I said my goodbyes to Scout and Marcus; no doubt I would forget his name in about two days time. I managed to close the door and walk calmly to the nearest lamp post before I staggered as though I had had too much to drink.
I sat down on the curb, my head pounding me with the images of my home blowing up, of Chris struggling on the floor with blood trickling out of her shoulder…
I had managed to keep it together as best as I could while Scout’s invite was there, but now that I was alone I could sob to my heart’s discontempt.
The sight of the moon from the now prominent night-time landscape made my eyes water even more, I hadn’t even noticed the time at all. Eventually I got up and smoothed the front of my slightly torn dress.
I walked and walked for about two hours straight, ignoring both times when a taxi driver asked if I wanted a lift. No thank you, I said. I wanted to walk to the police station on my own. I felt so....hollow, like a great big hand had just swooped down and swiped the largest chunk of my life out of my grasp. What was I going to do now?
Thank God it was Saturday. I felt so incredulous that I had never decided on reporting them to the police until now. This was the third time these men had tried to kill me since I was eight, around the time when my uncle had supposedly got on the wrong side of these people. It was in the same week that my dad passed away after having a heart attack.
When I thought about it, it never felt quite right. My uncle refused to ever give me any details about what he had done to anger them or how they managed to find my whereabouts every time I moved house.
Well run no more. I wasn’t going to do nothing while my uncle continued to fail to reconcile with these criminals. I didn’t fancy dying anytime soon. I had to see the police, I hadn’t seen my uncle in six years, my boss and close friend was probably dead or being tortured, I was helpless.
Here I was. I stood outside the police station; the street lights too dim for me to make out where exactly the door was, I slumped on the floor and cried again.
Soon enough a police officer rushed out of the front door and hurried down the stairs to see what was wrong. I wiped away my tears and thanked him for helping me inside before he showed me to a seat in the room.
“I’ll be right back in a moment, love. I just have some paperwork that I have to sort out, it‘ll take me five minutes.”
“Wait!” I called out. “I’m here because today the house that I shared with my friend was blown up and she was shot. This is the third time they’ve tried to kill me. I haven’t got anywhere else to go.” Tears were streaming down my cheek now. “I didn’t know what else to do but run. They could have taken her anywhere, or even worse…”
The police officer just stared at me, fully stood up now. Without taking his eyes off me he slowly drew his communicator from his belt and brought it up to his mouth.
“Mike, I have one of the victims here at the station with me. She claims the guys who did this may be connected with the other girl’s disappearance. Leave the house and meet back here in twenty minutes. Meantime I’m gonna ask the girl some questions.” He took off his thumb from the button on the side of the communicator and put it back on his belt.
“Madam, do you mind if I rush off to the toilet quickly. If you stay there I’ll come back with some water and then I can begin to ask you some questions, OK?” I nodded in response.
The moment I was sure he wouldn’t hear I snuck out of the station and began to run back to the cottage. I noticed a moped on the side of the road and, despite that I would never have dared to steal someone else’s property, mine had been blown up.
Once I stopped outside the ruins of No. 4 Haven Lane, the pile of debris and ash that I once called home, I struggled to hold back some of the stinging tears that threatened to scratch my cheeks. I dropped the moped on the side of the curb and made my way over to the wreck that was my home, I felt like I was in a trance, like I was drunk, like this was only a terrifying dream that my mind had decided to conjure up.
My worst fear had come true.
After a moment or two I snapped back to reality. How much longer would it be until the police came back to the site? They were probably already looking for where I was, I had to be quick. The yellow ‘do not cross’ tape was there to clearly mark it as their new found territory, no doubt the criminals that blew it up had searched for clues of my uncle’s whereabouts.
The only room that remained broken rather than obliterated was Chris’ office, the room that had been added to the cottage as an extension as a 21stbirthday present from her father (who was a builder). I made my way over to her filing cabinet that stood at a crooked angle. The edges were burned and stained with ash and soot. Why I decided to look through Chris’ private documents? I don’t know. But…but… No, there was no excuse. The loss of my boss and friend was not an excuse to just rummage through her things. I wasn’t thinking straight.
I realised quickly that the metal had melted slightly, fusing the three sections together. I just wanted to open the first one. That’s when I noticed a miracle. I gasped at the sight of our chilli plant lying on its side, intact, alive! I picked it up slowly, my eyes examining it with awe and wonder.
An idea sprang to my mind. I gently removed the plant from its pot that had a large chunk broken off it and pressed it against the cabinet. I had to feel around for my sapphire in my pocket because sometimes I felt that without holding it I couldn’t channel as much power from it. At first when my father gave it to me I thought the reason why it was so precious was for its extremely rare properties. It was colourless, but sometimes, just sometimes, I swear it changed colour when I used my power.
Now it was turning a milky grey as the colours swirled around inside. I was forcing the plant to carry down all its metal ions into its roots and expand them outwards as much as possible. I shook my head in giddy amazement as the metal was slowly forced inwards by the growing roots of the plant. I didn’t know how any of it was physically possible. But when you could do things like bring back a dead plant to life, how could you question it?
Eventually I heard a crack. Grabbing the nearest piece of sharp debris I could find, I pried my way into the cabinet with impatience, not realising that my tears had begun to return again.
There didn’t seem to be much in the cabinet; bills, a few work-experience forms, policies and the like. Then there was that letter that caught my eye. It was addressed to Chris, supposedly from one of her personal clients, but in the corner of the envelope I saw a drawing of the unmistakeable; my moonstone.
I tore open the letter with feverish impatience, desperate to read what was inside.
Before I begin I have to apologise again for having to burden you and your family with our daughter. I know that I could have tried to fight, but death had to happen sometime, it always does. Now you know I told your parents to tell you not to open this until things got urgent, because although I don’t know if Taurus managed to close the portal or not, but if he has then you’d never need to do what I’m about to ask anyway. But if things have changed (then obviously you'd be reading this now), I need you to help her with one last thing: find the others. Find the other five who will inevitably choose good over evil and who will try to save the world. But be careful, don’t assume that the same signs will be aligned with the same sides as last time. They always change, the previous Virgo was the one who managed to kill my brother in the Last Fight, and I know in my heart that Emma is destined to fight for good.
Find them quick and find them fast, because the chances are the portal will eventually open again, it always does.
Yours faithfully, Darius Fielding.