Chapter 2

Problems continue to occur

Why thank you for the compass good sir

 

     I jerked awake to the sound of “The Circle of Life” blaring from the alarm on my phone and quickly hit snooze. I forgot that Macey had changed it as an April Fool’s joke and sighed when I realized that I’d forgotten to change it again.

   I groggily got out of bed, with my head pounding and padded downstairs, praying that the house was empty. I peeked around the corner to see if anyone was in the kitchen and nearly groaned in annoyance when I saw my stepmom and Macey still in the kitchen. Lauren, my stepmom was washing the dishes, while Macey sat at the kitchen table, kicking her feet wildly.

      Lauren and I didn’t get along at all, not since Macey was born because she rather have a daughter than a son. I’m just glad that she hasn’t kicked me out of the house yet, but I think that has to do more with my dad, who was oblivious to how Lauren treated me. I didn’t see him much these past few years because of whatever he did at his job, so that gave Lauren the chance to monitor what he saw. I took in a deep breath before walking into the kitchen and started making myself some cereal.

    “Hi Silas!” Macey greeted cheerfully.

     I ignored her, as I got my bowl and box of cereal from the cupboard. I opened the fridge to grab the milk and began to pour the cereal.

     “Who are you talking to, sweetie?” Lauren asked Macey, as she grabbed the empty plates from off of the table.

    “Silas! He’s right there!” she said, pointing at me.

    Lauren refused to believe that I even existed, and when my dad was home she’d make sure that her and I were never in the same room. I guess she’s hoping that when I leave, Macey will forget that she even had a brother.

     I think back to last right and how surreal it had felt. It almost seemed like some crazy dream and that none of it had actually happened, but I had no real way of knowing because Sebastian hadn’t been there when I’d woken up. The carton of milk nearly slipped out of my grasp when I’d caught up with my train of thought. Sebastian, the boy from last night hadn’t been in my room when I’d woken up, had he? I hadn’t been paying attention to my surroundings, but I was almost fairly certain that he wasn’t there.

     I glanced to my left, to see Lauren giving me a glare for almost making a mess and rolled my eyes at her. That only seemed to make her fume more. I suppressed a laugh.

   “Macey, dear. Why don’t you go get your school stuff?” Lauren suggested, in a sickening sweet tone.

    “Okay!” she said before running upstairs, leaving me alone with Lauren.

    I put the milk back into the fridge and grabbed my bowl on the way out of the kitchen. I needed to see if Sebastian was still here and I winced at the sudden sharp pain that went through my head. Maybe I should get some painkillers too.

    “You need to stop coming in the room when Macey is here,” Lauren stated, drying the dishes with her back to me. “Remember, we don’t want her talking to you.”

    “Oh I’m sorry, I’ll just stop eating,” I bit back sarcastically. My throbbing head wasn’t really helping me keep a positive attitude.

    “Keep talking like that and you’ll be out of here so fast,” she threatened, turning to face me now.

    “Good luck doing that with my dad around,” I answered and sauntered off before I said anything that I would really regret.

    When I made it up to the top of the stairs, Macey came out from her room with her school bag on her shoulders. She gave me a wide grin when she caught sight of me and I returned it with my own smile. Just because I hated her mom didn’t mean that I had to hate her as well.

    I patted her head. “Don’t listen to your mom too much. She can be a bit of a buzzkill and if you ever need to call her that, just say that I told you to.”

    I chuckled when she nodded her head excitedly and trotted away.

    I got back to my room and began searching for signs of Sebastian, but turned up with nothing. I guess I could safely assume that Sebastian had left sometime in the night or it had all been a dream. I quickly finished my cereal and got changed into a blue t-shirt with a band name on it, along with a pair of jeans and my Indiana Hoosiers baseball cap.

    Macey and Lauren had already left by the time I had slipped my shoes on and went to pull my bike out of the garage. I shouldered my backpack and rode off to school.

    When I got to school, I was immediately waved over by my two friends; Adelina and Fernando Velasquez. Adelina and Fernando weren’t close friends, but they’d been the only people to ever talk to me willingly. Inseparable since birth and soccer prodigies because of their father, who was a retired soccer player. Being twins, they looked fairly similar and both bore the family’s black hair. Adelina usually put it in a french braid that almost reached her waist, and they each had their own pair of big brown eyes.

    “Hey there, Silas!” Adelina greeted me with her usual cheerful tone.

    I said hi back and gave Fernando a fist bump. “How’ve you been, my man?”

    I sighed, thinking back to last night and the conversation I had had with Lauren this morning. “Eventful. Lauren was being difficult again.”

    The twins exchanged worried looks and Fernando placed a hand on my shoulder. “If you’re ever in a tight situation, you can always come crash at our place.”

    Adelina fiddled with her braids. “Yeah, we’re here for you, Silas.”

    I couldn’t help but give them a heartfelt smile. “Thanks, both of you. I know I take you for granted, but you’ve always been there for me.”

     We all made a silent agreement to stop talking about the topic at hand and we sat down on one the benches in the school’s atrium. The halls were still fairly empty because the buses hadn’t arrived yet and the quiet was nice.

    “Did you get your science homework done last night?” Adelina asked, after awhile of talking.

    “Crap,” I groaned, as I buried my head in my hands. “I totally forgot.”

    Fernando patted my back in sympathy. “Fear not young one, for I shall bestow upon you my science homework!”

    I thanked him sheepishly when he handed me his homework sheet. We talked about meaningless things, as I copied down the answers on Fernando’s sheet onto my own.

     “Did you hear that howling last night?” Adelina asked us, fiddling again with her braid.

    “Yeah, it was so loud that it woke me up!” Alessandro turned his attention towards me. “What about you, Silas?”

     Images of those haunting eyes flashed in my mind and I felt a chill go up my spine, as I thought back to last night. “I don’t remember,” I mumbled, lost in thought.

    They heard the howling too? Maybe last night hadn’t been a dream, what with the vivid images and witnesses to the terrible noises the barghests had made. Those creatures were real and they were out there somewhere. The thought made me uneasy. Fernando and Adelina exchanged concerned looks when I had suddenly gone quiet.

     My eye twitched in annoyance, before I forcefully handed Fernando his sheet pack and stood up. “I have to go,” I said steely and avoiding their gazes.

     “O-okay,” Adelina responded, a bit confused on my sudden mood change. “We’ll see you in class.”

     I left without saying goodbye, or an explanation as to why my mood had gone sour and found myself making my way towards one of the school’s exits. I knew that I wasn’t going to end up going to any of my classes and I knew that my dad would get a call from the school about my absence, but he wouldn’t care anyway since he had Lauren and Macey. Plus after the events of last night, I wasn’t really in the mood or in the right mindset to learn about how protons and neutrons worked.

    It couldn’t have been real, I reassured myself. I was losing it, wasn’t I?

    I must’ve had too much to drink last night and it had all just been a hallucination, however, that doesn’t explain how I was able to get home. Having that many to be able to hallucinate would’ve been too many to be able to stand up, no less walk home. I ended up walking around for a few hours in deep thought, and stopped once to get something from a nearby convenience store. When I noticed that school was over, I considered going to Fernando and Adelina’s house to apologize about how I’d reacted, but there was this itch I couldn’t shake off. I could feel myself getting anxious and irritable.

    I knew it was a bad idea, but I could feel the metal container I kept in my pocket becoming a heavyweight, despite it being empty. Maybe if I just went over there just to have a few drinks and then I would go to the Velasquez’s house. I had let my craving win over and found myself walking in the direction of my “friend’s” house.

    On the way there, someone bumped into me as they were turning the corner. The man wore all black, with a hat and a cape over top of it that covered what the clothes couldn’t. He was walking very fast and was so tall, that he was able to knock me off the sidewalk, and onto the street just as a car appeared. Thankfully, the car was able to stop before it hit me and the man kept walking, like he hadn’t just almost gotten someone killed. I was about to tell the man off, but a shiny object caught my eye and I ignored the angry driver that honked at me. I stepped back onto the sidewalk to pick up the object that the man had dropped. At first glance, it looked like a bronze pocket watch with its own chain, but when I opened it, it turned out to be a compass. There was nothing unusual about the compass and I didn’t know what to do with, now that the man was most likely long gone.

    Before I could even pocket the compass, I was pulled into the nearby bushes and pinned to the ground. My head had hit the ground hard, making everything feel distorted and my hearing muffled. When my eyes came back into focus, the last person I expected to see hovering over me was Sebastian. He faced seemed panicked and his grip was strong on my arms.

     Sebastian put a finger to his mouth to tell me to be quiet, and turned to peered outside of the bushes. It was then that someone passed by, casting a long shadow over the bushes that we were hiding in. It was in fact the tall man that had bumped into me not two minutes ago, most likely looking for his missing compass.

     I opened my mouth to speak, but Sebastian put his fingers against my temples and I wasn’t able to make any sounds. I began to struggle against Sebastian so I could break free, but it became harder and harder as I began to lose consciousness. I saw Sebastian’s sympathetic face, before my vision slowly began to go black.

                **************************************************

    Thanks to Silas, I had the compass that would allow me to travel to the Prison, but now I had a Protadon three meters away from me. I watched as the Protadon walked up and down the sidewalk, searching for the compass and I waited until he was out of sight to move from the bushes.

    After I’d snuck out of the house right before the sun rose, I immediately went looking for the gate. If I wanted to get help, then I needed to find the gate and travel to the Prison, but without the compass it would be nearly impossible. During my search, I came across an old, rusty park that looked like it hadn’t been used in a while and decided to take a break. I watched the sun rise while I sat down on one of the swings, and shivered at the frigid morning wind.

     I knew that I wasn’t safe until I passed through the gate. Silas’ powers made sure that no Protadon could detect me, however, that didn’t mean that they didn’t know what I looked like—the sooner I got to the gate the better. Still, there was one problem, to find the gate I needed its compass. Not the cheap plastic ones you can find at a dollar store, but one of seven that were made of bronze. They’d been made specifically to find the gate that it was connected to and it was one of a kind—and nearly impossible to get a hold of. It was so rare that not many people knew that they even existed, but it seemed that the Black Aliquid had compasses of their own. That meant they had free passage to the human world, so long as they didn’t get caught by any of the gatekeepers.

     I sensed an old condemned house that seemed to be crawling with Protadons and decided that there would be the best place to start looking, despite the dangers of even going near there. This town had a staggering amount of Protadon’s and the Gatekeeper here must’ve been really worn down if he couldn’t sense them.

     Once the Protadon had disappeared around the corner, I picked Silas up bridal style and ran in the opposite direction that he had went. I pulled the compass out of my pocket and began heading east, the direction the arrow was pointing towards. It eventually brought me to the edge of town and towards a small forest that marked the end of Wallgate.

    When I’d paused to determine whether to find a path in or cut straight through the underbrush, I heard someone shout behind me and turned to see two Protadons running at me. I chose the underbrush.

    I ran right into the forest, and followed the compass though the thick covey of trees that cut my skin and clothes. The compass had eventually lead me to an old, run down shack in a tiny clearing. Plants and trees had begun to grow over and around it, making it nearly hidden and most of its windows were shattered while the door remained missing. The gatekeeper was nowhere in sight, due to being cloaked by Silas, so he couldn’t sense us yet. That didn’t mean that the gatekeeper couldn’t sense the two Protadons chasing us, which meant we didn’t have much time.

    I ran into the shack and towards a stone pedestal that was cracked in a few places from how long it had resided there. I leaned Silas’ limp body against the stone pedestal and placed his hand on it, with mine over top. I opened the compass as the Protadons reached the clearing and pressed the button on the side of it; activating the gate. The strange engraving on the pedestal began to glow blue and it kept blinking as it got brighter and brighter, until it suddenly flashed a blinding light.

                      **************************************************

    Just as Silas and Sebastian had disappeared, the two Protadons made it to the shack and smiled in glee when they laid eyes on the pedestal.

    “Those two boys may have made it to the Prison, but they won’t make it far now that we know where the gate is,” one of them cackled.

    “I’ll contact Abac immediately,” the other one informed, as he placed his hands on his abdomen to relay the message to the rest of the members.

    All the while, the Protadons were unaware of the towering gatekeeper that stood behind him, with a murderous look in his eyes.

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