By Amber Mauldin
By Amber Mauldin
The first battle...
Glass shattered, piercing the silence of night. Gabe leapt from bed in a state of panic and his blankets tackled him to the floor. Flailing around, he wrestled the material in a chaotic display of acrobatics.
Pins and needles pricked in his palms. Not again! He froze and took a deep breath, trying to settle his anxiety to keep from setting his cover ablaze. His power calmed.
Finally he broke free and sprung up, alert. What was that!? Gabe stared at his opened door, searching for signs of movement beyond his room.
The house slept. Silent.
Good, it was just a dream.
No sooner had the thought entered his mind, a shadow dashed through his door. Before his eyes had time to warn his brain of potential danger, she was at his side, arms outstretched.
“Sis,” he said, exhaling a deep breath. “Why are you out of bed?” He bent over and picked up the frightened, little girl.
“The noise scared me,” Kyla whimpered, wrapping her legs tightly around his waist and throwing her arms about his neck.
She heard it too! Hisheart quickened. What should I do? Did Mom and Dad hear it?
He attempted to lower the six year old to the ground, but she squeezed tighter, moaning.
Suddenly the house shook, booming as if a rocket had barreled through the living room.
A scream shot up the stairs. Gabe knew instantly who it was. Mom!
Kyla cried out. Gabe clasped his hand to her mouth and darted to the safety of his closet. He pealed her from his waist, placed her on the ground and began ripping shirts from their hangers in a frantic effort to barricade her in. “I’m going to go see what’s happening downstairs,” he whispered, swallowing hard against the lump in his throat.
“No,” she bellowed, trying to wiggle out from her shelter.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be right back.” He hoped. “But I need you to stay here.”
Gabe finished packing her in then knelt. Her deep, brown eyes streamed with tears, stabbing his heart with each droplet. He longed for words to comfort her, but what do you say to a six year old in a time like this? “How about we play a game?” He forced a smile. “Let’s pretend you’re a princess.” It was her favorite game. He’d outgrown childhood make-believe when puberty crept up and had stopped playing with her, something he now realized was a mistake. “Let’s pretend you’re trapped in this closet, and you can’t come out, or make a sound until I come and rescue you.” He gulped, fighting the tears. “Okay?” Watching her face streaked with pain, he made a silent oath right then. If I make it back, I’ll be better to her.
She nodded somberly, grabbing the nearest shirt to wipe her nose.
He kissed her forehead, whispered, “I love you,” and scurried out the small closet, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Slowly he crept out his room and down the hall, avoiding each creek in the floor by memory as he made his way to the top of the staircase.
He made it a few steps down when-
“Gabriyel,” a man’s voice called to him.
His eyes shot wide. Who? Nobody called him by his full name. How did this person know it was him?
“I’m glad you finally worked up the courage to join us,” the voice taunted. “Please come and sit with your parents?”
“NO!” his mother screeched.
At the sound of her anguish Gabe sprang into action, forgetting his fears. He bounded down the remaining stairs and charged into the dining room, ready for a fight. His hands throbbed as electricity surged through him, an adverse reaction to anger; one he was grateful for at this moment.
Rushing in, he found a reality his nightmares couldn’t touch. He jerked to a halt. His eyes darted around the room, desperately searching his options. It didn’t seem real.
The dining room was demolished. Remains of their table scattered the room with fragments of plates and glass on the floor. None of it compared to the sight of his parents though, lying on the rug, bound and beaten.
The top of his father’s head held a large gash, oozing blood. His mother’s lip swelled with fresh crimson seeping out and her eyes were puffed shut.
His father looked up at him, eyes saturated, and mouthed one, silent word. “Run.”
Gabe loved his parents, but this was one request he wouldn’t obey. He tore his eyes away to look upon their attacker.
The man hovering above them glared at him with cold, black eyes. His skin was porcelain and seemed more like stone than flesh, with no lines or markings. He looked to be nearly forty, maybe older, but his pristine skin made it impossible to guess. A red-stained cloth, gripped in his hand, was being used to remove the blood off his knuckles; remains from the latest punch he’d given to Gabe’s mother.
Gabe lost it. Everything in the room seemed to vanish. All he could see was the man who would pay for hurting his mother. Any fears he had were extinguished as anger moved to the frontal lobes of his brain, bringing its closest friends- wrath and rage. He flung himself at the man, channeling his electric fury to his hands. Only one thought ran through his mind. I will kill you.
He heard his parents yell for him to stop, afraid for him, but the madness inside had been unleashed and needed to be satisfied.
He drew back his right arm and launched it with all his strength. Swinging through the air, his fist collided with the rock-hard face of his opponent. Agony shot up his arm and he faltered, but only for a moment. He recollected himself and sprung again, reaching with both hands to wrap around the man’s throat. His right hand was worthless, unbending and rapidly swelling, but he held it there, allowing his left hand to do most of the work. His anger was stronger than the pain.
The man’s lips curled as if he were enjoying himself. He hadn’t flinched when Gabe charged, and even now he seemed unfazed. Calm.
What a freak!
Gabe concentrated, surging electricity into the man’s neck. A hum began to radiate off Gabe from the intensity of the currency in his veins.
The villain’s eyes shot wide, and his smug grin fell. He flung his hands to Gabe’s face, laying them on Gabe’s cheeks, finally fighting back.
Gabe’s warm skin pricked in reaction to the cold hands on him. He sucked a breath and braced for the impact of what was to come.
As if being swarmed with bees, every inch of his head felt like it was being stabbed with tiny needles. He wanted to scream, but he stood firm, never releasing his grip. If I die, you’re coming with me.
The villain’s eyes began to roll to the back of his head. Gabe could feel his body wanting to give in as well.
Just a few more seconds...
Suddenly, Gabe caught movement out the corner of his eye. He turned in that direction, immediately wishing he’d kept his focus.
An older man with onyx hair and red eyes, dashed toward him. The man flicked his hand and Gabe’s body was ripped away from his opponent, propelled across the room and slammed into the outer wall, rendering him unconscious.