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

  1. #61

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 8

    Finding a young man in Louisiana, who has reported experiences like his, Brian feels compelled to write him an e-mail asking Andre to call him. He does, and they make plans to meet.

    "What I want to know, is what's going on," Sweet said. "I mean, it was freaky enough when it was me—then Andre. After that, we found the girls and now you."

    "I saw a website for a girl in Washington state who had experienced similar things," Brian contributed. There were more, but when I saw Andre's site, I decided to contact him cause y'all are so close."

    "How much more?" Ginnifer asked, her green eyes wide and circled with kohl.

    "I don't know. But I brought my laptop with me." Brian unslung the bag he carried. He booted up his system and waited for the internet hookup. Tapping in the commands, he showed them the sites he'd seen. The list went on for 30 pages.

    "This is crazy! It's all over the country!" Sweet said.

    "There's one form Peru and another from Australia," Louisa pointed out. "This is world wide."

    "I'm freaking out here," Ginnifer said, hugging herself. "It's like the whole world is going crazy!"

    "But you notice, the people seeing and reporting this stuff are all between fifteen and nineteen? There's no one over twenty on any of these pages," Andre commented, opening one window after another. "And we all start out almost the exact same way, My name is.... and I'm X years old. Almost like a template. The things we describe, really similar and we use the same words—wraiths, ghost in the fog, swamp creatures.... It's freaky. How likely is it that we'd all write the same way?"

    "Not very," Brian admitted. "I was calling them wraiths in my head, and I barely know what that means."

    "We should contact more of these people," Ginnifer said in a matter of fact tone. "We need to find out everything we can."

    They went into the main part of the library and each of the others signed up for a computer. Andre set up a Yahoo e-mail account for them to use as a contact and they wrote out a basic e-mail and divided up the sites. Each of them cut and pasted the message to the site owners asking for them to reply via the e-mail address.

    It was nearly 6:00 when they finished. Brian had to get home to help his mother with dinner. Andre gave him a ride. On the way, they stopped and picked up his bike from the ditch where he'd dropped it.

    Before they left, the five of them exchanged phone numbers with the assurance that the next time something freaky happened, they would call as soon as possible.

    "Stay safe," Ginnifer said, hugging Brian. "You should ask around town and see if anyone you know has been having stuff happen."

    Brian shook his head adamantly. "Nope, not gonna happen. They'll think I'm stone cold crazy."
    She pouted prettily. "Just a suggestion."

    Louisa didn't hug Brian, but she did shake his hand, followed by a knuckle bump. "Cajones of pure steel," she said with a grin. "Be careful."

    They made plans to get together weekly to report on incidents and connect. Brian watched them drive away, feeling suddenly alone. He walked in the door, closing it quietly behind him.

    "That you?"

    "No, it's a perfect stranger."

    "Okay. Well, come introduce yourself and help me with this blasted jar."

    Laughing, Brian walked in the kitchen. His mother handed him a jar of spaghetti sauce and another of minced garlic. He opened both. She gave him a kiss.

    "Wash up. You're just in time to check the meat and drain it for me."

    "You got it, Chef!"

    "You missed your appointment with Father Ramsey."

    "Oh, crap!" He slapped his forehead. "I'm sorry. I forgot."

    "It's all right. I'm glad you were out with friends. You spend too much time with me," she commented quietly. "You need to be around young people."

    "I like being here, Mom. Most of the kids here aren't that interesting. I mean, we get along okay...."

    She stopped him, putting her hand on his cheek. "I know, honey. I understand that probably better than most parents. I was always the outsider, the loner. It's not easy. But at least you learn how to be strong and rely on yourself."

    Brian smiled and nodded. His mother patted his cheek.

    "Can't hear a smile, kiddo."

    "Yes, ma'am."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  2. #62

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 9

    Home once more, Brian helps his mother fix dinner. She reminds him that he missed his appointment with the parish priest, but is happy that he's out with friends. Brian doesn't dare tell her what is really going on.

    They had fun over dinner. Brian hadn't realized how subdued he'd been the last few weeks. He couldn't say he was exactly depressed, but he was certainly stressed by the recent events. Having someone else to talk to about it, who understood and didn't think he was crazy, had made a world of difference.

    Brian went to bed early that night, determined to get a better night's sleep than he had the night before. Fortunately, his rest wasn't interrupted by nightmares or bears. He woke the next day feeling rested and ready for whatever the world handed him.

    The sky was cloudy as he headed for the bus stop. It looked like it would rain again. The temperature had dropped during the night. He could see his breath in the early morning air. He was usually the only one at his bus stop, but today there was a new kid sitting on the bench under the awning.

    Brian walked up warily. He didn't know the person and wasn't sure if he could trust them or not. Being so far out of town, they got tramps and transients. Just because the person sat at a school bus stop didn't mean he or she was a student.

    The person didn't look up when Brian stepped under the awning. Instead the stranger fiddled with an iPod which apparently wasn't working right. A few muttered curse words confirmed that assumption. The person smacked the iPod with a flattened palm, cursed again and shoved the device into a pocket.

    A baggy, navy blue, hoodie concealed a short, slight frame. Straight, brown hair stuck out from under a multicolored beanie, concealing most of the face. Jeans and boots completed the anonymous outfit.

    "Trouble?" Brian asked quietly.

    The person gasped, looking up at him. "I think I managed to delete all my music," the gruff voice complained. "Either that, or something else is wrong with the wretched thing. It won't work."

    "Man, that sucks. Mind if I sit?"

    "Help yourself. Not my bench."

    "I'm Brian Casey."

    "Jordan Barrett." The name and voice did nothing to clarify the gender issue.

    "You must be new around here. I've never seen you before."

    "My folks wanted a quieter, simpler life. So, instead of living in the suburbs, they picked his tiny town in BFE. I can't even get cell service unless I'm standing in the center of town. So much for keeping up with my friends back home."

    "Guess you'll have to make some new ones," Brian said quietly. He wasn't sure what to think of the mouthy, disgruntled teen. He dearly wished that either the name or the clothing was different so he'd have a clue if he was speaking to a boy or girl. He still couldn't tell and he didn't think it was polite to ask.

    "Yeah. Not like I had so many, ya know? Not one to be popular."

    "Me either. Gotta work too hard to be popular. Besides, I prefer being anonymous."

    "Whatever works, right? Of course, my parents are upset that I'm a social pariah. They were head cheerleader and captain of the football team. They went Greek in college and belong to the alumni association of their high school and college. Mom was also Miss Teen Spirit when she was in high school. I told her I wasn't interested in being named after a deodorant—or a song. She so didn't get it."

    Brian chuckled, nodding. "I'm lucky. My mom couldn't care less if I'm popular. She wants good grades. Can do that standing on my head."

    "You any good at math?"

    "Yeah, pretty good. Why?"

    "Because I suck ten kinds of suckage at math. I need someone to help me. Dad said he would, but he's about as patient as a wet cat. Mom's blonde." Jordan said that as if it meant something special.

    Brian, who was also blond, looked confused.

    "Dumb blonde?" Jordan snickered. "I guess it's contagious."

    "I may be blond, but at least I'm good at math." He tried not to sound offended, but didn't conceal it well.

    "Oh, touchy! If you can help my math grade, I forgive you for being blond and promote you to honorary brunette."

    Brian chuckled. "Mighty kind of you."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  3. #63

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Parts 10 & 11

    Hello, Friends! Since I totally forgot to post anything on Wednesday, I decided to post 2 today. You're welcome

    The next morning, Brian meets a new student at his bus stop. The person's name is Jordan Barrett. Dressed in a hoodie, jeans and a bulky coat, Brian can't tell if Jordan is a boy or girl.

    The bus arrived a few minutes later. Brian let Jordan walk on ahead of him. He moved down the aisle and took his usual seat. Since no one else sat with him, Jordan joined him. They talked a little bit on the way to school, but the engine noise made conversation difficult, especially once the bus filled up.

    "What's your first class?" Brian asked Jordan as they got off the bus.

    "Chemistry. You?"

    "The same. Mr. Sullivan?"

    "Yeah. I didn't see you yesterday."

    "I was sick. Want to walk together? We social pariahs should always travel in pairs."

    Jordan laughed. "Yeah. Thank you. Hey, can you open these lockers? I couldn't get mine and had to carry all my books home. My shoulders are killing me."

    "Sure. There's a trick to it. I'll show you."

    He walked with Jordan to a nearby locker. Brian opened it with ease.

    "How did you do that? I tried forever!"

    "Gotta spin it twice all the way around to the right before doing the numbers. Also, you have to do the locker dance."

    "Locker dance?" A raised eyebrow showed Jordan's skepticism.

    "Yeah. You don't know the locker dance?" Brian winked and gave a little shake of his hips as he shuffled in a circle. He even gave it the Saturday Night Fever point.

    Jordan laughed loudly, head tossed back. "Oh, that's a good one. I have to remember that. Help me with these books, would you? I hurt my wrist. Had a fall. It's all bruised up."

    "No problem." He took the books and laid them neatly in the locker.

    "I hate to ask, but I need help with my jacket, too."

    "Sure thing."

    He held the end of one sleeve, pulling it over a wrist brace. He stood close to Jordan, helping to detach the Velcro straps that kept catching on the jacket sleeve. With a mighty tug, he lost his balance, toppling over and knocking Jordan back a step. It was then, face to face and mere inches separating them, that he realized Jordan was a girl.

    A snug, red sweater clung to her upper body and the bell bottom jeans fit closely to her thighs and hips. Brian was mortified. Hopping back a step, he lost his balance and would have fallen backward if Jordan hadn't steadied him. She laughed at his clumsiness as she removed her beanie.

    "And I thought I was a klutz!"

    "Dumb Velcro," he muttered, trying not to blush.

    "I know I've got nice boobs, Bri," she said quietly. "But they aren't that good." With a wink, she sashayed away from him, heading toward the chemistry room.

    "I wasn't looking at your boobs," he called after her. "I swear!"

    Horribly embarrassed, Brian stopped at his locker, a few down from Jordan's, and put his things away. He wandered to chemistry only to find Jordan sitting at his table. Groaning inwardly, he sat down.

    "Oh, is this your table?" she asked.

    "Yeah. My old lab partner moved to Michigan."

    "Bummer. I hope you know what you're doing. I've got a lot of catching up to do."

    "Pretty well."

    "Are you one of those boy geniuses?"

    "I do okay." He actually did very well, but he didn't want to sound like he was bragging.

    "Will you help me get caught up?"

    "Sure. Any subjects we've got in common, I'll help you with."

    "Thanks! You're wonderful!" She hugged him enthusiastically. "I'm so glad you go to my bus stop."

    "Uh, me too."

    During lab, when Jordan went to the supply cupboard for equipment, one of the popular girls in the class stopped by.

    "So, who's your girlfriend?"

    "Not my girlfriend, Marissa."

    "She seems very chummy."

    "Oh?" he wasn't sure what to say.

    "Yes, she's hanging on you and practically ravaging you in public." Not only was Marissa popular, she was highly religious and very judgmental.

    At school, Brian nearly does a face plant in Jordan's chest, and finds out irrefutably, that she's a girl. Embarrassed, and trying to get over it, he gets to class only to find out they are lab partners. When Jordan is getting supplies, another girl talks to him about her.

    "That's because we're lovers," Jordan said as she plunked a beaker on the desk. "Brian just rocks my world! Maybe you wouldn't be such so super, uptight if you found the right guy."

    Marissa turned red and hurried off. Jordan laughed, watching her rush off to her table. She huddled with her lab partner, pointing at Jordan.

    "And that was necessary, why?" Brian asked quietly.

    "Cause it's so much fun to see her look like she just sucked a lemon."

    "You know you've just ruined my reputation," Brian said, trying to sound hurt.

    "Oh, the carefully crafted one where you're a complete tool? Sorry. We'll see if we can work on that after class."

    Laughing, Brian set up the equipment while Jordan read through the experiment. Together, they measured ingredients and started mixing. Their teacher came by, hands clasped behind his back.

    "Good job, Jordan," the young science teacher complimented.

    "Thanks, Mr. Sullivan. Brian helped."

    The teacher, who was staring at her chest, smiled slightly as he passed by.

    "Speaking of tools," Jordan whispered. "Is he a perv or what? My boobs are very popular today."

    Brian shifted slightly. "He's just a guy, Jordan. We all stare at a woman's boobs. And I wasn't staring on purpose."

    Jordan giggled, covering her mouth with the back of her hand. "I forgive you. But I think it's precious how you try to defend the fact that you nearly had your face down my shirt."

    "Laugh too much, I won't help with math."

    She sobered immediately. "Fine. I'll behave."

    They finished their experiment, wrote down their notes and cleaned up before the bell. They had four out of seven classes together, the only differences were PE, which were separate, and their electives Brian had Spanish and shop. Jordan had theatre and chorus.

    They met up at their lockers at the end of the day and hurried to the bus stop. The weather had warmed, so Jordan carried her jacket. She hopped onto the bus and the driver didn't recognize her. It took some fast talk to convince him that she had given him her bus pass the day before. Once Brian vouched for her, he relented.

    "Tell you the truth, I thought you was a boy. Big, ol' coat and a boy's name. Kinda confusing."

    "Yeah. I get that a lot," Jordan said in a condescending tone that was totally lost on the driver.

    The ride home was just as uncomfortable as the ride that morning. The difference was, that Brian had someone to walk home with. Jordan's house was only a couple blocks from his, not quite as deep into the woods. He walked her home before heading to his own house.

    "If you want, I'll drop by in the morning and walk with you."

    "Would you? That would be so great! I hate that early morning walk in the dark. I—see things—in the woods. It creeps me out."

    "Yeah. I don't mind." He paused, wondering how much he should say. He decided to give it a try. If she thought he was crazy, fine. But if she was having the same experiences he'd had....

    "What—uh—what kind of things?" he tried to sound casual, but knew he'd failed when her eyes darted to his face.

    "You've seen stuff too?" she whispered harshly. "Tell me."

    "I asked first."

    They were at her house. Jordan invited him up to sit on the porch swing.

    "Yesterday morning, I was on the way to the bus stop and I swear I saw—things in the woods. Like ghosts, wraiths...."

    Brian gasped. "Me too. Did they chase you?"

    Jordan didn't say anything, she merely looked terrified.

    "At the risk of sounding completely insane, can I tell you something?" he asked quietly.


    Brian told her about his experiences. He also told her about meeting the group from Louisiana. He left nothing out of his story, even including the bear incident. He still wasn't convinced that was a coincidence.

    "I would have been screaming," Jordan confessed.

    "You think I wasn't? Screaming like a baby. I thought I was gonna die."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  4. #64

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 12 & 13

    After school, Jordan reveals to Brian that she has had experiences very similar to his.

    "You need to know how I hurt my wrist," Jordan said, decision in her voice.

    "You told me you fell."

    "Yeah, but the reason I fell and how. That I didn't tell you. Come in and have something to drink. My folks won't care."

    Brian hesitated. His mother might, but he felt comfortable with Jordan and her house gave him a sense of calm that he hadn't had for a long time.

    The walls were covered with all kinds of strange pictures and symbols. Rainbows, crystals, plants, stained glass—all this and more assaulted his senses when he entered the house. The furniture was sparse and had an Asian feel. Woven mats graced the hardwood floors instead of carpet. The whole house smelled like lavender and sage.

    Brian inhaled deeply, the sense of calm overwhelming him. He'd never experienced anything like it. It was as if he'd just come home. In fact, his own home didn't feel as good as Jordan's.

    "Want something cold to drink? We might have some sodas. Mom usually only has healthy stuff, but Dad sneaks in some Dr. Pepper. Or I can make tea."

    "Anything. I'm not picky."

    Jordan found two bottles of Snapple and Brian opened them with a quick twist.

    "Have a seat." She gestured to the bar in the kitchen.

    Brian slid onto a tall stool. Jordan, who was a lot shorter, had to climb up and perched on the seat like a little girl.

    "So, the wrist." She paused. "I'm only telling you this 'cause I know you won't think I'm crazy. Based on the crap you've seen, this isn't that big a deal."

    Brian nodded, smiling encouragingly.

    "It was back home—our old house in Pennsylvania. I was home by myself. Mom and Dad were out being Mr. and Mrs. Popularity. I was coming down the stairs from my room and when I got about halfway down, it felt like someone shoved me. I fell down the steps and landed at the bottom. I was lucky I've had gymnastics training and know how to fall. I relaxed into it and came out with bumps and bruises instead of broken bones."

    "You're sure you didn't trip?" He held up his hand to still her protests. "I'm not being a jerk. I'm serious. You're certain it was a push?"

    Jordan shoved his shoulder. "It hit me that hard, right here." She reached her hand over her shoulder, tapping her back. "You can't tell me it was an accident. I was the only one home and I'm very careful where I put my feet."

    "I don't disbelieve you. In fact, I felt like that when I fell in the mud puddle. My feet got all tangled up."

    "I didn't tell you everything about the bus stop. When I was on the way there yesterday, something else happened. I saw fog in the woods—pretty normal. But it started moving, forming kind of a wall. The wall rushed at me, trying to close around me. All of a sudden, this dog jumped in front of me, barking and growling. The fog moved back, drifted away and left. The dog stayed with me until the bus came."

    "Was she kind of silvery looking with a ridge of fur down her spine?"

    "Right color and the fur stood up, but it was decidedly a male dog."

    "You're sure?"

    "Dude, even a social pariah knows the difference between boys and girls." She rolled her eyes at him, laughing.

    "Well, then that means there's more than one around, because the one that helped me, was female."

    "The people you contacted, did they have dogs too?"

    "Yeah. They had a male and female too. Just like us."

    "This is really freaking weird, Brian."

    "No kidding."

    "Hey, you want to stay for dinner?"

    "I really can't. My mom's blind, and I have to be home to help her fix the meal."

    "Oh, sure. I was thinking maybe we could do homework together."

    "I could probably come over after dinner. Mom's okay on her own. She just can't cook a meal successfully. She tends to burn stuff or undercook it."

    "I understand. That will probably be okay. I'll call you once my mom gets home."

    "Cool. I guess I'd better get going."

    "Yeah." She smiled up at him. "Thanks, Brian. It's nice to have another social pariah as a friend."
    "It sure is."

    Jordan hopped off her stool and hugged him impulsively, throwing her arms around his neck. She had to go on her tiptoes to do it. As he held her, Brian thought she seemed awfully small and vulnerable. He knew he would do anything he could to protect her. Keys rattled in the front door and Brian leaped away from Jordan as if he'd been shocked. A beautiful blonde woman in a business suit strutted in, smiling.

    "Hi, honey. Who's your friend?" She walked over to Jordan, kissing her cheek before setting down a briefcase.
    "Mom, this is Brian. He's from my bus stop. Brian, my mom, Jacqueline Barrett."

    "Mrs. Barrett, pleased to meet you," Brian said, shaking her hand. "I'm also her chemistry lab partner."

    "And he's good at math. Can he come over after dinner and help me get caught up?"

    "Sure. I don't see why not. Do you have a last name, Brian?"

    "Casey. My mother is Maribelle Casey. We live a couple blocks from here."

    "Will you have her call me? Give him my numbers, sweetie." She dusted her hands, done with the conversation, and headed upstairs.

    Brian stared after her, stunned. That was a weird conversation to have with a parent.

    Jordan gave him her mother's business card. "Call her cell. My parents don't answer the house phone, for some reason. They expect voicemail to get it and screen their calls."

    "What do they do?"

    "Mom's a drug rep and dad's a lawyer. Which is strange, because they are both New Age Hippy Freaks."


    Jordan scoffed. "Yeah. You didn't think all this weird crystal stuff was mine, did you?"

    Brian laughed, sobering slightly. "Clearly not."

    "Have your mom call as soon as she can. Jacqueline was serious about that."

    "Do you really call her that?" he asked as they moved toward the front door.

    "Not to her face, no."

    "Okay. I'll have Mom call as soon as I get home."

    "See you later, Brian."

    He waved as he headed out the door. Once he got home, he asked his mother to call Jordan's and went to the kitchen to start dinner. His mother had jars and cans lined up for him to open for her. Hamburger was already cooking on the stove with some herbs and garlic added. An onion sat on the counter on top of a cutting board. He started with that, then moved around the kitchen taking care of the things his mother couldn't do by herself.

    Brian wondered, not for the first time, what she would do when he went to college in a few years. She was too independent to go into an assisted living home and far too young to want to consider it. With Brian's dad gone, god knows where, she'd be lost.

    His mother came into the kitchen with the phone to her ear, smiling brightly. "That sounds lovely, Jackie. I'll let Brian know. I look forward to seeing you, too. Bye!" She hung up. "She's very pleasant. A bit odd, but pleasant."

    "Jordan would say that's because she's blonde."

    His mother laughed. "I don't think blondes corner the market on flaky. She's very nice and concerned about her daughter. She wanted to make sure that if Jordan ever came over, there would be an adult present."
    Brian rolled his eyes. "Not to mention that I'm not some oversexed, ax murderer who might slaughter their entire family when I go over to help their daughter study."

    "Not to mention. They're from the big city, son. Give them a chance to adjust. Oh, she invited us to dinner tomorrow night at seven."

    Brian couldn't help wondering how Jordan would feel about that, but didn't go into it with his mother. Instead, he asked what they were making for dinner and set about helping her prepare their meal.

    After eating, Maribelle rinsed dishes and Brian loaded them into the washer. He gathered his books and got ready to go to Jordan's.

    "You be careful out there. How I wish I could drive you."

    "I'm okay, Mom."

    "It's just, after that bear.... A mother worries."

    "I'll smack the bear on the nose and holler," he replied. "It's okay."

    "Be safe, baby." She kissed both his cheeks.

    Brian couldn't help feeling odd when she did that. She always gave him a kiss on the cheek, but this was different. Concern, almost fear, layered her words.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  5. #65

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 14

    Jordan invites Brian over to her home that evening to study. He's pleased to be invited and his mother is happy he's socializing. However, she is worried about him, especially after the incident with the bear.

    "I'll be fine, Mom. Don't worry."

    "Call when you get there and when you leave."

    "Yes, ma'am!" He clicked his heels, saluting.

    Brian arrived at Jordan's house a little after 7:00. Her mother surprised him by answering the door in a colorful kaftan. Her hair was down, forming a golden halo around her head and shoulders. She wore a necklace made of different polished stones with a bright crystal hanging from it.

    "Brian!" She hugged him enveloping him in a rose scented cloud. "Honey! Brian is here!"

    Brian expected Jordan to appear. Instead, a tall, broad shouldered man came out of an adjoining room. He wore a lose fitting beige hemp shirt and pants. Another string of rocks circled his neck and he was barefoot. His hair and eyes were dark like Jordan's. He grinned at Brian, holding out his hand.

    "Heath Barrett. Nice to meet you."

    They made small talk for a few minutes while Jacqueline plied Brian with cookies and herb tea. Jordan came in a few minutes later to rescue him.

    "Sorry it took so long. I was setting up and then Grandma called. She talks more than both parents combined. It's never a short chat with her."

    "And your folks wanted a chance to talk to me."

    "Yeah, that. I'm sorry." She looked embarrassed.

    "No, I get it. If I had a sister, she'd never date. Not that this is a date— I mean, it could be— But it's—not."

    Jordan laughed, patting his shoulder. "Relax. You survived the parental units. They like you."

    "How do you know?"

    "If they didn't, you'd be gone. Dad may be a free thinker, but he's old school where boys are concerned. I almost had a boyfriend last year. He didn't make it past the foyer."


    "Nope. Mom didn't like his aura."

    Brian laughed loudly, until he realized Jordan was serious. He couldn't imagine basing decisions about people on something so arbitrary. Jordan led him to the dining room. Her books sat on one side of the long table. A laptop and a stack of paper flanked two chairs that were placed a foot apart.

    "Welcome to my study. We have no use for a formal dining room, so Dad is going to convert it to a study space. Meanwhile, the table is great to spread out."

    "Let me know when you're ready. I know a really good carpenter. I'm gonna be working with him sometimes."

    "That's cool. Have a seat." She indicated the chairs.

    "Okay, what first? Math, chemistry, English or science?"

    "Let's get math over with. I have a prayer with the other stuff, so I'll be able to work on it if we don't get to it."

    Brian rubbed his hands together gleefully, giving her a maniacal laugh. "Bring it on!"

    They spent an hour on her math. There were many things Jordan didn't understand, but Brian could see the understanding growing as he explained one thing after another. Her face brightened.

    "Now that you put it that way, I get it! This is the first time in my life that I truly understand.Thank you!" She flung her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek.

    Of course, it was at that precise moment that her mother walked in. Brian wanted to crawl under the table and hide. Jordan gave him another kiss and hug before letting go.

    "Mom, I totally understand now. Brian is a great teacher."

    "That's wonderful, honey. Would you kids like anything to drink, or maybe a snack?"

    Brian glanced at Jordan and his stomach growled. Both she and her mother burst out laughing.

    "There's a yes," Jacqueline said.

    Brian could feel the blood rise to his cheeks. Ducking his head, he thanked Mrs. Barrett.

    "Darling, I have three boys. Jordan is my only fledgling left in the nest. I know how young men's bellies are never full. Especially a man your size." She fluttered out and came back a few minutes later with tortilla chips, nacho dip and pico de gallo.

    "Mrs. Barrett, how did you guess I love Mexican food?" Brian asked.

    "Mom always knows. She's spooky like that."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  6. #66

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 15

    Jordan's parents are friendly, even if her mother is a bit different with her beliefs in crystals and meditation. Brian takes it in stride, delighting in her openness.

    Jacqueline Barrett gazed at him, tilting her head with her eyes half shut. "Your favorite color is dark green. You were born in May and you love lima beans, but hate raw tomatoes."

    Brian's eyes grew rounder with each pronouncement. "My mom told you all that, right?"

    "Nope," Jordan assured him. "I heard the entire conversation. Lima beans never came up."

    "Are you psychic, Mrs. Barrett?"

    Jacqueline giggled, touching his cheek with the palm of her left hand. "Not exactly, dear, but I know things about people that I can't explain."

    "You're right, down to the last detail. Not even my mom knows my favorite color is green. Well, she knows, but doesn't understand that not all greens are created equal."

    "You prefer the subtle ones," Jacqueline concluded. "No Packers green or emerald for you."

    "You're good." Brian pointed at her, winking.

    The teenagers ate as they continued to work. An hour or so later, Jordan was caught up in math and had a good start on chemistry. They planned to work on that the following night after dinner.

    "I'll be by to pick you up about six fifty," Heath said as Brian was leaving. "Would you like a ride tonight? I don't mind."

    "I'll be fine," Brian assured him. "It's a small town. I'm safe as a baby in a stroller."

    "If you're sure."

    "No need to trouble yourself. But thanks."

    A block from Jordan's, he wished he'd taken the rode. The sky opened and it started raining.
    Brian thought about turning back, but it was just as far to Jordan's as it was to get home. His feet moved automatically and he splashed and squished through the rising water. He was about to step into the shelter of a bus stop and wait for it to subside, when a car pulled up next to him.

    "Hop in, Moby D**k," Jordan's father called to him through the passenger window. "I'd have been along sooner, but Jackie had to give me provisions. I have towels and blankets."

    Brian gratefully accepted. The seat was heated and felt wonderful to his chilly body. Fluffy towels absorbed the runoff and a cozy blanket waited until he was settled. Heath laid it over his lap.

    "Wasn't a cloud in the sky when you left. This is plain weird."

    "This is Mississippi," Brian said, his teeth chattering. "Rain's like this all the time."

    "You seem like a nice boy, Brian. So I don't want to bust your chops."

    "Thank you," Brian replied warily.

    "But Jackie and I worry about Jordan."

    "We're just friends, sir."

    "Right. Yeah, I know. But she's had—problems. We came here hoping it would do her good to have a change of scene. So, if she spins any tales about fog critters or ghost dogs, just—well...."

    "Ignore it?"

    "Yeah." Heath nodded, trying to smile. "Good. We understand one another."

    "No problem." Brian forced a smile. He had no intention of ignoring it, but he sensed that Mr. Barrett wouldn't like knowing that Brian had, had some equally strange experiences.

    Mr. Barrett backed into Brian's driveway, getting as close to the side steps and he could. Brian thanked him for the ride and ducked under the roof quickly. He waved to Mr. Barrett and watched him drive away. Inside, the house was warm and inviting. Brian smelled cookies, so he headed to the kitchen.

    "Welcome home! I just took the first pan out. Check them?"

    "Perfect. Your nose never lies with cookies, Mom."

    "There's hot water for cocoa. I set out your mug."

    He kissed her cheek. "Thanks. Let me change first. I'm dripping on the floor." He trotted down the steps to the dryer where he shed his wet clothing and changed. Upstairs, he fixed hot chocolate and ate sugar cookies. His mother sipped tea.

    "Have a good time?"

    "Yeah, up until it started raining. Jordan's parents are nice."

    "I enjoyed talking to Jackie. She's got some unique ideas."

    "They're both a little out there, but mostly they're cool."

    Mrs. Casey clasped her mug, sipping thoughtfully. Brian sensed there was something more she wanted to say, so he waited quietly for her to continue.

    "They moved here because they were worried that Jordan was too stressed by her environment. She had some strange things happen. Things they couldn't explain. It prompted them to move here where things wouldn't be quite so hectic."

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  7. #67

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 16

    Brian gets home to find his mother waiting for news of how his visit went. He tells her how good a time he had and she explains why Jordan's family moved.

    "She's not crazy, Mom. She's had some weird things happen. That's all."

    Brian paused, wondering how much he should tell her. So far, he'd kept it to himself, but he knew that he wasn't the only one experiencing these strange things. She might understand. Then again, she might lock him in his room until he was thirty. Taking a chance, he forged ahead. His mother had never condemned him before. He trusted she wouldn't start now.

    "She's not the only one who's had weird things happen. I have, too. The other night, when I came in so dirty, it was because I fell in a puddle. But it wasn't because I wasn't paying attention." He leaned forward, taking his mother's hands. "There's something in the swamps, Mom. Something that tried to get me and Jordan. I can't explain it—hell, I barely believe it. But there's kids all over the place telling similar stories."

    He told her everything that had happened to him. He went so far as to talk to her about Jordan's experiences too. He even mentioned, in less detail, the things that Andre and the others had told him.

    "Oh, Brian! That's unbelievable!"

    "But you do, don't you Mom? You don't think I'm totally whack?"

    "I believe you, Brian. Strange things are happening all over. The evangelists would have you believe it's because the end of the world is coming. I don't believe that the world is going to end in December, but I certainly feel that change is on the way. Maybe these incidents are part it."

    She paused so long, Brian thought she was done talking. He stood, ready to clear his spot, but she stopped him.

    "I want you to be very careful when you go out. Don't go alone unless you have to. Take rides when they are offered. And one other thing. Go up to my room and bring my jewelry box."

    "Yes, ma'am." He set his dirty dishes in the sink and took the stairs two and a time to fetch her jewelry box.

    Brian set the lovely, delicate box on the table in front of his mother. The jewelry box was oval shaped with a slightly domed lid. It was made of some honey colored wood inlaid with other woods and mother of pearl. The pattern had always looked kind of random to Brian. This time, when he looked at it, the negative space between the inlaid pieces stood out. He saw his mother's name, Maribelle. She ran her hands over the smooth surface, her eyes misting.

    "Your daddy gave this to me our first Christmas together. He said he wished he could fill it with diamonds and gold. I told him I'd rather fill it with memories." She blinked hard. Silent tears fell from her eyes. Wiping them away, she opened the box.

    Maribelle felt the contents carefully, selecting a little package wrapped in tissue paper. She lifted it from the box, laying it in front of her as she continued to search. Her fingers closed over a chain. She lifted this from the box as well, placing it beside the package. Before closing the box, she touched each item. Satisfied, she put the lid down and turned her attention to the paper wrapped package.

    "Open this. Then use the chain and put it on. I can't see to do it, but it's better if you do it for yourself, anyway."

    Brian's fingers shook when he opened the paper. He knew something special lay inside, he could feel it. The hairs on his arms rose and his skin tingled as if whatever was in that package radiated some kind of energy.

    He opened the paper, gasping. Inside, lay a ring of metal, too large to fit a finger and too small for a bracelet. It was divided into sections, rather like a compass. In the center, suspended in a lattice work of fine wire, was a clear crystal. At top, bottom and both sides, were four black stones, each slightly different. In between were other stones, twelve total, all different. He spotted amethyst, apache's tear, hematite, onyx and citrine. The rest weren't familiar to him.

    "This is beautiful, Mom! Where did it come from?"

    "Look at it carefully. What do you see?"

    "It's a circle—like a ring. Looks like iron. In the middle is a crystal that's caged in another metal—maybe bronze or brass."
    "It's iron and brass. Go on."

    He named off the stones he knew. Nodding, his mother took the ring from him, holding it with the onyx at the top. She felt down the right side, naming the stones.

    "Onyx, lapis lazuli, amethyst, obsidian, amber, citrine, lodestone, azurite, opal, hematite, blue topaz and aqua aura. In the center is a clear quartz crystal. Now, the chain."

    Brian lifted it up. It was beautiful. "What's this?"

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  8. #68

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 17

    While they are talking, Maribelle tells Brian to go to her room for a jewelry box. He brings it to her and she shows him a medallion he's never seen before.

    "Something I was given many years ago, when I was about your age. I don't know why my great-grandmother gave it to me, but she told me to keep it. She said there would be a time when it was needed, I would know what to do. I always thought she was a little wacko. She was a spiritualist or mystic. You'd call it a New Age freak." She smiled.

    Brian laughed nervously. He knew there was more that she wasn't saying. He hoped she would tell him. His mother handed him the chain. It was made of dark iron rings laced with glittering brass. The double chain was heavy in his hands. It should have felt like cold, but it was warm. His skin tingled when he touched it.

    "The amulet goes on the chain—but you have to have to do it. My great-grandmother was very adamant on that point. I was never to wear it or put it on the chain. In fact, except for putting it in this box seventeen years ago, I haven't touched it until today."

    Brian took the amulet in his left hand, the chain in his right. He couldn't tell how to put them together. There was no link or clasp on either item. He stared at them a long time until his vision blurred. He saw his hands drift together as if pulled by a magnet. The lodestone touched the the iron with a snap. The stones and brass rings glowed for a moment and the crystal in the middle flashed.

    Brian gasped. "Freaky!" He described what had happened to his mother.

    "Put it on against your skin," she murmured. "Never take it off. Not even to bathe and sleep. It will help you."

    "Help me with what?"

    His mother shrugged, shaking her head. "I just know."

    Brian picked up the necklace and put it over his head. It should have been heavy, but it was virtually weightless. Brian slipped it under his shirt. It throbbed a moment, matching its rhythm to his heart. A glowing warmth radiated from the necklace, flowing from head to foot.

    "Thank you." He gave his mother a kiss.

    "You be careful. Understand?"

    "I do. Don't worry about me."

    "But I do worry, Brian. Your dad left and I lost my sight. I can't protect you. I have to rely on you to help fix dinner and do so many things I used to do by myself. I can't even drive anymore." She burst into tears. "I feel so helpless. And now all this! I know things are changing, coming to a head, and I can't to a thing to stop it."

    "What things? What are you talking about, Mom? Why do I need protection?"

    Brian tried to get answers but his mother wouldn't tell him any more. Wiping her tears, she went to her room with her jewelry box. Brian reached out to take the paper and throw it out. It fell to the floor. Leaning over to pick it up, he noticed writing on the paper. The ink was faded, but the script was bold and strong. He unfolded it carefully, smoothing it on the table.

    This will keep you safe. The hematite, lodestone, obsidian and onyx help with protection. Amber, amethyst, citrine and lapis lazuli will aid in healing. For psychic abilities, the aqua aura and azurite will assist you. Love, Grand-mère
    ~ For more information, seek the Encyclopedia Magicka

    Brian couldn't help wondering if the book still existed. He knew his parents had inherited the house and its contents from his mother's family. His father had used the original study for his office. He hadn't been in the room since his father left. The memories of his father were too painful. But if he was going to find the book, that was the place to start.

    The door moved stiffly, creaking slightly as he pushed it open. The air smelled damp and stale and Brian knew his mother hadn't been in there either. The lights glared in the ancient brass fixture, illuminating the room in a golden light. There must be hundreds of books here. Except for the name, he knew nothing about the Encyclopedia Magicka.

    Maybe he could find an image online. His father's laptop lay on the old, faded, green desk blotter. He walked boldly over to it and sat in the antique oak desk chair. He almost felt guilty about using his dad's computer, since he'd rarely been allowed to use it before. His hand trembling, Brian pressed the on button.

    The computer hummed quietly, the screen flashed and the desktop appeared. The picture brought tears to Brian's eyes—a photo of him with both parents. It was Brian's fifteenth birthday in May. His father grinned at the camera, his arms around Brian's and Maribelle's necks. His mother's eyes glittered and sparked with happiness. The blindness had overcome her only weeks after the picture was taken.

    Brian searched for the browser icon. His father had always set up his desktop strangely, grouping the icons instead of listing them alphabetically. Brian clicked the arrange icons tab and put them in alphabetical order. He was about to click on the Google Chrome icon when another one caught his eye. It looked like the emblem his mother had just given him. Odder still was the title—Encyclopedia Magicka.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  9. #69

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 18

    Brian finds a note with the necklace, in his father's handwriting. It directs him to a book called The Encyclopedia Magicka. Curious, he decides to use his father's laptop to see if he can find information.

    He clicked the icon and opened a PDF file. It looked as if someone had scanned an old book. The pages bore the stains of time. In places, the ink was faded and nearly unreadable. Someone had written notes in the margin, explaining the text.

    Another file appeared on the screen. This one was a Windows Media file. Brian clicked the arrow, starting the video. He recognized his father's desk. This was filmed in this office. His father walked into the frame and sat. He looked worried.

    "Hi, Brian. If you're seeing this, it means I'm not there to tell you this personally. My investigation may take me away soon. Things are coming to a head. I'm guessing your mother gave you the amulet and you saw the name of the book. I also assume you came in here to look for it. Smart move. I found it myself a couple years ago. I scanned and hid it. That book holds secrets the other side can't be allowed to find. Guard this file carefully. Share sparingly and only with those you trust completely."

    He folded his hands, leaning toward the camera. "Brian, you're in a lot of danger. Things are changing in the world. We are coming to a time of great enlightenment—but only if the balance can be kept. I know strange things are happening. You're probably terrified and I'm sorry I'm not there to help you. I had to weigh the choices. Leaving you won't be easy, but investigating this further had to take precedence."

    He sighed, closing his eyes. "I'm not explaining well. You know that people talk about how the world is going to end in December in 2012. It's not ending, but it will be changing—radically. Everything we take as real and natural—is no longer. Besides, the Encyclopedia, I've gathered files to help you. They are all on this computer. I've also loaded them onto a flashdrive. Take out the upper right drawer. It's taped underneath.

    "When you've watched this, I want you to erase the file. Don't tell anyone you can't completely trust. And if your mother tells you something, listen to her. She has amazing intuition. I'm sorry, son. You don't deserve any of this. I wish it could be different. Read the Encyclopedia. Go through the files—quickly. You need the knowledge to help you." He held up his hand as if trying to touch his son. "I'm sorry, Brian. I miss you terribly. I love you." He paused for a moment before rising to turn off the camera.

    With tears in his eyes, Brian erased the file. He wanted to watch it again, but he knew his father was right. Things were changing, getting crazily out of hand. He had to tell his friends immediately. He thought first of Jordan and decided to call her before he contacted the others.

    Her phone rang twice and she mumbled hello. With a lurch, Brian realized he'd woken her. A glance at the clock showed him it was nearly midnight.

    "Jordan, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."

    "Well, you did, so what do you need?" she didn't sound happy, but she wasn't angry.

    "I found some information my dad left. We need to talk about it."

    "Now? Brian, it's midnight and we have to be up for the bus at the butt crack of doom."

    "I know. I'm sorry. I didn't realize it was so late when I called you. It can wait until morning."

    "It is morning, moron."

    "I'm going to come by a little early in the morning. We really need to talk."

    "Okay. In that case, let me go back to sleep so I can be my usual perky self."

    Laughing at her, he apologized again and hung up. The idea of Jordan actually being perky amused him.
    Turning serious once more, Brian retrieved the flashdrive from its hiding place. It was one of the bracelet kind that many of his classmates wore. He had one himself that was the same color and style. He put the flashdrive around his wrist and put the drawer away. He wasn't sure what to do about the computer, but since it had been fine here until now, he decided to leave it alone. Better not to draw attention to it by moving it.

    Brian set his alarm early and wrote a note for his mother before turning out his light. Sleep was hard to come by. His mind spun out of control with everything his father had, or hadn't, told him. He wasn't clear on details, but Brian hoped that the files he'd left would explain more.

    Finally, around 3:00, he dozed off and woke to his alarm blaring at 5:30. He took a hot shower, hoping it would wake him up, and made a strong cup of coffee. He poured it in a travel mug, left the note for his mother, and headed to Jordan's.

    The air was chilly and damp. Brian hunkered lower into the collar of his coat, wishing he'd worn his beanie. His hands were so cold, he could hardly feel his fingertips. His breath hung around his head in a hazy cloud. Ice coated the sidewalk, so going was slower than usual. He had to watch carefully where he put his feet. His next door neighbors had left their outside faucet dripping. The water had run down the steep driveway and flooded the sidewalk in front of their house. Brian had to walk into the street to avoid falling on the three foot, icy patch.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

  10. #70

    Default He Thought He Saw by Dellani Oakes Part 19

    It's morning and Brian has to get up for school. He spent an uneasy night, getting very little sleep. He wakes to find it unseasonably cold and icy. Rather than walking straight to the bus stop, he stops to pick up Jordan on the way.

    The wind picked up as he approached Jordan's. The moisture in the air coalesced, forming sleet. The icy crystals flew into his face, stinging any exposed skin. A whirlwind, like a tiny tornado, paralleled his path. Adjusting its trajectory slightly, it headed right toward him, kicking up frosty grass, dirt and debris. Faster it whirled, driving straight at him.

    Knowing this wasn't natural, Brian reached into his coat, fumbling for the chain around his neck. Cold fingers grasped the iron and brass chain. It felt unnaturally hot and it glittered in the dim light of streetlights. A phrase came to his mind, whispered in his ears. It wasn't a language he recognized, but he bellowed loudly and confidently as the growing whirlwind got closer.

    "Imigh leat!" He roared, throwing his coffee at it.

    The miniature tornado halted in its path, ducking and wavering uncertainly. It tried to approach, but seemed to hit an invisible wall about a foot from Brian. He yelled the words again, feeling them sucked into the wind. The whirlwind shivered, backed up and tried to hit him again, this time from the side. Brian clutched his amulet, bringing it out from under his shirt. The stones and metal seared his palm, making it glow as if it were on fire. With a loud poof, the ice tornado exploded. Crystals and trash flew in every direction, but none of them reached Brian. A barrier stood between them, protecting him.

    As soon as the whirlwind disappeared, Brian ran as fast as he could for Jordan's. Heedless of the ice, he thudded up the sidewalk. He arrived at her front porch to find the lights on and the door open. He knocked on the heavy screen door. Jordan's worried face greeted him moments later.

    "Are you okay?" She opened the screen.

    "I don't know." He sat on the bench just inside the house.

    Jordan closed the door, bolting it. "I had this awful premonition. I knew you were in trouble and I was coming to help you, but I couldn't get out. Something held the screen in place. It was like it was frozen shut. I tried all the doors and windows, same thing. Are you sure you're okay?" Her hands moved over his body, checking him for injury.

    "I'm okay. But it was close." He told her what had happened and started to laugh. "I threw my coffee at it. Brilliant."

    Jordan giggled. "We can get more. Come into the kitchen. Mom's up."

    "Does she know—about all this?"

    Jordan shook her head. "No, but she knows something strange is happening. Like I said, she's intuitive. I don't think we should keep this from her."

    Brian followed Jordan into the warm, comfortable kitchen. Mrs. Barrett had made breakfast and coffee. She served Brian a huge plate of waffles, eggs and grits. He was a little disappointed to find out there was no bacon, but he wasn't surprised to find out that the Barretts were vegetarians.

    "You're sure you're okay?" Jackie asked after he told her what had happened to him. He left out the part about the amulet, but she found the part about hurling his coffee at the whirlwind amusing.

    "Yes, ma'am. I'm fine. Shook me up some, I have to admit."

    "That's settled. I'm taking you to school today—every day. I don't know what's going on, but I have a horrible feeling in my stomach." She pursed her lips, thinking. "I'll pick you up after school, too," she announced. "And then we will sit down and you will tell me everything. Is that clear?"

    "Yes, ma'am," Brian said, casting his eyes downward. He didn't want to tell Mrs. Barrett, but he sensed that not only would she get the entire story from him anyway, she could probably help. There was no reason why adults couldn't be involved. The weird events might be happening to them too, they just weren't blogging about it. If anyone could understand and assist them, she seemed the best equipped.

    It was wonderful riding to school in Mrs. Barrett's luxurious SUV instead of the noisy, smelly bus. She played some kind of weird New Age flute music as she drove, but Brian found it oddly soothing. One tune in particular, he liked. It had a lot of drums at the beginning and a rumbling bass line that made his heart race. It stayed in his mind even after he was at school.

    The main topic of conversation that morning, was the cold. Living in southern Mississippi, the residents weren't used to weather this chilly so early in the year. It was still hurricane season, for god's sake. They were prepared to be dodging late season storms, not battling ice.

    ©2016 Dellani Oakes

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