5 Ebb and Flow

Why..,

Why is this happening?

Who… Who are these people?

I stepped forward, arm outstretched, eyes darting around.

Where is the girl? I need… I need to find that poor little thing. She was crying. It's far too late for someone her age to be out here.

Out of the bushes, a man lunged at Ada with a machete. She pivoted, moving at an incredible speed, and brought the channeling rod up. It cracked against his chin, snapping his head back to an impossible angle. His limp frame fell to the floor before me.

Another man pounced, pitchfork in hand, and Ada leaped into the air. To the naked eye her movements seemed wrong. Otherworldly. She appeared to flicker and blur in a haze of motion. The pitchfork pierced the ground and Ada landed on the handle, bringing the metal baton down on his head as she did. It went as far as his shoulders, turning his skull into fragments and mush.

"Graah!" A violent scream erupted to my side. "Keep going, she won't be able to keep this up forever!"

I stepped forward, head dazed. Death. So much death. Have I ever known such loss? Such pain and gore, the metallic stench of blood lingering in the air. The cries and screams of men and women alongside the cracking of bone and skull.

Loss… Loss. Where have I-

The image of a girl flashed in my mind. She laughed and it sounded like the first day of spring. She twirled, her blonde hair like a sandy wave crashing in ringlets above her shoulders. It crashed down to denim overalls, deep and blue like the sea. The girl beckoned and I reached out in my mind. So close. So far. I couldn't move.

She swung her body, silently laughing, and began to move away.

"N-no!" I said out loud, and I was back in the violence of reality.

At my feet, Ada looked up, her face pale. Blood dripped from her nose and the whites of her eyes were red with burst vessels.

"Run, Kay," she said, voice weak. "Take the channeling rod and go! Follow the road and d-don't stop."

"Ada," I fell to my knees, meeting her bloodied gaze. Then, I wrapped my arms around her and held her up to my chest. The group was crowding, snickering. Hollering.

"The rod," she said, placing it in my hand. "T-there's a button. Click and… and hold it. B-but not… Not too…" Ada went quiet and limp. Then, I went cold. My eyes remained fixed on the young woman in my arms.

Why, I thought. Does this feel so familiar?

"Oi, boy," one of the farmers said. "Just hand over that there channeling rod and we'll let you go."

Let me go?

"Brat!" Another yelled. "Did you not 'ere 'im? Give us the damn rod or you'll end up like 'er."

Like her? Ada is…

No! My mind screamed. Get your head in the game, Kay. Snap out of it.

I stood, channeling rod in hand, eyes ahead. A brewing sense of disaster hung, sustained by tension in the air. My feeble body shook. My hands, sweaty and trembling, could barely hold the rod. My sight remained fixed ahead, trained on the pack of farmers. They circled like wolves.

And that's when I saw it. The body of the young girl. It lay on the dirt floor of the forest. Her rucksack dress bloodied. A man stepped on her as he circled around. Oblivious. Cruel.

My mind whirled. They used her as bait. To get to us.

I looked down at Ada.

To kill us. They sent her out with a knife so they could get in position. Those… THOSE-

"One last chance!" one shouted.

"You bastards!" I roared, pressing my thumb into the channeling rod. All around me seemed to stop.

My body surged with power and the trees danced to a windless night symphony. Leaves rustled and sticks cracked. I could hear and feel everything. The world sung out and my body was its melody. Power. It didn't stop flooding into me.

One of the farmers cursed and charged with a pitchfork extended.

Why is he running so slow? I thought. It's as if someone pressed pause on him.

Without much effort, I bumped the pitchfork to the side and the man began to fall.

How can he fall like that? I thought. It's so comical with how slow he's going. It's like he's going even slower now.

As the man fell I brought the rod up in an arc, as fast and hard as I could.

I will break them for what they've done.

"Now," I said, in a hushed tone. "Feel my rage."

The arc collided and the man's body exploded from the waist up. A shower of red mist filled the air in front of me, prolonged in its fall. Sluggish in the apparent sedation of time. I stepped into the cloud of blood and towards the group of farmers.

"Devil!" One managed to scream as he turned tail in flight. I was already blocking his path before he completed his spin. And with one swing, he was gone.

The others stared, wide-eyed, mouths agape. One dropped to his knees crying and begging.

My heart pounded. My head spun. The rage overwhelmed me. This callous, selfish group of desperate cowards. Picking on the weak. Using the weak.

Begging? No… No, no, no, no, no.

"You'll die for what you've done!" I screamed into the night and charged.

.

.

.

"Hey," a voice sounded. "Wake up!"

Groaning, I opened my eyes, squinting in the morning light. Ada hung over me, her face close to mine. My heart began to beat, fast.

"You are an idiot," she said, voice as calm as ever. "An idiot that's lucky to be alive."

She outstretched her hand and I took it with my own. My body ached all over and my head felt as if it were already split down the middle. The pain caused me to yelp as Ada pulled me to standing. I rubbed my eyes, and as they adjusted to the light, I saw the carnage around me. Bodies strewn across the floor, blood-soaked dirt, roots dirtied with flesh. The scene looked like a horror movie, but to me the most terrifying aspect was-

"I did this," I said, throat filling with bile. "I kill-"

I couldn't hold it back and emptied my guts onto the ground. Ada placed her hand on my back, rubbing it.

"You did what you had to, Kay," she said. "They would have done the same to you."

I wiped my mouth, tears stinging my eyes. The taste of vomit persisted on my palette.

"What… What happened to you," I asked, straightening myself and meeting her green gaze. "I thought you died."

Ada shrugged. "I thought I was going to. I got flow fatigue. Ended up taking in too much in for too long. I'm not a trained soldier, so a minute or so will do me in."

"Flow fatigue…" I murmured.

"It'll be why your body is so sore right now. The human body isn't designed to wield power for long periods of time. Though," she looks around. "I'm surprised you managed this. Hmm... I wonder if it's to do with the clarifying pill that you took."

Looking around, my stomach churned once more.

"Can we… Talk about this some other time," I said.

Ada nodded and made her way to the carriage. "Good idea, best not to linger. Let's get going."

I followed after her, avoiding looking down.

The channeling rod, embedded in the chest of some nameless farmer sat at the base of the carriage. Ada bent over and pulled it out. I winced.

She wiped the rod clean, strapped it to her side, and started to lead the horses out of the forest. "You are a very lucky idiot," she sighed. "But I'm... I'm grateful you didn't leave me behind."

Next chapter