When I was younger, I learned a song about the twelve days of Christmas. (Hopefully, I haven’t offended anyone by saying “Christmas.” I’m drinking coffee from a plain, red mug, so this should negate any mention of the holiday.) Several decades later, I have embarked on a “30-Days of Snark Challenge.” Today is Day 5.
The italicized portion is from yesterday. I’m just using it to get back into the groove of this scene. This story needs a bad guy (a.k.a. Darth Vader, anyone?), so here goes:
I felt someone behind me. The throbbing in my temples intensified. Before I could turn around, my muscles tensed into rigidity.
Kelli’s golden eyes widened. I couldn’t turn around to see who had driven the contempt from her eyes. They were filled with fear.
“Hello, Shivani,” a deep voice said. I felt a chill down my spine. “I’ve been looking for you for a very long time.”
“I know you,” Kelli whispered. Her face turned pale. “You tried to kidnap me when I was twelve.”
Her words made my stomach drop. I wanted to grab Kelli and get her out of the cafe. Frustrated, I focused on closing my fingers into a fist to take a swing at the person standing behind me. Nothing happened. I tried to lift my feet from the floor, but they were glued to the ground. My arms remained motionless on each side of me. I couldn’t even turn my head to see what the guy looked like. I was just frozen in place, staring at Kelli, like a victim instead of a hero.
“Where are they?” the voice asked. The air around me shifted as he moved into my range of vision. I wanted to scream at Kelli to run, but no words left my mouth.
Kelli winced when he wrapped a hand around her long dark hair and yanked it backwards. When she didn’t fight him, I wondered if she was stuck like I was. But unlike me, she could still talk. “Who?” she whispered. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“Tell me where they are, and I’ll be merciful,” he snarled, leaning over her. The hood on his black cloak covered most of his face. He grabbed her throat with one hand and dug into her hair with his other hand. After a few seconds, she cried out. Tears streamed down her face. “Don’t fight me,” he said softly, when she cried out again. His fingers traced her scalp. “It hurts more when you resist.”
My heart pounded as Kelli whimpered. I had to help her, but I still couldn’t move anything. Not my arms, legs, shoulders or neck. The stranger was breaking Kelli right in front of me, and nothing about me worked.
Except for my thoughts. Suddenly, Paw Paw’s face flooded my mind. Where are you, Paw Paw? I need your help, I thought. It felt like an eternity, before I heard someone else behind me.
“Let her go.” It was Paw Paw. Astonished, I watched Kelli sink behind the counter and the stranger slam into the wall. I collapsed onto the floor, writhing in pain. When I looked up, a woman in a hooded cloak knelt beside me. She placed her hands on my temples. Something warm seeped through me. The pain receded, as I slowly flexed my arms and legs. I could move again.
The stranger approached the woman from behind. Before I could warn her, he lifted her up and threw her across the room. I watched in horror as she landed on the floor in a crumpled heap.
“Get the girl out of here,” Paw Paw yelled at me, as he raced over to the woman. I scrambled to my feet and rushed behind the counter. I didn’t know where the stranger was, but Kelli was still lying on the floor. I gently turned her head and looked at her face. She was breathing, but unconscious. I looked around for another way out. There was a door behind the counter. I bent over to pick Kelli up. But before I could gather her in my arms, the stranger stood in front of me, blocking my path.
He took two steps towards me and stared at me. His gaze narrowed. “You’re one of them,” he said, tilting his head to study me. A flash of insight told me that he hadn’t expected me. My mind whirled, wondering how I could use this information. But as I watched him, his eyes changed color. They were molten gold, like Kelli’s. I couldn’t look away. He wrapped his fingers around my neck and whispered, “Maybe I was wrong about the girl.” His eyes flashed, as his lips curved. “Maybe you’re the one my master wants.”
My legs flailed as he lifted me off the ground. Gasping, I tried to wrench myself free from his grasp. His grip tightened. I felt something burrowing through my chin. It traveled along my jawline, up to my temples. I wanted to cry out as the pain ripped through me.
“Where are your parents, boy?” the stranger’s deep voice was all I heard before blacking out.