Ch. 1 part 1


"You're going to love the new house San, I just know it," she said stepping out of the car. She slammed the door shut, then extended her arms to the house that stood in front of them.

San sighed and slumped in the car seat, Ms. Ran knocked on the window and motioned for her to follow. San shook her head and turned her back against the sharp raps now behind her.

"Now San," she said in her syrupy sweet voice, " you're going to have to come out sooner or later, hun. Now get out of the car!"

Ms. Ran opened the door and took San by the wrist; San winced and allowed herself to be pulled out of the car. "I don't want any attitude from you, young lady! Now these folks are really nice and I don't want you ruining your chance of a good family now, you hear?" she hissed in her ear.

She nodded in reply just as she was dragged to the doorstep. Ms. Ran was rambling on about how nice the family was and so on, San's stomach felt twisted, as if she was going to throw up.

It was hot outside and sticky, she had to swallow several times. The doorbell was rung and the large door was opened. A large old woman stood at the door, she smiled at San, and San fidgeted.

"Well hello there," the old woman said smiling warmly at them both. She had gray hair and a starch white apron tied around her waist. When she smiled her eyes wrinkled at the corners. "You must be the San!" she cried. San nodded vaguely. The old woman swept her up into a hug. "Welcome! Welcome! I hope you like it here," she pulled back and flashed her blue eyes upon San. "...I've never had any children in this house for a long time...." She looked inside the house lost in thought.

San shifted her weight and looked at Ms. Ran who was already pulling her into the old woman's house.

"Yes, yes...well...this is such a lovely house Ms. James...I love what you did with the..."

San turned away and peered curiously around her. The house was old... a very old house, but clean. There was a rug in almost every room, and a lamp was lit making the whole scene appear warm and cozy. It felt good to be out from the sun; San noticed how cool it felt inside. When she looked back at the old woman she found her smiling intently at her. San found herself looking at her shoes again.

"...Ms. James you seem like a marvelous person, don't you think so San?" Ms. Ran asked, forcing San to look up.

She nodded, and then looked back at her worn dirty shoes. They were two sizes too small for her, and Ms. Ran had promised to change them a while ago.

I wonder if she forgot about my shoes, she thought absently. All the other girls have nice shoes and I'm still wearing a size six I had when I was twelve, she thought darkly.

"San?" broke in Ms. Ran.


"Weren't you listening to what Ms. James was saying, dear?" she asked in her syrupy sweet voice again. Although her voice was soft her eyes were cold glass daggers of ice that seemed to stab into San's eyes.

"Sorry Ms. James..."

" Honey, you need to pay attention ok? You are in her house and Ms. James is nice enough to have you over to visit today."

San looked up long enough to glare at Ms. Ran then peer uneasily at the smiling old woman beside her. "Sorry I wasn't listening Ms. James..."

"That's all right dear," she said smiling.

There was a sudden breeze that moved the curtains around Ms. James. The old woman looked outside the open window with a vacant expression on her face.

"I'm sorry for the interruption Ms. James, San is known for her idleness and daydreaming frenzies...I do apologize for her rude behavior," said Ms. Ran grabbing a hold of her wrist again. San winced.

"Do not apologize Ms. Ran," she responded with a warm smile. "She is only a child after all..." She gave San a wink, "And how old exactly are you San?"

San swallowed, " 15," she answered uneasily. She waited for the woman's reaction; unlike most of the others she seemed quite pleased by it.

"15, eh?" she laughed, "well I wasn't expecting a teenager..."

"We can find you another child if you don't want one as old as-" started Ms. Ran.

"No, no, no, no! I wouldn't dream of having another! I like San just fine..." she said with a chuckle. "15 is a perfect age, don't you think?" she asked San with another wink.

San gave a wondering nod.

" Ah...yes...15 was wonderful for me. You know, I was adopted too...at 15, isn't that strange?" the old woman looked back at San then to Ms. Ran. "Why did you tell me she was twelve Ms. Ran?"

Ms. Ran gave an uneasy smile, " Paperwork mistake...I'm sorry Ms. James."

She just wants to get rid of me, San thought staring back at her shoes.

"Well-ell....! Look at the time!" cried Ms. Ran throwing out her wrist. " I'll leave you two alone and be back in two hours." She turned on her heels and opened the door. "Remember San to be on your best behavior and remember that we aren't rushing you into something you aren't ready for yet...this isn't an official adoption...just a visit!" she called over her shoulder as she slid into her car.

"Good bye Ms. Ran!"

San refused to say anything back and watched her car disappear down the road. The old woman placed a hand on her shoulder. "Well I guess she won't be back for a while." San nodded.


She had eaten like a pig in front of her, and now she wiped her mouth with her hand staring at the old woman curiously and grateful for the meal.

The old woman was breaking a sugar cookie in half and taking small bites out of it. "Are you finished eating San?" she asked patting her hand.

"Yes...thank you Ms. James," she said politely. She watched Ms. James' eyes crinkle as she smiled. She patted San's hand again nodding her head.

"I'm glad you enjoyed everything dear, it's been so long since I've baked anything for guests..." she sighed.

San lowered her eyes, " you must get lonely here...all by yourself..."


San stood up so fast she startled the old woman nearly out of her chair. "Let me stay with you Ms. James! I'll help you clean, cook and...well anything you like!" she cried grabbing both of her hands.

Ms. James looked like a startled deer in the headlights; she had her mouth open but no sound escaped from it.

"Please let me stay with you! I know this sounds childlike and almost stupid...but I-"

She looked away. " ...I-I-that Ms. Ran is evil! I know that was rude, but really she is!" she cried earnestly. "Please let me stay with you! You're my last chance-honest you are! No one else will take me! All the adults want are the little children...and well...I'm 15 ma'am! No one will take me in! Nobody!" At this point there were tears running down her face, " Please believe me Ms. James! Ms. Ran told me that she would dump me out if I-"

"San! San-!" the old woman cried taking the girl's face in her old crooked hands. "Calm down, love...settle down..." She took San into her arms like a baby and rocked her. "I know exactly how you feel...I had to go through this too, you know. It wasn't easy, love, it wasn't easy. And yes, you're right...children are like puppies. Everyone wants the puppies but not the older dogs..."

San nodded and wiped her eyes, "I'm sorry...Ms. James...I'm-"

"Shhh...Shhh... now you hush," said Ms. James patting San's arm. "Don't apologize for feeling! Go dry your eyes..." She stood up holding her back, before turning down the hall she glanced back at San. " Are you sure you want to stay with an old, boring, crazy, old fool like me?"

"If you'll take me...I'll be glad to be with you!"

Ms. James smiled again, " I'm not the kindest lady in the world, San."

"I'm sure I've been with the meanest people alive...and trust me...you're a saint compared to some of the people I've lived with." Ms. James smiled and continued down the hall.

San leaned back in her chair breathing hard, I don't believe this! She thought incredulously. I might just have a family after all...she thought with a fluttering heart. Ms. James, please take me in! Oh please?! I'll be the nicest to you...she thought closing her eyes tightly. Please let Ms. Ran let her have me! Please let this be...!

She leaned forward lacing her fingers together in a nervous knot, she never felt so happy in her life! Her own family! She would finally be free from social workers, false parents, the orphanage she lived in... She opened her eyes taking a deep breath. This is it, she thought happily. This is the start of the new beginning!

She heard footsteps padding down the stairs and looked up from the table. Unable to walk she flew up the stairs and into Ms. James arms. "What did she say? Can you adopt me? Will you?!" she cried into her apron.

"Yes...all is settled...She will be here shortly with the papers and then-" she had started.

San threw her arms around her neck and kissed her. " Ms. James I love you!"

Ch. 2 part 1


(3 months later)

She raised her sleeves out of her way and shoved the scrubber back into the pail. She scrubbed at the wooden floor then plunged the scrubber into the pail again and continued scrubbing the floor.

There was a breeze that rippled her face as she worked perfunctorily. Soft music was floating somewhere off the breeze but she was too busy to notice it.

San rolled her sleeves again and wiped her brow, it was then that she noticed Ms. James' car parked in the driveway in her plain sight. Quickly she grabbed the plate of cookies Ms. James had baked and raced outside barefoot.

"Ms. James! Ms. James!" San saw the old woman lifting groceries out of the trunk, she padded next to her. "Ms. James...here-" she handed her the plate of cookies. "Let me get these, you go on inside...but be careful because I'm cleaning the floor and it is slippery," warned San taking the bags out of her hands.

Smiling she patted San on the back and hobbled inside the house, San watched her go inside noticing for the first time how frail and thin she looked. She sighed and lifted the rest of bags out of the trunk and followed Ms. James into the house.

Ms. James was setting down her purse on the small kitchen table beaming at the nearly spotless floor. "Well, well, you were busy while I was out..." she said approvingly.

"Yes...I wanted it clean before you got home."

The old woman bit into a cookie, " good job...very good job San." San smiled. " You know while I was at the store I met up with this really nice woman, a teacher of yours. Mrs. Franklin, if I'm correct..."



"She is my math teacher..." said San kneeling toward the pail. " I'm not really doing well in her class. I'm not good at math."

"She had really nice things to say about you."

San rolled up her sleeves and began to scrub vigorously at the floor. Ms. James gave her head a little pat and continued her way down the hall.

That reminds me, thought San clearing her throat. "Ms. James! Wait-!" she called. She got up and jogged up the stairs where old Ms. James stood waiting. " I found this trap door today while I was cleaning today."

Ms. James' face turned a dark crimson, her eyes became wide and fearful. "You did not go inside did you?" she asked quickly.

San's face expression was troubled, "No, I didn't," she answered.

Ms. James' face broke into a smile as she shook her head, relieved. "Ah, good..." she said patting her shoulder. The old woman' smile lingered a while just as it transformed into a stern, angry frown. "San," she hissed, squeezing harder on her shoulder, " Never ever go into that trap door, understand? Don't even open it! Today I'll buy a rug and put it over the trap door-ok?"

San could only nod obediently and gasped when the old woman loosened her fierce grip on her. She watched the old woman turn and walk up the stairs. She took in a deep breath and held it, Ms. James...I've never seen her this way before...she thought releasing her breath. It's just a trap door...what could she be hiding in it?


She shut the door and yawned, the tile underneath her chilled her feet. Quickly she walked across the bathroom and faced the large open mirror. Her toothbrush was resting on the sink top but she made no move to retrieve it. Instead, she stared into her reflection that seemed to glow in the tungsten light above her.

She was the same as yesterday, light brown eyes, creamy brown skin, and auburn and brown hair.

"I wish my head wasn't so big," she said longingly to her reflection. "And I wish my teeth weren't so small!" Her reflection stared back at her, giving no answer.

Hmmm, she thought cocking her head. What if I had light brown highlights in my hair like the girls at school? Would I look pretty?

The sudden knock on the door startled her, "Yes Ms. James?" she opened the door.

Ms. James stood in the doorway with her head down. "Ms. James? Is everything all right?" she asked touching the woman's thin shoulder.

The old woman didn't move nor speak; her head remained to the floor.

"Ms. James?"

Ms. James suddenly turned away walking down the hall, San peered out of the doorway watching curiously. The old woman went into her room at the far end of the hall and left the door cracked.

"Ms. James?" she hesitantly moved out of the bathroom. "Is everything...Ok? I mean, you just knocked on my door and..." she took a step. " Do you want me?" she asked taking a few steps toward Ms. James' room.

The light was on in her room, a square of light traced the hall's wooden edge. Still it remained silent, the hairs on San's neck rose with the sudden chill of the air.

"Ms. James? I'm confused!"

She made it up to her door and paused. "Ms. James are you asleep?" She peered into the crack; she saw the bed and some parts of the dresser but no Ms. James! "Ma'am?" San knocked, "Ms. James?"

Still no answer, the house creaked.

OK, this is beginning to get weird, she thought backing away from the door slightly. Where is Ms. James? Why isn't she answering me?

She decided to go inside. She parted the door slowly at first, "Ms. James?," then finding her nowhere in sight threw the door open. "Ms. James!" she cried looking around the room.

She was nowhere to be seen, the room was empty. It looked neat and orderly, like it always had, but Ms. James wasn't in the room. San could have sworn she saw the old woman walk in here!

"Ms. James?! Where are you?! Ms. James, why are you scaring me?!" she cried looking under the bed and opening the closet. "Ms. James?! Ms. James?!" San searched the entire room then whirled around franticly only to find Ms. James at the doorway staring at her.

Her breath caught in her throat, San stumbled against the wall. "Ms. James-!!"

The old woman's face was pallid and eyes empty and emotionless, her mouth opened into a hoarse whispering of words but San couldn't hear it.

"Ms. James! I-I was looking for you-I saw you come in here but you were gone! Now you're up there when I-!"

"I'm sorry!" Ms. James cried wiping her face.


Ms. James raised her arms in front of her as if reaching for San. Her mouth was twisted into an anguished scream when she fell forward.

"Ms. James-!!!!!" cried San running up to her.

San caught the old woman from falling to the floor, "You're as cold as ice, Ms. James! I'm calling the hospital-!" she said looking down into her old quivering face. She saw tears run down her cheeks, "Ms. James?"

"I'm sorry, San," sobbed Ms. James shaking. "I can't-I'm too old-!" she whispered.

"Too old for what, Ms. James?!" San cried attentively. The old woman turned in her arms and covered her face, her shoulders moved as she cried. "Ms. James?! What are you talking about, here? Ms. James!?!"

"The trap door-!" she cried. "Why'd you have to find it?"

"The trap door-?!"

Ms. James uncovered her face and glared at her, "The trap door! -Did you go inside?"

"No, no, no! I told you that I didn't go inside! Why, Ms. James?"

"Uoy..."she whispered.

San shook her, "Ms. James?! I'm going to call the hospital now...Ms. Jame-"

The old woman grabbed San's shoulders, "NO!" she hissed. "You are staying here! Listen to me, San!"

"I am," she cried. "You're sick, something's wrong with you! Why are you-"

"NO, SAN-!!!" she shrieked.

"Ms. James?!" she cried fearfully, "Ms. James, stop it! Stop it!"

The old woman continued to talk over her, " NEVER EVER GO INSIDE THAT TRAP DOOR! PROMISE YOU WON'T GO INSIDE?!!!!!!"

"I did! I did! I won't go inside, please-just stop yelling, Ms. James!" San pleaded.

All at once the old woman fell silent, her eyes became cold and empty as she stared up at the ceiling not saying anything.

Her heart skipped a beat, " Ms. James?! Ms. James?!" she cried shaking her, but Ms. James remained unmoving and still. San panicked, "Stay here Ms. James! I'm calling the hospital!"


"I'm afraid she's in a coma Miss James," said the doctor gravely.

" For how long? Is she ever coming home?" asked San holding her hands together.

The doctor shrugged his shoulders, "Physically she is fine, it is her mind I'm worried about for now. But I promise you she'll get better. For a woman her age, this sort of thing is common, and only lasts, at most, a couple of months."

San looked back at Ms. James sadly, Oh Ms. James, she thought.

"Now you're her adopted daughter?" he asked.


"And you're 15 years old, right?" he asked taking off his gloves. He looked back at her waiting for an answer.

San nodded her head in reply.

The doctor took out a manila folder and whipped out a pen that was inside his coat pocket. He cleared his throat and clicked his pen. "How long have you been with Ms. James?" he asked squinting through his glasses.

San fidgeted and stared at her hands, " Um...maybe three months now."

He nodded, " Where are your biological parents, Miss James?" he asked looking up at her.

"I don't know," she answered truthfully.

"You don't know?" he asked writing something down. "Ok...well, I honestly don't know what to say...you're old enough to stay at home by yourself. I think 14 is the requirement," he said pausing. "You'll just have to manage on your own, Miss James...or we could send you back to..." he looked back down at the folder. ".... Ah yes, Ms. Tina Ran?"

"Ms. Ran?! No!" she cried quickly. "I'm better off by myself."

The doctor sighed, " Ok, since Ms. James is a senior citizen she gets free health care, so don't worry about any hospital fee, Ok?" he said taking off his glasses.

San sighed and nodded her head, "thank you, doctor."

"You can check out now."

San rose to her feet and shook the doctor's hand. Then she quickly kissed Ms. James on the forehead and briskly went to the nurse seated at the desk and signed out. After doing this, she shrugged into her coat and exited out of the hospital doors.

The snow was falling gently from the sky and blanketing the ground, San walked through the snow without looking at the scenery, as she normally would have done. She jammed her gloved hands into her pockets and quickly made her way to the parking lot. She had rode by cab to the hospital and now she had to walk home.

As she turned the corner to the sidewalk she realized that she could be left alone or could be coming back to Ms. Ran. What if Ms. James died in her coma? The thought filled her eyes with tears, and then she would truly be alone.

Try not to think about that, she told herself not bothering to wipe away her tears. Ms. James isn't going to die! Think positive San James, think positive!


San unlocked the door and stepped inside shivering from the cold. The house was warm, she wondered why that was, and remembered the fire in the parlor.

She took off her coat and hung it in the closet, then took off her gloves and scarf. She took a deep breath and went into the parlor to get warm; as she warmed by the fire she recalled the word Ms. James had said. 'Uoy' or something like that...

I wonder what 'Uoy' means...she thought gritting her teeth. Jesus it's cold outside! I should have gotten a cab, she thought putting her hands in front of the fire...I think I'll sleep here tonight.

She looked around her in dismay, I'll also have to keep this house clean so when Ms. James comes back the house will look neat and tidy the way she likes it... and bills? What am I going to do about that? Don't senior citizens get their bills paid off once they retire? Christ! I don't have a clue-! What if I have to get a job? I can do that...she decided readily.

Ch. 3 part 1


She knelt down and kissed her head, " hey, Ms. James," she said squeezing her cold hand. " I know you can hear me...even if you're in a coma...it's me, San." San bit her lower lip and wiped a tear from her eye. "I just came over to say 'hi' to you, that's all...just to see if you're feeling any better," said San looking out of the window.

She sighed and looked back at Ms. James, her once lively face now looked sullen and lifeless.

Ms. James, please get better...for me, please get better, she thought kissing her hand. Don't leave me alone! Wake up from your coma, please?!

The nurse patted San's shoulder, "she's fine, she's getting better and better."

San looked up at the nurse, "She's in a coma, how can you tell?"

The nurse smiled, "You're visiting time is up Miss James, come back tomorrow." The nurse opened the door for her to leave.

San turned to Ms. James, "Good bye Ms. James, I'll see you tomorrow. Try to get better ok? I love you," she said lowering her head and shuffling out of the door.

The nurse shut the door and escorted her to the front desk.


School seemed to go on forever, she was thankful that the last bell was sounding so she could leave and go home.

As she turned to her locker she felt a tap on her shoulder, irritated she faced this person and gasped.

"Ms. Ran? What are you doing here?"

"I just came to tell you how sorry I was, about your mother and all..." she said in a syrupy murmur.

San's insides twisted in disgust, " what do you want?"

Ms. Ran looked inside her locker, "what a clean locker you have, dear! I guess you've been shaping up since you've been with Ms. James."

San slammed her locker shut, "Thanks for noticing," she replied curtly. She narrowed her eyes at her, "Why are you here, Ms. Ran?"

"Now, now, now, that's no way to talk to a friend, dear," she said sweetly.

San's face twisted up, "You aren't my friend, I don't have any friends," said San turning to walk away while adjusting her backpack.

"I'm talking to you, San! You're just going to turn away while an adult is talking to you?" Ms. Ran called behind her.

San ignored her and continued walking.

"San? Where are you going? I'm talking to you-!" Once again Ms. Ran's voice transformed into a deadly hiss.

San only smiled and continued to walk down the hall turning the corner that led to the exit doors. "You won't tell me why you're here, so I'm not going to sit around and wait for you to explain," she called over her shoulder.

Just as the words left her throat Ms. Ran had her hand clamped around it, San gasped and felt the air leave her lungs.

"How dare you show such disrespect, dear?" Ms. Ran dragged her out of the hall by the neck, San spluttered and gagged. "Do you act this way at home?" she asked sweetly, although she was choking her.

"Let me g-go!"

"Oh dear, am I holding you too tight? Maybe I should loosen my grip...when you learn to hold your saucy little tongue!" jeered Ms. Ran shaking her by the throat.

San fought the desire to punch her in the face, she knew if she tried to fight back Ms. Ran would only make her life more miserable than it already was.

Finally she released San with a smirk on her face, "I don't need to explain anything to you missy," she told her seizing her wrist. San winced and let herself be jerked outside of the school building.

San watched her classmates stare at her in wonder and suspicion as she was pulled into Ms. Ran's car. Ms. Ran opened the door and shoved her inside. "Shut up! Say one word and you're living with me, understand?" she hissed before shutting the door.

Bitch, she thought holding her neck gingerly.

Ms. Ran got into the driver's seat and turned on the car, she glared at San and drove out of the school parking lot.

San stared out of the window and after a while she asked, " Where are you taking me?"

"I said SHUT UP!" Ms. Ran spat angrily. "I'm trying to drive this car, sweetie, so I need you to be quiet," she said switching back to her syrupy voice.

"This is called kidnapping in some states," San told her angrily. "Stop the car!"

"Don't get saucy, dear! Do you act like this to Ms. James? If so, then you are a dreadful child, indeed! What a miserable little wrench you are!"

"I love Ms. James, Ms. Ran...now where are you taking-"

"How could you be so disrespectful? Ms. James is a marvelous person, dear. A truly sweet and loving soul, maybe you're the reason she's in a coma right now..." continued Ms. Ran in her irritating cheesy voice again.

San wanted to hit her with something. "WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME?"

"It's a surprise, dear. You're going to just love it! It is wonderful news, you'll be so happy! Oh, you'll leap for joy!" Ms. Ran gushed.

San sat back in her seat hating Ms. Ran. She looked out of the window trying not to scream, she felt like a helpless little child again. That same helpless child that was thrown at Ms. Ran to care for at the orphanage by her nameless parents, that same helpless child that suffered her life in Ms. Ran's care. She truly hated Ms. Ran, if she had a gun the first person she would kill would be her.

"See? Isn't it better when we aren't screaming, dear?" she was saying. She turned on the radio, soft classical music floated around the car. "San, don't you see how nice this is? Classical music is heaven on Earth, don't you think so? You like Beethoven, don't you San?" chirped Ms. Ran.

God, I hate you, thought San glaring at her. If only I had a gun, if I had a knife of something...

"You're going to love this, sweetie. I know you will...we're going to visit Ms. James!"

San looked out the window and tried not to cry.


She followed Ms. Ran up the hospital stairs to Ms. James' waiting room. They were the only ones there and the lights were off. A nurse told them to sit and wait and they did.

Ms. Ran looked over at San lovingly, "San, you're going to love this."

San looked away and at her new comfortable shoes. She stared at them until the nurse called them into Ms. James' room.

The first thing San noticed was that the room looked lighter than usual and the doctor she had spoken with yesterday was there and smiling at her.

Ms. Ran poked San's waist with her finger, " See? I knew you would just die with joy! You're going to be so happy, this is such a happy moment!" she said taking a tissue from a nearby tissue box and sobbing into it.

San ignored her and stepped up to Ms. James' bed, Ms. James blue eyes were open and she was smiling!

"M-Ms. James-!"

Ms. James sat up and looked San in the eye with a warm smile on her face, "Well hello there, San."

"Ms. James!" she cried throwing her arms around the old woman.

The old woman stroked her hair and rocked her, "Shh...shhh.shhhh.shhhhhh..."

"You see, San?" said Ms. Ran from somewhere behind her. "I told you that you were going to love this! Isn't this such a happy moment?" She began crying into the tissue again.

The doctor and nurse looked at each other and back at Ms. Ran.

"I thought you were going to stay in a coma forever! You've only been gone for a day and it felt like forever!" cried San.

"Yes, yes, yes, and did you keep the house clean for me?"

San nodded, she was so happy she thought she was going to burst open. "I love you Ms. James, I missed you!"

The old woman smiled, " I missed you too, love."

"Oh, this is so happy!" cried Ms. Ran reaching for another tissue. "Isn't this beautiful, doctor? A family reunited once again after a day of turmoil! Oh, happy day! This is so wonderful, don't you think doctor?"

The doctor looked uncomfortable, "Um...maybe we should leave them alone, I'm going to have to ask you to leave..." he said to Ms. Ran.

"Well certainly, doctor. They need their privacy, I was just about to suggest the same thing..." she paused and looked at the hugging family on the hospital bed. "But can I take these with me?" she asked pointing at the tissue box.


Ms. Ran took the box in her arms and followed the nurse and doctor out of the hospital gently closing the door behind her.


"Yes, yes," she laughed cupping San's face in her old crooked hands. "I was thinking the same thing," she chuckled.

San smiled fondly at Ms. James stroking her hands that were against her cheeks. The fire crackled happily beside them as they had another round of laughter.

"I don't think I've ever been so happy before in my life, Ms. James," San admitted after a while. She watched the old woman's eyes twinkle.

"Me neither, I've never had to share laughter with anyone else, child," she said.

San took the old woman's hands into her own," How come you've never been married, Ms. James?" she asked giving her hands a tight squeeze.

Ms. James looked around her house vacant in thought, and then she looked back at San with a warm smile on her face. "I have been married, love, but..."she paused and sighed. "He died, a long time ago."

"I'm sorry, Ms. James...why didn't you tell me this before? If you don't mind me asking, how and when did he die?"

Ms. James sighed again, her face suddenly looking old and exhausted, " He died in Japan, the war, you know," she said quietly.

San listened intently to the old woman as Ms. James was pulling herself into the couch and motioning for San to sit with her.

" His name was Charles-Wallace," she continued looking into San's brown face. "He was always trying something exotic, the thrill-seeker..." Ms. James said sadly. "I told him not to go to the war, but he wouldn't hear it...he was young when he died. Only a young man, he died at the age of 24."

"How old were you, Ms. James?" asked San softly to the old woman.

Ms. James looked pained, " I was no more than 20 years old...I told myself that I wouldn't marry anyone else and I didn't, still to this day." She set her mouth in a thin line. "And since I couldn't marry, I never had children of my own. I knew what it was like to be adopted so I didn't adopt...until now." Ms. James reached over and scooped San into a hug. "I'm so glad I have you with me, you're the apple of my eye, you know," she whispered.

San hugged the old woman back, " I love you too Ms. James!"

Ms. James pulled back and stared curiously into San's honey brown eyes, "What was I talking about before I went into my coma, by the way?"

San swallowed, "You were telling me not to go into the trap door, and something about 'Uoy.'"

Ms. James' face twisted in confusion, "What trap door?"

"The one where-" she paused and took hold of her thin hand. "You don't remember the trap door you were telling me about? It's right over there-" said San nodding her head over to the corner of the parlor. "You bought a rug yesterday and put it over the trap door," she said looking back at Ms. James.

"I don't...know what you're talking about! We have a trap door? I've been in this house as long as I remember and I don't know anything about a trap door," said the old woman chuckling.

San opened her mouth in surprise, "you...don't remember?"

"Where is this trap door?" she asked smiling absently at San. San shook her head putting both hands on Ms. James' shoulders.

"Forget it...there is no trap door...I was only kidding to see if I could fool you."

The old woman chuckled again, "such a naughty girl..." she was mumbling with a pleasant smile on her face. "Well hun, you have school tomorrow, time for bed."

"Ok, Ms. James. Goodnight."

Ch.4 part 1


(2 weeks later)

"Hello?...Yes...Oh hi!...I'm fine and you?....Oh that's great, well...yes?...Yes, she's a dear...uh-huh....correct...San James...she's very...no, no, no...it's like S-O-N...yes...like 'on' with an 'S' in front...uh-huh...15...she's very nice...nearly 3months now....uh-huh...yes I do...and you? What?...what is...ok...right now...is it serious?...Ok...sure...I'll be right over...bread?...Ok...got it...yes...of course...you're welcome...goodbye now...uh-huh...yes goodbye." Ms. James hung up the phone and looked over at San who was looking absently out of the window.

"San?" said Ms. James sitting across from her, San looked at her with a smile on her face.


"That was Jenny Davis, our next door neighbor, she needs some groceries, so I'll be at the store."

"Do you need me to go with you Ms. James? I don't like you lifting all those bags by yourself! And why can't Mrs. Davis get the groceries herself?"

"She broke her hip on the stairs...her grand daughter is out of town so it is up to me to be a good neighbor and get her the things she needs," explained Ms. James patiently. "Now go get my coat and purse..."

"Yes, Ms. James."

San was up in an instant and presented her things on the table, Ms. James stood up holding her back. San took her arm and the coat and purse and walked her outside to her car.

"When I get my permit this summer, I'll buy the groceries and things so you won't have to do this anymore..."San assured her while helping her into the car.

"You're so sweet, San, but I like to drive!" croaked the old woman stubbornly.

"It's dangerous, Ms. James! I'm worried about some drunk teenager hitting you!"

Ms. James grinned at San and patted her cheek fondly, "Go back inside, love. It's cold out here," said Ms. James shutting her door.

"Drive safely Ms. James! Take it easy when you lift the groceries, Ok?"

The old woman nodded and started the car, San watched the car roll out of the driveway and out onto the road. She felt a weight in her chest as she watched the little red car disappear down the lane. She shielded her eyes against the sun and shivered with the cold, once the car was truly out of sight San trotted back inside the house.

Once she was inside she sat in the parlor and gazed at her book that was resting on the small reading table. She made no move to pick it up, instead she gazed past the book and to the corner of the parlor.

There it was, the rug Ms. James had bought to put over the trap door.

San stared at the rug feeling a wave of prickling curiosity sweep over her. The rug seemed to be magnetic for her honey brown eyes. It lured her vision toward it, as if telling her to pull back the rug to the trap door.

San, stop it! There is nothing in that trap door, probably a wine cellar...nothing serious, now. Stop imagining things...she thought sitting straighter in the couch. I can't believe Ms. James doesn't remember the trap door...that means I could go inside and she wouldn't have a clue!


She picked up her book and pretended to be busy with it, all the while the green rug seemed to stare at her from outside the book. She looked over her book and at the rug.

Why would she tell me to stay away from it? It's just a trap door...unless there is something in it that Ms. James is hiding...and this Uoy thing...maybe that has to do with something underneath that rug...

Stop it, San! There is nothing under there...she told herself looking back at her book forcing herself to read the words. Her book was lowered and she found herself looking back at the rug.

I could just take a look to see if there is anything in there...it might just be a storage room or something. Just a look...I mean, it isn't a monster she's hiding in there, she reasoned with herself. Just two quick minutes...she wouldn't know the difference...she doesn't even remember the stupid thing exists.

She set down her book and stood from the couch biting her lower lip. I promised that I wouldn't peep inside there...she told me not to go in there...she thought looking around the house. I can't disobey her...it isn't right. But I want to know...gosh this is stupid. Just look in there and be done with it San!

San pivoted on one foot still biting her lip, just one look, she told herself. Two minutes maximum...I have to know!

Her legs were already moving toward the rug, looking around again she bit her thumbnail anxiously.

"I can't believe I'm even doing this, I'm acting like a stupid little kid..."

She brushed her hand over the rug, with hesitant hands she rolled the rug out of the way revealing the trap door. She paused holding her breath.

"What am I doing? Ms. James is going to kill me if she finds out!" she cried throwing the rug over the trap door. "She should be back in any minute! What am I doing?" she cried running back to the couch and picking up her book.

For a few minutes San pretended to read then not being able to take it walked back over to the green rug and stared at it.

"This won't take long, I'll just open the damn thing and take a look, then I'll close it. Nothing bad, it isn't like I'm going inside...I'm just taking a quick look..." she said to no one in particular.

The rug gave no answer.

San took a deep breath. She looked over her shoulder then bit her thumbnail looking back at the green knitted rug. Then she swallowed and knelt on her knees and rolled up the rug.

The trap door was wooden like the rest of the floor, it had a metal black handle that shone against the dim lamplight. San took a deep breath and held it. Her hands ran over the surface of the door but avoided the handle to keep herself from tearing the thing open.

"Should I do this? It's just a look."

Her eyes ran over the entire door before she grasped the handle in her hands. She released her breath and shot her hand back in her lap. The handle was warm.

Her breath became shorter and shorter until she wasn't sure she was going to able breathe anymore. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, this isn't a big deal. You're acting like a little kid, just open the door and take a peek...nothing is wrong with a peek.

From outside she heard a car door slam-San whirled around just long enough to hear the front door opening. Gasping she replaced the rug and ran to the couch fumbling with the book on the table.

"San?" called Ms. James.

The front door closed and her footsteps echoed across the wooden hall. "I'm in the parlor Ms. James!" San called letting a relieved breath escape her lungs.

"Hello San, are you reading in there? Why don't you start a fire-it's cold as ice in here..."said Ms. James appearing in the dim lit parlor. She looked around the room then back at San, " You're all right, dear?"

"Yes I am fine, did you get Jenny Davis her groceries Ok?" she asked lightly.

The old woman nodded and disappeared down the hall, her feet shuffling on the floor and echoing against the wall papered walls.

San was on her feet and taking off the old woman's coat from her frail shoulders and hanging her coat in the closet, she gave Ms. James a worried glance.

The old woman was hobbling up the stairs with a tense grip on the stair rail, San watched the old woman walk all the way up before she started up the stairs herself. She gave a peek at the rug before jogging up the stairs relieved that she had chosen not to go inside.


San shuffled onto the steps adjusting her backpack on her back. With all the hustling and bustling of school she had dropped all of her books and had been late to class. Since it was her third time in a row she had detention with the principal.

She knocked on his office door shifting her weight, the door opened and her stern faced principal glared at her from the doorway. "I'm not surprised to see you Miss James," he said in his booming large voice.

San gave him a nervous smile and laugh, " I dropped my books on my way to class," she said giving him a big smile.

He didn't seem amused by it, his mouth was set in a hard frown. "Inside my office, Miss James," he said flatly.

San ducked away from him and into his large office, she heard the click of the door as he shut it behind him. She took a seat in one of the cushioned wooden chairs seated in front of his desk.

"San, why is it that you're always late to class? You have 10min. locker breaks after class," he said seating himself in front of her. He folded his hands together and stared at her.

"Uh...I'm sorry sir, but it is just the busy hallways. And the football players drop my books all the time, and I have to pick them up when people are stepping on them and kicking them down the hall." San lowered her eyes.

"Well I'm sorry, San, it isn't easy being a freshman, I know." He took the glasses off of his eyes and rubbed his temples. "High school can be pretty scary, especially for a new student like you," he said looking sternly back at her.

San sighed and took a quick look at her watch, she had twenty minutes left to serve. She nodded her head to whatever he was saying since she wasn't listening anyway, she said 'yes' to every question he asked because 'yes' was always the right answer.

He droned on and on for the remaining minutes and finally let her go home.

"Miss James," he called as she left his office.

"Yes Mr. Dillon?" she asked pausing at the door.

"I don't want this problem from you again, you hear me?"

San nodded and sped up her pace; when she left, she ran and just barely caught the late bus. She told the bus driver her address and looked for an empty seat. Unfortunately there wasn't one and she chose to sit next to a black boy with glasses.

He nodded his head at her and scooted to the window to give her room, grateful she gave him a polite smile and set her backpack in her lap. The drive home was short, she got out of the bus and jogged home.

The first thing she noticed was that a Ms. James car wasn't parked in the driveway where it normally was. She shrugged and let herself in the house. This was a good thing, this way she wouldn't have to explain her detention to her.

The house was warm and lit in the same cozy way she had encountered on her first visit here. She smiled at the memory and seated herself in the parlor. Immediately her eyes shot up to the green rug, it was in the same position she had left it Sunday afternoon. Today was Monday.

She tore her eyes away from the rug and went into the kitchen and took out a plate of sugar cookies, on the refrigerator door she spied a note.

She took it off and read it over, it said that Ms. James had left to run some errands and pick up some milk since they had run out. San smiled and tucked the note in the back pocket of her jeans.

She took the plate into the parlor and sat down biting thoughtfully into a cookie. Her eyes were trained on the rug, she set down the plate and unzipped her backpack to finish her homework. But somehow she couldn't concentrate on her work, it was the trap door that seemed to call her forward. She looked at the rug sighing, "There is no way I'm going to be able to do my homework if I don't get this stupid trap door open!" she said angrily.

She slammed her history book shut and strode over to the green rug, not even thinking about it she kicked the rug out of the way and bent down and took the handle in her hands. It was warm yesterday, but today it was hot! She let go of the handle wide eyed.

How can it be hot? Is it the boiler down there or something? She thought shaking her head in confusion. She was on her knees at this point and gingerly placing her fingers around the ring of metal.

Pull, San. Pull it open.

She pulled slightly and the trap door cracked open, cold mist sprayed her face as she jerked the whole door open and peered inside. It was so misty and foggy she couldn't see anything through the door. She hesitantly put a foot down the hole to see how deep it was in there, surprisingly it wasn't! She put her hand down and felt along the bottom, it was steps she was stepping on. She looked up to see if anyone was coming, then lowered her body into the trap door. She pulled the handle shut as she went down the steps.


It was cool and misty, she couldn't see a thing so she felt along the walls. She breathed through her mouth, San felt so cold she thought she was going to freeze. She continued to walk the stairs feeling along the walls for support.

After walking down the endless stairs she found that the fog was clearing and she could see a shape in the middle of the floor. The mist cleared and she could make out a circular object sitting there, she reached out and touched it.

After feeling along the sides of it she realized it was a well. She felt a wave of disappointment seep through her.

"All this over a stupid well?" she said out loud. "I knew this was stupid," she told herself turning away. She stopped and turned back toward it. "Wait-something could be inside of it!" She ran up to the well and peered inside, mist was floating out of the mouth of the well making it hard for her to see. She put her hand inside of the mist and waved it around.

"This was a waste of time," she said in disgust. "This is exactly what I deserve, sneaking around out here anyway," San said standing up straight. She looked back into the well and stuck her whole arm inside it. Mist swirled around her fingers, she smiled and stuck her other arm inside the well. She moved her arms in the mist watching the fog.

Just as she was about to pull her arms out of the well the mist began to change colors. She gasped and watched the mist turn into a dark red. Before she could move out of the well she lost balance in her feet and toppled on top of the well's edge. The mist began to swirl and change into a dark green.

She fought to straighten herself but she was already losing balance, she gave out a frightened cry as she pitched into the dark well.

Ch. 5 part 1


Light hurt her eyes, she curled up tighter and fluttered her eyes until she was awake. She opened her eyes and stared into the sunlit trees and lush green leaves above her. She blinked several times then sat up looking around.

Ahead there was a bird chirping above her and tall grasses around her, she looked around incredulously. Mountains surrounded her in tall lean green peaks. She looked up into the sun squinting her eyes, there were cumulous clouds ahead. She blinked and shuddered.

San rose to her feet looking around and hugging herself. "Where am I?" she asked out loud looking around curiously. "Was I sleeping? I don't remember..."she couldn't recollect her thoughts clearly. She yawned, "I don't even remember-" she gasped. "The well! I fell and-" she looked around in wonderment. "...and somehow...I'm...here?" San began to walk ahead then stopped. "I don't even know where I am...I could be anywhere! I can't believe this is happening!" she moaned sinking to her knees. "I don't understand? I fell through the well and now I'm in the middle of some remote forest!" she cried bringing her knees to her stomach. "Where am I?" she cried.

She felt so tired, she took a deep breath and curled up into a tight ball and closed her eyes. So...tired...she thought drawing her knees closer to her body. I...want to sleep. When I wake up...I'll be in Ms. James' house...she thought drifting off into sleep. When I wake up...I'll be...San rolled her head to the side in sleep.


Something hard hit her head, she winced and sat up looking around. She felt something else hit her, she screamed and moved away looking at the object. It was a rock, she was fully awake now and scared. She looked around trying to find out whom it was that threw the rock at her.

"Hello? Anyone around here? Tell me if I'm in a dream! Hello?" she called into the trees. To her dismay she was still in the same spot she was when she was last awake, the only different thing was that it was dusk.

San looked around her and found over two dozen rocks strewn at her feet, whoever it was had thrown a lot at her.

She was shivering from fear and anxiety, what if this person...or thing is trying to kill me?! She held her breath and began to run into the thick blanket of bushes surrounding the place she had slept.

"Oh god, what to do...what am I going to do? Someone help me!" she whispered backing away from the bushes and running into the bulk of the trees. She found a clearing and a small spring, panting she stumbled up to it and brought her lips to the pool.

The water rippled, she stopped and brought up her head. Wind rustled the leaves and whipped around her face, San could have sworn she heard something. She trusted her instincts and backed away from the pool, a rustle sounded from behind her and she whipped her head around to the sound.

"Who is it? What do you want...do you know where I am?" she called into the howling wind.

Everything remained quiet and still, San looked back at the spring breathing hard.

More ripples in the water, and she saw bubbles coming from the middle of the spring, she opened her mouth in surprise.

Something is in there...under the water...should I...

She didn't have enough time to react, water erupted from the spring and sprayed her. San screamed and backed away on her elbows and feet. Something jumped out and onto the shore near her. San screamed and began to run, she had already convinced herself that whatever it was, was a monster.

"Somebody help me! Help me someone!" she shrieked as she tripped over her feet into a breaking run. "Something is behind me! Somebody help me!" she screamed.

She heard a whoosh and a growl behind her, she screamed again and made a hard right into the thicket. She stumbled on a branch and fell hard on her stomach. Behind her she heard a loud thud, then another growl, she heard the sound of metal against metal.

Panting she crawled across the dirt and brambles trying to get away, whatever was behind her was close, she whimpered and moved as quickly as she could across the dirt, but the thing behind her was already upon her.

She felt herself being lifted off the ground by her jacket, she thrashed and screamed, crying out for help but none came.

"SHUT UP!" came a fierce growl.

In between her screams and sobs she had heard a voice, a male voice. Her breathing was irregular and uneven, she couldn't see the person but she could see behind him.

He had her thrown her over his shoulder; from behind him all she could see was a bushy looking tail and black pack with a sword.

"Where are you taking me?!" she cried weakly. "Where are we going?"

He or she made no answer and continued walking.

San was on the verge of crying out loud but she held it, they went on in silence. He or she was walking up a steep mountain, she felt dizzy and weak. All of the blood was to her head from being tossed in the position she was in. She dropped her head and closed her eyes, she was not barely even aware of where this thing was taking her, nor did she care at this point.

All at once the thing tossed her down on the ground and moved away from behind her. San was sore, and the thing had tossed her on a pile of boulders. She sat up looking around for the thing or man but it was gone.

Not being able to take it any longer she started bawling. She cried her eyes out with her fists clenched to her sides and her face pointed to the moonlit sky. She knew she was a helpless person since birth, but now she felt as if the whole world was pressing against her and there was no light anywhere to guide her. Unable to stop she went from one racking sob to another, she curled up into a ball and cried herself out to the point of fatigue and fell asleep.


She heard a light crackling sound that woke her up, and the sound of metal scraping against metal. She sat up abruptly looking in front of her, the crackling was the fire that roared about a yard away from her. It was across the fire she was looking at, on top of a large boulder sat a figure of a man...or woman.

She held her breath and squinted to get a better look at the thing.

In its hand were a long silver lit sword and some sort of sharpening stone. It was very high up and highlighted by the moon that shone in front of it. The figure's head moved in her direction.

San froze and swallowed hard, oh no, it has seen me! What is it doing?

The figure stood up, its clothes billowed with the wind, a bushy tail swished behind the thing and it put its sword inside his pack. She could only see its silhouette, but from the moonlight she could see that the color of its hair was a dark blue and eyes were yellow.

The figure jumped off the boulder and started to walk towards her, she gasped but couldn't force her legs to move. She was paralyzed with fear. The figure approached her with its face in shadow.

"You've woken up," it said simply.

San's eyes bulged with fear, she swallowed.

"Just how long do you humans sleep, anyway?" it asked dryly. "I thought you were dead...pity...could've eaten you that way..." it said walking closer to her.

"W-what are you?!"

The figure cocked its head and reached a hand toward her, "Come here human, I just might spare your miserable life..."

San's legs forced her forward, she felt its long fingers grasp her chin and tilt her face forward so she could see yellow eyes stare into hers. Her breath caught short and she faltered, the figure caught her by the waist.

"You look different than the other humans," it said. San decided that the thing was a man, its voice was clearly a man's, if that, and it sounded more like a person her age.

"What am I doing here? Where am I?" San whimpered.

"I do not know why you are here..." he answered releasing her. "If you do not know where you are, then you're a dead man anyway." The thing turned with a dry laugh and sat darker in the shadow's light.

"What are you? You aren't human..." San whispered in an effort to gain her courage back. "Are you some sort of cat or something?"

The figure laughed and the sound of metal against metal sounded again.

San swallowed and asked her next question, "Are you going to kill me?'

"Now why would I want to waste my time doing that?" its voice answered sarcastically. "I should have left you where I found you..." it mumbled.

"Where did you find me?" she asked sitting by the fire hugging her knees.

The sound of the metal scraping stopped, then there was the sound of metal against wood.

San narrowed her eyes, " If you aren't going to eat me, then why have you brought me out here?"

The figure remained silent and continued making metal against wood noises.

"Why don't you come out here in the light so I can see you!" she demanded after a while. "Why don't you answer my questions?!"

"Shut up, woman. I should have left you to die...now I'm regretting bringing you out here. I should have dumped you in a human village."

San walked up to his silhouette and watched the shape of his head face her direction. "What are you doing? Go sit back by the fire, stupid girl." The figure pushed her toward the fire.

She refused to move, "Tell me how I can get back to the place you found me!"

The figure stood, he was at least six or seven inches taller than her. "You're giving me orders, you little wrench?" it growled angrily. He sounded like an animal, she backed away but he grabbed her shoulders and shook her. "Go sit by that damn fire before I get upset with you and bite off your head!" he growled shoving her backwards.

Unable to speak she scurried to the fire and sat down, she gave him a sideways glance and let out a relieved sigh.

The figure stood and walked toward the firelight with some object in his hand. It sat down in front of the fire opposite from her side. Here she saw his face clearly. He looked almost human with glowing yellow eyes and dark blue hair that spilled all over his head like a bushy mat. He was definitely a man, if that he looked like he was 18 or 19 years old. He had ears like a wolf's that stuck out of his hair. He had dark skin like hers, but it looked reddish in the firelight. His face was open and extremely handsome despite a long scar that ran down his lower right jaw. His face was maybe a tad lighter shade than hers, he had a creamy light brown complexion. His eyes were large and cold looking, she found herself staring into them.

"But...you look almost human!" cried San pointing at him in astonishment.

He growled at her, his aristocratic features hardening into stone, "I'm not human!" he yelled at her. Then he snorted, "I'm half."

San couldn't believe her ears, half human? "What is the other half?" she asked in awe.

"Don't look at me like that you insolent cretin, " he said snarling. "It isn't like I like being a part of your disgusting race. My other half is none of your business...I told you too much already!" he said throwing a twig into the fire.

"Why do you hate humans?" For some reason her fear of him seemed to disappear and it was replaced by an unyielding inquisitiveness.

"Because they ask too many damn questions!" he snarled at her.

San lowered her head and then snapped her head back in his direction. "If you hate us so much then why have you brought me up here with you?"

His mouth twisted into a glowering frown, "If you ask one more question I swear I'll bite off your head."

"But I want to know!"

He rolled his eyes and pointed a claw at her, "I try not to kill humans, girl, but I have exceptions, and you're going to become one of them."

San bit her lower lip suddenly remembering the sword in his pack and how he had shook her up the last time she had made him angry.

"Can I ask one more question?"


San watched him reach in his black pack and pull something out. She watched him open something and put it in his mouth. He chewed on it for a while paying no attention to her, San's stomach growled.

She held her stomach and looked away from the man and into the night around them. She wrapped her coat closer to her body and shivered. She felt fatigue and hunger pull at her. She wanted to sleep or eat...whichever came first.

The man was looking at her when she looked back at him, he snorted and handed her his pack. "If you're hungry, and I know you are, just take whatever you like out of there."

San rummaged through the pack running a finger over his sword handle, he was looking into the fire. She pulled out everything and stared at the contents at her knees.

"Which is food and which isn't?" she asked after a while.

He looked aggravated, "Are all humans this stupid or is it just you?" he snarled snatching up his pack. He looked back at her annoyed, "Where is everything?"

San jumped, "Oh sorry, here-" she said handing the things to him.

He was mumbling and tossing random articles at her, "This here is meat, you know what meat is, don't you?"

San nodded.

"And this is Pun...and this is rice in this bag..." he looked over the rest of the things with a thoughtful expression on his face. "The rest are weapons. And Uoy stones."

Uoy! That word again! She was about to ask but remembered what he had said about biting off her head so she kept silent.

She bit into the meat and spat it out gagging, "It's raw!" she cried disgustedly.

"Well what else would it be, foolish human? It's meat!" he said dryly.

San spat out the blood in her mouth before vomiting in the grass, he was saying something but she couldn't hear him.

"What in the seven hells are you doing?! Foolish girl, get up! Don't throw up on the-"

He pulled her up in a sitting position and wiped her mouth with a cloth, San looked into his face allowing him to wipe off her mouth. "Thank you..."

"Thank nothing you stupid woman!" he growled at her. "You wasted my meat and you threw up on the grass...do you have any idea how many disgusting little demons like eating that stuff?" He patted her back, "You are all right?" he asked, and for the first time in a nice tone of voice.

San nodded and sighed, "I'm sorry...humans don't eat raw meat."

"I forgot about that, you're right! Maybe you aren't so dumb after all," he said looking into the trees. "We have to leave, I won't be able to protect us if some demon comes along."

"Demon?" cried San in surprise.

He pulled her to his chest, "I think you have amnesia, we live in a world of demons and ghosts...well at least here...you must come from the west, yes?" he draped an arm around her in a protective hug. "Hold on, I don't want you slipping and falling to your death." He looked into the trees. "Something is coming..."

"What are you doing?" she cried clinging onto him.

He ignored her and with his other hand adjusted his pack on his back. He looked at her with his yellow eyes and jumped into the air with San clinging onto his clothes.

He was aloft in the air and soaring above the treetops, she was close to screaming.

"You can fly?!" she shrieked.

He ignored her and continued to soar faster, the wind whipped around them both, his ears flapped in the breeze. "You're staying with me for now, girl," he said above the wind. "I'll be going higher so if you can't take the altitude just tug on my clothes alright?" he yelled.

San dug her nails in his skin with fright, he circled higher and higher until they were head to head with the stars.

"I'm going to fall!" she whimpered.

"Then you'd better hold on, if you fall I'm not catching you," he said over the wind.

How did he hear me? She thought tightening her grip on his clothes. Can he read minds or something?

She felt the mist of the clouds and the chill of the wind rushing by her, she closed her eyes and wished she was back at home and that she had never opened the trap door.

She tugged on his shirt, in response he lowered altitude and flew slower, "If you get sick, I'm dropping you, get it?" he said dryly.

"I'm not sick!" she told him angrily. "I've just never flown around like this before! And I don't see how it is physically possible for you to fly without wings!"

He gave her a dry empty laugh, "I never told you my other half, woman!" he lowered speed again. He hovered over the treetops looking down.

"What are you looking for?"

"Hold on, I've found it...hold tighter than that!" he told her. He flew downwards at a rapid speed that made San dizzy. When her feet touched the ground she broke out of his grasp and ran.


Finally, I've gotten away from him, she thought speeding up. Now all I have to do is find the well I-

She heard something swoop over her and she stopped and changed direction, she tripped over her feet but somehow managed to keep running.

She was about to jump over a log when he had grabbed her by the neck and threw her against a tree. Her back stung and she had the feeling that this was the moment where he would bite off her head.

"Where do you think you're going, human girl?" he asked winking a yellow eye at her. He grinned, "There is nowhere you can go, and don't you know that demons are most active at night? There are worse things than I," he said releasing her throat.

San quivered, "You're going to kill me, when you don't need me anymore or something you'll just stab me with your sword!"

"True...you're very smart indeed...but the only thing is...I don't need you. I don't even need you now. If you had any sense in your human head at all you would see that I'm trying to protect you."

"But you hate humans!"

"Yes, I do...but like it or not I am also human and it would disturb me letting you run off and kill yourself," he said snorting.

San shuddered and looked away wanting to cry again.

"Go ahead and run off, I wouldn't care at this point. You're beginning to become a burden for me. I should have left you where I found you..." he mumbled walking past her.

San followed him, "So you promise that you won't kill me?"

"I don't like making promises that I don't keep, human," he said looking at her over his shoulder.

San hugged herself and followed him to a large tree, there was a small fire in front of the tree. She sat in front of the fire biting her lower lip.

"You are tired?" he asked suddenly.

San nodded her head and brushed a hand through her short hair watching his movements. He snorted, "Humans need sleep don't they?"

"Doesn't everybody?" asked San looking back into the fire.

"No, not everyone..." he said quietly. He sat across from her looking at her.

"You don't sleep?"

"I don't need to sleep...but you humans do...that is what makes you weak. While you sleep the world passes you by and one day something will wake you and kill you," he said with a smirk on his face.

"What is your other half?" San asked hugging her knees together. "It has to be something weird if you don't have to sleep and you can fly."

He ignored her and stood up, "You can sleep down here, I'll be up in the tree."

"How will you hear me if something goes wrong?" cried San looking up panicked.

He was laughing at her again, "I guess you'll have to climb up...if you humans can even do that..."

"What if...I mean...you're just going to leave me here?" she cried.

"I'll be waking you up when the sun comes up...if you don't wake up I'm leaving you here to be eaten, are we clear?"

"No!" San shouted.

He gave her another smirk and walked around the tree, San looked up at the top of the tree and moaned. It was bigger than any red wood tree and thicker.

She heard a whoosh and knew it was him flying up there to the top, she made a face and nestled into her coat. If I don't wake up at dawn he is going to leave me here...great. What a nice guy he is...what a nice place I wind up in...God I hate myself.

Ch. 6 part 1.


"Human girl...hey," she heard vaguely. She opened an eye and winced when he stepped on her leg. "Get up...the sun is up!"

With a groan she sat up and glared at him, he looked different in the morning light. Last night he was merely a shadow, today he looked even more handsome than last night.

He pulled her up to her feet and pointed to the empty fireplace. "You slept with that going the entire night?"

"Where can I take a bath...?" she asked groggily.

He squinted his eyes at her, "A what? You want to bathe yourself, you mean?"

San yawned and covered her mouth aware of how bad it smelled.

"I'm afraid there isn't a pool around here, and I'm not going to fly over Ether to find one for you either," he grumbled.

"Ether...? Is that where I am?" she asked stretching.

"Where are you from human girl? You obviously aren't from around here..."

"I come from a different world...I think," she replied rolling her neck and stretching her arms. She was aware of his yellow eyes watching her.

"What are you doing, is that some sort of dance?" he snickered.

"I'm stretching..." she told him bending down to touch her toes. "You don't need to stretch, but humans do..." said San wiping the sleep from her eyes.

He didn't look convinced but shrugged anyway and roughly took her elbow. "Ow!"

"There is a human village near here...I'll walk you there, and then I can be rid of you forever!" he said with a wide grin on his face. His fangs glistened in the early sunlight. San cringed and stumbled after him.

"Um...what is the point of Ether...I mean...don't you people have jobs or something?"

He pulled her after him in a brisk pace. "In the village they have jobs...I don't understand your question."

San pulled back so he wouldn't move ahead so fast but the only result was his grip tightening on her arm and a harder jerk and faster pace. "What is your job?" San winced.

"You nasty wrench!" he snarled looking back at her. "When we get to the village I won't have to listen to your endless questions."

"I'm sorry...it's just that I'm trying to get back home and-"

"Humans have miserable little homes, why would you want to rush back to it?"

"Not my home," she told him defiantly. "I'm not from your world...I'm from the future...I think..." she said with a high chin.

"Is that why you are dressed like a dope?" he asked snickering.

"You want to know something...in my world guys like you don't exist!" she pulled back as hard as she could but he only jerked her forward so she was staggering. "You're a real jerk! That's what you are, you're a real pain in the ass!"

She heard him laughing at her again. "I don't care human girl, whatever do you mean by the word 'jerk'? You don't even know how to speak!" with that he jerked her forwards again.

San hit him with her fist, "Let go of me!" she screamed at him. "I have legs, I can walk!" she shrieked hitting him harder.

Her hits of protest took no effect on him and he jerked her so hard she was on her knees. "Ouch! Stop it! I can't get up with you jerking me around!" she screamed as she tried to stand.

He looked back at her and winked.

San wrestled with his arm while beating his back with a rock she had picked up while she was dragging in the dirt.


He had no reaction and began whistling a tune while he dragged her across the ground.

San hit him until she was tired and still he was whistling, she decided to put him first before she shot Ms. Ran.

She gave up fighting and let him drag her across the dirt, she was too tired to care. He stopped and peered over his shoulder at her, she wanted to hit him again.

"You humans, make an awful lot of noise when you're angry, it's no wonder demons can find you guys so easily."

San was seething.

He shrugged and pulled her to her feet, and then he swung her over his shoulder as if she weighed nothing and continued walking and whistling.

"I hate you..." she said after a while and truly meant it.

He only shrugged, "You should thank me for saving your worthless life, but of course humans are selfish creatures and only think about themselves." He peered at her, "I'm doing you a favor, stupid."

"I never asked you to help me!" said San vehemently. "I think I would be better off by myself without you!"

"No you wouldn't...you were dying when I found you...you were going to die," he said shifting her on his shoulder.

"Dying? No I wasn't!"

"I had to fight off a demon for your worthless life and this is the thanks you give me for it...I knew I should have left you there..." he mumbled angrily.

"Fight off a demon? Sure you would! You hate humans, why would you save me?"

"Listen human woman, ask me one more question for real and I'll crunch your face off!" he growled. "I should just dump you here and be on my way, but since I'm in a good mood I'll help you...so shut up until we get there!"


"You see? I told you that the village was nearby, silly girl," he said looking ahead with bright yellow eyes. "Now you go on about your way so I can get on with mine," he said crossing his arms in front of his chest.

San looked into the direction of the village where people were working and walking around and talking. She looked back at the yellow-eyed-stranger. "Why won't you come with me?" she asked.

"I hate humans...I'm not staying in their disgusting lodges, not even for just a moment..." he pushed her forward. "Farewell my delusional human friend, I pray we shall never meet again," he said taking her hand and bringing it to his lips.

He kissed her hand delicately and turned away, "Hope I never see you again either!" she called after him wiping the hand he had kissed on her jeans.

He flew off into the air, she sighed and walked onto the village path.

I wonder what his name is...she thought after a while, and I wonder how I'm going to get back home to Ms. James...

Several villagers watched her as she passed she decided to talk a person that was farming, "Excuse me sir, but I'm looking for a well...and maybe some food if you have any?"

The man was Asian, "You come with me, and I will provide you with food," he said taking her arm. "You look starved," he said walking with her down the commons.

San was relieved and happy that her journey with the yellow-eyed madman was over and she would be with happy and nice people that would feed and take care of her.

"Thank you so much, sir! Thank you so much!" she gushed smiling gratefully at him.

They walked arm and arm for a while when all of the sudden a large horn sounded from the village.

The villagers began running toward the village, some were screaming and tripping over themselves. San looked at the old man in puzzlement who was dragging her past the cornfields and to the village.

"What is going on?! Why is everyone-"

The man threw off his straw hat and motioned for San to hurry up. "It is the warning of a demon! A demon is coming again, we had a really big one come up here just last week," he panted, picking up his pace.

San's eyes widened, so the guy with the tail wasn't lying to me...there are demons in this world! And one is coming to this village-! Oh God!

There was a thunderous crash from behind them and a grotesque looking smiling pig lumbered from out the trees.

San screamed and so did the man beside her, "He's coming straight at us!" the man shrieked.

"What is that thing?!" San cried looking over her shoulder at the squealing black gooey pig. Its tusks were the size of a small car, the pig itself was the size of a large elephant. "That thing is a demon?!" she cried nearly tripping over herself. The demon pig had a mouth that was in a smile, its eyes were a blood red.

"Come on stranger! That demon is looking at us! He wants to take our souls! Run!" cried the man pulling her hand.

The thundering demon began to run at them, it's mouth in a happy smile and tusks gleaming in the sunlight, as its footsteps hit the ground the whole village shook underneath its weight.

"We aren't going to make it, man!" she told the man. "We need to split up! He's gonna catch us this way!" San cried turning into a different direction.

The demon pig was laughing insanely and chasing right up on her trail, but it turned and followed the man she was running with.

San stopped and screamed, "NO! YOU STUPID PIG! AFTER ME, DON'T TAKE HIM!"

It was too late, the pig had already dug its tusks into the man's back ripping the man apart, the demon was laughing like a little child. Goo ran down the body of the demon and onto the man, the pig faced San.

"Oh God-No!" she cried.

With a squeal the demon was after her! San ran like she never had before, she didn't see what the demon had done to the man, but she was sure she did not want to find out for herself.

The village loomed ahead; they were already shutting the large door that ran the whole length of the village.

"No! WAIT FOR ME!" San screamed. "OPEN THE GATE!" she shrieked.

The ground shook harder and harder as the demon edged closer and closer to her. She could hear the squeals of laughter coming from the hideous thing and could imagine its red mouth in a large open smile.

"Somebody help me!" she cried. San was thrown in the air by the violent quakes underneath her feet. She knew that when she fell she would be done for, the demon would be caught up with her by the time she hit the ground.

The demon was charging full throttle towards her, she saw the happy mouth and the gleaming red-tipped tusks, and she saw this in an instant while she was pitched in the air. Then she closed her eyes and hit the ground prepared for its tusks to rip her apart.

Goo closed around her, suffocating her, meanwhile the pig was squealing in delight and stomping its feet on the ground. Before the black goo covered her completely, she made out a slashing sword whipping above her and the demon screaming in pain.

The goo went into her lungs as she tried desperately to get air, she choked and felt the life draining from her. Then she was on fire, her whole body writhed in pain from the heat and the goo pressed her harder to the surface of the ground.

The ground quaked harder and harder sending San into the air and back against the ground.

I'm going to die, she thought before her world turned into a pool of black goo.


"Shit!" he cried watching the black case of black goo soar through the air. "Stupid pig, I thought I took care of you yesterday!" he growled turning back to the demon.

The pig was angry, he had stabbed it in the heart before it could crush the human girl to death.

The demon shook goo onto him, but he dodged and moved away from the goo. He flew in the air above the pig and jumped on the pig's back stabbing it with his sword. Blood and goo squirted from the wound.

The demon gave a squeal of pain but he showed no relent and continued to stab the thing until waves of goo and blood showered over him in large amounts. He had it dying, now he had to save the girl.

He jumped off of the demon and withdrew his sword from the pigs wailing back. He ran to where he had seen her last fall. The case of goo was still there, she was thrashing around for air.

"Hold on, I have you!" he said stabbing a hole into the goo. The goo was alive, feeding off of her, trying to turn her into a demon. "Damn pig," he said stabbing another hole into the goo.

The thrashing stopped and the goo was taking form of a pig.

"Damn it! Hold on human girl, don't give up! Don't let the thing take your soul and turn you into a demon! I can still save you!" he sliced a huge hole into the goo ignoring its screams of anguish and pain. "Stop feeding on her!" he said through gritted teeth. It was a big enough hole to see her, her eyes were red and skin turning into slimy black mucus.

He gasped and reached deep inside the hole touching the mucus and pushing with all his strength to puncture it. He dug harder, the slime was already closing on his arm.

"Don't sell your soul! Your life is more important, fight for it! You can't give up!" he screamed over the roars of the black goo.

The pig form in the goo was changing as the thrashing started again, "Keep it up!" he encouraged her in a strained voice. "Keep fighting!" He dug his finger through the mucus and reached her skin, he had to feel for her arm and then he gritted his teeth and pulled with all his strength. He had to pull her through, she was already suffocating.

"Fight! Push against it! I know it hurts but you have to!" he cried over the goo.

She was kicking, he could see the footprint against the goo's skin. "Good job! You can do it!" he strained pulling harder. "Hold on...!" he was breaking through the skin of the goo and he could see her whole arm and her head. With his other hand he pulled her head out of the goo's interior so she could breathe.

Her eyes were closed but she was taking in breath in rasping gasps of air, he pushed his other arm inside the body of the goo and pulled as hard as he could. She was coming out, he had only her legs inside and the demon was dying from the lack of energy. The goo began to pop and shrivel, he pulled her entire body out with one final tug and lay exhausted on the ground.

No time to rest, he thought picking her up. The demon is still inside of her...water! Where can I find water?

He was too tired to fly so he ran with her to the village, the cow pond-! He thought running faster. Already her eyes were turning red and slime sliding out of the corners of her mouth. Come on you stupid girl, fight it! Fight it!

He was standing on the shore of the cow pond, he looked down at her. "Don't you dare die, human!" He jumped into the water taking the girl into his arms and bringing her tightly against his chest.

The water was cold, ice cold, he sank with her to the bottom of the pond holding tightly onto her. She was small and frail in his arms, he opened his eyes and watched goo billow out of her mouth and nose.

A demon cannot grow inside someone when submerged underwater, he reflected watching the thick goo rise to the top of the pond. He was running out of air, but he had to keep her down there or she would die.

His tail whipped around steering him upward to the surface, the black cloud had stopped coming out of her mouth and he could hear her heart beat beginning to fade.

Have to hurry, is she dies I'm going to be madder than any beast on this planet, he thought breaking the surface of the water and hoisting her above his head.

The villagers were crowded around staring at him; he disregarded their presences and gently rested the human on the bank breathing hard. He wiped his brow staring into her face.

"Wake up, girl...wake up!"

He took her shoulders and shook her, her head rolled from side to side as he shook. Grunting, he overlapped his hands together and pushed against her stomach in hard thrusts. She gave no reaction.

"Come on human girl, if you can survive being possessed then you can certainly survive a little bit of water in your lungs." He pushed harder, his ears picked up on her heartbeat again. "Come on, come on, you can do this!" he encouraged her. "If you want to live..."

She coughed up water and reached for her throat gagging, he felt a sudden surge of relief. He helped her in a sitting position and cradled her against him breathing hard.

"Are you all right?"

She was nodding and coughing at the same time, he took hold of her elbow and lifted her to her feet.

The villagers around them gasped and drew back, "Shou Lang!..." they cried falling backwards leaving a circle for them.

A girl began to cry, "the half god!" she blubbered. Another woman drew the little girl behind her dress and cringed once he looked in their direction.

The human girl rolled her head back fainting from exhaustion, he sighed and swooped her over his shoulder. His eyes searched the villagers' faces, "Move out my way if you value your life!" The villagers gasped and shuddered, they parted so a path lay before him.

His muscles ached, he was sore all over and now he had to carry this girl once again! He staggered forward-the villagers took a step backwards. He peered at them panting hard, "You're all fools!" he cried. "Get out of here! A man over there needs help..." he said looking behind his shoulder.

Slowly, the crowd dispersed and only a few curious villagers remained and watched him stagger out of the commons. . Finally he was alone; he shifted the girl on his shoulder and continued to walk through the trees.

The trees closed around him and the light from above grew darker, it began to get colder as he staggered deeper and deeper through the forest. The human on his shoulder was heavier and heavier with each step, he was so exhausted he could hardly stand straight, let alone stagger around with this girl weighing him down.

He stopped and sucked in a gust of air trying to steady himself, beads of sweat rolled down his forehead. His navy hair whipped with the breeze, unable to stop himself he collapsed on the ground.

"Need...to...rest..." he said through gritted teeth. He grunted and rolled his head to the side to see the girl. She was sprawled beside him with her mouth partly open and her dark hair matted to her forehead. She murmured in her doze and rolled her head to the opposite direction of his face. He felt a small smile come across his face. He grit his teeth and crawled over to her.

Have to get somewhere to rest, have to...so tired...

Groaning with the strain he lifted himself to his feet, and then took the girl in his arms and hoisted her up on his shoulder. He forced his eyelids open and peered up into the trees.

There-! He thought staggering forwards a step, that tree is high enough and strong enough to hold us both...if I could just...fly-!

He stood there a while looking into the tree. He had to get up there somehow and flying seemed the best way up. He braced himself against the pain and concentrated hard on his ki. Concentrate, you've done this before-, fly up there, damn it!

His feet lifted off the ground and he was up into the air, panting he hovered all the way up to the treetop, surveying the area first, he placed his feet on a firm branch and set down the girl.

Only when he had secured her in a safe position did he allow himself to fall in a pile and rest. He closed his yellow eyes and curled his tail onto his stomach. His breathing became shallow and before he knew it he had fell into an exhausted sleep.


She had definitely heard a snap, she sat up abruptly and raised her hands to her chest snapping her head wildly around. There were leaves in her face and franticly she brushed them away.

Where am I this time? Am I back at home? What happened to that pig?

She tried to stand and quickly sat back down nearly toppling off the branch she was on.

"What the-! I'm in a tree?!" she cried gaping below the branch. She cried out and fell against the trunk breathing hard with fright. "How did I get in a tree?!" she wailed. San gripped the thick trunk squeezing her eyes shut. "I must be dead...I have to be dead!"

Her memory was still foggy, taking a deep breath she started to calm down. She hugged her knees and forced herself to think.

The last thing I remember was...was...San hit her head with a fist. Why cant' I remember?! Something happened to me...that pig-he...she squeezed her eyes shut and concentrated hard. He was...covering me with...with that slime! Yes! That was it! I was trying to get out but I couldn't and...and... San opened her eyes, "I don't remember ever getting out of that stuff...how did I get in this tree?"

The wind rustled the leaves and her chilled her face, sighing she peered back down the tree and pushed her back against the trunk. Then she heard a faint murmur from below, gasping she looked back down.

"What?! It's that man! What is he doing down there...is he dead?" she whispered drawing back to the trunk.

She heard him murmur again and a faint rustling sound from below, San peered back down breathing hard. She lowered herself down from the branch and rested her feet on his branch.

She dared not to go up to him in fear he would grab her or worse! Her breath slowed while she examined his figure with her eyes. From where she was it looked as if his eyes were closed, she took a hesitant step toward him. His eyes were closed and she saw a red line of liquid run from his mouth.

"Oh! He is hurt!" San cried kneeling over him.

She gently brushed a hand over his forehead, then she took off her jacket and put it over his body to keep him warm. He murmured something else and squeezed his eyes tighter. A faint sigh came from him while he rolled his head to the other side.

He told me that he didn't need sleep, she thought picking up his black pack and rummaging through it. Maybe it was him who put me in this tree, I wonder if it was him who saved me...

She found a cloth, the same cloth he had used when wiping her mouth and looked it over, making sure it was clean. She knelt back beside him and wiped the blood from his mouth and wiped his sweaty forehead. She felt his muscles tense up. San lifted up his head and slid his pack underneath it so it acted as a pillow.

Another breeze went by and shuddered the leaves around them, she stood up and looked into the starry sky with a sigh.

"I guess I'm just going to have to wait until he wakes up," she grumbled. "I'm stuck here in this stupid tree until he can get me back down," she said looking back at him. He twitched slightly and murmured something else. She watched his ears twitch with the breeze.

San sighed again and sat back down watching him with a careful eye, if he woke up she didn't know what he would do. He had said that he didn't need her and could kill her anytime he wanted, she shuddered and hugged her knees to her chest.

She waited a while, nearly falling a sleep herself when he started and groaned.

"Uh-Oh...he's awake," she said popping into alert. She watched him sit up and blink several times. Then he looked back at her with his large yellow eyes shutting and closing with rapid blinks.

He looked at her jacket that was falling off of him and then took the cloth off of his head. He looked puzzled, his nose twitched and he stood up looking around the tree gaining his bearings.

Finally he looked over at her with a blank expression on his face, his tail whipped behind him in lazy swags.

"How long have I been resting?" he asked dryly.

San shook her head and shrugged, "I was asleep too, since I've been awake you've been resting about half and hour."

He picked up her jacket and handed it to her, "thank you," he said gruffly.

San took her jacket and hugged it to her body not saying anything. She looked back up and found him hoisting up his back and slipping it on his left shoulder.

"Um...can I ask you something?..." she said in a small voice, he looked back at her. San swallowed and peered at her shoes, "How did I get up in this tree?"

He stared at her for a while then snorted and walked up to her. "Hold on, we're going down, now." He didn't wait for her to hold on, he simply took her by the elbow and jumped off the tree.

"Ahhhhhhh! You're crazy!" she shrieked.

They hovered a while and slowly he reached the ground and dropped her, San dusted herself off glaring at him.

"You never change do you? It's no wonder you don't have any friends!"

He ignored her and sat down beside the tree lacing his moccasins. His claws did this in a fast clicking pace, and she watched him in awe. San sat down across from him.

He looked up at her when he was finished, "You have a knack for getting in trouble, don't you?" he said in his earthy voice.

San drew her legs from under her and sighed. "I still don't know what happened to me at the village. One minute I was in the air, and then the next I was in this black slimy sac...now I'm here."

He was silent, she looked up at him, and for a while they stared at each other in awkward silence. He snorted and got to his feet turning his head to the trees.

"I guess you haven't eaten, right? That damn pig cut you off, yes?" he said giving her a sideways glance. His yellow eyes blinked as he took out his long sword, San gulped.

"I'll be back, human girl," he said throwing his pack down. "Start a fire if you wish."

San nodded and watched him stride into the woods, after he disappeared she rested her head against the tree trunk sighing.

"Start a fire? How am I supposed to start a fire?" San closed her eyes. "I wish I was back home with Ms. James, she is probably worried sick about me!"


San was relieved when he came back, she ran up to him with a huge smile on her face. "You're back! I thought you left me at first!"

He looked over her shoulder, then sneered in disgust, "Why in the seven hells didn't you start a fire?" he growled at her.


He brushed past her with a disgusted grunt and threw down a deer, San backed away while he reached in his pack and took out two stones. He hit the stones together only once and a spark lit up flaming the twigs in front of his feet. He stood up and dragged the deer over to the fire.

San sat down watching him. He seemed preoccupied at the moment and talking to him didn't seem like an option. The smell of cooking meat made her stomach growl in response, she let out a breath and scooted closer to the fire.

The yellow-eyed man dug his claws into the flesh of the deer and pulled out the head and legs. San felt her stomach flop, she turned away and stared at the grass instead.

He worked mechanically and quickly, with his claws he gutted the deer and threw the organs and guts into a separate bowl he had dug out of his pack. He did this while the deer was still cooking over the fire, San wondered why his hands weren't burning. When he was done he looked up at her and stood up, he was gone before she could say anything.

He came back a few minutes later with clean hands and a half smile on his face, he sat across from the fire staring intently at he cooking deer.

"The meat will be ready to eat for you in a few minutes..." he said quietly. San lowered her eyes to the bowl of guts and organs. She made a face aware that the tailed-boy was watching her with a grin on his face.

"Why don't you throw that stuff away?" she asked looking across the fire into his bright yellow eyes.

"Is it making you sick?" he mused with that irritating grin of his.

"Yes, it is! I don't want to look at that! Throw it into the fire and get rid of it!"

His tail swished in that same lazy manner it had done before, "I don't like my meat cooked," he said with glittering eyes.

San's face twisted in disgust, "You're going to eat that?!" She turned away from the bowl and held her stomach so she would throw up.

"Hey," he snapped angrily. "What did I say about throwing up? If you're going to get sick, do it in the fire so I can eat that later too."

He was clearly enjoying her discomfort, she realized after nearly gagging into the grass. He was laughing at her with his yellow eyes trained on her face.

"I also eat tongues and drink urine from cats and dogs...bat blood is especially tasty if you want to spread it on worms, maggots and frog eyes..." he said laughing.

"You're...you're sick!" she cried hugging herself and making a face, he was still jeering at her and laughing at her. "You don't really eat those things!"

He suddenly turned solemn and serious, "Oh yes I do, human girl. I eat anything that is repulsive and revolting...think of anything and I probably eat it..." he mused crossing his arms in front of his chest.

San put her hands over her ears, "I don't want to hear anymore! You're a disgusting pig!" she cried squeezing her eyes shut and making another face.

He was shaking his head and pointing at the fire, "You're food is ready if you want it...can you eat the whole deer?" he asked spearing the deer with his claws.

Her stomach turned again, "I...don't think I'm hungry anymore..."

"You better be hungry and eat this thing," he said in low growl. "I didn't cook this thing for my health, woman!"

San gave him a toothy smile and patted her stomach, "On second thought, I am kind of hungry!" she said with a nervous laugh.

He threw the deer at her feet and wiped his hands on his baggy pants. "I don't have any seasoning, sorry."

San stared at the deer and then looked up at him with a nervous smile. "Uh-huhh...that's ok!" she assured him. "How am I going to eat this without a knife or something?"

He rolled his eyes and threw his sword in the deer's body, the sword was standing straight up, deep inside the meat, San gave another nervous laugh. "Use that," he said picking up his bowl and taking out a purple looking blob.

She watched him bite into it, blood ran from his mouth as he ate, with quivering lips she took the sword out of the deer and began to cut the thing into pieces. Every once in a while she would look up from the deer and find him eating some other organ. She gagged and forced the deer meat to go down her throat.

After a few big wedges of the deer she pushed it aside and gasped, "I'm full! I couldn't eat another bite!"

He had something in his mouth as she spoke, she watched him swallow and look at the deer in front of her. "You stupid girl, you didn't even eat half!" he cried incredulously. "I kill that and you can't even eat half of the stupid thing! I got that for you to eat, not to pick and play with it," he said angrily.

"I'm full, I can't eat anymore of it!" said San alarmed all of the sudden.

"Humans are so wasteful and selfish," he mumbled crawling around the fire and clawing at the deer. San gasped. He dragged the deer into his lap and bit into it like an animal would.

She felt the fear rise in her throat and the hair rise on the back of her neck.

He was savage with the meat, he took big bites and big swallows looking up at her every now and then and then sinking his fangs into the meat again. He was done with half of the deer within 15 minutes. All the while San watched him with fear and wonderment, he was working on the other half.

He worked his way through the other half with an air of nonchalance about him and with his tail wagging lazily behind him. When he was finished he sat back patting his stomach and happily closing his eyes, he reminded her of a happy dog after a meal.

Then his expression changed entirely and he stood up looking into the trees, his sudden movement made her jump.

"Get up," he told her firmly. "Something is coming, hand me my sword..."

"What is it? Is it a demon like that pig before?" she cried running behind him and handing him his sword.

"Shhhh...," he silenced her.

She listened with her dark eyes darting around her, "What is it?"

"Shut up!" he hissed at her.

He gave her a gentle push not turning around, "Go behind the tree....NOW!" he snarled at her when she didn't move.

San darted behind the tree peeking her head from the edge to see, she watched him tense up and hold his sword in front of him.

"Come out you coward! I can smell you from here!" he snarled. The trees whispered in reply as the wind changed direction. She watched him look from side to side. "Simpleton!" he barked fiercely, "Come out and I won't rip your head off, Snake! If you've come to take my Uoy stones, you can just forget it-!"

From where she was hiding she felt hot air on the back of her neck, by the time she had screamed something had grabbed her by the neck and lifted her off the ground.

Her attacker was human-like with blazing red eyes and long white hair, its lips parted into a sharp-toothed smile. "Hello human..." it hissed in a low snake-like voice.

The yellow-eyed guy jumped behind the thing raising his sword to its back, "Let her go Snake!" he said with his hot bright eyes flashing. "She's mine!"

The thing dropped her, San rubbed her neck and looked up, he was way taller than she or the guy with the tail. He stood about nine feet tall and with long scaly blue arms, and a blue beaming face. The thing smirked, "How unusual," he said turning around. "Since when did you keep humans as pets?" he hissed at the yellow-eyed man.

San had enough sense to stumble to her feet, breathing hard she scampered behind the tailed guy holding onto his clothes.

She watched the blue-skinned demon's eyes widen, "And when did you start protecting humans?"

"That's none of your business Snake," he replied heatedly. "Just tell me why you're here so we can get on with our lives, here!"

The demon smiled again, "You wouldn't happen to have any Uoy stones, would you?" it asked taking a step toward them. San stumbled backwards, but he didn't budge.

"I have a few," she heard him say. "If you have any, give them to me, Snake! Don't force me to kill you, and trust me, I mean to kill you this time...!"

Snake hissed and opened his mouth in unbelieving laughter, San saw a forked tongue lash out at him. "What does a half blood like you know?" he laughed.

She watched his tail whip around him in fury, "You'd better watch yourself, Snake!" he growled. "I won't be a half blood for long!"

"Enough of this, Half-ling, give me the stones you have, now!" hissed Snake holding out his hand.

"If you choose to die over them then that's fine with me," she heard him say raising his sword higher. "I've killed demons stronger than you before, you're making a big mistake!" he smirked.

Snake's eyes widened and he pulled back his hand, "You'll change your mind, I'll find them all then come back for you later!"

"Remember what you promised!" he called to him lowering his sword.

The snake-like human disappeared into the forest, the yellow-eyed man watched him go before turning around to face her. "You OK, human girl?"

San nodded her head swallowing hard, her heart was beating so fast she thought it would jump out of her chest. She wobbled to her feet staring at him, he seemed unconcerned and yawned. He replaced his sword in his pack that lay beside the fire.

"What are you?" she asked after a while of staring at him while he poked at the fire with the stick. "And what was that thing that nearly killed me?"

He looked up at her and gave an unconcerned chuckle, "Snake? Don't worry about that bumbling sissy, he's a piece of cake for me. As long as you're with me he won't hurt you."

"You say you hate humans...but you saved me...and you saved me from that pig. Didn't you?" she asked walking up to him, watching him sit.

He ignored her and stared into the flames.

San sighed in frustration and sat across him glaring at the fire. She watched him look up at her through the corner of her eye but he didn't say anything.

He grunted and stood up brushing himself off, "We have to leave this area," he said picking up his pack. San snorted.

"If you think I'm going to let you drag me everywhere you go, you got another thing coming pal!" she snapped. "I'm staying here until you take me home!"

"If you want to stay here, like I said before, I don't care. Stay here if you want, it's no sweat off my back if you get eaten," he said turning to walk away.

San made a face at him, "Why can't you just take me home?!" she cried pulling herself up to a standing position. "If I irritate you so much just take me back where you found me!"

He ignored her and kept walking ahead, San panicked and raced after him. When she caught up to him she punched him in the arm. "You're such a jerk!"

"Again with that word," he said dryly.

"Take me to the spot you found me!" she cried looking up at him as she walked. "Or at least show me the way! I can make it by myself if you give me directions!" she said angrily.

"No you can't," he snickered.

"Why do you care if I get eaten, anyway? Why won't you let me go?!" she cried shrilly.

"I don't care if you get eaten," he answered nonchalantly. "And you're free to go anywhere you want. I'm not forcing you to follow me around."

"Yes you are!" cried San grabbing his arm. "Tell me where you found me!"

He looked irritated and annoyed, disgustedly he pushed her away and continued walking.

"Why are you being so...so...such a butthead?!" she screamed.

He turned abruptly and grabbed her arm, "If I tell you where I found you will you shut up and leave me alone?!"

"Yes, I'll leave you forever!" cried San jerking her arm away.

His yellow eyes flashed as he pointed to the east, "I found you a long way away from here, you were in a well by the mountains. If you go there, it'll take you a month's walk. With all these ghosts and demons they'll slow you down, and you don't even have a weapon!"

"I'll get lost with directions like that!" she snapped.

He narrowed his eyes, "That's not my problem. I told you where to go so get going already! If I see you again I'll kill you," he said coldly.

San swallowed and turned around striding back to the fireplace. She slumped in front of the fire and brought her knees to her face wanting to cry. I'm just going to sit here, she thought bitterly. I'll just sit here and let some demon eat me up, there is no way I can survive my journey back...and I don't know where to go!

She turned to see if the yellow-eyed man had left and he had, San turned away making frustrated grunts. I'm going to die here, she thought sadly. I'll never see Ms. James again! I'll be alone again, she thought curling into a ball on the ground. She took off her jacket and threw it over herself to keep warm, sighing she looked into the fire and let drowsiness take over her. She didn't even fight sleep when it came, she simply closed her eyes and curled into a tighter ball.

Ch. 7 part 1


Daylight streamed through the trees and into her eyes, yawning she sat up and stretched. She looked at the smoking fireplace with empty eyes and a frown. I guess I'm off to find the well, she thought with a groan.

San stood up and pulled her coat around her shoulders, then looked around and saw a pool rippling beside her. She stared at it for a while and then screamed, I don't remember me being near a pool! I'm not in the same place anymore-! Where am I this time?! She thought whirling around.

She stared into the pool with helpless little whimpers escaping her throat, What am I going to do, she thought slumping to her knees. I'm even more lost than I was last night! I wish I listened to Ms. James-! She thought throwing her hands into her face. She felt like a baby but didn't care, she cried into her hands.

"Come on now, no crying," said a voice from behind her.

Startled she twisted around and fell back on her hands and feet. She stared into the blue face with open bulging eyes.

"O-Oh No! Leave me alone!" she cried.

Snake laughed and shook his head, "What is such a tasty looking human like you doing by yourself in the middle of the forest?" he hissed bringing his face close to hers.

San stumbled back with gritted teeth, "Leave me alone! Or-or-or that man I was with will come and kill you!" she shouted with trembling lips.

Snake seized her throat and lifted her off the ground, "We'll just see about that, little human. I can assure you he has no interest in you, and he would probably ask for a piece of you, himself!"

San beat her fists on the hand that held her, she felt the tightness in her chest and the blood rushing to her head.

"You're chance of surviving is very little, little one! Struggling is useless you stupid girl!" He lifted her higher in the air and bit his teeth together in a menacing hiss.

Have to try! She thought fighting for air, I have to get away, somehow!

She kicked his arm as hard as she could, Snake dropped her cursing. She stumbled on the ground and pulled herself up to her feet.

"COME HERE YOU USELESS LITTLE THING!!!!!!" Snake cried reaching for her.

She jumped out of his grasp and ran for her life, she heard him chasing her from behind her. Panting and crying she ran into the forest and out of the clearing. Snake was screeching at her in hisses.

She threw the branches in her face away from her and dashed faster into the thicket.

"Someone help me! Someone get this thing away from me!" she screamed.

"There is nowhere to run girl, come back here! I just want to talk to you, you little twit! Come back here, woman!"

She ran blindly through the trees skirting past logs and brambles and turning in different directions to lose the hissing beast lumbering from behind her.

Oh God! Help me, I don't want to be eaten and turned into demon food!


San picked up a stick she had finished jumping over and hurled it into Snake's face. Snake roared and reached for his face screaming.

Crying in fear she picked up more items on the mossy ground and picked up her speed, she had him distracted for now. She turned another direction and ran blindly through the trees. Shadows and laughter danced around her, she looked behind her to see if Snake was still chasing her and found nothing.

Don't stop, San. He'll find you, run, run, run, run!

San skidded to a stop, there was a ravine that lay below her and a river running below it in frothy, foaming black water.

All of the sudden she heard a loud screech, before she could turn around she was hurled off the ravine with Snake toppling off with her.

I can't swim, Oh no! NO, she thought as she fell. Hold your breath San, San hit the water and plunged inside.

She was pulled by the current and swept down the river, "No! Someone help me!" she cried as water filled her mouth and her body sinking back under the waves. She flailed her arms and burst from the water's surface screaming for breath.

She looked around for Snake but couldn't find him anywhere, she gurgled and was swept underneath the water by the current. San fought her way up, but the surface seemed too far upward. Fight San, kick your legs, she thought kicking wildly. She made it to the surface of the water, the current was picking up speed and dragged her back down. She was out of breath.

The water tossed her in the frothy bubbles and back to the surface where she panted wildly for air. The roar of the waves deafened her, she fought for the shore that seemed a short swim away but couldn't. The black water swirled her deeper into the waves plunging her back under.

I can't die this way, she told herself fiercely. I have to get out! I'm strong!

The water pulled her harder down, with her eyes open she kicked as hard as she could to the top, she made it only to be thrown back under again.

Have to get out of this river, I'm going to drown, the current is too strong!

San jumped out of the waves and to the surface, she was as cold as ice and traveling at a faster speed down the river.

"Somebody help me, please! Someone help me! Please-!" water went into her mouth, she was tossed into the bottom where she thrashed and pulled herself up. "Help me!" she gurgled.

Up ahead she saw the horizon meet the water and gasped, she was going down a waterfall, "NO! HELP!" she cried trying to kick to the shore. The water was merciless and dragged her over the falls.

San was free falling out of the water and out into the sky, she looked down and saw more foamy water underneath her, she gulped in a lot of air and fell back into the river.

Pain seared her body as she hit the water with a loud splash, her whole body ached and she wasn't sure she would be able to make it back up to the top, the water she was in wasn't as strong as the waters she battled above.

San made it back to the surface of the water gasping for air, her lungs ached and shot pain through her chest with each intake of air. She could see a log floating by and reached for it, she clung to the soggy bark wheezing for air. The water was calm, she gasped and coughed as she kicked to the shore. Her teeth clattered in her skull and it felt as if her whole chest was burning.

She pulled herself out of the water and onto the shore breathing hard, unable to stand up she collapsed on the ground and rolled on her back squeezing her eyes shut and gasping.

"You did it, girl! You escaped Snake and made it out the river...you..." she whispered through trembling lips. She was too exhausted to stay awake, she drifted off to sleep.


San rolled over after opening her eyes and crawling to her knees. She looked around, thankful that the river still remained roaring at her feet. She gasped and wobbled to her feet, she was still wet so she hadn't slept long.

"Where am I? The well is east...am I north or south or what?" she mumbled shaking her head trying to keep her teeth from chattering.

San took off her waterlogged jacket and swung it ahead of her and sat on a large rock. "I need to start a fire..." she said taking off her shoes and socks. How do you make a fire?

She took off all of her wet things and balled them up and threw it at her feet. She dusted off her jacket and slipped it back on and zipped it all the way up to her neck. The jacket stopped at her mid-thighs so she was completely covered up.

San crossed her legs and rested her head on her hand, "I'm going to catch a cold, I should have asked the boy with the tail to teach me how to make a fire before I stormed off...

She sighed, "I guess I'm more lost than I was with that snake demon, I wonder where he went off to anyway...he better not come back around here!" she said wiping her brow. "That was a close call, I thought I was dead!"

She sat there for a while thinking in pensive thought before standing up and starting off again. She plucked her tennis shoes on her feet and began walking along into the trees again. Ahead of the river lay huge green mountains, she made up her mind that those were the mountains she should aim for.

She walked all day and through dusk, her coat was dry at this point but her clothes and shoes were not. She was still as cold as ice and sneezed as she walked, now she was colder than she was in the river.

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine..." she sang softly to herself. "Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!" The shadows around the trees grew darker and darker, San decided to rest for a while and try starting up a fire before it got too dark.

She dropped her ball of clothes and found two little rocks, she pulled some grass and twigs and placed it all in a pile.

"Ok, San...if you can escape monsters and raging rivers you can start a fire!" She remembered how the yellow-eyed man had only struck the rocks once and fire started. Pursing her lips together she sat on her knees and banged the rocks against each other.

Nothing happened.

She did it again and again and again but nothing happened. Not even a spark.

San blew air onto her face, why isn't it working? It looked so easy when the other guy did it, and on movies it isn't so tough...She looked at her rocks and remembered the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks. She sighed.

A gust of wind blew and San hugged herself to keep warm, she started to bang her rocks against each other again, this time blowing on the stones and grass to light a spark.

Laughter rippled through the air, San turned around breathing hard, she couldn't see anything but she knew something was out there. She stood up and circled around.

More laughter, the wind blew harder, the shadows around her played in the wind. The sun was nearly gone and she had no fire or weapon to save her, she reflected on what the yellow-eyed boy had said about demons becoming more active at night.

Get it together San...Stay calm...don't be afraid, you're going to be ok...

More laughter and whispers danced with the wind's draft, echoes bounced off the trees and over the roar of the river behind her.

"Silly girl, silly girl...she does not know..." the voices whispered. "Poor human girl, she doesn't know...."

"Come out!" she cried swallowing her fear, the laughter grew shriller.

"Little human girl all alone in the forest...silly little human girl wants to play with us?"

"Whoever you are, come out and face me! I'm not playing with anyone!" she cried.

The laughter and whispers grew louder, the leaves rustled with the wind, San clenched her teeth together against the cold.

"She wants to see us...she wants to play...we will play...we will play..." whispered the shadows and the wind swirling around San. "We will let her know what happens to little girls in the forest..." there was shrill laughter. "We will let her know...poor, poor...human girl doesn't know how to start a fire...poor human girl wants to play..."

San swallowed and circled around trying to find the speakers of the voices.

Out of the shadows white transparent hands reached out, hands popped out of the ground and grabbed her ankles.

"OH! Let go of me! Let me go!" she cried kicking at the hands.

"Little human girl wants to see us...let her see us now, let us play together..." moaned the voices circling higher and higher into the wind. "We will let her know what happens to little girls in the forest...poor little human girl wants to play..."

"No! Get off me! Stop!" she screamed. More hands reached for her, the sun was completely down and the moon shone brightly against the gleaming river. White hands reached for her throat and pinned her ankles to the ground, hands floated from behind the trees with claws that clawed at her.

"No!" she screamed swiping at the hands. "Leave me alone! Let me go!" San kicked and thrashed around trying to erase the shrill laughter floating around her.

"Little girl plays well...she likes our game...too bad poor human girl has to die...poor, poor human girl..." whispered the trees and the wind. "We will kill the poor girl...it is too bad we have to end the game..."

San screamed with rage and hit harder at the hands, she picked up a stick and swiped it at them with angry cries. "Leave me alone demons!"

"We are not demons..." the voices whispered. "...We are the ghosts of the forest...the dead tortured souls of demons and humans alike..." laughed the wind. "Poor, stupid little girl doesn't know this...she will die...and suffer like we have suffered..."

"NO! I don't want to become a demon!" cried San kicking at the hands reaching for her. "I don't want to die, let me go! I haven't done anything to you!" The white hands were closing in on her, she was surrounded by them, clawed angry hands reached for her stick and closed around her wrists and ankles. "Stop! Please!" she cried beating harder with her stick and kicking crazier. "I don't want to become a demon! Someone help me!" she wailed.

"Little human thinks she can get away...it is no use...she will die in the end...she will die, and go to hell..." the laughter became insane as the hands dove in on her closing around her throat and pulling at her hair. Hands pulled at her feet and dove at her stomach, knocking her on the ground and covering her completely.

"Please!" she shrieked clawing them away. "Somebody help me! Someone help me! I don't want to be a demon! I don't want to die!" The hands covered her mouth and face, muffled screams came from her as she thrashed from side to side.

"We have her now, " laughed the wind. "We will take her soul...she has played well and now her game is over...goodbye foolish human girl...say goodbye to the forest and hello to the pain and suffering that await your death..."

"I've had it with you! Get off of her now!" came a growl.

Hands shot from her face and onto the other person slashing a sword around, "It is the half god! The half demon!" cried the voices in a wail. "Leave our forest, let us take the girl..."

"The girl is mine and you will release her-NOW!" came an angry voice.

San kicked and thrashed, "Help me! They are taking me away!"

"Hold on human girl...I will save you, where are you?!"

The hands had her in the air and were lifting her away and deeper in the darkness of the forest. "I don't want to become a demon! Please help me!" she wailed into the darkness.

"Wait!" came his voice from far away.

San thrashed wildly into the air shrieking and crying, the hands were moving her into the blackness, only the transparent white hands could be seen. She kicked and screamed at the top of her lungs.

"Leave our forest...we have none of the Uoy stones...let us take the girl!" the wind shuddered and chilled her face. "Leave her fate with us..."

"Give her back to me!" she heard him say, he sounded so far away- so small.

"Help me! They're taking me farther and farther away from you, help me I don't want to go to hell! I don't want to become a demon!-!"

"I want her back! Her fate is now my own, ghosts! Leave her with me and I will spare your souls from going to hell!"

The wind blew harder and the voices were in an angry howl, "We will take her to hell...there is nothing you can do...her fate is ours...interfere...and we will take you too...do not play with us silly man..."

There came moans and ghastly screams from the wind, she heard the swipes of his sword and his fierce snarls of anger.

The hands carried her faster and faster...from below her she saw the ground opening and a fiery pit flaming up from the ground.

"Help me!"

"We toss her into the gates of hell...her soul belongs to the demons of the forest...Don't you see half one...it is too late...she is ours...!" roared the wind.

"Please! Help me-! Help me, I don't want to be a demon!"

She heard a ferocious snarl come from above her and the hands disintegrating from the blows of his sword. She saw his yellow eyes flash angrily through the darkness, the hands that held her dropped her into the flames.

San screamed, "Help me! I'm going to die, save me-please!"

He swooped and grabbed her by the wrists with one hand, "Get up!" he snarled at her.

San reached for his clothes but only slipped, his grip was weakening on her. "I can't! You're flying too fast I can't reach up!"

His sword shone silver, the moans of the trees surrounded them and the hands fell back and disappeared into the ground. Blood curdling screams erupted from the flaming hole as millions of white hands were sucked into it.

San reached one more time and was able to grab a part of his baggy shirt, he replaced his sword and brought his other arm around her so she was holding on to his shoulders.

"Thank you!" she cried burying her face under his jaw to the side of his neck.

He flew onto a high treetop and set her down gently, San threw her arms around his waist.

"Am I glad to see you! Oh thank the lord you found me! I thought I was going to-"

He grabbed her elbows and pushed her back, San stared into his face and took a step backwards.

"Don't cry all over me," he said darkly. "And no hugging! Especially from a human!"

San wiped her eyes and nodded her head, "Sorry..."

He gave her a sideways glance and extended his hand out to her, she took it and held onto him again. He hovered off the ground and shot off towards the mountains.


"Where are we going now?!" she called over the roar of the wind.

He looked at her with one yellow eye winking at her, "I'm taking you back to where you came from, you're becoming a pest!"

"Thank you so much! I thought I would never get home!" she cried happily.

He gave her a small smile and flew over the treetops, he then landed and set her down on her feet.

"I thought you didn't like humans," said San quietly. "Why are you helping me, you never answered why you were doing what you're doing..." said San looking up at him.

He swished his tail and twitched his nose, "That's none of your business...now keep your eyes open for that well...it's around here somewhere."

San smiled at him, he looked down at her twitching his ears, "What are you smiling about?" he asked with his eyes widening.

"Nothing...I'm just happy I'm going back home..." she said taking in a deep breath.

Ms. James, she's going to be so glad to see me! She's going to hug me and kiss me, and bake me sugar cookies for a whole week! Thought San happily, I'm so glad he agreed to take me home...which reminds me...

He had passed her and was peering through the darkness with glowing yellow eyes.

San stood next to him and looked up in his face, "What is your name?"

He snapped his head in her direction startled, "What?" he asked gruffly.

"What is your name? You never told me your name..." she said smiling.

He looked away uncomfortably then gave her a sideways glance snorting, "That's none of your business you nasty little girl, I never asked you for your name."

"That's because you could care less what my name is, but I do care about yours because you saved my life and everything..." she said looking into the dark for the well.

"That's no reason for me to give you my name, human girl..." he was quiet for a moment and then he asked, "What is your name, anyway?"

San looked up at him laughing at him, " I thought you didn't care!"

She heard him snort, "I don't care!" he said quickly. "You're a human...human names don't mean anything anyway..."

San smiled to herself then took his hand and shook it, "My name is San. San James," she told him grinning.

"San James..." he repeated to himself. "That's a stupid name!"

San cleared her throat, "And your name is...?"

He shook her hand back with his yellow eyes flashing at her, "For now just call me whatever you want...you'll be back, right?"

San shrugged, "As long as I'm with you I will...there is no way I'm going back here alone...your world is too dangerous!"

His eyes flashed, "I found the well! Come on, human- I mean San..." he said dragging her by the hand. He pulled her up to the well and released her hand. "I guess this well is a portal...my mother's seen someone else come through it...once."

"Someone else?" cried San incredulously.

"Forget I said it," he said quickly. "Now get out of here before I throw you off this mountainside!" he said in an angry growl.

San paused a moment and nodded her head, "Ok, stranger...thanks for helping me out! I would've died out here if it wasn't for you."

"Just shut up and get in the well!"

She smiled again and took hold of the edge of the well, she hoisted one leg over and then her other leg so she was sitting on the edge. The yellow-eyed boy watched her curiously as she turned around and waved.

"See you around," he said.

San jumped off the edge and into the dark swirling mist...


"Ms. James! Ms. James! I'm home, now! Ms. James?" cried San bursting through the trap door, just as she straightened the green rug the front door unlocked and Ms. James came shuffling through with groceries in her hands.

"Ms. James! You're home! Oh Ms. James, it was incredible!" cried San throwing her arms around the old woman's neck. "I missed you so much! I thought I would never see you again!" she cried burying her face on the old woman's shoulder and crying.

"W-well hello, love! I've never seen you this excited before..." she said pushing San back to see her face. "I thought I left you a note on the refrigerator...didn't you read the note?"

San searched the old woman's face confused, "No, I...but that was nearly three of four days ago!" she cried. "I was gone, I went under the trap-" she stopped and stared into Ms. James blank face.

"Three or four days? Dear, I was only gone for an hour...are you feeling alright?"

San looked over at the green rug gasping, then back into Ms. James face astounded.

Ms. James looked her over in surprise, "And where are your clothes, San? You're only in your jacket...and you're all dirty and banged up...why is your hair wet?" cried the old woman digging her fingers in San's hair. "What on earth were you doing while I was gone?"

San's mouth opened but nothing came out, she looked back at the rug then back at Ms. James not able to speak.

It isn't possible! It isn't possible! How could this...I was gone for three or four days...and only an hour in reality? Was I dreaming here?! No...because my hair is wet from the river and my clothes are still in that forest...

Ms. James touched her cheeks and kissed her lightly on the forehead, "There, there, love...no need to get all upset about it," said the old woman patting her back.

San felt tears sliding down her cheeks, "It's only been an hour?"

"Yes...well to my old watch it is..."she craned her neck to look at the old grand father clock, then chuckled and took off her coat. "Bah! My watch is too fast, actually it's been about forty minutes..." her footsteps faded into the hall. "Dear would you pick up the groceries on the floor?"

San fell into the couch with her mouth open, "Forty minutes? Forty minutes?!"

End of part 1...End of Ch. 7...