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Thread: This thread for parallel stories not directly linked to "Disturbing News"

  1. #81

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 33

    "Good. I want you to meet Jordan and I've got a story that'll turn you white."

    Andre's laugh was tense. "Man, that only works for a brown skinned boy like me. But I feel ya. We'll be there soon. I finally gave into the impulse and hopped in the truck forty-five minutes ago. Meet at the same place?"

    "No, the Miracle Moon Café on Main Street."

    "You seriously have a Main Street there? Didn't think it was big enough."

    "Aw, shut up and drive. We'll see you soon."

    Laughing, the boys hung up. The smile faded from Brian's face when he thought about the implications of that conversation. Something had prompted Andre to drive up for a visit. Had he sent out a psychic message and not realized it? Forty-five minutes ago, he and Jordan had opened the first of his father's files and started to read. Could Andre have sensed that somehow? Had the amulet Brian wore projected his fears?

    Whatever was the case, they had a more immediate danger facing them. Evil was in Jordan's home and it was up to them to drive it out. But what could four teenagers do against something like Gavin Deidrich?

    On an impulse, he called Chase. His friend answered breathlessly. "Are you okay?"

    "For the moment, why?"

    "Cause I'm itching all over. Something isn't right. Are you sure?"

    Brian filled him in on Mr. Deidrich.

    "I saw that guy around town when Dad and I were at the gun store. He asked us where you were staying. We said we didn't know—hell, we didn't. But Old Ms. Hooper said you were at Jordan's."

    Ms. Hooper was the Casey's next door neighbor and a terrible, gossiping, busybody.

    "Dammit! Thanks for letting me know. Jordan and I are on the way to the café. Can you get here? Andre's coming from Louisiana."

    "Yeah. Give me a minute. Dad will bring me."

    "Ask if he can stay. Chase—I think Mr. Deidrich drugged our folks. We could sure use an adult right now."

    "After what happened at the fire, my dad's totally behind you. You and Jordan are his heroes."

    "Thanks, Chase."

    "Anything for a friend."

    At the café, Jordan and Brian ordered hot chocolate. By the time it arrived, so had Chase and his father. Brian rapidly filled them in on what had happened the night before and all about Gavin Deidrich.

    "That sounds like the tramp I've seen hanging about the last few weeks," Mr. Finley said. "He stays out in the swamp not far from us. That's why I give Chase a ride every day. His bus stop is remote and he's the only one who goes there."

    "I'm kind of worried about tomorrow," Brian said. "If he's around and our parents aren't acting right, what are we gonna do?"

    "I'll come get you," Cliff Finley said. "And I'll make it a point not to associate with this Deidrich person. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a few errands to run. Call me when you're ready to go home. I'll give you a lift."

    "What if he's still there?" Jordan asked, her eyes wide with fear.

    Mr. Finley pursed his lips, thinking. "I'll have to study some about that, Jordan. Maybe we can figure a way to get him to cut loose."

    "I doubt that," Brian said. "But thanks."

    Cliff Finley clapped Brian on the shoulder. "Don't give up before you start, son." He nodded and left.

    Andre walked in shortly after Mr. Finley left. Ginnifer, dressed all in black, with heavy kohl around her eyes and blood red lipstick, joined him. She gave Jordan a once over with a snooty sniff.

    "Who's the perky one?"

    Jordan was dressed in low riding jeans and a clinging, dark pink sweater. Her expression wasn't exactly perky, unless one compared it to Ginnifer's morose one.

    "Andre, Ginnifer, this is Jordan. She's had the same things happen to her that we have. She and I fought a fire elemental last night. This is Chase. It happened at his house. And he helped."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  2. #82

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 34 & 35

    (I was at an appointment on Wednesday, and couldn't get this posted, so I've put up 2)

    "Wow, for real?" Andre sat, clasping hands with Chase. His eyes fastened on Jordan and her clingy sweater. He smiled. "Delightful to meet you, Miss Jordan."

    She smirked, raising a wary eyebrow. "Of course it is. What color are my eyes, Romeo?" She closed her eyes before he could peek.

    "Um.... Green?"

    Ginnifer punched Andre—hard. "My eyes are green, you idiot!"

    Jordan snorted before taking a sip of her hot chocolate. Ginnifer glared at her. Brian didn't want to see the day explode in their faces. There was too much going on for them to fight.

    "Doesn't matter," Brian said. "I don't care if you hate each other, we have to work together—now. Serious stuff is happening. There's been two very targeted attacks on Jordan. First the fire elementals, then the ice last night."

    "Whoa—on me? We were both in the house."

    "But it was your room," Brian said. "And the fire elemental headed straight for you."

    "That's true," Chase said. "It wasn't interested in me and Bri at all."

    Jordan paled. Her hands shook as she put her cup down. Ginnifer, in an uncharacteristic moment, took it from her before she spilled it. She put a gentle hand on Jordan's shoulder.

    "All this time, I saw it differently. I thought of it as attacking us, coming after us—not me!"

    Ginnifer patted her hand. "When Louisa and I got attacked, the creatures ran past her to get at me. If it hadn't been for the dog, we wouldn't have gotten away."

    "That reminds me," Jordan said. "Where were the dogs last night? We sure could have used them."

    "I wondered the same thing," Brian said. "Weird that they didn't show up. They always have before."

    "You don't think—could that Deidrich guy have anything to do with that? Chase's dad said he's been hanging out in the woods. What if he hurt them or something?" Jordan said.

    "We can't really focus on that," Andre said. "Seems to me we need to see this information and learn what we can about Brian's amulet."

    "Can we get our own?" Ginnifer asked. "I'd feel safer if I had something."

    "We have no idea what we're doing," Chase said. "We could come up with something that had the total opposite effect. We could kill ourselves."

    "They aren't that tricky," Jordan said. "My mom has made them and she showed me how. I'm not perfect at it, but I think I can imbue a few stones. I don't know how much help they will be, but I'll try."

    "Meanwhile," Andre persisted. "The files."

    Brian nodded. He booted up the computer and took the flashdrive off his wrist. Once the computer was ready, he plugged it in and went to the menu. He accessed the file marked stones. The file opened, but it was gibberish. It was completely unreadable. Each successive file was like that. They couldn't read a thing.

    "I don't understand," Brian said, near panic. "It was fine when we looked at it earlier."

    "Deidrich," Jordan said. "I bet he did something. I felt all tingly when I touched him, like electrical current running through me. What if he did something?"

    "How could he?" Ginnifer complained. "He didn't touch the flashdrive."

    "No, but he did touch Brian. I wouldn't put anything past that man. He was so creepy. I hope you never meet him, but if you do, you'll understand."

    "I have another copy," Brian said. "It's safe, for now, but I'd sure feel better if we could make a backup."

    "Where is it?"

    Brian and Jordan exchanged a look.

    "I'd rather not say in public. I should have made a copy already. I wasn't thinking straight."

    "What will we do if it's corrupted too?" Ginnifer asked.

    Licking his lips, Brian shook his head. "I don't know. Start from square one, I guess."

    Since they didn't have the files to look at, Jordan and Brian told the others what they'd read. They talked about the properties of stones.

    Jordan showed them her mother's site and they read a lot of useful information there. They still didn't understand what they were supposed to do with it. Knowing about the stones didn't tell Brian how to use his amulet and didn't protect the others.
    After a couple hours, they decided to head home. It was going to be dark soon and looked like it was going to storm some more. Andre didn't want to hit bad weather driving home. He and Ginnifer said goodbye. Ginnifer hugged everyone. She was far less confrontational and even hugged Jordan. Chase called his father after Andre and Ginnifer left. Cliff arrived a few minutes later.

    "Can we go by my house, Mr. Finley?" Brian asked. "There's something I need to do over there."

    "Sure thing, kid." They drove to Brian's house. "Want us to come in?"

    Brian hesitated. He wasn't sure how to answer that.

    "Yes," Jordan said. "Why wait in the cold? Even with the heat on, it's nicer in the house. And it saves gas."

    They went inside together. Brian was glad Jordan had done that. He hadn't wanted to admit that he was a little nervous about going in the house alone. Mr. Finley was big and muscular. He reminded Brian a lot of his father. By his mere physical presence, Brian felt better.

    "I have to get something in Dad's office," he said. "Y'all make yourselves comfortable."

    "Want something to drink?" Jordan asked, playing hostess as if it were her house.

    Brian appreciated her taking over. He walked down to his father's office, hands in pockets. When he got to the door, he saw it was slightly ajar. He knew he'd latched it tightly when he left. His mother hadn't been near it when they came home to pack. Wary and curious, he opened the door and headed toward the desk. The computer was gone. Frustrated and upset, Brian groaned. Moments later, the others rushed down the hall.

    "Are you okay?" Jordan asked.

    "It's gone! Dad's computer isn't here. What am I going to do? That was the only other copy of the research!" Frustrated, he knocked papers off the desk. They fell, skittering across the floor.

    Jordan bent to pick them up, and froze. Slowly, her hands reached for a piece of paper. Its glossy finish caught Brian's eye. Jordan stood, handing the picture to Brian. With a trembling hand, he took it from her. It was the photograph from the stones file. Closer inspection showed that the entire stack of paper was a complete print out of the files his father had left him.

    "I swear," he whispered to Jordan. "That wasn't there yesterday."

    She shivered. Taking a deep breath, Jordan bit her lip. "You know what you're saying, right?"

    "I'm saying—someone printed that out and left it there for me."

    "Hidden in plain sight," Jordan breathed. "Your dad's a genius."

    "Too bad he has such a dummy for a son," Chase said as he sifted through the papers.

    "Thanks so much," Brian said, sounding hurt.

    "I'm serious, dude. Stupid. How is any of this important?"

    Mr. Finley took the papers from his son. "Because you're looking only at the surface. You have to look for the deeper meaning. Can you do that, Brian? Can you look below the superficial facts and see the pattern?"

    "I don't know, Mr. Finley. I don't even know what the pattern is."

    The older man closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. "Read this, absorb it. Don't consider it at face value. You have to look deeper. I can't tell you more than that, Brian. You have to figure this out on your own."

    "But why?"

    "Because that's how it's meant to be," Mr. Finley replied. "I want to tell you, Brian, but I can't. Believe—you must believe, or none of this will mean anything."

    "Can't you give me a hint?"

    Mr. Finley said nothing more. Shaking his head, he gathered up the rest of the papers and searched the office until he found a satchel for them. It was battered and old, red leather that fastened with brass clasps. Brian recognized it as his father's. He used it for all his most important papers. It was fitting that these should be housed in it.

    "Don't let that Deidrich fellow anywhere near this," Mr. Finley cautioned. He closed his eyes again, laying his hand on the case. He murmured a few words before opening them again. He handed the case to Brian. "Probably the best place for this is with you at all times. Take it to school, leave it in your locker. Sleep with it, if you have to. Keep it in this case."

    Brian didn't know what to think. It was obvious that Mr. Finley knew more than he was saying. He couldn't help wondering why he didn't tell them.

    "There's another storm coming," Mr. Finley said as they walked back out to his car. "There won't be school again tomorrow. You two read through this tonight and tomorrow. I don't care how long it takes you. When you're done, if you don't see the pattern clearly enough, I'll do my best to explain."

    He dropped them off at Jordan's house in time for dinner, cautioning them not to eat anything Mr. Deidrich touched. "Don't let him serve dishes, set the table or handle the glasses. If you can't avoid it, say this—glan dom. Can you remember that?"
    "Yes, sir," they answered together.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  3. #83

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 36

    Cliff made Jordan and Brian repeat it.

    "Good. Be careful. And if you need me, call. I can be here in less than five minutes."

    "Thank you." Jordan hugged him, kissing his cheek. "I wish you could stay with us."

    "I wish I could too. Oh, nearly forgot." He dug around in his pocket. "This is what I went after. You add this to the food before your parents eat it. It will help against whatever Deidrich's put in the food."

    Brian looked at the packet of pale pink powder. "What is it?"

    "Taste," Mr. Finley said with a grin.

    Brian licked his finger and took a tiny bit of the powder on his finger. "It's salt!"

    "Yes, but a very special kind. It will purify the food. Just a pinch per dish. Another pinch by the doors and windows will help keep out evil. And this." He handed each of them a small bundle of what looked like twigs, bound in red string. "I know it doesn't look like much, but it will protect you. That's oak, ash and thorn tied with string dyed with rowan berries. Carry it with you." He handed each a small bag, also dyed red. "That's also dyed with rowan. A great deterrent for evil. I've made them for your parents. Slip it in a pocket or put it in their beds. It will help."

    "How do you know all this, Mr. Finley?" Jordan asked.

    He looked directly in her eyes. "Because I read the information and I saw the pattern," he replied. "Now you do the same."

    "What about Chase?"

    "He's got his own things to read and learn. Better get in for dinner now."

    "Thank you," Jordan and Brian said once more.

    They got reluctantly out of Mr. Finley's car. Brian suddenly remembered that his dad and Mr. Finley were close friends and wanted to cry. This was his father's job—watching over his son and protecting him. It wasn't he responsibility of Jordan's father or Chase's, but his own. How could he leave when he knew his son was vulnerable? What had been so important that he'd left like he did?

    He saw the pattern, Brian heard in his head. And the pattern can't be denied.

    The house seemed calm and quiet when Jordan and Brian walked in. Mr. Deidrich sat at the kitchen table while Jackie fixed dinner. Maribelle sat there, sipping her tea and smiling. Heath sat at the table too, but his expression was hard to read. Mr. Deidrich flickered his fingers before he spoke.

    "Heath, why don't you get the children something to drink?"

    "Yes, why don't I?" He got up and grabbed two sodas from the back of the refrigerator. He handed each child a can.

    "Why don't you pour it in glasses for them?" Another flicker of his fingers.

    "We're fine without them," Brian said. "Thanks, Heath."

    Mr. Barrett nodded. Was that a wink or did he blink more slowly with one eye than the other? Jordan rinsed the cans at the sink, drying them with a paper towel. Mr. Deidrich frowned, saying nothing.

    When dinner was served, Mr. Deidrich handled the plates and serving dishes. He didn't touch the flatware, which was silver, Brian noticed with glee. He ate and drank very little, but plied the others with food, offering to serve the children as well as the adults, holding the serving spoons with his napkin. Brian and Jordan refused, murmuring the words Mr. Finley had taught them, when he insisted. Brian made sure that any food that passed his hands got a sprinkle of the salt.

    Deidrich sat next to him, and flinched every time a salted dish came his way. It looked like it caused him real pain. His dark eyes grew harder and colder as the meal progressed. It was pretty obvious that his hold on the adults faltered when Jackie and Maribelle started having a normal conversation about the weather. His face showed the strain more and more as the meal drew to a close.

    Brian had quite a bit of salty residue on his fingers. When Mr. Deidrich reached for a platter, ostensibly to pass it to Maribelle, Brian touched his hand. Hissing, Mr. Deidrich pulled his hand away. The platter clattered to the table, the food scattering. An angry, red welt the size and shape of Brian's fingers, rose on the black man's hand. Furious, he got up from the table and ran to the sink.

    Heath winked at Brian, very definitely that time. He nodded slightly at the women. Brian got up, offering to pour some more lemonade for his mother. When he handed her the glass, he let the salty fingers touch her palm. She flinched slightly as if she'd received a shock. He did the same for Jackie. Even though Heath seemed fine, Brian made sure to shake his hand as he went back to his seat.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  4. #84

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 37

    "You know, Deidrich," Heath said pleasantly. "We really don't have the room for you to stay here, old man. Why don't you head over to the Super 8 for the night?"

    "I'm going to stay with Maribelle and Brian at their house."

    Heath rose from the table, tossing his napkin down. "Well, no, you're not. I let myself believe that was for the best, but I've had a change of heart. You've been here long enough. It's time to go."

    "Honey, there's no need to be rude," Jackie said, blinking slowly.

    "Oh, but there is, dear. You see, he's worn out his welcome. I don't want you here anymore, Gavin Deidrich."

    Mr. Deidrich flinched. He dried his hands on a paper towel before turning from the sink. "I believe you'll find that I haven't." His dark eyes glowed.

    "You heard him," Jordan said bravely. "The head of the house, told you to leave."

    Shaking violently, Mr. Deidrich walked to the back door as if he were being pushed. He tried to fight it, doing his best to convince Heath to let him stay, but the energy of their combined wills was too strong for him.

    "And don't come back," Heath commanded. "I don't want you even setting foot on my property."

    "You aren't welcome at my house," Brian said boldly. "While my father is gone, I'm the man of the house. Don't come around there."

    "You can't stay in here forever," Deidrich said. "You have to come out sometime."

    "You can't stick around forever either," Brian said. "You'll have to go back where you came from sometime. Save us all the bother, do it now. Leave!" He pointed away from the house. "Leave now." He took him a moment to realize he'd spoken words of power, not English.

    Deidrich looked like a deflated balloon. He turned sharply, walking jerkily as if he fought every step. Muttering and cursing, he crossed the street and headed toward the woods.

    "What did you say to him?" Jordan whispered.

    "I have no idea. It's like with the whirlwind. I heard these words in my head, so I said them."

    "It worked, whatever it was."

    As he prepared for bed, Brian thought about all the things he'd learned that day. He was still very puzzled by it all. He also wondered who Mr. Deidrich was and how he had influenced the adults in the house. Why hadn't his compulsion affected Brian and Jordan?

    The door to the den opened and Jordan walked in. "I visited our parents and left the charms with them. I told Dad what it was and he promised to talk to Mom. I put the one for your mom in the pocket of her sweater. She hangs it on the bedpost."

    "Good idea. Thanks."

    Jordan flopped on the side of his bed. Brian moved to the other side, far away from her. She didn't fail to notice.

    "I don't have the plague or anything, Brian."

    "I know—it's just...."

    "What? You think I'm gonna bite you? Jump your bones? What?"

    "I'm not worried about you. I don't want your dad to worry about you."

    Jordan laughed at Brian's flustered expression. "Oh, dream on, homeboy! Never gonna happen."

    "I didn't say it would," Brian's tone was wounded. "I said, I don't want your dad mad at me. You're my friend, Jordan. The best friend I've ever had. I don't want to screw that up."

    "Dad likes you. It'd be okay." She lay down, her feet toward the pillows.

    "No, it wouldn't be okay if he thought— Dammit, Jordan! Are you really that dense?"

    She sat up, glaring at him. "Dense? Am I dense?"

    "Kids younger than us are already having sex. It's not inconceivable."

    "It is for you! You must have a high opinion of yourself if you think I'd ever!" She snorted in disgust.

    "You have the listening skills of a turnip. I'm not saying that's what I want. I'm saying your dad might think that if you stayed in here tonight!"

    "How do you know? You're not my dad."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  5. #85

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 38

    "How do you know? You're not my dad."

    "I'm a guy! That's how we think. And he'd assume—Oh, never mind. I can't explain it."

    "If you think I'm staying in that creepy room by myself, you're totally wrong."

    Brian angrily threw a blanket at her. "Then you can sleep in the chair."

    "Me? Why should I?"

    "Because you're the one who wants you in here."

    "A gentleman would let the lady have the bed."

    Brian pounded the pillows and lay down. "Well, when you see either of those, let me know. Get the lamp, would you?" He turned his back to Jordan and closed his eyes.

    The light went out and Jordan pulled the blanket around her. A few minutes later, Brian heard her sniffling. He put the pillow over his head and hunkered down in the bed. He could still hear Jordan. His anger melted and he rolled over. Folding back the blanket, he turned over on his side again. The bed gave a little bounce when Jordan sat down. She curled up on the edge of the bed, pulling the covers to her chin. Neither of them said a word, but Brain could feel her relax and fall asleep.
    Brian couldn't get comfortable. In spite of the fact that it had been a long day, he wasn't tired. He wanted to sleep, but couldn't drop off. He felt compelled to get up and do something, but he wasn't sure what. It felt like someone was calling his name, faraway and faint. He took Jordan's blanket from the chair and wrapped it around his shoulders as he walked into the living room. His bare feet made no noise as he walked across the scattered area rugs.

    The compulsion continued to pull him to the far corner of the room. This was the area the Barretts had for their meditation space. A tall quartz crystal sat on the floor, surrounded by other polished stones and small, carved stone skulls. His hands reached for one of the skulls. He picked it up without consciously intending to. It was a brilliant purple, but he knew it wasn't amethyst because it wasn't translucent.

    The stone skull resonated in his hand. He could feel a strong vibration from it. He'd seen Jackie hold a skull on her palm as she concentrated on it. Brian did the same, placing it on his outstretched, left palm. The skull vibrated and jumped on his hand. Brian jumped too, nearly dropping the stone skull. His muffled cry of astonishment sounded loud to him. Sitting up straight, he tried again. This time, the stone hummed and vibrated comfortingly.

    "He likes you," Jackie said from across the dimly lit room.

    Mrs. Barrett's voice startled Brian, but at least he didn't cry out or drop the stone.

    Jackie sat across from Brian, smiling. "I never got a reaction from him before. He must have been waiting for you. He likes you."

    "It's a rock," Brian said, puzzled. "How does it like anything?"

    "That would take too much time to explain. Think of it as a spirit in the stone. He reacts to vibrations and energy in us."

    "Why is he a he?"

    Jackie giggled. "Because he is. Some skulls and stones have female energy. This one is decidedly male."

    "Does he have a name?"

    "He's pretty new. He doesn't have one yet. What do you think his name is?"

    Brian held the skull in his hand and gazed into its eyes. A name drifted into his mind. He waited a moment to see if anything else came up. When it didn't, he glanced at Jackie.

    "Lester," he whispered. "His name is Lester."

    Jackie smiled at Brian. "Welcome, Lester. Did you call us for a reason?"

    The stone shivered and Brian thought he saw it glow. A comforting, quiet hum surrounded them.

    "Lester is very responsive," Jackie breathed, smiling.

    "Do you just ask questions? Like a Magic Eight Ball?"

    Jackie laughed. "Not necessarily. But you can. It just depends. Lester called us both for a reason. Let's see if we can figure out what he wants to say." She lit a a stick of incense and put it in a holder. "Sit closer to the mother stone. Hold Lester in your left palm and take my hand with the other."

    "What do I do?"

    Jackie smiled, closing her eyes as she took his hand. "Breathe."

    "That's it?" His eyes widened. "Really?"

    "And listen. He wants to tell you something. Clear your mind and be open to it."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  6. #86

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 39

    Brian did what she said. He closed his eyes, breathed deeply and waited. The skull warmed in his hand and his mind's eye filled with images which moved jerkily, like an old silent film. Soon, the movement smoothed and Brian saw his father. Miles Casey stood on the road to the swamp, about the same place where Brian had first seen the dog. He held out his arms, palms facing the woods, and seemed to be talking. Brian couldn't hear any sound, but his father's lips moved rapidly.

    Two dogs appeared, a female to his left, a male to his right. Brian recognized the dog who had protected him. His father knelt, greeting them like old friends. The dogs licked his face and hands, grinning and barking. Again, there was no sound, only movement.

    Suddenly, the image changed. Dark clouds formed. The dogs took up defensive positions with Miles. The clouds became black birds, circling and diving at the trio. They swooped low to the ground, rising suddenly. Behind them, Mr. Deidrich appeared, forming from the flock of birds.

    Brian saw the black man's lips moving as he pointed at Miles. The birds attacked. The dogs and man fought bravely, but Brian watched his father fall. The birds flew away as soon as he quit fighting. Mr. Deidrich leaned forward, obviously taunting the downed man, before disappearing in a puff of black smoke.

    Terrified, Brian didn't want to see any more. He tried to break the connection with Jackie Barrett. She held his hand tightly and he directed his gaze back to the vision. His father rose slowly, staggering to his feet. Bruised and bloody, he spread his arms. Again, Brian saw him speaking. A whirlwind sprang up, racing after the birds, catching them in the vortex. The birds were torn apart, turning to fog and leaves. A few escaped, but most were destroyed.
    Brian saw his father bend over, hands on his knees, gasping and panting. The dogs circled around him, licking his wounds. The vision faded.

    Brian jumped up, nearly knocking over the tall crystal. "I have to go! I have to find my dad. He needs me."

    Jackie caught his hand, tugging him back to the floor. "No, Brian. That was something that already happened. Your dad isn't there anymore."

    "How do you know?" he yelled at her, fighting to rise.

    "Think about it, Brian. It was daylight and there was no snow. It looked like early fall."

    Brian sank to the floor, sobbing. He covered his eyes, rubbing hard, fighting against the tears. Men don't cry. Isn't that what he'd always been told? But he had to. The pain was too deep.

    Jackie held him, letting him cry. She spoke soothingly to him. After a little while, he felt better and leaned back, her hand still in his.

    "This is so hard for you, but you're strong, Brian. You can do this."

    "I can't do it on my own."

    "No one is asking you to. There will be individual challenges, but you have friends and family. You're not alone."

    "I'm scared," he admitted quietly.

    "Good. The fear will protect you. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. Being afraid makes you careful. It's when we don't fear that we fail to pay attention to that inner voice—like the one that called you in here. Listen to that voice, Brian. It will tell you what to do."

    As far fetched as it sounded, Brian knew it was true. Suddenly exhausted, he said good night. He put Lester down by the crystal and headed to his room.

    Jackie Barrett watched the boy close the door and sighed. He'd been given so much responsibility. It was too much to expect from a boy his age. There was no avoiding it. This was a time that he, and others, had to endure. They would learn from it and grow—or it would consume them. Quietly, she went upstairs and got back in bed with her husband.

    "Hey, babe. All right now?"

    "Everything's fine. Go back to sleep." She cuddled next to Heath and fell into a troubled sleep.

    Brian noticed Jordan as he got in bed. She lay, facing him, curled on her side, with a hand tucked under her chin. She looked like a little girl when she slept, but Brian could see lines of worry in her face. Had they always been there? Or were they new? Did he have them too? He hadn't noticed, but he hadn't spent a lot of time looking at himself either. He lay down on his stomach, arms under the pillow, and fell soundly asleep almost immediately.

    Brian woke with a start, his dreams full of unnamed horrors. Lying there, covered in a cold sweat, he wondered what time it was. There was no clock in the den and he didn't wear a watch. He reached for his cellphone, deep in his pants pocket. 6:15. Groaning, he huddled under the covers, feeling Jordan at his back. When Brian moved, she stirred around and sat up.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  7. #87

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 40

    "You okay?" she asked dreamily.

    "Had some bad dreams. Don't remember them, though."

    "You kept calling out. You had me worried a few times."

    "Sorry. I'm okay right now. I had some strange things happen after you went to sleep." He told her about the vision he'd had of his father.

    "Wow! Really? So, he's alive, then?"

    "Of course he's alive. Why wouldn't he be?"

    "I don't know. I just had it in my mind that he was dead."

    "All this time you thought my dad wasn't alive?"

    "Why else would he leave and not come back? He obviously loves you guys a lot or he wouldn't have left all this information for you. I know if my dad left like that, he'd come back if he could."

    "Maybe he can't yet," Brian said tersely. "My dad's a lot like yours. He's strong and takes charge. He doesn't let his family suffer if he doesn't have to. He's a good man, Jordan!" Tears burned in his eyes. It was important to him that she understand what his father was like.

    "I get it, Brian. I know your dad is a good guy. I don't know how I know that, but I do. I know that whatever he's doing, it's to protect you and your mom."

    "It's more than that. This stuff that's happening, it's evil. I got that from the vision. He's not the only one fighting, but he's the main one going on the offensive right now. He needs reinforcements. He needs us. Not just you and me, but your parents, my mom, Chase and his dad. I think Mr. Finley knows a lot more about all this than he's said."

    "I think so, too. It's time to get him and Chase together with our parents and have a talk. We need to know what they know. But first, we need to read everything your father left for you. Maybe something in that research will give us a key."

    "Mr. Finley kept saying we needed to see the pattern."

    "Not we, you. He was pretty specific."

    "Maybe so, but I have a feeling that even if I'm at the center of this, we all need to see it. We all bring things to the table."

    "And we're all in pairs. There's you and me, Andre and Louisa, Sweet and Ginnifer, Mom and Dad, your parents, and Chase...." She paused. "Does he have a girlfriend?"

    Brian's eyes widened and he stared at Jordan. "You're gonna laugh when I tell you."

    "Why? Is he dating that Marissa girl?"

    Brian nodded slowly. Jordan's jaw dropped.

    "No way! Chase and Uptight Barbie? You're kidding!"

    "They were, anyway. I don't know if they're still together. They had a big fight a few weeks ago. She's a religious freak and he's—well, he's a guy."

    "So, he wanted sex and she's too frigid to give it up?"

    Brian snorted in disgust. "Something like that."

    "Good thing you aren't like that. You'd be sadly disappointed."

    "We aren't dating," he reminded her. "That puts a different spin on things."

    "Why?"

    "Because it would mean that I was actually attracted to you," he replied casually, turning away from her.

    Brian was teasing, but clearly Jordan didn't think so. A pillow hit him in the back of the head. Jordan's shriek very likely woke the household.

    "You bastard! I'm not deformed or anything! You seemed pretty interested in my chest!" She continued to hit him with pillows, scrambling to her feet, on the bed, to get better leverage.

    "That was an accident." Brian moved away from her, laughing. "Your coat hung up on the Velcro." He put his arms up, laughing as she battered him with two pillows now.

    "Oh, you!" Jordan launched herself at him. Her trajectory was off and she missed him.

    To keep her from landing in a heap on the floor, Brian caught her. His hands slipped and he had a handful of her chest as she slid down, kicking and cursing. He tried to help her up, but she struggled up on her own, narrowly missing his chin with the top of her head. Still angry and fighting like a wet cat, she knocked him over. Brian made a grab at her and they tumbled on the bed together, with Jordan lying on top of him. Their faces were mere inches apart.

    For the second time since they'd met, Brian felt an undeniable urge to kiss her. He watched as her angry gaze softened. Her dark hair cascaded around them smelling like dusky flowers—a scent that was uniquely Jordan. She leaned closer, eyes drooping closed. Brian raised his head, meeting her halfway.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  8. #88

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 41

    Their lips met with a little spark, making them both jump. The tingle wasn't unpleasant, in fact, it added to the pleasurable sensations they felt when their lips met once more. Jordan put her arms around his neck, cushioning his head on her arms. Brian's hands held her hips tightly. He rolled to his left, sandwiching her body between his and the bed.

    Brian's boldness grew and his hands slid up to Jordan's waist and higher, to her ribs. His fingers moved of their own accord, touching her full chest. Suddenly, he stopped. His eyes flew open and he sat up.

    Jordan squeaked angrily, grabbing for his face. Brian's gaze was fixated on the door. Tilting her head, Jordan saw what had him transfixed. Maribelle Casey stood there, framed by the door, waiting expectantly. She might not be able to see them, but her other senses were more alert. She knew something was happening. The air was charged with raw energy, heavy with the scent of pheromones.

    Brian jumped up, as far from Jordan as he could get. "It's not what you think, Mom. We were just playing around and fell over."

    "I see. And when you fell over, you just felt compelled to put your tongue in her mouth?"

    "Mom, I swear!"

    "Out," she said calmly. "Go have a shower."

    "Are you going to tell?"

    "Go," she said again.

    Brian quietly gathered his things and left the room. His mother closed the door behind him. He heard her speaking to Jordan, but not what she was saying.

    While he was in the shower, Brian thought of all the things his mother would say when he got out. He lingered as long as he could, until his conscience got the better of him. He dried off and dressed, combing his fingers through his hair. He'd forgotten his hairbrush in the den.

    When he got back, the door was open and his mother waited for him, sitting primly on the edge of the recliner's seat. She looked up when he got to the doorway, smiling.

    "Jordan told me what happened," she said quietly. "I won't say anything, but I do think we need to go home. The weather's cleared up and the radio said the freak storm has lifted."

    "I'm sorry, Mom. I never intended...."

    She held up her hand, stopping him. "I know. I was fifteen once, I remember what it was like. All those raging hormones."

    "It wasn't like that, Mom." Obviously, she really didn't get it. "We were talking and Jordan got mad at something I said, and hit me with the pillow. We fell over and she landed on me.... I made a mistake."

    "What if it had been Heath or Jackie who caught you, and not me?"

    Brian shook his head, shrugging.

    "Can't hear a shrug, son," she teased.

    "I don't know," he replied, somewhat tersely.

    Jordan appeared in the doorway behind him. He stepped aside, letting her in. Maribelle focused her attention on Jordan, though the girl hadn't made any noise. She'd just showered. Her hair was wet and pulled back in a loose bun.

    "Maribelle, Mom said to tell you that the coffee is ready. May I get you some?"

    "I'll get it, honey. Thanks." She stood, looking more like herself than she had in quite awhile. "You," she pointed to Brian. "Hands and lips to yourself," she said quietly. "And you," she turned to Jordan. "Keep him on a short leash."

    "Honestly, it's not like that," Jordan protested.

    Maribelle put her finger on Jordan's lips, smiling. "Maybe not, but you still need to try to control him." She walked toward the kitchen with unerring accuracy.

    "It's spooky how she can do that with such confidence. I can see perfectly, and I'm still clumsy as hell," Jordan said.

    "I think she sees more than she lets on," Brian said. "But not well enough to do all the things she used to."

    "What caused it?"

    "Doctors don't know. It just kind of happened. One day, she was fine. The next, blind. Right after my dad left."

    "Weird." She shuffled her feet. "Look, I'm sorry about what happened. Did she get mad?"

    "No. It was strange. I thought she'd be yelling. She just told me to control myself and she wouldn't say anything. I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have taken advantage of you like that."

    Jordan laughed lightly, grinning up at him. "As I recall, it was a pretty mutual thing. But she's right. Self-control."

    Brian chuckled, shaking his head. "Yeah. That's gonna happen." He walked off.

    "What's that supposed to mean?" Jordan called after him.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  9. #89

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 42

    Brian merely continued to laugh and shake his head. A pillow hit him in back of the head. That seemed to be Jordan's major method of communication when she was angry with him. At least it wasn't painful, even if it was annoying. Another pillow hit him, and another.

    "How many of those doggone things are there?" He whirled around and the next one caught him in the face. "Jordan, dammit!"

    Whap! Another pillow.

    "Tell me what you meant." Whap!

    "Dammit, Jordan!" He ducked the next pillow, catching it as it whizzed over his shoulder.

    Apparently, she'd run out. The pillows stopped coming at him. Instead, she stood in the doorway, looking for all the world like she wanted to cry.

    "I didn't mean anything bad, jeez! What is this? Death by Stuffing?"

    "You're not funny," she whimpered. "And you're laughing at me."

    "I'm not—no. Not at you, silly. At myself." He walked over, taking her hands in his. "I didn't mean what I said before about not being attracted to you. You're all kinds of hot, Jordan. If I were a different kind of guy, I'd be all over that. But we have to stay focused on whatever it is we're supposed to do." He moved a step closer, gazing down at her. "It felt good kissing you. And sometime, I'd like to do that again. But not in your parents' house."

    Jordan nodded, biting her lower lip. Her dark eyes filled with tears. She came toward him, putting her arms around his waist. Brian held her close, arms around her back. She was so short, he could rest his chin on her head. Jordan pressed her cheek to his chest.

    "I'm really scared, Brian. What are we fighting? How do we do it?"

    "I don't know, Jordan. We'll read Dad's papers today and see what we can find out."

    "Life was so much easier before."

    "Yeah, but it was boring as hell. Being a social pariah isn't all it's cracked up to be."

    Jordan laughed, loosening her hold on Brain. She smiled up at him. "Speak for yourself, dweeb. I rocked being an outcast."

    Brian's stomach growled, then Jordan's. They laughed at one another and themselves as they headed to the kitchen.
    Their parents sat around the table, sipping coffee and eating scones. Jackie had prepared three kinds—blueberry, cranberry-orange and lemon. Brian heaped his plate with one of each. He put a couple on a plate for Jordan as she served them each a mug of coffee.

    "That's what I call teamwork," Heath said with a grin. "Sorry there's no school again today."

    "Ah, well," Brian said, sighing. "I do miss the excitement of the classroom. All that learning. Blissful."

    Jordan nearly choked on her scone. Brian helpfully patted her on the back. Heath chuckled, raising his coffee in salute.

    "I'm sure that it's extremely enlightening and enervating," Heath mused.

    "Oh, Daddy. Using all those big lawyer words! How do you do it?" Jordan gushed, batting her eyelashes at her father, her tone sarcastic in the extreme.

    "Jackie, my love, we have a smart-alec as a daughter."

    "Do you think so, honey? What gave you that idea?" She also batted her eyelashes at her husband.

    Heath threw up his hands in defeat. "I swear, Maribelle, if you pull the same thing on me, I'm gonna retire."

    "Retire from what?" She asked innocently. Her beatific smile was as disarming as the fluttering eyelashes.

    "That's it." Heath threw his napkin into the middle of the table. "I've officially conceded the battle."

    "What battle are you conceding, darling?" Jackie asked.

    "The Battle of the Sexes. I'm out gunned. Brian, throw in the towel now before they gank you, too."

    "Gee, golly, whiz, Heath. You folded awfully fast. If that's the kind of backup I've got, I don't stand a chance."

    "Pick your battles, son. It's safer that way."

    Brian laughed at his mock defeat. It was exactly the same kind of thing that his dad would have said. Heath reminded him a lot of his father. They were only slightly similar in looks, but the way they viewed the world was very much the same. Their warm, bantering way with their wives and children, even the way they laughed. Brian suddenly missed his dad, so much that it actually hurt. His chest tightened and he thought he was going to cry.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  10. #90

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 43

    "Excuse me," he said, dropping his napkin. His meal was only half eaten, but his appetite was gone.

    Jordan started to go after him, but her father stopped her.

    "I got this, baby girl. Got a feeling it's a guy thing." He got up and followed Brian.

    Heath found the boy on the front porch, barefoot and coatless, shivering in his shirt sleeves. He dropped a pair of battered slippers on the porch and handed Brian an afghan from the couch. Brian bundled up and Heath led him to the porch swing. They sat, swinging for a minute before Heath spoke.

    "Want to talk about it?"

    Brian shrugged, shaking his head.

    "Meaning you do, but I'm not your dad."

    "Where did he go, Heath? Why has he been gone so long? Doesn't he know we need him? We're worried about him?"

    "Of course, he does. He's probably worried sick about you both, all the time."

    "Then where is he and why isn't here? Where we need him!"

    Heath shook his head. "I don't know. But my guess is that whatever it is he's doing, it's important. Maybe the most important thing he's ever done. Jackie told me about your vision. He's fighting Deidrich. That seems pretty significant."

    "Yeah." Brian paused, holding in a sob. "I don't understand any of this. How is a bunch of stuff about rocks supposed to help me fight, when I don't know who I'm fighting or how to use it?"

    "Suppose we finish our breakfast and get those papers out. We can spread them out in the dining room and all of us take a look."

    "My mom...."

    "We can take turns reading it aloud. Sometimes that helps understanding anyway."

    "I guess you're right."

    Heath chuckled. "I don't know if I am or not, kid. I'm just freezing my buns off out here."

    They went back in the house. Jackie poured fresh coffee for them both and Jordan put their scones in the microwave to reheat them. After they cleaned up and loaded the dishwasher, Brian got the case of papers.

    Jordan led them into the dining room and helped Maribelle get acclimated to the new room. Brian, Heath and Jackie laid out the papers in separate stacks. They'd gotten out of order when Brian dropped them, but luckily, they were numbered. Jordan joined them when she'd gotten Maribelle settled. It took very little time to get the stacks sorted and in order.

    Brian inhaled deeply, putting his hand on the top page. Words came into his mind, like those he'd said to the whirlwind and spoken to Mr. Deidrich. He didn't understand them, but spoke them anyway. He sensed it was some sort of prayer or blessing. Something on the table rattled and Brian saw that Jackie had brought in Lester. He picked up the purple stone skull, holding it in both hands as he spoke the words again. It warmed in his hands and light glowed briefly in the empty sockets.

    Brian set the skull in the middle of the table and they gathered around, each picking up a stack. They took turns reading about the magical properties of stones, wood and metals. Brian learned more about the stones on his necklace and how to make a small charm with different combinations of each. He learned that Oak, Ash and Thorn were considered the sacred trinity of trees in the Celtic zodiac. Similar to the Greek Zodiac, each 26 days the symbolic tree changed.

    It was interesting to note that Brian, Chase and Jordan were born on the fifteenth of three different months. Chase was the eldest, his birthday March Fifteenth. Brian was next, his birthday falling on May Fifteenth. Jordan's was last, on June Fifteenth. The most amazing thing about it was that their birth signs were Ash, Hawthorne and Oak, respectively.

    Around noon, the women went to fix lunch leaving Heath with the teenagers. They went through new stacks, highlighting passages to share with the others.

    "We need to contact Chase and his father," Brian said.

    "His dad said he had his own stuff to learn," Jordan reminded him.

    "Yeah, but if we're all in this together, shouldn't we find out what they know and tell them what we know?"

    "What about Marissa?" Jordan asked.

    "We don't even know if they're still dating," Brian reminded her. "And I'm not sure I feel comfortable asking Chase. If they aren't together and it was a really bad breakup...."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  11. #91

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 44 & 45

    "Good point. And Marissa just loves me so much, she's never going to tell me anything."

    "What, not BFFs?" Brian teased.

    "Shut up. As if I'd be friends with that anorexic Barbie doll."

    "That isn't really important," Heath reminded them. "Getting through the rest of this, is."

    "I want to know more about the necklace," Brian said. "I wonder where it came from and who made it."

    "Oh, now this is interesting," Heath said. He pulled out a sheet of paper he'd been studying and laid it on the table. "This is very interesting."

    The teenagers glanced at it, shaking their heads. It didn't look all that impressive to either of them.

    "It's a family tree," Heath persisted, wanting them to see its importance. He shook the paper at them rather emphatically.
    The women came in with a platter of sandwiches and a big bowl of chips. Heath and Brian took the serving dishes, setting them on the table.

    "Honey, I found something kind of cool," Heath said as he held his wife, helping her sit.

    "Really? What?"

    "It's just some dumb family tree," Jordan said before taking a bite of her sandwich.

    "Yes, but it's got an interesting name on it," Heath said.

    "Dad, you just want it to be cool," Jordan said, mouth full.

    Her father huffed an irritated sigh. "I bet your mother and Maribelle will see it differently. Maribelle, did you know that your husband's family is distantly related to Edgar Cayce?"

    "The man who had visions?" Jackie's surprise was evident.

    Maribelle smiled, nodding. "Yes, it's a distant link, and one that most of the family doesn't acknowledge. They changed the spelling of the last name, sometime after he started getting his visions, and cut him off."

    "Why? He was so brilliant," Jackie sounded awed.

    "He was considered a raving lunatic," Maribelle said. "No one wanted to be associated with a crazy man."

    "But you see why this is interesting?" Heath asked.

    "Yes," Maribelle replied. "That sensitivity is inherent in the family line. There are others who had the talent for telling the future, or seeing things that weren't there. When Brian was little, he had horrible nightmares. After talking to members of Miles' family, we realized they weren't just nightmares, they were visions. He still has them, sometimes, but they don't wake him up like they used to."

    "Is that true, Brian?" Jackie asked.

    "Yeah, but I can't remember them when I wake up."

    "At one point, Miles was so worried, he took Brian to a sleep specialist. They put all those electrodes on him and filmed him as he slept."

    "Why don't I remember that?" Brian asked.

    "You were very young," his mother replied. "Maybe four or five. Whatever they found out, Miles never fully shared it with me. He told me it wasn't life threatening, and not to worry. Of course, I did anyway. He never showed me the tapes they made."

    "Do you—have them?" Brian asked. "Did Dad keep them?"

    "I think he did. They're probably in his office somewhere. Why?"

    "I want to see them," Brian demanded. "Can we get them?"

    "Sure, kid," Heath said. "I'll take you by after lunch. The women can go through this information."

    "I want to go too," Jordan said. "We all need a break from this."

    "Honestly, I'd like a nap," Jackie said. "I bet Maribelle wouldn't mind one."

    "I would love a nap," Maribelle said with a smile.

    "Then let's put the papers up and call it a day," Heath said.

    He picked up the stacks they'd gone through and put a red, industrial sized rubber band around them. He put a blue one around the smaller stack that they hadn't gone through. Brian put them back in the briefcase and Heath locked them in the safe in his office.

    The three of them bundled up before going out. It was snowing again. Fluffy flakes fell in a festive flurry. The teenagers bundled in the back of the SUV while Heath hopped in the front. He turned the heat on full and turned on the seat warmers.

    "Best invention ever made for cars," he commented as he waited for his car to warm up.

    "And here I thought it was anti-lock brakes and windshield wipers," Jordan said.

    "Get in a car on a cold day without these babies, you'll learn to appreciate them."

    They drove slowly to Brian's house. The storm gathered, getting worse. Visibility was poor and it took almost 10 minutes to drive the two blocks to the Casey's home.

    It was chilly inside. Brian checked the thermostat and saw that it was around 65 degrees. That didn't make sense. The heat was on 71. A quick look around showed that the doors and windows were all closed. However, when Brian walked past the basement door, he felt a breeze. He and Heath went down together and found that the backdoor that Brian had helped repair, was open. The door at the top of the steps was closed and locked.

    "That's just weird," Brian said. "I know Mr. Hamilton and I checked that and made sure it was locked and dead bolted. It hasn't been tampered with, has it?"

    "Not that I can tell," Heath remarked, running his fingers over the latch. "Let's put something against it until we can get the carpenter and a locksmith over here."

    "Good idea."

    They got the sofa from the rec room and shoved it in front of the door.

    While they were downstairs, Jordan went to the office to look for the tapes. She looked through all the drawers and filing cabinets, even checking under the drawers. She was in the process of pulling out the books and flipping through them, when Brian and Heath joined her.

    "Does your dad have a safe in here?" she asked.

    "Wouldn't put it past him. He's kind of paranoid. He had odd little cubbyholes all over the house. Most of them were here when it was built in 1850. The whole house is double walled, with a foot of air space between the inside and the outside walls. It's like two feet thick altogether. Dad thought that it was possible that whoever built the house probably helped escaped slaves. We had a priest hole in the living room, but it was damaged and had to be taken out. They just expanded the room and made kind of a bookcase thing. We check every nook and cranny of the house. If we have to tap on every wall...." He snapped his fingers. "I just had an idea." He ran out of the room and down to the basement. He came back a few minutes later with something that looked like a TV remote, only it was bright yellow and black. "Stud finder."

    "Do you know how to use it?" Heath asked.

    "Of course I do, it's mine."

    Brian went to the nearest wall and put the stud finder against it before turning it on. He moved it until it beeped. Going a few feet over, he repeated the process. Jordan watched him with interest.

    "Why are you doing that?" she asked.

    "Because, the studs should be fourteen and a half to twenty-four inches apart, depending on if it's an insulated, structural wall or just finished for looks. Like this wall. It's an inner wall, not insulated, so the studs are—aha! Twenty-two inches apart. Not sure why." He frowned slightly. "But see? If we find an extra large gap, we know we're in the right place."

    "Do you have more than one stud finder?" Jordan asked.

    "I do."

    He handed her a second one from his pocket. It was older and more battered than his, but still worked. Jordan sensed this was his father's. She took it from Brian and handed it to her father.

    "Why don't you help with this and I'll keep doing what I'm doing."

    "Which is what, exactly?" Heath asked.

    "Checking for hiding places in the books and shelves."

    "You've read too many mysteries, honey," her father said.

    Jordan picked up a book and it rattled. She opened it, finding a hollowed out area. The pages were stuck together, forming a box. Inside the box was a key. It looked like an old fashioned pressure key—one that would shove straight into a special slot and not turn. A red ribbon adorned one end. Jordan grinned at her father, holding up the book and key.

    "Yeah. Reading a book doesn't teach you a thing." She smirked, waving the key at him.

    "She's going to be insufferable now," Brian said as he examined the key.

    "Now? She wasn't before?" Heath teased his daughter.

    "Well. Okay, more insufferable."

    Jordan swatted at him, but Brian dodged.

    "No pillows in here, missy."

    "I'll get you for that remark," she warned. "Maybe not right away, but you'll be near pillows sometime."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  12. #92

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 46

    "Now we just need to find where this goes," Heath said. "Logically, if the key is here, then the thing it unlocks would be too."

    "Unless my dad wanted to keep them separate," Brian said. "But it's more logical your way," he agreed with Heath. "So, what now?"

    "We look for somewhere to shove it," Jordan snarked.

    Brian and her father gave her withering stares. Jordan took the key, twirling it by the ribbon.

    "We're burning daylight, gentlemen." She sat in the desk chair, swiveling back and forth.

    "Aren't you helping anymore?" Brian asked.

    "I found the key. It's your job to find the lock. Should be easy. That's if you've read the right books."

    "She's a holy terror," Brian said to Heath.

    "Told ya."

    They made their way around the room. When they got to the area behind the desk, the stud finders went crazy, the readings dancing around erratically. Brian tried a couple times with both stud finders, but something was throwing off the readings. He tapped with his father's heavy stainless steel letter opener and determined there was a large, square opening. The wall looked blank, making them wonder if the access was from another room.

    "What's behind this?" Heath asked, tapping the wall.

    "It's back to back with the dining room," Brian said, heading for the door.

    Jordan followed. Heath stayed behind to tap on the wall to help them locate the gap on the other side. They determined it was behind a large painting in the dining room. Brian and Heath had to lift the antique still life from the wall together, it was so large and heavy. The wall showed the fade of years.

    "No one has redone this room for at least twenty years," Brian said. "It was like this when I was little and my grandparents lived here."

    "I still don't see any obvious—" Jordan stopped talking suddenly. She pointed to the wall.

    At first, Brian and Heath didn't see what had caught her eye. Where the edge of the painting had been, there was a narrow slit in the wall. It looked like part of the embossed metal wall covering had come loose. On closer inspection, they could see it was intentional.

    Jordan handed Brian the key. He put it in and pushed. At first, nothing happened. Then, part of he wall moved in and back. The hole was roughly two feet square. Heath found a flashlight in the kitchen and shown it into the hole. Brian saw an old fashioned safe with a combination lock.

    "Now what? I have no idea what the combination is."

    "Can the combination be reset?" Jordan asked.

    "No idea. Why?"

    "Because if it's one that's been the same since time immemorial, we may never figure it out. I don't know about you guys, but my safe cracking skills are kinda rusty."

    "Try nonexistent," Brian said.

    "But if it can be reset, most people use a number they can remember, like their birthday, anniversary," she mused.

    "Or the date their only son was born," Heath suggested.

    Brian nodded, working the combination like he did his locker at school. He set the tumblers for his birthday and tried the handle. It didn't work. His next try was his mother's birthday, then his father's and finally their anniversary.

    "Try European style," Jordan suggested.

    Brian did, setting the day first, then the month. Still nothing.

    Heath grinned, his dark eyes twinkling. "I have an idea. What's your full birthday?"

    "May Fifteenth, Nineteen Ninety-Seven."

    Heath tried again. Instead of dialing the way Brian had been—5, 15, 9, 7 he tried 0, 5, 1, 5. Taking a deep breath, Brian tugged the handle. The lever turned with a click and the safe came open. Heath illuminated the contents with the flashlight. Brian reached into the opening, pulling out several items. One was a stack of money held with a sealed bank tape. There were several of these. He didn't allow himself to be distracted by the money, setting it aside with irritation. He continued digging until he found a shoe box. It rattled slightly as he lifted it out. Opening the lid, they saw a row of neatly labeled video tapes.

    "Jackpot," he said.

    Jordan had picked up the money, flipping through it. "There's a lot of cash here, Brian. Thousands of dollars."

    "Put it back," Brian said. "We got what we were after."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  13. #93

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 47

    "But your mom can use this."

    "She may know it's there," Brian said. "So we leave it."

    "Okay." She put the money back in reluctantly.

    Other items followed. A packet of pictures was in an envelope at the bottom of the stack. The color prints were faded and brittle, as if they were old. A few fell out onto the floor. Jordan picked them up, dropping them with a gasp.

    "That's you!" She pointed accusingly at her father. "What are you doing in pictures in Brian's house?"

    Heath picked up the pictures, smiling fondly. "Wow, that takes me back a few years. Yes, that's me," he admitted. "And that's Brian's dad and Clifford Finley. We went to high school together."

    "Is that Mom?" Jordan stabbed the photograph.

    "Yes. And there's Maribelle."

    "Why did you act like you'd never met her before? You never said!"

    Heath sighed, holding the picture fondly. "I'd almost forgotten that summer. That was the year we all turned fifteen. My birthday was in March, your mom's in June. This was at Miles' party in May. Born just about the same time as you," he said to Brian.

    "The day before," Brian replied quietly. "And mom's birthday is in June, just like Jackie's."

    "Oak, Ash and Hawthorne," Jordan whispered. "Just like us. Dad? What's going on?"

    Her father didn't answer right away. He put the things back in the safe and removed the key from the wall. He handed it to Brian. When the key was removed, the hole closed.

    "Let's put up the picture. At least now we know we don't have to move it every time," Heath suggested.

    "You still haven't answered my question," Jordan said. "What's going on?"

    "That summer, things changed. Stuff started happening. And this stranger came out of nowhere—a bum in the woods. It was rumored that he was breaking into houses and stealing things. No one could prove it, but the police did their best to run him off. It wasn't until our parents got involved that they finally got rid of him. No one saw him again for almost twenty years. Until he showed up at our door."

    "Mr. Deidrich?"

    "Yes."

    "How did he get in? Didn't you recognize him?"

    "I did, but by that time, he was already inside. Your mom never saw him before," he told Jordan. "She invited him in when I wasn't there. By that time, he'd gotten his shoe in and influenced all three of us before I realized what had happened."

    "How did you fight him off?" Brian asked. "He didn't have nearly the hold on you he had on our mothers."

    "I didn't drink his tea, I just pretended. And I used the same charm you did later. The salt was a nice touch."

    "Mr. Finley gave that to me."

    Heath nodded. "Cliff Finley always had a way with charms. He was better at them than the rest of us. Your mother was the one who had an affinity for stones and metals," he told Jordan. "Maribelle always had a way with plants. Her tisanes and potions are amazing."

    "Charms? Potions? Dad, you make this sound like something out of Harry Potter. What are you guys, witches or something?"

    Her father didn't reply. Instead, he sat at the table and folded his hands in front of him. He waited for the teenagers to join him. They sat, leaning forward expectantly.

    "For lack of a better term, you could call us witches, but Druids might be more accurate. Our families know about the old ways and keep them alive. When we reach fifteen, a sort of floodgate opens and we start to see things and have unusual experiences."

    "You call having fog creatures stalk you—unusual?" Jordan asked angrily.

    "I don't know what to call it," Heath replied. "We never had stuff like that happen. But you have to remember that this is a pivotal year. This is the year everything changes."

    "Because the Aztec calendar says the world is going to end?" Brian's suggestion was somewhat sarcastic.

    "Not entirely. It's not going to end, but much will change. It's like that every hundred years or so."

    "You'd think it would be in the year two thousand instead of now," Brian said.

    "Not all calendars are the same and there are discrepancies. Who knows how it originally started. Anyway, your great-great-great grandmother was born in 1917, five years after the last major upheaval. There's a special child in each generation of each family."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  14. #94

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 48

    "How many families are involved?"

    "Eight in every key location. We're in one of those spots. There's another one in the Spokane area of Washington, one in Peru, another in New Zealand—all over the world. If we were to trace you back far enough, you'd find that somewhere in the family lineage was a Druid or other magic wielder."

    "This is getting more far fetched by the minute," Brian said. "Ancient Druids? Really?"

    "Scoff if you want, but it's true."

    "Who is Deidrich?"

    "We aren't exactly sure. He shows up when there's big trouble brewing. We don't know if he's the ringleader or a flunky. He's powerful and pure evil. He's the reason your dad left. He showed up around the time you and Chase turned fifteen. He was afraid he'd come to cause trouble. It appears he was right. When Jordan started seeing things, Jackie and I didn't want to believe she was the one. We have five kids. I always hoped that the burden would fall on one of the boys."

    "Nice, Dad. Wish this on someone else."

    "You are my only daughter," Heath replied. "I've got your older brothers and I love them dearly, but you're my baby girl. If I had to pass this on to someone, why not one of my boys? But fate chose differently. That's why we moved back here after your fall. We knew we'd be needed and you'd be safer with the others around."

    "Is that why I've always taken gymnastics and martial arts? My friends all took ballet. I took kick boxing."

    "Exactly."

    "How did you know it was Jordan?"

    "I know this sounds like something out of a Fantasy, novel, but she has a mark. I bet you have one too."

    The teenagers lifted their left arms, gazing at the underside of their biceps. Each of them had a peculiar strawberry mark. They were nearly identical in shape, size and color. Heath lifted his arm, pulling up his sleeve. He had the same mark.

    "It appears when you're chosen," he told them calmly.

    "If you know all this stuff, why are you reading through it all with us like it's new?" Brian asked suddenly.

    "It's always good to have a refresher," Heath replied. "And we have to make sure you actually do it. We haven't forgotten learning it ourselves. It's not exactly Donkey Kong."

    "Meaning it's not a video game? Or meaning it's not much fun?" Jordan asked.

    "Both. Smarty. Admit it, if we weren't taking you through it, you'd have ignored that family tree."

    "I still don't get why that's such a big deal," Brian said. "So I'm related to some weird guy who had visions."

    "Not just some weird guy," Heath replied, somewhat exasperated. "He was a prophet. He had visions that were very accurate. His dreams were written down and are referred to even today. He foretold this time. He knew it was coming and he tried to tell people to be prepared. Unfortunately, those who actually believed him were considered just this side of crazy."

    "Are you comparing my dreams to his?"

    "Edgar Cayce trained himself to remember and record his dreams. None of us knew how to train you because none of us had visions the same way. Your folks tried, but you were so afraid of what you were seeing, you blanked them out. The only way to document your dreams was to film you when you were asleep. Some of these tapes I've seen, but I had no idea where Miles kept them."

    "You've seen tapes of me talking in my sleep?" Brian was horrified.

    "Yes. I'm sorry. I wouldn't have, but it was important."

    "What did I say?"

    Heath paused. "I think it's important that you see for yourself. My telling you won't make as much of an impact. But be prepared for.... Well, be prepared."

    They took the tapes into the living room and Brian set up the VCR. The tapes began with a date stamp at the beginning. A man's voice narrated, doing a sort of voice over, until the action focused on Brian. He saw an image of himself. He looked about six. He was dressed in his pajamas and a technician was sticking sensors to him. His father sat with him, keeping him calm.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  15. #95

    Default Re: He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 48

    "Will you be in here, Daddy?"

    "I'll be right here the whole time," Miles replied.

    Brian felt his eyes water. His father had always been his rock, his security. Once the sensors were in place, Brian went to bed. His father sat with him, reading books and singing to him until he fell asleep. Miles stayed by the bed, a pen and legal pad in hand.

    "I'm writing down the times that he speaks and as much as I can of what he says, in order to document this in written form as well as the video."

    Brian mumbled, tossing and turning under the blankets. Miles leaned closer, listening. The sound was muffled somewhat by blankets, but the recording picked them up.

    "October thirty-first, Halloween night—twenty-twelve. The boy shall see things unlike any in this life. He shall run at first, but soon he will stand up and take charge. He will dream dreams and see visions. And the guardians will watch over him."

    Watching it now, Brian realized that his six year old self had seen him fight off the wraiths in the fog on Halloween night. It was obvious the child didn't know he saw himself nine years in the future.

    They watched a while longer. Each dream narrative was as confounding to Brian as the first had been. His phrases were clipped, abrupt and frightening.

    "I don't remember any of this," Brian said. "Why can't I remember?"

    "I wish I could tell you," Heath said. "I don't know."

    The last tape showed Brian in an office. He and his parents sat in front of a large, wooden desk, waiting. There were no wires or sensors, so Brian assumed that this was a meeting rather than another sleep session. A man in a suit and tie walked in. Miles rose, shaking his hand. Brian clung to his mother.

    "Mr. and Mrs. Casey, Brian." He smiled. His eyes were sad, but his smile was warm.

    Brian looked at the man, searching his face for something familiar. The man raised his glasses and Brian shivered with recognition, but not in a bad way. There was something special about this man. He had mocha colored skin, and his eyes were a silvery color that glittered like metal.

    "He looks like Andre," Jordan said in an awed whisper.

    "I'm Doctor Beauchamps," he said, his voice lilting with a Creole accent. "You were referred to me by my colleague, Dr. Rufus, in Natchez."

    "Yes, sir. He said maybe you could help us. Our son—sees—things," Miles said slowly, gauging the doctor's reaction.

    "What sort of things, Mr. Casey?"

    Brian's parents exchanged a furtive glance. They weren't sure how much to share with this unfamiliar man.

    "Mr. and Mrs. Casey, Dr. Rufus is a close friend and mentor. He also—bears the mark."

    Brian's parents gasped. Dr. Beauchamps took off his suit coat and rolled up his left sleeve, showing them something hidden there. Brian assumed it was his own mark.

    "Anything you tell me will be in strictest confidence. And I assure you, I will believe you."

    "Brian dreams," Maribelle Casey said, stroking her son's hair. "He has such horrific nightmares that he wakes up screaming. He's terrified to go to bed."

    "Does he always have them?" The doctor asked.

    "No," she replied. "But his dreams are so real to him. He can't sleep. He's scared, Doctor. I want my son to stop being afraid to close his eyes at night."

    "I see." Dr. Beauchamps nodded, steepling his fingers under his chin. "Brian, can we sit over there a moment so I may look at you?"

    Brian grinned, nodding. He regarded the doctor with complete trust. Dr. Beauchamps led him to a leather couch and sat next to him. He gazed intently into Brian's eyes. Without relaxing his gaze, he spoke to Brian's parents.

    "I can take away the fear and dull the memory of the dreams—for a time. When he reaches the Age of Awakening, the dreams will resume. Quite possibly with more intensity than before. I can't stop that. Anything I do now will last only until his fifteenth birthday."

    "We understand, Doctor," Maribelle said. "But we have to do what's best for Brian. He doesn't understand what's going on, and we don't either. We don't know anyone who can train him."

    "I don't either. The Dreamers are rare, as you know. But I can take the fear away. Shall I proceed?"

    "What else will it affect? Will he remember us? What he's learned in school?"

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  16. #96

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 50

    "What I intend to do is two fold—I will block the memories of the dreams so he won't be haunted by them. I will also take away the fear of sleeping."

    "Can't you keep him from dreaming?" Miles asked.

    Beauchamps glanced at him, shocked. "If I do that, he'll go mad. A person must dream. I can't stop them, nor would I, even if I could. But I can do what I said. He'll grow to be a man without the fear. Once he matures, the ability will come back. Then nothing can be done. He will learn to master it, or he'll lose his mind." The doctor spread his hands, shaking his head.

    "Do what you can," Maribelle Casey said. "Please! I can't listen to him scream another night. I can't bear to sit with him at night, having him cry himself to sleep."

    Dr. Beauchamps nodded. He dimmed the lights. "Sit over there." He pointed to the far side of the room, deep in shadow. "Brian, I want you to look here," he said softly, his voice dropping an octave.

    Brian focused on an object that the doctor held. It was a bright, clear crystal similar to the one he wore under his shirt. It caught the light, refracting it into brilliant spectra and light-birds.

    The doctor spoke in a soothing baritone, speaking in a language that Brian didn't know. The image of the boy stared at the crystal, watching as it swung and spun in Dr. Beauchamps' hand. A happy smile wreathed his features as he gazed at it, wide eyed. Soon, a joyful sigh escaped him. Dr. Beauchamps put the crystal around his own neck, dropping it under his shirt. He straightened up, his face serene.

    "He's unafraid now," he told the Caseys in a quiet, gentle voice. "He'll sleep on the way home in the car and wake without any knowledge that he was here. When he wakes from his nap, he'll feel happy and free from fear. Bedtime won't scare him, nor will the dreams. Though he'll continue to dream, they will not disturb his slumbers."

    "Thank you," Maribelle said quietly, not wanting to startle her son. "How can we repay you for this?"

    Dr. Beauchamps smiled at them. "When the time comes, help train my boy. He's four years older than Brian and has quite an affinity for telekinesis."

    "Really?" Maribelle smiled. "Wonderful! Miles can help with that. It's one of his gifts."

    "Excellent. Everything should be fine, but if you notice anything unusual about his sleeping habits, or lapses of memory, call me immediately."

    "We will. Thank you," Miles said, shaking Dr. Beauchamps' hand.

    The family left. The doctor walked over to the hidden camera. Reaching for it, he turned it off and the screen went black.
    Brian expelled a breath he hadn't even realized he was holding. "Wow!" He couldn't think of another way to express what he was feeling.

    "Now you know why you can't remember your dreams," Jordan said quietly. "But you still have nightmares."

    "My dreams are incredibly vivid," Brian admitted. "I don't always have nightmares, but they seem to be more frequent now. And he was right. They started the night of my birthday."

    "Do you think you could train yourself to remember and write them down like Edgar Cayce did?" Heath asked.

    "No idea. I never tried. I guess I could. Maybe I should put a voice activated recorder in my room when I sleep."

    "I have one of those," Heath said proudly. "I use it for client interviews. We can get it from my office and set it up."

    "That would be great," Brian admitted. "But it still doesn't get us any closer to how we fight Deidrich or if he's the main bad guy."

    "Maybe your dad said something in his notes," Jordan suggested.

    "Maybe so. I keep wondering if that was the only hiding place. I can't imagine my dad putting all his valuables in the same spot. Things he didn't want even my mom to find, for example, might be somewhere else. We need to check all the walls for another spot for that key."

    "Why do you think that they'd all be hidden the same way?" Jordan asked.

    "If something works, stick with it. Even if the hiding places are revealed, who says the combinations are the same? I'm willing to bet there's more to it than just that one place."

    "Do you want to start up here?" Heath asked.

    "I don't know," Brian admitted. "What do y'all think?"

    "We could each take a different floor," Jordan suggested. "One in the basement, one here and one upstairs."

    That sounded like a good suggestion. Jordan put the key back in its hiding place and they each took a flashlight and struck out for different parts of the house. Heath volunteered to take the basement, since Brian and Jordan weren't too keen on being down there alone. Brian took the top floor while Jordan examined the ground floor. If they didn't find anything, they'd explore the attic together.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  17. #97

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 51

    Brian was halfway through his exploration of his parent's room, using a combination of the stud finder and tapping on the walls, when Heath called his cell.

    "Come downstairs. I think I've found something."

    "Be right there."

    Brian gave the wall a final tap, satisfied he hadn't discovered anything else. He and Jordan met in the kitchen. She followed him down the stairs. Brian trotted down, mindful of the low ceiling at the end of the steps. He ducked his head sideways and noticed the couch was no longer in front of the door. Wondering why Heath had moved it, he came around the end of the stairs and stopped suddenly. Jordan, who was on his heels, nearly fell over him. He caught her automatically, his eyes riveted on the sight before him.

    Seated on the couch, calmly drinking a beer with Heath Barrett, was another man. The man's face was gaunt, sallow. His hair was long, bushy and tangled, with bits of twigs braided in it. His face was covered with a thick growth of beard. He stood slowly, as if his joints were stiff, holding out his arms in greeting. His smile warmed Brian to his very core. There was no mistaking the twinkling eyes.

    "Dad!" he gasped, stumbling forward.

    "Hello, son," his father said, his voice harsh and rough.

    Brian rushed to his father's embrace with a cry of anguish. It hurt to see him like that, almost a shell of himself. He hadn't lost his strength. His arms wrapped around Brian in a crushing hug.

    "Did you know he was here?" Jordan asked her father.

    "I suspected when we came in. He left a few signs around and about. The twigs and leaves on the floor by the back door—oak, ash and hawthorn."

    "That's why you took the basement. You knew he was down here."

    "Easiest place to hide out."

    "Where have you been?" Brian asked his father. "We needed you—we—I missed you so much!"

    "I've been following Mr. D. He gave me the slip the other day when he went to Jordan's. He's getting smarter, laid down a false trail. Even the guardians were confused, and nothing rattles them."

    They all sat on the comfortable, old basement furniture. When he sat down, Brian realized that two huge dogs were curled up on the rag rug behind the couch. He gasped with delight.

    "You brought them!"

    "They brought themselves," Miles said with a chuckle. "Those two don't do a thing they don't want to. Kids, meet Zofia and Janus."

    The dogs hopped up when they heard their names. They practically tackled the teenagers in their enthusiasm to say hello. The room was full of happy yips, slurps and laughter as they all got to know one another. When the greetings were finally concluded, Heath and Miles grew solemn.

    Miles scratched at his beard. "I can't wait to shave this off. It's driving me crazy. Been nice in the cold, though."

    "Where have you been, Dad?"

    "Around and about. From Texas to Florida and everywhere in between. I've been tracking Mr. D."

    "Deid—?" Brian asked.

    His father held up a hand in warning. "Don't over use his name. He can track those who call him by name."

    "Sort of like Voldemort," Jordan said with a smirk.

    "Yeah, well, he's fictional, Jordan," her father said. "This guy's for real and he can pull your bowels out through your nose with a thought, so keep that in mind before you make fun."

    "Sheesh, Dad. Just trying to lighten it up a little."

    "It's okay, Heath. She's trying to understand. Yes, like Voldemort, Jordan. If that helps you comprehend how bad he is," Miles Casey replied.

    "So this Mr. D," Brian said quietly, trying to stay calm. "Is he the main baddie, or are there others?"

    "Do there need to be more?" Jordan asked. "Sounds like he has it covered."

    "He's a scout," Miles replied, taking a sip of his beer. "He goes ahead, tests the defenses. If a group successfully defeats him, he goes away and nothing else happens. If you fail against him, all Hell—quite literally—breaks loose. So far, he's been defeated. But this is a pivotal year. Heath says he explained about that."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  18. #98

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 52

    "Yeah," Brian said. "So, it's extra bad."

    "Bad to the nth degree," Miles replied. "Doesn't begin to describe it."

    "I saw you fight him," Brian said shyly. "When I was holding Lester, I saw you."

    That took a little explaining. Between him and Heath, they gave his father the details.

    "That was a few weeks after your birthday," Miles explained. "If it hadn't been for those two," he pointed to the dogs. "It would have been a totally different story. They saved my bacon more than once over the last few months."

    "You need to tell him about Maribelle, Miles," Heath said.

    Miles bit his lip, turning his head away. Tears formed in his eyes and he wiped at them angrily. "She was helping me and it went bad. It blew up in our faces."

    "What did?"

    "A spell. She was casting it with the help of the Finleys and me. We should never have tried it without the others, but we had no choice. There wasn't time to get everyone here for a full Circle. So we tried it and we lost control. Maribelle got the brunt of the backlash."

    "Why didn't you tell me any of this? I could have helped."

    "Your gifts were just waking. It was far too dangerous. Had we involved you in that spell, instead of Maribelle going blind, you could have been killed. You're too important, Brian. We can't risk you."

    "We don't want to risk any of you," Heath added hastily.

    "Why's Brian so special?" Jordan sounded offended by Miles' comment.

    "He's a Dreamer," Miles said, as if that explained it all.

    "So?" Jordan replied.

    "Once every hundred years, a Dreamer is born. They have visions, premonitions, prophetic dreams—whatever you want to call them. They know and see things that no one else can even hope to perceive. They are powerful, and dangerous, if they aren't controlled. And more precious than any treasure. Not to belittle anyone else, because we're all important and unique, but Dreamers....." His voice faded away and a distant look came to his eyes.

    "I didn't want this for you, son. I would never have wished any of this on anyone. But it was inevitable, I suppose, given that the last Dreamer was Edgar Cayce, my distant kin. It's in the family line. Most of the Dreamers in the last thousand years, have come from this line."

    "What can I do besides dream?" Brian asked.

    The men exchanged another enigmatic look. Heath took up the narrative.

    "Because of your mother, you have other powers. You're not only a Dreamer, you're a Caster."

    Jordan held up her hand, waving it for attention. "Whoa. I'm lost. Pretend for a second we don't know any of this. Cause—we don't. Caster? Dreamer?" She shook her head, holding her hands out, asking for information.

    Heath sighed. "There are three basic categories of skills—Caster, Receiver and Charmer. The Caster, like the name suggests, casts spells. The Receiver channels energy from the elements, feeding it to others and using it to heal. A Charmer makes and casts charms and wards. There are different combinations of skills here. One person might be dominant in fire energy, another in earth, air, or water. Just depends on when you were born, and what your parents can do. The skills are genetic, to a degree, although two fire wielders can give birth to a water wielder."

    "You know this is all very Avatar, the Last Air Bender," Jordan said, her sarcastic tone returning.

    "That's because they based a lot of their elemental magic on real skills. A Caster usually has two elements they manipulate well. Sometimes they are compatible energies, sometimes they are complete opposites—like fire and water."

    "Those people are the strongest," Miles interjected excitedly. "Your mothers can both handle opposite elements. Jackie is earth and wind. Maribelle is fire and water. Really powerful Casters can manipulate them all to a degree, but generally can't master more than two."

    "So, Brian has Caster blood in him as well as being a Dreamer?" Jordan looked puzzled. "What about me?"

    "I'm a Receiver, pure and simple," her father replied. "Miles is another unusual combination. He's a Caster who is also a Charmer."

    "Don't let Heath fool you," Miles said with a grin. "He isn't just a Receiver. He's the most powerful one I know. He's also a healer. That's usually a companion skill to Receiving. They can channel energy from the environment into a person to heal them."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  19. #99

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 53 & 54

    "My mind is officially boggled," Jordan said, holding her forehead. "This is like something out of a weird paranormal novel. I still don't know what I am."

    "You're another one like Miles, a combo," Heath explained. "You're a Caster, like your mom, but you have my Receiver abilities as well. You have no idea how powerful that makes you. You and Brian together will make an amazing team."

    "I just wish you were older," Miles said. "A marriage bond always strengthens the gifts."

    "What?" Jordan held up her hands like stop signs. "Marriage? We're fifteen."

    "We all knew at fifteen who we were destined to marry," Heath replied. "I knew your mom was going to be my wife before I even knew her name. Miles and Maribelle grew up together. From the time they were toddlers, their parents saw they would be together. It's like that for us. We find one another. Think of it as your soul mate."

    Brian and Jordan looked at one another, frowning.

    "So, you're saying I'm gonna end up married to this goon?"

    Miles and Heath laughed loudly.

    "Yes, honey. I'm sorry. This goon is my future son-in-law," Heath teased.

    "I'm sitting right here, you know," Brian said, his tone disdainful. "Who says I want to marry Jordan anyhow? She hits me with pillows."

    "Better than her fists," Heath said. "Don't worry. That's a few years down the line."

    "Of more immediate worry is what do we do about Mr. D.?" Miles changed the subject abruptly. "He's decidedly on the offensive and he's getting stronger. The last time I fought him, I almost didn't succeed. If the dogs hadn't helped me, he would have killed me. As it was, I was so drained afterward, I almost died. That was right after Maribelle lost her sight."

    "Can anything be done for her?" Brian asked.

    "I've been working with her since we got here," Heath said. "I imagine she and Jackie are working on that right now. She's improving daily. But she may never have her whole eyesight back."

    "Some is better than none," Miles said, sighing heavily. "I blame myself."

    "It's not your fault. You all knew the risks."

    "I thought I could control it...."

    "No use getting upset about it again," Heath said rather sternly. "It's done and over. Nothing can change it. What we need to do is make some plans. The kids will have to go back to school tomorrow and they will be vulnerable there."

    "Why?" Brian asked.

    "It's a public place. Anyone can go there. Unlike a private residence, no one has authority over it. You can bind evil and cast it from your home or a privately owned business. You can't do that with public property like schools and city buildings."

    "We'll figure something out. Dora Finley works there. She'll be able to keep an eye on them."

    "Meanwhile, I think we need to get back to the house," Heath said, glancing at his watch. "The women will be worried. You coming?" he asked Miles.

    Brian's father shook his head. "No. I'll be fine here. Keep Maribelle and Brian with you another night. I have to ward the house. They got broken somehow. I still haven't figured it out."

    "There was that bear," Brian said. "Could it have caused some trouble?"

    "A bear?" His father looked and sounded puzzled.

    "Yeah, a few nights ago when it started turning cold. We had a bear break in through the back door. It didn't get in the house, but it made a mess."

    "That wasn't a bear," Miles said. "That was Mr. D. He can use animals as an avatar. But that still doesn't explain how he could breach the wards unless there was a hole for some other reason. I'll have to see what I can find. Meanwhile, you all go back over to Heath's."

    "I want to stay here with you," Brian begged his father. "I have so many questions and I haven't seen you in ages. Does Mom know you're here?"

    Miles shook his head. "I want to keep it that way for now. She's very vulnerable at the moment. She needs to be around Heath and Jackie so she can get back her sight. She's got to concentrate on that."

    "Dad, she'd want to know you were here and okay."

    "She knows," he replied. "Your mom and I don't have to be together to talk. We're always in contact with one another."

    "She's known where you were the whole time? And she didn't tell me? How could you keep this from me?"

    "It had to be this way," Miles took his son's face between his hands. "You're in a very precarious position. If you knew too much, they would sense that. Remember the magic tricks I taught you as a kid?"

    "Yeah. So?"

    "Slight of hand and misdirection. As long as I can keep the focus on me, they don't look at you too closely. But you near blew it when you challenged Mr. D. He'll be back and this time, he'll bring friends. Zofia is going with you. She'll protect you. I'll keep Janus with me."

    Miles embraced his son, holding him close. "You be careful. Do what you're told and don't go running off trying to be a hero."

    "Yes, sir."

    Miles hugged Jordan. "You're his other half. Stay close. Each of you is stronger when you're together and far weaker when you're apart. And for God's sake, don't try to take on Mr. D. without help. Is that clear?"

    Jordan's gaze met his. "Yes, completely."

    "Good." He hugged his son again. "I love you, Brian. Know that, remember it, believe it."

    "I do, Dad. I love you too."

    Heath pulled Miles into an embrace."Be careful yourself, my old friend. Janus!" The dog barked sharply. "You watch over him, you hear me?"

    The dog's answering bark sounded a lot like yes. The dogs licked one another, almost like a kiss. Zofia went with Brian and Janus stayed with his father.

    "He'll be okay, won't he?" Brian asked Heath as they drove away.

    "Your dad is a survivor. He'll be fine. At least he's inside his own home. He's safer there than anywhere else."

    "What did he mean about wards?"

    "Wards are protective spells," Jordan answered. "See, I do know something. They can be made from stones and metal, like the amulet you wear. Or different plants, like the charms Mr. Finley gave us. You can also use herbs and spells or a combination of all of them."

    "You were paying attention today," her father remarked, proudly. "Did you recognize the twigs that Miles had woven in his hair?"

    "Hawthorn and Rowan," she replied with confidence. "And I noticed there are Hawthorn, Rowan and Ivy around the house. Just like Chase's house."

    "And ours. I'm surprised you hadn't noticed."

    "They're covered with snow," she replied. "Cut me a little slack, Dad. I didn't know their significance until today."

    "You're forgiven."

    They got back to Jordan's house to find the women fixing dinner. Music was playing. They sang and danced as they moved around the kitchen. Brian didn't recognize the band, but Heath did. He joined in, twirling the women under his arms as they danced around. Neither seemed the slightest bit perturbed that a huge dog had joined them. She yipped and skipped as the women danced.

    Brian finally got a good look at his mother's eyes. They looked better, clearer. The haziness was almost gone and the clarity of her gaze was returning. She smiled at him, patting his cheek.

    "You're still fuzzy, but you're coming back into focus. Thanks to Heath and Jackie, I'm getting better."

    "Oh, Mom!" He hugged her, sobbing with joy.

    Maribelle buried her face in his shirt, crying softly. They stayed like that a few minutes until Maribelle pulled away, wiping her eyes on the corner of her apron.

    "If I keep that up, I'll wash away all Jackie's hard work." She sniffled.

    "Nonsense," Jackie said, sniffling herself. "Tears are good for you. Now, if you will excuse us, we've got a meal to fix. Jordan, want to help?"

    They had a great dinner and went to bed early. Brian and Jordan didn't know what they might face at school the following day. Heath had set up the recording device. Brian wasn't sure he liked the idea of someone being able to hear what he mumbled in his sleep, but he knew it was important for them to know what they were up against. If this could give them an edge, then he had to man up and get over it.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  20. #100

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 55

    Tossing and turning, Brian finally settled down and closed his eyes. He was aware of the recorder and that kept him awake for some time. Finally, he dropped off. Immediately, his mind was filled with horrific, nightmare images. He saw flames, explosions, blood and devastation. A big, black, nebulous something lurked in the shadows. He couldn't see it clearly, but he tried to make himself describe it. Speaking in his dream, he hoped he would speak aloud as well.

    The creature grew fangs, that lengthened and dripped poisonous looking green goo from them. Brian shuddered, cringing away from it. A large, warm body cuddled up next to him. He didn't know what it was, but in his sleep, he clung to the warmth, holding it close.

    The black thing lunged at him, attacking with claws and fangs. The teeth ripped into him. Brian screamed, but no sound came out. He woke in a sweat to find Zofia lying next to him. Her big head was on his shoulder and he held tightly to her collar. Before he forgot the images, he spoke aloud, describing what he'd seen.

    "I don't know what this all means," he concluded. "But I have the impression that something really bad is coming soon. We need to be prepared."

    Brian fell asleep once more, this time without dreams. The images still haunted him and he felt the shadow lurking at the edges of his perception. Zofia lay beside him, warm, huge and comforting.

    Heath drove Brian and Jordan to school. Brian told them what he could remember of his dream and warned them to be ready for anything. As he dropped them off, Heath cautioned them for the third time.

    "Be careful today. Look out for each other. If you have any problems, look for Mrs. Finely. She's the school counselor."

    "We know who she is, Dad. Don't worry. It's fine."

    "Take this salt and cumin. Sprinkle it wherever you go. Don't take chances, Pumpkin. I love you."

    "I know, Dad. But if you call me pumpkin again, I'm seriously gonna have to kick your butt." She kissed her father's nose and hopped out of the car.

    "Keep an eye on her today," Heath asked Brian. "I don't think she's taking this seriously."

    Brian, who had some insight into Jordan's emotions, didn't say anything. He thought she did take it very seriously. The casual attitude was her way of coping with something that terrified her.

    "I'll watch out for her. Don't worry. We'll be fine."

    "Remember, sprinkle that salt and cumin around...."

    "Heath, we got it, okay? I seriously have to go. I'm gonna be late."

    "Go! Be safe!" He watched the two teenagers meet and walk in the school together.

    Horns honked behind him. Waving out the window, he pulled out and drove away, feeling that something loomed on the horizon. He only wished he knew what it was.

    The first half of the day went well. At lunch time, Brian made a point to find Chase and Marissa. Along with Jordan, he told them what had happened over the last few days.

    Marissa clung to Chase's arm, her blue eyes wide with fear. "Do you think that he'll try anything here—at school?"

    "Probably not," Jordan assured her, though she wasn't really that confident that Deidrich wouldn't attempt something during the day.

    "We don't think so. But if you get in trouble, text Chase's mom and then the rest of us," Brian instructed. "It will be okay, Marissa. Just be strong."

    "I have my faith to protect me," she replied piously.

    Jordan, who was feeling snarky, patted her hand. "Sure, you keep on believing that when the big baddie is breathing down your neck."

    Brian gave her a dirty look. "What Jordan means is that your skills will protect you more—just as much. Oh, hell. Marissa, just remember what you've learned. You'll be okay."

    "I haven't learned anything," she protested. "My parents never taught me that—stuff! They said I didn't need it, that my faith in God would be enough."

    "Well, they were wrong," Brian said, trying not to be mean. "Pray all you want, it won't faze Mr. D. Stick close to one of us, we'll protect you."

    As they went to class after lunch, Brian didn't feel quite right. The atmosphere in the school seemed charged. His skin tingled and he kept seeing things in the corner of his eye. When he turned to look, there was nothing there. Peoples' faces didn't look right. They were all distorted, grimacing. He constantly heard whispering, but no one was speaking. The voices spoke in another language. Covering his ears didn't help. The sounds were actually louder because he blocked out everything else.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

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