October is upon us and that provokes our yearly fascination with monsters. The dictionary says a monster is an ugly terrifying being, an evil person, or improperly formed. Could it be that in looking upon the monster we feel better about ourselves?
It is human nature to be afraid when we encounter something divergent from what we are familiar.
By shining a light on the darkness, sometimes we learn they aren’t monsters at all.
As the darkness gained on them, Kairma began to have the uneasy feeling they weren’t alone. She asked Collin to light the torch and pulled Kinter closer to her, but the feeling continued to grow stronger.
They walked down one side of the small gully where the path followed the stream for a while. Collin and Zedic lifted the cart as they stepped across the stones rising out of the swift water. Kinter was shaking, she had never been out this late and Kairma knew her sister was a firm believer of the horrible stories about the White Ones. Kairma was sure she heard voices, very sad voices. Before she could say anything to the others, several White Ones surrounded them. Kairma could sense as many as twenty of them hiding in the woods, about ten feet away; their almost colorless eyes watching as the four young people made their way up the steep slope of the ravine.
Kairma felt a distant pain, more in her mind than her body. “Why aren’t they attacking? There’s only four of us and so many of them.” She stopped momentarily to see what the White Ones would do.
Zedic put his arm around her shoulder, easing her fear, and possibly his own. Collin raised the torch higher. “They won’t come near our fire, Whitish don’t like the light.”
The path narrowed further as they reached the more heavily wooded area, making them walk in single file. Collin led the way with their only source of light. Kairma’s sense of pain grew stronger with each step, making it harder to breathe. Her head ached and her eyes burned. She shielded her eyes from the torch as the pain began to overtake her. No one spoke until they came to the bottom of the cliff. Here the road doubled back on itself several times, winding up the cliff face. Collin suggested, “Let’s climb up the cliff. It’s a lot shorter. If we stick to the road, it’s at least four times as far. We’ll leave the cart here. We can come back tomorrow and get it.”
The wall before them was terraced with clumps of bushes, good for holding on to while climbing. The north entrance of the village was no more than sixty feet from the top edge of the cliff. Although they had climbed up and down the face of the cliff many times during the day, the meager light from the torch made the cliff look ominous. When they reached the first level where the road crossed the cliff face, Kairma turned toward the woods. She could make out the shadows of several hunched over figures making their way down the mountain, along the sides of the trail. She began climbing to the next level of the cliff, when her foot caught an outcropping of stone and she tumbled down the steep embankment. Kinter screamed, “Zedic catch Kairma! She slipped!” Zedic caught Kairma by the wrist, stopping her fall. A branch caught on her scarf, pulling it off, and her snow-white braids glowed brightly under the torchlight. One of the White Ones reached out to her and Zedic kicked at it. It drew back as Zedic lifted Kairma to his side with an unexpected surge of strength. Collin handed him the torch and he waved it frantically at the White Ones.
Some of the creatures stood just beyond the light of the torch and watched the young people scramble up the steep cliff, others continued on their way down the mountainside. Kinter had gone ahead, passing Collin in her hurry to reach the top; streams of tears were flowing down her cheeks.
Kairma regained her footing and climbed as quickly as she could; Zedic was right behind her and Collin brought up the rear. Kairma was so frightened, she hardly noticed the easing of the pain she had felt so strongly only moments before. As she reached the top of the cliff, she could see the shadow outline of Kinter against the light of the north door, clasping her hands around the Crystal, praying for their safety.
Running passed the heavy wooden doors of the hospital; Kairma grasped Kinter’s hand and thanked the Gods for protecting them. They didn’t stop running until they were safely inside the canyon walls.
Collin and Zedic were a breath behind them. Dropping to his knees just outside the Chancery, Collin almost laughed. “Well, that’s the second time you’ve rescued Boo from the White Ones.”
“I know one thing,” Zedic glanced at his sisters who were as pale as the full moon. “If she keeps this up, I’m gonna be very old, very soon.”
Collin stood up. “We’d better get inside, the adults will be thinking we’re bait for the White Ones.”
Zedic rubbed his head. “We were!”
Excerpt: Heir to Power, The Healing Crystal, Book One