The silken texture of the grass beneath her, with the warmth of the sunlight seductively caressing the length of her bare legs felt magical. She lay next to him in the meadow as they quietly observed the sky above. His hand always seemed to be just out of reach. She wanted to hold his hand so badly, it was torturous. His fingers brushed a path across her fingertips as if to say in the exquisite beauty of the moment, “I will always be right here.” She would open her eyes long enough to know it was not reality and then close them again, willing herself to live in that moment with him…Forever. She would always attempt to slip back into the dream, even though she knew in her heart, it was hopeless.
Kevin’s loss to Triad had been unbearable. She’d never been without his constant companionship. Her best friend had been lost to her just as their feelings had evolved into something more. They hadn’t had time to bask in the glorious joy of first love, before being pulled in opposite directions by fate’s twisted and as she’d discovered, sick sense of humour. The weight of the devastation was too much for her mind to carry. Her heart fought to accept the loss of her remaining family members and that of the one person on this earth she’d always assumed she could never lose...Kevin.
The days that passed had begun to melt together into weeks and months, creating a twisted mosaic of memories in her mind. As her dreams continued to travel a tortuous path between what happened and what could have been, Frost remained close by. She’d catch him staring at her, searching for a hint of Chloe.
Kayn had become part of a trio of newcomers. Melody had been taken from Trinity. Zach had been left behind by Triad. They were to become the sails on her ship of salvation. The three would need to carry each other through the impending storm of the Testing, towards Enlightenment.
Kevin Of Triad
During his Sweet Sleep, there was an angelic creature and in her eyes a look of joyous elation that filled Kevin’s mind with anticipation for her existence in the real world. This freckle-faced vision with a wild mane of untamed blonde curls left an unexplainable ache in his soul. In his dreams, she would appear to him as a mirage of hope. He could feel the love in her heart, for it seeped through her essence into the air between them. She lay next to him in the grass as they quietly observed the sky above. Her hand was always just out of his reach. Kevin wanted to hold it so badly it was torturous. They were just about touching but not quite. Her fingers brushed a path across his fingertips as if to say in the exquisite beauty of the moment, “I will always be right here.” This mystery girl haunted Kevin with her laughter during his countless restless nights. Was this girl simply a figment of his imagination? He could never seem to remember her name during the daylight hours. It was as though her memory would fade upon arrival of the sun. In those very first moments after he opened his eyes each morning, the girl that haunted his dreams was all he could think about. Then she would fade into a place in his mind where she would remain hidden until the next time he dreamt of her.
His memory had been erased. He knew this because he didn’t remember anything before Triad. Maybe, she was someone that he used to know? All Kevin of Triad knew was that he looked forward to sleep because when he went to sleep, he could see her. He would wake up knowing that as long as he was capable of having such beautiful dreams, a part of him must still be good.
With their unspoken words of love still echoing in her ears and aching in her heart, Kayn knew she had to be brave. He was gone. This was where their roads separated, right at the beginning. It wasn’t fair. She’d said goodbye to Kevin only moments earlier. One last kiss, a final embrace and he was gone. Kayn stared at the concerned faces hovering around the tomb she’d healed in. She noticed a few unfamiliar ones. There was a dark featured boy and a girl. She knew her. It was that girl from Trinity who’d joined her energy with Kevin’s, so they could find each other in the in-between. She’d given them the opportunity for one last goodbye.
Kayn sat up in the tomb, looked at the girl with the shoulder length, wavy, chestnut coloured hair and sweetly said, “Thank you.”
The girl replied, “My name’s Melody.”
Kayn felt an immediate connection as she extended her hand in kind gesture. Melody grinned and with a gentle tug, helped her to her feet. Kayn looked around. What in the hell? The tombs were laid out in a line in the back of what appeared to be an empty storage container. Where was she?
She was embraced by both Lily and Lexy. They each gave their apologies for the loss of Kevin. Her eyes met Frost’s and he walked away. He felt empathy. She’d seen it flash across his face. She followed the group down a ramp into a large dusty parking lot. Where was she? She looked back. They’d been in the back of a big rig. A light breeze danced across her skin. He was really gone.
Markus walked around the corner and startled her. He pulled her into a fatherly embrace and whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry Kayn. There was nothing we could do. They knew about him. Triad has Kevin, his mother and brother from what I hear.”
She understood why Kevin had to go with Triad. She wasn’t sure if it was a choice or if he’d been taken. It made no difference. He was gone. Triad took his family. He wanted a say in what happened to them. She could comprehend his logic, if it had in fact been a choice. Her heart just couldn’t fathom doing this without him. Kayn closed her eyes, allowing the embrace to carry on. She needed it. After a few moments, Kayn pulled away from Markus. She needed to know everything, the whole sordid tale. She had to yank the band aid off her heart, while it was still raw. Kayn met Markus’s solemn eyes and probed, “I know my brother and Jenkins are dead. I need to know how they died.”
Melody was the first to speak, “Your brother was higher than a kite and covered with toothpaste...Right?”
As calmly as she could, Kayn responded, “That was him. He was grazed by a drugged arrow. He got out of the room. Jenkins convinced me to stay. Matt would’ve wanted me to.”
“He was a funny guy and an incredibly brave one. He died trying to save my friend from Triad.”
Kayn smiled as she thought of Matt attacking a Triad to save a stranger. He’d given his life in a final heroic gesture. She was proud of him. Her eyes glazed over with tears as she asked the question her heart needed to know, “Did he suffer?”
Melody’s eyes softened as she answered, “He jumped on one of the Triad’s backs to stop him from strangling my friend and he was thrown against the wall. His neck was broken on impact. His death was instant. He didn’t feel a thing. Your brother was brave.”
Kayn nodded as she smiled through the tears glistening in her eyes, as she looked at the group and questioned, “What about Jenkins? Does anyone know what happened to him?”
Markus stepped forward and disclosed, “I did it myself. I had to. They would have sent a Correction. I know you thought you were helping him by telling him to hide in the attic, but if I hadn’t found him, he would have died as violently as the rest of your family. I explained the situation and when I told Jenkins his daughter was there with him, his whole demeanor changed. I told him that she was waiting for him and that they’d be able to leave together. He agreed to go with her, without hesitation. She was wrapped in his arms as they left. It was a beautiful goodbye.”
Kayn’s tears weren’t prompted by sadness. It was joy. She’d seen Jenkins’ daughter at the hospital late one night and heard her on many others. Katy vanished when they returned home. She’d been able to hear Jenkins’ thoughts and even after a decade, most were of the daughter he lost. He’d never moved past it in his heart. They’d been together once more in his final moments. It was the most beautiful goodbye, a perfect release from life. She whispered, “Thank you Markus.” He smiled, appearing to be relieved. Kayn understood so many things now. Her mind felt like it had expanded to ten times its size over the last couple months. She’d see her brother and Jenkins again someday and prayed their next life would be a happy one. Her eyes were drawn to the only person she didn’t know. A dark featured boy who looked her age was standing solemnly beside Lily.
Markus grinned as he announced, “Ladies, meet Zach. He used to be Triad. We now have our three new clan members for the Testing. We only have one year to train you. Ideally, it would be three or four years but that’s not how it worked out this time. We’re going to have to run with you three, until you are eighteen. That means there’s going to be many tedious long days of driving ahead of us. You’ll have to be trained while we’re on the move. We can’t risk running into the other clans and losing one of you. It’s important you three attach to each other. We must leave. The other clans won’t be far behind us. Everybody wants Miss Brighton.”
Lexy had a handful of rose quartz stones as she exited the now empty big rig. She chucked one at Frost and another at Lily. They caught them in midair. Lexy exclaimed, “I’ll hold onto Grey’s until he’s back with the gassed-up motorhome.”
Motorhome? They were going to be travelling in an RV? That was strange. Kayn asked, “Are we just going to leave that rig in the parking lot?”
Lily squeezed her shoulder and whispered, “It’s not ours. Let’s just say I borrowed it from a friend. We had to heal and escape at the same time, so we needed somewhere to house the tombs. Don’t worry. The owner will find it here in perfect condition.” Just as she finished the sentence, a huge RV approached, crackling through the parking lot with a cloud of dust trailing behind it. Lily beamed as she announced, “There’s our ride now.”
The door opened and Grey hollered, “Let’s put some miles between us and them!”
Kayn stepped into the enormous pimped out motorhome. Grey directed her to the table. She shimmied into the corner on the bench to make room. Melody sat beside her and then Zach slid in.
Grey opened the cupboard above their heads and pointed as though he were an immortal tour guide, “Board games, drawing material, etc. are up here. Video games are in the drawer over there. The bunks are in the back. We take turns sleeping and driving. That black dual cab truck outside is also ours. There are six laptops, a larger television set and more video games. Those are in the open room with pillows all over the floor at the back just past the bathroom. We took the bed out of that room, it just wasn’t fair, we fought over it. We all sleep in bunks or on the floor in that back room. There are snacks in the fridge and in those cupboards around the stove. No need to freak out over sleeping arrangements. The bunks are super comfy, and we stay at motels every third or fourth day while on the road. Be quick in the bathroom. There’s only one.” Everyone found a place to sit or stand and the motorhome began to move.
Markus cleared his throat, everyone’s eyes gravitated to him as he spoke, “I only have a few minutes with you guys because I’m leaving with the other half of our group. If you have anything to say, now is the time.”
Melody looked at Markus and stated, “Thorne will come after me.”
Markus replied, “Healers are a precious commodity. Does Trinity have more than three new recruits left, excluding you?”
Melody knit her brow as she responded, “Yes… They do.”
Markus looked directly at her and replied, “I’ve known Thorne a long time. We may not have to worry. He knows there’s only a year before the next scheduled Testing. He may opt to keep his people out of sight.”
Zach had been sitting in silence. He was visibly upset. What would he have to be upset about? Wasn’t leaving Triad for Ankh supposed to be a good thing?
Zach looked at Markus and disclosed, “Triad has six. Well, five now. Why would Tiberius leave me behind?”
With a fatherly smile Markus reached across the table, placed his hand protectively on Zach’s and explained, “Son, if he has six recruits already, he’s running low on tombs. Now, he needs to store Kevin’s mother and brother. Once they’ve been placed in a tomb for the purpose of storage, that tomb is taken out of commission. They can’t be removed until after the next Testing. If they’re healed and removed before that time, they must go into the Testing with the group Triad is already preparing. Tiberius would never risk having a weak link. It sounds like he has a large group and it’s important everyone attaches on a spiritual level. If they’re not compatible, they won’t survive in the Testing. If he left you on purpose, it was because he wanted you to have a chance to survive. He must have known you were incapable of being as dark as you needed to be.”
Zach looked at Kayn and probed, “Was Kevin dark enough to be in Triad?”
They had to stop saying his name. The mere mention of his name made her heart ache. Kayn took a deep breath and replied, “No. He wasn’t.” She was having a difficult time keeping it together, so she stared at the wooden table beneath her fingertips.
“Tiberius will wipe Kevin’s memory. He has an entire year to brainwash his grandson. That makes his odds of survival much higher than yours,” Markus explained.
He was really gone. Kayn listened to the conversation numbly. This wasn’t happening.
Zach questioned, “Why didn’t he just wipe my memory?”
Markus smiled as he answered, “The reason is obvious. You liked him. He must have liked you. Tiberius doesn’t have a lot of people that like him. He did you a favour. Aren’t you happy to be here?”
Zach met their leader’s eyes as he replied, “Of course. I never felt like I was supposed to be there. I can’t explain why. I just knew I was with the wrong people.”
Markus looked at Melody and probed, “How about you?”
“I made a choice. I never wanted to leave you guys in the first place, but they grew on me,” Melody disclosed.
Markus grinned as he verbalized his thoughts, “Alright then, if Triad has five people left, they might not want to risk coming after Kayn again. She wouldn’t be compatible with his group. Also, his grandson is too close to her. It would mess with the memory wipe.”
Grey caught Zach’s attention and added, “Anytime more than three people are in a tomb, it’s an enormous strain on the Healer’s abilities. It takes an experienced Healer to create the energy to transport more than three people. This next year is going to be a shitty one for Triad’s Healers.”
The RV moved off the smooth road, there was a crackling sound under the tires again. They were parking.
Markus announced, “I won’t be seeing you kids for a while. Become fast friends and learn to love each other. You three are going to be spending an insane amount of time together. I have faith in you.” With that, he turned and walked out of the door.
That was rather abrupt. Kayn heard the rumbling of the motor and they were moving again. Grey strolled over to the fridge, grabbed some pink plastic wine glasses and poured peach cider into each one. Kayn wasn’t sure she wanted to drink but she didn’t want to be rude. Kevin was gone and she was feeling a bit exposed without him. Grey handed an overfull glass to each of them. He poured one for himself and sat back down at the table.
Grey grinned as he raised his glass and gave a toast, “To the newest of the Ankh. May you kick ass and take no names.”
She had no idea what that meant. They all raised their glasses and awkwardly clinked the exceptionally classy, pink flamingo plastic wine glasses. Kayn took a big gulp of the peach cider. It was delicious. She glanced at Grey and questioned, “May I ask who picked out these delightful pink flamingo wine glasses? They are absolutely amazing.”
Grey chuckled, “That would be me. Do not mock my flamingo wine glasses.”
Kayn casually replied, “How can one mock these flamingo wine glasses when they are so obviously awesome?”
Grey’s face exploded into a contagious grin as he decreed, “And that is why Miss Brighton and I are going to be best friends.”
Kayn smiled as her eyes darted to the two new Ankh and back to Grey as she conquered, “Miss Brighton is a way better nickname than frog sticker girl.”
Grey took a drink from his pink flamingo glass and replied, “There’s a cute story behind the frog sticker girl nickname but it’s not mine to tell.”
The motorhome rode over something with a thud and they all rather skillfully maneuvered with the motion to avoid spilling their cider.
Frost hollered from the driver’s seat, “Sorry about that! Road kill! Already dead road kill!”
Grey shook his head while taking a sip of his cider.
Melody took a sip of her own, glared at Grey and quietly accused, “You could have mentioned you were Ankh.”
“I’m sorry, my thoughts and lips were preoccupied,” Grey flirtatiously replied.
Kayn glanced at the new guy and whispered, “I’m obviously missing something?”
Zach grinned and filled her in, “You have to read between the lines Miss Brighton.”
She clicked into what they were talking about. Oh, they had a sexy moment. She glanced at Melody and raised her eyebrows.
Zach nudged her and said, “Miss Brighton. That nickname makes you sound like a naughty librarian.”
“Exactly,” Grey chuckled as he finished his drink and jumped up to grab another.
Kevin used to call her Brighton. She called him Smith and he called her Brighton. She wasn’t going to cry. She was not going to cry. She would see him again. It was only a matter of time. Grey held up a cider in front of her. She nodded and he refilled her flamingo glass. If there was ever a time to have a drink, it was now.
Grey sat back down, reached for her hand, leaned across the table, tenderly kissed it and apologised, “I’m sorry we lost him. Kevin was a great guy. I liked him.”
Kayn gave him an unmotivated half smile as she stared at her plastic flamingo wine glass, tracing the rim with a finger. It still didn’t feel real. Here she was sitting in a motorhome drinking cider out of flamingo wine glasses, while he was having his memory wiped and lord knows what else.
Zach enquired, “This Kevin guy was your boyfriend?”
She glanced up and realised he was waiting for a reply. Kayn explained, “He wasn’t just my boyfriend. We’d been best friends since kindergarten. It’s a long story but his grandmother was a psychic. He heard my dead twin Chloe screaming for me to run on the night of my Correction, it triggered his abilities. Then these guys helped him along. They took both of us into Ankh. It was too good to be true.”
With empathy, Melody replied, “Isn’t that a karmic kick in the ass?”
Kayn nodded and almost smiled. It was a seriously messed-up karmic kick in the ass. Grey was still holding her hand. He reminded her of Matty. There was death, loss and two new additions to the clan. It was a lot to absorb. Too much. Kayn snatched Grey’s pink flamingo glass and chugged his cider. He concealed the smile with a hand, but she saw his cheeks rise.
Melody looked at Kayn and said, “Trinity came for you. We didn’t know about Kevin. Your gifts are supposed to be a big deal. What can you do?”
“That’s what they keep telling me. I can’t do anything yet,” Kayn answered. “What if I can’t ever do anything special?”
Grey squeezed her hand and affirmed, “I have faith in you Brighton.”
In solidarity, Zach added, “I can’t do anything either. I know how you feel.”
Grey stood up, poured himself another drink and placed it on the table. As Kayn attempted to grab for it, he smacked her hand and scolded, “Simmer down Brighton! Getting hammered tonight will only postpone the inevitable. You must feel the pain in order to get past it. I also don’t want to spend all night holding your hair while you ralph in the toilet. You three, go choose a bunk. Not the top bunk on the right, that’s Lexy’s. The one directly underneath it is Frost’s. The rest of us are flexible. Most of the time, I just sleep wherever I happen to pass out. Lily usually sleeps in that back room. Go relax. I’m making chili dogs for dinner.”
The three of them wandered through the spacious RV. The hallway narrowed around the bunks. The bathroom was tiny with a stand-up shower. It would be difficult to puke in that toilet when they were moving. She followed the others past the bathroom. The back room was kind of cool. There were large pillows on the floor and shelving with a TV on one side. They sprawled on the pillows.
Zach grinned as he stretched and announced, “If this is where Lily sleeps, I’ll just sleep back here. I’d hate for her to have to go looking for me in the middle of the night.”
Melody smoked him in the face with a pillow. He chuckled as she teased, “Like that would ever happen.”
Their comfortable comradery reminded her of Kevin. She closed her eyes to stop the tears that kept threatening to start. She was without him for the first time in her life. What was she going to do? She couldn’t do this without him. Her heart felt so empty. She rested her back against the wall and covered her face with her hands.
Zach shuffled over to sit beside her and said, “You haven’t even had the chance to cry for him, have you?” He took her in his arms and the river of tears surged forth in an uncontrollable stream down her face.
Melody moved over, joined in and they embraced. Strangers bound together in a new life. Each one crying for different reasons. They’d all lost something that mattered today. All equally emotionally exhausted, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Kayn stirred to the sound of Grey’s voice, “Wake up you guys, dinner’s waiting.” She rubbed her puffy swollen eyes, still emotionally spent. Grey’s eyes were glistening with tears for some reason. Why was he upset?
Zach looked up and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Grey leaned up against the door’s frame as he replied, “You three remind me of Lexy, Arrianna and I. Nothing’s wrong, it’s just the opposite. I think for the first time in forty years, everything is exactly right.