Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 15

            Something felt wrong as the horses clicked over the concrete toward camp.  Kellin shifted uncomfortably in her saddle, glancing sidelong at Tala, who’d ridden back with her to round up Rory and the flatbed.  Tala tilted her head, looking at Kellin funny.
            “What’s wrong?”
            “I don’t know,” Kellin said, brow creasing as she looked around slowly as their horses continued to move beneath them.  “But something isn’t right.”
            “Something?  Something like what?”
            Kellin almost regretted saying anything—almost.  She bit down on her tongue.  Now’s as good a time as any.  She heard what the little girl said about the shadow man, and she just looked confused, not horrified, not like the kid was crazy.
            “Kel?  What, do you just have a Han Solo style bad feeling about this?”  Tala edged her horse closer as they drew nearer to the rubble of Mackinac Hall and their camp beyond it.
            “Something like that,” Kellin muttered, trying to shake the pins-and-needles feeling that shot from her toes to the top of her head.  Something was out of joint, something that hadn’t been when they originally left this morning.
            Could something have punched through the wards?  I don’t know how.  We set those as strongly as we could at the time, and used the herbs to help strengthen the protections…  She frowned to herself, glancing at Tala.  “Things just don’t feel right.”
            Tala pursed her lips.  “Are you sure you aren’t imagining things?  I don’t know about you, but having a shotgun pointed at me a while ago kind of rattled my nerves, even if Paul did turn out to be a nice guy protecting his baby sister.”  She shivered.  “Next time something like that happens, it’s going to be too frickin’ soon, y’know?”
            “Yeah,” Kellin agreed, not really listening.  She was focused on the feeling of nearby cold and shadow, on the pins and needles feeling that was getting stronger as they approached the camp’s ward lines, the lines she’d checked and rechecked before setting the wards in their current configuration.  Something had gone wrong, but what?  She nudged her horse into a trot over the last few dozen feet they needed to cover.
            “Kellin?”  Tala actually sounded concerned now as she kicked her horse to keep up.  “You’re not imagining things, are you?”
            “No, I don’t think I am.”  I just have no idea what happened, that’s all.  She set her jaw and stayed mounted until they crossed the ward lines.  The pins and needles feeling all but vanished, leaving in its wake a vague numbness she barely noticed.  A shudder went through her as she reined up and dismounted, looking around slowly.  Her eyes fell on a gouge in the turf.
            Tala followed her gaze as she dismounted more slowly.  “What’s that from?”
            “Don’t know,” Kellin said quietly.  “But I’m going to go find out.  Will you take care of the horses?  And find Rory?”
            “Doesn’t look like he’s here,” Tala said, looking toward where the flatbed was usually parked.  It wasn’t there.  “Maybe he went somewhere.”
            Kellin grunted.  “Probably to get more crap from the home improvement store.  Take care of the horses, huh?”  Kellin held her reins out toward the other woman.  Tala just nodded as she took them.
            “Sure.  Want me to keep an eye out for him?”
            “Yeah,” Kellin said.  “And take him back to the farm when he gets back and unloads.  I don’t want you guys out there after dark.”
            “What, because of some shadow man that the kid and her brother saw?  One she maybe imagined?”  Tala frowned briefly, eying her for a moment.  “…you don’t think she imagined it, do you?”
            “I’m actually pretty sure she didn’t,” Kellin murmured, meeting Tala’s gaze.
            Tala opened her mouth to respond, then closed it again, apparently reconsidering what she was about to say.  “What do you think it was, then?”  She asked.
            “I’m not sure, but if my suspicions are correct, it’s not a good thing, I’ll promise you that much.”  Kellin shook her head.  “If you really want to know, I’ll tell you later, after dinner.”
            Tala hesitated before nodding.  “Right.  Okay.” She chewed on her lower lip, then gestured toward the two horses.  “I’ll get these guys taken care of, then.”
            “Good,” Kellin said, then started walking toward the tent they were all living in.  Tala lingered behind with the horses for a moment before she started to lead them down to the tent where they were keeping the building supplies and the livestock.
            Drew was the first person she saw, and from the look of relief on his face, something bad had happened—possibly worse than she’d ever suspected.
            “What’s wrong?  What’s happened?”  She asked, closing on him.  He gave her a level look as he took her by the elbow.
            “We need to talk,” he said quietly, and that was all he said until he’d tugged her further away from the ward lines, into the very heart of their camp.  The nearer she got to the center point of camp, the further away the feeling of numbness became.
            “Drew,” she said softly as he brought her toward the spot they’d been keeping the radio, “tell me what happened while we were gone.  Where did that big gouge in the grass come from?”
            Then she saw the remains of the radio and blinked.  Hairs stirred on her arms, then laid back down again as she forced her expression to impassivity.  There was power here, but it was the barest remnant of it, like the memory of a dream fading upon waking, a faint echo of what had been.
            “This wasn’t the only thing that happened,” she said, staring at the remains of the radio.  There was something oily and black about it, impure and unclean.  At the same time, though, she could sense the barest traces of some kind of protective force, clean, strong, but almost completely obliterated and masked by the darkness.
            “No,” he said quietly, towering over her, arms crossed against a broad chest.  “They’re getting stronger, Kel.”
            “What is?”  She asked as she edged closer to the blackened desk, carefully moving aside the toppled chair that sat in front of it.  Sense of that positive force is stronger around the chair than the desk…
            “The black shadows.  The winged things.  They’re getting stronger, and bolder.”
            “What do you mean?”
            “That’s what the gouge was, Kel.  One chased Care and J.T. and I.”  Drew’s voice stayed quiet, as if he feared someone would overhear.  “It crossed the wards.  It shouldn’t have been able to do that.”
            A chill shot down Kellin’s back, as if someone had suddenly replaced her spine with ice.  “No,” she said slowly.  “No, they shouldn’t have been.”  She backed away from the desk.  “I have to check the wards.”
            “I’ll come with you.”
            She almost told him no.  Something made her think that she should’ve, but she simply nodded.  “All right.  Let’s go.”

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5 Responses to Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 15

  1. And with that, chapter 9 comes to a close. Interesting that all of this should happen while Kellin’s away from camp for the day, don’t you think? Could it be that she’s more important than anyone realizes?

    Or am I totally being an awful person and pulling your collective legs?

    Upon reading this morning, I realized that this installment may bolster samael’s theory that Thom somehow caused the explosion that injured Matt, but I will leave conclusions anyone wants to reach about the situation up to the individuals. Pretty fun stuff, ne?

    I had a new reader call something to my attention over at Doc Says Rawr!, so it may come up sooner rather than later: iron. For those of you familiar with fae and the supernatural, noodle on that for a little while and you’ll see what I’m going to be doing at some point (it’s a pity these characters haven’t started to think in that direction…yet.).

    Time for the reading and the writing. Happy Monday, everyone!

  2. samaelninetails says:

    nope i dont get that sense from this installment… but i am very, very curious to find out/work out who is the saboteur in the group (about now i is wishing i knew of an emoticon that indicated one raised eyebrow, lol)

    as ever, your writing is great and im enjoying every word – keep it up…. or else! ;-P


  3. Seraph says:

    /:| – might work?

  4. samaelninetails says:

    lol yea seraph i like that very muchly – something about it reminds me of Terence and Philip…. *insert fart joke here*


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