They ran toward the edge of town. The street they’d been following led them into the parking lot of an electrical power plant.

Bern rode his skateboard ahead of the others. He was the first to reach the chain-link fence that surrounded the plant. “It’s locked! Dead end!” he yelled back.

Cara ran to the fence and shook it with all of her strength. The panels swayed as she tried to force the lock loose. She pounded the fence with her fist as her efforts proved fruitless.

Mia panicked. “No no no! What do we do?!”

A howl in the night made all of them freeze. The beasts had found them. They were coming.

Nico faced the threat, a look of grim resolution on his face. “This is it,” he said. “Like it or not, we’ve got no choice but to play the game.” Flames erupted from his brand and spread harmlessly over his right hand. He clenched it into a fist. “Let’s make this quick.”

Responding to a three-year-old signal, Shavonne and Bern stepped up to form a line with Nico. Bern kicked his skateboard up into his hands and held it defensively across his chest. Shavonne pulled out a tape measure from her skirt pocket and unrolled it with a flick of her wrist. She wrapped a portion of it around her fingers to secure her grip.

“Nico! Your hand!” Mia screamed in disbelief.

“It’s just his magic,” David calmly said. “I’ll explain later.”

“You’ve got a fuck-ton to explain, pretty boy,” Bern snapped back.

“True. How about we deal with the Gibberish first?”

“You’re talking gibberish!” Mia exclaimed.

Sakari growled in frustration. “If I had my sword, I could…” With a flash of white light, a wooden sword appeared in his right hand. He swung it once or twice, testing it. A smile spread over his face as he realized it was just like the sword he trained with at Master Phong’s dojo. He laughed and joined the front line. “Bring it on! Whatever you are!”

Meanwhile, Cara stood with her back to the chain-link fence, frantically searching the parking lot for a way to defend herself. And the others if it came to that. She mumbled, “Crap, what can I use? C’mon, there’s gotta be something.”

White light flashed before her, and a tennis racket fell at her feet. It was identical to the one she used in high school. Cara took the racket. Purple magic oozed out of the brand on her right hand. Whatever substance it was, it had a consistency between oil and smoke. The magic poured down Cara’s hand, the handle of the tennis racket, and settled into the spaces between the weave.

“Cara?” Mia asked, her voice tired from shouting. “What is that? What’s going on?”

A harsh cry pierced the blackness. The pursuing Gibberish ran through the pools of light formed by the resolute pairs of street lamps. It was a cluster of six – three dogs and three birds the size of crows.

Cara ran forward, positioning herself behind the front line.

©2021 Joyce Lewis. All rights reserved.