, the second failure for tonight. The other home had been guarded by a light that had refused to let It enter and An Brón had screamed in fury. The guardian had refused to let It pass and had push backed towards the darkness, threatening to bring more light. It had retreated, knowing It couldn’t defeat the other. Now this one had awoken too soon and It had failed again.
An Brón stayed in the shadows and made it’s way to the window, careful to avoid the light, and slipped through the glass with ease. It glided through the night hoping to find more prey before the night ended.
Jennifer Knight sighed as she looked over at the clock, it was close to 4:00 am and she still couldn’t sleep. Almost two months, she thought, holding back tears. She knew sleep wasn’t going to come so she decided to get up and bake some brownies for dessert at the Garcia’s tomorrow. She pulled on her robe and started down the hallway. She checked on two year-old Katie, before heading downstairs, to make sure she was still under her blankets. The toddler had a habit of kicking them down to the end of the crib and it was too cold at night for her to go uncovered. She smiled down at the little girl who had a firm grip on her little stuffed cat. Her brother had given it to her for her birthday last month and Katie refused to go anywhere without it.
Jen leaned down and kissed Katie on the forehead, pulling the blankets up around her. The toddler stirred, but just clutched her stuffed cat closer, snuggling her face into the soft body. Oh Will, she’s growing and changing so much every day. She looks so much like my mom and I miss the both of you so much, Jen thought as she quietly backed out of the room.
She decided to check on Kendall, and walked across the hallway to his room. She opened his door and squinted against the sudden brightness. His overhead light was on full, as well as the table lamp. She looked over at him and saw his blankets were pulled up over his head, all she could see was a small tuft of blond hair on the pillow. Jen turned off the overhead and went over to him, wondering why he had all of the lights on. She tugged at the blankets, but he had them pulled tightly to him. She gently shook him.”Kendall, why do you have all the lights on?”
He jerked awake and pulled back. “Mommy?”
“Yes sweetheart, it’s mommy. Why do you have all of the lights on?”
“I don’t know,” he said quietly.
“Did you have a bad dream?” Jen asked.
“I don’t remember,” Kendall said.
“Are you okay?”
“Y-Yeah, I’m okay,” he said.
“Are you sure?”
He nodded as he pulled the blankets close.
“Alright, only ONE light on please,” Jen said as she kissed his forehead.
“Okay,” he sighed.
“Goodnight baby,” Jen said as she walked over to the door and turned off the overhead light.
“Goodnight mommy,” Kendall said.
“Sweet dreams,” she smiled as she closed the door.
Kendall pulled the blankets over his face, so only his eyes were visible. He tightly clutched the small flashlight he had under the covers as he watched the room for shadows.
Just a few blocks over, little James Diamond was sleeping soundly, dreaming that he and his friends were playing hockey at the pond in the park.
It was a beautiful, sunny day and the four boys skated and laughed as they passed the puck to one another.
“Boys, it’s time to go home,” Papa G called from where he and Alex were watching under the old oak tree.
“But Papi!” Carlos whined.
“It’s getting late,” Papa M said.
It was getting darker and the wind was starting to blow. James looked around at his friends and they all started back across the pond.
“Come on James, hurry,” Mike Diamond called out, waving to him. He was standing apart from the other dads, on the hill to the right of the tree.
James smiled seeing his dad there. He rarely went to the boys’ games and never to the park to watch them practice. “Daddy!”
Suddenly someone had ahold of his arm and pulled him close. “No James, he’s not real. None of this is real. You need to wake up,” a soft voice said.
James looked up into soft brown eyes of a little old man. He was a little shorter than Papa G and Papa M and he had thick, wavy hair that was mostly silver. He was wearing a white, loose fitting top that reminded James of something you would wear at the beach, not Minnesota in winter. He seemed familiar, but James couldn’t remember where he had seen him before. “Who are you?”
“Hola James, you can call me Beto,” the man said.
“Beto? I don’t understand, am I asleep?” James asked.
“Yes, now listen to me. You have to be strong and you have to be brave because not everything is what it seems,” Beto told him.
“I don’t understand,” James said, confused by what he was saying.
“Look around you, what do you see?”
James looked around and suddenly the park seemed to be engulfed by darkness. His friends’ voices started to fade away, but he could hear his dad’s voice calling to him. “James, come off the ice to daddy!”
James started towards Mike but Beto held him tightly. “What’s going on?” the little boy asked.
Beto smiled softly. “This is very important, you must always remember that there are many who love you boys.”
“I-I know,” James said, his eyes tearing up and the sudden sadness he felt. The darkness was making it hard to see the man, even though he could still feel his hand on his arm.
“Others are coming to help, but for now you must wake up,” Beto said softy.
James woke with a start, with a feeling of dread pushing down upon him. He started to panic as he realized he couldn’t move. He tried to call out to his mother, but couldn’t seem to speak. He looked up and there was something dark, floating above him. It didn’t seem to have a shape, but he could tell it was there.
“JAMES, WAKE UP NOW!” Beto’s voice called out.
There was flash of light and suddenly James could move. He jumped up and ran for the door, when he got there turned on the light. He looked around, but nothing was in the room. “Mommy!” he screamed.
An Brón hissed in anger as It fled through the glass. HOW did the Guardian find It here? He has no connection to this boy that An Brón could sense. Hissing again at the coming dawn, It changed course and fled to an old house where It could hide in safety until night came once more.
Antonio pulled up in front of the Gibson’s home and got out. The ambulance was had already left and one patrol car had stayed behind. Antonio got out and walked up to the house. Officer Johnson met him at the door.
“Well?” Antonio asked.
“He’s alive, not out of danger, but alive. His parents don’t know what happened or why. They say he was perfectly alright when they tucked him in for the night,” Johnson told him.
“What do the medics think?” Antonio asked.
“They don’t know yet. Mrs. Gibson went with Jake, Mr. Gibson is inside waiting to speak to you,” Johnson said, holding the door for him.
Antonio nodded and walked inside. He saw Mr. Gibson sitting on the couch, leaning forward with his head in his hands. Antonio went over and sat next to him. “How are you holding up Tom?”
Tom Gibson looked up and Antonio could tell he’s been crying. “How do you think I am? My little boy could die and they tell me it may have been a heart attack. What ten-year-old has a heart attack?”
Antonio patted him on the shoulder, letting the man vent his fear and frustration. After a few minutes he quieted down and sat there, looking at his hands.
“Tom, Officer Johnson said there was a scream?” Antonio asked softly.
“What…oh, yes.” Tom said, shaking his head to clear it. “We were all sound asleep, I checked on him at eleven-thirty, before I turned in. He was fine…I just don’t understand this. When he screamed, I thought he was just having another nightmare.”
“Has anything out of the ordinary happen lately?” Antonio asked.
Tom shook his head. “No, not really. I mean not today… we did have to put Caesar down on Friday. Jake was sad, but we explained it was time and he agreed. Poor old dog couldn’t even walk on his own anymore.”
“I’m sorry about that,” Antonio said, remembering the yellow lab that had been a part of the Gibson household for as long as he could remember.
“He made it to fifteen, was there for all of Jake’s life. Could that be the reason, could losing him have caused this?” Tom asked, looking at Antonio.
“I don’t know, maybe. Jake hasn’t been sick at all?”
Tom shook his head again. “No…he’s always been such a healthy boy,” he said, tears filling his eyes again.
“So you haven’t noticed anything strange. He couldn’t have gotten into anything that made him sick?” Antonio asked again.
Tom shook his head. “No, we don’t keep anything lying around. Anything that could possibly be toxic is locked up in the garage cupboards, always has been. Caesar would eat any and everything, so we got into the habit before Jake was even born.”
“Do I have your permission to look around?” Antonio asked.
“Of course,” Tom said.
“Alright, I’m going to have Officer Dane drive you to the hospital and I’ll be there as soon as we’ve checked things out. We’ll lock everything up tight, so make sure you have your keys,” Antonio said, standing up.
Tom nodded and stood up. He walked towards the door and looked back at Antonio. “W-What if he doesn’t make it? How am I supposed to go on?” he asked.
Antonio walked over to him and put an arm around his shoulders. “He’s a strong boy, and he has excellent doctors looking after him. You need to be strong for him, and you and Sophie need to be strong for each other. You know Sylvia and I will be here for you as well.”
Tom nodded and opened the front door. “Thank you.”
“Always,” Antonio said, giving him a reassuring smile.
Tom nodded and Antonio signaled for Officer Dane who opened the back door of the patrol car for the man. Antonio watched until the pulled out and went back inside.
“Okay, show me this window,” he said to Johnson.
“Yes sir,” Johnson said as they started upstairs. They stopped at the first door on the left and Johnson opened the door and they went inside.
Antonio looked around the room, it was a typical bedroom for a young boy. Clothes tossed in the corner, a video game console and games littered the top of the dresser. The night table had a small clock, a glass of water, and a 5×7 photo of Jake and Caesar. Everything looked normal except for the bedding on the floor. He checked the closet and found nothing of interest there. “Nothing looks out of the ordinary.”
“Check this out,” Johnson said, pointing to the window.
Antonio walked over and looked at the window. It was clear and you could see the snow illuminated by streetlight outside the house, except for a dark streak, about three inches long, in the center of the window. He put on the gloves that Johnson held out for him.”That’s odd, it looks like someone smudged it with soot or ink,” Antonio said, rubbing at it.
“That’s what I thought, except for the fact that the window is double paned,” Johnson said opening the window.
“So?” Antonio asked.
Johnson poked his head out and rubbed the outside of the window. “It’s on the outside pane too, in the exact same place.”
“How can that be?” Antonio asked, taking Johnson’s place and looking back in the window. Holding his finger over the interior smudge for reference, he saw that what Johnson had said was true. “What the hell is it?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Johnson said.
“I doubt it has anything to do with what happened, but get someone from forensics here to check it out,” Antonio ordered as he closed the window.
“That’s not all,” Johnson said.
“What else?” Antonio asked, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“There’s another one here,” Johnson said, picking up the framed photo of Jake and Caesar and pointing to the top right corner of the frame. On the glass was another small mark, exactly like the one on the window.
“What the hell?” Antonio said under his breath.
“Neither of the parents have seen the marks before, so I thought they were worth checking out,” Johnson told him.
Antonio nodded. “Send the frame to the lab as well.”
“Yes sir,” Johnson said, pulling out a small plastic bag and carefully placing the picture inside it.
Brooke Diamond woke up and stretched out. She smiled sadly at James, who was finally sleeping peacefully. She had heard him scream and gone running, he had run right into her as he opened his door and fled his bedroom. He was shaking and not making any sense, talking about the shadows that came to life. She had gone into his room and found nothing there, but he still refused to go back to bed. She picked him up and took him back to her room, where he eventually fell asleep, but refused to let her turn out the lights. She sighed as she brushed back his bangs. “My poor darling, too much has changed recently,” she said, kissing his forehead. He stirred slightly and cuddled up closer to her so she lay back and held him close.
Joanna Mitchell woke up about 7 am and was surprised to see Logan sleeping between her and Alex, usually she woke up if he tried to climb into bed with them. She reached over and nudged Alex. “When did Logan come in?”
“A few hours go, said he had a bad dream,” Alex yawned, as he rolled over and smile at her.
“Poor baby,” she said kissing Logan on the head.
“What about me?” Alex pouted.
“Look me up when you have a bad dream,” she said as she started to get up.
“I think I’m in one now,” he said, pushing his lower lip out even further.
She smiled and leaned over and kissed him.
“Yuck!” Logan mumbled.
“Quiet you little rustler, or next time you can sleep on the couch,” Alex said.
“Daddy, it was scary,” Logan whined.
“What was honey?” Joanna asked.
“I don’t remember, but it was,” Logan said.
“If you can’t remember it, how do you know it was scary?” Alex asked.
“It just was,” Logan insisted stubbornly.
“Daddy’s not doubting you, we just want to know why you were scared,” Joanna said gently.
“I don’t remember…just that there was something there and then there wasn’t,” Logan told her.
“You know dreams can’t hurt you, right?” Alex asked.
Logan sighed. “I know, but it was still scary.”
“Of course it was Logie-Bear, but you’re safe here with us and we won’t let anything hurt you,” Joanna promised.
“I know,” Logan said, smiling at her.
“Good, now how about I make us a nice, big breakfast to start the day?”
“Okay, can I help?” Logan asked.
“Of course you can,” Joanna said, holding her hand out to him.
Logan took it and grinned as he climbed off the bed and they headed downstairs to the kitchen together.
Jen had finished the brownies and gone back to bed for a couple of hours. She woke up and quickly dressed for work. She woke up Katie, dressed her, and went downstairs so she could feed the toddler before waking Kendall. She saw the overhead light on and switched it off. “That’s odd, I’m sure I turned out all the lights.”
She was headed for the kitchen but stopped when she saw a small figure on the couch. She went over and saw Kendall, sound asleep, his blanket pulled around him. He was holding his small flashlight tightly in his hand. What is going on with you? She sighed and decided to let him continue sleeping while she fed Katie.
She and Katie had just finished breakfast when Kendall wandered into the kitchen. “Good morning sweetheart, how are you feeling today?”
“Okay,” Kendall answered quietly as he sat down at the table.
“Did you sleep alright?”
“Are you sure? You look tired baby,” Jen said, deciding not to mention finding him asleep on the couch. He had been quiet after the accident, but she thought he had been doing better. The last week or so he had withdrawn again, then he was sleeping with all the lights on, and now on the couch.
“I’m okay,” Kendall said.
“Are you sure?” Jen asked again.
“Yes Mama, I’m fine.”
“Okay, if you’re sure. You and Katie are going to stay at Mama and Papa G’s until I get off work and then everyone is going there for dinner and a couple of movies. How does that sound?” she asked, hoping to get a smile.
“But it’s Sunday,” Kendall said, they never stayed late on a school night.
“Tomorrow is teachers planning day, no school,” Jen reminded him, surprised he’d forgotten they had a day off.
“Can I spend the night?”
“I don’t know…you boys have a tendency to stay up too late and you haven’t been sleeping very well.”
“Please, I promise we’ll go to bed when we’re supposed to,” Kendall said.
Jen smiled at him. “Aright, I’ll call Mama G and see if she’s up for it. If not, you can all stay here.”
“No! Please mom, I’ll be good,” Kendall begged.
She looked at him in surprise. “Honey, I know you will. Why are you so anxious about this?”
Kendall looked down. “I don’t know,” he said quietly.
“I’m sure it’ll be okay with Mama G, so why don’t you run and pack your backpack while I give her a call,” Jen suggested.
“Okay,” Kendall said, smiling as he headed upstairs.
“Hurry and then come back and eat your breakfast!” Jen called after him.
She shook her head as she dialed the Garcia home number.
“Hello,” Sylvia answered.
“Hey Sylvia, Kendall wanted to know if he could spend the night since there’s no school tomorrow,” Jen said.
“Of course! In fact, I was thinking of having all the boys over since Brooke had them last time.”
“Thank you…could I talk to you about something?” Jen asked.
“Sure, what is it?”
“I’m not quite sure what’s been going on, but Kendall has been having trouble sleeping lately, and I’m getting worried about it. I think he’s been having nightmares again,” Jen said. She went on to tell her about the lights being on and finding Kendall on the couch that morning.
“That’s odd, we’ll see how he does tonight. Maybe Antonio can try and find out what’s been going on,” Sylvia said.
“Okay, thank you. We’ll be over in a little while,” Jen said, her tone suddenly cheery as Kendall walked back into the kitchen.
“We’ll be waiting,” Sylvia said.
After performing a cleansing ritual and then making an offering of tobacco, Wenonah was able to find signs of the Jiibay and she and Aki had started their journey. They arrived in Shakopee about two in the afternoon. Aki pulled into a gas station and filled their gas tank as Wenonah sat in the car and meditated. Once the tank was full Aki got back in the driver’s side and looked over at her grandmother. “Where do we go?”
Wenonah smiled without opening her eyes. “That way,” she said pointing forward and to the north.
Aki nodded, started the engine and pulled out heading north.
They had been driving for about fifteen minutes when Wenonah put her hand up. “Stop here.”
“Are you sure?” Aki asked as she pulled up in front of the police station.
“Yes,” Wenonah said as she opened the door and got out. Aki wondered what Wenonah was up to as followed her into the police station.
They got inside and Wenonah walked up to the front desk. “How may I help you?” Officer Bannon asked.
Wenonah smiled at him. “There are children in danger and I need to speak to the officer in charge.”
“What children and what kind of danger are they in?” he asked, typing something into his computer.
“If I knew who they were, I wouldn’t be here, I would be where they are,” she said.
He looked at her and cleared his throat. “Ma’am, I’m afraid I need a little bit more information than that.”
She looked at him, arching her eyebrow. “Young man, we do not have time to waste on discussing details. I need to speak to the office in charge.”
“Ma’am, details are what we need in order to find out if there is a crime being committed,” he explained.
She leaned towards him and lowered her voice. “Child, crimes are for the living. What we seek has long since passed into the land of spirits.”
Before he could reply, an older officer came out of an office, closing the door behind him. “I’m heading home now, if anyone needs me, call O’Hara.”
“Yes Chief,” Bannon said.
“Ladies,” Antonio said, giving Aki and Wenonah a small smile as he walked by them.
Wenonah watched him leave and then turned back to Officer Bannon.
Antonio got home and found the boys watching the end of the hockey game. “Who’s winning?” he asked as he hung up his jacket.
“The Rangers,” Carlos said.
“Who are they playing?”
“The Penguins,” James told him.
“Good game?” Antonio asked.
“Not really, The Penguins aren’t playing the great today,” Carlos said.
“Maybe next time,” Antonio laughed as he headed for the kitchen.
Sylvia was in the kitchen a tray of snacks for the boys. “Hey, so what happened?”
Antonio kissed her cheek and sat down at the table. “Little Jake Gibson went into cardiac arrest last night.”
“Oh my God! How is he, do they know what happened, how are Tom and Sophie?” Sylvia rushed out, sitting down next to him.
“He’s stable, the doctor is running tests to find out what’s going on with his heart. Other than that, they aren’t sure what happened. Tom said he heard him scream and when they got to him he wasn’t breathing,” Antonio told her.
“Tom and Sophie must be out of their minds with worry.”
“They are,” Antonio said, rubbing his eyes.
“I’ll call her tomorrow and see if there’s anything I can do. Why don’t you get some rest honey, you look exhausted,” Sylvia said.
“Maybe a short nap,” he said, standing up.
“That reminds me, Jen is worried that Kendall is having nightmares again. She’s been checking on him at night and he has the lights on. This morning she found him in the living room, sleeping on the couch.”
Antonio sighed. “Okay, I’ll go talk to him about it.”
“They’re all spending the night so there’s plenty of time,” Sylvia told him.
He nodded. “Before bed then.”
She kissed his cheek. “I’ll wake you in an hour.”
“Deal,” he said, kissing her back.
He headed for the stairs and Carlos ran up to him. “Can we go skating Papi?”
“Later Mijo, I’m going to take a quick nap,” he said hugging his son.
“Maybe Kendall should take one too, he keeps falling asleep,” Logan said, nudging his friend with his arm.
“Do not!” Kendall said.
“Do too,” James said.
“Kendall, are you not sleeping well?” Antonio asked going over and sitting on the table in front of the couch.
“Yes Papi,” Kendall said, looking down.
“Yes you are, or yes you aren’t?” Antonio asked.
“Umm, yes?” Kendall said, smiling in hopes that Antonio would drop the subject.
“Come on,” Antonio said, standing up and holding his hand down to the little boy.
Kendall rolled his eyes. “I’m not sleepy.”
“Well I am and I can’t rest thinking that you might pass out from exhaustion,” Antonio told him.
“Papi…” Kendall whined.
“Mijo…” Antonio whined.
The boys all laughed and Kendall shot them a dirty look. “Not funny.”
“It wouldn’t hurt you boys to take a rest either, maybe naps should become a regular thing,” Antonio said, looking at them.
“We’re good,” James said shaking his head.
“We’ll see about that,” Antonio said, winking at Kendall.
Kendall smiled and then covered his mouth as a yawn escaped.
Antonio reached down and picked him up. “You and I are getting some sleep, and then we’ll all go skating after dinner.”
“I’m not sleepy,” Kendall said stubbornly.
“If you can’t sleep after fifteen minutes, then you can get up,” Antonio said carrying him to the guest room.
“Fine.” Kendall sighed, knowing he wasn’t going to get out of it.
Antonio sat him on the bed and kneeled in front of him. “Are you having bad dreams again?”
“I don’t know,” Kendall said quietly.
“You don’t know or you don’t want to worry your mom?”
“I can’t remember them,” Kendall said.
“Okay, just know that you can talk to me about anything,” Antonio said, pulling the blanket over the little boy.
“Get some sleep,” Antonio said, kissing him on the forehead.
“I’ll try,” Kendall said.
“I’ll be right across the hall if you need me,” Antonio said, standing up.
“Okay,” Kendall said, yawning again. His eyes were already closing and he pulled the blanket tighter.
Antonio smiled as he closed the door.
“Nookomis, why are we here?” Aki asked as they walked around the frozen pond.
Wenonah walked up to the old oak tree and sat under it. She leaned back against it and smiled. “Jiibay gimoodishkiiwinini are afraid of this place.”
“Why?” Aki asked sitting next to her.
“It is a sacred place, survived by generations and protected by those who have passed on.”
“How does this help us?”
Wenonah touched the tree. “A new soul is drawn here, but isn’t strong enough to drive off the Jiibay gimoodishkiiwinini yet.”
“So what do we do?
Wenonah stood up. “We find the ones the Brugo told us about.”
“How do we do that? It will be dark in just a few hours,” Aki pointed out.
“Then we need to hurry,” Wenonah said, as she started walking in long strides across the park.
“Nookomis, the car is that way!” Aki called after her, pointing in the opposite direction.
“We won’t need it,” Wenonah called back as she reached the street.
“Grandmother, where are you going?” Aki asked in frustration as she followed the old woman. She had to walk quickly to catch up with her.
“Here…here is where we are going,” Wenonah said, stopping in front of a house.
“Who lives here?”
“The ones we seek,” Wenonah said walking up to the porch. She knocked firmly on the door, ignoring the bell.
A moment later a dark-haired woman answered. “Yes?”
Wenonah smiled. “Your grandfather sent us.”
“Excuse me?” Sylvia asked in confusion.
“Roberto Montoya sent us,” Wenonah said.
Sylvia arched an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, but my grandfather died six years ago.”
“Yes,” Wenonah agreed.
“So…how could he have sent you?” Sylvia asked.
“A Brujo needs no physical form to communicate. As the granddaughter of a Brujo and daughter of a Bruja, you know this,” Wenonah told her.
“This isn’t funny,” Sylvia said, going to close the door.
“Roberto sent us, Jiibay gimoodishkiiwinini are here and he sent us to drive them away,” Wenonah said firmly.
“What is that?” Sylvia asked. She was unnerved by the woman, but didn’t really feel threatened by her.
“They are souls caught between here and there. Some are lost, some cannot let go of this world and pass on, for one reason or another. He calls them, se me subio el muerto.”
“Stay here,” Sylvia said, closing the door.
“Nookomis, she will call the police,” Aki warned.
“Don’t be silly child, the police are already here.”
Sylvia went inside and made sure the boys were still playing in the backyard. She dialed her mother’s number and told her about the women who were at the door. Her mother’s response sent chills down her spine. After she hung up she went back into the living room and opened the door to find the women still standing there. “Come in,” she said.
Everything will be alright child,” Wenonah said, taking her arm as she walked inside.