Vaalbara; Visions & Shadows, page 1
Visions & Shadows
Michelle Ann Horst
Copyright © 2012 Michelle Ann Horst
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. All similarity with real persons or events is purely coincidental. Persons, events or locations are either the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
Twisted Core Press
To my Grandmother who I miss with all my heart and soul. How I wish you were here to see this. Ronald and Sheldon, for putting up with all the late nights and Amy, the golden touch to my every word.
The Return Home
Hope is the heartbeat of the soul.
The day there is no more hope,
There is only one thing left to do
Vaalbarra Visions & Shadows
There would be sent a girl.
She will come with dreams.
She will see visions; visions of The Chosen Ten.
Another morning. Another day. Oh, great! Wake up, Sid…yet another few hours for the teenagers of the world to unite and drive me a step closer to insanity.
I opened only my one eye at first. It didn’t help. The same crappy morning still stared me right in the face. So I did what any normal person would do; I snuggled deeper into my blanket, pulled it over my head, and groaned when my alarm started buzzing. I swear the roll call at Alcatraz couldn’t have been this dismal.
I slammed my snooze button for the fourth time, but I knew it was inevitable. I had to get up now, or I’d miss my lift to school, and walking definitely wasn’t an option in the freezing cold!
Oh…and then there was the dream; the one I’d been having frequently over the past few weeks. It always began by the same mesmerizing waterfall. Although it looked nothing like the one I went to every day. In the dream, the water in the pool looked inviting - a clear bluish-green color where it seemed as if lights were flickering from somewhere deep down below. Of course, what really got my attention was the man. I just wish I could see his face! Ugh, yes. It was one of those taunting dreams where you’d see this gorgeous guy walking straight at you, but just before you could make out his face…you’d wake up.
It really sucked. However, a few seconds later, I have to laugh at myself for just thinking about it. I mean, seriously, having the hots for a faceless guy is about as desperate as I can get.
I stretched myself out before reluctantly getting up. Winter was definitely not my favorite season, and the worst part? It was only just beginning. The trees had just shed their leaves, and the grass was transforming into its’ normal color of dead-straw. The worst was still to come though - the blizzards were gearing up and they’d soon be on their way. Boy, I just loved those, especially the raging winds that would cover everything with inches upon inches of ice and snow.
Then came the part where my heart would break for a whole two months. The part when my actual waterfall would freeze over and I wouldn’t be able to crawl in behind it for my daily comfort.
I dragged myself to the bathroom across the hall so I could get ready for another day of torture in that hellhole they preferred to call school.
My toes were ice cubes by the time I reached the bathroom. I took turns standing on one foot at a time, trying to get my circulation to kick in. It helped a bit, though the cold would seep right back in as soon as they touched the tiles again.
I wasn’t as lucky as Molly and the rest of my adopted siblings. They had walk-in bathrooms upstairs complete with heated flooring.
Molly, Patrick, and Cassie. It was the usual crap, as always. They had the ‘spoiled rich’ thing going. I got hand-me-downs from Molly. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like I actually got rags. Most of the clothes still had tags on them.
Molly had this addiction, buying tons of clothes so they could hang in her closet for a few weeks before they would find their way to my room. She had good taste, too, so I never looked bad. I’d also managed to buy myself a few things that were more my taste from the sale items over at Lillie’s Place. That shop had the best bargains on any given day.
People might wonder where I got money to be able to buy anything for myself. The secret was I earned it reading people’s palms. That might sound strange to some, but if they were blessed with the gift, I would assume they’d use it to their own advantage, too.
Molly was running late, as per usual, so I used the extra time to check if the battery in my MP3 was charged for the day. I got that from Molly, too, when she got herself an iPod a few weeks back. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t last one day without my music. It’s my way of blocking out the world around me; as soon as I hear my music nothing else matters anymore.
I guess one could say that I’m not exactly the deprived ‘Oliver Twist’ orphan that I pity myself to be when I’m having a bad day. I have a home, clothes, my music and, oh, yeah…there’s Sid. What else do I really need for everyday survival?
“Come on! We’re going to be late for school again,” I yelled. I knew it didn’t help but the need to rush her along was always there…especially in this world I affectionately liked to call, Nutsville.
Molly and I are both seventeen. Well, I hope I’m seventeen. Everyone assumed I was thirteen when they’d found me in the forest nearly five years ago. Not long after, I decided that the day they’d discovered me would be my birthday. And in just three weeks I’d turn eighteen.
My story has always been a little crazy, but not nearly as crazy as going unnoticed and ignored in a small town like this. I mean, everybody was very aware of me when they wanted to know what their future held in store for them, but they never socialized with me. Great palm reader, but certainly not good enough for their sons and daughters to hang out with.
Of course, my stellar career as a mystic would soon go out the window too, considering that for the last few months I could only see a week into the future. Then…all I ever saw were the shadows, and they scared the hell out of me.
It’s not a big surprise that I go unnoticed, especially since there are no ’papers’ for me. There’s no birth certificate, no social security card, nothing. Well, none that I know about. Plainly stated, I, Aislinn Calder, do not exist to the outside world. It’s as if I’m a ghost; a secret kept well hidden by this town. They didn’t want me, but they wouldn’t let me go. The only person who is by my side - well, in my mind, that is - is Sid. Sid is a friend that I’ve conjured up. In fact, Sid is the one I can talk to, and have a bit of crazy fun with.
I’ve asked the Sheriff to send out details about me just in case there’s a family out there looking, but every time I check in with him I come up empty-handed. The Sheriff would give me his usual nod and smile, only to then repeat the words I’ve memorized by now:
“Missy, there ain’t been no news and no missing persons reported in these parts for years. I’d let you know if something came along. Why don’t you run along now and go play with your friends.”
What does he take me for…an idiot? After all, just last year Tristan had run away from home and that certainly qualified him as a missing person.
The last and final time I’d visited the Sheriff his smile was a tad too wide, and the look on his face could definitely be placed in the ’leer’ category.
“Aislinn, mighty me.” He‘d licked his lips. “Ain’
Yuck! The man was old enough to be my freakin’ grandfather! “Any news on the missing persons report?”
“Missy, there ain’t been no missing persons reported in these—”
I’d cut him short when he started to move in on me. You didn’t need to have the gift to know what was on his mind. “Bye.” And, that was that. I never returned to Pedophileville again.
I’ve been playing with the idea of heading out on my own once I turned eighteen. I’d go and apply for some sort of identity card, if it was possible. I’d take all my savings that I’d hidden, and hit the road.
I’ve saved most everything I’ve ever earned. It would keep me going for a little while and that’s all I needed until I got a job. I’ve grown tired of this town - this freak show I’ve had to put up with every day. No one would really miss me for a while which would give me a good head start.
Mr. and Mrs. Marks were overseas on a business trip for the next few weeks, leaving Patrick, Molly, and Cassie home alone. Oh, yes, and…me. The neighbors were supposed to keep an eye on us, but with their own lives and their own children to take care of, the babysitting chores where we were concerned would be minimal.
Molly was the only one who spoke to me in the house; she seemed to actually care about me in her own peculiar way. She was the one blessed with brains and beauty; though she used the dumb blonde thing to her advantage every chance she got. It was also the reason she was, without a doubt, going to be prom queen this year. But, compared to her siblings, she was a semi-nice person.
I, on the other hand, have very dark brown hair. Bordering a bit on black, depending on how the light catches it, it tumbles down my back to where it ends in light curls. I was blessed with big, dark green eyes which, according to Molly, fit my heart-shaped face perfectly. I know I’m pretty from the way guys look at me. Although looks mean nothing when it comes to the strange vibe that always seems to surround me.
Patrick, Molly’s evil twin, wasn’t blessed with brains; there’s not even a lost cell hiding somewhere waiting to be discovered. And then there’s Molly’s boyfriend, Robert. He is also Patrick’s best friend, but frankly, both boys suck as human beings. They irritate me to death, so I try my absolute best to avoid them like the plague at all times.
Oh, and last there’s Cassie, who’s two years younger. At the ripe age of fifteen, she’s quite the rebel with her cropped red hair. I’m pretty sure she sneaks out at night to party but, luckily, that’s not my problem.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Molly was halfway down the stairs when she stopped, spun around, and headed back up again. “I forgot my lipstick! I’ll be right down.”
This is the last girl in the world who needs more lipstick. All the boys trail behind her like little lap dogs already, and I doubt it’s because of her make-up regimen.
“Well don’t just stand there, let’s go!” Molly rushed passed me and was out the door in a blur, leaving behind a whiff of perfume which was going to have me sneezing all the way to school.
By the time we got there I was going to look like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
We made it to class in the nick of time. Mr. Brady was already busy writing on the blackboard by the time we burst through the door. Luckily he wasn’t one of those uptight teachers who had a fit if someone was a few minutes late. He was also the only teacher - and pretty much - the only person in town - who didn’t treat me any differently than the other students.
I took my place in the back of the room. In every class I sat alone in the corner, where I could go as unnoticed as possible. I kept my grades at a satisfactory level, and the teachers didn’t pick on me. I don’t know if we had a mutual understanding, or they were still just creeped out by the odd little girl they’d found next to the falls. Either way I’m good. I never get called on in class. And, I don’t blame them, I am odd. Even creepier is the fact that, thanks to the local psychic who claims she’d foreseen my ‘coming’, everyone thinks I’m exactly like her and can see visions. Now, if I can only make mine come true, then I’ll be more than happy to go along with her ‘prophecy’.
Okay, so the whole bloody town went with the old cow because they were too damned scared to question her. It’s all her fault my life has turned out this way. First she was just this town’s weird old lady reading a palm here and there, but then she had to go and make me into this town’s personal freak. It didn’t help that she told everyone who’d listen that I was going to save mankind like some up-and-coming superhero.
Maybe I’ll sprout wings one day so that this town has something else to gossip about.
I was too busy getting my stuff out to notice him walk into class. I did, however, feel the mood change around me. The nervous chatter began, and heartbeats seemed to be skipping all over the place. And then mine literally stopped. My blood froze, my eyes grew huge in their sockets, and my hands gripped the desk for support.
Ending his conversation with Mr. Brady, he looked up in my direction and our eyes locked. In that split second he looked so familiar; I could’ve sworn I’d seen him somewhere before.
My heart started to pound away like a jackhammer.
Oh, Sid, catch my runaway heart! Do you see what I see? Who else could I speak to but Sid, he was my one and only friend, my BFF.
Nobody had ever sat next to me in any of my classes for the last two years. Not since I made Jade Lockner run out of Science screaming at the top of her lungs that I was going to rip her head off.
Yet all eyes were on the new guy as he approached my desk!
I broke out in a cold sweat as he walked down the aisle - looking as if the class belonged to him. His eyes skimmed over everyone and finally came to rest on me.
Glancing down at my white knuckles, I could barely restrain myself from looking up at him. Here was this drop-dead gorgeous guy taking a seat mere inches from me and I couldn’t stop myself from looking straight into his eyes - not that I could even register their color. All I knew was that he was stunning.
He wore a pair of faded jeans that hugged him just right. A dark, ocean blue button-up shirt hung slack; with the top two buttons undone. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows exposing his muscular arms and well-tanned skin. And he had strong hands. If he wanted to take hold of something, those hands wouldn’t miss. My gaze drifted upward, freezing at his mouth. His smile was soft…almost gentle, slightly pulling up at the right corner of his lips as if exuding self-confidence. Then, we made eye contact. Well, actually, he caught me gawking at him.
Aargh! (That’s me, mentally screaming). I wanted to slam my head against my desk repeatedly. Gone was my chance of finding out his eye color as I practically sprained my neck to look away. I felt every drop of blood in my body rush to my cheeks. Like Superman had his problems with kryptonite, I had my fair share of problems with blushing. My face turned as red as a ripe tomato. Shifting in my chair, I tried to hide my embarrassment. It wasn’t like I was the only one staring, but I had to go and be the only one to get caught.
Then, to add insult to injury, I got a whiff of his aftershave. It was incredible. He smelled refreshing, crisp, but with a hint of…how could I describe it? He smelled like nature would - fresh and woodsy - with a hint of rain in the air. So now I was sitting there sniffing the new guy, and I had to admit that he’d stunned me senseless. I swear I was one step away from drooling.
I had to stop inhaling him. If someone noticed I would be doomed, and poor Sid would drop dead on the spot.
I could already see the headlines: ‘Freak Caught Sniffing the New Guy!’ I might as well not come back to school at all.
Annoyed with myself for being so affected by a guy I hardly knew, I busied myself with a drawing I’d been working on over the past few days. It was of the waterfall I’d been dreaming of lately; the one with the man I never get to see.
“That is very imaginative.”
He pointed at my drawing. “Your sketch is imaginative…skillful. You have drawn it with so much definition, as if you have been there.” His voice was deep, with a slightly hoarse tone that possessed a mysterious edge. It was beyond captivating. Heck, even Sid was contemplating being gay right now.
I felt like I’d swallowed a football field of sand. “Thanks. It’s from a dream.” My cheeks were literally on fire.
“Is that so? It must have been quite some dream.” His smile grew wider. “My name is Ryan Eames.”
I shocked myself with how easily I smiled back, while my name slipped through my lips. “I’m Aislinn Calder.”
Looking back now, it seems almost amazing that this wasn’t our only conversation.
Mr. Brady banged his hand against the blackboard to get our attention, making me jump in my seat. “It’s time to suffer, class. We have twenty minutes left for me to try and bore you all to death. So, all eyes up front.”
“May I share your book? I did not get a chance to get one.” That gorgeous head was bent towards me as he whispered the words that sent shivers down my spine.
I simply nodded. I had to get myself together; it wasn’t like me to go all nutty about a guy, even a gorgeous one like Ryan.
I tried desperately to focus on Mr. Brady and what he was saying, but it was no use. The Titanic could be sinking right beside me and I wouldn’t even notice the screams right now. All I could hear and feel was my new neighbor’s heart beating steadily.
I had a tendency to hear people’s heartbeats. The closer I got to someone the stronger their heartbeat would get. So I tried not to touch people as a rule, steering clear of them as best I could. Who knew what that was about? Probably just another facet of my annoying ‘gift’.
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