Elevation of Lake Blvd, Redding, CA, USA - Topographic Map - Altitude Map

Surfside, WA

            This had become their spot years ago it seemed, where the two men could come and talk more openly with one another, without anyone to overhear.  Nothing that was said here was ever controversial, or held back for fear of offending the other, but in truth, it just felt good to get away sometimes, to be men and to talk like men.  Roland enjoyed the view of this place, the way the trees that lay between this sandy hill and the acres of dune grass beyond offered a stark contrast to the gray expanse of beach that lay beyond.  Past that, the blue, rolling waves continuously shifted, their white, curling breakers appearing and folding back into the greater mass time and again, a continual state of renewal in his eyes. 

            The single horse that stood some ways off, the midnight-black mare named Obsidian, was content to graze upon the few grasses and other vegetation that grew out this way as he and Tyler spoke, paying them no mind.  His own mount was off with his daughter, who had just reached her twenty-seventh year not long ago.  She was a grown woman now, an honorary Longblade he’d heard only a year ago, and a fine warrior to boot.  In short she was everything Roland and his wife, Kylie, had hoped for when they had first discussed having a child.  The two of them had done everything they could to keep Corrin happy in her youth, providing her with every luxury they could find and keeping her safe, as had the rest of the clan.  But he still worried about her. She was his little girl, and always would be.

            “I keep coming out to this place now and then,” Roland said with a sigh, “It’s ironic kinda.”

            Tyler nodded, not saying a word as he smiled.  He understood very well why Roland would say such a thing.  After all, it had been on this same hill that he and Kera had found the five men who had become such valued friends over the many years.  Here, he and his wife, still his girlfriend at the time, had defeated and disarmed the five amnesia-suffering men who had beached their craft not far from this location, making their way into the forest with only their most current memories intact.  They’d forgotten their lives of before, without any hope of recovery, and had fended for themselves as best as they’d known how.  How he had known they were here to be found had remained to this day a mystery, though he’d taken an educated guess.

            “The boys liked this place too, you know that?” Roland turned to Tyler, his weathered and aged features much the same as they’d been on the day that Tyler and Kera had met the five of them.  Like the rest of the clan, Roland had ceased to age any further, retaining his current vigor and health, no matter that physically he was probably close to his fifties.  He was still able to keep up with most of the clan when it came to training, though some days his wife would feel the need to admonish him for doing too much.

            “I’d assumed as much since the five of you defended it so well.”

            Roland grimaced at him briefly, though smiled as he spoke, “We didn’t know any better kid, you know that.  I don’t remember anything about my life before then, but one thing that always made sense was that you hold what you’ve got, if nothing else that’s the absolute last bastion of any fighter.”

            Tyler nodded, finding that he was in full agreement.  “I think they would have still liked this spot.”

            “Ayuh,” Roland agreed, “I do believe they would have.”

            The two men were silent for a time after that, simply enjoying the pleasant winds that pushed lightly against them, ruffling their hair and clothing as they stood, closing their eyes for just a moment as the salt air scent wafted over them.  Inhaling deeply, both men felt their chests expand as they opened their eyes.

            “Y’know kid, this isn’t natural.” Roland sighed as he spoke, looking down at his hands as though he was deep in contemplation.

            “What do you mean?”

            Roland shot him an annoyed look, “Don’t play games with me kid, you know what I’m talking about. Look at yourself and look at me.  Chrissakes look at the others in town!  Looking in a mirror, I’m assuming I’m in my forties, which is mid-life for most humans as I see it.  And yet it’s been over thirty years since you found us out here.  By all rights I should be a doddering old man by now, more comfortable with a cane and comfortable rockin’ chair than a weapon and a patch of ground to fight on.  It’s not natural Tyler.  You and your wife, and a lot of others, should be well into your forties and fifties by now, but you don’t look any older than your twenties.” Roland shook his head, “It’s not right Tyler.  Humans aren’t meant to live this long, no matter if we want to.”

            “It’s not a choice we have Roland,” Tyler said calmly, “Whatever happens to those within the clan, the aging process isn’t something we have any control over.  And as to myself, Taegan, and Marijka, well…”

            “I know, I know that part kid,” Roland sighed, patting the air with one hand, “I can only imagine what being an immortal is like, but knowing that you’re bound to live forever, that’s got to be tough.”

            Tyler didn’t respond, he didn’t have to. Roland and the others had no idea what it had done to his mental state to realize that he would easily outlive his friends, and possibly even his children and grandchildren. There was nothing, aside from the power that ran in his son’s body, to indicate that Corbin had inherited his father’s bloodline, no matter that it should have been so.  His grandchildren had not shown any signs of inheriting their mother and father’s abilities, though this had been anything but a disappointment to anyone, including the three boys.  Such responsibility was at times too great a burden to be seen as a boon.

            “So then, what do you think my girl’s chances are of gettin’ the kids back alive, her and Sam?”  Roland’s near omission of Samantha Landis didn’t mean anything, he cared about the younger girl just as much as anyone, but his concern for his own daughter was too apparent to miss, even though Tyler could hear in his voice how he was trying to remain nonchalant.  Roland and Kylie had years ago come to realize that Corrin was not a little girl, but it was still hard, as Tyler could attest to, realizing that your child no longer needed you in the same capacity they once had.  He wondered if his own parents had gone through such turmoil, and decided it was quite likely, especially given the stubborn streak that ran strong within the Ferris line. 

            “I think the odds are good that we’ll see the ladies, and my grandchildren, in due time.”

            Roland nodded, smiling lightly as he looked out to the churning waves that pounded relentlessly upon the shore, “Yep, I’m thinkin’ so too.  But I still worry, and wonder.”

            Tyler said nothing to this, he could tell that Roland wasn’t done.

            “That woman, back in Hillsboro, do you remember her?” Tyler had to think for a moment, he’d been too involved in other matters, the tending to of his sister for instance.  Sareena had given her life to keep him and the guardians, of whom her daughter was one, safe during the sundering of the Guardian Orb, and had died proudly.  Her loss still brought a mild ache to his heart, though he knew she would have told him to get over it, to keep moving on, and so he did.

            “Her name was Cora, and her sister was named Kylie. Weird isn’t it? They both looked at me like they knew me.  I’ve seen that look, but every time I’ve seen it in the past I can remember, it’s always been someone around these parts, someone I came to know.  But I could swear, they knew me.”

            Tyler nodded, “They were young enough Roland, perhaps-“

            “No,” Roland said, raising a hand again as he dipped his chin, not meeting Tyler’s gaze, “Nope, don’t say it.  I’ve already thought about it time and time again, and I don’t want to get into that.  Sorry Tyler, I didn’t mean to cut you off, but that, that’s kind of a painful thought to have, especially since when I try to remember past our time here, I can’t. It’s like something took an eraser to my thoughts and just eradicated everything that came before.  I can function as a human being, I can do things that I’m sure I must have been able to do before washing up on the shore, but my memory of the life I lived before now, it’s one giant blank.

            “Some days I don’t know if that’s more horrifying than anything we’ve come across in our years together, or if it’s a blessing, but the looks in the eyes of those two women, that haunts me sometimes.” Roland heaved a heavy sigh as he looked down at his feet, “If they were my daughters, or any other relation to me, then I can honestly believe I did them a favor by letting them go. Maybe they can see fit to forget about me, though somehow I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look in their eyes.”

            “Parents never forget Roland, not entirely.”

            The old man turned to him then, a sly grin on his lips as he nodded his head, “Ayuh, on that one I think you’re right kid, I do indeed.”

                                                            *                      *                      *

Shasta Lake, CA

            “I don’t believe you,” Aiden said stubbornly, looking as though he might cry soon.  Corrin sighed, not knowing just what it would take to convince him, but knowing that they had to be going soon.

            “I know Aiden,” she said, “But have we ever lied to you?”

            He didn’t respond right away, crossing his arms over his chest in a sullen manner before looking at the ground, his dark locks hanging in front of his face, obscuring his eyes.  He was a teenager now, far too old for such behavior, but right now Corrin did not dare begrudge him for such a manner.  He was being force fed a truth that he’d not expected, as was Corrie, but at least the girl was remaining silent, almost contemplative as she listened rather than spoke.

            “Your parents, their names are Corbin and Caitlin Ferris, love you very much, and want you back so bad that it’s been hell that they couldn’t have you.”

            “Then why didn’t they come and get us all this time?!” he demanded suddenly, “Our parents took care of us!  They clothed and fed us!  The people you’re talking about didn’t do a damn thing!”

            “Don’t swear Aiden, please.” Corrie’s small voice was barely discernible as Aiden whirled around on her, his anger fading quickly as he looked at Corrie’s troubled countenance.  They really, really did not have time for this.

            “No one knew where you were Aiden, that’s the stone cold truth of it.  When our clan was attacked in Redding many years ago, the young children that were with us had been sequestered in a hotel room for safety, surrounded by armed guards that would have gladly given their lives to keep all of you safe.  And some of them did lose their lives, doing what was necessary to keep others from harming you.”

            “Then what happened?” Corrie asked, ignoring her brother’s glare, “Why did we get taken? Did the other children get taken?”

            Corrin shook her head, “The others were safe, rattled, but still in the room when help arrived.  Your grandmother, Kerian, looked for you desperately when it had been discovered you were gone, and she and the others combed the city backwards and front, but you were gone.”

            Aiden’s temper was still up, she could see that easily. Corrin wasn’t even scratching the surface of his emotions yet, that much could be told in his eyes.  But as he opened his mouth, she at least was grateful that he was speaking.

            “So it was just us, so what, that means it was okay to take off?  Just accept the loss and go?”

            “No,” Corrin said plainly, beating Samantha to the punch. The eldest Landis daughter was calm and collected like her mother most times, but Corrin could already see that her father’s more impulsive behavior, that of growing irritated and angry with obstinate people, was beginning to show. Thankfully Bear had never seen much use for his anger back home, as most people were agreeable enough and the community as a whole got along. 

            “We searched Aiden, we looked long and hard for the two of you, and yet-“

            “Wait, just wait a minute,” Aiden said, his voice suddenly very controlled and without emotion, “You said “the two of you”.  Corrie couldn’t have been born yet, she’s two years younger than I am.  Are you saying that you lost us both in that amount of time?”

             Corrin had been expecting something like this at least. Corrie was far more slight than her brother, built much like Caitlin but a few inches shorter since she’d not grown fully yet.  Aiden was like his father, strong, handsome, and obviously possessing a temper that could flare like a sunburst at any given moment.  But unlike Corbin, Aiden had not learned how to control it yet.

            “No,” she began, “And this is something you might not believe, but you two are not separated by two years of age, despite what those who raised you have said.”

            “Then what?” Corrie asked timidly.

            “You’re twins.”

            Silence, aside from the lapping of waves and the sighing of wind through the trees that grew higher up on the slopes surrounding the lake, ensued for several moments.  Corrin watched the faces of both teenagers, seeing what she had expected.  Disbelief, shock, and something akin to amusement played over their features as they looked at one another. And then Aiden spoke.

            “No we’re not. She’s younger than me.”

            “You two are twins,” Corrin said, going on before Aiden could interrupt, “Did you ever wonder why you can seem to finish one another’s sentences, why you constantly seem to think the same way, no matter how you react to the world around you?  I’ll bet you even know when the other is hurt, or when they’re around.”

            Aiden almost immediately went on the defensive as she spoke, no doubt seeking to deny her claims.

            “Yeah, but how do you know that?” Corrie asked breathlessly, her lower jaw hanging slack as she stared hard at Corrin.

            “Trust me,” she said, smiling lightly, “It’s a twin thing, and Samantha would know.”  That earned a smile from the Landis woman as she nodded in response to the looks that Aiden and Corrie gave her.  Aiden then turned his attention back to Corrin, swallowing hard before he spoke.

            “We, we need to go home.  We’ve got to talk to mom and, I mean, yeah, yeah we need to talk to our parents.”  She could see the dogged resolution within his eyes as he nodded to himself, looking to walk forward as Corrin politely moved out of the way. Corrie followed after her brother with a final look at the two women.

            “Will we still get to see you?” she asked.

            “I’d count on it,” Corrin replied, “Just think on what we’ve said.”

            “Corrie, come on!”  Aiden called back, moving up the slope of rock and dirt, not turning around as he did.  Corrie nodded once in response to Corrin’s words, and then she followed her brother. The two women knew that they would need to follow the teens, but at the moment, they stayed put.  It wouldn’t do them any good to upset them any more at this moment.  But as soon as Aiden and Corrie were out of sight, they moved. Time was not on their side.

                                                *                      *                      *

            They were almost too late. 

            Though it was still daylight, the shadows had descended upon Shasta Lake, leaving in their wake little more than devastation on such a level that not even the two travelers could believe what they were seeing.  Each one of them had seen horrors beyond naming, faced down creatures that dwelled within the darkness and fed on the hopes and dreams of mortal beings, and yet they could not quite equate that with what was left of Shasta Lake.  Though not far from the lakeside where they’d found Aiden and Corrie, any sound higher than a shout should have been able to be heard, though they had heard nothing, not even a shrill hunting cry, which was even worse.  It meant that not a single member of the community had been left, and more unbelievable, the attack had been conducted in utter silence, so precise and well-planned that not a single person had been able to cry out for help.

            Of course, who would they call to?

            The town of Shasta Lake had no formal defense force, they relied upon their own strength of arms, their own willful determination to survive, and for many years now had subsisted on little more than stubbornness and grit.  In this instance it had not been nearly enough though.  As Corrin and Samantha made their way cautiously through the ruined town, keeping close to one another and keeping the mares by their side as well, they could see the ravaged bodies, the ruined homes, and knew that the invading force was not gone.  Where the creatures that had done this had gone to was still an open question, though as they walked forward, making their way towards the Villarado residence, Aiden and Corrie’s home, they did not allow their attention to waver.

            Both of them could feel the malevolent gazes that were thrust upon them from the shadows, the hidden things that watched them no doubt wishing to spring forth, to tear them apart limb from limb.  Corrin almost wondered why they didn’t, but thought better of such a rumination in light of their goal. They had to reach the kids, and they had to get out of here, now.

            Even as that thought crossed her mind, Corrin noted movement off to their left, little better than a blur of something barreling towards Samantha as the other woman just barely noticed, her weapon rising almost too slowly to fend it away as it closed the distance.  Corrin could see it well enough, a mangy hellcat that should have been making a great deal more noise than it was now. Only the scrabbling of its claws upon the ground had announced its presence, though as it leaped, she could see within its gaping maw that the thing had no tongue, only a dark hole ringed with needle-like teeth, which might have explained the lack of sound.  But even without a tongue, such a creature should have been capable of some sound.

            That didn’t matter in the next moment as Samantha and Corrin both reacted, their blades chopping the thing down easily as it was left to flop and writhe upon the ground, almost cut into pieces as its lifeblood pooled out upon the ground.  The two of them kept moving, not wishing to be distracted as they turned left, then right after several hundred yards.  Torn houses, battered buildings that might have been storage compartments, and run down structures that had long ago lost most of their use flashed by them as the two women made their way for the house they knew Aiden and Corrie would be seeking.

            So far they’d heard nothing in the way of screams or even shouts of terror, and Corrin’s heart was clenching in fear for the children, thinking that they might already be too late. She would not cling to such a defeatist attitude, though she knew it was likely.  That was not an option though, they could not lose the kids before they had the chance to take them to their rightful home, not now, after watching over them for so long.

            As they rounded another corner, the Villarado house came into view, only a few dozen long strides away.  The two women converged upon the house quickly, blades still held at their sides as they tried to peer in through the dark, shadowed front door, which was hanging askew upon its battered hinges.  Gashes in the wood, and the broken door jamb, attested to the forceful entry by something big and bulky, and no doubt quite strong.  Corrin advanced first, the Caelic blade leading as she did her best to peer into the home, not wishing to be taken by surprise.  Taking one step after another, she heard nothing, only the wind sighing along the battered streets outside, and through the house in front of them. 

            Corrin gave a look to Samantha, who merely nodded, knowing well enough what the other woman wanted.  Simply dashing into the house would not be wise, but remaining too cautious might lose them the two souls they’d come to retrieve.  They had to go in quickly and quietly, the hope that they might catch whatever was inside by surprise a fleeting one at best.  There was no doubt in either of their minds any longer that this was a concentrated effort to find the twins, something that would have been expected of their clan’s arch enemy, Sivis.

            Where the dark lord had been for almost a decade and half was anyone’s guess, but seeing as how the war for this world continued on so many fronts, according to those who’d been abroad in the last decade, the sick bastard was being anything but idle.  That he would have sent his minions in search of the twins was bad enough, but that he had obviously pinpointed this place was even worse.  It showed that he had at least an inkling of where Aiden and Corrie had been, ferreting them out far too well for their liking.

            Moving inside after doing a thorough check of the interior just beyond the doorway, Corrin and Samantha did their best to remain silent, watching their footing as much as possible in order to avoid making an undue noise. It wouldn’t serve them well to announce their presence.

            That little problem was eliminated however in the next moment as they heard what sounded like sobbing, hitching, wracking intakes of breath that came from just ahead, where the living room should be. The long hallway that led from the entrance broke off to the right where they could see at the moment before traveling the length of the house, featuring doors to the left and right, ending in a linen closet several yards down.  In the world of before it would have been considered a very posh home, one that would have cost a pretty penny no doubt, as Corrin’s father might say.  In this age however, those who selected their homes did so out of practicality and what was needed, rather than what they wanted first.  Luxury and the more lavish aspects of life didn’t seem so important any more when weighed against security and safety.

            The sobbing continued as they made their way slowly along the hallway, almost tiptoeing as they came across a large spill of broken glass, no doubt the remains of several picture frames that hung skewed on the wall, depicting the couple and the children that had graced this home for so many years.  Aiden and Corrie looked happy in the pictures that remained, though as Samantha could see they also looked guarded somehow, as though they were not entirely sure of themselves.  Something told her that even then, the children had known something in their lives was not right, but it was more intuition than fact that guided such a thought.

            As the two of them came upon the corner that would lead into the living room, they saw the hunched over form that knelt in the midst of the carnage that had been left.  The lack of any human remains did not offset the two, neither did the furniture that had been torn apart and strewn all about.  No, their discomfort in that moment came instead from the kneeling occupant, the same one that was currently sobbing into its, her, they couldn’t tell, hands.  The clawed and almost solid bone digits that covered the haggard, withered features of the strange beast were gnarled and looked quite sharp, but as their tips dug into the figure’s threadbare scalp it was barely noticed, the thin streamers of dark fluid that ran from the creature’s scalp dripping down its bony face, onto the remains of the carpet.

            Its body was a hideous mass of twisted sinews and tendons, all glistening and exposed to the outside world, staining its remaining scraps of clothing as the cloth clung to its wasted frame. And yet, Corrin and Samantha could both recognize the woman, no matter how horribly altered she’d become.

            “May?” Corrin breathed. She’d seen horrors before, as had Samantha, but each time she confronted one, she was still reminded of the first time she had ever stood up for herself, when she had struck the first blow in her life against the darkness that had consumed the world.  The dawning revelation that no one was beyond the touch of the Dark hit her like a physical blow each and every time she came upon a being such as this, reminding her just how depraved their enemies were.

            As the woman turned towards them, Corrin and Samantha tensed, seeing the murderous look within the dark gaze of the hideously transformed woman.  May had been a relatively fit woman they knew, given more to remaining calm and polite each time they had seen her.  There was almost nothing left of that woman in the creature they saw now, her death’s head features pulling back into a deep snarl as another wracking sob issued forth from her flayed, cracked lips.

            “It’s your fault!” she howled at them, rising swiftly from her knees as she swayed about, almost as though she were drunk.  Her bony, clawed hands swung freely at her hips, looking no less dangerous than they had only seconds before.

            “You brought this on us!” May howled, tensing as though to spring, “We were happy, and you brought this on us!”  Corrin and Samantha were both ready as May took one shaky step forward, still shouting at them as her lips pulled back over her teeth, revealing the rotting nubs that dangled from her red and bleeding gums.

            “You little bitches came around, and then all this started to happen!  We were happy, our kids were happy, and now you had to go and ruin it!  No one bothered us until you came,” another step, another shouted expletive, and still the women held their ground.

            “They’re not yours!” Samantha shouted, ‘They never were!”

            May waved a clawed hand in the air, “Who cares?!  We took our own little piece of heaven, and who got hurt?!  Your people didn’t care!  They didn’t even come looking!  You think you’re so goddamned important, you think you can do anything!  And look what happens! Look at me!”

            “You stole them away from their parents!”

            “They would have died any other way you whore!” May howled in return, “You people don’t care for your own to keep them protected enough!  Yes, we took them, yes, we snatched them, we gave them a life!”

            “You gave them a lie!” Samantha said, stepping forward. She’d had enough of this, and was more than ready to deliver final judgment to this woman.  That was when Corrin suddenly cried out, backing away as a deep, horrendous snarl caught both of their attention.  Turning about just enough to see what had happened, Samantha caught sight of a dark-skinned, monstrous thing that had just attacked Corrin, the long, hooked claws of its right hand dripping as Corrin backed away, holding her left arm in close to her body as blood dripped from the rents within her biceps and forearm.

            May chose that moment to attack, springing forward towards Samantha as she howled a wordless cry, trying to tear out Samantha’s throat as she reached forward with both hands.  The daughter of Brooke and Bear Landis was not so easily caught however, and before May could come within reach of her, Samantha’s large blade was arcing up, and through, May’s thin, bony neck, parting flesh, muscle, and then cracking through bone as she stepped quickly to her left, allowing May’s headless corpse to stagger for another step before falling hard into the hallway, where it began to twitch.

            Meanwhile, the battle between Corrin and the other creature, whose face was just barely recognizable as Juan Villarado, had become quite one-sided, much as it should have been. Corrin, still bleeding and hesitant to use her left arm, had made do with her right as the Caelic blade flashed and spun about in her hand, defeating Juan’s attacks and backing him away while at the same time hacking away several of his questing fingers, causing the dark thing no small amount of pain as it howled at her, wordless in his rage as he tried to find an opening.

            Corrin had trained for many years now though, and was more than confident enough in her skills to see the attempts of the creature, its body shaped and distorted much as May’s had been, though far more bulky and powerful.  Even with missing several of its claws, Juan seemed no less determined to take her down as he attacked once more, darting in quickly in an attempt to take Corrin’s legs out from under her.

            The Caelic blade was there at the same moment though, barring his attack as Corrin lashed out with one thick-soled boot, not connecting with the kick but managing to back him away yet again.  Samantha was there in the next instant, her heavy blade almost cracking into Juan’s spine as he snarled, moving aside just in time so that her weapon hit hard upon the carpeted hallway.  Unfortunately for Juan, this forced him to stand up in response, his movements placing him in direct line for Corrin’s next attack. Stepping forward with one powerful stride she angled around Samantha, who was still pulling back so as not to get in the way.  Stabbing forward, Corrin’s blade found Juan’s emaciated stomach, sinking easily into its hollow as the gnarled thing he’d become shrieked in pain, the holy light of the weapon searing into his diseased flesh.

            While this did not finish him, it certainly hurt the bastard, and yet still he did not flee, avoiding a heavy swipe sent at his legs as he leapt, one trailing claw catching Corrin hard upon her right forearm, digging into the skin as he tried to latch on.  Twisting her arm to the right Corrin avoided this, yanking her arm back as Juan stumbled, caught off balance in that moment as she attacked again.  Her blade raked across his face this time, the edge parting a line from his nearly hairless pate, across his right eye, and cleaving hard into his jaw as she then pulled away quickly, the wound in her forearm burning terribly as she watched Samantha attack.

            Juan tried to shriek, but this time it came out as little more than a horrid gurgle as Samantha rose with her swing, the heavy blade in her hands parting flesh and breaking bone as she dragged it hard through Juan’s body, putting much of her strength into the blow as she cut the creature almost in two, flinging it backward from the force of her swing as it fell hard upon the floor, blood spurting into the air as it landed.

            The two of them could only stand there, panting heavily for the next few moments, though they both looked around, behind, and in front of them repeatedly, hoping that there was nothing more that would present itself.  And then the pain of Corrin’s wounds began to set in.  She grimaced, forcing the burning sensation away. She knew that some creatures could pass contagion onto their victim’s, though neither Juan nor May had been turned into darklings, of that much she was certain in the next few moments. If so, she would have already been turning, as they had both seen happen to others in the past.  Still, she would need to cleanse the wounds sometime soon, but for now she was more concerned with the kids, and where they might be.

            “Aiden, Corrie, where are you?”  She’d already felt the familiar tingle that came to her body when the kids were around, they had to be close.

            “Should we split up and find them?” Samantha asked.

            Corrin was about to say no when a voice interrupted both of them, sounding small and scared as the speaker came into view, the creaking of wooden risers alerting them to the fact that someone was coming down out of the attic space.

            “We’re here,” Aiden said weakly, obviously quite afraid and more than a little uneasy.

            “Aiden, Corrie, thank God,” Samantha breathed, “Are you alright?”

            Aiden was breathing hard as he and Corrie descended the stairs that led upward from a space near the rear of the house, an odd place for an access ladder to the attic.

            “They, they tried to kill us. Our own parents,” Aiden stammered, reaching the floor shakily as Corrie followed behind him, almost clinging to her brother.  “They wanted to kill us, they, they couldn’t find us when we hid, they couldn’t get to us.”

            Neither woman knew quite what to say at the moment, but they knew one thing, it was going to be better to be away rather than standing here.

            “Kids, we’ve got to go,” Corrin said, watching their eyes widen as they took note of the carnage that lay splayed about.  Aiden looked at them both in shock, shaking his head as he spoke again.

            “Mom, mom tried to stop dad, but he, he, he wouldn’t, wouldn’t stop, he came after us, and she, she cried, but she still didn’t stop him.  Why didn’t she stop him?”

            “She couldn’t Aiden,” Corrin said softly, “Neither of them could stop.  Our enemies beat us here, and this is what happened. I’m sorry Aiden, I really am. But we’ve got to go.”

            He shook his head even more vehemently.

            “No, no no no no, no we’ve, we’ve got to find out friends, our family’s friends, they’ll know what to do.”

            “There’s no one left Aiden, you need to come with us.”

            “But you killed them!” Aiden said, suddenly shouting, “Why did you kill them?”

            They really didn’t have time for this, but Corrin wasn’t about to harm either of the teens to get them to come with them.

            “They were trying to kill us too Aiden, we had no choice.”  The young man shook his head again, closing his eyes as though trying to shut out the horror.

            “Aiden,” Corrie said from behind him, “I think they’re right, we need to go.” Her voice sounded as though she were on the verge of tears, though still Aiden stood still, not moving at all as his entire body tensed, his fists clenching as he opened his eyes again. Corrin could see the hurt within, the lack of understanding that Aiden no doubt felt and the anger that he would gladly direct at her and Samantha at that moment.  But then, he surprised them.

            “Fine, let’s go.  But I won’t forget this.”  As the young man strode to the front door, followed closely by Corrie, Corrin could imagine well enough that the trip home would be a long one. 

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