STEVEN JERAL HARRIS
“In here.” Eric whispers while opening a classroom door for us.
We scuttle into the classroom, the four of us, and together we wait in the darkness. Seconds later, the old receptionist along with two Police Officers hurry pass the door. A moment later, everything settles down. The sound of their marching feet drifts away in the distance.
Eric opens the door, softly, to secretively sneak a peek into the hallway. He then rotates to us and whispers…
“The coast is clear.”
We scurry from the dark room and jog around the corner. Soon, we make our way into the parking lot where we notice a mob of Policemen hurrying into the school through another entrance.
“We’re on our way.” A Police Officer says into his walkie-talkie.
Maria quickly tows me to a sleek black SUV.
"Get in," she says while defensively surveying the area, even though the school lot is nearly empty.
I hurry into the passenger seat, Eric rushes into the driver’s seat, and Maria and Jessica takes the middle. Eric starts the car and stomps on reverse like an insane person. My body automatically jerks forward. Then he stomps on the gas and speeds out the lot. Instantaneously, as his foot smashes onto the accelerator, my back hits the leather interior, hard. Now we’re on a road, pushing eighty miles an hour. Still Eric eyes remain highly cautious.
"Okay, who are you guys, really?" I gulp and revise…"what are you?" I ask Eric.
"We are the ones in between. We are part human and part animal." He says while checking the rearview mirror.
“This is … insane.” I retort.
“The Blaires are wolves. Wolves are our enemies. Stay away from them,” he explains while checking the side mirror. “That thing in the park was Cornelius. He also calls himself Hellhound. He’s the most powerful of their pack. He’s more demon than wolf. Humans call his breed of wolf, a werewolf."
“Why are people, I mean, animals trying to kill me?”
“You are extremely important to us, that’s why,” Jessica explains.
“Do you recall finding something, a certain scarlet box?” Eric asks.
“So…?” Maria says. “Iva, you just don’t realize how important that box is to us, to everyone.”
“How do I tie into all this?” I ask uneasily.
"You will know very soon," Eric informs me.
Five minutes later, we hit a road surrounded by a dense forest. The car slides sideways into a long driveway. Eric hits the brakes and the car screeches to a halt next to an old Charger and burgundy SUV. We all spill from the black SUV. I’m so weak from running that I can barely exit the vehicle and stand without staggering like a drunk person.
My eyes are locked onto a brick mansion in front of me. The mansion is covered in green leaves and vines. I feel a coolness slither down my spine when I see a face looking down at me from a window. This face belongs to a woman. The woman’s expression is totally void.
Maria comes to my side and grasps my shoulders gently. I look into her eyes, shaking, and ask her…
“Where are we?”
"It’s my house. Don’t be afraid." She says calmly to me.
Eric opens the front door and I enter into a huge living room. The walls are painted a brownish red. The house is decorated with lots of African artifacts and scented with strong spices. Maria lets go of me and walks near a flight of steps.
"Mom!" Maria shouts up the stairs.
"I’m coming!" a woman’s voice shouts back.
A moment later, I see this beautiful African woman walking gracefully down the steps. She is wearing a red African garment that ends at her ankles and brown sandals on her feet. Her hair, which is twisted in small ropes, hangs pass her shoulders. She spots me and approaches with a blissful grin, followed by a long warm hug. A moment later, she releases, only to stare deeply into my eyes.
"You must be Iva. I’m Kenya, also known as Shiva. May I see the leaf?" She finishes the sentence with pressed hands, as if she’s about to receive something special.
“The leaf…?” I ask confusingly but shortly a light bulb clicks on.
I take off my jacket and with a shaky hand I roll up my shirt sleeve. When Kenya sees the mark she places her hands onto her chest, closes her eyes, and exhales deeply. She reopens her eyes revealing a gathering of tears.
"You’re wondering why you’re here, correct?"
She asks with a watery gaze.
"Yes." I answer while standing uncomfortably still.
She smiles warmly before speaking.
"9,999 years ago, the great balance was broken.
An individual named Romulus, born through serpent bloodlines, grew very powerful. He had the ability to transform into a lizard. He was the leader of the reptiles. Romulus became greedy and wanted control over everything. The wolves made a pact with the reptiles. Still, with the wolves as their new allies, they were no match for the lions, the birds, or the apes.
And together they made a rebellion against King Romulus and the wolves. So, he knew he needed more power. Therefore, Romulus did something terrible. In our beliefs the most evil thing you can ever do is destroy something pure. And one night, he did just that."
As she tells the story my mind can visualize what took place, as if I’m their now watching it unfold.
"Romulus captured a phoenix. Then Romulus did something unexpected. He devoured the phoenix, hence his nickname, Devourer of gods. He then became something else, something more powerful. He inherited all of the phoenix abilities. He became immortal, he grew wings, he had healing powers, but most of all he could control fire. That night he became the first and the last of his kind, a dragon. He destroyed anyone who faced him. Yet there was only one thing that stood in his way, the apes. Only they could afflict harm on Romulus. So, one day there was a great ambush on the apes and all of them were killed, except for one and the most powerful of the apes, our fearless King Lucius. In one of the world’s darkest hours a fight took place, King Lucius versus King Romulus. We are told they fought on a mountain top for hours. That night, Romulus fell into that mountain, a deep abyss. The fight left King Lucius dying from battle wounds. On his death bed an owl had a vision of the future. He said Romulus was close to death but did not die, yet is trapped in an icy prison where he slumbers. The owl described a future of fire and brimstone. In ten thousand years, one year from today, the ice will melt and Romulus will awaken. So, King Lucius said that he will change the future. On that day he made a sacrifice for humanity. He took the one thing, which was most precious to him, and hid it away."
She takes a break from talking to step closer to me.
“Do you know what he hid Iva?”
“No, what was it?”
“It was his soul. He did this so that someone, many years later, can become a powerful ape like he was. This power can destroy Romulus once and for all.”
She walks even closer to me and places her palms gently on my face, staring deeply at me with a profound joy.
"Iva, you've found it."…
Watch out for the next episode... New episode reads on Thursday