Kellin’s nostrils flared as she stared at the ravine. The sun was high in the sky, cloaked by clouds, struggling to burn through them. The rain had stopped, at least, though the break in the weather probably wouldn’t last that long. She shivered a little, hands curling into tight fists, refusing to give into the chill of the wind. It was getting colder, that was for sure.
What should have started to settle down was getting worse instead. It hadn’t stopped—the twisting and knotting of the lines of power, of the earth’s veins and arteries, of the conduits of latent energies that skated along or just beneath the surface. It was as if the planet itself, the living part, was writhing in pain—or as if the world was suddenly being rewired.
Her mouth was dry. Could that really be what was happening? The natural power grid…being rewritten, redrawn? She couldn’t quite see it, but she could feel it, knew exactly where the lines were, where they were knotting. Where they were moving.
She shivered again. It was all too close, and getting closer.
She startled, gasping in a breath before slowly turning toward Carolyn. “Care. Something wrong?”
The other woman started to shake her head, then hesitated. “Maybe. What are you looking at?”
Kellin took another deep breath and looked at Carolyn. “What do you think I’m looking at?” She asked quietly, without malice or sarcasm. Carolyn looked back at her, brow furrowing slightly.
“At something I can’t see but I can feel,” she said after a long silence. She stared at the creek far below them, at the bottom of the ravine, watched the water tumble over rocks and fallen tree limbs for a moment before looking back at Kellin. “It’s so quiet,” she whispered. “Like there was all this noise before and I never noticed that it was there until it was suddenly gone. And now I just…feel things. Hear whispers.” Her lips thinned. “That night by Lake Superior Hall, you guys weren’t kidding, were you? There really was something there. Is something there. The fairies. I thought I dreamed it.”
Kellin shook her head slightly and looked back toward the ravine. “No,” she said quietly. “You didn’t dream it. They were really there. I can’t see them. Marin can, sometimes. Rory can, too, sometimes, but they don’t like him.” She smiled weakly and glanced at Carolyn. The other woman was still standing next to her, where any sane person probably would have backed away slowly. “You’re not running away.”
Carolyn shook her head, hugging her sweatshirt tighter around her thin body. “No. Maybe a year ago I’d have thought you were talking crazy, that we’d finally played too much D&D and gotten our brains scrambled by it. Now…now I’m not sure what to think.” She crouched, wrapping her arms around her knees. “All I know is that the world feels…empty. Lost, hurt. But mostly empty.”
Kellin frowned. “Empty? Empty how?”
She winced. “Like there’s suddenly a lot fewer people breathing its air,” she said, wetting her lips. “I don’t know, Kel. I don’t…I don’t really have words to describe what it feels like.” She sucked in a breath and exhaled it slowly. “It’s just…there. A knowing. A feeling I just can’t shake. Like I knew that a lot of people were dead, that…that this was the end of the world.” She sniffled, swiped at her nose with her sleeve, then looked up at Kellin again. “It is, isn’t it? The end? You said it was.”
Kellin bit her lip. I did say it was. “I also said it was the beginning of something else, Care,” she murmured, slowly sitting down in the grass with Carolyn. She stared straight across the ravine, into the trees. “Welcome to the new world and all that jazz.”
“The new world,” Carolyn echoed, then sighed. “Not sure if I like it yet.”
“I’m not sure it’s quite born yet,” Kellin said. Her stomach twisted, like the lines below. “But we’re watching it happen. And we’ll keep watching it happen right before our eyes.” She tore her eyes away from the dark tree trunks and studied Carolyn. “You’re starting to understand. To see and feel it.”
Carolyn looked back at her. “This is all the stuff you guys told me I could ignore. I told Marin that I knew—or that I was starting to, anyway.”
“I know,” Kellin said quietly. “She told me. How much of what you just told me did you tell her?”
She shook her head slightly. “Not a lot. Just that I knew it was the end of the world. A feeling I had. Nothing else. She kind of got scared when I said it, I think. Like she hadn’t been expecting it from me.”
She sure as hell wasn’t. None of us ever thought that you’d be one of the ones to suddenly become aware of all of this stuff. I’m sure she didn’t think you’d be first. Kellin toyed with a smooth, flat stone, running her thumb along its surface as she cupped it in her palm. “We’ve known for a long time that a lot of you could be aware of a lot of the things that we could just…see and feel…but we didn’t want to press any of you. It’s usually safer to just let it all happen naturally, if it’s going to happen at all.” She looked at Carolyn again. “I’ll be honest. We knew you had the ability, we just never thought you’d tap it.”
Kellin gestured vaguely toward the ravine. “What you’re feeling—sensing, really. Things shifting and changing. That’s the sign that you’re becoming aware of what most people go through their lives never realizing existed, everything that’s out there operating on another level, a level I believe most of us have simply just forgotten is there. Society trains us to think in a certain way so most of us never go looking, and not everyone who goes looking can perceive the undercurrents, or the overtones, depending on how you look at it.” Her hand tightened around the stone. “I can’t even tell you what to call it. The supernatural. The preternatural. The unseen world. Magic. I don’t even know. I just know it’s there.”
“Like Marin and Rory and Drew,” Carolyn said. She relaxed slowly, arms loosening. She rested her chin on her knee and watched Kellin. “What can I do, Kel?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean…what can I do? To help? To…what can I do with this? Is there anything? I mean…you found people with your pendulum. Marin sees things before they happen. Drew’s gut isn’t wrong very often and he always seems like he knows when someone needs a hug or go punch something. Stuff like that. Do you know? Is it possible to know?”
Kellin hesitated for a moment, then shook her head a little. “I’m not sure what you can do yet, Care. We’re going to have to wait a little while and see. We used to think that maybe you had some kind of connection to air spirits, because of the fairies in the garden, but maybe…acch. I don’t know.” She pressed the heels of her hands to her temples. “I don’t know, Care. Could be you’re in tune with a lot of things. Something tells me that all of us, the survivors here…I think most of us have something. A spark. Underlying ability that we haven’t been able to tap. And I think a lot of us have more than one connection. Does that make any sense?”
She frowned for a moment, then nodded slowly. “I think so. You’re saying that it’s very likely Marin can do more than see the future, that you can do more than sense what you’re sensing and find people with your pendulum. That I can maybe do more than just feel things like I’m feeling them right now.”
Kellin exhaled, nodding. She gets it. That’s a start, anyway. “Yes.”
Carolyn nodded slightly and looked back at the ravine. “So how do I learn? How do I figure it out?”
Kellin touched her shoulder and smiled a hopefully reassuring smile. “You be patient and don’t run from it. Understanding comes with patience and time.” She smiled wryly. “And practice, sometimes.”
Carolyn laughed. “So just keep…doing what I’m doing?”
She nodded. “Unless we tell you to stop.” She looked back out toward the ravine, brow creasing for a moment.
Carolyn’s brow furrowed, too. “What’s wrong? The dim?”
Ice filled Kellin’s guts. “You can feel it?”
“Out at the edges. Beyond the river. But yeah. A dimness, cold and hot at the same time.” Carolyn shuddered. “I don’t like it.”
Neither do I, Kellin thought. She pressed her lips tightly together. “Do something for me,” she said quietly. Carolyn nodded.
“Just tell me.”
“If you feel that getting closer, find Marin or Drew or Rory or I as fast as you can.”
“What is it?”
“Nothing good,” Kellin murmured. I used to think we could just…coexist with it. That it was part of a natural balance. Now I’m not so sure. She squeezed Carolyn’s shoulder. “Come on. Break time’s over. Let’s see what we can do back at camp.”
“Right,” Carolyn said, standing up. She glanced out over the ravine again, then smiled faintly, a smile that touched her gray eyes. “They’re still there,” she murmured.
“The fairies,” she said softly, almost breathless. “I can see them in the trees.” She smiled at Kellin. “Maybe it won’t be so bad.”
“Maybe,” Kellin agreed, stomach feeling hollow. I wish she was right. I wish I didn’t know that she’s wrong. Things weren’t going to go easily, not by a long shot. She didn’t have the heart to tell Carolyn that, though. Not yet.
Who knows? I’m not the one with visions. Maybe she’ll be right.
She could hope, anyway.
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