For Shereen Kazansky – I hope you enjoy!
These premises are monitored by CCTV.
“What is see-see-tee-vee?”
“It means they have video camera watching the shop,” Jason said, peering into the windows.
“I don’t know what that means,” Kara said, pushing her white—blonde hair back revealing small, pointed ears.
“It doesn’t matter,” Jason said. “That’s where the door is?”
“It think so,” Kara said. “It was dark when I got here. But I remember that tower.”
Jason followed her finger to the tall spire, black against the predawn sky.
“Okay. And your brother is in there?”
Kara bit her lip. “I think so. It was bright, and then dark, and there was a lot of moving. I couldn’t see too well. But we ran, and then the mage was in front of us, yelling and waving his staff around. Something hit me, and I couldn’t move, and then something was pulling me. Troven was behind me, and I tried to grab his hand. I lost him in the tunnel.”
Tears filled her eyes through the dialogue, and when she stopped talking, they spilled down her cheek. Jason leaned over and gave her a squeeze. She was so small, she was like his kid sister. He really didn’t believe her when she said she was seventy years old. He also didn’t believe her story, but when the police chief – who also happened to be Jason’s dad – had found her on the side of the highway and taken her in while her parents were located, it became Jason’s duty to take care of her. He figured if he humored her, maybe she would be willing to cut the wild imagination and tell him where her parents really were.
“Okay, follow me.”
Jason crept forward through the garden, his eyes peeled for movement. The warehouse had been abandoned for years, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t someone there. No one stopped or shouted when he pulled open the heavy doors, the chains clinking.
The warehouse was full of the ghosts of production, huge crates and machines to move them.
“What is all this?” Kara asked.
“Stuff,” Jason said. “There’s no one here.”
“He’s here,” Kara said stubbornly. “I know it.”
“Hello!!” Jason called out, then paused. “What’s his name again?”
“Toven!” Jason yelled. “Are you there?”
“He’s not going to come out if you yell like that,” Kara said, peering into the gloom. “I think I remember this. But I came up.”
“There were stairs,” Kara said.
“Maybe there’s a basement,” Jason mused. “Come on.”
In the back of the warehouse, they found the open trapdoor. Jason reached out to hold Kara back, but she slipped under his arm and bolted down the black hole. Jason groaned and followed her more carefully.
His eyes took a long time to adjust, and the sparse light from above painted everything in grey shadows.
“Kara!” Jason hissed. “Kara, where did you go?”
“Kara?” another voice came from somewhere nearby making Jason jump.
Kara popped up just in front of Jason, her eyes scanning the place.
“Toven? Toven!” Kara cried, and threw her arms open.
The small boy with bright eyes just like Kara flew to her and wrapped his arms around her.
“Toven, I was so worried,” Kara said, her voice muffled because her face was buried in his hair.
“I’m fine. The Mage isn’t looking so good,” Tovan said, pulling away. “Who’s this?”
“This is Jason. He’s a friend,” Kara said. “Where’s the Mage?”
“Just here,” Toven said, taking her hand and tugging her into the shadows.
They were gone too fast for Jason to protest, and with a grimace, he followed them into the dark recesses of the basement. He held his hands out to make sure he didn’t run into anything, shuffling his feet along.
“Kara?” he called out, his voice echoing back to him. “Kara, wait up!”
Something grabbed his arm, and he screamed.
“Shhh! It’s just me!” Kara’s voice reassured him from around his elbow.
Jason bit his tongue, his hear thundering in his ribcage, then Kara’s hand found his, and she was pulling him along. It got lighter, and then they rounded a corner to behold a sight. Toven pointed, though there was no need.
In the middle of a silver pool of light an old man lay. He was dressed in weird clothes, and his hair was long and dark. His skin was pale, or maybe it was just the light, but he didn’t look to good. Beside him, and the source of the silver light, was wooden staff topped with a large blue gem, rough cut and glowing.
Jason took it all in, his mind curiously blank with no protest or thought that maybe he was crazy or hallucinating. Maybe Kara’s wild imaginings weren’t so wild after all.