Running as fast as she could with two babies wrapped in a blanket, clutched close to her chest; her breathing becoming more erratic and her heart pumping wildly caused uncontrolled fear to seeped through her veins like poison making her feel frozen on the inside, almost dead with numbness.
No sound, no sound, she mentally reminded herself as she fought through the thick forest. Its punishing leaves and sharp branches whipped her face, cutting her cheeks and stinging her eyes. Stones on the ground sliced into her feet multiple times, leaving a trail of blood droplets ripe to trace.
With only a stolen blanket to protect her babies, the snapping branches were a risk to their delicate faces, but she knew that those scratches would heal, but their broken bodies would not.
She had to keep moving, she had to save them.
Guilt, so much guilt she had.
Her poor babies, what had she done and why had she done it?
Such a reckless choice she had made; one that now swamped her with discontent.
Sickness built in her stomach as she tried to forget about the past and concentrate on now, but it was hard with all the new truths that she now knew.
The forest’s thick dark blanket gave her little comfort as she surged ahead; there will never be enough darkness to hide them.
This only encouraged her desperate attempt to put as much distance between her, and the Organisation that intended to kill her and her babies.
Her entire body throbbed with pain but didn't slow her.
All around her she could hear movement and voices, clicking of safety catches. Panic doubled.
Must get away, must keep going.
It had not been indicated that she was to give her babies up for scientific research, the truth of what was really going to happen was leaked to her only a day after they were born.
The harsh reality that her babies were to be terminated, cut up and used as cellular base for cloning was too much for her to take. She could not let this happen; she loved them with all her heart and would do anything to keep them alive.
My babies damn it, not theirs! She mentally shouted. They were of her body and of her soul, and she didn’t care if they were different and so what if they could be the answer to the perfect army.
Her mind messy with grief for her babies’ lives, how they could be so. . . . There was not a single word nasty enough to describe what the Organisation was doing.
On the other hand, she was to blame for agreeing to carry them in the first place. She had not thought of the consequences, but to layer her pockets with money.
Greed had ruined not just her life, but two innocent lives as well.
The Organisation officials informed her that her babies, "as they developed", would be tested and observed for abilities, not destroyed, not eliminated, and not cut up!
They lied to her and she stupidly, foolishly, even naively assumed that she, the mother of her babies, would be the one to raise, nurture, and love them. Instead, the Organisation had fooled and deluded her and she signed their tiny lives away.
Regret, a bitter taste in her mouth that would not go away.
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
After days of crying, she decided that she would not let them use her babies as a tool to make an indestructible army.
She refused to add to the violence that was already rife in the world.
Quickening her pace, she stumbled onto a road.
Scanning the road; she could see a car's headlights in the distance. Slowly the light drew closer and the growl from the engine could be heard.
She closed her eyes and focused on the car, willing the driver to stop.
The car pulled to the curb, she let out a relieved breath and managed a small moment of hope but kept her mistrust keen.
Focussing her mind, she willed for the driver to acknowledge her.
To her utter relief, she watched as the glass descended, a man’s face appeared from the darkened interior with a mop of dark blonde shaggy hair. A day-old growth of stubble gave him the appearance of an older man but his eyes were young, sharp like blue ice. But what confused her was his calm aura which held a knowledge of great expanse.
She stifled a breath.
Trying to smile politely, managing to lift only one corner of her mouth, she leaned closer to the window.
Staring into his eyes, she focused on him and filled his mind with suggestion.
I need to get far away from here. My babies need food and we need shelter. You can provide this for me.
She had to force the thoughts into the man’s head. His mind terribly guarded the mental walls difficult to penetrate.
The man stared at her for a moment, his eyes narrowing at her like he was a judging her, trying to suss her out. Staring straight into her soul.
Fear pricked the back of her neck, the hairs there stood on end. Sending a chill down her spine.
She momentarily felt a hum of energy from this man or something but she could not place what.
She pushed it aside as nothing but her mind was going crazy with paranoia!
She concentrated on her unspoken words and smiled innocently at the man. Silently begging, she placed another suggestion into the man’s mind.
Please, please take my suggestion.
Terrified that any second armed men would burst from the trees and gun her and her babies down, irritability crept in and she wanted to run but kept her face masked with calmness, she hoped.
One of the infants gave a moan but went silent. Almost aware that its silence was needed.
Finally, the man nodded and a small smile spread on his face.
“You need a lift? Your babies, do they need food and . . .” he hesitated, rubbed his hand against his stubbly chin whilst he considered her for a moment.
Sympathy had spoken to him and her suggestions taken.
She almost bounced on the spot with impatience.
Then he let out a little hum and said, “Do you need somewhere to stay. . . I’m sure I can help you. At least for tonight.” He tilted his head towards the back, “Get in . . . My wife’s an excellent cook. She loves children too, I’m sure she won’t mind.”
She knew that anyone could be someone from the Organisation, she just prayed, hoped, this man was not one of them.
“Thank you,” she said almost breathless and quickly opened the back door. Careful not to drop her babies, she slid in with them still tucked at her sides and still, they slept.
Placing them on the back seat next to her, she adjusted their blanket, ensuring they shared body heat. Then shut the car door gently, so no sound echoed into the night.
Fastening her seatbelt with hands that shock, she realised that it wasn't just her hands that were shaking but her entire body.
From adrenaline or fear, it didn’t matter what made her shake but she needed it to stop before too many questions were asked, that she would not be able to answer.
And she hated to lie but feared this would be a must if she wanted to stay alive.
“What is your name?” The man said as he positioned the car off the curb, then glanced in the rear-view mirror, however he wasn't focusing on the road behind. His eyes, eerily intense, were looking directly at her. She glanced at her babies in and effort to avoid any more glances. Clearing her tight throat she answered the man.
“Leeshana,” she said then glanced behind her through the rear window fearful that she could have been spotted and followed.
It was so unnerving to be watched but she was a stranger after all and he had not chosen, as such, to pick her up or to offer her shelter and food.
Determined to stay calm and focused, she knew it would be no good her breaking down now. She didn’t want to show herself as too vulnerable.
Not until she was safe, only until she was then would she allow herself to release all the trauma she had gone through.
When will that be? Her brain asked, the answer...... Never.
“Just . . . Leeshana?” The man added after a length of uncomfortable silence.
“Yes,” Leeshana replied quietly as she fussed with her clothing, still avoiding those eyes of his.
She had to swallow the hard lump that was wedged in her throat. A ball of emotion that she was sure would suffocate her, was also a sign that her emotions were starting to slip out of control.
And it was not the time, was not the place, and it was not safe to lose herself to tears.
It will never be safe.
She knew this was just the starting point of a life full of danger with every turn, the thought sent a chill sliding down her spine, leaving painful spikes of remorse in its wake.
She shivered unexpectedly as the fear, the guilt and the stupidity of her choices seeped deeper into her body, settling into her bones. It was nauseating.
Mentally she despaired, but would abstain from crying real tears. She was already holding her emotions by the last thread of sanity she had.
From here on, Leeshana knew she would be hunted to the ends of the earth like a criminal on the run.
With nowhere safe, nowhere to stay for too long, and if caught, she would be killed and so would her babies.
She paled with the thought despite previously knowing that escape would lead to this possible bloody ending.
The Organisation would not stop until she was dead and her body along with her babies incinerated. Their ashes made to disappear, so not one single trace of their existence remained.
“Are you in trouble?” The man asked bringing her back to earth.
“My husband tried to kill me.” A lie, she hated to lie, “I decided it was time to leave him. But I don’t drive,” she gave a shrug and a weak smile, though the man didn’t see it. His eyes were fixated on the road, Leeshana noticed and relaxed a little.
“I figured this would be the best way, I’ve left everything behind. I don’t want him to find me. I think he’d definitely kill me,” she continued. Her voice was choked but that didn’t matter. The story was plausible as truth. "Thank you. . .for helping me."
The man nodded, eyes remaining on the road ahead. He said nothing more until he pulled left onto a graveled road.
“My home is somewhat secluded,” he said, the tone of his voice a confused message. Was he warning her, or reassuring her? Leeshana pushed aside the confusing connotations that his voice had delivered; she really didn’t need anything else messing with her mind right now.
What would be, will be. She sighed; this was not how she expected her life to turn out.
It must have been half hour or so before he stopped.
Through the thick bushy trees and gaps in the shadows cast by the fullest moon she had ever seen, Leeshana could just make out a beautiful cottage. Thatched with a wooden porch where a woman sat with a cat curled on her lap.
The woman’s hair was the colour of fire, very bright compared to the rest of her that remained consumed by the darkness. A contradiction that had beauty and dark secrets combined.
One of her babies moaned, Leeshana quickly scooped the bundle up and stroked its angelic face. Hunger was setting in and soon both her babies would be wailing loudly, which she feared would attract unwanted attention.
“Have you a room where I can feed them,” she asked anxiously, desperate to get her babies inside and out of view, and out of possible harm’s way.
The man must have got the hint; he quickly ducked out the car and opened her door, helped her out, even taking one of her babies as he did so.
“Yes . . . um, of course” he said leading her to the porch. The woman stood, letting the cat fall to the porch floor with an unimpressed hiss.
Leeshana gingerly approached, the woman smiled at her with bright hazel eyes that were all welcoming and warm. “Come,” the woman said turning her head towards the front door, making her hair shimmer as it moved softly on her shoulders. “I have been expecting you.”
Leeshana flicked a gaze to the man and gave a confused wide-eyed stare. The man just shrugged, “Meet my wife, Casie. She’s a Seer. I didn’t know anything, I swear. She’s always been knowing,” he said and held his hands up in the air giving them a wiggle. Clearly emphasising the 'all knowing' and gave Leeshana a toothy smile that brightened his face. His eyes even sparkled, and for a moment, Leeshana thought she saw them glow bright slightly but then she was tired and pushed the thought aside.
Again, she believed her mind was calling for a break, just how much more could she take of this tiring situation; if the Organisation didn’t kill her, insanity probably would.
“My name’s Jay.” The man suddenly said and Leeshana almost jumped, she must have phased out with thought.
“I didn’t introduce myself back there . . . wasn’t sure of you at first. My wife obviously is.” His smile was chaste, and Leeshana felt at ease, suddenly overcome by a sense of security, a tear slipped from her eye, dripped down her cheek and she rubbed her face on her shoulder quickly trying to get rid of the evidence.
“Come inside and get warm.” Jay's smile widened further, guilelessly he guided her into his home but when his hand rested gently on her shoulder, tingles shot through her body and she relaxed instantly, strangely a strong sense of calm settled in her heart.
Once inside, the warmth hit her. She felt herself relax further. The smell of cookies greeted her with mouth-watering consequences.
A smile appeared on her face, the first proper smile she had allowed herself for weeks. Her eyes closed as she savoured the taste of the smell.
“Mmm . . .” She just could not help but let a satisfied moan escape from her lips; the smell almost lifting her spirits completely, and she smiled even more without realising it.
“Take your babies into the lounge,” Cassie said, her voice soft and trusting.
Trusting? Really? Only hours ago she would have trusted no one.
Casie nodded to the room opposite. She oozed with a motherly kindness, soft and gently, and seemed to have complete understanding of her needs.
“I have prepared a cot for them, unfortunately I only have one. It was my sons; I couldn’t bear to let it go. So many memories . . .,” she paused and smiled, but her eyes were sad, a shadow of emotion flashed in her eyes for but a second and then it was gone. What the sadness meant, Leeshana wanted to ask but stopped herself from doing so. It was not her business and she didn’t want to upset the woman, definitely not when they had welcomed her into her home.
“Come,” the woman said putting an end to the silence and led her into the lounge where an open fire crackled softly, the glow nullifying yet more of Leeshannas' fear, and soon replacing it with the sense of home, inviting her to settle.
“Sit, we will leave you to tend to your baby’s needs, I will be back to bring you some tea.” Leeshana nodded and gave a weak smile. Though her eyes must have spoken volumes as the woman stopped in her tracks and she turned to face Leeshana.
“Do not worry,” the woman said, her eyes sparkled and for a second glowed, or so Leeshana thought.
Then, she had thought that about Jays’ eyes too.
There were secrets in their eyes. Surely, she could not have imagined that both their eyes had glowed.
Did the woman, Casie, and her husband, Jay, have secrets as she did?
Casie's Seer ability, common amongst the everyday humans, but did she also have abilities like hers? Did they both obtain abilities? Did their eyes really glow?
No, her fear was quite obviously starting to gain dominance over her and screw with her head.
I’m going insane!
“Thank you,” Leeshana said and started to unwrap one moaning baby. Her hands still shaking, she didn’t think the shaking would ever stop.
The woman nodded again, her expression still one of sadness, yet understanding, she silently left the room, closing the door with a gentle click and leaving Leeshana alone with the gentle hiss and crackles of burning wood.
She let out a heavy breath, not realizing she had been holding it then involuntarily another tear trickled down her cheek but the rest she forcibly held back. Still, she was fighting for control, fighting to stay strong, not to break down, and not fall to pieces.
“I promise,” she vowed, “your names will never, be forgotten, you will become powerful women. No one will ever walk all over you.” Giving a small wavered smile as she picked up the first baby and releasing it from the blanket, its tiny hands instantly reached out and wrapped desperately around her fingers; its mouth opened and closed with the desperate want of food.
A small cry erupted from its mouth and fangs shot from its gums. There was no surprise from Leeshana as she placed her wrist to the babies lips. Letting out a quiet cry as its tiny fangs pierced through her skin, the pain was brief.
At least only one of my babies needs this, she thought as it sucked as though it would be its last meal.
Troy picked up a suitcase that had already split open at one corner, so there was no need for trying to break the hard core lock the previous owner had installed.
He shook the contents out on to the sand and picked out items that should serve him in this desolate situation he was stuck in.
The heat of the day had him thirsty for anything that was liquid and not salty. So when he found a bottle of vodka in this particular lost luggage, he quickly downed at least a quarter of a bottle before finally stashing it in a rucksack he'd found.
Not the best drink to quench a thirst but a least it would stop the stomach pain from getting too much as dehydration slowly set in.
Gathering what he could from all the wreckage that had washed to shore, he set up a shelter by the edge of the forest that consisted of ladies dresses and nightgowns strung from tree branches. Well, they weren't needed here as the social life looked quite dead.
He swapped his shoes for someones' leather sports sandals and changed his clothes for ones less ripped and dirty.
Feeling more human now, he decided to keep looking for other supplies that he may well need to survive this unwelcome stint of solitary.
Not knowing what time it was, Troy took an educated guess it was around noon, as the sun was at its highest.
It wasn't the hottest he'd ever experienced but it was close, however, this time he was shipwrecked. With no air conditioning!
He had really no clue about real survival but then a bit of common sense went a long way, something he believed most humans had none of.
Grabbing a cap from the pile of items he'd collected, he headed back onto the beach and continued salvaging for more useful items.
There wasn't any sign of inhabitants apart from the local wildlife, and even then not much sound was heard unless you listened carefully. It was highly possible he was the only person here, wherever 'here' was.
Thinking back, he should have gone straight to a life raft when the explosion happened but he was a little busy trying to pack all his false identification and card readers. It had taken him ages to save up for them, and without them, he'd actually have to work. Not his idea of fun, at all.
Now he had nothing.
Disgruntled at his loss, Troy stopped to rest and scanned the beach ahead of him.
A blue and pale peach lump lay half in the water and the tide was coming in quite fast.
However, he couldn't quite make out what it was. He could see this was not a normal lump of debris, in fact, it was more fleshy looking with a bone like structure than cotton and thread over wood. And as it didn't sway at all with the movement of the waves that splashed against its sides, Troy assumed it was human.
As he drew closer, Troy recognized the slender shape of a female. His first thought was, was she dead?
He leaned over her, luckily she was still breathing...barely.
Next, he checked her over for any signs of broken bones or skin punctures, thankfully there were none, then gathering her in his arms, he carried her back to the shelter.
Laying her down on a bed of salvaged clothes, he carefully arranged her into the recovery position and then brushed away the dark curly locks from her sun-kissed face, sprinkled with freckles.
Dark lashes and perfect eyebrows indicated to him she was one of the many rich and famous that had probably been on the same boat as he was.
He wasn't an R and F, as he labeled them. He was the one that stole their money, plus a few other belongings that would help to feed his life.
He had faked himself a license to practice as a fully qualified chiropractor, procured a position on the ship as part of their health spa team, then set up his little machine to charge more money than he should for his excellent services.
Currently, his bank account had turned into ten accounts in several different banks, located in various locations around the world; all with different identities that he'd conjured up.
He'd been at this for years.
He was rich, just not famous, unfortunately here he was neither.
Lucky for this lady, he'd not met her; and like him, she didn't have money but she did have life, and right now it was her life that would keep him alive.
Deciding now would be a good time to regenerate, he laid down next to her and closed his eyes. Sleep did not come easy, but soon he was off into a world of his own making.
Tarania woke a few hours later to the view of an empty chair, trees and sand. At first thought, the headache she had, had her thinking she'd gotten drunk and passed out. Perhaps they had arrived at one of the stay-over resorts and she was on the beach.
However, normally she would have remembered at least the start of the night drinking with the girls.
The more she thought about this random chair the less random it became. It just seemed so familiar, she was sure she had seen it before. Her foggy brain managed to recall that this type of chair resembled ones from the dining hall on the boat, it was exactly like the one she had been sitting on when . . .
A flash of memory swept through her mind like lightning. Remembering the boat alarm chaotically deafening her as it flashed red light on and off. The corridors quickly became stampeded with terrified passengers as a crackled, distorted announcement crackled through the speakers and then that explosion, the flash of light through the glass and . . .
“Oh God, oh god . . . Oh God!” Panic struck her and her breathing became erratic, her heart thumped harder and faster in her chest. She started to experience waves of dizziness despite she was already laying down and...... the pain!
Panicking more, she tried to move using her arm to lift herself, but before she lifted her arm an inch, the thunderous pain hit her even harder than before and she slumped back down, almost close to tears.
What had happened?
Sickness welled up inside her, the realization of her situation crashed through her mind like a tidal wave, swamping her with confusion and misery.
She tried to calm herself but the panic continued to build up inside her, overwhelming her. With short, sharp, erratic breaths that didn’t do a thing to help her, resulted with her head swimming where no oxygen filtered into her lungs. Her chest ached as her lungs felt like they were trapped in a vise; closing up and shutting down...
Tarania's scream startled Troy into a sprint back up the beach.
By the time he had reached her, she was straining, crying and holding her chest like she was suffocating, but Troy could see she was only hyperventilating.
"O.K," he said with a calm collected tone. " Just try to breath slow and try to stay still."
He carefully helped her to a sitting position trying to avoid hurting her further but his efforts rewarded him cruelly.
She instantly threw up.
The vomit sprayed him in the face and chest causing nausea to build up inside of him too. He held it back and quickly stripped off his shirt and used it to clean off what he could.
After she had finished with the removal of her stomach contents, Tarania just slumped back against a suitcase, and held her shoulder and cried.
She had never felt so alone and confused, the pain was just too much for her. She thought for a moment that she would pass out from the pain.
Troy gently tilted her chin towards him. Still on her caramel skin, a few remains of vomit dared to ruin her beauty. Wiping her face clean, he smiled. "There, that's better," he said and sat back. "I will need to examine you. I think you have hurt your shoulder."
Tarania still feeling dizzy, her head ached and her upper body felt like it had not yet been released from the invisible vice.
She only just managed a nod of understanding, before more vomit decided to make an appearance.
Tarania had never before experienced this much pain. Not once had she broken a bone, bled, or even just gained a cold. She had always looked after herself incredibly well, not that she had a choice in the matter.
Her family was wealthy, involved in politics and loved the media. Tarania had never liked the attention, however, her parents insisted she take part, to the extent that her father had allowed her to go to university as long as it was his choice, and that she took an approved stylist with her. It was just insane but the thought of her family now far from her actually offered some relief. As if for the first time she could think for herself. Right now though, she'd rather be someone else.
Troy continued to clean the vomit from her, and himself. He couldn't help but studied her, he could tell she was still in pain and also in shock but she still remained somehow strong, not scared by her current situation. Just in pain and a little confused. Perhaps also feeling alone and sad.
But not scared.
Getting a jumper from the stash of clothes, he wrapped it around her shoulders. He felt guilty he wasn't a real chiropractor, but studying the basics enabled him to handle most issues. However, the knowledge he had was not specifically up to date. And he wanted to help this girl, so he decided a visual observational guess of what her problems consisted off was his best bet.
"I want to look at your shoulder now," he said a little firmly as he reached for her hand and elbow. Gently maneuvering her arm until she cried out in pain he paused. Troy could see very clearly there was dislocation of her shoulder. Lucky for her, he'd sorted quite a few shoulders, a few times was on himself, he knew how painful it was but didn't want to give her too much to wait for, "O.K, " he said, "it's dislocated but I can fix it." No words came out of Tarania's mouth in response. The pain, she suffered, was too for her to think clearly. So, she just nodded but only a little.
Troy took her nod as permission to continue, though didn't think she was actually aware of what pain there would be, however short lived it would be.
Getting on with the task, he got into a firm position making sure he could pop it back quickly as he re-positioned her arm. Her winces were many and despite her pain, she did not shout out. He knew he needed to be quick to be kind.
Without warning her he counted, " one...two...."
Pushing and turning, Troy popped the shoulder back into place, almost having to kneel on her to do so. But it was in, and now she continued to vomit the rest of her insides onto the sand.
Troy understood what the pain felt like, but over the years he had become accustomed to pain, so was able to ignore that particular reaction to damage that humans unfortunately suffered with.
"I don't have any fresh water, but I have alcohol, " Troy then said rummaging through his rucksack whilst Tarania composed herself.
Realizing what he had said, she couldn't help herself but laugh a little at the irony of it. The one time she didn't want to get drunk and alcohol was her only source of liquid.
"Yes, that will do," she managed to say as she reached for the bottle with her good arm. Still, the pain twinged in the other but it was no way as bad, as it previously was.
Tarania had only what seemed like a few sips, but the alcohol had already gotten her tipsy. Probably because she hadn't eaten. Her eyes heavy with exhaustion forced her to give up and give in to rest.
Laying down as Troy covered her with a thin towel, she closed her eyes feeling strangely safe, nullified of and worries.
And sleep came easily, what she didn't know was that she had a little help.
Troy waited until a gentle snore filled the air, a good sign Tarania was in a deep sleep. It only took one gentle touch to induce this and Troy had the power to do so much more.
Of course, he would never hurt a soul, there was simply no need. And why make war when making love was so much more delicious.
His entire existence relied on the ladies having fun, and he was more than happy to make it all happen......even if it was in the form of a dream.
Not controlling his urges, Troy touched her bare shoulder feeling the smoothness of her skin and relishing her individual feminine scent.
And then hunger came on like a bad drug addiction. Once again he prepared to feed off her emotions. Keeping contact with her skin, he focused on her face and disappeared into her mind.
Tarania lay on her side in her very own sanctuary that she had created to escape the world. Surrounded by giant white daisies, she carefully crafted chains, then wrapped them around her arms like jewelry. It was one hobby she had loved since little and reminded her of better times.
For some reason, the urge to look behind her prickled up her spine. As if there was someone or something else behind her. She wasn't scared, just curious as to how this extra presence could be there without her creating it so. She had learned a long time ago how to meditate and control her mental sleep activity. This was a first since her last nightmare at the age of eleven.
Suddenly making a choice, Tarania jumped up and looked behind her. There was the man from the beach, the one who had saved her from possible death. She hadn't noticed before, or maybe her head had just 'lushed' things up, but he was hot!
Not daring to move just yet, she studied him further. Noting his shirtless chest and tanned sexy toned skin,......every inch of perfection and it was then she realized he was holding her in his arms.