(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Kane was written by Alexa Smith.)
The fluorescent light in the small room flickered, a man sat alone in the barren room, searching through an old backpack. A rifle hung by the strap on the back of his chair, he looked through the bag producing a can of food from its depths. “Ah.” He grunted, straightening his back, pulling a knife from his pocket. Kane Aiden was not the most handsome of fellows. Scars crisscrossed most of his face and arms where they peaked out from under a gray long sleeved shirt that he had rolled the sleeves up on. He wore dirty jeans and a pair of combat boots. A green coat was thrown against one of the shelving units in the room. His hair dark was long and pulled against the nape of his neck. The room he had holed up in looked to fair no better than he has. It was an old storage room, one of the shelves pushed diagonally across the only exit. Several more of the shelves were scattered around the room, holding old tools and other supplies a janitor might need. The only windows are high on the wall, not very tall, but pretty wide, they were level with the street. Giving Kane full view of the dangers and lay beyond his room.
Kelly approached the barricaded room, and she frowned. It was totally blocked off. She understood Kane was very cautious, but this likely wasn’t going to earn his trust with how she was going to enter the room. With a sigh, Kelly lifted her hand to the shelves the blocked the entrance, and she phased through then immediately lifted her hands because she figured Kane might try to shoot her when he saw what she did. Of course, she could just let him shoot her–or try to. He’d quickly look that the bullets would pass through her too, and she was grateful for her power as a Muse.
She locked eyes with him. “I mean you no harm. I’m Kelly, and I was told I could find you here.”
Knife in hand, Kane jumped off the chair. Spinning on his heels, he pulled the rifle off the back as the chair clattered to the floor. He knelt behind where the chair had fallen, the gun and his eyes trained on the woman. “Who the hell told you that?” He snapped, the knife still in hand on the barrel of the gun; can of food forgotten on the floor.
Kelly lifted her gaze to the ceiling as she considered this, but then she had to smile at him. “You likely wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but it’s safe to say it’s no one who’s hunting you or anything like that.” Seeing how tense he was, she gestured with her hand and conjured a plate of homemade cookies. “Relax. I brought cookies.” She set them on the chair then stepped back, respecting how alerted he was. “Like I said, I’m not here to harm you. Just to chat and ask you a few questions.”
Keeping his stance, he looked at her and then behind her to the barricaded door. Standing up, he did not relax the grip on his gun. “You must understand how unwilling I am to trust this information.” He countered, glancing at the plate of cookies. Those were definitely better than the can he had been trying to pry open. But he brought his attention back to the woman. “About the only thing I can figure is you know Azaela. She does that wacko ‘walls aren’t solid for me!’ thing too…. Helpful sometimes, irritating other moments.”
Kelly smiled. “I find it also useful when people try to kill me.” She motioned to the gun and the knife. “Those won’t harm me at all, but you’re welcome to maintain your own guard stance because I do respect it. So…” Kelly began to pace around the room—it helped her think. “Who’s Azaela?”
He furrowed his brow, “Oh, so you are like her in that way too.” He lowered his gun, “This is useless then.”
Kane slipped his arm through the rifle’s strap, pulling it onto his back, he kept the knife in his hand however. “Azaela is one of my traveling companions. She isn’t exactly a human.”He furrowed his brow,
“So….aliens or magical beings?” Kelly raised her brows.
“She claims magic. I have a tendency to believe that.” He shrugged a shoulder, leaning against the wall behind him. “She calls herself a Guardian Spirit. She found me in the hospital and helped me escape a—” He hesitated, before shaking his head. “A freakin’ Troll. This thing was made of solid rock, I wanted to try and shoot it but Azaela told me it wasn’t going to work.”
“Yeah, shooting rock likely wouldn’t work.” Kelly chuckled as she turned in her pace to face him. “So, magical beings are invading Earth or so. How did you end up here…and where is here anyway?” She asked as she glimpsed around at their surroundings.
Kane looks up at the windows, “Richmond, Virginia.” He sighed, “Something nasty has taken up residence here. We got off the highway for supplies. Azaela and Fen are scouting out ahead. I’m here until I get the all clear. How a scrawny kid who can change into a fox has more protection against these things than I do I will never know. But I’m the human in our merry little band and get to stay here for the time being.”
“I hear foxes are good at stealth, so maybe that’s what advantage he has.” Kelly shrugged. “So, how did you end up teamed up with Azaela and Fen? How did you all meet?” She furrowed her brows as she went on pacing and listening.
Kane crosses his arms, “Azaela woke me up.” He frowned, “I was asleep for awhile, did not even know the world had gone to shit. I remember being deployed. Then the next thing I see is this small girl floating in the air in front of me. Screaming at me that we needed to get going cause a Troll was getting to that floor of the hospital.”
“As for Fen, he’s a recent addition. You see, we started in Norfolk, Virginia, our goal is in Indianapolis, Indiana. We found him on the highway.” He chuckled. “He was asleep in the back of a station wagon, Azaela poked him, and then got attached to the boy. I swear he will get me killed one of these days. The kid is terrified of everything.”
Kelly smiled. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to help him with that.” Then she looked him over. “For a guy who was in a coma for a while, you seem to have recovered quite well because most people can’t jump up and run away after being in a coma for a while. I’m assuming magic helped you somehow or something?”
“That is what Azaela tells me. She passed out soon after we escaped the Troll, claimed that she used up most of it reviving me and giving me the strength to get out of there. It’s been rough since but I’ve managed.” Kane slips the knife back into his pocket, looking up at Kelly. “You can’t slow down in this world. Everything seems to be against us.”
“So why was Azaela so set on waking you and getting you out?” Kelly raised her brow. She found a chair in the shadows in a corner, and she dragged it to the center of the room and sat down. “I mean, you were in a coma. She had to revive you, strengthen you, and get you out–that’s a lot of work, so why you?”
Kane tilts his head, but then nods. “I’ve wondered about that myself. Asked her even. The only thing she tells me is she vows to help the humans.” He lifts the plate of cookies off the chair he was sitting in, and sets them on the shelf before spinning the chair around and sitting on it backwards. “She came through the portal looking for a friend, and is helping humans until she finds her. Who she is, that she won’t tell me. But Azaela has this weird—power, she can see people’s life if she channels her magic. Apparently I was the only one in the hospital who was still barely alive. And she got this thought in her head to help and by god is that girl stubborn.”
Kelly laughed at this. “Good, with everything she’s trying to accomplish, it sounds like she needs to be stubborn. Now though…” she leaned forward, setting her chin in her palm as she observed Kane. “You said you’re going to Indiana? Why?”
A little color drains out of Kane’s face as he looks away. “That might be a touch to morbid to talk about.” He let out a sigh. “It’s my hometown.”
“Might be morbid, but I can work with that.” Kelly nodded. She understood his reluctance, but in her line of work, she learned where people were most reluctant to talk was where she needed to press. “So, your hometown. Other than the world basically going Hell—no other way to put that—what would be so morbid about your home?”
Kane let out a humorless chuckle, turning back to look at her. “I don’t know. That’s kinda the point of going. But if you see the decay of the streets, the fact the only people I’ve seen still living, human like me, have turned around and stabbed me in the back. It makes me reluctant to go back but that is also the only place worth returning too.” He smirked, “If that jumble of words made any sense I applaud you.”
“Actually it does make sense. You have good memories of your home, and you don’t want those memories tainted, but you know you need to go back to see what came of it.” Kelly nodded then tilted her head to a side. “And your family’s there?”
“If they were smart they would have left. But my father was never the one for smart moves,” He sighed, leaning back on the chair and stretching out his legs. “Frankly I would not be surprised to find them—” He shook his head. “Yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised. The only person to rival my father’s stubborn nature is Azaela. I’ve never met two more infuriating people.”
Kelly nodded then sat back in her chair to get comfortable. “So, tell me about your family. What were they like that you recall?”
Kane shifted in his chair, “My mother was a sweet heart… Truly. She ran a local daycare for kids under the age of five. I don’t think she liked it too much when my sister and I were old enough to take care of ourselves.” He chuckled. “Well, my sister barely was old enough. But even when she was younger, she went to the daycare with every other kid my mother watched while I was in school.”
“After school however was our time. I’d walk by the daycare on the way home from school and our mother was usually busy enough that she was good with me taking Alice home. I’d work on homework, feed her something and we’d crash and watch cartoons until our mother would come home and complain that we were watching too much tv…” He let a grin settle on his face.
Kelly smiled. “Sounds like a delightful family. So what do you remember most of Alice?”
“The most huh?” He looked up at the ceiling, “Well, honestly, Alice was ten years younger than me. One of the best things we did was paint. Alice liked to ‘make pretty ‘tures’ as she called it when she was about four. So we’d get back from the day care, I’d dig out her paint set and let her loose on the dining room table while I did homework. My teachers stopped asking about the random red or blue markings on my papers after awhile cause it was such a regular occurrence.” He looked back at Kelly, “Most of the time it was nonsense paintings, that turned black after awhile of her piling more and more paint on it. But as she got older, she got much more serious I guess about it. Some of the work she’s done the last few years I saw her were pretty awesome. And she was only thirteen the last time I saw her.”
“So you’re going home in hopes to find them? And if you do, then what?” She raised her brows. “Because if Azaela is trying to save the wold, I doubt she’d stop at Indiana.”
“I’m not sure if Azaela’s goal is the save the world.” Kane shrugged, “As for if I find them, then we’ll find somewhere to be. I’m sure there is somewhere in like Montana or Nebraska or somewhere with more wilderness that the Fey creatures haven’t hit yet. Or if they have they skipped over it cause the human populace wasn’t strong there.”
This brought up something else Kane had mentioned, and Kelly folded her arms as she contemplated her question before finally voicing it. “You mentioned the other humans you’ve come across have stabbed you in the back. Care to explain?” She raised her brows.
Kane sighed, “One human we’ve run across.” He rested his arms on the back of the chair, “She saved us from—I guess it would be a dirt troll? Azaela had roused it on accident while scavenging for food. I don’t know what really happened. I stayed on the highway, and it appeared and we tried to run but it had these odd vines and grabbed a hold of me. Because nothing can get a grip on Azaela. But suddenly a woman was there, with an RPG, and blew the damn thing to kingdom come.”
He laughed, “She asked if, in exchange for food, we wanted weapons.” Kane shrugged, “Naturally I was interested, if not new weapons at least ammo for the things I had acquired.”
That made sense–weapons, ammo, and food were necessities for surviving at this stage. “But not everything was what it seemed?” She guessed, lifting her brows.
“Yes. She led us into the city. Just a few miles east of here actually. It looked like a Gun Shop. I let Azaela stay outside, she has this thing against weapons and killing humans. We got into an argument when we ran into a group of rogue military right after she woke me up. I killed a few—she did not agree with that.” He shook his head, “Anyway, not important. I walked into the gun shop behind this chick. And for a few minutes we’re all good, I see a plethora of guns and drawers full of ammo this girl collected. I’m thanking her when suddenly I see something blocking the exit.”
“I don’t know if this girl was possessed or what but she suddenly attacks me. Her hands gripping my throat, I manage to throw her off. She was much stronger than she looked. I found my pistol in the exchange, and the next time she lunged at me, I assume not seeing my gun, I let out a few rounds as she scratched me. I’m breathless having beaten this girl back, Azaela comes into the room and drops.”
He frowned, shaking his head, “Something in the room was a magic drain. She said something about it on the way over but I didn’t understand exactly what that meant.” Kane fidgeted and stood up. “She was lying on the ground, it looked like all the cracks were opening up on her skin. Something in the room was draining the magical being of everything that made her magical… She’s screaming at me.”
Kelly frowned as she listened to all this. It was not what she was expecting. “But you got her out…”
“I couldn’t!” He sighed, rubbing his temple. “The door was still barred with whatever magic it was. I know this might sound crazy but we found this pendant on the chick, Azaela told me to smash it. And I did. The magic barricading the door disappeared and Azaela was still trembling but alive at least. After she regained herself she explained to me that it was a wishing stone, the girl must have wished for enough power to overcome the Fey creatures, so it was draining anything with magic around her when she was in any perceived danger—now if putting two or three 9 millimeter bullets into the woman didn’t trigger the danger alarm, I’m not sure what does.”
He turned back to Kelly, “The only thing I can figure is she lured us there to kill me and Azaela for our supplies. That was how she got all those guns and ammo in that room. I just had more military training than the average joe she jumped.”
Kelly let out a sigh of relief when she heard how it ended and she leaned forward, gripping her hands together. “Well tell me you took advantage of the supplies she had.”
“Hell yes.” He smirked, “Took whatever I could carry. Couldn’t keep the RPG, took bulky, but I took enough bullets for my pistol and a rifle.” He motioned behind him, “It was an upgrade from the one I found on the dead in the hospital. This is actual military grade. Semi-automatic. Azaela hates the thing but seriously, if it’s my life or killing them. I think that is an obvious choice.”
“Good choice.” She nodded at his weapon and smiled. “Okay, so you’ve been through a lot, and you still have a lot of hardships ahead of you, but if everything could work out for the best, what would you hope for? What would the future look like?”
Pacing back to his chair, he turned it back and sat down leaning against the back. “It would be—” He frowned, “You know, I’ve been entirely consumed with finding my family, I’m not really sure what I’m hoping for.” He shook his head. “I just hope to find them alive and find some way to live in this hellish world. I’m not sure if anyone wanted to save the world they could. Humanity has been beaten down so much. I’ve been on the move for over a week and the only humans I’ve seen in rogue military and that chick that tried to kill us.”
“But are you sure you’ll be able to just grab your family and hide away hoping that everything will just leave you alone?” Kelly raised her brows. “You know that won’t happen. You’re former military. You’ve been trained too well to just stay by.. I understand you maybe not taking charge to save the world, but I don’t see you just standing by either.” Kelly shook her head.
“I don’t have much of a choice. In this week I’ve been awake, the world has entirely gone to hell. I don’t see any way to improve it. The creatures don’t listen to reason and conventional means don’t work. Most of them heal quickly or a bullet wont phase them.”
“But you’ve got Azaela on your side and a boy who turns into a fox. Maybe along your journey you should keep an eye out for more allies of the supernatural kind…especially if humans are just going to betray you.” Then Kelly sat back and spread out her arms as she shrugged. “Sure, it’s possible anyone can betray you, but knowing and accepting that puts you one step ahead of the others because you’d be expecting and prepared for it. It’s definitely not an ideal situation, but it’s better than nothing.” She shrugged again and folded her arms. “Okay, so what would you say is your deepest regret?”
Kane tilted his head and looked up at the flickering ceiling light. “Joining the military.” He sighed, “I know that sounds counter productive. But if I hadn’t I’d been awake when the world went to hell and might have been around my family enough to help them. This—” He motioned around the room. “Wouldn’t have happened. Don’t get me wrong, I like Azaela well enough—Fox boy gets on my nerves, but then I would have been there.”
“That’s understandable.” Kelly nodded. “But without your training, and despite how stubborn and prepared you are, do you think you would have survived this long?” She raised her brows. “Maybe your training is exactly what you and the rest of the world needs to survive, and yes, you might have been killed early on had you been awake when things started falling apart, but you were in a coma…almost as a way to keep you safe really, to preserve you until the moment that you were most needed. Now, here you are, alive, and with the proper training that gives you a fighting chance. Why now? No idea.” Kelly shook her head. “But I think you might find yourself surprised as you continue on. Now though…” She tilted her head regarding him. “What is your greatest fear?”
Kane chuckled dryly, shaking his head. “Finding their bodies in Indianapolis. Simple as that.”
“And if that’s what you find, then what?”
“I don’t know. I suppose burying them?” He sighed, “I honestly have given more thought to this than I care to admit. But—nothing is going to change the hope that we find them. Alive. I’ll deal with their death, if they are actually dead.”
“That makes sense.” Kelly nodded and decided to move on. “Okay my time is about up, but I have one more question. Before all this happened and such, were you ever involved in a relationship? I find it hard to believe that you wouldn’t have been.”
Kane raised an eyebrow, “Relationship? Sure. I had a few girls in high school. But they never lasted long. I went to prom all that jazz. Never really met anyone special though if that’s what you are asking. I joined the military right after high school and did all the stereotypical army things. I don’t know, just never really found someone who made me comfortable enough I guess.” He shrugged. “You have to really connect and be comfortable with someone when you are being shipped out every six months somewhere new. Because they stray, you stray and whatever if it isn’t that solid. Better to have a fluid relationship where you don’t get hurt.”
“And then you ended up in a coma and just woke up to find the world a mess.” Kelly nodded then tsked her tongue and smiled at him. “Well, Kane, I hope you do find someone special along the way because I think it might be what you need—even if you don’t think so.” Then she sighed and rose to her feet. “Well, my time is up. I appreciate this conversation, and I do hope you the best with your endeavors and that you find your family alive and well.” She gave him a smile. “Keep the cookies.” With a nod, she turned and headed out.
Kane stood up along with her, “Yeah, thanks for the conversation. You have no idea how long it’s been having been talking to magic creatures this entire time. At least you know how the world use to work it seems.” He nodded, “Thanks for the cookies. Safe Travels.”
Alexa Smith’s story Survive: Kane Aiden has no release date set yet, but you can follow her on Facebook for more updates: