Chapter 8

Chapter 8

A Chapter by Rocki-san

Sometimes, I really hated dreams. Even the happy-go-lucky dreams were heartbreaking because that’s all they were, dreams. You’d always wake up to realize that your life sucks and you’ll never be as happy as when you’re asleep.

This dream wasn’t one I’d had in a long time; the raid pushed it into the back of my psyche so that particular event could haunt my nights instead. It was more of a memory than a dream, but they served the same purpose. Most of my dreams were just memories, my dark, depressing past reminding me that my life would always be like this and to give up on the hopes of my imagination.

I was only five at the time, in the dream, a muggy August afternoon giving way to a firefly filled evening. How do I remember all of that you may ask? Well, it was just two months before my birthday. Thirty days before I turned six, forty days before mom was gone forever and we were left alone.

I was sitting in the lounge, playing with my train set as I usually did on a lazy afternoon. I heard the obnoxious squeak of the screen door but no slam that usually followed when anyone but my mom came in.

“Where are Keno and Logan?” I looked up to see her standing in the lounge doorway, carrying a basket of laundry.

“They went outside,” I said nonchalantly.

“They’re fighting again, aren’t they,” she sighed and I nodded. “What is it about this time?”

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I didn’t follow them.”

“Good,” she knelt beside me, playing for a moment before ruffling my hair and kissing my forehead. “Can you go tell them to stop fighting, dinner’s almost ready.”

“Okay,” I said and stood up.

I found them at the river, they usually went there to fight; Keno always insisted that I wasn’t around when they fought. I walked down the back hill and saw them standing under the willow tree, angry and beaten. They’d gotten physical long before I’d arrived.

“Logan,” I tugged on the hem of his shirt.

“Go away, Ozzie!” He shouted and pushed me away so I fell on my butt.

“Don’t push him around, Logan,” Keno said with annoyed authority.

“You started it,” Logan yelled. “Why do you always yell at me when I talk about dad?”

“Because, you need to forget that loser,” Keno said. “I’m just trying to protect you.”

“By punching me in the face?” Logan said.

“You threw the first punch!” Keno argued.

“I missed!”

“Well I didn’t!” Keno smirked while Logan glared.

Logan hit Keno and they were at it again. I stepped back, out of instinct and fear. I tried to get a word or two in but they weren’t listening, they never did.

“You guys aren’t supposed to be fighting around me!” I said. “Momma wants you guys to stop and get ready for dinner.”

It was worth a shot, but no dice, they were still going at it. “You guys!” I tugged on Logan’s arm again, he jabbed me with his elbow. It hurt, but I went right back to his arm. I’d always hated their fighting, it scared me more than monsters under the bed.

“Stay out of this Ozzie!” Logan screamed and flung me back.

Suddenly, the blue skies turned into a ripple. The already muted sunlight became dimmed, just a shimmer of light blurred by the murky depths. The river’s water had always been cold, even in the middle of summer; the icy liquid forced the air from my lungs and then immediately filled them as I desperately tried to retrieve the much needed oxygen.

The clay on the river bottom billowed up in a muddy swirl when I finally hit bottom in the deep river. I tried to scream but the water muffled the desperate yelp. I couldn’t tell if it were just the imagination of a dying child or if it were just my clouded vision but as soon as I hit bottom there was a bright light that appeared to flow from my chest and flooded the river before disappearing just as swiftly as it’d come.

I wanted to jump from the bottom, meet my brothers half way because I knew they’d be there. Both of them could swim while I was just beginning to learn. Unfortunately, my legs seemed to fail me, refusing to do any work to save either of us.

I felt, or thought I felt, someone grabbed me under the arms and pushed me up toward the surface. I started sinking down again. Before I went down too far, though, a firm grip took hold of my wrist, pulling me up to the light, to salvation.

At first I still couldn’t breath, the water refused to leave my lungs to make room for the air. My vision was still dark as I was dragged to the bank and pulled up to the fresh, green grass.

“Ozzie?” Keno turned me onto my stomach, patting my back until I heaved up all the water. He sighed with relief and helped me to sit up. I turned to look at him, seeing that both he and Logan were just as soaked as I was.

“Ozzie, are you okay?” Logan asked. “I’m so sorry!”

I was silent, still dazed about what had happened but soon started crying out of my fear. Keno helped me onto his back so he could help me back to the house.

“What happened?” Mom gasped and ran over to us. She scooped me up in her arms despite the fact that I was still dripping with water.

“I fell in,” I sobbed.

“We’ll get you warmed up,” mom said. I could still see and hear her concern.

Later that night, I was wrapped up in a large blanket in the living room. Keno was helping mom clean up after dinner while Logan was doing homework. I looked up to see him peak around the corner before sheepishly sitting next to me.

“Are you okay?” he asked and I nodded meekly. “Ozzie, I’m really sorry, I-“

“I know,” I said with a sniffle. He looked at his hands with shame.

“Why didn’t you tell mom that it was me?” Logan asked and I looked at him.

“It was an accident,” I said. “I don’t blame you.”

“Oh,” he sighed.

“Here,” I said and handed him a shiny, tear-shaped rock. “I found it.”

He ran his thumb over the silk-smooth, gray surface of the rock. I didn’t remember grabbing it on the riverbed but it was pretty and I was hoping it would help Logan feel better.

“Thanks, I’ll cherish it forever,” he said and hugged me before going to finish his homework.

 

I woke up to find that I was back in my bed at the hotel in Kuromura. I looked over to see Logan pulling up one of his boots before looking at me. I saw the faint glimmer of the little rock I’d found hanging around his neck as it usually did. When he’d said he’d cherish it, he really meant it.

“What?” he said with annoyance when he saw me watching him.

“Nothing,” I shrugged. “Just a dream.”

“Let me guess, it involved water?” he smirked after seeing my clammy hands and paler face. I narrowed my eyes only to widen the grin. “Does baby need to go on a kiddy ride instead of the rollercoaster?”

“Shut up!” I threw a pillow at his face. “I’ll be fine.”

“Good, because Keno and Kotori went to fill Wilkins in on our plan, we’re supposed to go meet them at the lake in a few minutes so get up and get dressed lazybones.” Logan said.

I’d always hated stake outs and one can’t blame me. All you do is sit there, sit there. Sure, at first you think you get to wear these cool disguises but no, at the moment I was sitting behind a bush, watching an inch worm dangle from a tree defining the term “stop to smell the roses.” This method was just too boring for a sixteen-year-old boy!

“Oskar,” I sighed and took up my transmitter. Keno was stationed down where the skin had been found, he was farther away but would always position himself where he could still see Logan and I. “Pay attention!”

“I’m paying attention!” I grumbled into the receiver and then turned to look at the dock. I looked over t where Logan lay waiting to see that he was asleep. I rolled my eyes and picked up a small rock. I threw it in his direction, hitting the tree he was leaning against. He jumped awake with gun in hand and ready to shoot the nonexistent boogeyman.

“You’re lucky Keno can’t see you!” I whispered only to receive a glare.

“Shut up!” He muttered and pulled out some binoculars. “Hey, look! It’s your girlfriend!”

I looked down at the dock to see Elise sitting at the edge, her feet dangling in the water. Logan gave me a triumphant smirk. We both stood up and headed down to the dock, it was a warm, calm day on the lake but the town was too afraid to take advantage of it.

“If it were her,” I said when Logan’s smirk didn’t go away. “Then why didn’t she go to where her skin was?”

“Well,” he challenged. “Why does she seem to be the only one in town not in a panic?”

“Elise,” I said as we came up behind her. She turned to smile at me.

“Oskar,” she nodded and stood.

“Why are you here, Miss?” Logan asked she looked up at him.

“I lost my sister here,” Elise said. “I always come here, I don’t know, as a memorial thing.”

“It’s dangerous here, Elise,” I said and she looked at me with offense.

“What? Just because a few kids went missing I’m just supposed to stay cooped up at home?”

“That was the plan,” Logan replied and I elbowed him in the ribs.

“No,” Elise said. “I’m fine here.”

I looked over to see Keno and Kotori walking over to see what was going on. Even Keno was pretty sure that Elise was the selkie, so why was I so unsure?

“Look-”

Before Logan could finish his sentence, he disappeared into the depths of the lake. Now, Logan is no magician but he simply was there and then he wasn’t.

“Logan!” I shouted but couldn’t see him through the murk of the water. Keno didn’t hesitate but dropped all heavy weapons and his boots.

“Don’t move,” he ordered before jumping in. Now it was my turn to feel helpless. I now knew how Logan felt when I’d fallen in all those years ago; unable to help in any way, it was a sucky feeling. I couldn’t help but lean to see if I could spot either Logan or Keno but I couldn’t see anything.

“I have to do something,” I said to myself, not realizing that Kotori had come back from leading Elise off the dock, away from the water.

“You can’t swim,” Kotori said and I glanced up at him.

I opened my mouth to speak when something grabbed my arm and pulled me into the water. I kicked the large object, pushing myself up enough to reach for Kotori’s hand but I missed it and sunk again. I continued to kick the creature but it kept its iron grip on my ankle, dragging me deeper and deeper. How could it be attacking me? I thought it was going after Logan, were there two?

My thoughts became muddled, one merging with another to make an incomprehensible thought. My lungs ached, begging for oxygen and my head felt as though it would explode. My heart, which had been racing before, now beat slower and slower and my panic soon dulled. For a moment I truly thought it was another dream, that if I just raised my hand high enough, Keno would come to save me. When he didn’t, I remembered that this was reality, that once again I would be having my life flash before my eyes so to speak while water filled my lungs.

I could just make out a dark figure, a silhouette that came floating down from the surface. It attacked the creature that was holding me at the lakebed. An arrow flew from the figure, scraping the selkie’s side, forcing it to let go. Unfortunately I was too weak and full of water to swim up but the figure grabbed me from under the arms and pulled me to the surface. I coughed up the water as soon as I hit the air, whoever had pulled me out started to tow me to shore.

“Ozzie!” I looked over to see that Keno had pulled Logan to the shore, away from the water’s edge. Logan didn’t look any better than I did, he was doubled over, heaving up water and gasping for air.

Keno helped Kotori and I out of the water as Elise ran to get what constituted as an ambulance. Keno helped me to lay beside Logan who had finally collapsed to the ground, not caring that his face was in the dirt.

“Remind me,” he muttered. “To never make fun of your water phobia again.”

“Will do,” I replied after coughing.

“Well,” Kotori spit out some of the water in his mouth as he wrung his clothes dry. “It was not that girl who is the selkie.”

I looked over to see that the skin was now in a different spot, a few meters to the left from where it had been before. Dang those things were quick! Keno had left his post but for a second and it had transformed and pulled both Logan and I in.

Once again, we were back to the drawing board.

 

This time I waited alone, thankfully I was far from the lake this time. The room was dark despite it being in the middle of the day. I sighed, leaning against the wall, feeling the cool wood seep through my shirt. I could hear the quiet footsteps of someone walking through the cobblestones leading to the cottage. The door staggered open with an insufferable screech, allowing a bit of daylight to spill into the lounge of the cottage.

A girl with long silver-blonde hair walked in, Sedna I think her name was. I turned on the flickering, ancient light, causing her to jump.

“You should be in school, shouldn’t you?” I asked and moved to block her exit.

“I didn’t feel like going,” she shrugged and I nodded.

“Well, you ought to be more careful, what with this monster on the loose and everything.” I closed the door. “You won’t have to worry about it after today though.”

“Really?” Sedna moved away from me, feigning interest. “Why’s that?”

“Well, its cycle is just about done.” I said. “It’ll be gone for about seven years, we’ll just have to come back.”

“Maybe it’ll move on before you come back,” she replied.

“Don’t think so,” I said and stood beside her. “Its quite fond of this area, I’d say it was born here. Besides, unless it finds a companion it can’t stray too far from the lake.”

“Right,” she sighed.

“Selkies are tricky though not unpredictable,” I said. “And they always leave a mark.”

I lifted a shirtsleeve to reveal a small handprint on my left wrist. The fish-like scales gleamed in the dim light in the shape of a human hand; Sedna looked but had little interest.

“It also seems as though the selkie has been living here. This place is covered in scales and there’s a little bed over there.” I continued. “She must have no family at all.”

“How do you know it’s a ‘she’?” Sedna asked and I shrugged.

“Educated guess,” I said. “And I saw you at the lake yesterday. Not to mention that you’re never alone. That’s typical selkie behavior.”

It was just a small wisp of blonde hair, scurrying behind a tree. Avoiding sight. There were also records of this same girl coming and going, coinciding with the selkie’s appearance and disappearance. Sedna sighed and covered her face as tears slipped down her cheeks.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, not seven years ago and not now!” She said, standing and steering clear of me. “I just wanted them to come with me so I wouldn’t be alone!”

“You can’t turn a human into a selkie, Sedna,” I said softly, trying not to scare her. “It doesn’t work like that.”

“I didn’t know,” she said. “My parents were killed by one of the ships when I was little, I was left to figure this out for myself! Please, don’t kill me.”

“We have to stop you,” I said. “That’s our job.”

More tears slipped down her cheeks and she dropped to her knees. I knelt beside her, putting an arm on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “We won’t kill you, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else, it will all work out.”

“Really?” she whispered, looking up at me with hope-filled eyes.

“Our orders are to stop the monsters and demons killing and hurting people, the CCOR never really specifies how we do it.” I said.

“But,” she sighed. “I don’t want to be alone anymore. Seven years of loneliness and just a few months to find a companion? I can’t take it anymore.”

“That’s why Keno and Logan took Elise to hide your selkie skin,” I said. “You can’t go back into selkie form without it.”

Sedna smiled widely, hugging me with gratitude. The cottage door opened as Elise and my brothers came in. Now Sedna went to hug Elise an apology and thanks all the same.

“My parents said that you could come and stay with us,” Elise said. “If you want.”

“Yes, thank you,” Sedna said and then turned to us. “And thank you too.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Logan grumbled before leaving the cottage in a hurry. Keno rolled his eyes and followed but I stayed behind.

“You’ll have to excuse him,” I said. “He doesn’t like to be pulled into lakes apparently.”

“What?” Sedna said.

“You pulled him into the lake,” I said and she slowly shook her head with confusion.

“I only pulled you in, Oskar,” she said. I quirked an eyebrow but said nothing. I nodded in farewell and left to join Keno and Logan.

“Kotori’s meeting us at the ferry,” I said before Keno had the chance to ask and moved to pick up Logan’s pant leg.

“Excuse me?” Logan pushed me away.

“You have no marks,” I said and showed him my wrist. “Selkies leave marks.”

Logan looked down at his ankle before quickly checking his other ankle which was also spotless.

“Are you sure you didn’t just trip and fall in?” Keno asked.

“Something grabbed me!” He retorted with a glare.

“Sedna,” Keno turned just as the two were about to leave. “You’re the only selkie in the lake?”

“Yes,” she answered timidly.

“Alright, thank you,” Keno said and turned back to Logan.

“You didn’t see anything else down there?” I asked.

“No, it let go as soon as Keno jumped in,” Logan said.

“If we need to come back we will,” Keno said and grabbed the rucksack to hand to me. “But we’ve already made arrangements to leave.”

Kotori was sitting on the dock by the time we’d arrived for our ferry. He looked bored and annoyed and stood when we walked past him.

“How did it go?” Kotori asked.

“Well,” I replied and he nodded.

“Very good,” he said. “Now what do we do?”

“Now we go back to Headquarters,” Keno said and ignored Kotori who crinkled his nose with disgust.

I could feel my stomach churn as we got closer to the ferry but I pushed the fear aside. Logan noticed my deep exhale but remained silent as he boarded.

“You okay?” Keno asked as he tossed our duffle bag onto the boat.

“Yeah, it’s only a little while longer, right?” I said trying to convince myself more than him.

“Right, nothing to worry about,” he smiled. The boat pulled away from the dock, slowly but surely. I could see Sedna and Elise waving us off and sheepishly waved back. “We could’ve let you stay.”

I looked up at Keno and smiled. “Thanks but no thanks.”

He shrugged. “Didn’t hurt to offer. I sometimes forget that you don’t know what it’s like to be a normal kid, to go to school and socialize with others of your own age.”

“Whatever,” I said. “I learn more useful things out here than I would in school.”

Keno knew that just as well as I did, he also knew that I wouldn’t have taken the offer. That was the only reason why he had even said it; there was no way he would let me stay where he couldn’t keep an eye on me.

“That’s true,” he said and gave me a slight noogie. “We might as well rest, it’ll be awhile before we dock.”

I went to sit down near the middle of the ferry, where I wouldn’t be able to fall off the edge and could try to relax. Keno hadn’t moved, however, just continued to stare with his arms crossed.

“Keno?” I said, pulling him out of his train of thought. “Are you feeling okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just…” he turned away from the island and sat across from Logan and I. “Thinking about our own case.”




© 2010 Rocki-san



Author's Note

Rocki-san
I know the last two chapters seem a little pointless... but they're not, surprisingly...
It's really going to start picking up now, I think, so stay tuned :D

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Added on June 12, 2010
Last Updated on June 16, 2010
Tags: supernatural and occult, ANWA saga, sci-fi


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Rocki-san
Rocki-san

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Hey, I'm Rocki! I live on a 14-mile long island where there isn't really anything to do so I write. I'm an Anthropology major and willing to read your stories or books if requested as long as you give.. more..

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