In The Castle’s Shadow (pt 3)

Part one- http://wp.me/p7AdNd-7G

Part two- http://wp.me/p7AdNd-7W

As the phone started ringing, Connor had a moment of panic. He was sure that the time differences meant he was calling Gregor in the middle of the night. He knew from the picture that his great uncle could not be a young man anymore. He doubted that the man would even be awake. He was so sure that Gregor would be asleep that when a gruff voice said hello, he just sat there in shock for a minute. A second rude hello roused him from his stupor.
“Uncle Gregor? This is Connor, um Alexandre’s son. Did I wake you?” Connor managed to stumble out.

“No.”

Connor waited for more before continuing.

“I’m so glad I reached you. I have to do a family history project for my psychology class. I’m supposed to contact living family members and gather some stories. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions?” Connor asked.

“I do not usually take phone calls to talk about myself. It is a waste of time,” Gregor’s accent was so thick that Connor had to concentrate to understand him.

Connor needed to get the answers and decided to ask again. It was easier to push for answers when it was over a crackling phone line. 

“I just need to get one story and any medical history you would be willing to share,” Connor spoke quickly, worried that the phone line was going to die.

He listened to the fading connection, praying that Gregor would give him the answers he needed. His hopes began to fade as the silence dragged on. At one point, he even checked his phone to make sure they had not lost their connection.

“Gregor?” he tentatively asked.

“I do not want to give away personal information to someone I have never met. If you want answers, I will send you tickets,” the line clicked before Connor could answer.

Connor sat there in shock. He had never left the state let alone the country. He had always thought of traveling, but Romania never made the list of countries he wanted to visit. He did not even know anything about Romania. The only thing that he knew about the country was that Dracula’s castle was there. The legend of Dracula had always peaked his interest. Without fully realizing what he was doing, he walked to his parents room to let them know that he was going to visit Gregor. He did not know what he was expecting. He knew that they would not be happy about his decision. 

When he was back in his bed for the night, he was a mixture of anxious and excited. To say his parents were less than thrilled would have been an understatement. Connor had nearly changed his mind when his mother started to cry. He had never made her cry before and hoped to never do it again. The anger on his father’s face battled against his apparent fear. He did not say a word as he comforted his distraught wife. He did not even look at his son.

Connor knew that going to Romania was going to disappoint his parents, but loosing his scholarship would disappoint them as well. He was in a no win situation. He hoped that in time, they could accept this trip and forgive him for making it. Despite their reaction, his excitement mounted. He could not wait to learn more about the country his great grandmother had grown up in.

He feel into a restless sleep, his dreams plagued with vampires and monsters stalking him. Everywhere he turned, horrors waited to greet him.

Jessica

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In The Castle’s Shadow (pt 2)

Part One- ​https://wingswordsblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/in-the-castles-shadow/?preview=true

Connor did not think about his project again until his family was sitting down for dinner. His mother started to cut up the meatloaf. One look from her and he knew what was coming.

“How was your day honey?” she asked.

“It was okay. We started a family history project in my psychology class. I need to interview a couple of living relatives. Dad,” his father looked up from his phone. “Don’t you have an uncle from Romania? My teacher wants me to get in contact with him.”

Connor felt the mood in the dining room shift instantly. The air itself seemed to grow icy. If he had not been watching his father, he would have missed the sharp intake of breath and the furtive glance towards his mother. The tension mounted as the silence waned. Connor regretted asking the question. He felt dread settle around him as his father relaxed his clenched jaw. 

“My uncle Gregor,” was all his father said before turning back to his phone.

Connor waited for more, but nothing came. He stared at his father in shock. Their family had always been open about everything. He never felt like he needed to keep secrets from his parents and they had never kept secrets from him until now. He was not sure what they were hiding from him, but he had to talk to Gregor in order to pass his class. He decided not to press the matter and do some research on his own. 

The meal passed in silence and soon Connor found himself in the den. He was flipping through the old photo albums, making notes about hair color and other defining features. He knew one of the albums would have a picture of Gregor. His patience was rewarded when he found a tattered black and white photo. The photo was that of a much younger version of his great grandmother standing beside a young man. Someone with spidery handwriting had written their names and a date so faded that he could no longer read it on the back of the photo.

Connor smiled as he studied the picture. He had not known his great grandmother very long, but he only had good memories with her. The man standing next to her was wearing a soldier’s uniform and a grim face. He seemed tall with dark hair and haunted eyes. Somehow, Connor could tell that those eyes belong to someone who had already served their time in the military. Someone who had lost loved ones and returned home without them. 

He quickly flipped through the remainder of the photo albums, hoping to get more information but finding nothing. He was going to have to talk to his father about reaching out to his uncle. He was not looking forward to pressing his father, but he was not willing to loose his scholarship over an awkward conversation. 

        Connor found his father in his study. His father’s law firm often overloaded him with cases, so most nights he worked from his study. He knocked on the open door before walking in. He felt like he was in the principal’s office at school. 

“Dad, I can’t find any information on Gregor. I need to do good on this project,” Connor watched the same dark cloud cover his father’s face.

Connor found himself debating if it was worth it. The carpet mills provided a steady income and had a good benefits plan. He did not want to cause his father any strife, he just wanted to pass his class. He felt his determination grow as he waited for his father to answer. He did not want to get stuck in this town like all of the other athletes who peaked in high school. 

“I do not know much about my uncle. As far as I know, he has never left Romania. Even when your  great grandmother died, he refused to leave. I do not think he even has an email. You can try calling him, but you might want to consider getting creative,”  his father slid a slip of paper across the desk towards him. 

Connor took the slip of paper, careful to avoid his father’s eyes. His father who had just implied that he should cheat on a school project. He could remember being forced to return a stolen candy when he was younger. He could not believe this change. He could not imagine what would posses his father to encourage such dishonesty. A foreboding feeling filled his room as he looked at his phone. He was not sure he wanted to call Gregor if his father was so against it. He could easily make up dates and information and his professor would never be the wiser. Just the thought of cheating did not sit well with him. Reluctantly, he punched in the numbers.

The Horsemen (part 3)

Famine followed the small girl back to her tiny apartment. The halls leading to her room were lined with sick and dying people. Along the way, she stopped to help some of the worst cases of disease. Taking their sickness into her body and ending their pain. He watched in terrified fascination as she worked. Other then soft groans, she did not make a sound.

After she had helped as many of the sick as she could, she stumbled weakly into her room. Famine looked around her sparse room, curious about her past but unsure how to bring it up. Eventually, she stood up and gathered a few possessions in a tattered backpack. She threw what little food she had in the bag too, before looking at Famine for guidance.

“The Indians said that I would be guided to each of the four. That is how I found you. I think there is someone to the east of here. It should not be too far, the tugging feels stronger then it did with you,” he answered the unspoken question.

When he was sure that she was ready and able to travel, he headed back out of her room. The bodies of the dead had been removed, only to be replaced by more disease and plague victims. Tears ran down the girl’s silent cheeks as she walked past them. She wanted to help them, but she knew that she would need her strength for the upcoming journey. She stared ahead, desperate to avoid the pleading eyes.

Famine could sense her distress and started to walk faster. He wanted to get out of the hallway anyways. He could practically feel the plague climbing across his flesh. Before the end had come, he had been a nurse. He knew from experience just how quickly germs could spread. That life seemed like an a faint dream now. He could barely recall his life as Ben.

* * *

They set up camp for the night in a small grove of trees. Famine would have liked to walk further, but the child was slowing him down. Her breathing had become labored and she started stumbling. He knew she needed to rest. He was not sure how taking away people’s illnesses affected her, but he could tell it wore her down.

Pestilence collapsed into a heap as soon as they stopped walking. She could not feel the tugging that Famine claimed to feel, but she trusted him. She had always been really good at reading people’s true intentions. She tried to stand up and help gather firewood, her muscles protesting every movement.

“You rest, I can handle this,” Famine noticed her trying to rise. “You should eat something while I make a fire. I am not sure how much further we have to walk tomorrow, hopefully not too far.”

He stared off into the darkness, his eyes following the tugging sensation. After the end, huge cities had been abandoned or demolished. Cities that had been around for years disappeared over night. He had no idea where they were heading. If he had a normal map, he would guess they were heading towards Maryland. For all he knew though, Maryland could have sunk into the ocean.

Famine glanced over at the girl, surprised to see her asleep already. Traveling in silence all day had made the day seem longer, he hoped the next horseman would be more talkative. He was tired of working through his thoughts on his own. One thing he had decided today was that he needed to talk to the Indians. He needed to get answers to his questions and help figuring out his mission.

He built up the fire and laid down next to the wood pile. Building a fire was a necessary risk. The night chill was too much to handle, but the flickering light could attract bandits. He slept with his dagger clutched in his hand. The only way that they would be in danger is if they were taken by surprise.

* * *

The girl woke as soon as the sun peeked over the horizon. Famine was still asleep next to the smoldering ashes of their fire. She walked over and gently touched his shoulder. She stared at him indifferently as he jumped up, dagger in hand. This was the longest she had gone without helping anyone along and she felt stronger then ever.

Famine looked down at the girl, shaking his head in disbelief. She had not even flinched when he jumped up. He knew that he had no room to judge, but the girl was strange. He kicked dirt over the embers and they started walking again. The tugging was much stronger than before, making it easy to follow. Before they had walked too long, a city came into view. This was the city where they would find the next horseman.

Famine was shocked upon entering the city. It seemed almost normal. People walked the streets and talked to each other cheerfully in passing. Stores were open and selling everything from food to luxury items like soap. No one seemed tempted to loot anything. It was the most normal city he had seen since the end. He could not wrap his head around it.

“Excuse me,” he stopped a passing woman. “What is going on here?”

“We are under the protection of the Tookie Brothers. Under their rule, there is no need to revert to such savage ways as other cities,” she answered politely.

“Where can I find these Tookie Brothers?”

“They live in the blue house on main street.”

Famine watched the woman walk away, still dumbfounded.

“I think we need to talk to these Tookie Brothers. One of them might be who we are looking for or they might know of someone in the city who fits what we are looking for,” Famine turned to the girl.

Once again, she nodded in silent agreement. He did not think she would ever talk. They walked towards main street. Everyone they encountered greeted them with polite smiles and even some handshakes. It was very unnerving. Famine was grateful when the blue house came into view. He expected the house to be guarded or at least fortified, but it appeared to be a normal house. It had a large porch that circled the entire house. The yard was in pristine condition. They walked up the stone walkway and knocked on the solid wood door.

A large dark skinned man answered the door. His meaty arms were covered in tribal tattoos and his dark hair hung to his shoulders. He greeted them with a warm smile.

“To what do we owe the pleasure,” the man asked in a thick Tongan accent.

“We are looking for the Tookie Brothers,” Famine answered hesitantly.

“Well, I am Anga. My brother is called Malohi. Please come in,” Anga swung the door open wider, motioning for them to enter.

Famine followed behind the huge Tongan, careful to keep the girl close behind him just in case things got crazy. They walked into a fancy living room. A second man identical to Anga was lounging on a couch.

“Brother, these two wish to talk to us,” Agna turned and frowned at them. “I do not think I got your names.”

“I am known now as Famine. You can call the girl Pestilence, but do not expect her to answer, she does not talk. We came to your city seeking the two remaining horsemen, war and death. I am not sure who-”

He stopped talking as Malohi stood. This brother gave off a distinctly more hostile vibe then his counterpart. He was not someone to be messed with.

“I am war and my brother is death,” he growled simply.

“Um, how do you know? Have you done things,” Famine asked awkwardly.

“Who are you to question who we are? We do not even know who you are,” Malohi advanced angrily.

“What my brother means to say is,” Agna stepped in between them, “We have known who we are for a few years now. War and death go hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other, so it makes sense that it would be twins.”

“But how did you find out you were different,” Famine questioned.

“We grew up in this house. When the end came, everything went crazy. People who we knew were running and looting everything. I had no idea people could act that way. One night a few years ago, I woke up to find Malohi gone. He has always been more driven by his emotions,” Agna smiled at his brother. “I left the house to find him. When I did find him, he was in an alley fighting numerous looters. I watched in amazement as he took them all on single handed. One thug somehow got behind him. I ran to protect him, but before I could reach him, the thug fell to the ground dead. I knew I was the cause.”

“If you had not reacted, it would have been me,” Malohi sounded like they had had this discussion a hundred times. “It was that night that I found out just how strong I am and just how quick my reflexes are. As the years progressed, I have become able to sense people who do not have good intentions. It has helped us run this city. I can pick out who will cause trouble and if they refuse to leave, my brother can end them with a glance.”

“As I said war and death go hand in hand,” Agna finished sadly.

Famine stared at the twins, still unsure if they were telling the truth. He had been sure about the girl the second he saw her, but he never expected twins who readily accepted their fate.

“They are telling the truth,” the girl spoke for the first time.

All three of the men turned to look at her, but she did not elaborate. She just resumed her stony silence.

“OK,” Famine finally said. “I think before we do anything we need to get some answers from the Indians. It’s a two day walk back to the park where they live. We need them to give us some guidance on how to restore balance.”

The remaining horsemen nodded in agreement. He was a little overwhelmed with their total acceptance of him as the leader. He expected Malohi at least to put up a fight about it, but he did not even open his mouth to protest. They settled in for the night, resting up for the long journey ahead.

Icymi here’s part two 

wingswordsblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/the-horsemen-2/?preview=true

Jessica

Paying Dues (part 2)

​Paying Dues Cont.

After staring at the packet until her eyes grew heavy and the words blurred, Ella fell asleep. Her lumpy bed creaked as she tossed and turned. Every dream seemed to haunt and mock her situation. Tears dampened her pillow as her son and husband repeatedly condemned her. She pleaded, desperate for them to understand just how sorry she was. When the first rays of the strange orange sun trickled through her tiny window, the torture finally ended. Her blue dress clung to her sweaty body.

Ella rinsed herself as much as possible in the small sink and put on the spare dress. The packet said that she would be working in the forge kitchen. From what she could piece together from her memories of earth, she was a decent cook. If she tried to hard to remember other details from earth, a piercing pain shot through her head. She hesitated in front of Jaxon’s door, but quickly moved on. The packet was very clear about their stance on being late. Ella did not want to start off on the wrong foot. She wanted to slide under the radar for as long as possible.

The map from the packet lead her directly to the forge. The acrid smell of melted metal began to burn her nose immediately. The forge master was a portly man. He had a bulbous bald head and green mottled skin. When Ella signed in, he directed her to the kitchens. She shuddered slightly as his mouth twisted into a wicked grin, revealing sharp, curved teeth. As soon as she walked into the kitchen, a scrawny female human shoved a tray of what she assumed was food in her hands.

“They supply you with all of your meals, but you must eat fast or you will run out of time,” she whispered.

“What is this,” Ella asked, poking at the red mush.

“It is a protein paste. My name is Samantha, but you can just call me Sam. You are going to shadow me today so that I can train you. It is important that you learn fast and don’t mess up. The guardians do not like mistakes,” Sam answered.

Ella shoveled the paste into her mouth, gagging it down as quickly as she could. She finished the entire plate in four huge gulps. Sam was already walking away and mumbling about what her daily duties would be. It was all pretty straight forward. Ella halfway listened to the woman, all the while planning and thinking about how to get home. The day seemed to drag on, by the time they stopped for lunch, her feet ached. Lunch was a green vegetable paste. 

“Making it a paste makes it easier for all of the different species to eat the same thing. Not every species has teeth,” Sam explained between mouthfuls.

The day continued until finally a whistle rang out and a small bag containing red and green paste was handed to her. Ella walked home in near darkness, wincing with every step. Her head throbbed dully as she tried to remember more about her life on earth. The only thing that she could clearly remember was the night she had ruined her life. 

Before she knew it, she was standing in front of Jaxon’s door. She raised her hand to knock, just to have him open it.

“I knew you would come here eventually. I was hoping you would not wait too long like Sherry,” he looked at her feet, the sadness clear in his voice.

“I need to know. Can I ever go home, there has to be a-”

Ella screamed as he lunged at her. His calloused hand clamped over her mouth, cutting off her scream. He pinned her against the wall. She struggled to get free, his hand was so large that it was covering her nose and her mouth. She was no match for him. Eventually, her struggles grew weaker and black spots began to swim before her eyes. 

“I’m going to let go now, but you need to listen and be quiet,” Jaxon hissed.

Ella tried to nod her head, but the pressure from his hand prevented any movement. When he dropped his hand, she gasped and coughed as air rushed back into her lungs. She was so lightheaded that she could not even protest when he guided her into his room. She sat down stiffly on his bed and watched as he started to frantically scribble on a notepad.

The guardians can hear everything. If they are close enough, they can even read our minds. You have to be careful, if they know that you are trying to get home, you commit ‘suicide’. Sherry made that mistake. The leader has been working on our problem, but he hasn’t thought of anything solid yet. Each building is a pod in the organization, I’m in charge of this one. We are supposed to pool our ideas together and I will give them to the leader. Eventually, we will find a way home.”

“Who-”

Ella clicked her mouth shut before the unspoken question could be heard. 

“No one knows the leader’s name, that way the guardians can never find out who he is. Only the person in charge of each pod ever sees him and even that is not very often. Our goal is to find a way home and to restore our original memories.” Jaxon wrote.

Ella took the paper and pencil from him.

“What do you mean our original memories?”

“The leader believes that we were not brought here as prisoners. He believes that we were brought here to be slaves. The guardians altered our memories in order to keep us complacent. We were not sent here, we were kidnapped.”

Ella stared at Jaxon’s handwriting in disbelief. She could remember driving home on that snowy night. She could still feel her eyes growing heavy. That split second of dosing off and the squeal of tires on the icy road. She did not think she could ever forget the look on her son’s face as they spun out. There was no way they could have implanted that. Hot tears of shame raced down her face as the memories flashed sharply in her mind.

Jaxon clasped her hand in his. He knew what she was going through. Even though he believed the leader, the “memories” of what he had done still hurt. He knew they were not real, but the pain of not knowing if he would ever see his family again was. It would take Ella time to accept what he had told her, but he hoped that she would be able to handle it. They needed everyone working on a plan to get home, not alerting the guardian’s to their plan. Loosing Sherry was a serious blow.

“You have had a long day. You should probably get some sleep and gather your thoughts. You have to work again tomorrow and I’m sure that you are already sore. Remember,” Jaxon tapped the paper firmly.

Only your thoughts are safe.” was scrawled across the bottom.

Paying Dues

I have been applying like crazy to get a writing job and get my name out there. My goal is to write a new short story once a week so that the people I am referring to my blog can get a better feel for my writing styles. The writing prompt for this short story was about dying only to find out you are a prisoner who is being released. The title of the story is called Paying Dues.

Paying Dues

         She gasped softly as the pain began to fade. The area around her wound seemed to go cold and numb. Her heart pounded loudly in her ears as she slid down the wall into a crumpled heap. Every thought seemed like she was struggling to grasp it through a fog, just to have it slip away. The plain gray wall across from her slowly went out of focus. She could tell she was fading away, the pain barely registered as her eyes closed for the last time.

She was shocked when her eyes opened. She was walking down a brightly lit tunnel. The light was so blinding that she tried to shield her eyes from it. She was not sure how she was even standing after collapsing, let alone walking. She did not even know where she was, the tunnel was totally new. 

“Is this what dying is? Walking into the light,” her thoughts echoed clearly in her head. 

She looked down and finally noticed that the gaping wound on her side was gone. Her heart gave an awkward flutter at her new clothes. She could remember everything clearly, the alleyway, the mugging, the stabbing.

“I don’t want to die yet,” she thought miserably still marching forward into the light.

She stumbled suddenly as the blinding light winked out of existence. Her hands flew out wildly to brace herself against the walls she could no longer see. She froze as a deep voice echoed through the tunnel.

“Good afternoon, Prisoner 2743. You have served your sentence, you are free to go.”

The earth seemed to rock violently under her feet as the voice faded away. Nothing made sense anymore. The only memory she had was the mugging. She could not even remember her name, much less why she had been imprisoned. She looked up as a small door opened up at the end of the tunnel. She walked toward the door as quickly as her shaking legs could handle.

The door led into a dingy alleyway that was almost identical to the one she had been mugged in. Her head was spinning and her breath came in panicked gasps. On the ground near a puddle was a black bag. She glanced around, before hesitantly bending to unzip it. Somehow, she knew that whatever was in the bag was meant for her. The door silently closed and faded away as she opened the bag. The clicking of the zipper seemed to be magnified in her ears. She winced softly as the noise grew louder. Finally, the bag fell open.

The contents of the bag included a lain blue dress, black shoes, and a plastic card. She flipped over the card and quickly read it. According to the card her name was Ella. It had her address on it, but she had no idea how to get there. She changed out of her dirty orange scrubs and put on the plain dress. She tried to smooth her hair as much as she could, but her fingers were no match for her matted curls.

Ella crouched behind the closest dumpster as the sound of footsteps grew closer. The last time she was in an alley had not ended well.

“What’s happening to me,” she wondered as the footsteps came closer. “I remember the alley and the mugging. When did I become a prisoner and why can’t I remember anything?”

She peeked around the green dumpster when she no longer heard anything. A shrill scream escaped as the source of the footsteps became apparent. Standing at the end of the alley, was a seven foot tall blue thing. It looked vaguely like a human, but it’s one eye and purple hair made it clear instantly that whatever that thing was, it was not human. Ella turned to run in the opposite direction, but it was a dead end. Her panic was so intense that she did not realize the thing was talking at first.

“-job is to help prisoners make the transition,” it’s voice was an odd warble that she had to strain to understand.

Ella stared incredulously at the blue creature. The longer she stared, the more she noticed the little oddities. It’s long arms ended with four fingers each tipped with long nails. Where a humans knees would have been, the legs bent in the opposite direction. She approached on trembling legs, unsure how to handle the situation.

“Wh-what are you,” Ella finally managed to mutter out.

“As I said, my name is Phlagset. I am a guardian here and my job is to help prisoners make the transition.”

The creature’s gigantic eye blinked slowly.

“If you will follow me, I will take you to your house. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask. Once I leave you, no one else will know the answer and I will likely never see you again,” Phlagset started walking away without waiting for an answer.

Ella raced to keep up with him, her human legs having to work overtime to match his long strides. Her mind was racing, she didn’t think she would be able to organize her thoughts enough to form coherent questions.

“Where are we?” 

“This dimension is called Requast. I believe that your home planet, in an effort to to stop overpopulation, has begun sending their prisoners here.”

“But, I was stabbed, I was dying. Nothing has ever been more real than the pain of dying.”

“If you were to travel across dimensions and maintain your memories, you would loose your mind. We planted the memories in your mind. You were never stabbed.”

“I don’t remember anything,” Ella felt her eyes fill with tears.

“That is normal. Everything will return to you as you adjust to life in Requast. Be prepared though, sometimes remembering is worse then not knowing. We are not told why you were imprisoned, we just provide you with the means to live after you are done serving your time. Many humans cannot adjust to life here. I suggest that you find others.”

His matter of fact tone shook her. There was something unnerving about hearing that she was not going to be able to survive in such an emotionless voice. The tears in her eyes threatened to spill over at her desolate prospects. 

“Surely someone on earth misses me. I know I was not alone there, I know I had someone,” she thought bitterly.

“We know nothing of about your life before you came here,” Phlagset answered.

“You could hear me,” Ella choked.

“The guardians hear everything that goes on here. As I said, remembering is not always the easiest path. It is better to forget and move on.”

Phlagset stopped abruptly and pointed at a door in front of them. She froze in confusion. 

“This is where you will live. Inside you will find a welcome packet that will help you with the transition. I believe there are a few humans living in this complex. You will probably start getting some memories soon. Be prepared.”

Ella watched as Phlagset walked away. When he turned a corner, she finally forced herself to move. The door was locked, but she quickly noticed what appeared to be a card reader. She pushed the plastic identification card in and was rewarded with a soft click as the door opened. Walking through the door took her into a dimly lit hallway. Both sides of the hall were lined with doors. The third door on left had a small nameplate that simply said ‘Ella’. Her room contained a bed and a wash bin. Folded neatly at the foot of her bed was a second simple dress with the welcome packet laid out next to it. 

She sat down and started flipping through the packet absently. She vaguely registered the map and the section suggesting places where she could work. She could not even wrap her mind around the concept of different dimensions. She jumped up as her door creaked open softly. Her fear was quickly replaced with relief as a human male stepped inside. 

“I’m the unofficial welcome party in this complex,” he said shyly. “There is two other humans living here currently, but I don’t think Sherry will be here much longer. My name is Jaxon. I have been here for six months. If you start to have a hard time remembering, you are welcome to come talk.”

“Thank you. What did you get sent here for,” She blurted out before realizing that it might be considered intrusive.

“I made some choices and my family got hurt,” Jaxon answered sharply and left before she could ask him anything else.

Ella flinched as the door closed, instantly regretting her question. She could not erase the pain she had seen flash across Jaxon’s face. She rose to follow him and apologize, but fell to the ground as her head started pounding. Fresh tears rolled down her face as foggy memories started to flash in her mind. She clutched her splitting head and thrashed on the floor. The pain of remembering threatened to consume her. It dulled the physical pain from her head. As the memories rushed back, she understood the pain on Jaxon’s face.

Hot thick tears rushed down her cheeks as images of her husband and child flashed in front of her. She would never see them again, she was sure they were totally fine with that. She remembered everything and Phlagset was right, it was horrible. The pain subsided, only to be replaced by body wracking sobs. She had to get back to her family and make it up to them. 

She may have served her time, but she knew she had yet to pay her dues. Ella silently swore that she would find a way back and she would fix what she had broken. If she could be sent to this dimension, she could be sent back. She pulled herself onto her lumpy bed and started to formulate a plan.