<author's note: Thanks for your help guys up til now. I am trying my best to keep chapters coming and please help me with the reviews. I need as much criticism as needed if I'm going to get this published. Keep writing, everyone!>Chapter 3: Life, Gaffney, and Other Things That Suck
I woke up the next morning halfway off the bed. I was still exhausted from last night. I roll over and look at Sarah, who is now fully dressed in blue jeans and a yellow shirt. I yawn and she looks to me, “Hey, sleepyhead, how did you sleep?”
“Terribly,” I muttered.
“Nightmares,” I slipped, really wishing I didn't say anything.
She came over to my bed, lowering herself to me, “Want to talk about it?”
She looked disappointed, “Ok, if you want to talk about it, just let me know.”
I felt really bad for not saying anything but I just couldn't bring myself to say something of this magnitude.
I stood up on sleepy legs and headed over to my closet on the other side of the room, picking out a pair of denim shorts and a black t-shirt. I quickly went in the bathroom and got dressed, hearing a voice coming from the other room, “Akkira, front and center!”
I left the bathroom in a hurry, grabbing my New Balance shoes as I made my way to the living room, where Casey stood in the center. Terrance was sitting on his couch and Amy was reclining in one of the chairs. I entered and sat next to Terrance as I pulled on my right shoe. Sarah was the last to come in.
Casey looked at us all, “Listen up, we have a call for backup. The Seventh rank in West Gaffney is having problems with a ghoul. It has avoided them time and time again, which means it is pretty strong. This is our chance to show them what we are made of, this is our chance for recognition in the eyes of the Imperials.” Casey paused for a slight moment, looking at our reactions.
I honestly hate Imperials. They're mostly stuck-up Akkira that have nothing better to do than watch us, there is only eight of them and they're supposed to be the eight most powerful Akkira, under our leader, of course. The mostly ignore our group, which is ninth rank and the second lowest, because they believe we cannot make an impact in our world.
Casey continued, “We will leave soon, pack whatever you'll need until then, we are staying at their base until we can eradicate the ghoul. I believe we have the finest group of individuals in the Akkira society and there's no one better to find it than us.”
“Preach it,” Terrance replied.
“You are all dismissed. Meet back here at four.” he looked over at Terrance, “Don't go too far, you're driving.”
He rolled his eyes and stood to go to his dresser.
This isn't our first backup call, but if we did find the ghoul, it'd mean this would be the first time we were actually any help. Our group maybe made of some of the most powerful young Akkira around, but we can only handle so much.
I went across the house and pulled a bag out of the closet, one that carried all my 'backup clothes'. I tossed the bag onto the couch and walked out the door. As I pushed open the screen door, I couldn't help but notice that it was actually rather comfortable today. I looked at my right hand and formed a ball of energy, lighting it with the thought of heat.
The ball erupted into flames and I nodded, it wasn't going to be too humid today.
I extinguished the fireball and headed towards the woods on my own.
In these woods there are many birds singing, knives stuck in trees, burned places where I got a little crazy and hills formed by Terrance's practice. I walked over to one tree near the center, nearly a five minute walk from the house. This tree was long dead, soon to fall anytime now. I sat in front of the tree, looking off into the woods and beyond. I daydream about the future, a time where my parents' rank helps me to be in the Beta rank, like them, where I can truly test my limits, where I can personally find that Altissimus and burn him until nothing is left.
Frankly, I don't want my parents' help getting into the Beta rank because if it is meant to be than I will make it there on my own, but that's what normally happens in our society.
I think about that day once again and I shudder.
I look around the tree and see Sarah coming this way, “Are you ok?”
“Yeah,” I reply, “I'm fine.”
“I brought you a Dr. Pepper.”
I take it from her and she sits opposite to me, “You're the best,” I say, twisting the cap off and taking a swig.
“Do you want to talk about that nightmare now?”
I nearly choke on my drink, “No, I don't.”
“Please, Cole, you have me really concerned, I just want to help.”
I turn away, “Nothing can help me.”
She looked hurt, “I'm going back to the house, please let me know if you change your mind.”
As she walked away, I couldn't help but feel hurt at that look she gave me.
I stood after a few minutes, and decided it was time to walk back to the house. On the way out, I pulled a dagger of Amy's out of the nearest tree on the way out, then I stuck it down in my sock to avoid unnecessary cuts.
Later on in the day, we were already in the car, driving to our destination, Gaffney isn't ridiculously far from Chesnee, where we live, but it is a bother on me. I was almost asleep when we passed the famous Gaffney Peach water tower. Casey had his arms crossed in the passenger seat, Terrance let out a yawn, Sarah was asleep and Amy seemed to be the only one of us that was wide-awake. We came to a stop at an old gas station in the middle of the most populated area in Gaffney.
I unbuckled and opened the door, shaking Sarah steadily, “Sarah, we're here.”
I hate Gaffney; frankly I hate every place that was more urban than Chesnee, which is about every single city on the planet. I was always more of the rural sort. Cars passed us on all sides, I took notice of the gas station, it was ancient and abandoned, or so it seemed. Dirt and rust claimed most of this place and it's pumps were gone.
“Come on,” Casey spoke, “They're expecting us any minute now.”
Are they mole people? I thought.
I was the first in the station and saw everything was covered with dust. The empty shelves, the counter, the security cameras (except for the lens), everything. It reminded me of old mummy movies. I half expected us to find an ancient, cursed tomb with a mummy, gold and treasures beyond our wildest dreams! But no, it's a gas station. Casey went to the other side of the station near where the restrooms were, studying the ground. He got down on his knees and knocked on a floor tile.
“How do you know the entrance is around here?” Terrance asked.
Casey pointed at the restrooms, “Those pipes obviously run down to the sewers, which as we know are underground. Next is the air vent right there,” he pointed to a nearby wall, “It's not covered in dust. Meaning that is their way of getting fresh air, they must have revered the flow and lowered it to keep the layers of dust from coming in.”
“Genius, Holmes!” I replied. That's the most words I ever heard him speak at a time since... The thought sent a chill down my spine and I tried to forget it.
Casey knocked on another tile, I leaned on a candy rack, “Maybe it's like the Minish. Maybe they're microscopic and we have to be the same size to see them or get into their city.”
Amy looked over at me, “You need to quit it with the ancient video games.”
“You need to quit it with your knives when I'm late.”
She grinned and stepped forward with a dagger she pulled from her side. I slipped backwards, the rack began to move and I crashed onto the ground, the tile under me cracked. Casey looked up at me.
“Ow?” I said. Normally that should've hurt, but this time it... didn't? I stood up and looked down at the ground.
“Styrofoam tiles?” Terrance said.
Casey came over and removed the tiles, revealing a stairway into the underground. “Could this be anymore clichéd?” I asked.
The stairway was dark and dank. I began to count the stairs going down. I managed to count forty-seven before we came to a large room. This room was fully carpeted, with a leather couch and a recliner near a fireplace. To the right was a kitchen which had a bar-like area that divided it from the living room. To our left was a bedroom door. Someone came out of the room behind the kitchen and ran to meet us. This guy was slightly taller than me, with reddish hair and leaf-green eyes.
“Hello everyone, welcome to our humble abode.”
Casey shook his hand, “I'm Casey, the group leader, this is Terrance, Sarah, Amy and Cole.”
“Nice to meet you all, I'm Jonathan. I'm in charge around here. Seth, Katelyn and Tabitha are still in their rooms, so you can meet them later. I'm so glad we could get some help, this ghoul has been around too long and I fear it's progressing in power.”
“We'll help you as much as we can. Hopefully that will be enough,” Casey said back.
Jonathan looked at the lot of us, “Well, make yourself at home, we don't have but one guestroom, so we'll have to move things around to make you all comfortable. There's soda and tea in the fridge.”
“Green or black?” Amy asked.
Jonathan gave her a look like it was a dumb question, “Black, sweet.”
She nodded and headed to the fridge, I followed in pursuit of hopes for Dr. Pepper.
Jonathan holds out his hand to stop me, “Is your name Kindlin?”
I looked up at his grin, “Yes, Cole Kindlin.”
He nodded, “I thought so, you sure look like your parents. I met them once before at a conference, when I was working for my Group Leader's License.”
“Cool, bet you were intimidated.” I let out a small chuckle.
He nodded, “A little, man, a little, they were strong as oxen and tough as nails.”
“That's definitely them.” I smiled and walked past him to the refrigerator. I sighed as I noticed there was no Dr. Pepper. So I pulled a red Solo cup from the side and got out the pitcher of tea.
I drank some of the elixir, finding it not nearly as sweet as I would have hoped. A guy came in from another room and got a small bottle of Coke, he was taller than me by half a foot, so at least six-four, black, curly hair that falls easily over his gray eyes. He wore all back and had all his nails painted the same black. I'm not really one to talk, but seriously, depressed much?
“Drinking tea?” he inquired.
I nodded, “Yep.”
He laughed softly as he pulled out a Natural Light can “Wuss.”
I frowned, “That's awfully rude,” I said to myself. I let it pass this one time and walked into the living room, plopping down onto the couch.
I sipped from my cup and looked around for a TV, the dude in black seemed to know what I was looking for, “No TVs here in the living room, wuss, sorry but no soap operas for you today.”
I frowned at him, “Bite me.”
He flicked me off, I attempted to keep my cool. The two combined groups began to meet up.
Jonathan followed the crowd, fumbling for a pack of cigarettes in his plaid shirt's pocket. “Here's what's going to happen today, Casey and I will search the northern-most part of our jurisdiction,” he looked over at an obviously unnatural-blond girl with green eyes in a pink blouse and denim jeans, “Katelyn, you are going to work with Seth and Terrance, you will take the far east.” He reached into his pocket and began attempting to light a cigarette he put in his mouth.
Seth? How appropriate.
“Cole, you and Sarah are going to be working with Tabby. You will be stationed at the peach and the surrounding areas.” He was still trying to light the cigarette with no light.
Seth let out a hated miniature laugh, “So I don't have to work with the tea-drinker?”
That's it! The next time Jonathan flicked the lighter, I pushed my energy into the lighter and back out towards Seth, creating a flamethrower of power, it didn't reach him, but he should know he'd be dead if that was my wish.
I killed the flame and looked for his face, with my own face twisted in anger.
Seth didn't even flinch.
Neither Casey nor Jonathan spoke a word. Katelyn and Tabby stood back and Terrance was trying not to laugh at my failed scare tactic. Sarah came up to my ear, whispering, “What are you thinking?! Do you know how much trouble you could be in?”
“Is that it?” Seth spoke. “That's not even cleaver, let alone scary.”
I looked over at Jonathan, “I'm going to my post, as you gave.”
“But it's not even six yet.”
“I know.” I frowned.
“How are you going to get there?”
I started heading up the stairs, “I'll walk.”