• A Family’s Secret
    “GET AWAY! GET AWAY!” A frantic voice yelled into the night. His footsteps echoed around in the alleyway as he ran down the narrow passage. His eyes were focused, narrowed and scanning for any exit.

    All of a sudden, a man appeared out of thin air in front of him. A loud sound of wood hitting bone was heard and the once frantically running man fell to his knees and onto the cold ground that was once bellow him.

    “Good hit, Kingsly.”

    “Why thank you, Alfred.”

    The man named Kingsly lifted his cane up to his face to inspect the damages. He was disheartened when he saw the middle was dented from the rough smack he bestowed upon his target. Pulling out a cloth from his black pants pocket, the white silk glowed in the moonlight as he wiped his cane.

    Kingsly was not his first name, but rather his last. His full name was Daniel Kingsly, but many called him by his last name since his first name displeased him. D.M.K was engraved in gold lettering into his cane and as he pulled the silk cloth away, he gave a smile.

    “Alfred, do you know who this man is?”

    Alfred walked up to the unconscious body and leaned over to get a closer inspection. The suit the unconscious man wore gave him the appearance of a butler. The only thing that threw off the appearance was the crimson red shirt he wore underneath the midnight black coat. A pistol was tucked in his left back pocket while in the right were several vials of mysterious liquids. Some of the liquids glowed a strange ocean blue while others illuminated a red that matched the man’s shirt.

    “Nope, but I know what that weapon of choice is…” Alfred said as he reached into the man’s left pocket and pulled out a pistol. He then clicked the button on the slide and watched as the magazine slid out and onto his hand.

    Turning it over, Alfred tisked loudly and showed Kingsly the bullets. The casing around the bullets glowed a bright silver and several of them were packed into the magazine. The man was going to use it to kill.

    Alfred was rather tall, but not as tall as Kingsly. He wore a buttoned up trench coat and a small boiler cap with simple black pants. The white gloves he had on and the book that was underneath his arm gave him the appearance of a scholar. His face was pudgy and his figure was just as so. He was chubby without being overly fat. He had red cheeks that made him look like a jolly man, but behind his green eyes there was an unmistakable wisdom and knowledge of the world.

    “Do you know what these bullets do to my kind Alfred?” He said with a serious expression across his face. Alfred could tell instantly that he was angered and shaken by the discovery.

    Nodding, Alfred grabbed the magazine and pocketed it carefully. “Sir, have you, by chance, made anyone irate with your previous actions?”

    Looking over at the butler with a piercing glance that would send shivers down the spine of any human being, Kingsly said simply, “I believe not. This was more of a sign. The person who sent this man wanted me to see this.”

    Alfred, shaking his head and eyeing the mysterious unconscious stranger, noticed something glittering in the moonlight. He raised an eyebrow and looked closer to see something tucked inside his right pocket. Rummaging through the pocket, Alfred gripped something sharp. He smiled mischievously and pulled out the item.

    The item looked like a star and was silver everywhere except at the tips. The tips at each end were a bright red. Studying it carefully, Alfred called over his master and handed him the item. Kingly’s eyes went wide when he realized what it was.

    “Alfred, we must prepare our defenses.”

    Eyes going wide in surprise, Alfred said, “You don’t mean…”

    “Yes, my friend. We are going to war!”

    Walking over to Kingly and looking him straight in the eyes, Alfred said, “So is this the accursed group Dodger keeps telling us about?”

    Kingsly gave a humorless smile and chuckled darkly saying, “Yes. The so called Guardians of the Dark.”

    He fiddled with the star and eyed it over. He turned it over and over again as if he was missing a detail that he couldn’t put his finger on.

    Kingsly then continued, “Do not let your guard down at any time. If they want to attack me, they will attack me through you. You will be protected by the people of my manor.”

    “As you wish Master Kingsly.”

    Watching Kingsly closely, Alfred gave a sigh, and leaned up against the wall. Then Alfred nearly fell over when he remembered an all too important fact. As Kingsly walked away through the dark alley, Alfred hurryingly ran after him and said,

    “What about the boy?”

    Giving a chuckle this time with humor, Kingsly smiled to reveal sharp fangs, “Let him come. We will introduce him to our household.”

    “We cannot raise a boy when we are at war! He will be slaughtered!”

    “Alfred, my dear butler, you are referring to him like he is a small lamb.”

    “He is a human! He is about as frail as one.”

    Sighing, Kingsly walked over to Alfred and put a hand on his shoulder and said, “You would be surprised at what a mere human is capable of.”

    Alfred opened his mouth to argue, but dropped the subject. He didn’t wish to anger Kingsly about the boy. Kingsly had enough on his plate and Alfred didn’t wish to be a burden and add to it. Alfred watched Kinglsy closely and noticed he was walking to the end of the alleyway. He followed behind to see his master looking across the road at an orphanage.

    It was small and looked worn from use. The windows looked dirty and the blinds that covered them looked equally as worn. The brick that the building was made up of had mold in some places. The playground that was near the building had a smooth blacktop that was nearly invisible in the low light of the darkness. Swing sets swayed in the cool night air, and a slide that was part of the playground set stood unoccupied and still. Like the blinds and windows, the playground equipment was worn as well. The only thing that stood out at the aged orphanage was the door.

    The door was made of dark oak. It wasn’t the kind that looked fake and artificial like it was made in five minutes. It stood proudly and marked the entrance to the building. The oak was crafted with precision and the golden knob shined brightly in the moon light.
    To Kingsly, the environment was welcoming. Darkness and silence were his friends, and he thrived in it.

    To Alfred, it was eerie and he felt like something was going to jump out of the shadows that crept along the blacktop.

    At that, Kingsly held out his arm. Alfred understood the gesture and put his arm underneath Kingsly’s arm. At that, Kingsly snapped his right finger and they disappeared in a flash. The man that laid unconscious stirred a bit before rolling over on his side. He looked as if he was fast asleep, and the people that walked by the alley just huffed, and walked faster. The passersbys simply thought he was a homeless man.

    The man woke up the morning after with a throbbing headache and blamed it on a hangover.

    He didn’t remember a thing.
    As I sat on the dirty, and rickety bed inside my room, I felt a cool breeze from the open window rush through, and ruffle my hair lightly. I waited in silence, and listened to the birds in the distance chirp happily. Footsteps outside of my door caught my attention, and I slowly started to make my way towards the door. I memorized people’s footsteps, and I was able to mark certain people with a distinctive walk.

    The meanest of the moderators dragged her feet, and the flooring made the gesture stand out. The person outside of the door was doing just that. I felt my heart skip a beat, and instantly started to tuck in my shirt, make sure my belt was the right way, and tight against my khaki pants. Brushing off dirt off my shirt, and straightening my collar, I waited for her to come, and knock on my door.

    Just like every freaking day.

    “Open up! It’s time to present yourself correctly for all the potential parents!” She bellowed. Her knock was relentless, and loud. I wanted to remove the door from its hinges, and replace it with beads so she couldn’t knock any longer.

    When she finally had enough of knocking, and yelling, she opened the door open. Finally, my roommate, Josh Richman, stirred in his bed. He pulled the covers over his head with a moan of disapproval. I stood with my hands behind my back, and a fake smile etched across my face as if someone took a needle, and stitched it in abruptly.

    “Ahh, I see you have presented yourself well today. That’s a surprise in itself.” The women said while putting on a red lipstick that was too red for her face.

    I chuckled darkly, and said, “Like always Mrs. Ringington.”

    I stressed out her last name on purpose. I hated her last name. In fact, I hated everything about her. Her midnight black hair was fake. Her expressions were fake. Her eyes had contacts that made them appear blue when in reality they were her “least favorite shade of brown.”

    I always tried to figure out if there was a different shade of brown.

    I am still looking.

    She eyed up my clothes, looking for any specs of dirt, or debris. She knew I liked to sneak out. Being trapped inside the orphanage like a prisoner all day made me realize how much I missed the outside world. The feeling of being able to run free for an hour, or two felt amazing. The moderators truly could care less if I snuck out. Mrs. Ringington was the only one who cared. She didn’t like to be disrespected, and for her power to be tested.

    “You haven’t left the quarters. I am surprised as much as I am intrigued. Today would’ve been a great day for you to just run away.” Mrs. Ringington stated.

    I looked up at her with a smirk, and said smartly, “The same goes for you too.”

    She huffed, and said, “Do you know what day it is today?”

    “Adoption day.” I replied plainly.

    “Right you are. You have to look good.”

    I rolled my eyes. Adoption day was the day where parents who adopted a child came in, and picked up the child. Usually, those moments were done in private, but Mrs. Ringington liked a show. She decided to have a day every month where the parents would come to the orphanage, and pick their newest members of the family in front of everyone. Even in front of the children who didn’t get adopted.

    I gave her a glare, and she just smiled wickedly.

    “Don’t give me that face. It might just be your lucky day.” She said eerily chirpy as she walked out of the room. Her high heels made a clicking sound on the floor as she walked away.

    Thanking the lord that she was gone, I walked over to my roommate, and shook him roughly awake. “Robert, come on, man! You were supposed to meet me on top of the parking garage this morning!”

    He grumbled, and rolled over to look at me. His brown hair was tattered, and unkempt. His hair matched his brown eyes. Looking at me as if I was the root of his problems, he said, “It was because of you, Kurt, that I couldn’t get out. Mrs. Ringington posted guards near our room!”

    “You should have used the window.” I said flatly.

    “It was locked from the outside.”

    The orphanage had problems with people escaping in the past so a while back the managers decided to fix the problem by making the locks on the outside. Since nobody could sneak through the front entrance without alerting someone in the area, the amount of people leaving unannounced decreased. But that didn’t mean that I stopped trying.

    “I broke the hinges.”

    His mouth dropped, and he shook his head saying, “No wonder I have been feeling a draft lately. The Ringtails won’t take kindly to you sneaking around.”

    I just snorted. “Who cares? Not me.”

    “They do…A lot.”

    Ever since Mrs. Ringington caught wind that I had been sneaking out by using the cafeteria’s back door, she had posted people who don’t enjoy my company by the door. I call them “Ringtails.” Usually, she posts the same bunch of thieves to watch the door.

    “Well, she can cry me a river. I am sneaking out today.”

    Robert just looked at me strangely, and shook his head.

    “She will KILL you if you come back.”

    I just gave a sneer, and said flatly, “That’s why I don’t plan to.”

    Starting to become more mobile, Robert slowly started to rise out of bed, and scoped out his attire. He was in fluffy pajama pants, and a rough looking white tee shirt that looked like it was beginning to show its age. Reaching over and grabbing his glasses off the small nightstand, he put them on, pushing them up level to his eyes. He got up off the bed, and stood in front of me with his arms crossed.

    From up close, he was tall. Almost taller than me. He was around 16 years of age which showed in his figure and face. He always gave me crap for being a month younger, but I always told him that he acted more like he was ten years older. Calling him a worrier is an understatement. Not only does he have a hard time keeping his own stress under control, but he feels the need to have a hard time keeping my OWN stress under control as well. He likes to get involved in my problems.

    “Come on. You can’t run away! Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? You’re just a kid.”

    “Worry about yourself, Robert. I don’t know where I am going to go, but it’s better than here.”

    Leaning down, and reaching underneath my bed, I felt for a small piece of loose leaf. Eventually, my hand grasped the paper, and I pulled it out from underneath. Several dust bunnies followed along, and I found myself coughing, and waving my hand to fan the dust away.

    Flipping the paper over, I examined the front.

    A crudely drawn map of the orphanage was slapped on the paper. The pencil marks were dug deep into the paper so they wouldn’t fade. Walking over, and looking over my shoulder curiously, Robert was in awe at the detail in my drawing.

    “How long ago did you draw this?” He asked transfixed.

    “Last Christmas. A bit of the orphanage has changed, but nothing that I have to add to the map.”

    A swift silence followed, and I folded the map to put it into my pocket. Reaching underneath the bed once more, I remembered I had a few supplies stashed away. I pulled out a worn backpack, and opened the backpack up to see the contents. It had several cans of food, two bottles of water, one large candy bar, and a couple of manga issues.

    Huffing, Robert said, “So I guess you are leaving today?”

    “Before the ceremony. Mrs. Ringington likes to pull her guards away from the doors. She likes them to greet the parents.”

    Pulling the backpack over my shoulder, I tightened the straps until they were comfortable. I looked at Robert to see he looked worried, and lifted an eyebrow. Robert looked away from me, and out the window.

    “We have been trapped here for six years. What makes you think you can leave now? I thought you were going to find out about your parents before you left.”

    “I did. I asked Mrs. Ringington when she was in her office. She was surprised when I asked her about them. She told me she knew nothing.” I said, not looking Robert in the face.

    I lied. I didn’t go to Mrs. Ringington’s office.

    I still don’t know what happened to them.

    Hell, I didn’t even remember them.

    All that I remembered was being driven in a black Mercedes down a long narrow road, and the screaming and crying. I could only recall hearing a blaring screech, a flash of light, and mad cackling.

    Then I woke up in the orphanage with a pounding headache, and barely any memory. It was as if the whole thing was a dream.

    Robert seemed to believe the lie, and just nodded. As I walked to the door, he got up off the bed, and grabbed my shoulder. I turned around quickly. I was stunned by his sudden movements. He had a serious expression across his face.

    “I’m coming with you.”

    “What?!” I exclaimed. Out of all the answers, I wasn’t expecting that from Robert. He was the kind of guy to go with the flow. At the time, I just expected to say something cliché like,

    “Ok, see you around!” or “Stay safe.”

    “I said I’m coming with you. I want to leave as much as you do, and I made a promise to someone that I would keep you safe.” He said.

    “Who is that someone?” I asked curiously with a tinge of anger. Robert was known for keeping secrets, and I hated it.

    “I will tell you later. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

    I watched as he walked by me with confidence, and a pep to his step.

    Rolling my eyes, I followed him, and whispered so my voice wouldn’t carry down the hall, “I don’t remember saying that I wanted you to come along.”

    “I would’ve come along anyway. You need someone to keep you out of trouble.”

    I hissed a few chosen words to him, and we started to argue. All of a sudden, a small boy rounded the corner. His shirt was tucked in, and his black hair was parted. He wore a sweater with a small red tie tucked inside. The sweater was mint green which matched his eyes. The black khaki pants had a light black belt looped around them, and a grey crest in the middle. The spectacle’s he wore were round, and brought out his eyes. The boy stood up straight, and tall which made him look older. His face clashed with the pose. His cheeks were rosy, and gave away that he was young.

    In fact, he was only eleven.

    Hugging the wall in silence, Robert and I watched as the kid walked to the wall, and started to chip away with a pencil he pulled out of his pocket. The wall, like the rest of the environment, was in rough shape so the paint fell off easily. Small chips fell onto the midnight black shoes the kid wore, and I stood puzzled at what he was doing.

    Looking over at Robert, I noticed he was shaking his head in bewilderment.

    “That’s Corey Huegh.” He said while putting a hand on his forehead, and sighing. “He is a strange one.”

    “I’ll say.” I replied. “How do you know him?”

    “I venture out of my room from time to time, unlike you.” Robert said accusingly.

    “Well now you see why I don’t. We live in an orphanage with a bunch of crazies. And he does realize that paint chips aren’t meant to be eaten, right? It’s almost as bad as sticking a fork in the toaster…”

    Sighing, Robert said, “He doesn’t eat them. He likes to chip away the paint, and use the paint chips to glue together…things.”

    “Things?” I asked.

    “Things. That’s all I know.”

    I knew that interrogating Robert wouldn’t lead to any further answers to my questions so I decided on just focusing on getting past the obstacle. The wooden floor Robert and I walked on groaned underneath our footsteps, and I nearly jumped out of the shirt I was wearing when my foot made contact with an all too noisy part of the rotten wood.

    Looking back at me with a look of pure horror, I just smiled, and shrugged. Corey looked up from the paint he was chipping away at, and saw us with the look Robert gave me just a few seconds ago. He walked up to us, his face pale, and his hands shaking. He told us through quivering lips,

    “D-don’t tell Mrs. Ringington I was here! She will have my head if she finds out that I was chipping away at the walls again!”

    Looking at Robert with a raised eyebrow, I realized that Corey wasn’t going to rat us out if he wanted to save his own skin. Robert noticed my look, and caught on.

    “Don’t worry Corey.” I said with a grin. “I won’t tell Mrs. Ringington that you were chipping away at the walls as long as you don’t tell her we were snooping around.”

    Corey’s eyes lit up like fireworks. “Y-you really mean it?”

    This time it was Robert’s turn to add his two cents. “Yes, Corey. We promise.”

    “Thank heavens! I thought you two would tattle on me for sure to get brownie points with Mrs. Ringington. No offense Kurt, but you need them…”

    I chuckled, and said, “Not where I’m going, Corey.”

    Looking back at Robert and I confused, Corey just shook his head, and said, “Thanks again, but remember our deal.”

    “We won’t forget it Corey.”

    With that, the boy walked down the hall with paint chips hitting together in his pocket, and a smile slapped across his face.

    I looked over to Robert, and said, “He is some character.”

    “That’s Corey.” He replied.

    “Come on. We have to go if you don’t want to get caught by Mrs. Ringington’s guards.”

    Tugging on my shirt, Robert pulled me in the direction of the kitchen. We walked quickly, and attempted to muffle our footsteps. The wood creaked and groaned as we walked, and in the silence it sounded like gunshots. Luckily, no one was around to hear us.

    Everyone was in the main hallway outside to the playground to meet the parents.

    At least, so I thought.

    When we made it to the kitchen, I looked around to see the tables, and chairs empty, and smiled to myself. Memories started to flood my mind. I remembered the cafeteria ladies, the nicest people that worked at the orphanage, serving me with a smile on their face. They would always ask how my day was going, and even sneak candy in my mashed potatoes.

    They didn’t do that with just me though.

    The lunch ladies were popular with all the kids.

    Although the cafeteria was quiet, something caught my eye. I noticed the wooden door to the back part of the cafeteria where all the food was prepared, and served was left open slightly.

    “Robert, look. Someone has been here.” I said cautiously.

    “I noticed that too. I think I hear voices…” He said as his words trailed down to a whisper.

    Sneaking closer to the door, I looked back to see Robert with a hesitant expression on his face.

    “I don’t think we should investi-“

    “Oh, come on! What happened to the confident Robert?” I said with a hiss.

    All of a sudden, the voices started to sound louder, and I realized that they were getting closer.

    I motioned for Robert to hide, and he ran around the corner, and hid underneath a table. I remembered which way the door swung outward, and put my body up against the wall. My heart started to beat faster as I realized the consequences of being caught. The door swung open, and luckily the group didn’t push it out far enough for it to come smashing into me.

    I took one large breath, and stood as silent as possible.

    A women was the first to spoke, and I recognized the voice instantly.

    It was Mrs. Ringington.

    Her appearance changed. She wore a red medallion that was a deep crimson that matched the dress she wore. Her eyes were still blue, and they clashed with the black high heels she wore. Her black hair was put in a bun, and had a pin through it. Two men walked out with her.

    “Yes. The boy shall be in good hands with someone like you, Kingsly. You can train him, and break him like a common horse before sending him off into a war he has no business being in.” Ringington said with sarcasm seeping through her words.

    “He will become part of our family. He will be treated better than any Jinx can treat a boy.” The man named Kingsly shot back with a glare of pure loathing.
    My heart started to beat faster as I concentrated on their conversation. Several questions started to bombard my mind, and I wondered what I got myself into.

    One in particular was what the hell a Jinx was.

    Then I saw the third man from up close.

    My eyes glanced over to the butler who stood silently. His stature was straight, and almost royal. His skin was pale which made him look older than what he actually was. A red ruby locked inside a golden case glowed mysteriously. The ears on the sides of his head came to a rough point. His eyes gazed around the room with a precise nature, scanning the room as if something was going to jump from anywhere at any given time. Wearing a black suit with a blood red tie, and black pants, the man presented himself well, but something felt off with him. I watched as he adjusted the white glove on his left hand, and reached into the pocket of his jacket to pull out a pocket watch.

    Or so I thought.

    The watch had strange dials that pointed towards symbols that I never saw before.
    “I swore to product his son! I will not let you treat him like a weapon!” She said loudly.
    Mrs. Ringington rarely yelled. This told me that whatever was happening, it was important.
    Closing his pocket watch, and stepping forward to say something to Mrs. Ringington, the butler was about to step forward, but an arm blocked him. “I wish to make this a one on one, Alfred.”

    Alfred stepped back, and went back to standing stationary once more. Kingsly looked back at Mrs. Ringington.

    “It was a heartless swear! The father made you say an oath that you would protect the boy! Am I detecting some attachment to the same boy you once called a dog without a path?” Kingsly said, his voice raising as well.

    While his mouth was opened, I noticed two sharp fangs.

    Gulping, I realized that the mysterious figures weren’t entirely human.
    They were something different.
    I held my breath. I looked over at Robert to see he was shaking, and biting his lower lip. I tried to keep my composure. I wanted to know who the boy that they were talking about was, and whatever war they were talking about.

    “I see him wherever I go in the boy. He has his eyes…”

    Kingsly’s facial expression turned more somber, and he stepped back a bit.

    There was a long pause between the two parties. It was silent enough for me to hear my own breathing.

    Finally, Kingsly spoke up saying, “It’s foolish for us to be fighting like petty school children.”

    Mrs. Ringington huffed, and said, “Yes.”

    Then something very strange started to happen. Mrs. Ringington’s eyes started to water. A single tear fell from her right eye, and onto the floor. She wiped her eyes, and said,

    “I apologize.”

    Kingsly looked at Mrs. Ringington, and put a hand on her shoulder softly.

    “It’s time for you to let Kurt go.”