Autumn – Chapter 6 – 03

            We’d gone a dozen steps through the muck when an unfamiliar scream began to echo through the ravine—but coming from ahead of us, not behind us, where I’d expect it to come from.
            I stopped dead in my tracks.  “What the hell?”
            “Keep moving,” J.T. said, not missing a step.
            I almost tripped over myself catching up again, glancing back over my shoulder.  Nothing there.
            We whipped around the bend in the ravine heading up toward Little Mac and found the source of the screams almost as soon as we did.
            Leah, on her knees in the middle of the creek, fingers hooked into claws, held her head between her hands and screamed at the top of her lungs while Drew and Carolyn tried to haul her back to her feet.
            Carolyn’s frightened gaze met mine.  “There’s something going on down here!”
            Tell me about it.  I nodded.  “We know, we just don’t know what.  What the hell is this?”
            Drew shook his head, still trying to pull Leah back to her feet.  “Don’t know.  We’d come about four steps before she dropped and started screaming.  She’s terrified.”
            Leah shook off his hands, rocking back and forth, eyes wide.  I glanced at J.T. and Rory.  Rory swallowed and shook his head a little.
            “I don’t know, Mar,” he said hoarsely.
            Neither do I.  But if Drew can tell she’s scared, then something’s really wrong.  I went down to one knee in front of Leah, water and muck soaking into the knee of my jeans as I grasped her by the shoulders and gave her a firm shake.  “Leah!  Snap out of it.”
            I had to shake her a second time before her gaze locked with mine.  Her jaw set and she whispered through gritted teeth, “Tell them to stop.”
            Holding onto her was like holding onto a high-tension wire.  “The shadow from my dreams and the pale lady.  Make them stop.”
            Fuck me sideways.  “Leah, get up.”
            She started to shake her head and I squeezed her shoulders so hard I was sure I was going to leave marks on her.  She made a weak, pained sound and tossed her head, eyes squeezing shut.  “They’re fighting.  They’re yelling and they both want me to help them and it’s hurting my head and I can’t make them stop.  I want them out.  I want them to shut up and go away.”
            An otherworldly shriek echoed from somewhere behind us and I cursed.  “Leah, there’s no time for this.  Get up.  We need to go.”
            “I can’t,” she whispered.  “I can’t, they won’t let me move.  They’re too loud.”
            I stood, trying to pull her up with me.  She just stayed where she was, sobs beginning to wrack her.  Carolyn tugged at my sleeve.
            “There’s no time,” she said.  “We have to go, whether she’s coming or not.  They’re coming.”
            My arm was burning with cold, confirming what she already knew, probably thanks to Longfellow and his brethren.  I swallowed hard and nodded.  “Get Rory out of here.”
            “You have to come, too,” she said, as if she could read my mind.  “If we leave you behind out here, Thom will murder me and you don’t want to know what he’ll do to J.T.”
            “Pick her up, Drew,” I said, pointing to Leah.  “We’re leaving.”
            Drew grunted as he leaned down to try to pick her up.  “Easier said than done.”
            Leah was rigid, which made my plan difficult to execute.  I muttered a curse and grabbed a nearby branch.
            The screams were getting closer.  The cold burning had traveled up my arm from the mark all the way up past my elbow, inching toward my shoulder as the danger grew closer.
            God forgive me.  I swung the branch clocked Leah soundly above the ear.  She went down like a sack of rocks.  Drew scooped her up and we ran.
            We scrambled through the mud and fallen leaves up the edge of the ravine, almost in the same place Drew, Rory, and I had scrambled up on that day weeks before, when we’d been attacked by the greys.  Unlike that day, no one was waiting for us there.
            I turned back once we made it to the top, looking up and down the ravine.  A distant screaming cry echoed from somewhere beyond the trees, the branches and trunks and the earth itself distorting the sound.  I couldn’t see anything.  The cold ebbed slightly now that we were at the top.
            Carolyn touched my arm.  “Come on.  Let’s get across the ward lines.”
            “What do you think we should do with Leah?” I breathed, starting to catch my breath, my heart rate starting to descend toward something closer to normal.
            “Tie her up and talk the others,” Carolyn said quietly.  “I heard what she said the same as you.  How do you fight that?”
            I wish I knew.  Is it possible?  I shook my head slowly.  “I don’t know.”
            She tugged on my sleeve.  “Let’s go.”  Drew and J.T. had already taken Leah and Rory toward the ward lines, leaving Carolyn and I alone.
            I shivered and nodded, casting one last look toward the ravine.  What was going on down there?  Why had the greys ignored us, and what had Leah meant when she’d said that they were fighting?
            There were too many questions and not enough answers.
            “I need to talk to Phelan,” I muttered.
            Carolyn squeezed my arm.  “He was up by the forge with Thom and Matt.  We’ll go to him now.”
            I nodded mutely and let her lead me away.

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This entry was posted in Autumn, Book 2 and 3, Chapter 6, Story, Year One. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Autumn – Chapter 6 – 03

  1. Seraph says:

    Crazy stuffs be happenin’. I really don’t know what to expect at the outcome of all this.

  2. Peter says:

    “I have to keep you guys guessing somehow.”

    Really? This is our fault?

    Fine. From now on I’m just gonna drool and engage in cat-like typing.


    So there.

  3. Antonious says:

    Just like everyday life. You never know what it is going to throw at you. So you spend your time practicing your catching and dodging. Catch what you want and dodge what you do not want. Just remember, you sometimes will have to take a hard hit to catch something really worthwhile.

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