By Lauryn Jackson
The rain was relentlessly pounding down, soaking him to the bone. The only source of light was the dim glow of the street lamp. Luke closed his eyes, trying to focus. Damion wasn’t too far ahead of him; he couldn’t have lost him that quickly. He caught a whisper of his power a few blocks ahead and hurried in that direction, trying to stick to the shadows of the trees. Luke heard a piercing scream that made his blood run cold. He ran faster until he came to what he assumed to be the center of the park. There was a stone fountain in the middle, which looked close to overflowing from the rain. He scanned the area until he saw two shadowy figures off to the side, by a cluster of trees. Luke immediately recognized Damion’s outline, looming over whoever was his most recent victim. He crept around the side of the fountain, hoping the sound of the rain would cover his footsteps.
“Now, Luke, you should know better than to try and sneak up on me like that.”
Even through the cacophony of rain, Luke heard his voice loud and clear. Damion stood up from where he was crouched over the human, his pale skin illuminated by the streetlight. He flashed Luke his chilling, twisted grin.
Luke sucked in a breath and took a step out into the light as well. “You can’t keep doing this. You need to stop!” He snapped, subtly slipping a dagger from under his sleeve.
Damion clicked his tongue, walking up to Luke. “But, my dear boy, this one is perfect. She has just what I need to finish my work.” He glanced at Luke’s hand, where the dagger was. “You aren’t going to fight me now, are you?”
Luke didn’t respond.
Instead, he lunged forward, slicing upwards with the blade, but Damion was already gone, standing behind him. Luke charged at him again and again, but Damion was always a step ahead of him.
“I’ve had enough of your games!” Damion yelled, landing a solid punch to Luke’s shoulder blade, dislocating it with a pop. White-hot pain filled Luke’s senses, and he loosened his grip on his dagger.
He was still no match for Damion.
Luke adjusted the grip on his blade to make Damion believe he would try and charge at him again. But, instead of Damion, he charged toward the unconscious girl. He lifted her up with his good arm as best as he could, trying not to cut her accidentally with the knife, and focused on home.
The rain came to a stop, and the pavement melted out from under his feet, quickly replaced by a soft carpet. The bright light of the house was blinding compared to the dim lights of the streets. There was an incessant throbbing in his shoulder, and the girl was weighing on him. Everyone else in the house was fast asleep; he didn’t have the heart to call out and wake them.
Gritting his teeth, Luke hauled the girl up in his good arm. The edges of his vision grew fuzzy, and his shoulder burned. He ignored it and slowly brought the girl upstairs into the guest room. He set her on the bed and collapsed on the floor next to her, taking some deep breaths. Luke put his hand on his shoulder and rotated it slowly until it popped back into place. He then used a little bit of his energy to heal it completely.
With that taken care of, he stood up and began to assess the damage done to the girl. Luke was taken aback by how different she was from Damion’s usual victims. The girls Damion usually went after strongly resembled his late wife. This girl, however, looked nothing like her. Her rich, brown skin was covered in a multitude of freckles, and her hair fell in wispy, golden curls all around her face. Looking closer, Luke noticed that the underside and roots were light brunette.
Luke scanned his eyes over the rest of her body, but there didn’t appear to be any external damage, so he wasn’t seriously concerned. He placed a hand on her forehead, searching for any type of internal damage. It seemed that Damion hadn’t had a chance to do anything but knock her unconscious. Besides the splitting headache she’d have when she woke up, there was nothing wrong with her.
Satisfied, he pulled his hand away and went into his closet, pulling out one of his old T-shirts and two pairs of sleeping pants. He changed the girl out of her wet clothes, tucked her into the bed, and left the room. Luke went down the stairs to the short hallway beyond the kitchen and into the laundry room. He threw the girl’s clothes into the dryer, stripped off his own wet clothes, and threw them in there as well. Luke pulled on his other pair of pajamas pants and, with a yawn, turned on the machine.
He then went back upstairs and sat in the hallway by the girl’s door, leaning his back against the wall. His bedroom was at the opposite end of the hallway, but he wanted to be there as soon as the girl woke up to try and reduce the panic. Luke sat there, staring up at the ceiling, drifting in and out of consciousness, until he let the haze of sleep completely envelop him.
Kierra’s body was stiff, and her head throbbed with pain. The first thing that registered was the plush bed underneath her which was definitely not her own. It was far too comfortable. As she opened her eyes, she was greeted with the greyish blue walls of some unknown room. The clothes she was wearing didn’t look familiar either. She took her time sitting up, trying to push back the pounding in her head.
Before she’d even put a foot on the floor, the door to the room opened. Kierra stared at the young man standing in the doorway. His skin was a light cream color that contrasted nicely with dark, black hair. His eyes were an uncanny electric blue that pierced into Kierra’s very soul. He was a toned but slender guy, wearing a plain white t-shirt and dark black skinny jeans. Kierra could see bandages peeking out from under the right sleeve of his shirt.
Kierra looked down at herself then up at the man in the doorway again. “Did you change my clothes?” Pain still nagged at the back of her head.
“I did. I didn’t want you to stay in those wet clothes.” The young man came all the way into the room and sat on the edge of the bed beside her. “How are you feeling?”
“My head is killing me.” Kierra put a hand to her forehead, rubbing it lightly with her palm. The man moved her hand and placed his hand there instead. A soft blue light filled the edge of her vision, and the pain slowly ebbed away. Kierra shifted away from the strange man, staring at him suspiciously. “How did you do that?”
The young man rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “About that...Why don’t we start somewhere simpler? My name is Luke Hawthorne. What’s your name?”
She crisscrossed her legs and folded her arms. “I’m Kierra...um...Kierra Johansen.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” There was the distant sound of arguing outside the room, and Luke sighed. He got up and closed the door before returning to the side of the bed. He didn’t sit down. “What do you remember?”
Kierra thought about it, images from last night flooding into her mind. She’d gone out for a walk to clear her head after laboring through her homework, and then... “I was taking a walk...when this guy appeared out of nowhere like some sort of ghost. He started talking about some spell or something and I...tried running, but he just appeared in front of me and pushed me back. I think I slammed my head into the concrete…”
“I’m glad I got to you when I did. His name is Damion.” Luke ran a hand through his hair. “He keeps trying to kidnap girls from Earth to use for some spell to reanimate his dead wife.”
Kierra narrowed her eyes. “Why do you say ‘from Earth’ as if you’re not from here? And what do you mean ‘spell’? You’re talking like magic exists or something.”
“Well...we’re not on Earth; I’m not human; and magic does exist.” Luke sighed, sitting next to her. “We’re on a planet called Skybriar which is inhabited by supernatural beings. It’s hard to explain because this isn’t so much an actual planet as it’s a plane of existence. That’s why you guys haven’t discovered it yet. We’re able to—or were able—to cross over from our world to Earth using a sort of bridge built by the Original Generation. Any sightings of us using our powers, or something of the like, are written off as stories and fiction.”
Kierra tried to process the information that was just given to her, but she kept getting stuck on one word. “What do you mean you ‘were’ able to cross over?”
Luke cleared his throat and looked away from her. “The old King destroyed the bridge. No one has been able to cross over to Earth for awhile now.”
“But Damion...and you did?”
“As the current king, Damion is able to temporarily remake the bridge to Earth. I crossed over on the one he made.” Luke seemed uncomfortable with the question and avoided making any sort of eye contact.
Kierra was satisfied with the answer regardless. “So you can take me home.”
Luke laughed nervously. “About that...when I came back through with you, Damion destroyed what was left of the bridge, trapping you here.”
“And you can’t just build another one with your power?” She asked, feeling anger and panic bubbling up in the back of her mind.
He shook his head. “I should be able to. It took years of studying to even fully grasp the concepts of it. It took the Original Generation 4 years to originally build it, but for me...it would take years if it was even possible at all.” Kierra was surprised when her vision blurred, and it took her a moment to realize that tears were slipping down her face. “I’ll try to though.” Luke added hurriedly.
“I won’t ever see my parents again?” She asked, looking up at him.
Guilt overwhelmed Luke’s expression. “I’ll do the best I can.... I’m sorry you got dragged into this.” He told her, getting up from the bed. He went into the bathroom and came back with a damp towel. He rubbed the cool cloth across her cheeks, effectively wiping the tears away.
“Why does Damion want me?” She asked, taking the towel from him to dab at the corners of her eyes.
“I honestly don’t know.... He usually only picks girls that look like his wife, but….” Luke bit his lip. “You don’t look anything like her… so there must be something else. But don’t worry. We’ll figure it out together.” He gave her a reassuring smile and crouched in front of her.
Kierra set the towel on the bedside table. “So what are you specifically? And what is Damion?”
“I am a demon. Damion is too, though he’s more powerful and, well, evil.” Luke said.
Kierra raised her eyebrows. “Aren’t all demons evil? And in, you know, hell?”
Luke chuckled. “Sort of. Level E demons are the crazed ones that are the most evil and tend to be sealed away in hell.” He rubbed the back of his head. “It can be kind of confusing.”
“What isn’t confusing about today?” She muttered glumly. “You’re a good demon, then?”
Luke stared at the ceiling, considering the question. “I would like to think so.... I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to do what’s right.” He seemed to get lost in thought for a moment before he came back to the conversation at hand.
"Why does he kidnap girls from Earth? Can't he just take some from here?"
Luke straightened up, putting his hands on his hips. "There are no girls on this planet. At least not anymore."
He stared off into the distance. "The King before Damion had some serious rough patches with his wife. She always argued with, and went against, his harsh ways. He discovered that she was cheating on him one day and killed her. He came to resent all women because of that and ordered all of them to be killed. Each family had the option to kill their women themselves or wait until soldiers turned up to do it. If you were caught hiding one, everyone in the household was executed. Incidentally, that's how Damion’s wife was killed. Damion was the King’s closed advisor so he assumed his wife would be safe...but that didn't happen. She was sickly to start with so the soldiers had no problem taking her out…." He laughed, dryly.
"Wow. So the King threw a temper tantrum and killed all the girls. And people actually went along with that? Wouldn't the soldiers resist him or something?"
Luke sighed. "The King was far too powerful to go against. Some did try, though. Damion did manage to eventually kill him through some dark means. That's the only reason he's King now.” He shook his head. “The old King thought the law wouldn't have any consequences, but that, along with Damion’s rule, is what pretty much threw this planet into ruin. Anyway, that's why Damion goes to Earth."
Kierra stared at her feet, wiggling her toes and absently wondering where her shoes went. "I guess that makes sense."
“Oh, there are two other people who live here too.... I should probably introduce you.” He stood up, holding his hand out to her.
She hesitated a moment before she took his hand. “Are they demons too?”
“No. They’re each different creatures."
"Should I be worried that they probably haven't seen a girl in years?" Kierra asked, considering pulling her hand away.
Luke considered the question, taken aback. “I didn’t really think about that. I definitely wouldn’t recommend wandering the streets at night, but that applies to most places nowadays. The two of them wouldn’t try anything. They're good guys," He assured. “And, in any case, I’m pretty sure you won’t have any trouble keeping them in line.”
He tugged on Kierra’s hand lightly and led her out of the room, into the hallway. The walls were a deep garnet color, and there was a door opposite the one they’d just come out of. There were two more, adjacent to each other, down on the right. Luke let go of her hand and walked up to the door directly in front of them, knocking lightly.