Storm Warning, Chapter 17

Fiction By Jackie West // 2/23/2011

   

Brynn decided to take an inventory of all their supplies to help her keep her sanity for a little while longer. She had been in the cave nearly all of the time that she had been…

here

…which, now was about a week!

 

                She was laying out the medical supplies and writing busily on a notepad when her foot touched something on the floor. She bent down to see what it was and gasped when she saw a dead mouse.

                “Kinalo!” she called. “Did you kill a mouse recently?” She grimaced. “And-uh-forget to clean it up?”

                “No, but Double W probably forgot!” Kinalo answered. “He has unusual eating habits!”

                “Who?” Brynn asked suspiciously. “Did you bring a madman here?”

                “No,” Kinalo replied as she came into the room, a hint of a smile on her face. She held something in her hand. Brynn covered her eyes with a hand.

                “I don’t want to know what you brought with you,” she said. “I really don’t. And I don’t want to know who’s going to dispose of him, either.”

                “Why not?” Kinalo asked. “He doesn’t bite…unless I tell him to.”

                “What?” Brynn almost shrieked. “Kinalo!”

                Kinalo knelt on the floor and put down the object she was holding. It was another dead mouse. “What? Do you want to see him?”

                “Are you kidding?” Brynn said incredulously. “Why would I want to?”

                She watched, though, as a long, slim shape slid out from a hole in the wall. “A snake?! Why on earth do you have a snake and where did you get it?”

                “Reule gave it to me,” Kinalo answered casually. “It’s a Burmese python. Want to pet him? He won’t bite unless I tell him to, as I said earlier.”

                “What’s his name?” Brynn asked.

                “Wapaheo Wanyecha,” Kinalo replied.

                “Wapa-what? What kind of a name is that?”

                “Not one you’ve heard before, obviously.” Kinalo grinned. “It’s okay. I won’t make you touch him. Keep working and I’ll deal with him.”

                Brynn went back to work, not looking back as she knew that the snake would be enjoying his snack by now.

                When she finished her job several minutes later, she cleaned up and pocketed her list of supplies. She stood and looked over by the door. Kinalo was nowhere in sight, and-fortunately-neither was her snake.

                “Kinalo!” Brynn called. “Wasn’t there something said about visiting the others in the near future?”

                “Yeah!” Kinalo called back. “Unfortunately, we have the lovebirds to care for!”

                “When are they going to recover?” Brynn yelled back.

                “They were each stabbed about twelve times in various places, Brynn! They won’t heal that fast!”

                “How about calling in Casey and Mason?” Brynn hollered back.

                “Do you know how bad they are at doing healing and stuff like that?” Kinalo hollered back.

                “No!”

                “Well, they’re terrible at it!”

                “Is there anyone else?”

                “Uh…no!”

                “Not even Trevor?”

                “I wouldn’t trust him to take care of a kid with a mild cold! Who are you kidding?”

                “That bad? Even with six younger siblings?”

                “You would be surprised, I’m sure, but it’s true!”

                There was a pause.

                Then Kinalo asked:

                “Why are you so eager to see Justice?”

                “I just want to see Jackie and Reule and Jordan. It’s been ages since I’ve seen any ne other than you, Kiril, Damon, and Dory!”

                “True…but do you really need a vacation? As if you aren’t on one already! When your parents find out that you and Casey left, they…won’t be happy, to say the least.”

                “They probably already know. It’s been a week!”

                “We’ll explain when we get back.”

                “If we get back!”

                “You’re such a pessimist.”

                “Talk to Jackie about it! She’s threatened to kill me before!”

                “Keep pestering me and I’ll order her to!”

                “When I find you, you are going to be in pain!” Brynn yelled as she ran out of the room.

 

                Jess leaned against a tree, holding her hand to her side as she tried to press out the pain of a side sticker.

                David knelt on one knew beside her.

                “No-we...have to find Jesse. I…can’t leave him to-die. He’s my-“Jess gasped out, trying hard to catch her breath-“my friend.”

                “Why are you so sure that he’s going to die?” Vanar Pytheria asked as she caught up with them.

                Milton wasn’t far behind. “Yeah, why?”

                “Those bad guys are merciless,” Jess said as she slowly slid to the ground against the tree trunk. “If we can’t save him-then nobody can.”

                “Why’s that?”

                “Nobody else has a clue where he is,” Jess explained, breathing a little more easily than she had at first.

                “And we do?” Milton folded his arms, looking at her pointedly. “And what if we get caught?”

                Jess closed her eyes. “Can’t you be the least bit optimistic?”

                “No.” Milton sat down beside her. “No one can at this point in time.”

                “Why not? At least-never mind.” Jess sighed in relief as her side sticker faded away. “What time is it?”

                “About four-thirty.” Vanar peered closely at her. “Are you OK, Jess? You don’t look good.”

                “There’s always something wrong with me and I can do nothing to stop it,” Jess replied.

                “Why’s that?” David inquired.

                “Ad-nothing,” Jess said, her relaxed position against the tree and her calm face not changing at all.

                “Why can’t we know?” Milton pushed.

                “I don’t want to talk about it.”

                Vanar silenced him with a look as she slipped her backpack off. “It’s not time for a cold dinner yet. What’ll we do?”

                “Talk.” Jess gestured to the back pack. “What’s in there?”

                “Stuff.” Vanar shrugged. “I’m a healer.”               

                “I see.” Jess nodded. “Back where I lived, my mother was a midwife and a healer.”

                “How many siblings did you have growing up?” David asked.

                “I had four brothers,” Jess answered. “Ryan is my only little brother. When I was born, my three older brothers, one single but close to the others, who were twins, were almost old enough to leave and get married. They were all best buddies and thought of me simply as an interruption in their lives. I was glad when Ryan came along, though. We’ve always been best friends.”

                “So what’s your real name?” Vanar wondered.

                “What are you talking about?” Jess turned to her.

                “The inscription on your pack says ARB, not JRB. Why’s that?”

                “I forgot to change it when I changed my name. So what?”

                “What’s your real name?” Vanar repeated.

                “Ajaia.”

                “What kind of a weird name is that?” Vanar stared at her.

                “Listen to the pot calling the kettle black. What’s wrong with changing it?”

                “So, how do you know where the bad guys are?” David said, quickly changing the subject.

                “I don’t.” Jess crossed her legs.

                “Then where are we going?” Milton queried.

                “To the bad guys hideout.”

                “You just said that you didn’t know where the bad guys’ hideout was!” Vanar said exasperatedly.

                “Who have you been following all day?” Jess crossed her arms.

                “You,” David said.

                “Who have you been trusting to go in the right direction?”

                “You,” Milton said.

                “Figure it out. How would I know if I was going in the right direction? You three should know this.”

                “Following a trail,” Vanar replied promptly.

                “I’m not as stupid as I look.” Jess smiled briefly at them before relaxing again.

                “But I’ve known how to follow a trail for years. Why wouldn’t I know?” Vanar protested.

                “You haven’t had real experience with villains and criminals, have you?” Jess pushed.

                Vanar looked at the ground. “Well-no…”

                “I have, despite the fact that-well, never mind.” Jess fell silent.

                “Why is your past so secret?” Milton asked.

                “I have my reasons.” Jess stiffened suddenly.

                “What is it?” David sounded alarmed.

                “Shh!” Jess cautioned, slowly and quietly getting to her feet. She moved into the woodlands.

                David started rising to his feet. Milton pushed him back.              

                “If she needs us, then she’ll call,” he said confidently.

                They all listened carefully for cries for help. They came soon-too soon…

                “Come on!” Vanar said, jumping up.

                They raced toward the cries, which were swiftly growing louder.

                The screams reached their climax as they burst into clearing.

                “Jess, what’s wrong?” Vanar called.

 

                Madylyn smiled cruelly.” Yes, it’s me, little brother.”

                “How could you-why did you do this?” I burst out incredulously.

                “It should be obvious that I chose to, Damien.” Madylyn turned away and waved her hand. “You can lock him up now.”

                “I’m your brother! There has got to be a mistake!”

                “There isn’t, Damien. Goodbye.”

                And with that, she walked away.

 

                Kerry sighed as she sat on her cot in the cave.

                Jordan looked up from her own cot nearby, where she was reading a book. “What’s wrong?”

                “I’m bored,” Kerry moaned. “I haven’t seen my house or anyone from my family in days, I’m stuck in a cave in the middle of nowhere and not allowed to leave, I have absolutely nothing to entertain me…how would you feel if you were like me?”

                “I don’t know. I’ve never experienced it,” Jordan said. “Reule and Jackie have loosened their reigns on me and I can wander around. I’ve been here for quite a while and I know the area pretty well.”

                “Lucky you.” Kerry sighed. “My mom and siblings would never let me do that.”

                “They have a reason, I’m sure, if not more than one.” Jordan turned back to her book. “Reule was cautious with me at first because of the villains wandering around and us not knowing their precise location.”

                “Understandably.” Kerry fiddled with a loose thread on her blanket. “But can’t I go out if someone is with me? I mean…someone who knows the area? Like you?”

                “No,” Jordan said without looking up.

                “Why not?” Kerry persisted.

                “Because.”

                “Because why?”

                “Because I said so. And everyone else is going to say no.”

                “Why?”

                “Because Reule told them to say so if you asked.”

                “Why?”

                Jordan rolled her eyes. “Stop it!”

                They both looked up as CJ burst into the front area from the back of the cave. “Guys!”

                “What?” Jackie and Kerry asked simultaneously.

                “Reule has called another meeting, this time in the kitchen. It’s of the utmost importance.”

                Kerry and Jordan jumped to their feet and followed CJ to the kitchen.
                Everyone else had gathered there already.

                Reule was leaning against the makeshift stove, shaking his head. He looked up as Jordan and Kerry came in. Then he straightened.

                “I was outside the cave this morning doing some things,” he said. “And I saw something that means bad news for us all.”

                “What?” Jordan leaned forward and put her hand to her waist and for the first time Kerry noticed the small dagger hanging there.”

                “They know we’re here,” Reule said. “They know we have important people hiding here. People that they are after. People that they have been after for years.”

                “Kerry?” Jordan asked in shock. “Jess? The bad guys have been after them?”

                “Unfortunately, yes,” Reule said. “Now they have Jesse. And they’re going to kill him. Unless-“

                “Unless what?” Kerry and Jordan asked simultaneously.

                “Unless one of us is willing to take his place.” Reule bowed his head.

                 “Reule! You’re-you’re not serious!” Jordan cried out.

                Reule stood as straight as he could. “Yes, little sister,” he said quietly. “I’m going to take his place.”

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