When she finally reached her dorm, she knocked on Jackson’s door. After a year of begging him to leave his college in Utah, he had come back home to Illinois, and now lived right down the hall from her. They clicked in ways no one in this world could ever understand—in ways that confounded both of them from time to time—with an immeasurable bond that seemed to transcend time and space. They had been to hell and back together, and the hand basket they had traveled in had been worn and tattered along the way, but with love and nurturing, it was still intact. Jackson had been a lifeline in a time of darkness.
“What’s with that cold air?” He opened the door, and his hazel eyes darted to the hallway. It never failed to amaze her how tall he was compared to her average stature, and how his handsome features were always enhanced by the spiky brown hair with his blond and red highlights. Sometimes, she wondered if his magical abilities allowed him to roll out of bed without a hair out of place, for he made his appearance seem effortless.
“It was following me again, so I took care of it. Now they’re really pissed.”
“Come inside,” he said quickly, closing the door behind him. “I’ll light some candles and burn some incense right away.”
“I’ll make an energy barrier. They’re coming, and we need to protect ourselves. We can’t let them find us.” Lyssa took her wand out of her backpack and started to draw a protective circle around them, calling silently to each of the four corners to protect them from the darkness outside.
“What are they going to do?” Jackson asked her as he lit the last candle for spirit to protect them.
“I don’t know, but I’m tired of running. There are enough of us on this campus to do something about those things out there. First, we need to find out where they’re coming from.” Looking through her bag of oddities, she let out a sigh of relief when she found the feather from one of the large crows that spent a lot of time outside her window. Lyssa had considered the possibility that this particular bird was one of her totem animals, so she had picked up the feather to preserve the link that she had felt to him. When she had first channeled with him, she knew at once that she was right. From that moment on, the black bird seemed to follow her everywhere, and she had taken to calling him Thor.
Lyssa placed the feather in the middle of their circle and pondered how she could work with her totem to find this evil presence. “Keep an eye out. I’m going in.” She sat down and crossed her legs in front of her. Picking up the feather from the floor, she held it in her right hand, and then grounded herself by breathing in the energy around her until she could see the rainbow of energy flowing from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. Lyssa called out to the bird in an ethereal voice that was in between planes of existence. “Thor, brother bird, let me see what you see. Let your eyes be my eyes. Show me where they are.”
As the bird took flight, she could only see through its eyes. It felt as if she were wearing blinders that blocked out everything except what she could see in the space on her forehead between her two eyes, right where the axis of the third eye was located. He flew away from the college campus and down the main street that connected the two sister cities. Then the bird soared over the movie theater, the grocery store, and past the hospital. Soon, he was crossing over downtown to where the old abandoned factory buildings were located. When he reached one of these buildings, Thor perched on a windowsill on the fifth floor.
The building was like any other abandoned building. The windows were filmy; some broken, some boarded. This window was clouded over, making it hard to see the people inside, but it was easy to feel the darkness that her totem felt. The air was thick, making it hard to breathe. The disturbing blackness was ebbing around her like the pulse of a migraine at the front of her temples. After a few moments, the bird trained its eyes on the occupants of the room.
A small murmuring of collective voices came from inside. Five people stood near the flames of a small fire, chanting words that were indecipherable to the outside world. As the chanting got louder, the flames rose higher from the old oil barrel, so high that the flames seemed to leap into the air and live separately from their earthly container. They took the shape of the shadows, much like the shadow she had seen earlier this evening. It seemed to turn with haunting accuracy as it looked directly to where Thor was perched outside. Instantaneously, she felt the air being sucked out of her lungs, and the sight that her totem spirit had provided her was quickly deflected. She dropped the feather and gasped, “They’re onto me. Quick, send the guardians to erase our location before we’re found.”
Jackson sent guardians of each corner…North, East, South and West. They needed protection from the minions that were sure to find them if they did not act quickly. While he summoned the guardians, she asked her spirit guides to push out any unwelcome guests from their dorm as they waited in silence.
The phone rang, and Jackson picked it up before the second ring. “Hello?”
“What the hell did you do?” Lana accused through the phone.
“What do you mean?” Jackson asked quietly.
“Have you seen the shadows outside? They’re all circling the campus right now, you moron! Tell me you didn’t try to find them?”
“We may have tried to find them. But, we can’t worry about that right now. We’ve sent out the guardians to mask our location.”
“I’m on my way.” Lana’s annoyance was clear even from across the room.
“Oh lord, here we go!” Lyssa sighed outwardly. “She’ll bring her whole coven with her before long. We don’t need that attention here.”
“Give her some credit, Lyssa. She won’t take any unnecessary risks.”
After ten minutes, there was a knock on the door. Jackson opened it up to find a man that neither one of them had seen before. “You two, come with me right away.” His voice was as commanding as his sudden presence.
“Who the hell are you?” Lyssa put her hand on the phone, ready to dial for help.
“It doesn’t matter at the moment. We need to get you out of here. Right now. It’s for your own good. Think of it as a witness protection situation.” His face was shadowed and hard to read. He pulled out his wand and fired a bolt into the hallway behind him. Jackson and Lyssa both pulled out their wands and jumped to the door to peer outside. There were shadows closing in on them, and there was no escape.
“Grab my hand if you want to live!”
They quickly shot glances at each other, knowing that there was only one option, and it was not a choice they would normally take. They would have to trust this stranger and put their hope for survival out to the universe. Lyssa closed her eyes as she grabbed his hand, half expecting to be devoured by the shadows swirling right behind them. There was a static electricity pop and then a whoosh of air around them.