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LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments Here's the quick summary. I'll try to provide a link to the first chapter, but I'm not sure how to post it b.c I don't have a wattpad or anything.

Four teenagers, Hazel, Alex, Dylan, and Skylar, discover magical powers and enter their new world as outsiders, enrolling at a magical high school in San Francisco that is ground zero for a conflict that is ripping the mage community apart. One of the most powerful kinds of mages, the Elementals, have been constantly feared and persecuted by other mages, especially a hate group known as the Shiners, who have been gaining power due to fear of another extremist militia, the Left-Hand Path. The LHP, a mainly Elemental group, believes that mages are superior to ordinary humans and that the amount of skills and magical powers should determine one's value to society, and they're not afraid to use violence to gain power. When one of the school's students, an Earth Elemental, is murdered, the four students must try to find her killer, and whether the powerful magical forces in San Francisco want them dead next.

Hazel, an Earth Elemental, is shaken up by the transition to a new reality, and finds stability with her new friends and community. Yet she'll have to change her view to see that the killer might be closer to her than she thinks. Alex, a Fire Elemental, is trying to have fun at his new school, but he's out for revenge for a magical attack that killed his mother. Although he's energetic, his impulsive nature will cause trouble for the team.

Planned as the first of four.

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments BTW, I'm basing a lot of the political events off of what's going on in my home country (US) right now, without naming any names.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD) wrote: "Here's the quick summary. I'll try to provide a link to the first chapter, but I'm not sure how to post it b.c I don't have a wattpad or anything.

Four teenagers, Hazel, Alex, Dylan, and Skylar, d..."

just post chapter as a comment

message 4: by LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (last edited Jun 11, 2016 05:15PM) (new)

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments Hazel Mendez
Chapter One: Littler Cabin in the Woods

I wished, for the hundredth time, that Gram would finally cave and get the toilet fixed. But of course, she explained that we had a perfectly good way of disposing of our waste in the old outhouse and the now-broken toilet was just Grampa’s idea. “Since you and your brother are city kids, I’ll get it fixed next week,” she’d said as a compromise. “And plus, you’re living in a little cabin in the woods! A toilet is a real luxury!”

Of course, all that reasoning disappeared as I made the weary midnight trudge to the outhouse. I never understood how Gram got out there, what with her bad hip and all. And how she never seemed spooked by the odd noises in the woods at night. Don’t worry, I reassured myself, you have Dad’s pocketknife if anything strange attacks you. I patted the pouch I wore around my neck and felt the outline of the oblong metal tool, along with the star pendant Mom and Dad had given me before they dropped us off at Gram’s for the summer. You’ll be perfectly safe.

Famous last words.

The door of the old outhouse creaked open, then slammed shut as I entered, the sound quickly swallowed by the moist night air. I switched on the electric lantern I’d carried out; for some reason, I never turned it on until reaching the midnight black of the “littler cabin in the woods.” My paranoid reasoning was that anything in the dark would know that I was there if I hazarded to turn on the little lantern. The more mundane fears of falling on my face seemed less present-- I knew the short path well enough, and even in the woods of Oregon, my eyes could still see well enough most nights to not stumble on the little trail.
Every time, though, I always had a moment where I shut the door to the outhouse and fumbled briefly with the switch on the lantern. That one split second, which had always filled me with fear in my childhood summer visits to Gram’s, held nothing but slight alarm now. I reached for the switch and screamed as something dropped over my head. I swung the lantern upward and hit something solid, then tripped towards the door. Stumbling into the night, I dropped the lantern and yanked at a cloth sack that choked my head. Try as I might, the thing would not come off. Feet hit the ground a few yards from where I stood. I spun my head around, frantic, trying to see my attackers.

A sudden sense of calm filled me. I didn’t need to see the attackers-- I could feel their steps pounding against the ground and the vibrations their movements sent. Confidence bubbled up in my chest. I knew where everything was. The earth was anchoring me. Digging into the pouch for Dad’s knife, I flicked open the longest blade, though it still felt pitifully short. And when the first attacker came, I knew it. A masculine energy pulsed through the ground, aggressive and reckless. I ducked a slashing of some kind of weapon before it even got close to my kidneys, where it had been aimed, and flicked the knife upward at the man’s arm. He grunted in pain as the blade hit home, and I kneed him in where I knew it would really, really hurt. To my dismay, my blow must have not been solid enough. Straightening, the man jabbed towards my unprotected head. My knife, still in his other arm, couldn’t block the blow.

But something else did, pulsing against my neck, knocking the man backwards, and stunning him. I grabbed the pendant around my neck. It felt blisteringly hot against my skin, and I figured it had, somehow, repelled the blow.

The ground, now feeling like a second skin to me, alerted me to the man’s fallen weapon. I grabbed its handle on my first try. Once I picked it up, judging its weight and balance, I guessed it was a long dagger, perhaps a machete. Jumping over the man’s prone form, I headed next to where I knew another attacker stood, looking towards the house. My silent footsteps didn’t betray my presence, and I doubted he-- I was positive he was a he-- even knew I was there until the flat of the machete’s blade clanged against his head.
The earth lay silent and told me there were no more attackers. With my newfound sense of touch, I skipped over a rock I couldn’t see and hopped daintily up the porch steps, opening the door. Once inside, I tried to peel the sack off my head. No luck. The elastic band at the bottom was way smaller than my chin, and it wouldn’t fit back over my head. Which made me wonder how it had even gotten over my face in the first place. I took a step to the left and collided with something solid, knocking a chair into the pine kitchen table. Tripping over a chair leg, I fell to the ground. Whatever had allowed me to take out the attackers outside had gone, leaving me in a discoordinated, tired muddle.

A door squeaked open, the thumping sound of a cane echoing on the hardwood. The chambering of a round reached my ears as a dry click!, and I realized with panic that Gram thought someone had broken in.

“Gram! Don’t shoot! It’s me!”

“Hazel?” Gram’s footsteps drew closer. “How did you get that thing on your head?”

“Outhouse… attackers…” I gasped, tired. “Don’t worry, I took care of them.”

“What did they look like?”

I sighed. “I don’t know. I had a freaking sack on my head.”

Gram’s cane thumped closer. “Let me take a look at that.” I felt her strong fingers at the band of the sack, unfastening it. She pulled it over my head and I blinked, sleepy. Examining it, a worried expression creeped over her weathered features.

“Gram? Is something wrong?”

“No,” she said, seemingly shaking off the anxiety. “Just go back to bed.”

Feeling the sun slanting across my face, I dragged my eyelids open by sheer force of will and glanced at the alarm clock on my nightstand. 8:03. The realization that I’d overslept jolted through me more powerful than Gram’s espressos. Borderline freaked out at the idea of missing my morning chores, I stuffed my clothes on, yanked a comb through my (thankfully) short hair, and dashed out into the kitchen, nearly running over my little brother, Hunter.

“Did you remember your contacts?” he asked.

Shoot. “Oh, right.” I pinched myself for forgetting. It wasn’t like me to not remember to do these kinds of normal things. Why was I so tired? Well, you fed the chickens like normal, cleaned out the guest cabins with Hunter and Pat, and then you ate dinner with Gram. She made tacos. Then, you went to have your midnight outhouse trip and… That’s it! The weird attack at the outhouse. I rubbed a bruise around my neck, where the sack had been. So it wasn’t a dream after all.

The two bedrooms opened up directly to the kitchen slash living room, the common space in Gram’s cabin. I wondered why Hunter hadn’t woken me up, and collapsed onto one of the wooden kitchen chairs. I lifted the pot lid off of my oatmeal bowl, silently thanking Gram for her gesture of consideration, and noticed the message on the whiteboard at the front of the kitchen. Gram often rose way before Hunter or I, and usually left a note on the board.

Morning, Hazel! Don’t worry about missing your chores. I told Hunter you needed some more rest and cleaned Cabin no. 5’s bathroom for you. Enjoy breakfast!

I immediately felt guilty about Gram doing my job. Shirking work wasn’t my kind of thing, and there was plenty of work to be done at Gram’s. She ran a summer cabin business and kept up six wood-shake cottages for tourists, most visiting nearby Crater Lake, and when we didn’t have to keep up the slightly modified 1930’s cabins, we would have to take care of the chickens outside, tend to the garden, or some other random thing. My free time was often spent exploring the acres of national forest land around Gram’s place, with just my backpack and an open mind.

Still not sure about what to do, I laced up my boots, a present from Dad, and headed out to the front. Our cabin adjoined the little front desk area, and I wanted to check up with Pat to see if anything needed doing.

“Good morning, Hazel!” Pat greeted me from behind the desk. He was watering one of the many plants that sat all around the lobby, this one an African violet. Our front room displayed a random and completely weird collection of objects on the shelves, including plants, crystals, antiques ranging from cameras to transistor tubes, farming equipment including a butter churn and a hooked beet topping knife, and embroidery samplers. Pat had a slight potbelly and a greying beard.

“Hi, Pat!” I responded, automatically dusting off one of the geodes. “Do you know where my Gram is?” Pat and his wife, Anna, were of those people who defied genetics, family members, though not related by blood.

“I think she’s outside by number four,” he said, referring to one of the cabins. “Trying to take care of the squirrels.” I remembered that the guests in number four had complained about the little rodents, who often threw pinecones and stuff at the cabins, or even burrowed inside the roofs. “I’ll be going to Klamath Falls for a dentist appointment in a few minutes with Anna, so your Gram won’t be going to town this afternoon like we planned. I’ll do the errands while I’m there.”

“Thanks!” I pulled on a sweater, rushed out the door, and dashed down the dirt pathway. My walkie talkie, to communicate with the other people on staff, banged around in my kangaroo pouch. I clipped it to my belt. Dust clouds ballooned in my wake, and I didn’t even bother brushing the ultrafine volcanic soil off of my jean shorts. I looked both ways across the dirt driveway out of habit, then crossed.
The cabins sat in the vaguely orangey soil, slightly crooked wood shingle siding matching the bark of the trees on all sides. Each cottage had about the same unpainted shakes on the walls, white doors with blue trim, and peaked roofs like the surrounding mountains, sharp planes made of blue steel designed to weather the heavy snows. Eventually, I spotted Gram near the back of number four, next to the battered old woodshed that Pat claimed once harbored rats the size of guinea pigs.

“Gram?” I shouted. She looked up from her task, which appeared to be moving around some of the perimeter rocks, a jumble of decorative pinkish and orange stones that marked the boundary between us and the neighboring properties. A second ring surrounded the cabins and our buildings. I always asked her why she had the rocks fencing us in even around the front near the road, where it was pretty obvious where our land ended, and why she came out to check on them about once a month, but she never told me straight up. The one time I asked, she said something about a ritual her own Klamath grandmother used to do, which didn’t make any sense, because I guessed that the Klamath Indians probably had better things to do than haul even-sized volcanic rocks into a circle around their lands. But after she gave the explanation, I knew I wouldn’t get an answer out of her.

“Hazel!” Gram smiled, the bags under her eyes more pronounced. She looked tired. “Good morning!” Her steel-grey hair was braided down her back, and she wore a beautiful metal pendant etched with a sun design. That’s when I knew something was up. She never wore that necklace unless something important-- or nerve-wracking-- was happening.

“Need help with the rodent problem?”

For some reason, she looked a little surprised, even though Pat had said she’d been trying to get rid of the tree squirrels. “Umm, no.”

“The rocks?”

“Not really.” She looked a little on-edge. “I think your brother needs help taking clean linens and towels to number three.”

“Oh right,” I said. “Can’t neglect my summer job, otherwise,” I deadpanned, “you might fire me.”

[continued in next post]

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments That finally got a smile out of Gram. “Oh, I won’t fire you. I’d have to find someone else and need to pay them more.” She winked. “I doubt they’d take half their salary in pie.”

“Okay then,” I said. “I’ll come back once I’m done.” I tried to shake off the feeling of unease and dismissed Gram’s worries as a reaction to the outhouse attack. Having your granddaughter attacked in the middle of the night does that to people. Maybe rearranging the rocks was a kind of Zen thing for her, like the monks who rake gravel in patterns at Buddhist monasteries.

Heading down one of the dirt pathways, I turned behind the front building and fished around in my back pocket for my key ring, a worn “tree cookie” carved with a scene of Crater Lake by Pat. I eventually found the proper one, a worn brass key with “L RM.” printed on it, short for “laundry room.” Clink.

The noise startled me, and I whipped my head around. A flash of reddish brown moved around in the trees. Squirrel? The trees rustled, shaking much harder than if they were being moved by one of those pesky rodents. Suddenly, a hulking brown thing, tall enough to reach the upper branches of the fir trees, burst out of the trees towards number 1. It scuttled on six legs and looked like a gigantic scorpion… no, the tail pointed down. It looked like a huge lobster. The creature’s scale armor glinted muddy brown in the morning sunlight. I flicked open my knife, doubting it would do much against something like that.

So I turned tail and ran.

Once I’d hidden behind the woodshed, I flicked the walkie-talkie to the emergency channel and calmed myself down. “Gram? Come in, Gram. Emergency. There’s a giant lobster creature in the back. It’s, um, trying to attack us.” I tried to remember the emergency procedures- go to the pickup truck and wait. But then I remembered that the truck was with Pat and Anna in town, and Gram’s other car, a little Subaru, was almost out of oil, another necessity Pat and Anna had intended to buy.

I heard the crack of wood as the creature forced itself through the bottleneck of trees surrounding our buildings. It would be on my spot in no time; I had to do something, or I’d be lobster food. Dad, a former forest ranger, always told me to take stock of what you have. I took a deep breath and started to do some critical thinking. I discarded the idea of using my pocketknife- the blade was only a few inches long and wouldn’t be much use to pierce the armor of the monster. My mind wandered to the collection of oddities. Bash the creature with a lightbulb? No. The farming equipment- the beet knife. My long-dead Grampa had worked on a beet farm as a child and almost lost a finger to the dangerous process of lopping the tops off the vegetables. Although it looked rusty, I could at least bash the monster with it in hopes of cracking the shell, or go after the more sensitive spots like the mouth.

One. Two. Three. Panting hard, I dashed to the front building and looked back at the creature. It looked like it was about to step into the circle of rocks, but it met a crackling ZAP! of pink lightning and fell back. Before I could figure out what happened, I reached the front door and ran inside, grabbing the beet knife off of its perch on two nails. It looked sharp enough, but had a rusty tint. Good enough. I rushed outside. The lobster flailed around at an invisible barrier, bashing it with its claws. When its beady eyes spotted me, it renewed its attacks like a rabid animal, slamming the force field or whatever it was. It bellowed, a roar that made the trees quake, and a blonde woman came running up to it. She didn’t seem to see me, but threw something at the invisible wall. The barrier flared brightly, briefly becoming a magenta dome, before it began to crack. Chunks disappeared, and the lobster thing bashed through.

I ran towards no. 4, where I’d last seen Gram, and found Hunter. “Hunter!” I squeaked, out of breath.

“Did you see the woman and that huge thing?” he gasped, eyes wide. “Hey, what’s that?”

“Grampa’s beet topper.” At his incredulous look, I asked, “Well, do you want to be lobster bait?”


“So don’t make fun of the thing.” I patted the handle of the knife, which looked kind of like a large cleaver with a perpendicular hook at the end, and started running out from behind cover to hopefully make it to the door of no. 4, where I knew Gram was.

Suddenly, Hunter shrieked. I looked up and saw the creature towering above us, its jaws snapping open and shut. He tried to run, but the lobster thing grabbed him in its claws.

“Catch!” I screamed, and threw the knife end over end. Amazingly, it sunk into one of the monster’s fleshy joints, allowing Hunter to grab it. He slammed the heavy blade down on the creature’s pincer. The monster bellowed again, and bluish blood dripped down onto the ground, forming a small puddle, but still didn’t release Hunter. He hacked at the arm again and again, until the lobster thing finally loosed its grip and tossed Hunter to the ground.

“Are you okay?” I shouted. He climbed to his feet and stumbled over to me, but the monster charged after him, pinning his leg down with its one remaining front claw. It started to bear down on Hunter, and anger forced mental puzzle pieces into place. No one screws with my family. Something clicked in me, and I could almost feel the energy simmering beneath my skin, waiting to be used, straining towards the earth. I stabbed my fist in the air, reaching down below the topsoil to the layers of bedrock, and tore a spear of hard lava rock out from the ground, forcing it upward faster and faster, until it ripped right through the scaly armor in the monster’s fleshy underside.

The giant lobster roared in pain, more of the strange fluid gushing from its belly. Collapsing, its limbs twitched, and it fell, becoming limp.

“Did you just kill that thing?”

“Maybe.” I hazarded another glance at the giant lobster, then heard a rumbling. An instant afterwards, a blast threw me off my feet and onto the ground. I groaned, peeling myself off the dirt, stars swimming in my eyes. I gripped the beet topper tightly in my fist, as slowly, the flashing colors in my vision faded and the ringing in my ears quieted. Disoriented, I struggled to regain my feet and grabbed a tree branch for support. As soon as I touched the bark, the last symptoms of the blast drained away. I regained my footing and hefted the beet knife, doing a 360 spin to determine the cause of the blast. Behind me, I noticed Hunter stumbling upright, staggering off in different directions like a drunk. I gripped his arm and guided him over to a tree, which he grabbed like a lifeline.

“Why are you here?” I heard Gram shout at somebody. I followed the sound of her voice around the corner of no. 4, where she stood, snarling at the same tall blonde I’d seen with the lobster creature. I ducked behind a bush, observing. The woman’s pale blonde hair was almost the same shade as her white leather jacket, and her blue eyes had a harsh, almost sadistic cast. Her tall build and pale features reminded me of the Vikings: she looked like a very angry Viking warrior goddess-- what were they called?-- Valkyries. She looked like the kind of person who would pull off a 5k and a hundred pushups without breaking a sweat.

“Cleaning up,” she said with a shrug. “Look at all this elemental magic, running loose.”

“What do you want?” Gram shouted. I’d never seen her so mad before.

“The girl: she’s one of the four, right? I know she’s here.”

“Well, you’re not taking her.” Gram pulled something from out of her pocket, whirling it once around her finger before flinging it at the woman. The blonde snatched it out of the air and flung it back, not even touching a strange, curved sword slung across her back. Going by the chipped edges, it looked like it had been used pretty recently.

“Honestly, you’re slowing down,” the blonde taunted as Gram barely avoided the point of what looked like a spearhead of black rock. Smacking against the ground, the spearhead shattered in a totally unnatural way, shooting shrapnel off like a bomb. I shuddered to think of what would have happened if it had hit Gram. “Those shield stones: a joke.”
Almost as if in response, a pink rock shot up into the air, flying at the blonde like a kamikaze plane. And another. And another. I noticed Gram’s hands twitching in time to the movements of the rocks, like a conductor. Rocks pounded into the ground and embedded themselves into the dirt, but they bounced off a crackling blue barrier before they hit the woman.

“You have terrible aim,” the blonde woman remarked with a smirk. None of the small boulders were within a foot of her, but she looked a little out of breath, and I noticed smudges on her face. Dirt? No, it looked more like mascara. I snorted, trying to imagine this crazy Valkyrie woman applying makeup every morning. Valkyrie Woman’s morning schedule-- eat glass for breakfast. Stab people. Apply mascara.

“Or not,” Gram retorted calmly, flicking a finger at the stones. They’re arranged in a circle. Suddenly glowing, the rocks crackled to life, forming a pink dome around Valkyrie Woman.

“What is this?” Valkyrie Woman shouted, pounding on the barrier. “I thought I disabled them!”

“Maline,” Gram sighed, “I wish you’d paid a little more attention in Applied Magics.”

Magic? I asked myself. Well, what else would explain the seriously weird turn your life has taken?

“Don’t worry,” Maline said flippantly, “I did.” My gut swirled with unease, and I crept a little closer, holding the beet topper out in front of me. I watched as she cracked her knuckles and spread her hands, shouting, “Spranga!” An explosion of sparks flared from a bright point in her chest, flaring against the shield stones. When the dust cleared, she still stood in the circle, minus the shield. “Playtime’s over.” She drew the jagged sword from her back and advanced on Gram.

Come on, you have to do something. I creeped behind the bush, waiting until she turned her back on me, then charged, smacking the heavy flat of the blade down on her arm. In surprise, she dropped her sword, whirling on me.

“Little munchkin’s got some guts, huh?” she said, giving me a once-over and assuming a hunched stance-- not that it lowered her six feet much. “Shame to have to break fighting spirit.”

I would have laughed at the fact she’d just said “munchkin,” but didn’t.
She bent down to pick up her sword and I reared back, preparing to hit her head and maybe knock her unconscious. Even though she’d tried to attack us, I didn’t have any illusions of becoming a killer. As I began to swing my arm, she looked up and flicked her hand, shooting out some kind of lightning. I blocked the bolt with the topper, but the blast threw my arm backwards, twisting it at an awkward angle. Gritting my teeth, I felt it pop back into place, and examined the damage the beet knife had taken. Only it didn’t look like a beet knife. A golden sickle winked at me, its keen edges and sharp curves reflecting the morning sunlight. I examined the leather grip, worn, but shining, and its extended length-- it was at least twice as long as the topper, and definitely twice as heavy.

“A falcata won’t do you any good if you’re a beginner, honey,” Maline snorted.
Ignoring her, I gripped the sickle, or whatever she’d called it-- a falcata-- in both hands and charged, going for a tennis-like overhead strike, which she blocked with ease. I took a deep breath and steadied my feet against the ground, which straightened me and gave me an extra boost of strength. I managed to force away her next swipe at me, but barely. Even the strange boost of energy couldn’t last too long against a bodybuilder like her. Her next slash knocked me back, and I lifted my scythe to parry her blow.
[con'td in next post]

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments Before our blades met, I twisted my arms to block her next flurry of stabs, but not before her sword nicked my arm. In surprise, I dropped the sickle.

“Beginner,” Maline said disdainfully. “I don’t have time for--”

She never told me what she didn’t have time for, because two rocks smacked her in the back of the head. Her eyelashes fluttered once, and she mouthed something, but before she hit the ground, she was knocked out. I looked behind her and smiled at Hunter and Gram. Then, the ground rushed at me and the energy drained out of my tired frame.

Blinking my eyes, I awoke in the passenger seat of Gram’s truck. Hunter snoozed in the back. I turned around and looked through the back window in the extended cab. Gram had packed our emergency boxes in the truck bed, kits filled with everything we’d need if a forest fire or other natural disaster threatened, and I saw a few other suitcases in the cramped backseat with Hunter, whose head was resting on a pink Hello Kitty bag I recognized as my own.

“Gram,” I asked, “so where are we going?”

“San Francisco,” she replied, terse.
Questions flooded my brain. I wondered what we’d do when Dad and Mom came to visit us at Gram’s this upcoming weekend. Tell them we’d been attacked by crazy magical people and were now who knows how far from home? I didn’t want to wish this on either of them. I propped my chin up on my hands and rested my elbows on the dashboard. Miles and miles of rural land rolled past: orchards, fields, barns, silos, and silent mountains.
I didn’t speak again for another period of time. “Why are we going there?”

“I have some old acquaintances there. People who might help us. Keep you and Hunter safe.”

“From what?”

“Those people. There are more from where they came from.”

“What about Mom and Dad?” Hunter asked.

“They know.”

“You told them--” I asked incredulously-- “That we were attacked by a nutty blonde and her crazy lobster sidekick?”


I gave her a look, which she returned.

“Wait, so they were in on this all along? How come no one ever told us crazy lobster monsters existed and stuff?” I squeaked.

“Your parents grew up in a different world, but they were forced to leave due to… obligations.”

“Why are people after us?”

Gram didn’t answer. I counted twenty breaks in the fields and one town before she replied. “This might sound a little hokey to you, Hazel…”


“Well… “ she paused. “Did you feel something, I don’t know, different, when you fought off those people?”

“I guess. Why?”

“It’s a kind of power, Hazel. It’s only the tip of the iceberg of what you can do, and they want to use you. Or kill you.”

I didn’t say anything, not knowing what Gram meant. Power? The implications were more than I could handle. Instead, I tried to doze off. My mind reached out to the trees, the plants in the fields, the dark cliffs, and the ground. Something tugged me towards them, and for some reason, I felt we were all connected. The plants, the ground, and I. They soothed my mind off to a kind of rest, and I embraced it wholeheartedly.

I awoke next when I felt the ground being pulled away from me, being replaced by something more fluid. Looking up, I saw a great blue body of water and the steel trusses of a bridge ahead of our car. “Where are we, Gram?” I cracked my neck, trying to get my bearings.

“Almost in San Francisco.” She smiled.

Hunter cleared his throat in the back seat. “I hope we don’t have to stay here too long. The traffic is killer.”

Taking in the scenery, I noticed the huge freighters emerging out of the fog like silent beasts, and small sailboats gliding across the waves. After cruising through a short tunnel, we emerged onto a span supported by cables, and the city slowly revealed itself out of the mist. Towers stood tall from the water’s edge, and the lower levels of the city were covered in billboards, signs, and people. We cruised past several billboards advertising hip new beverages and trendy electronics, then finally onto an off ramp. Coasting through the streets, Gram dodged beat-up old Volkswagens and brand-new Teslas, all jostling for space among the crowded streets. After three months of backcountry life, the loud sounds, tall buildings, rivers of cars, and thousands upon thousands of people on the sidewalks nearly made my head explode. Judging from the fading light, I guessed I’d been asleep for half the afternoon. The dashboard clock proved me right, along with the crush of rush-hour commuters.

Gram turned off onto a nearly deserted side street and parked. The low angle of the sun lit up a stained cardboard slab, no doubt the bed of a homeless person, and the fast food containers blowing around in the breeze. I focused on the nearest thing outside my window: a large, ten-foot gate made of chain link, backed with stainless steel so no one could see through, blocking an alleyway between a parking garage and the side of a store. Strings of wire looped over the top, casual as party streamers. An official sign declared the area in front was a “NO PARKING” zone in all caps, which made me wonder why Gram had spurned other, closer parking spots to land us right near the gate. She didn’t seem concerned at all, taking her time chatting with somebody on a pink flip phone I didn’t even know she owned.

A minute or two later, Gram hung up and the gates swung open on silent hinges. Gram drove through, and the gates shut with a final clang!, trapping us wherever Gram wanted us to go. Gravel crunching underneath our pickup’s tires, we inched forward and around a corner. And my breath caught.

A whole new part of San Francisco shone in the returning fog. Glistening spires twisted up towards the sky. An odd jumble of buildings, new glass-and-steel behemoths and crumbling brick tenements shared an equally chaotic street. Gram navigated the city streets with ease, as if she hadn’t been living in the woods for the majority of her retired life. Or maybe she hadn’t. With things so crazy lately, how did I even know she actually had lived in that little cabin after retiring from work, like she said she had?

The truck finally slid to a stop outside a complex of tall tan buildings, probably a hospital. Pulling the creaky parking brake, Gram then unlocked the door. Hunter and I jumped out and gawked like tourists, which I suppose we might have been, except I had a feeling Gram brought us to SF for another reason than sightseeing.

As soon as my shoes touched the concrete, tingles raced up my legs, strengthening me and making me stand up straighter. A nearby tree shivered a little in the salty breeze.

“Welcome to Angel View, San Francisco,” she said. “Magic capital of the West Coast.”

[end of ch 1]

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments This is my first chapter out of eleven or so, and it's going to be a pain to post them all. So far, I've got 223042 characters, which is approximately 18 posts, and I'm not even a quarter of the way through the plot. Is there another function for people to read your writing on Goodreads?

message 8: by Ema (new)

Ema (gee-fiera) There's the stories option somewhere on this site, you can post it there and post a link to it here?

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments OK that makes sense. Thx!

message 10: by Ema (new)

Ema (gee-fiera) No problem!

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