“Up. Basil, get up now.” My mom’s grim voice comes from above me, piercing into my sleep accompanied by her icy cold hands shaking my shoulders.
I let out a grumble and twist my head to the right. The vivid green numbers on my alarm clock read 1a.m. I blink my eyes twice. Yep, still there. Greeeaaat.
“Basil. Get up and put a pair of boots on. Now!”
I so do not want to go out of my soft, warm bed, but I should be used to this nonsense by now.
My mom’s a little paranoid. As long back as I can remember, she does this to me once a week. She rushes in here like a mad woman and wakes me up. So, we can practice her so-called escape route.
Why? I have no idea. Like I mentioned she’s a little paranoid. What I don’t understand is that we’ve previously done this. It’s a regular event.
I do as she says. I’ve learned the rough way, a bucket of cold ass water, dumped on my head, the hard way.
When my bare feet hit the hardwood floor, I get a full body shiver all over and vent my loathing for this whole ordeal. But not too much. Remembering the water.
“Mom, what’s going on?” I slide my tennis shoes on, sans socks. It’s too early. “We’ve already done this. Plus, I’m freaking sleepy and have a test first block.”
My words go through one ear and out the other as she grasps my hand and yanks me down the stairs speaking simultaneously.
“They discovered us. Listen to me carefully, if we become separated, I need you to run as quick as you can to the edge of the meadow, to the ancient oak.” She hands me her necklace as we dash out the back door. The screen door thudding shut after us.
I clutch her necklace so tightly in my right fist that my knuckles turn white. Praying my heart won’t beat out of my chest. Hoping the pain in my hand will ground me through all this madness.
They found us? Who is she speaking about? She’s lost her mind, and it’s terrifying the crap out of me.
“Mom, what’s going on? Who found us?” I urge with fear lacing my tone and a sickness in my belly.
She snaps back, “Listen. Take my pendant and slam it in the middle of the ancient oak. When you get to the other side, I need you to say ‘Custodia. Advoco Ignis Dux ducis’, Say nothing else. Understand?”
Well, this part is new.
“No, not okay. What is going on? What other side?” I shriek.
She’s insane. I jerk my damp hand out of hers. We’re at the end of the backyard just a few feet away is the lush woodland. Dense and dark. I absolutely loathe the dark.
Her mouth opens getting ready to say something that will sound just as crazy as everything else that has come out of her mouth so far, when a noise from the house makes her close it, causing both of us to turn around facing the backside of the old two-story farmhouse.
It feels like my heart jumps out of my chest. Saliva pools in my mouth as I hear hushed sounds and stomping feet. She’s not paranoid. She knew this was coming and our weekly trips through the woods meant something. Everything meant something.
She grabs my hand again and tugs me through the woods. My legs forget how to move. “Basil, baby, listen. They can’t discover you. After you say those phrases a man will come, he’ll be in armor and have either red, blue, or purple on him somewhere. Once he gets there, you need to say, ‘Expeto Ignis Eligere.'”
“What does that even mean?!” I screech out, already passed my limit as tears start their slow path down my cheeks.
“I’m your Cutos. I must protect you, and I need you to know I love you with all of my soul. Sorry I never taught you everything you needed to know.” She states with tears cascading down her tanned face.
This is bad. Really bad.
God’s, I don’t know what she’s talking about. Other than this time, it’s real, and we’re in danger. With that traveling through my mind, my pulse speeds up, my legs run quicker, my breathing heavier. Is this how I’m going to die. I can’t help thinking that.
We reach a tight grouping of trees and I bend down resting my shaky hands on my knees, panting for air. I’m not out of shape but the sheer fear has me desperate for air. My heart drumming painfully inside of my chest.
“Mom.” I stare at her with huge eyes, when she plucks out two blades from behind her back.
My lips are pulling down in a frown, fear making my knees wobble. The daggers just came out of nowhere. I’m mean poof. Nothing then mini swords clutched in mom’s hands.
“Another group of people will come. It may simply be one or four but once they have ask, ‘Ignis Eligere’ if they give a nod say, ‘ Custodia. Flamma. Celo.’, remember that baby and let them see your ring.”
I offer her a stiff nod while I recite all the strange words repeatedly in my head. I know better than to argue with her. This is crazy but what else am I supposed to do?
“Then what?” I choke out.
She studies me with moist eyes and lips pushed closely, “All will be as it is.”
“What?” I say even more flabbergasted than before. I definitely don’t like the sound of that. All will be as it is. What is supposed to be? How can this be my damn life right now? I go from sleeping having an awesome dream to running through the woods.
“Come out; come out wherever you are.” A man’s harsh voice echoes through the trees, sounding like it’s coming from every direction.
My heart stopped for a second.
Frightened blue eyes catch mine, “Run, Basil, baby run. Do what I told you.”
I stare at her unmoving. This isn’t real. This is some unbelievable nightmare, and I’m still tucked into my warm queen-sized bed. Just dreaming. Just having a nightmare. My awesome dream just turned into this.
Shaking my shoulders, she says fiercely, “Run Ba–.” She shoves me behind her when a towering, hulking man strides through the trees. “RUN!”
Heart pounding and tears flooding down my face, I take off running through the dark, thick forest. Doing as she ordered me and struggling not to panic too much. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m totally losing it. Wouldn’t you?
I veer around trees and jump over stumps, my legs and arms getting scratched as I struggle to avoid tree branches and fail. I’m almost there when I stumble over something and land straight on my face. Wonderful.
A groan slips out as I move. My shoulder and cheek hurt as I struggle to sit up. Other than that, I’m fine. As I try to get to my feet, someone skids to a halt beside me. I try to turn backward as a scream flies from my lips.
“Shh. It’s me.”
She helps me off the moist forest floor and yanks me behind her once more. I stare over her shoulder looking for the man or whatever the hell he is. I bit my lip, straining my eyes to see in the dark, which I can not do, but that doesn’t keep me from trying.
I grunt as mom starts pulling me behind her once more. The trees thin out letting the pale glimmer of the moon to beam down. My eyes expand as I get a good view of her.
It looks like she’s been in a battle with a tree. Her hair is matted with leaves- Her face and arms are sporting slight bloody scratches. She looks awful.
“Are you, all right?” I ask breathlessly.
She gives me a nod as we splash through a narrow stream. The icy water floods my shoes, sending cold bumps all over my body.
We’re close now, just beyond the cluster of trees and boulders is the meadow.
I thread my way, around the boulders, when I’m struck by a powerful gust of wind. It sends me flying backward, hurling me into one of the larger rocks. I tumble down the rocky boulder, striking the ground with a thud. Pain slashes through my body as I struggle to inhale. I feel blood running down my neck. My pulse beats louder in my ears.
Gods, I’m sick of falling and what the hell was that?
When I’m no longer gasping for air, I sit up and see Mom crouched down in front of me in a fighting stance, the mysterious daggers at her sides. Her head is snapping in every direction, looking out into the dark woods for a threat.
“Yeah. What was that?” I ask, still trying to catch my breath.
“Listen. When I say go. You run.” She doesn’t answer my question, her eyes flickering over every little thing around us.
I think we’ve both have lost our minds tonight.
“Basil!” Mom snaps at me.
I’m still wondering if this is just a nightmare; that I’ll hopefully wake up from.
I shake my head no. “I’m not leaving you.”
“I’ll be right behind you. Promise.”
I ran earlier when she told me to, but something right now is telling my gut that if I run again without Mom, it’ll be the last time I see her. But I’m scared beyond words, and she’s never broke a promise to me before. I’m trusting her not to break this one.
“You better be,” I whisper.
She gives me a nod and a small smile. I don’t think she’ll be right behind me. Her eyes tell a different story, one of loss.
“I love you.”
Sadness forms in her eyes, “I love you too baby, always remember that.”
I nod as tears fall again. Gods, it sounds like she is saying goodbye, a forever kind of goodbye.
My head jerks to the sound of snapping twigs and I squint; my pale blue eyes in the darkness, trying to see.
A different man steps out in front of us, shorter than the last; at least I think he’s different. He’s too far away to tell. He doesn’t get to say anything as blue flame bursts from Mom’s hands and hits him in his wide chest.
“Go!” Mom’s scream cuts off my words.
“You promised,” I say before I take off once more with tears on my face. I start my trek over and around the boulders while a battle is raging on behind me.
Yep. This is a nightmare. People don’t throw flames from their hands. Just do as Mom says and eventually, you’ll wake up.
At least that’s what I will keep telling myself.
It feels like forever, but I finally break through the trees into the meadow; gasping for air.
The light green meadow is littered with flowers of every color and grass that comes to my knees. I catch my breath, holding the sharp pain in my side, only to take off again on shaky legs when I hear male screams coming from behind me.
I reached the giant oak; out of breath and tired, I don’t pause though. I slam the necklace right in the middle of the tree trunk even though it sounds crazy. But this is a nightmare… right?
A bright white light shines from within the oak, and I stumble back away from it.
Oh, my gods.
The light gets brighter and brighter until I must shut my eyes. Suddenly it bathes me in its hot rays. An electric shock covers me from head to toe in a burning cold heat. I don’t understand what’s going on. I panic as my body feels like it’s collapsing in on itself and I can no longer breathe.