It’s morning and Brian has to get up for school. He spent an uneasy night, getting very little sleep. He wakes to find it unseasonably cold and icy. Rather than walking straight to the bus stop, he stops to pick up Jordan on the way.
The wind picked up as he approached Jordan’s. The moisture in the air coalesced, forming sleet. The icy crystals flew into his face, stinging any exposed skin. A whirlwind, like a tiny tornado, paralleled his path. Adjusting its trajectory slightly, it headed right toward him, kicking up frosty grass, dirt and debris. Faster it whirled, driving straight at him.
Knowing this wasn’t natural, Brian reached into his coat, fumbling for the chain around his neck. Cold fingers grasped the iron and brass chain. It felt unnaturally hot and it glittered in the dim light of streetlights. A phrase came to his mind, whispered in his ears. It wasn’t a language he recognized, but he bellowed loudly and confidently as the growing whirlwind got closer.
He roared, throwing his coffee at it.
The miniature tornado halted in its path, ducking and wavering uncertainly. It tried to approach, but seemed to hit an invisible wall about a foot from Brian. He yelled the words again, feeling them sucked into the wind. The whirlwind shivered, backed up and tried to hit him again, this time from the side. Brian clutched his amulet, bringing it out from under his shirt. The stones and metal seared his palm, making it glow as if it were on fire. With a loud poof, the ice tornado exploded. Crystals and trash flew in every direction, but none of them reached Brian. A barrier stood between them, protecting him.
As soon as the whirlwind disappeared, Brian ran as fast as he could for Jordan’s. Heedless of the ice, he thudded up the sidewalk. He arrived at her front porch to find the lights on and the door open. He knocked on the heavy screen door. Jordan’s worried face greeted him moments later.
“Are you okay?” She opened the screen.
“I don’t know.” He sat on the bench just inside the house.
Jordan closed the door, bolting it. “I had this awful premonition. I knew you were in trouble and I was coming to help you, but I couldn’t get out. Something held the screen in place. It was like it was frozen shut. I tried all the doors and windows, same thing. Are you sure you’re okay?” Her hands moved over his body, checking him for injury.
“I’m okay. But it was close.” He told her what had happened and started to laugh. “I threw my coffee at it. Brilliant.”
Jordan giggled. “We can get more. Come into the kitchen. Mom’s up.”
“Does she know—about all this?”
Jordan shook her head. “No, but she knows something strange is happening. Like I said, she’s intuitive. I don’t think we should keep this from her.”
Brian followed Jordan into the warm, comfortable kitchen. Mrs. Barrett had made breakfast and coffee. She served Brian a huge plate of waffles, eggs and grits. He was a little disappointed to find out there was no bacon, but he wasn’t surprised to find out that the Barretts were vegetarians.
“You’re sure you’re okay?” Jackie asked after he told her what had happened to him. He left out the part about the amulet, but she found the part about hurling his coffee at the whirlwind amusing.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m fine. Shook me up some, I have to admit.”
“That’s settled. I’m taking you to school today—every day. I don’t know what’s going on, but I have a horrible feeling in my stomach.” She pursed her lips, thinking. “I’ll pick you up after school too,” she announced. “And then we will sit down and you will tell me everything. Is that clear?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Brian said, casting his eyes downward. He didn’t want to tell Mrs. Barrett, but he sensed that not only would she get the entire story from him anyway, she could probably help. There was no reason why adults couldn’t be involved. The weird events might be happening to them too, they just weren’t blogging about it. If anyone could understand and assist them, she seemed the best equipped.
It was wonderful riding to school in Mrs. Barrett’s luxurious SUV instead of the noisy, smelly bus. She played some kind of weird New Age flute music as she drove, but Brian found it oddly soothing. One tune in particular, he liked. It had a lot of drums at the beginning and a rumbling bass line that made his heart race. It stayed in his mind even after he was at school.
The main topic of conversation that morning, was the cold. Living in southern Mississippi, the residents weren’t used to weather this chilly so early in the year. It was still hurricane season, for god’s sake. They were prepared to be dodging late season storms, not battling ice.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes