Cesar sat with a group of children, Morganna at his side. He told them all fairy tales and stories of mermaids, witches, princesses and pirates. Jack’s son Justin sat attentively. Ghost, the wolf, sat in between the circle of kids and his new mistress Lila. Protective of both, the wolf kept keen watch on their surroundings.
Some of the other adults with powers stood guard near the bridge’s openings. A man with telekinesis watched one side and a woman with the ability to summon miniature tornadoes watched the other.
The kids listened and giggled. They grew wide-eyed when the action rose. Cesar did his best to entertain but his thoughts were on Orchid and the others. He worried of what dangers awaited them. He didn’t trust the suburbs, the neighborhoods. They were breeding grounds for hidden dangers and other nefarious things.
What if they lost someone? What if Orchid didn’t make it back.
“Orchid can take care of herself,” Morganna said. “She’s the most powerful of us all.”
Cesar grinned. “In my head again?”
“Sorry. Just trying to ease your worries. She’ll return just fine.”
“I wish you could see beyond the immediate future. Would be nice to know how we all end up…the entire race.”
“I don’t have that power but if we don’ stop the Eldritch the future for this world is uncertain.”
“Hey peanut butter!” Kyle said, pulling the unopened jar out of the kitchen’s pantry. He set it on the floor and began rummaging through the cabinet beside it. He planted himself on the floor and dumped a whole pile of boxed crackers, bags of chips, canned tuna, jarred pickles and olives onto it. He began sorting everything into different piles
Samantha joined him on the floor. “Olives,” she said with glee. “I love olives.” She pried open the jar and popped two green ones into her mouth.
Kyle glanced at her and smiled. “Can I have one?”
“Of course, silly.” She reached into the jar at the same time he did.
He quickly pulled his fingers back. “Sorry.” He tried to look away, back down at the other food.
“Don’t be.” Sam touched his chin and eased his face up. She gazed into his eyes and kissed him gently.
“I must be blushing,” Kyle said.
Sam laughed. “You are.” She kissed him again.
“Things like this never happen to me.”
“Me either,” Sam replied. “The world has changed. We have to make our own destinies now.”
“Well, I like this one so far.”
Orchid stepped into the kitchen, a box of flashlights and extra blankets in her arms. “Okay you two. We’re moving on.”
Jack joined Orchid and they all moved into the formal living room. The wall paper was faded, the furniture dusted with soot and torn. The walls were cracked, the fireplace crumbling.
“Let’s load everything up.” Jack laid some duffle bags and suitcases down.
Everyone packed the supplies and food they’d gathered from the entire street.
“We can’t carry all of this back,” Kyle said.
“No problem,” Orchid said. She focused her attention on all of the supplies and every suitcase and bag lifted into the air.
“Awesome!” Kyle said.
Orchid guided the supplies out of the house and into the street.
A shadow stretched across their path suddenly. It seemed alive. It twisted, almost deformed as it grew closer until…Luana stepped into the street. The group froze. Jack’s hand encircled with flames.
“You people are always in the way,” Luana spat. “It’s because of you I can’t conquer that masked monster. I’ll take the girl instead. The one with the necklace…where is she?”
“Everyone get back,” Jack yelled. “It’s a mutant.”
Luana looked down at her scaly arms. “I’m not a mutant!” She ran to the carcass of a Town car and placed one hand on its hood and the other on the ignition.
The car roared to a start, headlights flashing, engine revving. Luana pulled herself back and the car took off, heading for the group.
The food and supplies dropped into the street as the car plowed through them. Jack jumped out of the way, tossing himself into the front yard of one of the homes on the street.
Orchid gave Kyle and Sam a telekinetic push, sending them out of the car’s rampaging path. She turned and put her hand up and the car stopped, just inches from her.
She put it in reverse and sent it back to Luana.
The crafty Luana armed her laser gun and shot out the car’s tires. The metal behemoth spun out of control, soaring into one of the nearby yards and crashing into a house. A cloud of fire engulfed it.
“Where is the girl!” Luana cried, taking aim at Orchid.
A fireball zapped Luana’s hand, destroying her laser. Agony, hate, rage poured out of her. Her voice degenerated into hissing.
Jack started toward her, aiming his hands again when a truck screamed down the street. It was Luana’s men. Their battle truck pulled in between Luana and the others, blocking Jack’s attack.
Luana jumped into the truck’s open doors. “This isn’t over!” The truck sped out of the neighborhood.
“Everyone ok?” Orchid asked.
“Yeah.” Jack dusted himself off. “That was nothing. Another day in the frickin’ life.”
“Let’s just get all this stuff off the street and get back.”
“You guys look shook up,” Cesar said, letting the sleeping kids lie. He went to Orchid and checked on her.
“We’re fine,” Orchid said. “Just a run in with a mutant woman.”
“I’m okay too, thanks for asking.” Jack dropped his supplies and went to his son.
“No offense, Jack.” Cesar shook his head. “That guy is so lovable.”
“Forget about it, “ Orchid continued. “We need to get everyone moved by morning. It’s getting dangerous here, very dangerous. I think we should leave the city.”
“But there are still so many resources here.”
“Maybe we should just find another one. A different location to throw some things off our scent. It seems no matter where we hide in this city we’re sitting ducks. No place here is safe.”
“We don’t know that any other place out there is. All of them could be exactly the same.”
“I think we should take the chance. Maybe meet some new people, add to our ranks. Every city might have others that are like me and Jack. We need reinforcements. We need communication.”
Cesar shook his head. “I just thought the new world started here.” He looked over to see Kyle and Sam embracing then kissing.
Morganna appeared at his side, she took his hand. “It begins where we want it to begin.”
He looked down at her and smiled.
“My people have always believed that,” Morganna continued. “It doesn’t matter where we go that masked champion sent by the Eldritch will never stop hunting us.”
“We’ve got to end that thing once and for all,” Orchid said. “Maybe we should take the fight to it for a change.”
“We don’t even know if it can be stopped,” Cesar said.
“Only one way to find out.” Orchid started to walk away then looked back at them. “Get a good night’s sleep by first light we move.”
Morganna turned back to Cesar: “He’s not the only threat. Solomon, the man who would be king, is coming.”
Cesar said nothing.
In the nest of shadows enveloping the bridge, Octavius, leader of the cannibal cult, watched and studied. A twisted, toothy grin cut across his long face. His fingers slid down the blade of his sacrificial dagger. He looked at Malek and whispered: “Fresh meat.”