I am really having trouble with this story all of a sudden. I thought I knew how I wanted it to go, but things seem to be petering out...lame. I'll need to do some brain-storming and see if I can get something turning again. Any ideas? Enjoy! E.T.
Here are the links for the posts of this story so far: (Ignore the titles on the actually pages. Apparently, I can't count.)
Chapters Two and Three
I didn’t like the hurt silence Kevin had adopted. He stared out the windshield as we wound back to the main road, his mouth set and firm.
I braced up my courage and swallowed a little pride. “Sorry I slapped you.”
He grunted, but didn’t say anything. I wiggled my arms into a sweater and huddled as close to the door as I could.
The empty photo was sitting on the dash, the edges curled up and yellowed.
Why had Jeff left? Why had he gone to the CMR? What were they testing him for? And why had he hated it?
“Are you hungry?” Kevin asked finally.
I shook my head. “No, thanks.”
The car lurched as we rolled onto pavement once more.
“You shouldn’t try to Seek anymore today,” Kevin said as we sped down the asphalt. “You’re too tired. You’ll burn out.”
“And that’s not fun?” I guessed, trying to joke.
“No,” he said shortly.
The numb terror that was filling me cracked a little, licking with resentment. “I said I was sorry.” I sniped at him.
His glance was disgusted and sneering.
“Don’t look at me like that!” I snarled, glaring at him.
“Like what?” he asked, his tone dangerous and daring me to continue this fight.
“Like…like you’re jealous!” It was a stab in the dark, but once I said it I knew it was right.
That startled him. “Jealous? Of you?” He snorted scornfully. “Why would I be jealous of you?”
I would have scratched his eyes out if he hadn’t been driving. “Stop the car!” I ordered. “Let me out!”
“Fine!” Tires screeched as he slid to a halt. I jerked out of my seatbelt and threw the door open. He was out as well, slamming his door so hard the car swayed.
“Get away from me!” I shouted, blind with fury. “No one wants you!”
“Then why’d you want me to come?” he shot back. “You’re useless without me.”
“I am not!”
He sneered, his features distorted, twisting. “He doesn’t care about you! Who would?”
“I hate you!”
“I hate you, t-” he broke off suddenly, his eyes wide.
“I don’t care!” I snarled, jerking off the sweater. His sweater, I realized, my stomach churning with mortification. “I never want to see you-”
“Becca,” Kevin said calmly. “Becca, take a deep breath.”
“No!” My throat hurt, I was screaming so loud.
“Becca, listen to me. Take a deep breath.” He opened his door once more, reaching in for something. He emerged holding the photo.
I lunged forward, straining across the hood of the car as he tore it in half. He frowned at the halves as I shouted at him.
“Not that then,” he said, still calm. He grimaced and drew out the stone he had tucked into his pocket.
I gasped. I wanted that stone. I wanted it more than anything in the world.
“Give that to me!” I hissed. “Give it!”
“No,” he countered.
“I need it! It’s mine!”
I ran around the car as he set it on the ground. He grabbed me around the waist. I fought and kicked, struggling to reach the sphere.
“Becca!” He tried to grab my arms, but I writhed free. I lunged for the stone. He spoke sharply.
My body stopped. I hit the ground, scraping my hands and elbows as I rolled over. I couldn’t move.
I could see the stone lying a yard away. I couldn’t make my hand reach for it. I needed it.
Kevin stepped closer, eying the stone cautiously. “Sorry, Becca. Just for a moment more.” I tried to breathe, but my lungs wouldn’t work, my heart was thundering in my chest.
His sword flashed through the air again. The stone exploded, shards flying in all directions. The ones aimed at me stopped dead an inch from my eyes, then fell to the ground. They hit with a tinkling clatter and I could move again.
I sucked in air, shivering and weak. Kevin came over and helped me sit up.
“A trap,” he explained softly. “The trunk was sealed. Only someone who could use magic could open it. They knew they would find the Well. You shouldn’t have been affected. Maybe the Speaking…”
I had caught enough breath to talk again. “What did it do?”
He smiled weakly. “Becca, what do think all that was about? It was trying to split us up. Get us alone.”
I shivered. “Why?”
He shrugged, but I saw how his eyes were moving over the landscape carefully. “They knew whoever found it would take it. Maybe they thought to trap Strenton.”
He helped me back into the car and buckled me in. He handed me a granola bar and glared at me until I nibbled it.
He started the car, but before he drove again, he took a deep breath.
“Sorry,” he said softly. “I didn’t…I didn’t mean it. Any of it.”
I flushed. “Me, neither.”
“You’re doing a good job for,” he winced. “For a non-magical person.”
I grunted, my eyes on my hands in my lap. The granola bar lay forgotten. His hand closed over mine and squeezed them gently.
“And you’re right.” He added softly. “Sometimes I am jealous of you. Of people like you.”
I flinched. “Kev-”
“And I do care about you.” I chanced a peak. He was blushing hotly. “You make it hard not to. How are your hands?”
I had never been so grateful for a non sequitur. I held them out. The blood on them was already dry in the heat. “Fine.”
“Do I need to bandage them?”
I shook my head, as he dumped a little water on them and rubbed carefully. The skin under the blood was pink, already healed over. I shivered.
“No. I can’t be hurt, remember?”
He dried my fingers. “Sorry.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say. I figured I had embarrassed myself enough today. I huddled down in my seat, closing my eyes. I had a headache, my stomach was turning and I was cold. Cold all the way through. Like I was dead. I shuddered.
“Becca, you really should eat someth-”
The car skidded across the asphalt, jerking off the ground. It flipped, sending us both to the roof and slamming us back to the seats as it rolled clean over twice.
Hissing with pain, I struggled to right myself, my head spinning. Kevin was swearing, growling.
What I didn’t found out. His door was ripped from its hinges and he was dragged from the car, kicking and yelling. I had time to scream once, before a hand reached in and yanked me out into the blinding sunlight.
I was thrown to the asphalt, tumbling head over heels from the force. I caught myself, choking back scared sobs.
Kevin wasn’t shouting anymore. He broke free of his attacker and made a sharp chopping motion with his hands. The man flew back, hitting the ground and rolling through the dirt.
Kevin ran for me, grabbing my arm and pulling my upright.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Fine!” I gasped. “Watch out!”
Both men were watching us now, coming closer, wary circling. Kevin dropped me and set his feet. He glanced around us, his eyes narrowed.
“What is the meaning of this?” He demanded harshly, his voice ringing.
The two men eyed us. “You are not Strenton.” One said slowly.
Kevin didn’t answer, only shifted as they eased apart, moving to either side. Kevin’s sword flared in his hand once again.
The other man laughed. “I wouldn’t, boy. You’re no match for us.”
“Try me,” Kevin snarled. I tried to stay behind him as he took slow steps back, keeping the men in his field of view as they advanced.
I glanced helplessly to the car, trying to find an escape. The sedan was totaled, bent and hissing, dripping fluids into the brown grass.
“What do you want?” Kevin asked again. “The Well is destroyed.” He angled his blade to threaten the one of the left as the man came too close.
The man laughed darkly. “Where did you get such a fine weapon?” he asked, eying the glimmering blade as it shone and sparked. “You’re not strong enough to control it, boy.”
“Watch me,” Kevin retorted.
The man grinned and jumped forward, a line of light flashing in his own hand.
I scrambled away, staggering as the ground shook beneath my feet. The men had backed away from Kevin, frowning now. Kevin slid to the side, keeping between me and them.
“Who is that girl?” one asked.
“None of your concern,” Kevin snapped. “Get lost.”
“Give me that blade and we will leave you alone.”
Kevin didn’t answer. His sword cast odd shadows that danced around him. I shivered as they looked over me.
“Don’t be stupid, boy,” one said softly. “Don’t make me pry it from your dead body. A trade, for the girl’s life.”
Kevin laughed, a harsh, mocking laugh.
“Your choice,” the other said.
I could only watch in horror as they both jumped froward. The air was sharp, dry, snapping as they fought. My eyes watered as light flashed between them, whatever magic they were using equal. Not equal, Kevin was holding them off, pushing them back.
I could see their surprise and alarm. In moments, he had worked them around, forcing them together. They dove apart as Kevin spoke harshly. The ground exploded where they had been a moment, before, showering everything in black dust as the asphalt blew in every direction.
Kevin had one trapped against the car, the man sweating, desperate now. The other was running down the freeway.
Kevin brought his sword down in a high, overhand stroke. The man’s weapon shattered, sparkling fragments flashing in the sun, hitting the ground with ringing chimes.
The man panted raggedly, staring up at Kevin from his knees, the point of Kevin’s blade in his throat.
“Who sent you?” Kevin hissed. I shuddered, sinking down to my knees. “Who!”
The man gasped, choking. “No one. Just scavengers.”
“Please, no one. Acting alone, I swear it.”
Kevin grabbed the man’s shirt and threw him to the ground, sending him rolling down the meridian. The man staggered to his feet and took off after his partner.
Kevin came to me. “Are you hurt?”
“No,” I gasped. He was still furious, his eyes blazing, blood running down his face from a cut over his eye. I gaped at him as he sheathed his sword. Really sheathed it, in a scabbard at his side, secured to his body with a thick belt.
He wiped the blood from his face with a grimace, rubbing his hand on his trouser leg. His boots made sharp noises against the cement as he walked, like they were rimmed with steel.
“Scavengers,” he snarled. “Cutthroats and thieves. Should have killed them.”
I shivered at the coldness of his tone. I didn’t doubt for an instant he would have, if I hadn’t been here.
“Come on,” he said, beckoning to me. He went to the trunk of the car, the lid flying up. He pulled out packs out of the back and tucked water bottles into them. I took my gingerly, trying not to touch him. I could feel the heat radiating off him even three feet away.
He glanced to the sky. “We have to walk. Get away from here. That fight won’t go unnoticed.”
I didn’t mention the crater in the middle of the freeway large enough to swallow an Hummer.
“Kevin?” I ventured weakly.
“Yeah?” He was digging in his pack, scowling. He was still bleeding.
“Why…” I swallowed. “Why do you look like that?”
He jerked his head up to stare at me. I looked down at his clothing and he followed my eyes.
He sighed suddenly. “Sorry.” I blinked, sure my vision was playing tricks on me. Abruptly he was wearing his usual clothing, jeans and a t-shirt, dirty, but normal. No more breastplate or glimmering armor on his arms.
I still ogled him. He shifted uneasily.
“You’re bleeding.” It was the only thing I could think to say.
Kevin grimaced, dabbing at his face again. I took a deep breath and gathered up the dregs of my courage.
“Here.” I pulled a shirt out of my pack and wetted with some water from my bottle. The fabric came away red and grimy, but he looked less frightening without gore dripping down his cheek.
He flinched. “Ouch.”
“Sorry.” I checked my work. “Uh, and thanks.”
He shrugged. “They were just criminals, thugs.”
“Why…” I licked my lips. “Why did he say that you weren’t strong enough. For that…that sword?”
Kevin made a face, turning away. “Just talk. Trying to bluff me.”
I didn’t believe him for a second. I was absolutely sure Kevin was magically strong enough for anything. There was freaking hole in the highway not ten feet away.
He started walking and I followed, not caring where we went as long as it was away from the wrecked car and that haunted school.