“As soon as there is life, there is danger.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Each Tuesday at 9:30 AM PST I post up a new chapter in the first book of the series I’m writing.
If you are just tuning in, you may read
Chapter One here
Chapter Two here
Chapter Three here
Chapter Four here
Chapter 5- Beginning To Unravel
The hollow wood of the bedroom door offered little resistance to anyone intent upon getting in. One swift and powerful kick to the outside of the door sent the folding chair crashing down and the bedroom door swung open.
Asher’s hand was perspiring so heavily that he was afraid that he’d drop the only weapon available to him and gripped the scissors tightly. He figured he’d only have one shot to hurt their assailant but the busted door would find him looking down the barrel of his Uncle’s service revolver.
“Are you okay?” Uncle D asked pointing the gun away from his nephew. “Where’s Ken?”
They could hear sirens in the distance.
Kendra came running out of the closet and wrapped her arms around her uncle. “There were bats and they bit Asher. The dragonfly warned us to run. They got Mom and Grandma too!” she explained bursting into tears and hiding her face against the big man’s side, her little body heaving painful sobs.
“Bats?” he questioned looking at Asher.
The young man dropped the scissors on the floor and sat on the end of the bed beginning the story. Soon the house was flooded with officers, guns drawn only to find the senior officer holding a sobbing girl and asking for medics to look at a bite on the boy.
“Sir, what happened here,” says one of the first responding officers looking at the way the door frame was busted.
“Bats,” was all he offered carrying Kendra out to his truck.
The young officer followed, “What am I supposed to write on my report sir? Bat invasion busted a door down?”
“I’ll worry about the paperwork tomorrow. Right now they need to be with their mother at the hospital,” Derek dismissed the man. He collected Asher and promised the medical personnel that he intended to take the children directly to the hospital. The bite would be taken care of there. He signed the form and put a protective arm around his nephew.
“I’m really proud of you kid,” he told him on the way to the truck. He could feel Asher’s shoulders still shaking a bit from the shock of the past half an hour.
Once the kids were safely locked inside the truck, Derek pulled his cell phone from his pocket and placed a call to his wife.
“Rose, there has been a bit of a mix up. Please call your brother to board up Bridget’s front door right now… No, I’ve got to get the kids to the hospital. Ash has a bad bat bite and Ken is really shaken up… Yes, I said bat. Like flying rodent, big wings, teeth, bats… I really don’t know honey… I’ll meet you here.” He hung up.
Something wasn’t adding up. Something was wrong.
Rose hung up the phone from her husband and placed her hand over her mouth as if it would contain all of the emotion that bubbled up threatening to come out.
A small wail escaped as she slumped onto the stool by the phone causing Rowdy to rush over to comfort her. The big white dog shoved it’s oversized head into her lap nudging his nose under her arm and giving little nods to encourage her to pet his soft head.
She made the call to her brother and he assured her that he’d be at Bridget’s door in ten minutes, no need to worry.
Ten minutes after the kids had left to walk home they got the call from Bridget at the hospital. She could hardly recognize the anguished voice of her best friend as she explained that her mother had a stroke and was not expected to make it through the night. Rose assured Bridget that they would bring the children. They would get through this just like everything else she promised. Then she let her best friend’s son be eaten by bats and her house busted up.
She peeked into Emily’s bedroom and watched her daughter sleeping soundly. “Em. Baby, I need you to wake up.”
Emily rolled over but her mother continued, “There was an accident. Kendra needs us and we have meet Daddy at the hospital.”
The little girl’s eyes flew open and she sat up. She stuffed her tiny feet into her favorite Monster’s Inc. slippers and grabbed her robe with the unicorn print.
Backing out of the garage, something large swooped through the air in front of the car as Rose flipped on the lights. Strapped into her booster seat, Emily could see many bats flying in the sky. Bats weren’t unusual this time of year but these bats were large enough that it was easy to make out their furry brown bodies.
“Mama, the bats are huge!” the little girl exclaimed pointing out the window.
Emily put her small hand up to the window as they passed the front of their home. She silently wondered if those big scary bats were going to eat her fairies like they eat bugs or fruit. She hoped with all her might that her fairies were safely inside the colorful homes she made them and not in harm’s way.
Rose couldn’t believe how large and brazen these bats seemed to be.
The fairy tale in the garden was beginning to unravel.
“You busted down her front door!” Rose hissed at her husband when they had all gathered in the ICU waiting room. The six of them were the only people gathered in the little space. The best snack machine in the wing was located at the far end of the room so there was a steady stream of random strangers straggling into the room in search of some Skittles, a pack of gum or some baked chips.
“It’s not like I planned to break in and scare the kids half to death. I also took out a bedroom door too. I heard Kendra screaming and I just reacted,” Derek tries to explain. “Bridge, I never meant to make things worse.”
“Thank you, really. We are really lucky to have you looking out for us. I’m sure I’d have done the same thing,” Bridget says rising to give her friend a hug.
“I thought the bats had taken you and grandma away, “Kendra said to her mother with her lip quivering. Bridget sat next to her daughter with her arm around her gently stroking her arm when all she wanted to do was pick her up and hold her in her lap like she did when she was little.
“I don’t understand the bats,” Bridget said.
“I checked with animal control and they said the bats the kids described were not native and they have been getting calls all night about them causing mischief. Beyond that, they didn’t have much information,” Derek offered.
Everyone looked at Asher’s right hand where the gauze that they had applied outside the ambulance was soaked through with dark red blood. Asher immediately felt light headed to think about his wound. He closed his eyes took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. When he opened his eyes everyone was staring at him with varying looks of concern.
“That’s it! I’m going to run down to the ER and see if I can get him in a little quicker for heaven’s sake,” Rose said charging down the hall to speed up the process.
The room fell silent. Everyone was absorbed in all that had just transpired and trying to make sense of things. Except Emily that had made a little bed on the bench and was watching Nick at Night on the small Television with her eyelids drooping so low it was hard to tell if she were still awake.
When Rose returned she had a gentleman pushing a wheelchair to escort Asher to have this hand examined. Rose followed the escort and Bridget was finally allowed into her mother’s room.
A couple of hours past and Uncle D has nodded off in his chair Kendra felt as though she were going to wear a hole in the linoleum with her worried pacing. Nothing was really adding up. She was struggling with what she knows and what she was feeling. Everything was changing. She picked up a year old Better Homes and Gardens magazine and flipped through but nothing seemed to allow her attention to shift form the nagging idea that she knew in her heart was the truth.
She needed to get out of that room before the floor beneath her path fell through. She glanced at her cousin sleeping before heading out the doorway and down the hall intending to take a short lap around the floor to stretch her legs. She lapped the floor twice before moving on to other floors. Her feet were walking on auto pilot, feet moving slowly in comparison to her mind as she wandered the empty hallways in the middle of the night.
She struggled to recall how the story went and exactly what her father had said the last few times they played together.
“The muse will be the guide, the seer and the connection to the living earth. She will be lovely, fair and bring about the co-existence of peace. You Kendra are the muse.” She could almost hear the words roll off her father’s lips. He also called her princess but that certainly was no indication of her royal status she thought allowing it to sound just slightly bitter in the back of her mind.
She found herself standing outside the nursery. She looked in at the new little precious faces. One little boy who’s bed said “Baby Bennett” on a blue place card was putting up quite a fuss while the nurses each attended to another baby’s needs. It was odd to watch the child cry but not be able to hear it through the glass. An older nurse smiled and waved at her while she wheeled in the bassinet containing an absolutely perfect little girl wrapped in a bright pink blanket with a matching tiny knit cap on her head that could not conceal the full head of dark hair she was born with. She hardly looked real until she yawned. The bitty little red puffy lips of hers made a large oval shape; she opened her eyes and blinked around at the world before deciding to settle back into a perfect state of sleep.
Kendra stood transfixed on the beautiful little girl while her father’s voice echoed through her head. He would sing along to the radio when he was working in the garage. She remembered sitting on a tractor tire eating a Popsicle as he sang along with The Byrds
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep.
A tapping behind her startled Kendra from her dream like state and she looked over her shoulder. The dragonfly from earlier was on the other side of the window hovering two stories above ground. Kendra walked toward the glass as she did she could feel her whole body buzzing with energy. She found herself with inches and a pane of glass between them. She looked closely at the electric blue dragonfly. She was drawn to it. The swift beating of its wings seemed to slow down as her heart felt like it would beat right out of her chest with the energy flowing through her.
She started to see a fuzzy old picture emerge in her mind of the day she built the koi pond with her father. She was standing twirling next to the small pond.
“What happens next?” Her Father coaches her.
“When they come to take their magic, they must go to the sea.” She replies dipping her toes into the chilly water.
“Who’s coming to hurt our friends?” Her Father pressed.
“When they find out where they are, they will come. Before they are found our friends must be hidden away or their magic will be lost. I don’t know who “they” are. I can’t see them in my story yet. We won’t until it’s almost too late,” says the young Kendra.
Kendra stood staring at the dragonfly.
Clear as day she heard her father’s voice coming from both directions in the hallway.
“Just believe sweetheart, it’s up to you. Save them…”
The dragonfly flew off.
All traces of the sleepless night were erased and Kendra stood for a moment as her mind shifted into overdrive with every nerve of her body on high alert. Her clothes had dried hours ago from their trip through the fountain except for the waist of her pants making her feel cold and uncomfortable. Her shirt felt slightly crispy from air drying on her body. Hearing her father’s voice so clearly was such a comfort to her, even if she felt like it was only because she was overly exhausted and hallucinating she decided.
She turned and walked as fast as she could back to the waiting room.
It was decided that Asher would need a few stitches to close the wound that the doctor suspected was a claw mark of some kind, a good cleaning followed by a course of antibiotics as well as preventative rabies shots.
He thought of all the times he would sit out on the lawn looking at the stars and watching the fruit bats swoop into the trees for a nightly meal. Their wings so skilled and swift, yet terribly creepy the way their skin forms off of the strange skeletal looking arms. So odd yet beautifully graceful as they soar dancing into the dark.
He liked to listen to their clicks as they fill the night sky with their sonar, navigating around and feasting. He thought after hearing these buggers are known to carry rabies that most of his childhood was really just a simple series of near death experiences.
The hand was numb still from the medication that was injected and felt like it was not attached to the rest of him. A lump of tingling meat wrapped safely under a dressing and placed securely in the sling he wore. The adhesive from the tape the nurse used to secure the dressing itched but he could do nothing but ignore it for the next twenty four hours until he was allowed to change the dressing. He reached up and pulled at the woven strap of the sling was rubbing against his neck and causing a red raised rash. The hospital staff had taken pictures of the bites from every angle. The situation was so curious that Animal Control Officers had come out in the middle of the night to interview him. The shorter of the two officers looked terrified as he described bats bigger than he’d seen, with wings that could wrap around a person. It was hard to deny that something had happened but Asher could sense that they didn’t believe his story. He bet if they were looking down the prospect of having rabies shots they might be inclined to be a bit more accepting and proactive.
They had tried to interview Kendra first but she wasn’t in the waiting room. They had promised to follow up in the next few days during normal hours and passed Asher their business cards. He wiggled in the seat of the wheelchair anxious for the orderly to return to take him back to his family. They had been waiting so long Aunt Ro was fast asleep in the reclining chair by the bed. It was silly that he was forced to get wheeled up a few floors; his feet were never the problem. Unless he planned to walk on his hands he felt capable.
He rose quickly from the chair and was greeted by a lightheaded rush that caused him to reach out to steady himself on the plastic coated metal frame of the hospital bed. It had been an exceptionally long, confusing and exhausting day. His stomach rumbled from all the apple juice they kept bringing him but he could have cared less about food at the moment. There was something familiar about this all, like he had heard the story before but every time he searched his brain for the details they flitted away like shadows in light.
The hair on the back of his neck stood on end.
“Wake up… we have to get back,” Asher said shaking his Aunt from her beauty rest.
“What’s wrong?” She asked sleepily as he pulled on her arm. “You get this neat chair to ride in.”
She motioned to the wheel chair as she was pulled past it and into the hallway. Auntie put the brakes on and leaned her weight so far in the opposite direction from the one that propelled Asher that she fell over when Ash stopped tugging and looked back at her.
“I know it’s been a rough night kiddo but where’s the fire?” She asked picking herself off the floor.
Asher looked agitated and several years older than he did at dinner she thought as she watched his restlessly shift his weight from one foot to another and glance around as if he expected he were being watched.
“I can’t wait any more. I need to be with everyone,” He says with a sense of urgency in his voice.
His aunt put an arm around him thinking he was just having a bit of anxiety being separated from his mom at such a trying time that would have caused anyone tremendous stress.
He felt like a caged lion that needed to bust out and run but he didn’t feel powerful as the lion. He resembled more so a bird with a broken wing at the moment. Timid as a rabbit that can sense eminent danger but knows not from which direction it shall attack.
Bridget straightened the bed sheets around the fragile form of her mother. Once again sliding her hand under the older woman’s hand for moral support. She looked closely at the skin so thin on her hands, its patterns and the way her long fingers seemed still seemed just as lovely when she would slide she hands into elbow length gloves before Dad would take her out for a night of dancing on the town. Bridget recalled how she always seemed to have an air of royalty about the way she did everything. A lady in the truest sense of the word and one in a million.
“Mom, do you remember the time that I begged for my first pair of roller skates and Dad surprised me with them?” Bridget asked her mother knowing she would receive no response. “I went down that big hill on a dare and broke my leg. You carried me around everywhere when the crutches hurt my arms, even though I was almost as big as you. I never told you but that was one of the best summers of my life. We spent hours together sewing and that’s when I learned how to knit. You made it special.”
She leaned down and brushed a curl away from her mother’s forehead and placed a kiss on her cheek. She felt that her mother’s spirit was no longer residing in the body that had been such a comfort to Bridget. Her essence filled the room no longer contained to a withering mortal being but now an infinite part of everything beautiful and residing in the hearts of those whom she loved well.
Bridget knew that this was coming however she was unexpected for how peaceful the transition would be. She ached for her loss and the pain it would cause the children but there was a large piece of her that could see her mother fishing by the stream with Dad, baking all the time for him and teaching all the other angels how to do headstands now that her physical limitations allowed her to enjoy once more. Queer that she would feel relief and joy at the idea of her mother making jam again without hands gnarled so badly by painful arthritis or spreading her newest quilt out on the frame but those love filled stitches will not be able to warm Bridget’s bed or hang upon her wall. She said her final goodbyes and signed the forms the kindly young nurse had handed her.
A wave of exhaustion both mental and physical swept over her as she entered the waiting room. Asher and Kendra were inches apart whispering to each other. Rose looked up over her Shape magazine and caught Bridget’s eye.
Bridget nodded and extended her hand to her girlfriend for a squeeze of support. They all just sat there for a few moments while the weight of it all sunk in.
“I think we all need a bit of rest before we handle anything important,” Derek said taking the reins. “I’d feel better if you and the kids came home with us for a few days. Remember, I still owe you a front door.” Bridget gratefully agreed and wrapped an arm around each of her sweet children.
As the group stepped out the sliding hospital doors, they realized that dawn had come and gone but the weather left a dense layer of grey that hung over the city, threatening rain at any moment. Little did they know that as they pulled away from the curb that they had just exited the fire and they were heading into the frying pan.
Chapter 6…. Next Tuesday at 9:30 AM PST!
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