You’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…
“I almost peed my pants watching you.” Hope eased my window open. “How can you be so graceful on the soccer field but not climbing a silly tree?”
“Not as talented as you, I guess.” I wiped the sweat off my forehead. “That was no sadventure.”
Hope giggled. “You so can’t use that word anymore. It just doesn’t work for you. Besides, it’s mine.”
“You own words now? Kinda thought they were free to us all.” I crossed my eyes at her like she always did to me. “It’s true, though. Nothing lame about that. I even lost some skin.”
I went to show her my palm, but Braeden stomped up the stairs. “Quit complaining and get out your laptop. Or I won’t share my food.”
Like I could eat. I checked my palm and that darn mark was all black, like I got a tattoo or something. So not cool.
“Is that, like, wait, you didn’t have that before.” Hope grabbed my hand. “Is that a bird?”
“No idea. Got it when I touched the coin.” I leaned back and dug it out of my pocket along with my phone. “See?”
She flipped it over and over while she bit her bottom lip. “It’s heavy.”
“Not burning you, though, so that’s an improvement.” I scratched my palm.
“You heal, so the fact that you have a mark after you touched it means something.” Braeden sat at my desk and shoved the thumb drive in the USB. “I’ll run that mark through a photo identifier.”
“You can do that?” I asked, sitting up. “Hey, give me some of that food.”
He tossed me a PBJ and a pack of cupcakes—pretty much my two favorite things. “Knock yourself out.”
Hope stood, still holding the coin, and hovered near Braeden. “How’d you learn how to do all this?”
“I was a delinquent, big-time, before those scientist whackos grabbed me. Hacking was my specialty.”
“Who grabbed you?”
“Look. There’s no way I’m telling you all this.”
“Then I will. At least what I know.” I bit into my chocolate cupcake. “Pull up a pillow.”
She grabbed a soda. That might have been a bad idea considering she nearly choked on it a bunch of times as I told her what I knew. Some even came out of her nose once.
That was weird.
“As in science experiments on people?” She gulped. “Kids off the street? Just anyone?”
“Don’t worry, you’re safe,” Braeden said. “Nobody would want your brain.”
“I’m in.” Braeden rubbed his hands together. “We have a database, connected to the Council Triad. Archives of every known thing we’ve found or heard of over the years. At least when they started computerizing things.”
“You hacked that?” Hope asked.
“I have a log in, silly. I’m a Kurator, remember?” His fingertips flew over the keyboard. Pictures started flashing on the left side of screen while the picture of my palm stayed fixed on the right side. “We’ll let that run while I check out this drive.”
He pulled out his laptop and set it next to mine.
Hope’s fingertip traced the black ink on my palm. “Does it hurt?”
“No. It’s like I healed, but this was left behind.”
“Okay. Here goes.” Braeden plugged in the drive and sat back.
A screen popped up, and he double clicked the only file on there.
Documents opened, but then the screen faltered and everything turned to gibberish. Just a bunch of symbols.
“Double crap,” I echoed Hope’s phrase.
“That’s okay. I can try a few things. There are other files here, too.” He let out a long sigh. “Glad I brought caffeine. This might take a while.”
After about an hour, the screen flickered and a document popped open. Hope was asleep on my bed, and I was on the floor leaning against it, trying to get to the next level of Angry Birds.
Stupid addictive game.
“Got one decoded. Sweet.” Braeden clicked it open and read aloud.
Day 367. Subject 47321 responded positively to the initial cerebral clearing. Blank slate ready to be formed. Genetic coding from Realms #1 and #2 appear intact. Demonstrating qualities apparent in primary subjects. Strength. Healing. Unexpected findings include overprotective nature of subject #47320 whom he named Millie. Even in this early stage of development, subject 47321’s growth rate is unparalleled. Incubation in the human uterus was only six months. Today, 367 days later, subject appears approximately five years old. Growth rate approximately one human year would be 4.75 years to the subject. Mentally and physically. Characteristics of Realm #2’s strength is present. Realm #1’s height and abilities are also present. Tomorrow will start a new day for subject as we begin anew to see what translates through the cerebral clearance.
“What’s cerebral clearance mean?” I asked.
“Cerebrum. That’s brain, right?” Braeden looked up. “That’s the brain, man.”
“Clearance. As in…” I hopped up and stood over him looking at the screen. “Clear? Clear out. Clean? Remove?”
“Oh, man,” Braeden said as he leaned back.
“No wonder I don’t have any memories. They took them. You found me hooked up, they stored my memories. Somewhere.”
“Maybe on this drive,” Braeden said. “Makes sense. Take the memories. Store them. Then what? Make new ones? Why would they wipe them?”
“Did she say one human year I grew 4.75 years? Am I only one year old?”
“We don’t know when these notes were taken. I mean, they could be several years old.”
“But still. I grew fast.”
“Pregnancy goes nine months.” He looked at me. “You went six.”
“And have something called Realm DNA in me? They—holy cow. I—I’m not—.” I shoved my hands in my hair and paced the room. “What’s a Realm? What’s that mean?”
“Got me, dude. But, you gotta relax. We’ll figure this out. I promise. Calm down.”
I grabbed the coin from my pocket. “Do you see this mark anywhere on that document? Anything about it?”
“Hi!” Tish turned the corner from the stairwell.
I hadn’t even heard her come in.
“Tish. What are you doing?” Braeden jumped up from his chair.
“Alastair wanted to come see you.” She grinned, holding up the little monkey. “He’s ready for an adventure.”
I went down to one knee in front of her. “Adventure, huh?” I’d had enough of an adventure getting that safe out of The Cave without J2 catching us.
Answers were what I wanted right now.
“You should go back to bed.” I stood up and offered her my hand. “I’ll bring you.”
“Hope. You better wake up,” Tish said, then giggled. “She’s going to get scared.”
“What are you talking about, Tish?”
“It’s going to be a fun adventure.” She grinned and hugged Alastair. “His first one.”
Okay, she was starting to freak me out.
“Our first one together.”
“Tish.” Braden stepped toward her. “Did you have a vision?”
Boom! The door leading to my stairwell blasted in. The window by my desk exploded.
A guy dressed in black dove through the window. Braeden waved his hand. The creep flew through the air toward the stairwell.
Hope ran to me. Braden got in front of me, holding a knife. Where the heck did he have that hidden?
I gripped the coin with sweaty fingers. Last thing I needed to do was drop it. It could be a clue to all this Realm talk. I got my strength from a Realm, whatever that meant.
Then I’d use it to save us.
I stood next to Braeden. Five guys crept up from the stairwell. Another one poked his head through the window, gun aimed at us.
Without taking his focus off the tall guy in black standing at the top of the stairwell, Braeden flicked his hand, and the one in the window fell backward. “What do you want?”
“The boy.” He aimed his gun at me. “No one needs to get hurt.”
Hope grabbed my hand. “He’s not going anywhere.”
“Then the girl,” he lowered his aim at Tish.
I pushed her behind me. Like that’d happen. No way was he getting his hands on her. J2 had to have heard the noise. They’d come help us.
If they were still alive. Oh my gosh.
I stepped forward, not really sure what I’d do, but punching them sounded good. Braeden put out his arm. “I’ll handle this.”
The guy who seemed to be in charge was dressed in black from head to toe. Hood, mask, long sleeves, long pants with guns strapped to his thighs.
Why wasn’t Braeden using his power?
“Lightning Labs I presume?” Braeden asked.
The guy just stood there. All I could see were his eyes. They were brown. And I would never forget them now. If he hurt—
A blast of wind swirled through my room.
“Whoa.” Hope tightened her hold on me.
Tish pointed to a swirling ball of darkness off to her right. “It’s time.”
“Grab him!” The masked man lunged.
Braeden shoved him back with his power. Tish squealed.
From behind, a guy snatched her arm. I grabbed her other one.
Please don’t let me crush it.
Hope kicked the guy in the shins. “Let her go!” She pounded on his arms.
Guys behind us. Guys in the stairwell. No escape.
Something tugged at my shirt. The spiraling ball off to the side hissed. Darkness swirled, growing bigger and bigger. Like a black hole or something.
Wind shuffled papers into the air. Swirling. Dancing around.
The main guy stopped and looked up, then to the ball. “He’s activated it!”
Another person stepped up the stairs. “You will cooperate or she dies.” He pulled Janet up the last step.
Blood dribbled along her forehead. “Don’t do it, son!” She fought against the guy’s hold.
“Mom!” Braeden yelled and pointed at the guy.
He jerked Janet closer, the knife slicing into her neck.
I put my hands up. “Stop? What do you want?”
He nodded toward the spinning darkness. The pull toward the void increased.
I stumbled back. “What is it?”
“One of your Realms.” The guy inched toward me. “And you will take me.”
“I’m thinking no.” Braeden held up his knife.
The guy quirked his head to the side. Tish and Hope slid closer to me, the pull getting greater and greater.
In about five seconds we might all be going into this thing. What was it? Where would we land? I couldn’t let that happen.
But that creep had Janet. Our exits were blocked. If I didn’t do what he said he’d hurt them. If I did, what would the other guys do to my friends?
“Don’t let him.” The guy hit Janet in the head with the butt of his gun.
Janet sagged against the army dude.
“I’ll do it.” I put my hands out. “Just let them go.”
The guy eased his mask off. He had dark skin and a buzz cut. I really wanted to punch that smile off his face.
My heartbeat picked up. My hands went sweaty. My head pounded.
That ball of moving darkness was a way to one of my Realms? A part of me. Maybe it was my home!
But I liked it here. With Hope, Tish, Braeden and J2. What if—
My feet start slipping along the wooden floor. Whatever that thing was, it was pulling me in. I figured my strength could keep me out if I grabbed something, but I had to save my family.
“No!” Tish said. “I’m supposed to go with you.”
I pushed Tish and Hope toward Braeden. The army guy dove at me. I closed my eyes and jumped into darkness.
Join us Monday for Chapter 15 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.
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See you soon….