Authors: H. T. Night
When I made it to San Bernardino Campus, I made my way to the track. I looked at my watch and decided to time myself running the 440, which is one full lap around the track. My best time in high school was 58 seconds.
I started my way around the track. I decided to pick up speed. I began running as hard as I could. Then, something strange started to happen to my body. I was running at an accelerated speed. It felt like I was running downhill. I zipped around the track like I was going fast forward. I looked down at my time, 33 seconds. Holy Shit! That would be the world record if I were human. I was floored by my time. Not only could I fly, but I had super speed. I just might be superman after all.
I decided to run up to the stadium. I ran up and down the stadium stairs. As I ran down the steps, my body seemed to glide, as if it was trying to fly. But I wasn’t allowing it to happen. I ran up the steps again. When I reached the top of the stadium, I looked down at the track. I could see a woman down at the bottom on the field. I recognized her. It wasn’t just any woman; it was Yari.
It took a few minutes for my heart to slow down. She was stunning as ever. I walked down the stairs toward her, watching her red hair blow in the wind. Not to mention her body was still in immaculate shape, which I couldn’t help but notice since she was wearing the cat woman body suit.
“So this is what it’s going to take to see you?” she said. “I have to stalk you?”
“How are you, Yari?”
“Do you hate me?”
“Of course not,” I said.
“Then why haven’t you seen me?”
“I needed some space. I needed time to think.”
“Josiah, that night was intense for all of us. For you to cut me off and refuse to speak to me was awful.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
She reached out her arms to hug me, but I pulled back. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing, I’ve been in a hundred fights this past month. . . ” I stopped explaining when I saw her step closer to me.
“Come here, I won’t hurt you.”
I leaned in when I felt her arms wrap around me. “How are you feeling?” she asked
“I feel good. I feel strong.”
“That’s good.” Yari was trying hard to connect with me and I wasn’t sure how to respond. I cared about Lena and was not willing to jeopardize that any further by being physical with Yari.
“It’s nice to see you,” I said honestly.
“Well I was always a phone call away.”
“I know. I just needed to figure a couple things out.”
“You said that already. Josiah, I care about you. Do you have any idea what I have seen in the last 400 years? I’ve had every kind of relationship. I have met the most powerful men in history.”
I looked at her, wondering where she was going with this.
“No one, Josiah, ever made me feel the way you did!”
“Did?” I asked.
“Yes, did. You are a fantastic person, and I am touched to have been the one to lead you to become who you are for the Mani people. But your purpose is for greater than a school girl crush. You’re The Chosen, and all I want to do is help you achieve your destiny. Help us achieve the destiny for the Mani people.”
I believed Yari. She had a peace about her I had not yet seen. I always knew I could trust her. In some ways, I trusted her more than Lena. “I had a vision.” I said.
“Just one?” she asked.
“Yes, and it happened today.”
“What was it?” Yari asked.
I paused and grinned at the absurdity that I was about to tell her. “A little blue man in front of a giant castle said I was to train ‘the wolf’ and then come back to see him.”
“Are you sure it was a vision, or could it have been a bad sugar high?”
I laughed. “It was definitely a vision. It was my first and only dream I have had since becoming a Mani.”
“A little blue man, huh?” Yari took a few moments to think. Then she lifted her eyes and looked into the sky. I followed her gaze and saw a sea of black ravens circling us in the sky.
“We have company, Josiah!” Yari yelled.
“Who are they?!” I hollered back.
“I don’t know.”
Yari and I were caught in the middle of something that was not going to be any good. I could feel it. The ravens surrounded us in a perfect circle. Yari and I had our backs to each other. The ravens were loud and I had no idea what was going to happen. There was a slightly larger raven that had a white stripe along its wingspan. I could tell that he was the leader, and my focus was going to stay on him.
Suddenly, in an instant, all the ravens transitioned into Mani men. The raven with the white stripe on his wingspan transitioned into a muscular Asian man that looked like what you imagine modern samurai warriors would look like.
“Josiah? The large, samurai-looking man asked loudly, with a voice that sounded like a trumpet blaring.
“Yes.” I said.
“Walk up to me,” he proclaimed as if he was royalty.
“Excuse me.” I said.
“Come before me, boy!”
I looked at Yari and for the first time ever she appeared to be terrified, and that wasn’t at all assuring.
“Do you question my command!?” The samurai looking fellow yelled.
I stood my ground. “Look Genghis, I don’t make it a habit to bend over for every raven turned Mani who asks me to come before him.”
“Do you know who I am?” The man had a look of horror on his face.
He obviously thought my response should have been more like Yari’s. I looked this guy up and down and had no clue. He could have been an extra in a John Woo movie. Other than that, I hadn’t the foggiest idea who he was.
“He’s Krull,” Yari hollered at me.
“Krull?” I asked.
“You know, the fallen Mani.”
“I wouldn’t say I was fallen. More like reborn,” he stated. All of the Mani men surrounding us laughed. I looked around and this was the first time I got a good look at these guys. There were at least 200 hundred of them. Boy, were they a sight for sore eyes. Some looked like body builders, while others looked as if they had been on the high seas for months at a time. They looked shaggier than the Carni men from the other night.
“Okay, you’re Krull. Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
“You’re a cocky little shit aren’t you?” Krull would not tolerate my disrespect. It appeared that no one had talked to him in that way for years. He seemed flustered and confused, and I was enjoying that. “This puny little man surely isn’t the Chosen One I am to kill?” Krull yelled out to the other Mani that surrounded us. “You’re just a child—a baby.” All the Mani surrounding us laughed again. “How long have you walked the earth, boy?”
“Walked the earth?” I asked. “What does that mean?”
“How long have you been alive?” Krull screamed.
“I’ve been alive for about twenty-one years.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Why? Do I look like I’m already twenty-one? There are few liquor stores that don’t card me.”
“Jokes? To me?” Krull looked as if he was going to lose his mind.
“Krull, Crawly, Night Crawler—whatever. It really doesn’t matter to me. If you think you can intimidate me you have another thing coming.”
“You have it wrong, young Mani. My intention is not to intimidate you. My intention is to destroy you.”
Krull then lunged at me and tackled me to the ground. I threw him off my back. He was strong, but I was stronger. Krull then came at me again and this time he glided towards me as if he could fly himself. As he did so, he kicked me straight in my chin.
Damn that hurt!
“Josiah, we need to get out of here!” Yari yelled. “There’s too many of them. They are here to kill you.”
Now, Yari says this?
“I figured they weren’t here to get an autograph.” I yelled back. “Who isn’t trying to kill me these days?”
I looked up and Krull had completely jumped over me like a video game. He landed behind me, and high-kicked me in the back of my head. I fell forward. I looked around and all the Mani men had come for me. Two very large men had grabbed me and were holding my arms so I couldn’t move. All of them surrounded me. One by one they were punching me in the face as if each person could say they struck ‘The Chosen’ before he was killed.
This wasn’t good. This was damn awful
. Each punch was more intense and more painful. They were throwing me around like a rag doll. I knew I had to fight back, but the odds were against me.
“Yari, get out of here,” I yelled.
Krull laughed. “Don’t worry, Chosen Child—she ran a few minutes back, or should I say—flew away.”
“What do you want from me?” I yelled while being tossed from one Mani to the next.
“Let him be!” Krull called out. The last Mani punched me in the ribs and I dropped right in front of him. “All I want is to destroy you. Your mere existence is going to mess up my plans—plans that have taken me 800 years to carry out.”
“I don’t know what your plans are, and I don’t care to know”
“Shut up!” Krull stopped himself and then looked to the sky. “This is who you brought before me? A sniffling, teen-age boy?” Krull was horrified at the prospect that I was sent to stop him. Krull quit yelling at the sky and then turned his attention back to me. “They chose you!? You are the prophesied savior of the Mani people!? Look at you! You’re a hundred and seventy pounds dripping wet. This is insulting!” Krull began a frantic pace like a maniac on speed.
I got up and stood my ground. Truly, what else did I have to lose? I couldn’t get away. There were too many of them. I might as well go down swinging.
Krull then put his attention back on the sky. He was apparently showing his disdain for Triat. “Is this your way of MOCKING ME?!” Krull was screaming at the sky like a petulant child.
I looked to the sky to see the direction that Krull was yelling. Then I saw two red hawks, and two ravens coming toward us in a fury.
Krull’s Mani clan saw the birds too, and two of them grabbed my arms. The birds circled above us, squawking and soaring. With utter quickness the four birds dived down and clawed the Mani men holding me. They let go of me and I quickly transitioned into the great white eagle and flew up as fast as I could.
I needed to get the hell out of here.
Two ravens and two hawks followed me. Suddenly, one of the hawks began squawking uncontrollably.
I looked back to see if anyone was coming at us and I noticed on the ground the Mani had surrounded another body.
I circled and turned back around to see who it was. It was a man.
Holy crap! It was Tommy! They had Tommy! What the hell was he doing here?
I circled back and made an impulsive decision that took zero thought from my end. I flew down hard towards Tommy. Krull had Tommy by his throat.
SCREW THAT SAMURAI PIECE OF SHIT!
I aimed my beak at his back like a dagger and torpedoed down to the mob. Krull was right in the middle of the heap. I gave another burst of speed. My elongated beak cracked into Krull’s back, piercing through his skin and muscles. Krull was a specimen. I tore into him real good, but I had ricocheted off of him on contact. He flew forward and I flew backwards. It looked like a scene out of
He let go of Tommy. I transitioned quickly into my Mani form and charged Krull. Krull turned around to face me. My beak had fucked him up pretty good. He was still in a daze. I gave him the hardest uppercut punch I had ever given in my life. He popped up about four feet in the air, I didn’t slow down—I round-house kicked him right in his fat skull before he hit the ground knocking him another ten feet in the air. I didn’t see what kind of damage I had done because I needed to get Tommy the hell out of here. I quickly transitioned back to the eagle, grabbed Tommy by the shirt with my claws, and got him out of there. I flew faster than I had ever had before. My claws were deep into Tommy’s shirt. He wasn’t going anywhere. The two red hawks and ravens followed us.
Lena was right. Everyone had my back, even when the odds were stacked horribly against us. All four were there to help me, including Tommy. I turned around, expecting ravens to be close behind me, but we were alone. They apparently decided they had enough. I didn’t take any chances by slowing down. I kicked my speed into another gear with Tommy in hand—or should I say clawed hand. I had hit Krull real good and I would have loved to have been there when he realized that
just laid him out. I knew deep down that I couldn’t fight him straight up. I had to sucker punch him. But he had the numbers, and when you come to a fight with 50 times the numbers—all bets are off.
“Fly up the San Bernardino Mountains and head over to Running Springs.” Tommy said as he dangled from my claws. “We’ll all stay where I’ve been hiding out.”
With that, the six of us made our way up the mountain.
Tommy guided me to a cabin just north of Running Springs. I dropped him down on the front porch and then proceeded to land on the roof. I nearly fell off, but I had to admit my landings were getting better. I settled on top of the roof and watched my four-bird friends land next to Tommy and transitioned. I nodded my head to let them all know the coast was clear from where I was perched.
I lifted my wings, leaped off the roof, and landed next to my friends. We all just looked at each other and no one said a word. Somehow, through
that was not our own this group of six had found one another. If I was ‘The Chosen’, then it was time for me to accept that these five were chosen with me.
“So this is it,” I said out loud. “This is who we are going to war with?”
“Yes it is,” Lena agreed.
“We’re all in this together.” I said, looking at each of them directly in the face while nodding with approval. Again, no one spoke.
Tommy broke the silence, “Let’s go inside.”
“So, this is where you’ve been?” I asked Tommy as he opened the door. Wyatt, Yari, Hector, and Lena all walked in after him. Apparently, werewolves weren’t given the same courtesy as humans. Everyone walked in without an invitation.