Maelstrom: Part 4

Hi everyone! Sorry it’s been a bit; life is crazy! Here’s the continuation to the most recent installment of The Adventures of Elizabeth Shelley! It’s a bit longer, since I’ve been gone for so long. Also, there is going to be a part 5 (wow so long)! As always, you can head on over to Instagram to follow me on @kpwritingsblog, and leave a comment or a like below if you liked it! 

The Adventures of Elizabeth Shelley

“There’s still quite a bit more.” Elizabeth says. “If you want a break.”

The yellow evening sun streams in through the window and onto the paper that lays out on the table set in front of me. My tiny scribbles fill the page, messy and unorganized, the sign of a work in progress.

“So,” I laugh, “you just stumbled upon this…compound? This settlement?”

Elizabeth doesn’t move her gaze from out the window, still lost in the past. “Yes. I was…naive. All I wanted to do was cheer Rhett up, after his mentor–Beata’s death. It was also the perfect time to try out one of the Doors Finn had avoided earlier. Curiosity kills the cat, so they say.”

“And satisfaction brought it back.” I finish the phrase. “It is pretty remarkable, though. To stumble upon the exact dimension at the exact time and place to happen upon Calahan. Almost like fate.”

Elizabeth scoffs. “Nothing like fate. More like the beginning of a nightmare.”

Her face has gone dark again, and I contemplate saying something. Before I can, she clears her throat and clears away whatever darkness was there.

“So, we took out those two guys in the room pretty easily…”

Looking up and breathing heavy, I see Rhett hit the arm of the wooden chair which somehow got ripped off over the one guy’s head, knocking him clean out.

 

Standing up, I dust my hands off and roll my shoulder, trying to stretch out the now aching pain.

 

“Are you hurt?” Rhett asks between his heaving breaths.

 

I laugh, adrenaline still pumping through my veins. “Nah. Let’s go find this guy, shall we?”

 

It takes about half a second to find where they’re keeping him, with the heavy black padlock a dead giveaway. I set to work, kneeling at the padlock and pulling the long, wegferend-issued bobby pins from my hair yet again.

 

“So what’s your grand plan for getting him out of here?” I ask as I twist the thin metal into the padlock. “It’s not like we can just walk him out of here like we walking in.”

 

Rhett, looking around the hallway of the house at high alert, says, “Well, we’ll think about that when we get there.”

 

I snort. “You’re starting to sound like me, you know.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

He looks at me, and in that moment, I don’t see the confidant and quiet wegferend apprentice. I see a kid, a few years younger than me, who has sadness in his eyes he shouldn’t know yet.

 

“Just,” I say, turning back to the padlock, “spontaneity doesn’t look as good on you as preparedness does.”

 

His brow furrows at that, but he doesn’t have the chance to respond as the lock clicks open. Swinging the door open, we see a dark staircase leading down. Rhett starts to head through, but I stop him with my arm. I head down first.

 

This is new to me, this feeling in the back of my throat when he looks at me. This sort of…concern for another human being’s life. Like, of course I care about my family and my friends back home, but there’s something different about it when it’s life and death.

 

At the bottom of the stairs, a small dark room opens up in front of us, and in the corner sits Calahan, huddled in on himself with his eyes shut tight and chains wrapped around a metal circle hooked into the wall. I motion for Rhett to stay as I approach him, my right hand gripped so tight on my sword that my knuckles ache. My brain just plays my fight with him in the tunnels over and over, how quick and smooth and lethal he was. Now, he looks so young. He looks like he could go to my school.

 

A few feet away from him, I say, “Hey.” Throwing the word out there softly, wondering how he’ll react. A little part of me can’t help but think maybe this whole thing is one big trap.

 

His eyes flutter open at my words, and he squints up at me, not bothering to move his body. He doesn’t react at all, simply looking up in confusion.

 

I chance another step forward, and I say, “Hey, man, do you remember me?”

 

I hear Rhett voice a sound of confusion behind me, but I ignore it, focusing on the Searu mercenary in front of me. An idea forms in my brain, an idea that says maybe this isn’t the worst idea. This could turn out in everyone’s favor.

 

Calahan’s eyes widen, just a little, just enough. He does recognize me.

 

“Well, I didn’t realize you were this stupid.” He groans, lifting his body shakily with his chained hands, shifting the mass of cuts and bruises toward us.

 

“You do realize we’re about to save your life, right?” I can’t help but say. “A little humility might be appreciated.”

 

Rhett steps up to my side, mouth agape in confusion. I hit his arm just slightly, a little sign to trust me. Calahan makes a sputter, a groaning noise that might be a laugh.

 

“See,” he says, “if this is what they did to me, what do you think they’ll do to you?”

 

I don’t understand what he’s saying, so I just ignore it. Worry about that later.

 

“Where’s the watch?” I say, the anger escaping just a little in my voice.

 

Rhett whips his head to me, eyes wide, but I stay focused on Calahan. Then, I see the realization come to him in the corner of my eye. The realization that this man might know what happened to Beata.

 

“Ah, so that’s the catch.” Calahan says. “You wegferends are no different, you know. Always in it for yourselves.”

 

In that moment, Rhett lunges for him, death in his eyes. I jump on him, holding him back. Calahan barely twitches.

 

“What did you do?!” Rhett yells, and it takes every bit of strength I have to throw him backward toward the stairs.

 

Someone had to have heard him.

 

“Not. The. Time.” I say, shooting Rhett ice with my eyes. Luckily, he quiets.

 

“Oh,” Calahan says, “oh, that was loud. Better act quickly, little wegferends.”

 

Something about the way he said that made me think that he wasn’t lying when he said they’d do worse to Rhett and me. So I rush over to him, and he holds up the chains for me to inspect.

 

“Nothing’s gonna get me out of these, luv.” He whispers quickly. “They use Opes technology.”

 

“Oh, you mean like the watch you stole from me?” I say in a soft tone, trying to see if there’s some sort of lock on the chains.

 

“Yeah, that’s it.” He chuckles a little but trails off into a groan, apparently in pain.

 

I roll my eyes, and then I yank my sword out, as Calahan visibly flinches. Wedging it into one of the chains, I use it like a lever, lifting up and pushing down quickly. A loud clang rings out as the chain link breaks in a clean line. Twisting, I unhook the now unconnected link from the chain and quickly do the same to his other side.

 

“Wow. That’s some sword.” Calahan mutters as I pull him to his feet, heaving his arm over my shoulder before he can slump to the ground.

 

“And you’ll stay away from it.” I say back, and then I gesture with my free hand to Rhett. “Come on, Rhett. I need your help to get him out of here. Quickly!”

 

I add the last word when he doesn’t move, and he jumps from as still as stone to action, grabbing Calahan’s other arm. And we head up the stairs and out of the basement.

 

All I focus on for the next ten minutes or so is the feeling of Calahan’s weight on my shoulder, the sound of all three of our heavy breathing and our clunking footsteps, and what’s around us, whipping my head in all directions every few seconds. Somehow, we get out of the house and are stumbling behind the homes along the fence, a three-bodied monster. We don’t see anyone.

 

Which makes no sense. There’s no way we were so lucky that no one heard Rhett, or the breaking of the chains. Unless we were.

 

Just as the thought crosses my mind, and just as we reach the end of the houses and are looking for a good spot to climb the fence, a voice from somewhere behind us prickles up the back of my neck.

 

“Well, what is this, now?”

 

Immediately we freeze, and my stomach sinks. We’ve been spotted.

 

I make eye contact with Rhett who stands a few feet in front of me at the fence, and his eyes are as wide as mine feel. Slowly, I pivot around to see our interloper.

 

And there he stands. The young man with the sandy brown hair. Up close, though, his face is hard, with a sharp jawline and icy blue eyes that dig into me. Somewhere in his early twenties, a sort of presence rolls off his broad shoulders, a presence of power and control. He doesn’t look angry, or scared, exactly; he almost looks pleasantly surprised. As if we were dinner guests that had finally arrived.

 

“Calahan, who are you friends?” He says, a thin smile creeping on his face and his hands spreading out. That’s when I notice it.

 

The watch. There it is, all closed up and tight around his wrist. He has my watch.

 

Shrugging when Calahan doesn’t say anything, as he merely glares, the man sighs. “Well, I suppose I will have to introduce myself. My name is Castor. Leader of the Anarchists.”

 

I raise my eyebrows. “The what now?”

 

No emotion shows on his face as he flits his eyes over me. “You must be new to your little…organization.”

 

He snarls at that last word, and I gather he’s not a friend to the wegferends.

 

Just as I’m about to respond, however, Calahan at my right leaps into action. I don’t even have time to see what he does as a loud bang crashes through the air and my vision goes white.

 

Stumbling and falling, I try to blink the stars out of my eyes as the bang reverberates in my eardrums. I crash into another body, and it takes be a second to realize it’s Castor. But he’s dazed too, and I see through the white puffing smoke him shouting something on the ground next to me. Without thinking, I reach over with my hand and yank on his arm. Before he can realize it, the watch is in my hands again, finally.

 

Before I can gather myself, Calahan is pulling me to my feet by my upper arm, suddenly supporting me instead of the other way around. The ringing in my ears silences everything else as Calahan, Rhett, and I dodge within the white smoke and between the reaching arms of villagers as somehow we flop ourselves over the fence. I don’t really know how we get there, but my hearing slowly fades from the buzzing to the sounds of our feet on the forest floor.

 

As I start to hear us, our breathing and our cursing and our running, I hear Castor’s commanding voice in the distance shouting at his people, and the scrambling of footsteps as they follow. Still running, I fumble with the watch that had somehow made its way onto my wrist, and with movements that feel like coming home, the mechanism whirs to life as I tap in coordinates.

 

Grabbing Calahan and Rhett by the wrists, I slam the watch down on my thigh and send us hurtling through space and through dimensions.

Thanks for reading! If you liked it, you can leave a like and share it with your friends! If you want to start from the beginning of this series, click on the Adventures of Elizabeth Shelley tag, scroll to the bottom, and click on The Beginning: Part 1! Any questions? Leave a comment, or follow my Instagram @kpwritingsblog or my Twitter @kpwritings!

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