As promised, here is the first chapter of SIX. November 16th is the new release date! Write it down. Tell your friends. Do a little dance.
January 10th, Midday
My body is tired. Running is something I have not done since childhood. The dark part of my body can go on. The human part wants to rest. Nothingness is even darker than I imagined it would be. Thick, black trees cover the gray hazy light that I can usually see in the sky. The air smells different, my skin feels odd, and my anger is still tepid. I wait for it to leave because it makes me feel awkward. Having never been able to control my fear, I now wonder if anger laces every waking moment. On its own, I prefer it to fear because it is more bearable—it drives a response from somewhere new. All of the sub-emotions connected to anger are flashing through my system. They are powerful and unrelenting.
My worn out boots crunch the ground as I walk. The echoing noise only serves to make me angrier. The sounds will give away my location and the dark witches will know where I have gone. It is not a matter of if they will. I know they will come after me. I take off my boots, strip off my socks, and continue to tread lightly on the cold ground. For a moment I forget why I do not want the witches to find me, but then I remember her dead body and her whispered last words. They were not empty words as so many of the words she spoke throughout my lifetime. They will kill you when they are done with you. Just like they killed her after her job was completed.
Anger. The emotion is blistering.
I will remind myself of her words when I feel the urge to return to my fated life.
I urge my feet to move faster through the forest to explore. I force my blue eyes to glow a magical bright white to cast addi- tional light on the trail ahead of me. When I hear something move in the distance, I freeze. The black trees look icy but it is just an illusion—they are very much alive and thriving. After the old world fell, magical spells encased the new world to keep it from dying off. I think perhaps it is a tree making the noise, but then I hear a low, gruff growl. I know then that the creatures have found me.
They are glistening, humanoid killing machines that have forced me indoors for most of my life. The wretched creatures are why my fear never left, because they refused to go as well.
I shut my eyes to hide the light that signals my otherness and the growling immediately ceases. Walking a few paces away to a large clump of trees, I slump against a trunk and heave a sigh. Quietness surrounds me as I lace my boots back on. Next, I dig my fingers into the murky, ashen dirt by my sides, desperate to keep my magic quelled. I have been wandering aimlessly, without a stopping point, and my magic is urging me to use it as a solution.
Vibration uncontrollably wracks my humming frame. It signals the magic now coursing through my body, just as vital as blood. Forcing the urges away like I used to do is no longer an option. I am eighteen and the transition is almost complete. My humanness is almost gone. Now, I am more dark witch than anything else. I would pretend for my human mother, but now there is no point. I can be what I was born to become.
My stomach suddenly growls, reminding me of the human parts that will never disappear. I clutch my middle and think about my worn storybook that I left behind in my home. I want to go back for it, but know I cannot without the witches catching me. Something buried deep inside heaves when I think of my home, my book, and my dead mother. My memory knows the story from my book by heart so I begin to recite it in my head. The familiar, hollow words calm me—they make me forget, they numb me.
I hear movement again and know without a doubt it is coming from the trees. I look up and gaze at the static branches and the still leaves. I feel the anger leaving as I take in my surroundings. With the creatures at bay, I realize I am comfortable in nothingness. I feel I do not exist to anyone else—it satisfies me completely. Nature blankets me wholly. It is an entity that has long forgotten my name. Hearing another rustle, my eyes spark white.
“Turn it off!” A female voice hisses from above. My eyes glow brighter in fear.
“I’m serious, bitch. The savages are here.”
The creatures have a different name in nothingness, as do I. I know they are one and the same. I still cannot urge my blue eyes to come. The terror and anger are back and stronger than ever. Rasping hot, stinking breath is so close I can feel it prickling my exposed skin.
The girl’s voice sighs loudly above me in the trees, and then I hear a brisk flick of something. An arrow hisses through the air and hits the savage directly between the black, protruding eyes. It falls toward me, but I nimbly move away from its hulking, slimy corpse. Swallowing loudly, I examine the steaming monster on the ground in front of me. I have never seen one close up. Growing up I would watch them from my bedroom window as they hid behind trees and stalked in the fields by my house. They sensed I was not human and they wanted to kill me. When my magic got stronger, my mother did not let me leave the confines of the house’s walls. Because of this creature and many more like it, I was a prisoner.
Remembering why it is on the ground and not brutally ripping me limb from limb, I warily look up.
A girl drops down from the trees, lithe and graceful. I stare at her, committing every feature to memory. The girl is my savior. She wears a worn plaid shirt and torn blue jeans. Her bow and quiver swings on her back like a brave warrior and her eyes do not glow, nor are they a recognizable human shade. Her eyes are a milky silver. She is one of whom my mother spoke. I know she is not a dark witch. She is a darkling—a half-human, half-dark witch. The girl is like me.
She suddenly yells, “I said turn it off! You freak!”
I flinch away from her. I do not understand her words and her tone is unfamiliar. She bends over the savage and grasps the head. I shudder when I hear her hands press into the goopy flesh. As she jerks, tendons fray and the head eventually pops off the body. My eyes widen in shock. I have never seen such brutality.
“Savages?” I ask. She tosses the head several feet away and then meets my gaze.
“Yes, freak. Savages…and more will be here soon if you don’t turn that shit off!” She points at my face, indicating my eyes as she kicks the corpse away and readies her bow to shoot again. I introduce myself.
“I am Emmalina Weaver.” My eyes are blue again—my dark side buried. I look at her from the back. She is small, yet strong. Pulling the bowstring back, she locks her sights on something and holds her breath. In response I hold my breath, too. She does not let the arrow go though. She slowly lowers her bow to aim at the ground and turns to look at me curiously.
“Well, well, Emma. Finally pulled your act together? Took you long enough. Nice eyes by the way.” The girl squints in the darkness to peer at my face.
“I am hungry,” I say quickly, in hopes of deterring her from realizing our differences. My blond hair contrasts starkly compared to her black, chin length hair that is similar to the dark witches that killed my mother, the common features I am sure most share. “Oh, Jesus. You’re hungry? You are really far gone, aren’t you? Fuck. I should just put you out of your misery now…just say the word,” she says icily. She places her hands on her hips and raises one eyebrow. The girl has asked a question I do not understand so I smile.
She raises her bow up, readying to shoot—in my direction. “No, please do not shoot me. I am frightened!” The girl cackles, her smile touching her eyes. “Okay, not all the way gone, then.” I passed a test. I smile back at her. She shakes her head as she lowers her weapon. “They are going to fucking kill me for this,” she says, stomping one foot on the ground. Her words confuse me. I want to ask if she knows where I can find food, but she was not happy when I told her of my hunger, so I ask her a question instead.
“Who? The creatures will kill you?” I ask. It seems to me that she is prepared to take on the creatures—or anything else that lurks in nothingness. I would be dead if not for her lethal shooting and decapitating abilities.
She swings her bow down by her side as she scans the forest. “No. Not the creatures.” When she finally looks at me, she closes her eyes and sucks in a deep breath. She opens them and her eyes rove my body a few more times.
“The dark witches killed my mother this morning. They came for me, but I ran from them. I will hide in nothingness,” I tell her, hoping to portray humanness by sharing a story. Though saying the words aloud makes me realize my plan is not solid. I have nowhere to go.
“Today? They came for you today?” Her forehead wrinkles and I sense fear in her voice. I am aware of it, just as I was able to sense it in my mother.
“Yes. Today,” I say.
She scans the woods once more while asking, “You ran? Why?” I am hesitant to tell her—I think she will not comprehend my reasons. I look down to the ground and answer her honestly.
“Because I felt.”
Her head snaps back to look at me. She looks me up and down twice more before saying, “Then let’s get you the fuck out of here before the next thing you feel is death.” She extends her small hand toward me. Her eyes are a mix of worry and bravery.
“Okay,” I say while wrapping my hand around hers. I know what death means and it frightens me. Trusting the girl will keep me alive. She can protect me from the savages, which seem my greatest threat at the moment.
As we walk, the girl bends down and beheads another creature with one hard jerk. She picks up the stinking, sopping dome and throws it without releasing my hand. Pulling her bloody arrow out of the creature’s chest, she then slams it back into her quiver. Casually the girl says, “I’m Lana by the way.”
The girl is a savage of a different kind.
© 2013 by Rachel Robinson. All rights reserved.