The guy standing in front of me looked… normal. Besides the height. He was tall, exceptionally so, with dark hair twisted into a ponytail and strange, violet-coloured eyes.
I squinted in a menacing manner as I held onto the gate. ‘Who the hell are you?’
He smiled at me, a tired expression on his worn face. ‘I was going to ask you the same thing.’ He was tense as he talked, and where I had once seen beauty in his eyes, I could see only fear. But why would someone with such an impressive build be afraid of me?
I looked back at my house, wishing my mother was closer and knew that I was in danger. ‘Are you the one that took my sister?’ I asked finally, my heart thumping away in my chest as I turned to look at him.
He started laughing, a lovely rumble that glided off his tongue and washed over me in waves. When he caught sight of my face, he stopped. ‘No, of course not.’
‘Then who are you and why are you here?’
‘My name’s Theo. I’ve come here for your help so we can save your sister. We don’t have much time.’
‘Save my sister? What’s happened to her? What did you do?’
‘I didn’t do anything.’ But his eyes were guarded, his palms clenched tightly. Something was wrong, off.
‘Just tell me what’s going on or I’m going inside and calling the police.’
He sighed. ‘We don’t have time for this.’
‘Make the time.’
The guy, Theo, tilted his head up, his eyes tracing a bolt of lightning that streaked across the sky. ‘We’ll have to jump.’
‘Um… hello? Did you even hear me? Tell me what’s going on.’ I tried to remember what my sister had told me about the guy she’d met. Hadn’t she mentioned something about how this guy had a close connection to storms? A crack of thunder answered my question.
‘Your sister’s in danger, every minute we waste talking, we risk never getting her back.’
I took a deep breath. ‘Just try and then I promise I’ll hear you out.’
Theo muttered something under his breath and rubbed his chin. ‘Fine, what do you want to know?’
I chewed my bottom lip as I tried to take a deep breath through my nose. ‘Are you from another world? Did you use the storm to take my sister through some kind of portal?’
‘Another world?’ Theo frowned, confused. ‘I don’t know what you mean.’
I stared at him for a few long seconds before I spoke again. ‘So, there is no other world? My sister really is crazy?’
Theo’s face paled. ‘Your sister may not have understood the truth. It’s all my fault. We’re forbidden to tell others what we are.’
My stomach twisted. ‘What you are?’
‘It’s strange that you don’t know… people like me can use the lightning to move about the world. I suppose in a way we create portals. It’s how I found your sister. A few months ago I was called to the lake through the lightning. I could sense that one of my own kind was calling for help. But when I arrived and your sister had no command over the storm… I didn’t understand what was going on.’ Theo paused and stared into the distance. ‘I didn’t even think it could be you, her sister.’
‘Excuse me, what?’
‘You’re one of my kind. I can sense it. Faint perhaps, but it’s there.’
I laughed, although it may have come off as a rather hysterical giggle. ‘Um okay. Sure.’
‘I’m not lying. Tell me, on that day on the lake, what can you remember?’
Images flickered in my mind’s eye and I cleared my throat. ‘Sybil, drowning.’
Theo nodded, though his eyes were sad. ‘Anything else?’
I shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’
Theo’s gaze was intense as he stared at me. ‘Were you calling for help?’
‘Maybe. I can’t remember.’ More images of that day swum before my eyes and I swallowed. I could remember shouting for help, but should I tell him that?
‘Well, even if you don’t remember, you’re still one of us. There’s no denying that.’
‘But… how can you tell? How is it that I can be like you? I don’t understand. I’m not from some weird… magical family.’
‘It’s not magic. It’s…’ He paused, his face blank.
‘Something else entirely unexplainable?’
‘You could say that.’
I wanted to laugh and scream all at the same time. None of this could be real. Maybe this ‘Theo’ was nothing but a serial killer who wanted to kill me. He wasn’t exactly giving me the psychopathic vibe, but don’t they always say it’s the charming ones you have to watch out for?
I cleared my throat, pretending to be brave. ‘Look, I think I should go back inside now so I can think about it.’
Theo’s eyes sparked with something dangerous. ‘You don’t believe me?’
I took a step back and shook my head, watching as he tilted his head up to look at the sky. ‘Then you give me no choice.’
I opened my mouth to say something but stopped. His hands were glowing blue, like full on glowing! I fell on the gate and stood there, trapped. Thin strands of whitish-blue light were twirling and snapping back against his skin. It was exactly as Sybil had explained. I watched as one strand expanded, reaching toward my outstretched hand. I couldn’t move as it swirled around my fingers. There was no pain, only a soft, feather-light touch grazing my fingertips. Then I heard a whooshing sound and the light vanished.
I breathed out the lungful of air I’d been holding. ‘How did you do that?’ I flexed my hand and inspected my palms. Everything looked normal, but I felt different somehow.
Theo was smiling. ‘It’s not hard once you get the hang of it.’
‘Was it like… electricity or something?’
He nodded. ‘So do you believe me now?’
‘I… I think so.’ Even though my arms were still shaking, my heart was racing with excitement. Magic was real! It had to be.
His eyes sparkled. ‘Will you help then?’
I ran my hand through my wet hair, trying to calm my racing heart. An image of my beautiful, gentle sister sparked in my mind. She might be the older, but she always had been so much more delicate and vulnerable than me. I was the one who was always protecting her. I would do anything to save her, anything. And even though my mind was protesting against, for some reason I couldn’t explain, every fibre of my being was telling me to trust him.
‘I woke up today convinced my sister was dead…. I’m willing to take the chance… I think. Just don’t think about crossing me, or you’ll be sorry.’
‘Thank you, for being brave enough to do this.’
I shrugged. ‘As I said, don’t cross me.’
Theo was smiling, his face alive and gleaming with optimism. ‘Good, then we should get going, I don’t know how long I can keep this storm going.’
I glanced up at the storm clouds as a streak of lightning licked the belly of the storm, exploding above our heads with a bright flash of orange light. I took another deep breath to steady my nerves. ‘Are you creating this storm?’
‘Not creating… more so… perpetuating.’
‘Okay, got it.’ But I didn’t feel like I’d got it at all, not that I was going to tell him that.
‘Right then, we should jump now.’ Theo said, an amused expression on his face.
‘Jump? What does that mean?’
Theo smiled. ‘Do you remember the part where I mentioned we can travel by lightning?’
‘Yeah… wait, that’s how you got here? By lightning? Wait, not that lightning bolt from earlier? That was you!?’
Theo took one look at my face and laughed. ‘It’s not that big of a deal. You’ll be able to travel the same way once you get the hang of it.’
‘No freaking way.’ I wasn’t sure if I was petrified or excited. ‘How does it… work?’
‘You don’t have to do anything, just take my hand.’ Theo stretched his arm out and I almost jumped out of my skin. His hand was ensnared by shimmering rings of light.
I hesitated. ‘Where are we going?’
‘I have a friend who can help… but I don’t know for sure…’ Theo closed his eyes, droplets of water polling at the end of his eyelashes before gliding down his cheeks.
‘You don’t know for sure?’
Theo opened his eyes. ‘Tazawa’s not trackable, but I’m hoping his sister is at least close by.’
‘I really have no clue what you’re talking about.’
Theo sighed. ‘Trust me?’
I looked down at his outstretched palm one more time. I could almost sense his honesty like an aura around him. I nodded, then I took a deep breath and clasped my hand around his own. A flash of white light filled my eyes, then there was pain, more pain than I’d ever felt in my life. At that moment I didn’t know if I was dead or alive. Dead, was my best guess.