Lean On Me Exerpt Chapter 2
A soaking wet patient tapped on the glass surrounding the station and broke me from my mind. Regardless of whatever mental breakdown I was having, I had a duty to these people and I wasn’t going to allow anyone to get hurt because I couldn’t think straight.
Sydney and I worked silently as we wrapped everyone in their blankets and rounded them up in an attempt to get them to safety. On the way out, I grabbed the backpack that I always left under the desk with my nursing books and school supplies so nothing would get wet.
As we exited the doors, I was surprised to see how gray the skies were. The forecast said that it was supposed to be sunny today and there was no evidence to the contrary on my way in two hours ago. We walked the patients out to the edge of the road and helped them get comfortable on the soft grass. We were lucky not to have any critical patients still in the ER and it made for an easy transition.
The wind began to pick up slightly and everyone began clutching their blankets as they shivered. Sydney narrowed her eyes as she studied the sky. Something about the innocent passage of time registered on my paranoia meter. It felt as if she was looking for something specifically. Thunder cracked in the distance and her head snapped to the right. I followed her gaze and found that the sky had darkened even more off to the west.
I began to feel dizzy as pressure settled into my head. Pinching the bridge of my nose, I massaged the area as I attempted to relieve the tension.
The voice sent chills down my spine and I felt the tiny hairs on my neck beginning to rise. My skin tingled all over and I turned to Sydney, who was still looking to the sky. I opened my mouth to tell her that I was beginning to feel badly again but fear began trickling down my body at the sight of her, setting my nerves on fire and making the crackle in the air intensify.
Her eyes quickly focused forward, meeting mine, as if she felt the change in my emotion. I couldn’t stop the sharp intake of breath as I looked into her eyes. The hazel color had sharpened and her pupils were slightly dilated, even outside at this time of day.
And, though it was faint, I could see the air directly around her body wavering slightly like heat rising from pavement on a hot summer day. It would disappear from my sight but show itself again in a pinkish-red hue. Realization struck me as I stared into those eyes. Her presence, the reason why it seemed so familiar was because it reminded me of the woman from my dream. She reminded me of the woman that I was told was a Vampire.
“Kailah, why don’t you just head home? It’s obvious that you don’t feel well. I can handle things from here,” Sydney said.
A fake reassuring smile spread across her face as she tried to soothe me and warning bells began going off. Something wasn’t right. The tingle in the air that was nipping at my skin felt sickly recognizable. Aside from Sydney’s familiar presence, there was something else here that was much more threatening. It was then that I saw something that nearly brought me to my knees, but I knew that I had to hold on.
The patients seemed content and not at all alarmed so I wondered if I was simply seeing things or if they were completely unaware of the danger that they were in. It was possible that I was going crazy, that what I was seeing was a hallucination, but it was also possible that there was something big going on that I needed to figure out. Last night’s dream wasn’t the first one I’d had, though it was the most detailed. It had to have meant something.
“Sydney,” I began, making an attempt to hide my nervousness. “I saw someone in the ER around the time that the sprinkler system went off.” I waited before continuing with a description, wanting to judge her expression. All I received was a shrug and confused look. “I saw her last night in a dream. She had long white hair and had control over the elements. She conjured a storm, not unlike this one.”
Her eyes narrowed and there was a brief flash in the pinkish-red aura of hers before everything returned to normal. “Kailah, you’ve had a long day. I think that you just need to go home.”
I nodded knowingly. “I suppose you’re right. I’m probably just exhausting myself from working so much between here and school.” Her brows furrowed. “It’s just, the dream that I had, that woman was battling another woman with long, black hair. The white-haired woman called her a Vampire.”
Sydney’s aura flashed again as she smiled nervously. “That sounds like a very imaginative dream. I’m going to order you on bed rest for a few days. You can come back tomorrow for the doctor’s excuse for any classes you may miss but you should leave right now.” She reached out and thunder cracked loudly directly overhead as her hand came to rest on my shoulder. Shock rolled across her delicate features and her eyes began darting around the growing crowd.
I nodded once again. This was my make or break moment and I feared the outcome. “So, I have a question for you then, Sydney.” Her frantic eyes met mine and I already had my answer but I needed to hear it out loud. “If that dream was only a dream, and you have absolutely no idea who or what I’m talking about – then I suppose the young white-haired woman watching us right now is just part of my imagination too. Right?”
I pointed across the parking lot to a woman standing just outside the crowd. She smiled menacingly as she leaned against a large truck and I could see the glow of her crystalline blue eyes as she watched us. Her white hair never moved though the wind whipped around us. Sydney’s body was a blur as she turned to see the woman standing in the distance.
“Kailah run!” she shouted.
I found myself stalling out of shock as she stepped between me and the strange woman. It was real. Everything was really happening. Honestly, I half expected her to tell me that I was wrong, that I was crazy. Tires squealed behind us and I turned to see my best friend, Rachel Roberts’ blue Sunfire skid to a stop.
“What the hell is she doing here?” I asked.
“Kailah! We have to go now!” Rachel shouted from the car.
“Listen to your friend. Go now. I’ll occupy Khia while you escape,” Sydney said.
“While I escape? What’s going on? Who is that woman?” I shouted.
Sydney turned to face me and her now dark red aura flared violently as her eyes darkened to a shadowy gray. My chest felt as though it wanted to explode as a light blue barrier burst forth from my body and surrounded me. Sydney hissed slightly in pain as she forced her arm through the barrier to grip my throat. In one swift, forceful movement, she threw me like a ragdoll a few yards back, slamming me into the passenger side of Rachel’s car.
I sputtered as the air attempted to escape my lungs and I quickly righted myself, scrambling up and getting into Rachel’s car. Rain mixed with large hail began falling and I could hear the pained screams of the patients as I belted myself in. Rachel’s car lurched forward with screeching tires as she quickly began our getaway. I was flooded with guilt because I wasn’t able to save my patients. They were caught in all of that and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to them.
Rachel and I inhaled sharply as a large pink Dogwood standing on the corner of the street spontaneously engulfed in thick orange and blue flames. Before we could even reach the end of the block, the tree broke in two from the intense heat and completely blocked our turn.
The scream of the Sunfire’s brakes sounded out, once again, as Rachel locked them up on the wet pavement but it was too late. The front tires manage to climb over the trunk but dangled over the other side as the underbelly came to rest on the downed tree.
“She’s not going to let us leave!” I shouted. My breathing was coming in ragged gasps as I began panicking. “What are we going to do?” I immediately began thinking of the car exploding with the fire blazing underneath us.
Rachel was a pillar of strength as I looked into her eyes as she studied our surroundings. She was calm and cool in situations that required it and I envied her that. She was my rock and, though I had no idea how or why she was here now, I was truly grateful.
“I don’t think it’ll be much of an issue,” she said, putting the car in neutral as she looked in the rearview mirror.
I opened my mouth to ask what that meant but I only screeched as the rear end of the car lifted. Turning, I saw Sydney’s tiny form lifting the car and pushing it the rest of the way over the tree.
“Go Kailah!” Sydney painfully roared over the noise of the heavy rain and hail. There was no doubt now what she truly was and I imagined the fire licking at her skin as she saved us took a toll on her.
As soon as Rachel hit the gas, a large gust of wind slammed into us, momentarily lifting the car onto two wheels and throwing Sydney across the street and into a large fence. Rachel wasted no time speeding down the street once all tires returned to their resting place on the ground.
Ignoring the red light and cutting off several people in the process, Rachel made a hard right onto the main highway that lead out of town. I felt her hand on mine and I realized that I was still breathing rapidly. My throat was on fire from being so dry and my head was splitting. All things that I failed to notice during the getaway.
“Rach, how did you know?” I asked as tears began streaming down my face. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. That was the most terrifying moment of my life.
“I got a random phone call from someone telling me that you were in danger. She said that you didn’t know her yet but that you would and if I didn’t listen you’d either be dead or in grave danger within the hour. She told me exactly where to go and how much time I had to get there. It was the craziest thing. She was right about everything.”
Someone that I didn’t know, but would. I wondered if it was the raven-haired Vampire in my dream. “Did she give a name?” I asked.
“She said her name was Sayen.” Something about that name sounded very familiar. “Do you recognize it?”
I nodded as my memory returned to me. “Yeah but it’s not possible. When I helped my grandfather and my uncle record the family tree onto their computers, I saw that name. That was the name of my great-great grandmother on my dad’s side. She would have to be over a hundred and twenty years old probably. Did she sound elderly?”
“Not at all. She sounded no older than you or me, but Kay, are you really going to dismiss her as unreal or impossible? A woman weighing all of a hundred pounds just picked you up by the throat and tossed you like a football. She did that just before lifting this car over a tree to save us from another woman with some obviously nasty powers.”
I nodded again. “I suppose you’re right. This is all just too much to bear. Yesterday I was a normal girl with a normal and hectic life. Today, I’m not even sure I’m human, or at least partly.”
“We’ll figure this out. I promise.”
I stayed silent the rest of the ride home, staring out the window and watching the world pass by as we headed back to my house. In the wildest section of my mind I could never have imagined anything like this would ever be possible let alone happen . . . to me.
I was the timid one. The shy one. Sure, I was witty as hell and could make anyone laugh but the fact that I was always awkward in social situations completely killed that. So how in the hell was this happening to me? What made me so special? Or cursed . . .
* * *
One Week Later
The entire week Rachel and I looked through the files that I had my uncle email me. He was curious to know about my sudden interest in the family lineage since it obviously had nothing to do with school but I decided the less he knew the better. I told him about being curious about our Native American ancestry and he bought that. Honestly, it wasn’t far from the truth so I didn’t feel too bad about it.
There wasn’t a lot of information that I didn’t already know. My mother’s side didn’t even have a family tree, which I found annoying in this particular situation. Thankfully, my dad’s side was a little more with it.
One thing that I found interesting was that, on my dad’s side, the information stopped with my great-great grandmother, Sayen. There is no information on her parents or where she came from. My great-great grandfather Taima, however, was a bit better and went another three generations back and all of them were from around this area.
Today, I struck gold. My papa loves me and sent a bunch of old photos with my uncle so he could scan them and email them to me. Most of them were of my papa when he was just a little boy and honestly, I’d never seen anything more adorable in my life. He was so dark complected and, though the photos were black and white, you couldn’t mistake those big, chocolaty brown eyes with the thick eyelashes and coal black hair.
Rachel and I giggled and awed at how ridiculously cute my grandfather was as a baby but it wasn’t until the final photo popped up that the gravity of the situation settled back in and quickly sobered us. It was a photo of my great-great grandparents holding my grandfather. It was Sayen and Taima.
Chills ran up and down my spine as I stared into the dark brown eyes of the man that I’d seen standing at the foot of my bed a week ago. Without a doubt, it was him. His silvery hair hung over his shoulders in long braids and was the same color of my grandfather’s today. It wasn’t gray; it was as silver as the ring on my finger and looked like it was spun of the same material as it gleamed in the bit of light in the photo. And even in the shades of black, white, and gray I could tell that his dark Native American skin had the slight red glow to it that my father got when he tanned from working outside.
The woman next to him brought no further comfort as I stared into the eyes of a woman who I had always believed was Native American but was clearly not. The shade of her irises was only a few shades darker than her corneas and I realized they must have been icy blue. Her hair was white, impossibly white, and rested in a long braid that reached down past her waist.
Though her skin was dark, it wasn’t even close to the color of Taima’s. It was obvious this woman was not Native American and had never shared a bloodline with one either.
Sayen looked like the woman that Sydney had referred to as Khia at the hospital that fateful day last week. It was possible that Khia was a descendant of my great-great grandmother’s but, while some of the features were uncanny, their faces were completely different.
“Alright, Kay, I love you. I do. But I can’t do this anymore. My eyes are burning and my head is splitting with all the research we’ve been doing this week. We need a break. We’ll get back into it tomorrow. What do you say?”
I felt terrible when I looked into Rachel’s light brown eyes. They were slightly glassy with strain from all the reading we’ve been doing online and through the family journals that I’d typed up a few years ago but never paid any attention to. Her dark blonde hair was thrown back in a sloppy bun and her medium toned skin didn’t have the same healthy glow that it normally did. Even the once cozy clothes covering her athletic body were wrinkled and looked uncomfortable. I’d been running her to death with this stuff and hadn’t thought twice about it because I’ve been so obsessed. Some friend I was.
“What did you have in mind?” I asked.
“I think I need a drink. Loud music certainly wouldn’t hurt,” she said. “Louisville?”
Louisville was roughly an hour and a half from my house and, while I was definitely up for getting my friend out to relax a bit, I really didn’t want to drive over an hour to do so. It’s terrifying to think of the bad that could happen in that time and that far from home.
“Kailah I’m begging you. I’ve had a rough few weeks. Mom is scaring the hell out of me because she keeps getting really sick and she doesn’t know why. I found Jeff in bed with another woman and I haven’t spoken to him since, though he’s been texting me the past two days harassing me. Then there is this stuff with you.
“I’m freaking out but I’m trying to hold it together because, while I know my life is full of drama and stress, your life is full of intense everyday stress and very real danger. Your actual life is at risk. You need me good, but I can’t be good all the time. It’s been a week and we’ve gotten nowhere except for that photo of Sayen and Taima. I just need tonight to take a step away and calm down a little and tomorrow I will be back to normal me. I promise.”
I smiled at my friend. She was right. While all this insanity was happening to me, not only did she have her own things to deal with, but she was dragged into mine when she received that phone call. We needed to be at our best and, while going out and getting a drink doesn’t sound like the best idea at the moment; it is the best idea as far as our emotional status went. Rachel won – as usual.
“I’ll go get ready. Meet me back here when you’re through?” I asked.
Rachel squealed with delight. “Thank you! You won’t regret this. Also, yes. I’ll be back here as soon as I’m ready!” With that she quickly kissed the top of my head and made her hasty retreat.
Laughing lightly and shaking my head at her intense change in spirits, I lifted myself from the computer desk in the spare bedroom and headed to my room. Truth was, though I was enjoying Rachel’s change in attitude, I was terrified. I had a bad feeling and I couldn’t shake it. I decided to chalk it up to paranoia and let it go because I needed this as much as she did.
As I made my way into the large walk-in closet in my bedroom, the air warmed and a deep calm settled in me. It was like every fear I’d ever had just washed away. I felt something softly brush against the bare skin of my upper arm not covered by my shirt and I turned to find what had touched me.
My initial reaction was to scream but for whatever reason, I was unable. The calm that had invaded my body prevented it. A warm smile spread across the face of the spirit of my great-great grandfather standing before me, his dark brown eyes mirroring the enlightened expression.
“Taima.” It was the only word that managed to escape me.
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Candy Crum lives in Indiana and is the Author of “The Eternal Series” and other short stories. She published her first novel, The Eternal Gift, in May of 2011 and has been publishing ever since.
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Colette is a busy mom of 2 kids focusing solely on being a mom. She hails from the Caribbean and now balances the full life of being a SAHM and dabbling in odd jobs to help around the home. She enjoys sharing her memories, hopes, food, travel, entertainment, and product experiences on her blog. Please read my disclosure