Chapter 1: Come To My Window
It has been barely a month since Ticia betrayed me by stealing not only my own family, but Lex’s family. I have known Ticia for nearly ten years and she has never once given me reason not to trust her, but now, at the time of her betrayal, she did so in the most hideous of ways. She has managed to take my life without killing me.
I have been in pain and restless. I helped to secure the mall, and helped with a search party, though I knew nothing would come of it. Ticia cannot be found if she does not wish to be. Even by me, I know, because I’ve tried in the past. I have taken to listening to music in my room for hours on end. I rigged up one of the solar panels on the roof to my radio and play it all the time. It has been a couple days since my last meal. Don’t much figure there’s a reason to go on.
It is here that we join the story of the second occupation of The Chosen in this city. The second time they have destroyed my family, and where we come to the cusp of the last moments of freedom for everyone. Where the story begins, Salene has just entered into my room to speak with me at the request of the rest of the tribe.
“Jaymes.” Salene says as she enters, speaking loudly. “Jaymes! You’re bleeding!” She yells louder, causing me to take full notice of her.
“I…Iam?” I ask, confused, then I look myself over and see that my left hand is indeed bleeding. Not profusely, but enough. I look at Salene and then return to staring at the wall.
“What have you done to yourself Jaymes? How did this happen?” Sal asks me, full of concern, and apparently ignoring the thing she really came to say.
“Don’t know Sal. Didn’t realize I was hurt till you said something. Thought my hand felt funny. Just didn’t seem too important really.” I tell her absently, still looking at the spot on the wall, which holds a picture that Brady drew of all of us together as a family.
“Well Jaymes, seems pretty clear how you did it. Glass in your knuckle, blood on the broken window here. You busted the window and it busted you.” Salene says matter-of-fact to me as though any fool could see what happened.
“Oh yeah,” I say. “I think I remember doing that. I did it last night just after dark when I found a picture of Trudy. Not really handling this all too well.” I sigh. I still haven’t taken my eyes off the wall.
“Last night!” Salene yelled. “You’ve been laying here bleeding since last night and didn’t fix yourself or find someone to do it for you!”
“Apparently so.” I tell her blandly. “Like I said, didn’t realize anything was wrong until you told me. I’ve had more important things on my mind. Oh, by the way, do you remember the last time I ate?”
“Other things on your mind?” Salene says almost full of contempt. “We’ve had the same things on our minds and we’ve come together as a tribe to try and work through it and to figure out how to fix it!” Then she adds “You haven’t been out of your room for three days and nobody’s brought you any food or drink, so at least that long.”
“No wonder I have a headache.” I say simply.
“That’s it, just ‘Oh that explains the headache.’??? You’re not going to explain why you’re not out there with the rest of us? Some reassurance would be nice, and you don’t have to go through this alone.” Salene tells me. She has softened her voice. She is concerned as Salene always is about others.
“There’s really nothing to be reassured about, is there? We don’t even know why she did it, where she is, if it’s just her or what? Just how are we supposed to reassure anyone, least of all ourselves, when we’ve lost some of our own and don’t even know why Salene? I don’t find anything about this situation reassuring.” I tell her, softly as she lifts me off my bed and half carries me out towards the café.
“We’ll figure it out. For now we’re getting you to Dal and Amber. I wish Tai-San was here, she’d fix you in about two seconds.” Salene says, and when she stands me up, I realize I’m far too weak to fight about it. I look back at the bed, then down to myself and I notice the sheer amount of blood I lost on them. “Trud’s favorite sheets She’s gonna kill me ”
Salene just laughed.
“We’re gonna get those sheets off your bed and put you back in it.” Dal said after he’d cleaned up my wounds and sewed them shut. “You’re gonna stay there and we’re gonna get you food and water. It’s a miracle you didn’t die overnight. What were you thinking?”
“Not sure I was.” I said, as Amber said the exact same thing at exactly the same time. She continued though, as though she were me. “I was thinking about Trudy, and the next thing I know Salene was there telling me I was all covered in blood.”
I hooked my thumb over towards her as I was looking at Dal and said “Yeah, what she said.”
“Yeah, well. If you don’t get yourself better, you’re not going to be able to help us get them back, are you? So now’s not really the time to be you too much. I’ve watched you look at dead friends without tears. That’ll be what we need here.”
“Dal, I know none of you actually like Trudy, but don’t you dare suggest to me that I shouldn’t care about her!” I raise my voice as much as my energy level will let me. “I’m not a war…"
“Well you‘re as close to a warrior as we‘ve got!” Dal shot back. “You’re like Lex and Bray in one body! You won’t fight if you don’t have to, but you’ll take anyone you have to out when the time comes to do it! Now you stop skulking around like a four year old and get off your butt and start doing your part to help the rest of us!” He glared at me, and then said “and don’t you EVER suggest I don’t care about Trudy again.” He got up and left me there with Amber. He bumped Danni on his way out the door and didn’t even apologize.
“Don’t get mad at him. The rest think if they start making you mad and push you that you’ll come back to yourself and start rushing in to get things done. They don’t know you like I do. I know you’ll be back, you just need to process it all.” Amber told me as she fluffed my pillow and rubbed some sweat off my face. She smiled a smile that almost looked like love to me and she held my hand. “Just play along with it and know that they mean well.”
“Yeah well, none of you actually like her. Walk on eggshells around her. Make her feel like she’s never been wanted. Only reason she stays here is cause she don’t want to uproot four kids and me from our home.” I say. “Hurts her too, bein’ around Bray. She don’t say it, but I know. She loved him, still has a longing for him in her heart. She don’t want to be here, but I ended up tying her down with a family.”
“She’s just never got over some old hurts Jaymes. Not many of us did want her and Bray when they showed up at the door.” A voice outside says. It’s Lex. “I was the worst trying to get her kicked out. I didn’t want Bray here, challenge to power. Ebony didn’t really help much either.”
“I figured. She tells me some things, but others she won’t talk about. She hasn’t said much about Ebony, but we all went to school together, so I can imagine.” I say.
“Amber.” Lex says, nodding towards the door. “Danni and I need a word.”
Amber leaves, but Danni says “I’ll be along in a minute. Need to speak with Jaymes.” As she leaves, I tell Amber “I’m just so tired of fighting Eagle. Always fighting and never any peace. I’m worn out.”
When they’re gone, Danni says “We knew something like this could happen at any time. The signs were there.”
“Maybe you knew. I didn’t. It never entered my thoughts that they’d get taken again.” Then I ask. “You know who did it?”
“Yes. I’m not supposed to tell you, but you’d find out eventually anyway. It’s The Chosen. We found out for sure a little while ago. A kid saw them with her own eyes back in their old haunts. It looks like they’re back to near full power again Maybe even stronger.” Danni says.
“This isn’t the way things are supposed to be Danni.” I say. “You know it.”
“Course I know it Jaymes, but can’t do anything about it now. Just wait and see.” She says. “Things can be fixed if we’re careful.”
“Damn Pandorax damn them all ” I say.