Writing Prompt: Day 16


Day 16 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Let the three pictures inspire you.

Erin: I was taken from my home in the middle of one of my favorite memories. Dad says I need to start calling this my home, but I never will. The last day I was truly home I was out blowing bubbles with my father. I blew the biggest bubble I had yet. The bubble seemed indestructible. As it floated to a landing on the grass and rested I could swear it was a lawn ornament.

That all changed when the lady in pearls turned my orb into ice crystals. When the bubble froze past the tipping point it exploded into a glitter shield around her. Right before she disappeared the lady in pearls shouted, “It’s time Luke.”

Luke is my dad. Luke is now my teacher, my friend, my doctor, and my prison guard. Luke won’t tell me why we are here, or if we will ever get out. He is my only companion, but he refuses to admit what happened that day. He refuses to admit that we aren’t blowing bubbles anymore, but that we are trapped in one.

Shannon: I soon learned our lesson was in the woods today after decoding the note sitting on my teacher’s desk. I just needed to find a few more clues to lead me to him. The first one was hidden in a birch tree, the next under a well-studied stone, and finally I’d uncovered the red string that would lead me the rest of the way.

After a short distance, circling around a few trees and crossing one small stream, I’d reached my destination. He had his display board ready to go, and gestured for me to sit on a large tree stump. “Hey, I made it, don’t I get a prize,” I questioned, hopping onto the tree so I could squirm around until I was sitting pretzel-legged.

“You don’t get a prize unless you solve this riddle,” he corrected me.

“Boo,” I grumbled. “That’s not how this works.”

“How this works is I teach you to be a critical thinker. That’s why you’re in this class. Someone saw potential in you, and your prize is proving that they were right.”

“Well that’s no fun,” I folded my arms, trying to seem disinterested to get my way.

“You don’t find learning fun,” he asked, looking right through me.

“It’s a chore,” I lied, even though I secretly loved the challenge.

“Well that’s a pity,” he shrugged, “but you’re here, I might as well give you a problem anyway,” he waited for me to chime in, but I had nothing to add.  “So a woman with blonde hair, wearing pearls and a hat, is sitting in front of you. She presents you with three magical glass orbs, and says you may chose one as a gift and take on its power. One contains gold leaves, one contains rose petals, and the last one contains dandelion seeds. Which one do you choose?”

I thought for a few minutes, deducting what each one most likely symbolized. I figured gold symbolized wealth, the rose love, and the dandelion seeds power. Then again the gift could be deceiving.  Roses have thorns, dandelions are weeds, and gold can cause more trouble than it’s worth. There was too much risk in picking, and not enough information to deduct from. “I pick the pearls, if it’s an option,” I decided.

“I guess they are orbs,” my teacher smiled. “Sure you can have the pearls, but why not pick from the magic? What if one of the orbs had the power to made your life better?”

“You can’t miss what you never had. I couldn’t take the risk, because I couldn’t live with the regret. However, I am sure I could live with not choosing, and hopefully those gifts would come to me on their own.”

“Well, well. It looks like you don’t always need a prize after all.”

These picture ones are always fun, give it a go.

3 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Day 16

  1. Kate:
    When I was quite young my mother became very ill with a disease physicians couldn’t identify or treat. They tried all sorts of therapies and drugs until she became so sick her doctors felt any more treatments would do more harm than good. For the last few weeks she was bedridden, in excruciating pain and harbouring a dark secret. Slowly she deteriorated until she was barely able to speak or move. That was the last time I saw my mother.
    Silently my father had steeled into my bedroom, packed some of my clothes and awakened me breathlessly. Without a word he’d thrust the duffle bag in my arms and run back to his room down the hall. Following curiously I’d watched him break open my mother’s pale porcelain piggy bank and take something from the remnants. He’d raised his finger to his lips when I opened my mouth to speak and had whisked me away without another word.
    We’d sprinted past our stark hover car and up our quiet street to the electro-train station with its gleaming lights and silent cars docked in the bay. Hopping into the last one on the line my father had sat in the far corner of the empty car with our luggage tucked neatly in the seat rack and, pulling on a pair of thin gloves, patted the next seat impatiently. Dozily I’d wandered to him and collapsed in his lap as he fidgeted and glanced around suspiciously. Beside my head the train’s pay system began buzzing for payment and my father had begun punching in our destination. Before the train left the station I was fast asleep again.

    I’d awoken in a strange, comfortable bed in a pearly, translucent dome tent around midday. Sitting up I’d soaked in the items about my room. On the bed had been a sweet-scented comforter that was cooler than it had appeared, pillows that conformed pleasantly to my head and a simple blue t-shirt and cotton shorts were laid out on the corner. Aside from the bed was a tawny wooden dresser, a matching end table complete with holo-clock and a modest desk.
    Hopping out of the cozy bed I’d tapped on the clock to check the time: 9:37 had revolved above the base along with a crisp temperature reading for the day and a message to meet my father outside when I got up. I’d touched the music option and a peaceful instrumental had begun to play softly. Calmly padding on the smooth fake wooden floor I’d opened the first drawer to find a hairbrush and accessories as well as instructions to turn on a lighted mirror above the unit.
    After I’d tied my hair in a ponytail and gotten dressed in the new clothing I turned off the holo-clock and wandered outside. Before my eyes a grand forest had opened up; trees as tall as skyscrapers and grass as green as emeralds. Sitting, reading his tablet, at a bistro table was my father. Just behind him had been a spectacular pond of sparkling water and alluring lilies.
    When I’d padded to the table he motioned for me to take the other intricately-crafted metal seat. After a few moments of sitting in silence, me sipping warm hot cocoa and my father reading studiously, he’d placed his tablet on the table and stared sorrowfully at me. His normally cheerful features had been creased with concern and the smile that was permanently on his lips had fallen away.
    Taking a few deep breaths he’d curled his lip up in a half-smile before speaking in his best serious voice, “Nyala, your mother-” when his voice broke the little version of me put her tiny palm on his gloved hand comfortingly. The next time he spoke the smile on his lips was real, “Your mother passed last night,” he’d spaced for a moment, thinking back to his loving wife, “peacefully. But before that she told me to take you far away from there.” Rummaging through his pockets he’d taken out a tiny onyx hexa-drive and placed it between us.
    I’d reached across the cool metal for the drive and clutched the smooth plastic case in my juvenile fist. Turning it over with interest I’d murmured to my father, blinking back the stubborn tears, “What’s on it?” My big childish eyes had glanced back in time to see the creases return to his mouth and forehead.
    Chuckling darkly he’d sneered in a manner I’d never seen my father’s face contort, “I’ve no idea but she wanted you to get away from that society. I can’t unlock the hexa-drive but I figured you might be able to.” He’d sounded defeated, like without my mother he couldn’t continue. Without thinking I’d gotten up and hugged him with all my might; when he hugged back I felt the teardrop splash on my new shirt.

    The first month in exile had been difficult; I’d missed my friends and classes. But I’d also enjoyed the glade down the stream where deer grazed and the way we were completely alone in our own little retreat. Sprouting out of the ground like enormous crystalline structures were three dome tents: my father’s room, my room and the main room. In the main room, which was nearly three times the size of mine, was a kitchen, dining area, bathroom and a living space with books and board games to play.
    After a week of me exploring the forest, with a tracking bracelet so my father knew where I was, my father had decided to give up on convincing the drive to reveal its secrets. Instead he’d decided to start on phase two of my mother’s plan: continuing with my learning. From the pantry a smartboard had emerged complete with built-in lesson plans. Together we’d sat out in front of the pond for hours at a time learning about the sciences and mathematics.
    In the evenings I would run through the massive oaks and firs chasing rabbits and squirrels without a care in this strange world. When autumn had fallen on the forest the ground grew frigid to the touch and lessons moved indoors. My dresser was suddenly full of warm sweaters and long heavy pants to match the rain jackets that hung by the door. Everything about this place seemed automated: the pantry was always full, dishes always clean, clothing always just right and lighting always set perfectly.
    Slipping into the warm boots left by the door and pulling on a soft down jacket I’d stepped into a light drizzle. It was too early to have breakfast, eggs on Tuesdays, so I strolled to the main tent to freshen up. Warmth rushed past me when I’d touched the panel to open the door and had stepped into the toasty room. When the door sealed shut behind me I’d shivered in the comfortable temperature. In front of the couches a holo-screen had showed a crackling fire for ambience.
    Walking out of the washroom I’d slid my warm toes back into my boots and wandered back outside. When I was standing before the pond I’d stopped to watch a doe sipping from the far end quietly before she glanced up at me. Her giant eyes had taken in my short body, analyzing the danger I posed to her, and had gone back to drinking when she’d realized I posed no risk to her. Gently I’d begun to creep around the pool, edging towards the sheltered trees as carefully as I could.
    She kept one eye on me until I’d disappeared behind a fir and was under the canopy of old-growth branches. In there the ground was moist from the humidity alone as not a single drop of rain made it through the leaves. Bounding through the cushiony underbrush I’d scampered to my favorite hideout; a miniscule cave behind an enormous boulder where no one could find me, other than my father because I was wearing my tracking bracelet.
    I liked to hide there in the mornings to watch squirrels flitting from tree to tree and listen to the birds warbling at eachother. In the hideaway I’d tucked a holo-clock that was set to play sorrowful ballads my mother would’ve loved. Even after ten years I still miss her and listen to that same music I did back then.
    On that morning I’d listened to three songs before my bracelet buzzed at me angrily letting me know my father had breakfast ready. Hiding the precious clock and wiping the tears from my saturated cheeks I’d bounded back to the tent. When I got inside the dry heat hit me hard but I got used to it quickly. My father was sitting at the table with his agri-grow eggs, dried wheat toast and coffee with cream and a dash of sugar. Everything was mirrored on the other side of the table other than hot cocoa in place of the coffee.
    Glancing down at my filthy hands I’d sprinted into the bathroom, stomache grumbling hungrily, to wash my hands. After I’d sat down at the table my father had placed the tablet on the smooth table and smiled his usual smile down at me. “They’re supposed to stop the rain in an hour or so. We can have the day’s lesson out there if you like,” he spoke warmly, taking a gulp of his stifling coffee.
    There was a pause where I’d stuffed an entire piece of bread complete with half a boiled egg into my mouth and attempted to swallow it. After a moment of effort I managed to get half my breakfast down to the amusement of my father. He’d nearly spit out the mouthful of coffee. A swig of my hot cocoa later I’d laughed, “Yeah, love it when we’re outside. Though,” I’d added, mostly for the house’s benefit as they did have ears, “this house is lovely.”

    Just like my father had said, the clouds had cleared up an hour later and we trudged out into the chilly yard with our jackets and the smartboard. It’d beeped happily as my father started it up, singing the date before asking what lesson we wanted. Picking science my father had wandered over to the drenched metal chair and attempted to dry it off as I started my lesson.
    After a couple of hours the sun had beat down cheerfully on our little camp as my father read from his tablet in the shade. The lesson finished up by singing about the elements I’d learned about and the board shut down for lunch. Rousing him from his book I’d asked, “Can I go play by the pond for a while?” Usually I’d go straight into mathematics but it was such a nice day.
    He’d laughed and nodded, flashing his usual grin. Looking up at the sun he’d set off for the main tent and disappeared into the translucent room. For a moment I’d considered grabbing a heavier coat but had decided against it. Instead I’d tiptoed around the west edge of the water, gazing into the deep dark depths of the pool.
    Along the way I saw something flit past me in the murky green liquid and had leaned down to get a closer look. But I hadn’t been able to see anything so, laying on my stomache just over the edge, I’d inclined towards the frigid water. Tilting down, almost into the lagoon, I’d reached my hand out tentatively. Before my fingertip had even broken the surface the water had turned to rough ice.
    Jumping back I’d inspected the offending appendage suspiciously, uncertain of what had just happened. When I’d taken a few breaths I tried again, this time aiming for a tiny bubble that had risen from the shadowy depths. Gently I touched its surface and leaves of frost encased the sphere instantly. I’d been a toxic mix of elated and terrified as I rushed to show my father. Opening the front door I’d shouted for him to see what had happened; but he’d suspected it would happen but had hoped it wouldn’t.
    He’d still acted surprised and amazed when I concentrated hard on the pond and the entire surface was frozen using just my finger. On the inside, though, as we’d discovered how to use this new-found power his heart was breaking. This power had been my mother’s as well; that was why she’d wanted me isolated from others. I learned later on that she had accidently frozen a classmate in school when the ability appeared and it had scarred her for life.
    That day we had foregone the rest of my lessons since I was too jittery to go near anything I might touch with my bare hands. My father had brought me a pair of thin gloves; just like the ones he prized and I felt a little better. For the entire afternoon we’d sat on the couches with his velvety reading voice echoing warmly in the vaulted chamber.
    Suddenly, though, I’d jumped up at a brilliant thought. Without saying a word I’d gone to the pantry, opened the safe and taken the little hexa-drive out. The jet plastic paint had shimmered as I held it carefully in a gloved hand. When I’d say back down, my father’s eyes trained on the tiny drive, I removed a glove and place my bare finger on the smooth surface.
    The device had whirred loudly and a plug had shot out of one end; the hexa-drive was unlocked at long last. Quickly slipping the glove back on I’d handed the drive to my father and he plugged it into his tablet. Waiting with baited breath we’d focused on the screen for what had seemed like forever.
    When the screen flickered on a fuzzy image of my mother’s hospital room the tent had been deathly still. A woman’s silhouette had appeared in view as the camera auto-focused on my mother’s sickly, ashen body in her flowery dressing gown. Smiling like only she could, my mother had let the tears drip down her face as she told me of our legacy. It was amazing to have gotten the chance to see her again even if it was to tell me that I was a freak.
    She’d told me about the amazing things this gift would make me capable of as well as the pitfalls of the curse. Near the end of the video she’d gone into a terrible coughing fit that wracked her whole body. But when she’d recovered she grinned into the camera again and said in her sweet voice, “I will always be with you. I love you Nyala.” When the video had ended we’d both just sat staring at the screen for what seemed like hours until we noticed the other files.

    For eight years my father and I lived in that little forest for my safety as well as that of anyone I might accidentally hurt. My father had been a phenomenal teacher; helping me go through the hexa-drive my mother had given me to hide this horrifying, yet somehow magickal, ability from the world using all my mother’s old tricks.
    After he thought I had learned enough to keep my power a secret we began to slowly learn about the world we would be re-entering. Reading up on all the latest celebrity gossip, new technological advances and political changes was exhausting. My father had told his boss, my school and all our friends we had gone to live with long-lost relatives for a while until we could get back on our feet after the loss of my mother; every official document had been altered to show just that. So we needed to appear as though we hadn’t spent the past eight years alone in a forest.
    When we arrived back at our house I wept as I’d seen our family pictures, with my mother, still lining the walls. It took some getting used to being back home but it was a wonderful feeling. Quickly I’d met new people and been accepted into new social circles. After a few months it was as though we’d never left. Life was perfect.

    I arrived, on the electro-train, at the premier hospital in Zaharia, the closest city center to Adan’s family estate. We’d been married for almost twenty-seven years now. As I stepped out of the heated car I shivered in the nippy October air. Walking down the floating steps to the entrance I watched emergency cars zip through the air, landing before the dock, with people in real medical distress.
    Calmly I thought about cheerful things to keep my spirits up. I’d kissed my daughter, Zela on the forehead as she ran out the door to catch the electro-train for her first day of year nine. For seven years Adan and I had been monitoring her closely for signs of the curse being passed down but she hadn’t shown any symptoms; I was so relieved. When our son, Doriel, rushed down the stairs I’d squeezed him as hard as I could. Swatting me away he’d just laughed and bolted out the door to catch a ride to the microchip plant with his work buddies.
    They were both such amazing kids; one was going to be a doctor one day and the other was in a band with a steady day job. Another plus was that neither froze things with their hands. Adan had meandered into the kitchen as I’d stood staring at my tear-stained face in the window reflection. When he’d come up to hug me around the middle I hadn’t even had the will to wipe the tears away.
    Suddenly the steps dinged at me angrily, snapping me back to the reality of the hospital looming ominously above me. I took an unsteady step forward onto the solid sidewalk. Another ten steps and the doors were opening automatically before me. Taking in a few deep, calming breaths I thought to myself sternly, you can walk into this hospital.
    That was the day I had my fears validated; I had the same horrible ability and disease my mother had, the two were one in the same.


  2. Russell:
    I lit the tip of my lucky strikes, the taste buzzing on my cheery lips. I leaned back in my chair and observed this little speakeasy. The cigarette smoke swirled near the ceiling as ceiling fans spun as yellow lamps lit the establishment. Oak chairs with velvet red cushions lined the corner of my little corner of the world as well the rest of this little place. Tony, a thin grey goblin with crumpled, a dress shirt and apron, served thirty patrons seated along the bar. Most of them were regulars even before this getaway started up, a last refuge to smoke inside. I took another smoke when the door bell ringed and he stepped in with a winter coat, specks of snow drifting upon a night breeze outside.
    I slipped my wide brimmed hat back on, taking another smoke as I looked down at the table. He sat down across from me, rolling a glass sphere across the table. I caught it with my hand as I looked up. “Why are you back?” I ask.
    He morosely smirked as he met my sky-blue eyes with his earth brown. “You forgot this from last time.”
    I toyed with the glass orb before looking back at him. “Thanks.” I notice the specks of snow flaked across his jacket. “How was the walk tonight?”
    “Cold.” He stated. “This place never closes doesn’t?”
    I take a draw before exhaling. “Tony never closes up.” I watch the bar as Tony in question poured a shot of whisky into a cup of cup of coffee who served it to a man with a pencil tucked in-between his ear and head. “Maybe we could order something?”
    He shook his head. “I have to go teach my little brother how to paint over by the Eco-dome, beautiful place.” He stood up. “I don’t want to get a heart attack anyways.” He started to leave. “I’ll talk to you later then?”
    I slumped back. “Not even a goodbye?” I asked.
    He turned on his heels to look at me. “I’ll be back don’t worry.” He waved. “Bye.”
    “Bye…” I said as I watched him head back out to the cold winter night.


  3. (Animalia’s origin. THANK YOU FOR HELPING!!)

    Created to Write:
    The day Jacey found the strange lump of metal in the park wasn’t any different than the days before. She picked it up, and it tingled in her hand. But the metal refused to separate from her hand. She carried it home, to her uncle’s house. “Uncle Chris?” she calls.
    The metal tingles more as she steps into the house, just like it had on the street, each time she passed a new animal. She walks into her room, where there are pictures of animals all over one of the walls.
    The metal tingles more, and Jacey passes out.
    “…Jacey!” She opens her eyes. Chris is hovering over her. “What happened?” he asks.
    Jacey sits up, “I…” she shows him the metal. He takes it from her slowly. “Careful! It stuck… to my hand…” she looks at the hand, which doesn’t have any creases on it from gripping so hard. “…before.”
    Chris examines the metal, then asks, “Start at the beginning, Jacey. Please.”
    When she finished her tale, Jacey feels hungry. Rick just got home, so he makes them some food, then is filled in on the problem.
    “Jacey, I don’t know how to tell you this,” Chris says slowly, “but… you were a cat when I found you.”
    Jacey tries to think back, not remembering being a cat. She turns the metal over in her hand. “I was looking at the picture on my wa- AHH!” She shrinks in her seat, growing fur and her voice changes into a ‘mrreoww.’
    She looks at them, as a gray and white splotched cat.
    “Jacey, calm down,” Chris says. He gently picks up Jacey as Rick stares in disbelief. Jacey wriggles in his grip, but then goes limp.
    “…Jacey?” Rick asks.
    She starts to grow bigger, so Chris puts her down. She turns back into a human, curled up on the floor.
    Chris keeps her home from school as they figure out her new ability.
    They don’t get many visitors, not since Chris stopped proposing his inventions to companies. So when the doorbell rang, everyone was on edge.
    Standing on the doorstep was a lady in a dark blue wide brimmed hat, a classic pale yellow dress, and pearls. “Is this the Sallow residence?”
    Chris clears his throat, “It is.”
    She smiles faintly at Chris, “Ms. Jupiter Robert, at your service.” She doesn’t offer her hand.
    “Ms. Robert, what can I help you with?” Chris asks.
    She smiles a tad more, “I think the question is, what you need help with.” She motions to the house, “May I?”
    He opens the door farther, and she slides past. Jacey is in her room, but she listens to everything going on outside.
    “I know of your niece, Mr. Sallow.”
    “I am not a threat, I assure you. I want to help her. The ore she found, may I see it?”
    “…Who are you?” Rick asks. Ms. Roberts turns to him.
    “I am part of a group that helps those like Ms. Sallow. She’s very unique, isn’t she.”
    “Leave her alone,” Rick says, “you can’t help her.”
    “I can’t?” She asks, “She’s been changing, that I know. I’ve helped those like her that found the same ore she possesses. In fact,” she puts her hand out. A faint glow emits from her open palm. It collects the water in the air around her hand and it freezes. She takes the ice sphere, and traces one side, making frost leaves. “I was helped as well. These people know what they are doing, and Ms. Sallow will have the help she needs.”
    Chris watches her carefully, but Ms. Roberts keeps her posture relaxed, yet proper. She smiles encouragingly at him, slowly batting her eyelashes.
    “…I’ll do it.” The three turn to Jacey, who is standing in her doorway. Ms. Roberts turns her smile on Jacey.
    “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Ms. Sallow.”
    “Just… Just call me Jacey,” she says.
    “As you wish,” Ms. Roberts chuckles lightly. She walks over to Jacey, “Well, Jacey. The group I am a part of knows that you have the ore, and you gained powers from it. But… would you mind telling me what they are?”
    Jacey looks at Rick for a moment. He sighs, then nods. Jacey then looks back to the lady. “I… I can turn into animals.”
    Ms. Roberts takes the ice sphere in her hand, and it dissipates into the air. “Can you show me?”
    Jacey nods, then closes her eyes. Nothing happens. “It usually happens,” Jacey says slowly. She tries again, thinking about the kitten on her wall. Then she shrinks, turning into the same gray and white cat.
    Ms. Roberts sighs, an ‘aww’ escaping her red lips as well. She picks up Jacey and holds her adorable gaze. “That is marvelous, Jacey.” Jacey wriggles a little. Ms. Roberts puts her down. “Now try changing back.”
    Jacey struggles a little, but then she manages. She stands up, wobbly.
    “Beautiful. You have a gift, Jacey. And I’m sure my group can help you.”
    Jacey looks at her. “…Can I stay here?” She asks, understanding the implication.
    “Dear Jacey, as marvelous as your gift is, it might be dangerous to train here,” Ms. Roberts says, “If I’m right, you can transform into any living being. What if you practice here and you change into an elephant? Or a giraffe? You’d damage the house, dear.”
    Jacey nods, understanding.
    “It’s best if you come with me. You can call, write, text, and communicate with your family whenever you want, I promise,” Ms. Roberts assures.
    “…When do I leave?” Jacey asks.
    Ms. Roberts is silent.
    “Oh… now.”
    Chris walks passed Ms. Roberts and couches down to Jacey’s eye level, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
    Jacey takes a breath and nods, “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
    Chris nods, “Rick, can you help your cousin pack?”
    “Rick, go help Jacey,” Chris says. Rick nods. He walks away with Jacey. She pulls out a few bags.
    “…I know you don’t want me to leave-”
    “I’ll go with you,” Rick decides, “You’ll be alone-”
    “No, I’ll be with people like me,” Jacey says.
    Rick stops folding her favorite blanket, “…So, I’m not like you, huh? We don’t have anything in common, not even blood?”
    Jacey stops, “Rick, I didn’t mean that. You…” She walks over, “We’re still family. But I’m… At least I don’t think…”
    Rick looks at her. “You are human, Jacey, don’t think otherwise.”
    Jacey tears up, “You can’t come with me.” Rick hugs her. “I’ll call every day.”
    “If you don’t, I’ll know something’s up,” Rick says, “And I’ll come get you. I’ll trace your call the first day, and every day after to memorize it. Dad and I will find you if you need it. And if it comes to it…” he pulls away and looks Jacey in the eyes, “I’ll train you myself.”
    Jacey smiles. They finish packing. Jacey hugs Chris. A sleek car is waiting for her and Ms. Roberts. She gets in the car and waves as she disappears around the corner.
    Jacey kept her promise, calling every evening, talking about different powers she saw. She told Rick about some problems, and new developments. She describes her new room, the training area, and even the kitchen. There aren’t many people there, but enough to be a private school of sorts.
    She tells him a week after leaving that she can make herself look like other people. She promises to show him when she comes home. Rick soaks in everything she tells him.
    Then, a call doesn’t come. Rick waits at the phone for an hour after it was supposed to ring. When two hours passes, he goes to find Chris.
    Rick has the location written down. They take the car and leave New York. The sky turns dark, and they are cloaked in dark when they arrive. Rick uses one of his new inventions to climb the wall of the building to Jacey’s room. She isn’t there when he arrives.
    ‘It’s just as she described it,’ he says. He hides when someone comes close to the door. Jacey walks in, closing and locking the door behind her. Rick comes out of the shadows. “Jacey.”
    She turns to him, then engulfs him in a hug, “I knew you’d get the message,” she whispers. Rick holds her, feeling her tears on his shoulder.
    “What’s wrong?” he asks.
    “They… They won’t let me leave,” Jacey says, “They said I could visit sometime, but now I can’t. I fear they are listening to my calls, so I stopped. I knew you’d come.”
    “Pack your stuff, we are leaving now,” Rick says. They go through the same routine as before, only faster. Rick carries the bags on his back, carrying Jacey as he propels back down the wall. They run to Chris’ car, then take off. They hear an alarm in the distance, but they make it.
    They couldn’t live at their home anymore. After checking Jacey for trackers, Chris takes them to a cabin in North Carolina. There, Rick fulfills his vow to train Jacey. Chris gives tips, but overall, Rick is her main instructor. He catches onto patterns, and she tells him what she learned before.
    She tries turning into another human, but it is more difficult to become a male than another female.
    After months, she’s progressed farther than before.
    And at the end of those months, Ms. Roberts finds them.
    Chris keeps Jacey behind him. Rick has a prototype pair of gloves on, powered up in case he needs them. “Jacey, come back. We can help you,” Ms. Roberts says.
    “No!” Jacey yells, “I want to be with my family. I am safe here.”
    “You are safe at the facility too,” Ms. Roberts says.
    “You better turn around and never speak to her again,” Rick says.
    Ms. Roberts looks at him. She holds her hand out, freezing the gloves. She then sweeps her hand in front of her, knocking both boys to the ground.
    “No!” Jacey yells.
    “It will be easier if you just come,” Ms. Roberts says, walking forward.
    Jacey shakes her head, backing up.
    “Jacey,” Ms. Roberts says calmly, “don’t you want to be with people like you?”
    Jacey tenses up. She changes into the first animal she can think of; a lioness. She leaps at Ms. Roberts. “Leave my family alone!” She roars, her teeth inches from the lady’s face. She looks genuinely terrified. Jacey backs up, prowling over to the boys. She nudges Rick and he nods; they’re okay.
    Jacey feels her back legs freeze. She changes back into a human, giving her legs enough room to slip out before the ice tightens. She changes into a hawk and goes for Ms. Roberts’ face with her talons. She dodges a few ice spikes, scratching the flawless face. Ms. Roberts holds her face, shrieking. Jacey lands as she changes back, a little clumsy.
    Ms. Roberts looks up. There are four red marks on her face; one across her forehead, one over her right eye, one diagonal across her nose, and the last curves down the left side of her mouth and across her chin.
    “You’ll pay for that!” She shrieks. Jacey turns back into a lioness and roars. She learned to keep her vocal chords human to speak, but an animalistic sound is more effective in this case. Ms. Roberts takes off, sending Jacey a murderous glare before disappearing. “No one will accept you, Jacey.”
    Jacey looks at Rick, “I’ll take my chances.”


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