Leona is a college student just trying to fit in. Follow her journey into the unknown.
|Do you know that feeling that you get when you walk into a room and you KNOW the conversation was about you. As I slipped into the family room I realized a hush fell over the crowd. The crowd being my mother, stepfather Jim, grandmother, and sisters. Grandpa Jack had been sick for a while now, but I was still holding out hope that he would pull through. He was my favorite person. I knew what the hush meant. I could feel my face reddening as the tears warmed my cheeks.I quickly brushed them away with the sleeves of my knit sweater. “When?”
“Sweetheart, we know you’re hurting but now is not the time for tears,” my mom replied in a worried state. I knew this would happen. I’ve known it for years now, but I never thought I would see the day. How could they just pretend like nothing was wrong? They were all staring at me. My sisters almost looked like they were glaring. God, I hated them all. Katerina, in all her humble glory, was sitting on the overcrowded couch, her hair gleaming from the sunlight while she tugged at it to ease her nerves. She was the prettiest sister. She was also the kindest. Beth was forcing herself to sit next to Jim and I knew that had to be uncomfortable. He was a real creep. Barely older than me and he managed to hook my mom (not like she was really a catch anyways.) I’ve been convinced for some time now that he has the hots for Beth, but she’s only 17 and wouldn’t give him a second look even if they were closer in age. Beth was a raven haired vixen. Her outfits were often considered distasteful to Grandma Fancie. The more latex the better in Beth’s opinion. It was a real shit show. Grandpa Jack was dead and I had no more information than that.
My family was a strange bunch. From the outside looking in we would check out as your normal dysfunctional family, but really there was a bit more to it than that. You see, my sisters and I come from a family of protectors. Basically, we know about creatures, monsters, whatever you want to call them. All the myths and legends. Turns out the reason they are myths and legends is because only a very small percentage of people know about them. And my family just so happens to be in on the secret. And we take our jobs very seriously.
Most of the family, with the exception of Jim, works with these creatures to help them coexist in a world with humans and help them transition from the wild into modern day life. Every bloodline has one member who has the gift. The gift enables a protector to see the creatures and communicate with them. The way it works is through generations. It always skips a generation and does not always get passed to every sibling. Typically the oldest child inherits the gift. But the gift is not passed down until the previous protector is eliminated. Grandpa Jack was our family’s last protector. The timing of the gift is unknown but generally happens within the same day of the eldest one passing over. Which brings us here. In my living room, as my anxious family awaits any signs of the gift arriving to either my sisters or me. By default the gift should go to Katerina. She was the oldest at 25 and has been groomed for this her whole life. You can tell by looking at her she is on edge looking for signs.
“Why do I have to be here for this,” I muttered. I really just felt like going home and crying myself to sleep in my pillow with Lola, my stuffed bunny Grandpa Jack had bought me, by my side. I’m not notorious for crying by any means, but it felt like the wind had left my lungs and just did not want to return. I was keeping my poise for the sake of not making a scene, but I didn’t know how much longer I could manage.
“Because, you know the dangers. You know we all need to be here in case something goes wrong for Kat,” Mom said sternly. My eyes rolled back into my head so hard I could have sworn they were going to pop out and roll away. It was always about Kat. Her perfect angel. I almost wished for a half a second that she wouldn’t inherit the gift. Ha, that’d be something. Kat was still sitting on the couch with her ankles crossed like a genuine lady. I could almost feel the envy pulsating off of my mother. I didn’t believe in that aura reading shit, but I guarantee she would be radiating green right about now.
Mom’s generation was skipped so she has always been a petty Betty about it. She immersed herself into the work of saving countless trolls, fairies, and even a few centaur. She loved her work more than she loved anything. More than she loved my father, her kids, and especially Jim. She only keeps Jim around for late night booty calls and so she can make him participate in Beth’s carpool. Can’t say I blame her for the last one.
Grandma Fancie was the only other person in the room who looked how I felt. I was hurting but I couldn’t imagine the pain she must feel. They were together since she was 18. And she was by no means a spring chicken. I’m honestly unsure of how old she really is. Grandma came from another line of protectors, so it was a toss up on whether or not Mom would inherit the gift. Grandma’s brother, Terrance, received the gift in her family.
Before Grandpa Jack passed, we spent every afternoon together, watching reruns of old western shows on the tele. I despised them but I’d take anytime with him that I had left. Grandpa had been sick since he came back from his last savior mission in the Appalachian mountains. He was getting up in age and I had been telling him it was time to slow down some, but he wasn’t having any of that nonsense.
I had a gut feeling the first week he was gone that something bad may have happened. I’m not sure why but I just got some sort of tingly sensation in my nose and I just knew. I called his cell phone and couldn’t get an answer for quite a few hours so I called the local police and gave them his last known location. They said they would check it out for me. It probably helped convince them to take a look because I mentioned he was close to 90 and gets confused sometimes. That wasn’t technically a lie, but he mostly got confused about technology and the millennial generation.
They found him in a stream with his shirt torn and shredded. Gashes covered his chest. Claw marks were in the place of where his skin once laid. The police rushed him to the hospital where he stayed for 2 weeks in the intensive care unit. He was later moved to the regular rooms for the remaining year of his life.
“Leona!” I snapped out of my daze as my mother screamed my name. I looked down to discover my hands glowing a golden amber color. I held them up to my face as light began to pulsate through my body and encapsulate the rest of me. I felt warm. Not the temperature kind of warm. But the happiness glowing kind of warm. The entire family gawked as I struggled to make sense of what had just happened. I looked at Kat and it was like all of the life had left her face.
“Damnit to hell.”