Against the Wind
I put the package behind a copy of A Tale of Two Cities on the top shelf, in the third isle from the door. Where the woman at the check-out counter wouldn’t notice, and I left without buying anything, which probably annoyed her, because of the lengthy time I spent puttering about the shop. It was a small hole in the wall-esque type place, and it smelled of the sardines she kept popping in her mouth. She ate two of the little buggers when I had my back to the window, her patchy pale skin glowed in its reflection–I could see her mouth open and close on each one. Naturally, this place wasn’t a local draw, so I knew it would be safe and untouched.
I wrapped the bulk of my scarf around my mouth and nose when I exited Cross Roads and Books. Even though it was springtime in Memphis, there was a bite in the air, especially when the wind was blowing. There wasn’t much to look at, when I took a moment to scan the strip mall parking lot, there weren’t many cars and even fewer people. I sucked in a breath, after seeing the glare of an oversized travel trailer, it definitely stood out. I walked in its direction.
Now that I was closer, I noticed that the trailer had a brushed copper look to it, and the side windows had peeling paint over them, and they were covered with symbols that… I had seen before, but I couldn’t give name to. I knocked on the door several times, and got no answer. I couldn’t sense any movement inside, but I needed to know, I had to be certain, that this trailer was the one I remembered. I only pick locks at night, it’s not something I do often, but when I have to, I don’t take risk—being seen breaking into this trailer is not an option, now especially. I took out the pocket knife I keep in my left boot, and walked around the trailer slicing the top of all four tires, fast.
I took the scenic route back to my hotel, to calm my nerves, there’s nothing like driving down an open road to take the edge off. Eventually, I pulled into to the hotels parking garage, whipped around the corners, from level to level until I had to hit my breaks—there was a man in the way, I waited for him to move, but he didn’t.
I couldn’t back up, so that option was out, and there was nowhere to run even if I thought I could out run him, which I doubted. As I was making up my mind, he was quickly approaching my car, one lanky leg in front of the other. He moved like an animal, keeping his eyes on me, silent footsteps on concrete—I felt like an antelope looking into the eyes of a lion.
I made my choice. Breathe, and don’t open the door for anything. He rounded the front of the car and tapped on the passenger side window, but maintained eye contact.
“What do you want?” I spat, trying not to let the fear in my belly reach my eyes, and emote.
He started to say something, then thought better of it, and said something else “To talk to you.”
“That’s high risk, for the both of us.” I said. His face was eye level with mine, and I could see the scars…they were so pronounced, like the strings of a violin were raked across his face.
He laughed. “I’ve searched for what feels like a millennia, and now she won’t even open the door!” he said, proclaiming to the sky. “Honestly, do you not remember?” He turned his head and pointed to a scar on his neck.
“Brother!” I shouted, unlocking the passenger side door. He got into the car and I hugged him for as long as he would let me, until he eventually pulled away.
“Alright, that’s enough sappy sniveling Lone.” He said patting me on the back.
Twenty years thousand years ago we were powerful, prideful, and at peace. Today we are scattered across world, completely disjointed and at war. We are not human. We are the natural force, we are nature, and we are the Rheven, those were the word by which I live my life. From a young age I was taught and trained to be a great force upon this world, and every fiber of me believed my brethren and I were the one true powerful race. Until I saw it happen, little by little, the destruction –humanity growing, and forcing natures will.
My brother was imprisoned for trying to save a human, from being imprisoned for atrocities against nature—this was before the war. The chaos between the great families of Dorvale and Whitvale started it; they fought and still fight for natural control. Dorvale wishes to continue the “punishment” of humanity and Whitvale is fighting to stop it. All Rhevens had to choose sides or face persecution ourselves.
My brother was imprisoned for disobeying the rule of law in Dorvale, and because he saved the human before beginning of the war, he was kept there long after he was due to be released. He would always be a traitor in their eyes, and he had the bad luck of getting caught on the side of Dorvale–so Whitvale believed him to be a deserter of the cause.
I was a member of the sixth battalion that fought between the nations, I was to fight for Dorvale. They had trained us, given us our orders and lined us up to be slaughtered—long before the day came for us to go into battle I had planned a way out. We were supposed to leave noble Dorvale and seek shelter elsewhere, travel to a neighboring land, not involved in the war were we could be unburden by this battle—but when the day came, I was the only one crossing the great divide. I thought the guards would be waiting for me, I thought they surely exposed my plan, but no one was waiting and so I left.
“How long have you been here? When did they let you go? Did you break out?” I asked. I don’t think I could stand to know the details of his imprisonment, the scars on his face told me that it had been as painful as I imagined.
“Don’t worry about it; I didn’t come here to talk about myself.” He said, with a small smile. “I found you, soon enough to warn you about your storm. It’s a gatherin’ my dear.”
“Um. What storm? What are you babbling about?” I asked.
“You’ve left quite a mess for yourself back home, Lone. They began looking for you only hours after you deserted, and they haven’t stopped. When I made it past the stone wall of Dorvale, our old friend Bren told me about your escape, and that there was an impending trial for all of the soldiers they suspected helped you.” He seethed, keeping his voice down.
That sick feeling came back to my stomach, “why are you telling me this, Griff?”
“Lone, someday you’re going to have to face the choices you made. Or someone’s gonna make you.”
“I’m not trusting Bren–we haven’t been friends for a long time…and I can’t believe you’re trying to guilt me into going back with you!” I said. “How do I know this is not a trap?” I asked
“Here, look at this.” He said, shoving a paper in my face “There’s your bloody proof!”
In late June the Lone Banison desertion trial will resume starting with the persecution of Amiee Val (one of Banisons co-horts), who is accused of helping the deserter flee Dorvale, more than eight years ago. For more on the trial…
The paper looked like it had been through hell and back, much like my brother. I had to do something–my friends were dying and more were going to die in my name. Their blood would be on my hands. “Griffin, what are you planning?” I spat.
“Nothing, baby sister, nothing at all.” He said, reaching for the door.
“Wait! Will I see you again?” I almost pleaded.
“I’ll find you, don’t worry about me. Keep your head low, and your eyes open—you have too
many enemies to be reckless.” He whispered, while giving me a hug goodbye.
With a small smile and a flick of his wrist he was gone. “Griff, brought magic with him, damn.” So much time had gone by since I thought about home, and I had all but given up on ever fixing that transporter–and with my brother back, I have a steady reminder that my past is catching up with me. Thought, for right now the past would have to wait. I need to focus on completing my missions, and getting into that trailer in front of Crossroads and Books.
Sitting in my room waiting for the sun to go down, I sharpened my knife and began digging out some black clothing from my trunk. As cliché as all black clothing is for a break in, I have always found it to be effective. Now that I was fully adorned in black and strapped with weapons, it was time to go.
Pulling up to a strip mall at night in this town wouldn’t look that conspicuous, but lurking around a seemingly broken down trailer would be. So I pulled up to the rear of the trailer, as silently as my rented Chevy Malibu would let me be, behind a thick wall of shrubs next to a dumpster. The lights weren’t on in the trailer and again I couldn’t sense anything or anyone for that matter, so I crept up to the door and began jimmying the lock. It made a distinct pop and click sound, so I pushed open the door—I must have been excited about the lock opening, because I pushed the door so hard one of the hinges fell off, and hit the asphalt. Ting. Bing. Bing. It sounded like a gun going off to my nerves—I must have been rattled from earlier in the day.
The trailer felt smaller on the inside, and the symbols on the windows glowed in the moon light. I started with the typical hiding places, under the bed, in the storage shelf above the bed, and in the glove compartment. No pictures, paperwork with a name on it, not so much as a library card could be found. Then my heart stopped, just for a second. I heard someone putting a key in the door, then finding out it was unlocked. It happened in an instant, they swung the door open and hit me in the back of the head.
“For crying out loud!” I said rubbing the back of my head. I was propped up on some scratchy knit pillow on the sofa bed. “What happened?”
“Well, let’s see. You broke into my house, after slashing my tires. I’m assuming that was you. Aaa…then when I came inside to find out who you were, and your head connected with the door, and lights out for ya.” She mused.
“Oh. Sorry, I was…just trying to see if this was the trailer of a friend of mine.” I replied.
“Really, do you break into your friends homes often to loot around in their stuff?” she said curtly squinting her eyes at me. Her face was barely visible from my view, but her eyes contrasted the darkness.
“Ha. Well no, my friend, the one I was looking for, she is really private and doesn’t like to stay in one place for long. So I cut the tires so I wouldn’t miss her, you see?” I said.
“Umm-hmm. What’s this friend’s name?” she asked.
Since I couldn’t see her face in the dark I suspected she couldn’t see mine, or the knife that I reached for now that I had my arm pressed against the wall. “Her name? Her names Dovie.”
As she spun around to look at me closer I brought the knife up, and caught her in the shoulder. She yelped, and tumbled to the ground from the pain. I crawled the short distance to get a better look at her face…”Dovie!?! Is that you?” I screeched.