The following short story (approximately 1600 words) is a scene that takes place about eight years before the beginning of Darkness Haunts. It depicts a major turning point in Melena’s life (the main character). One that forces her in a new direction she hadn’t planned on going before this point. I wrote the rough draft earlier this year, but decided to flesh it out more and post it here for anyone who wants a taste of what to expect. This scene is briefly mentioned in the novel, but this short story version provides a lot more of the details involved. Keep in mind Melena is eighteen here, so I tried to give her a younger and slightly less mature mindset compared to where she is when the series starts.
Nothing is Ever What it Seems
I’d blown up the bowl of rice I’d been heating.
The yellow grains stuck to the walls of the microwave in a colorful display that couldn’t have been mistaken for art. Another cooking disaster for me to clean up. At least it didn’t look as bad as my grand cake experiment from the week before.
“Melena!” Wanda cried out, shock and dismay written all over her face. You’d think in the three years since she’d taken me in she’d be used to this kind of thing.
I pasted an innocent look on my face and pointed at the mess. “The microwave overcooked it.”
She put her hands on her hips. “You set the timer for too long—again.”
“I wanted to make sure it was cooked all the way. You’re always telling me I can never be too careful.”
Wanda tossed me a dish rag. “Clean it up. Honestly, I don’t know how you expect to go off to college this fall if you can’t even re-heat rice.”
I shrugged. “That’s what restaurants and fast food places are for.”
“You can’t live off that junk.”
“Lisette will be going too. She can cook just about anything. I’ll be fine.”
Wanda wagged a finger at me. “We will not discuss that Pixie. You need to stay away from her and all other supernaturals. I’ve told you that a hundred times.”
“More than that,” I muttered as I dumped the rice into the trash can. “Sups aren’t that bad.”
She took the dish rag from me and rinsed it off at the sink. “They are that bad. Someday, you’ll see that I’m telling you the truth.”
We both jerked our heads at the same time.
A wave of raw power swept over the house with the force of a psychological hurricane. My lungs struggled for breath as sharp pain slid up my neck and into my head. Holy crap. Something was in the backyard.
I grabbed a steak knife from the butcher block and brandished it in front of me.
“It’s a nephilim,” Wanda gave me a panic-stricken look. I could have sworn her hair turned greyer. “That won’t do us any good — he can’t be killed. It’ll only provoke him.” She took the knife from me and tossed it away.
Whoever this guy was, he was coming straight for us. I bumped into the fridge in my haste to put some distance between me and the backdoor. It burst open, shattering into a thousand pieces and brought bright light spilling into the room. I put my arms up to protect my face. The blinding rays hadn’t come from the sun shining outside. No, they’d come from the golden-haired man who’d stepped into our house.
“What do you want from us?” Wanda demanded.
I lowered my arms to discover she wasn’t as affected by the nephilim’s presence as I was. Wanda stood tall and glared at him in a way that would have made me skulk off into a corner. To be fair, she’d had more experience dealing with sups than I had. My eyes adjusted enough to see a massive sword in his hand. The polished blade glinted as he raised it into a high arc. His hard, chiseled face revealed nothing of his thoughts — only cold determination.
Wanda lost her bearing and scrambled away from him, but he moved too fast. She screamed in a high-pitch shrill when the sword struck her shoulder. It kept going, cutting off her voice as it sliced down and across her torso in a straight path until it went out the other side. Blood sprayed everywhere as the two halves of her separated and fell to the floor in a sickening thump. Her blue eyes remained open and frozen in terror.
My hand jerked up to cover my mouth. I wanted to finish the scream she’d started, but nothing came out. My eyes darted back and forth between my guardian and her killer. She couldn’t be dead. She couldn’t. First I’d lost my parents, and now her. How could this have happened?
The evidence lay directly in front of me. She’d been right all along. Sups were dangerous and I’d never taken her seriously, not wanting to believe her. Oh God. I almost choked on the bile rising up my throat. It took all my control to force it back down. The danger wasn’t over yet.
The nephilim stood across the kitchen and held his sword at his side. He’d wiped it off with the rag Wanda had been holding. Blood coated the cloth now. It wouldn’t be good for washing anything anymore.
What was I thinking?
A cold-blooded killer stood before me and I worried about a dish rag? I’d be next if I didn’t do something, but how was I supposed to fight a man who couldn’t die? He was massive enough that even if he was human I couldn’t take him on.
I stared at his golden form and didn’t know what to say or do. Did I plea for my life? Make some kind of peace offering? The dead body on the floor — I couldn’t look at it again — told me he wasn’t up for negotiations.
“Why?” The one word escaped my lips.
“She’s a sensor. All of your kind deserve to die.”
I gripped the counter next to me. Too bad I couldn’t out run him. “Am I next?”
His lips quirked. “Not yet, young one. Your time will come, but not today.”
He lowered his sword. My enhanced senses told me he spoke the truth. I risked a glance at Wanda’s body and saw it was bad, real bad. Dying was awful enough, but this was worse than anything I’d ever imagined. A rage I’d never felt before colored my vision. How dare he come into our home and attack us? We’d minded our own business and stayed out of the way, doing nothing to piss off the supernatural population. Wasn’t that enough?
It didn’t matter in that moment he still held a deadly weapon. That he was a thousand times stronger than me. I had nothing left to lose — no family and not many friends. My future meant little if everyone around me was going to keep dying.
My feet flew toward him. I shoved at his body and hit his chest as hard as I could over and over. He stood there, immobile, and didn’t even bother to block my blows. I began to think he couldn’t feel them. It only took a few minutes for me to get tired of beating what might as well have been a brick wall. My breath came out ragged and I could barely stand. He took my arm when I began to stumble back.
“Are you done?” he asked.
“No.” I scowled. With my free arm, I managed to grab the knife off the counter where Wanda had tossed it away. The nephilim laughed when I held it between us but he let me go.
“You think to harm me with that?”
I gritted my jaw. “It’s worth a try.”
He took a few steps back and held his arms out wide, sword pointed away, giving me a perfect opening to strike at his torso.
“Go ahead,” he said. “Let us see if you can.”
My hand clenched around the handle of the knife. What the hell kind of game was he playing? I risked a glance at Wanda to remind myself of what he’d done to her. He’d killed her without her doing anything wrong to him. Hating a whole race of people for a crime committed centuries ago didn’t count. It didn’t make any more sense why he wasn’t taking my head off with that big sword of his.
“Why not kill me now?”
A muscle ticked in his jaw. “As I said before, it’s not your time.”
I wanted to take a step back. The strong emotions emanating from him were overwhelming my senses. His hatred whipped at me like a stinging lash. Sometimes it came in handy to be empathic — this wasn’t one of those times. I had to wonder what I’d done to make him feel so strongly. The knife was still in my hand, but I didn’t know if I could use it.
“Would you kill me if I stuck this in you?” It couldn’t hurt to ask.
A taunting smile stretched his lips. “Why don’t you find out?”
I wanted to hurt him in some way — in any way I could. He deserved to feel at least a small taste of my inner pain. I pushed down my fear and lunged for him, ready to stab the crap out of him.
It never even grazed his skin.
He deflected the blade, knocking it from my hand and onto the floor. My momentum kept me going toward him with no time to stop. He grabbed my shoulder with his free hand and twisted me around until my back struck his chest. I could feel the chiseled muscles underneath. His arms wrapped around me, holding me tight.
Tingles raced across my skin in every place where our bodies met. I felt real fear then. This man truly was an unstoppable force. He leaned down close to my ear and whispered.
“We will meet again, little sensor.”
His arms released me and I almost fell. He scooped up both parts of Wanda’s body in one swift move and stepped outside before vanishing in a flash of light. Only the puddle of blood remained to prove he’d been here at all. I slumped to the floor and curled into myself. What was I supposed to do now?