A girl with silver blood, who turns into a lion......... what could possibly go wrong?
|"The trouble is, you think you have time." - Buddha
It was the dead of winter, and as Lily stepped down from the truck, she felt the sudden blow of harsh wind. It seemed to go straight through the eleven- year old’s bones, and she shivered. The sky was like a black canvas; covered with shimmering stars, and the bright glow of a full moon. It was utterly silent, with the only sound of her breath; visible in the freezing cold. Before her was a grand building, covered in a bland gray, with an arched ceiling, and shingles on the top of it. It had no windows, only a single wood door at the front of it; with a rusted doorknob. The ancient building had pieces of its edges missing, and scratches along the walls, revealing wood. A small pathway ran from the door to where Lily stood, with blocks of cement pressed into the earth, and snow covering it. Looming trees were lined along the pathway, leading up to the gloomy building and all around it. The moonlight made the snow on the trees sparkle, and it would have been beautiful if not for the spine-chilling woods behind it. All Lily saw was darkness behind the snow-covered building, which seemed to fade outward forever with the tall trees. She chewed on her lip, and tasted blood. Straitening in alarm, she wiped it with her hand, leaving shimmering silver on her hand. She forced her nerves down and out of mind. Lily sucked in a breath, and made her way around the old, red truck to her family. Her nine- year old sister, Hazel, was next to their parents with her hands shoved into her neon green jacket. It had little pink flowers on the front of it; delicate and small. Along with her bright jacket, she wore her favorite violet purple boots, with her black leggings tucked inside of them. Her blood red hair fell into curls on her thin shoulders, and she had bangs that reached her brows. Her face was very small, with freckles spread across her nose and cheeks. Most of her skin was a light pale color, except for her round cheeks; which were rosy from the cold. Hazel’s eyes were peculiar yet beautiful. She had one green eye that was a pine green, and the other that was sky blue. She wore an anxious expression, and looked toward her older sister with wide eyes. Lily automatically gave her a reassuring smile, and wrapped her hand in her sister’s small, freckled one.
“We’ll be fine Little Red.” Lily said. Her little sister nodded silently, but Lily saw her thin lips quiver. Lily felt her heart contract; she wanted to wrap her arms around her Little Red, but she knew she couldn’t. Not now. Lily turned to their parents. Her mother had the same green eyes as Lily did, but with a shade of dark brown hair. It was wrapped tightly into a low bun, not a piece loose. She had slender cheekbones, and skin much tanner than Hazel’s. She wore a plain gray jacket; that had several black buttons lined down the front of it, and worn out jeans. Her boots were a slick black color, and her jeans were tucked into them. Lily’s mother had her brows knitted together in worrisome, with her eyes locked to the mysterious building. Her long, slender fingers were intertwined with Lily’s father’s strong, sturdy ones. He had straight caramel brown hair like Lily’s, except with warm brown eyes and a thick jawline. He had broad shoulders and muscular arms, wearing a dirty brown jacket, old jeans, and sturdy black boots. His size was much greater than his wife’s, and he towered over her. They were very different from each other, and yet they fit perfectly together. Lily saw her mother let go of his hand and turn her gaze to her and Hazel. Lily took all fear out of her expression and stood tall. Little Red tried, but her fear showed. Their mother knelt in front of them and smiled. She touched Hazel’s rosy cheek lightly and tucked one of her curls behind her small ear.
“You must be brave now my darling.” She said with sad eyes.
Little Red swallowed and changed her expression into a slightly less terrified one. Lily felt her fast pulse slow down a bit. She gave her sister’s petite hand a small squeeze of reassurance, and turned back to their mother.
“That’s my girl.” Their mother said with a smile.
She stood up and went back to their father, and took his hand once more. They shared a nervous look, and her mother murmured something too quiet for Lily to hear. They started to stroll down the snow-covered path, and the sisters followed behind. Lily felt the brush of the trees on her face, and felt like tiny needles were piercing her skin. Between each tree was a metal light post, with frost running up it. The small fire inside of it was barely lit, like the intricate heartbeat of a newborn child. Lily listened to the crunch of snow under her feet as they walked in silence. She saw a lone owl perched on one of the trees, and its dull gold eyes peered into hers. Something was off about it, but Lily couldn’t tell what. She kept its gaze in wonder, until it suddenly lifted its white wings and carried itself away, causing layers of glistening snow to fall off its branches. Lily suddenly felt the touch of wetness, and realized that it had started to lightly snow. She looked over at her sister, her deep red curls touched with snowflakes, and on the ends of her lashes. It almost seemed like they were in Narnia, Lily thought, walking through the snowy trees, ready for an exciting adventure. But Lily soon snapped back into reality, where there were no such things. Those children were treated like kings and queens, but in the real world…………….
Lily forced herself out of her thoughts and looked up. They finally reached the front of the monstrous building, which seemed to loom over Lily. She watched her mother reach up to the wooden door and knock twice. Resting on her chest was a silver locket, engraved with the marking; €. Lily could recognize that marking anywhere. It was on the inside her left wrist; including the rest of her family. Seconds later, the door opened with a loud creak, and inside stood a young woman. She had stone cold blue eyes, frizzy brown hair, and a frown plastered on her face. Lily guessed that she was in her late thirties, wearing a gray dress with an apron. A faded sign was directly above the door, and it read: Stonewater Orphanage. The woman finally talked.
“What do you want?” She spat in a scratchy voice.
Before Lily’s mother could answer, the woman had snatched up Little Red’s wrist; her dirty nails digging into her pale skin. Lily felt her entire body tense, and prepared to launch on the woman if needed to. She looked over at her parents, but both of their eyes told her not to. Her father’s brown eyes looked nervous, but he gave Lily a slight shake of his head. Her mother’s deep green eyes were locked to Little Red, her eyes full of worry. She had her hand wrapped around her locket, and was chewing her lip. Little Red did not even flinch, she only calmly kept her eyes on the woman’s hand on hers. The wretched woman flipped her wrist over, revealing Hazel’s marking. Her expression narrowed in disgust, and her nails pressed harder into Little Red’s skin. Her silver blood ran over her wrist, and dripped onto her violet boots. Hazel’s lip trembled, and she winced in pain. That was it. Lily felt her blood boil with rage. No one hurt her Little Red, she thought. Lily let out a battle cry, and hurled herself at the woman. She gasped with surprise, and let go of Hazel, stepping back. Before Lily could give the wretched woman a clean punch, she was grabbed by sturdy hands. She looked back at her father with blazing eyes. He had a stern warning look, and pulled her back from the doorway. The woman seemed to have calmed herself, but her expression was full of loathing. She croaked “Starborns” as if it were a curse.
Lily ignored her and looked over at her Little Red to see if she was alright. Hazel had her other hand clasped around her bleeding one, pressed against her chest. She stayed silent. Before the woman could slam the door in their faces, Lily’s mother spoke in a hurried tone.
“Wait! Miss please.” she pleaded. “We are only here for the boy. Not any trouble.”
The woman raised her brows and turned her gaze to Lily with a glare. Lily returned the look.
“You must be Sierra and Joshua Goldheart. Are you not?” she asked.
Lily’s mother nodded her head. With a huff, she opened the door completely open, and stepped aside, allowing them to walk inside. The air smelled of mold, and the ceiling was massive, with a dark gray covering the walls. They were scratched and tattered, and seemed to cover all of them. The floor was a dark brown and it was covered with dust, with no carpets anywhere. Against the far wall was a stone fire place, with a small fire going. Surrounding it was several wooden chairs; the size for children. There was no other furniture, making the room seem eerie. Lily shivered. On opposite ends of the grand room were separate corridors, Lily guessed that one lead to the kitchen, and the other to the orphans. The woman turned and briskly walked through one of them; her gray dress swaying behind her, and Lily and her family followed. They turned a dark corner, and found a room crammed with children. There were rows and rows of white bunk beds, and candles lining the gray walls. They set off a warm glow, and lighted the room. At least twenty children were surrounding one of the room’s corners, with all of them trying to get a view of something. The woman walked around the children and to the center of the circle. She turned back to Lily’s family with a smug look. She pointed her finger to the corner.
“Here it is.” She said with a dreadful smile.
Against the wall was a boy, about the age of five, crouched into a ball in the corner. He was so far pressed against it, that it seemed like he wanted to fade into the wall himself. He had dark brown skin, short curly black hair, and stormy gray eyes. His hand was covering one of his eyes, and Lily saw silver blood running all over it and onto his ripped gray shirt. His other cheek had a large bruise, an ugly purple color, and several large cuts on his swollen lips. The boy was sickly thin, much smaller than all the other children surrounding him. Lily was sure that she could see every bone on his body. She could see the outline of his ribcage, his legs, arms, and even face. It was a distressing sight to see. Lily wanted to look away, but she couldn’t tear her gaze away. She finally looked over at the woman who led them to him, and was completely appalled. The poor boy looked like he was on the verge of death, and she was laughing. Lily looked at her family. Her father looked utterly shocked, like he didn’t know what to do with himself. Her little sister was also stunned, her blue and green eyes wide. Her mother was on the verge of tears. She had her hand over her heart, and her face was crumpling. Lily watched as she slowly walked over to the boy. He was shaking, and as her mother reached down to him with loving arms, he closed his eyes, like he was a beaten puppy, expecting another slap. She knelt next to him and slowly pried his bloodied hand from his left eye. Lily gasped, along with the rest of her family. His eye had a long, jagged cut down the middle of it. It ran from the top of his eyebrow, through his gray eye and curved to the top of his chin. There was so much blood, that it was covering his entire half of his face. Lily saw her mother turn to the woman with tears running down her face.
“What have you done to him?” she cried in a broken voice.
The woman rolled her eyes. Like it wasn’t a big deal, just a little thing. Lily had never hated anyone more in her entire life. The boy still hadn’t spoken. He just laid limply in her mother’s arms, like he had inflicted so much pain, that he didn’t have the strength to care anymore.
“What’s your name?” Lily’s father asked in a soothing voice; like he was talking to a scared animal. The boy only shrugged, his bony shoulders rising and quickly falling. Before another word was spoken, Lily heard a scream. It had come from one of the children, she realized, and spun toward the direction of the sound. A girl was pointing to a figure with wide eyes. Standing in the doorway was a man. He was wearing a dark cloak, which covered his entire body. The hood was up and over his head, but it was too dark for Lily to make out his face. She tensed. The man held a gun in his hand. It was made of silver, and had the engravings, M.G. on its side. Everything happened in a quick blur. Lily heard children screaming, and saw them scatter. Then the sound of a gunshot, and she saw her father jump in front of her mother. He was in his full form; as a tiger. Lily saw a flash of his dark orange and white coat, and then silver blood. She cried out, and lunged for her father. But she was soon stopped by her mother. Her green eyes were streaming with tears, and was shaking Lily. But she wasn’t even looking at her. Lily had her eyes locked to her fallen father, who was back into his human form, but with his limp body sprawled out on the dirty ground; and had silver blood all through his shirt. His eyes were locked to the ceiling, and were unmoving. Lily blinked several times; she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“Lily!” her mother shrieked.
She turned her stunned eyes to her mother. Her mother’s eyes were pleading.
But Lily heard a loud whimper, and turned around. It was Little Red. She was pressed against one of the walls, with tears running down her small, freckled face. Standing in front of her was the man. He was slowly walking toward her, with his arm extended, and the gun pointing at her. Before Lily could react, her mother was already running. She sprang as a fox; her light gray coat flashing through the crowd of the screaming children, and in front of her daughter. Lily watched with horror as she suddenly slumped to the ground. She couldn’t hear in all the chaos; the screams were pounding into her eardrums. She sprinted over behind the man, and knocked the gun out of his hand. With lighting speed reflexes, Lily dived for the gun, spun around, and shot the man in the leg. He yelped in pain, and fell over, crawling away with his black cloak trailing behind. Lily dropped the gun, and crawled over toward her fallen mother. She could hear screaming in the background, but now very faintly. Her mind was locked to her mother. Silver blood was already starting to spread on her soft coat. When Lily finally reached her, she was human again. But she soon realized that her mother had lost much more blood than she thought. She was clutching her hand to her chest, but blood was bleeding through. A puddle of her blood was starting to slowly form around her. Lily felt like she was drowning; stuck beneath the water, gasping for air.
“Maman no” she cried in a French whisper.
Her mother reached up and closed her bloody hand around her daughters shaking one. Her eyes were stained with tears.
“You must take care of them Lily,” she whispered in a cracking voice.
Lily tore her gaze from her mother to her little sister. Hazel was now curled in a ball, rocking herself back and forth, with her head in her arms; her red hair falling around her small arms. She moved her gaze to the little boy. His gray eyes were wide, and was still in the corner, but was looking at Lily's father in shock and despair. Lily’s heart felt like it had cracked in half. She took a shaking breath, looked back toward her mother. Lily nodded her head stiffly. She watched her mother pull her locket off from around her neck. Her brown hair was now falling out, and was spread out around her face. Her mother lifted it up to Lily, and put it around her neck. Her mother’s breaths were becoming even shallower.
“Goodbye my belle fleur” she whispered with a sorrowful smile.
“Ma- “Lily cried. But it was too late. She was dead. Her eyes were dark, and all the light was gone. Lily wanted to scream, to cry, and to fall apart. But she couldn't. She heard her mother’s kind voice in her mind. Take care of them Lily. Lily choked back bile, and reached down with her shaking hand; gently closing her mother’s eyes. She stood up, unable to look at her mother’s corpse any longer, and walked over shakily toward her sister. She grabbed her hand, and started to pull Hazel to her feet. She saw her sisters gaze land on their mother and cried out, reaching toward her. Lily pulled her back, and started to drag her away toward the boy. Hazel was screaming and sobbing their mother’s name. But Lily kept pulling her with an iron grip, farther from their mother. They reached the little boy, and Lily picked him up, putting him on her hip. He didn't protest, and wrapped his bony arms around her neck. His eyes were full of fear, and his silver blood had started to stain Lily's collar.
“Starborns” a mechanical voice boomed.
Lily whirled around. The man was standing again, with the gun in his hand once more. She bolted toward the entryway, with Little Reds hand in hers, and the little boy in her arms. She cried out, her ear felt like it was suddenly on fire. Lily felt blood start to trickle down her ear. She realized in horror that he had tried to shoot her, but missed her head by only a few inches. Lily spun around a corner, and saw that they had reached the main entryway. She flew the wooden door open, and dragged Hazel out behind her. Lily suddenly felt the touch of cold air on her skin, and saw that it had turned from a light snowfall, to a blizzard. They ran down the path, and through the snowy trees, toward the mysterious woods. Lily could barely see through the storm, but kept a tight grip on Hazel and the boy. They reached the woods, and she started to weave through the trees. She ran for what seemed like forever, and was breathing hard, but she never stopped. Lily was too terrified to stop. She would not stop until she found it. After what seemed like hours, she finally slowed. She was knee deep in snow, and her legs felt like cement. Her clothes were frozen from the snow, and her throat felt raspy. Her ear throbbed, and when she lightly touched it she felt a sharp pain. She was incredibly tired, but felt like if she stopped, she would never move again. Lily looked down at the little boy in her arms. He had fallen asleep on her neck, and Lily felt his cold breaths on her skin. Along the way she felt him shaking, and wrapped him in her blue jacket. Lily looked down to her little sister next to her. Hazel eventually stopped crying along the way, but she looked dreadful. Her small face was stained with tears, and it was bright red from the wind. Her eyes looked so sad; it made Lily want to reach into her soul, and make her happier. But she had no idea how to. Lily was as miserable as her sister was. She thought of her mother’s gentle warm touch; tucking Lily in bed every night, braiding her hair, and pulling Lily into gentle hugs. Her sweet delicate voice filling her bedroom while she sang Lily lullabies, her sweet sugary smell, her thoughtful smile, and most of all; her kind heart. She always poured her loving thoughts into anyone. Lily used to hear her father talking to her about her mother; saying that she was best thing that ever happened to him; filling his life with purpose, until Lily and Hazel were born, and kissed her on the head. Lily’s thoughts turned to her father. She thought of his millions of kisses, so much on her head that made her go into a fit of giggles, his deep laugh as he ruffled her hair, his arms lifting her around in the air, his never-ending jokes, his mint smell, and his brown eyes, always bright with joy. Lily remembered his voice; as he read her thousands and thousands of books before bed, and the next mornings; when he would be making breakfast; with the smell of pancakes and hearing bacon sizzling in a pan. And her father always saying, “Who’s up for seconds?” and smile to his daughter’s responses; hands flying into the air as high as they possibly could reach. Now her and Hazel were orphans, and their parents were never coming back. Lily felt a brutal, sharp pain in her chest. She thought that she could literally hear her heart crack, and choked down a rotten sob. Just focus on breathing, she thought. In, out, in, out, in, out. They had made it out of the woods, and Lily could see her grandmother’s house a few yards away. It was made of wood; its dark oak color covering all of it except its red door. Snow was piled around it, and smoke was coming out of its chimney. Lily started to run again. They reached the front door, and Lily knocked on it rapidly. It opened quickly, and standing in the door way was her grandmother. Her warm brown eyes were full of alarm, and had her mouth open with shock. She had short gray hair that reached her shoulders, and was wearing a deep blue sweater and jeans. Lily’s grandmother immediately ushered them in, and Lily was relieved to feel the warmth of the house. She set the little boy down, and watched Hazel walk him over toward the fire. Before her grandmother could ask anything, Lily had already buried her face into her arms. Lily couldn’t hold it in any longer. She let out a rattling sob, and finally allowed herself to cry.
To be continued....