Authors: Holly Martin
Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Literature & Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Coming of Age, #Paranormal & Urban
Book one of The Sentinel Series
This Kindle edition published 2013
Text copyright © Holly Martin 2013
Illustration copyright © Scarlett Rugers 2013
Formatting by Polgarus Studio
All rights reserved
No part of this ebook may be reproduced in any form other than that in which it was purchased without prior written permission from the author.
To all the amazing people that have supported, helped and encouraged me to make this book possible. I love you all.
1. The night I should have died
A horrific squealing of brakes snatched me from my dreams. As we swerved, my friend Julia smacked her head painfully against the window. With a deafening bang, the coach lurched heavily onto its side. The lights went out. Metal screeched as it buckled along the ground. Windows popped and splintered. The coach suddenly tipped forward over what could only have been the edge of a cliff and our driver smashed into the front window. Silence fell over my classmates as we watched in helpless horror, somehow knowing what was going to happen next. With a sickening cracking sound, the glass shattered. He scrabbled frantically in the air and his grass green eyes, filled with despair, found mine as he tumbled into the dark abyss below. I knew that moment would be permanently seared on the inside of my eyelids, when fifty six people sat and watched our coach driver die. And then the screaming started again. It quickly intensified as the coach wavered precariously on the knife edge between our salvation and our death.
Standing still and unmoved amongst the chaos Mr Kennedy, my English teacher, was suddenly by my side. He tore me easily from my seatbelt, as if it was only made from paper, and swung me up into his arms so fast it was just a blur. Leaping through a window into the icy black night, he landed on the road in one swift, gigantic, impossible movement. Mr Curtis, my Science teacher, was holding onto the back of the coach with one hand. A terrifying realisation engulfed me. He was the only thing that was stopping the coach from toppling over the sheer drop and killing all my friends inside.
Mr Kennedy put me down and gestured to the coach. ‘Let it go, they’ll be too many questions otherwise. Eve is the only one that matters.’
My stomach twisted violently as Mr Curtis released it.
As gravity slowly took hold of the coach, pulling it over the great precipice, I shrieked with horror. Without thinking I flung out my hands to stop it, clinging onto the bumper. The coach stopped tipping immediately, though the screaming inside did not. My eyes widened in shock as I realised that
was now singlehandedly preventing the coach from falling. I looked back at my two teachers in disbelief.
‘Help me,’ I screamed.
Mr Curtis joined me at the bumper.
‘Eve, if we do this, you will have to lie to everyone. This never happened, the coach nearly slid off the cliff but somehow stopped before it did. You were never rescued by Guardians, we never had this conversation.’
I nodded, numbly; anything to save my friends.
With the loud, screeching sound of metal grinding against the rocks, Mr Curtis started pulling the coach back, as easy as if he was pulling a sheet off a bed. He pulled it back just a few feet but it was enough that the coach wouldn’t topple over the edge.
Before I could say anything I found myself in Mr Kennedy’s arms, whooshing through the air again. I was lying back in the darkness of the coach a second later; a darkness that was filled with screaming and fear and pain.
Mr Kennedy’s voice was calm as he whispered in my ear. ‘Remember to lie Eve; it’s more important than anything that no one knows about you or the Guardians.’ He flicked open his phone and his voice changed to one of panic. ‘Hello is that the emergency services…there’s been an accident, oh please get here quick, the children, please…we’re on the mountain road between …’
As I lay numb in the darkness, waiting for the emergency services to come, I listened to the sounds of Mr Kennedy and the other teachers, trying to calm down the screaming teenagers. The sticky wet feeling of blood trickling through my hair was a sure indication that I had banged my head at some point. But I was alive and so were the other fifty five passengers. My teachers, the Guardians, had saved us.
I swallowed, uneasily as I accepted the unwanted truth. No, they hadn’t saved us, they had saved me. My head was buzzing with the thoughts crashing round it. How had I managed to hold the coach? All laws of physics dictated that what Mr Curtis had done, what I had done, was impossible. And who or what were the Guardians? Why had they saved me? What did they want from me? ‘Eve is the only one that matters’. I tried to catch my breath, but it stalled in my throat. This didn’t make any sense. What was so special about me? Why was my life so much more important than anyone else’s? My life had been pretty unremarkable. I hadn’t saved any lives, I hadn’t done anything that was special, certainly nothing that could rank my life over anyone else. A sick feeling of panic prickled my scalp as I tried to breathe normally.
To make matters worse, my struggling to breathe alerted my two Guardians again. How they had heard me above the screams of my friends was beyond me. Amongst the cries of genuine pain from my fellow students, my Guardians stood unmoving by my side.
‘Is she hurt?’ Mr Curtis asked quietly.
Mr Kennedy bent down to touch my head, a surge of electricity shot through me and he stood back up again. ‘She’s had a bang to the head, but it’s just a lot for her to take in. She’s beginning to understand how important she is and she doesn’t want to believe it.’
I looked up at them, at their grass green eyes that glinted in the moonlight; the exact same eyes as the driver who had fallen to his death. The same eyes as my parents.
‘This was no accident,’ Mr Curtis said. ‘There were small explosives rigged to the tyres. They were deliberately trying to kill her.’
‘Probably or someone after the bounty. We will have to intensify the guard.’
‘There are already hundreds in her servitude; Eve’s teachers, doctors, neighbours. She’s never alone now without a Guardian. There are four that live in her house…’
Four Guardians that lived in my house? My parents, aunt Jada and uncle Silas, they were Guardians too? My throat was dry.
Flashes of my life suddenly filled my mind, like a film played too quickly to make any sense of it. The flashes were of tall, powerful people with grass green eyes. They had followed me throughout my life; they had seemingly watched me as if nothing else existed. My family? My teachers, next door neighbours, doctors, dentists, shop keepers, flower sellers? I had never been alone. Even in seemingly innocuous situations the Guardians had never left me. All of them shared one thing in common, that intense look in their eyes, that single minded ferocity that I had to be kept alive, that it was their job to protect me at all costs.
Lying there surrounded by broken glass in the debris of the coach crash, the realisation of what the Guardians were came crashing down on me. My heart was racing, my skin humming with horror.
‘She wasn’t supposed to find out this young. She’s only seventeen. She’s not ready for it yet. She certainly shouldn’t have found out like this. But still, the secret cannot remain at the cost of her life.’
‘No, we had to save her,’ agreed Mr Kennedy.
‘Maybe we can modify her memory.’
I felt a fresh wave of panic surge through me. Finding out about the Guardians had horrified me. The possibility of this knowledge now being taken away from me and the bubble of unawareness being refastened over my eyes and my mind was even more terrifying. I had to find out answers not have what little I knew removed from me. I shivered violently.
‘I can try.’ Mr Kennedy was doubtful as he bent down again to touch my head, then leapt back as if he had been burnt. He looked at Mr Curtis and shook his head. ‘She’s becoming more aware of her powers, maybe subconsciously now, but she is defending her mind against me.’
My powers!? My heart was roaring in my ears.
‘I must say, I was very surprised to see her holding the coach earlier. The strength isn’t supposed to kick in for a good few years yet. Isn’t she supposed to be around twenty before she can do that?’ Mr Curtis muttered, as he shrugged out of his jacket and placed it over me.
‘We always hoped she would be physiologically advanced, but no one could have foreseen this.’
And suddenly, as if all this wasn’t enough to deal with, a tall man with a scar down his left cheek and golden eyes appeared between them, as if the air had just spat him out. The two Guardians didn’t even flinch, as if people appearing from the thin air was the norm. He glared at them as if he blamed them entirely. He knelt by my side and put a hand to my head. With a surge of energy from him the welcome dark of unconsciousness consumed me.
2. What’s so special about me?
I lay in bed, in my home, thinking of the night of the crash and what it all meant. Five days I had been back in England now. Five nights of restless dreams, filled with super strength beings following my every move. Five days where I couldn’t talk to anyone and no one in the know would talk to me.
When I had woken in hospital from the relief of the empty unconsciousness, my Dad had been impossibly by my side. How he had got to the French hospital in such a short time was a mystery. I tried to talk to him about the Guardians, about what it all meant, but he had denied all knowledge of such things. He tried to convince me that it was the bang to the head that had caused these hallucinations.
Even Mr Curtis and Mr Kennedy denied what had happened that night. And there was no one else I could talk to about it, because who would believe it. What would any of my friends say if I started talking about Guardians and how supposedly important I was. I can imagine the reaction actually; I’d imagine it would end with me sitting in a padded cell. I couldn’t even tell Seth, my best friend, which hurt me the most, as I told him everything. But it just sounded so unbelievable; I was having a hard time believing any of it myself. Why would anyone else believe me? Every time I started forming the words to tell him, my mouth would go dry with embarrassment.
The annoying thing was Seth should have been there on the coach with me. Seth had come on the school skiing holiday with us, but had seemingly broken his ankle a few days before the end of the trip and was flown home. Though once back home he’d text me to say it was nothing more than a bad sprain. I was so grateful in one way that he wasn’t there, so he didn’t get hurt in the crash. But if he had been with me, he might have seen what had happened with Mr Curtis and Mr Kennedy and I wouldn’t be doubting my own sanity right now.
I got up and felt Quinn, my golden retriever, stir next to me on the bed. My throat was dry and the air was thick with heat. The last few days had been warm despite the lateness of the year but the top of the house was always hot at night.
I took a long sip of water, opened the window and climbed out onto the roof. My Dad hated me sitting on the roof and he’d nearly beat me once when he caught me out here. But Uncle Silas had thrown him against a wall when he raised his hand to hit me.
Uncle Silas had been weird towards me since I came back from France. Whenever we had been alone he would mutter things like, ‘trust no one’, or ‘just because they have green eyes it doesn’t make them safe’.
The ‘secret passage’ was the strangest thing at the back of the garden. He had showed me this hidden gate, with some special release button two days before. The alley, that must have cut across the backs of many of our neighbours’ gardens, led to a small side road. Parked immediately outside the second gate was a black Range Rover, the keys to which were hanging on the back of the gate. It was all very cloak and dagger. I wouldn’t be surprised if the car had some kind of laser gun attached to it like something from James Bond. It was almost laughable.