The windshield wipers of the fast moving car washed the rainwater away swiftly. It was dark and lampposts flashed by on either side, causing the raindrops on the window glass to shine, making a glare on the already obscured windshield.
"Isn't it funny Kevin? They drive on the wrong side of the road here." the woman said, her voice kind but uncertain. The effort she was making to be light and conversational was obvious, even to the young boy in the car with her.
"Never thought you would be sitting on the right side of the car did you?" she attempted again as she drove, glance between the road ahead of her and the son beside her. Her hair was dark, dark brown and very straight. It was cut bluntly just above her shoulders and was pushed back from her face with a black plastic headband. Her eyes were dark blue, and her lips a pale natural pink. She was barely thirty and it showed. She looked great, even in her mom-jeans and baggy black sweater that had multi-coloured geometric shapes worked into it. Few saw her and Kevin together and thought they were mother and son. They looked more like siblings.
Kevin said nothing to his mother.
Crestfallen, she went back to looking only over at the road, rain still coming down heavy.
The silence in the car was not comfortable. So much was unsaid. Kevin's mother, unable to sit there with her son in such a gloom, spoke up again.
"You will like it here. You will get to see your grandparents." She said, almost as though convincing herself of the same thing. Kevin was silent and staring out the window. "Grandma has gotten your room set up already and everything. It will be just like you remember it." She said confidently.
"I don't," Kevin finally said, speaking softly, his British accent strong, an accent his mother lacked.
"You don't what?" she asked, looking over at her son having finally gotten him to speak since the plane had taken off so many hours before.
"Remember it." He said softly, never looking away from the window and the mile markers and reflectors that passed on the side of the road. His mother's face fell and she looked back to the road.
"I know this is hard Kev. I liked how things were before too. We both had to leave behind our friends, my job and your school, our home…it's just…" she said and paused, not sure what to say.
"Why did this have to happen?" Kevin asked, his voice heavy with what was obvious misery.
"Why did he have to leave us?" he asked, looking away from the window finally. In the dark car his deep brown eyes stood out against his pale face, showing his sorrow. His hair was as dark as his mothers but his face had a stronger angle, obviously from his father.
"Kevin," his mother said sadly, looking very intently at the road. "Bad things happen to everyone, but don't think of this part -the part of us moving- as something bad. Think of it as a new adventure in a new world as a result of a bad thing. This being the good that comes from the bad." She said, but Kevin just went back to looking out his window. "You will make new friends here Kev. You get to go to my old school. American kids are just the same as the kids back home, you'll see. And you'll have Grandma, and Grandpa, and me." She said.
Kevin said nothing.
"I don't know what to do with him dad. He was so close to Carl." His mother said later, pacing in the living room of her parents house. It was really late and the living room was glowing soft and yellow from the lamps.
"I know sweet pea."
"I can't help but feel I have only made things worse by coming here." she said, sounding close to tears.
"No dear," her mother said earnestly, setting her teacup down and making to stand from her armchair.
"It was too soon." Se said, tears finally sliding down her cheeks. "Kevin was so close with Carl…to lose him, then have to leave behind all his friends, his home, his school…no wonder he hasn't spoken more than ten words since I told him we were coming here. He lost his father as well as everyone he ever knew, all at once. It's like his whole world is gone."
"Dear, none of this is your fault. You had few options. You couldn't afford to stay there with Carl gone, with Kevin's private schools on top of all the other expenses? He would have lost his friends and home one way or another. At least here he is with family." Her dad said, hugging his crying daughter.
Kevin was listening at the railing at the top of the stairs, out of sight.
His brow was creased with his own helpless despair.
It was bright and chilly. The morning sun was intense and high, making it seem like it should have been much warmer than it was. On the curved street was house after house of identical white homes with matching driveways. The lawns were manicured and still green from the summer past, but bright orange leaves had collected at the bases of trees, bushed, and in low spots where the wind had gathered them.
Kevin was in a dark grey wool coat and a gold and maroon striped scarf as he walked down the street alone, kicking a stone he had freed from someone's decorative edging down the sidewalk. His hands were tucked deep into his pockets, his eyes down. It wasn't until the collective joyful laughter of a group of kids carried by the breeze caught his ear that he looked up.
"Come-on! Pass it!" the kids shouted and laughed, kicking a ball between them. There were five, four appearing to be boys, but for the one. She had long red hair braided into pigtails coming down from under her knit hat.
"Pass it!" they shouted while laughing. The soccer ball was wet and shining from the grass, the kids running making their faces pink from more than just the cold.
Kevin watched the as they ran from yard to yard down the street, playing, slowly approaching. One of the boys passed it to the girl and she kicked it hard. It arched up into the air, over the boys' heads, to land and roll away, towards Kevin where he stood alone. Kevin simply lifted his right foot and placed it atop the ball to stop it as it rolled.
"Come on," the kids muttered to each other as they hurried over to the much taller Kevin and their lost ball.
"Pass it here," the one boy with the red knit hat said. He was the obvious leader. He walked in front of the others, and spoke with a certain amount of clout, like he was used to people doing what he said. Kevin, not saying a word, expertly kicked the ball, not just over to him, but up so that it flew into the boy's stomach just hard enough, the boy catching it.
"Nice." The girl said from the back.
"What's your name?" the boy now holding the ball asked.
"Kevin Von Lunis." Kevin answered softly.
"Von Lunis?" the boy laughed. "For real?" he asked. Kevin just nodded, feeling uneasy. He did not think there was anything odd about his surname.
"Where are you from?" another of the boys asked. The head boy turned just a fraction to look at the other boy, as though reminding him of some rule, warning him to be quiet.
"I don't think I have ever seen you around before. Where are you from?" the first boy asked, turning slowly back to Kevin, talking to him before he was even facing him fully, the ball now tucked under his arm.
"I just moved here with my mum to live with my grandparents." He said.
"That's not what I asked." The boy said, tilting his head to the side.
"Eric, don't be a dick." The girl said from the back.
"You sound…foreign. Where you from?" he asked, not really sounding any kinder, but still smiling just as before. Kevin got the impression it was not a friendly or even genuine smile.
"I come from London." He said softly.
"Ohh," all the boys said together in a mock interest. Eric chuckled.
"London, as in England?" he asked. Kevin nodded. "Does everyone there wear such dorky scarves?" he asked.
"Eric." The girl reprimanded.
"Is there something wrong with my scarf?" Kevin asked, looking down at it.
"You look like a dweeb." Eric said.
"Can it Eric." The girl said.
"Or what Lissa?"
"Or I'll tell your brother and he will beat you up for being a jerk for no reason." She said, putting her hands on her hips.
Kevin just stood there, feeling awkward. Eric's eyes were narrowed at the girl, Lissa, for a moment, before he turned back to Kevin.
"So, you live on this street now?" he asked.
"My grandparents live just down there," Kevin answered while pointing down the street towards his new home, suddenly very aware now of his accent. Honestly, he felt it was the other kids that had accents, not him. He talked normal and they talked funny, but he knew that he was in their county, so therefore he was the one that was different and had the accent.
"Then we will be seeing you in school?" he asked. Kevin nodded. "Then I think it's important that I explain to you the rules." Eric said, stepping forward in a bit of a strut, ball under arm, eyes locked with Kevin's. The boy was far shorter than Kevin, but did not seem intimidated by his size. Kevin was far from imposing given his skinny "stork" legs, rounded shoulders, and habit of slouching, but he was still approaching six feet fast. Eric had nothing on him when it came to tallness, but physical prowess, Eric came across like someone who was twice his size.
"What rules?" Kevin asked. The boys chuckled.
"My rules." Eric said simply and Lissa made a noise from behind them that sounded something like a moan of annoyance.
"One." He said, holding up a finger. "There is a fine for anyone who talks funny. Two: there is a fine for people who are freakishly tall. Three: there is a fine for people who dress funny." He said, smiling the whole time while holding up his fingers. "Four: I'm in charge of the playground on the school grounds. Nothing goes on there without my okay." He said, looking up into Kevin's much darker eyes with his pale ones. "And five." He said, now chest to chest (or chest to stomach) with Kevin. "There is no tattletaling. Anyone who goes to their parents or a teacher gets to meet my boys." Eric said, pointing over his shoulder with his thumb at the three boys that stood there now smiling, one cracking his knuckles. Lissa looked like she was embarrassed. "How old are you Kevin?" Eric then asked.
"Twelve." He said, taking a step back when Eric took a step forward, not liking how close the boy was getting.
"Well, I'm thirteen, so that means you have to listen to me and do as I say, or else." He said.
"Or else what?" Kevin asked timidly, not sure he was going to like the answer.
"Or else we will make your life a living hell." Eric said.
"Lay off him Eric." Lissa said, putting her hands on her hips, he does not look impressed and you are getting on my nerves. "Hey, Kevin." Lissa said, looking past Eric now to the new boy, not giving Eric a chance to say anything to her. "Would you like to join us? We have an odd number. If you join we'll be six and we can play a three on three game." She said.
"I like football." Kevin said, daring to smile a little.
"Football?" the boys laughed. Kevin frowned his brow.
"We ain't playing football stupid. We are playing soccer!" they laughed.
"Soccer is called football in England guys." Lissa said, coming to Kevin's defense as he stepped back some, feeling very uncomfortable right then. He just wanted to go home.
"Yeah, that's England for you right?" Eric laughed. "Everyone drives on the wrong side of the road." He teased.
"And they call Soccer football," another boy added.
"And they wear dorky scarves." another boy laughed. Kevin's eyes stung and nose burned. He was not going to cry, but he might hit one of them. He knew neither action would be wise however.
"Stop it guys. That's enough." Lissa said.
"My father bought me my scarf. It's a replica of the ones worn at Hogwarts in Harry Potter." Kevin said, face still red in anger.
"Harry what?" the last boy asked.
"Harry Potter. It's a book series." Kevin explained. It was a very popular series back home, but it was not really catching on elsewhere. He was sure it would eventually.
"I never heard of it." Eric said, his face condescending with his hands on his hips, ball still under the left.
"I wouldn't expect any of you ruddy Americans to know what a book is let alone how to read it." Kevin said, angry.
"Excuse me?" Eric said, letting the ball drop, stepping up to Kevin. Kevin swallowed. "You calling us stupid, Kevin?" he asked, voice full of threat.
"Eric." Lissa called.
"So, you think we are stupid do you?" he asked, shoving Kevin back a little. "Well, I think you are gay." He said, the boys at his back egging him on, chanting "gay" at Kevin.
"Stop it Eric, I mean it. Leave him alone!"
"And so is your dad, for buying you such a gay scarf." Eric said with eyes narrowed in anger.
Kevin took a breath through his nose; brow frowned, and turned quickly. He ran down the sidewalk the way he had come and all the way home. He did not look back, not to the sound of laughter, or Lissa's angry words to Eric. He did not look back when he got to his door either. He opened it, ran in side, and closed it. He did not say a word to his grandmother as he ran passed.
She tried to ask what was wrong but he would not stop.
Up the stairs and to his room Kevin did not stop until he was leaning against his closed door, safely barricaded in.
He would have hit that boy, Eric, if he had not run.
It was only then he realized his face was wet. Wet with tears.
Kevin pushed away from his door and walked over to his bed, unwinding his scarf from around his throat and wringing it in his hands, wrapping his fists in it tight. He wiped his face dry with the scarf that had been his last gift from his father as he fell stiff as a board onto his bed, sobbing with his face in his bedding, muffling the noise while his long legs stuck straight out off the edge of the bed.
"Kevin?" his grandmother asked, knocking on the door gently. "Kevin? Is everything alright?" she asked.
"Fine." Kevin called to her, his face turned away from his bedding so she would hear him and he could get some fresh air as he sniffed wetly.
"I have some lunch ready for you if you like." She said, still on the other side of the door. She knew he was not fine.
"No thank you." Kevin said.
He knew his grandmother was lingering outside his door, but he did not say more. He would not say anything to anyone.
"I got a call from your school today, Kevin." His mother said, sitting across from him at the kitchen table, his grandmother and grand father at opposite ends.
"What about?" his grandfather asked as he took a bite of his chicken, Kevin not having touched his food yet.
"You get in a fight today Kevin?" she asked, looking at her son's face, his lip busted open and his left arm bruised.
"Is that what those marks are from? I thought you said it was gym class." His grandfather asked, looking at Kevin intently. Kevin said nothing.
"You having problems with kids at school Kevin? You feel you have to beat them up?" his mother asked.
"I did no such thing." Kevin said simply.
"Then what did happen?" his grandfather pressed.
"May I be excused?" Kevin asked, glaring at the table as though not really seeing it.
"No you may not. You have not touched your dinner and we are going to talk about this." His mother said firmly.
"There is nothing to talk about." Kevin said after a long moment of silence on his part.
"I think there is Kevin." His grandfather said. Kevin said nothing and looked at no one. He just stood suddenly and ran from the room, up the stairs and to his bedroom to hide, leaving is mother and grandparents sitting there in the silence that followed the slam of his door.
Kevin's mother was sitting in the living room with her mother and father, sounding disheveled.
"They said he was fighting. Fighting!" she said in disbelief.
"He is picking fights with other kids?" her mother asked, sounding shocked herself.
"No. His teacher said Kevin has been quiet and withdrawn all week and today in recess a classmate tried to beat him up." She said, sounding a knife's edge from tears.
"That kid must be a damn fool, Kevin is a big boy. He may not be exceptionally strong, but he is tall with a good reach. Who would want to fight him?"
"And he is so sweet, why would they want to fight him?" her mother added.
"I don't know." She said, dabbing at her nose with a tissue, voice quivering.
"Sweet pea, don't cry," her father said softly, hugging her to his chest and stroking her chocolaty brown hair. "Fighting is a part of being a boy. Kevin will find his place at that school. You will see." He comforted.
"I know dad, I know, but…I don't know what to do. He wont talk, he wont eat."
"It's common for kids to take some time adjusting to major change, but you will see, he will bounce back. Children are fragile, but the most resilient of anyone." He said while hugging is daughter tightly.
Kevin sat atop the stairs, out of sight, listening to his mother and Grandparents talk about him, like he had the night he had showed up and every night since.
"I miss Carl." His mother cried.
"I know dear." Her mother comforted.
"Kevin and him were going to go out camping that weekend. Fishing. They always went fishing together. But, that's the weekend the doctors told us that he was sick…" his mother said, the end trailing off into a soft sob.
Kevin's forehead was wrinkled with fought back tears of his own. He sat there, silent, long legs pulled and hugged to his chest. He did not like hearing his mother cry, and he did not like it that it was him, and what he had done at school, that had made her cry.
He missed his dad so much right then too.
"Dad?" Kevin's mother asked.
She pulled away from him to stand far enough back to look him in his strong bearded face.
"Could you take Kevin up to your cabin this weekend?" she asked.
"The cabin?" he repeated.
"There is a lake there. You could take him fishing." She said. "I think he would really like that. It would give him a chance to get to know you…and maybe he will open up a little, you know, too you." She said heavily.
"What kind of fish did you and your dad catch?" his grandfather asked, his voice kind but rough around the edges. His face was leathery and worn, permanently tanned and partially hidden by a thick but well manicured beard. It was long enough that it hid his strong neck and reached just to his shirt's collar. His hair was dark but for the grey peppered throughout and there was a single white streak in his beard that started at his bottom lip and chin and went all the way down to the ends.
Kevin did not answer his question but just looked out the window like he had with his mother, staring at the trees as they flashed past.
"Wels Catfish, right?" his grandfather offered, his voice just as friendly as before. "Well, you wont find any of them around here, but we do have Rainbow Trout. You ever lure those? They were introduced to the UK from here." he said. Kevin said nothing. "You will find Pink Salmon, Lake Trout, Yellow Perch, and even some Small Mouth Bass." he said, naming off all the different kinds of fish that could sometimes be seen and caught up by the lake. "You ever seen a Small Mouth before?" he asked. Kevin minutely shook his head while not looking away from the window. He did not seem to be in the mood to chitchat, but his grandfather was unwavering and determined. He looked at Kevin for a moment, then leaned back a little to glance back at the rear seat where a massive dog was sprawled out, panting happily.
"Charley here will love it up at the cabin. Wont you boy?" he asked, the giant Bull Mastiff turning his head, ears flopping, tongue hanging way out as he panted, looking jolly as ever as he looked about the cabin of the car, excited about something, everything.
"You really think so?" Kevin asked, finally speaking, getting his grandfather to smile while he continued to look at the road ahead.
"Oh yeah, I'm positive. There are acres of woods and land for him to run around in, there is the lake -though it is too cold to swim in at the moment- and lots of birds and animals for him to chase about."
"I don't think he would do that." Kevin said, turning in his seat while still buckled in to reach back and pat the dog's massive head, minding the thick slobber that oozed from Charley's open mouth.
"No, Charley is gentle. He would never hurt anything."
"Are you kidding me? With those giant mitts of his, and that enormous mouth, you're telling me he wouldn't chase a rabbit if given the opportunity?"
"You think he would?"
"I bet we will be calling him 'Killer' by the end of the week." He laughed, getting a faint smile from Kevin.
"I don't think so. Charley is a gentle giant." Kevin said, tugging on Charley's left ear, Charley clearly enjoying it by how hard his thick and strong tail was whacking the back of his grandfather's seat.
His grandfather laughed.
"We shall see."
Kevin sat in his grandfather's cabin; rain loud on the slate roof. The only light was the fire in the fireplace, burning warm and bright, and the yellowish glow of a desk lamp. Kevin was sitting quietly, reading in the firelight, keeping warm while his grandfather stood in the corner where there was a black, wood-burning stove. He was cooking up some beans in a small pot, right hand stirring the spoon, left resting on his hip.
"How old are you again Kevin?" he asked.
"Twelve." He said distractedly, not looking away from his book.
"Wow. Twelve." He said conversationally. "I don't think I could even remember what it was like being twelve." He said. Kevin said nothing. "I can't believe it has been nice years since you and your mom…" he said before pausing. Kevin looked up at him over the top of his book. "Since you and your mom left, to live with your father." He finished softly, not having wanted to mention Kevin's father.
"Did you like my father?" Kevin asked with arms bent under is still open book so it was scooped against his chest and hugged there.
"Of coarse I did." His grandfather said seriously.
"Then why did you and him never talk?" Kevin asked, his crisp accent seemingly out of place in the warm little cabin.
"We did, sometimes."
"I know you did. I could hear you having a row with each other over the phone every once in a while. Then you would not call for a long time." Kevin said, his understanding of the situation clearly strong. "What were you two always fighting about?" he asked.
"I was angry with your father for a long time." His grandfather confessed.
"Why?" Kevin pressed.
"Because…" he said before sighing, trying to think of how he could explain the situation to the boy. "Because he left you and your mom after you were born to go back to England and 'make it big,' and get rich." He said. "I thought he was just saying that as his excuse to leave. When he came back nearly three years later for you and you mom, I was furious. You mother had been so heartbroken, but she was so in love she was willing to run off with him." He said. Kevin just looked at him; dark eyes steady, understanding and thought clear in them. "I was angry that he had seemingly abandoned you and your mother, then came and took her and you away from me." He said.
"Mum says you thought dad was a no-good beatnik." Kevin said, causing his grandfather to sigh again.
"I called your father a lot of things, and it was not right of me to do so."
"So you did hate him."
"I never hated him. I was angry with him, and I hated his carrier."
"Dad was a great musician."
"I know that."
"Why did you ask mum to come back here, to live with you?" Kevin asked, closing his book and setting it down to crawl a little over to Charley and snuggle against his side as he lay by the fire, using him like a huge, furry, breathing pillow.
"Your father left some debt behind. Your mother could not afford to stay where she was, and take care of you, and take care of everything else. Your mother needed your grandma and me. We offered, we did not ask." He said. Kevin said nothing. He lay with Charley for a long time.
He passed on dinner.
"Kevin, don't be going too far!" his grandfather shouted after him.
"It's Charley, he's run off," Kevin shouted back to his grandfather as he ran towards the woods. It was dusk and the light was fading quickly. He ran towards the tall dark trees the edged the woods that surrounded his Grandfather's cabin on all sides.
"He will come back on his own Kev. It is late, come on in side before it's full dark!" he called.
"I can't leave Charley out here alone." Kevin shouted, disappearing into the trees.
"Come on Charley," he called. He dashed between the trees is short bursts then walked while looking around. The moon was full, granting plenty of light, but he could not see Charley anywhere.
"Charley, come on boy!" Kevin shouted with his hands cupped around his mouth. He lowered his hands and walked, hiking, muttering to himself under breath, "Charley you stupid git, where are you?"
"Charley!" he called. A rustle and a snap of a branch caused Kevin to turn towards the sound.
"Charley, is that you?" he asked. He waited for a response, or another movement, but there was none.
Turning slowly and walking carefully, lifting his feet high so as to clear the low underbrush and leaves, Kevin made his way deeper into the woods, calling for Charley the whole time.
Another sound and Kevin spun.
"Charley?" he asked, suddenly not so certain. "Charley, is that you?" he asked, trying to see through the darkness. The moon was obscured by passing clouds and that left the woods very, very dark.
Kevin let out a little yelp as he heard something at his back, very close.
His heart was hammering in his chest, his throat frozen, unable to even swallow. His dark eyes were dashing about, looking for any sign of movement but unable to detect any.
"Come on Charley," he said under his breath, still hoping it was only his dog out there.
Why was he so afraid? He did not know.
Kevin let out an "umph" of surprise as he was knocked into suddenly. Tackled from the left he landed on his right side hard, with something very big, and very strong, on top of him.
"Ahh!" he screamed, struggling to roll over and get away. It was so dark that even though whatever was on top of him was only inches from his face, he could not make it out. He could feel its fur, he could feel its claws, and with a shriek of pain he could feel its teeth, but he had no idea what it was.
"Ahh! Help me!" Kevin screamed those words only once before only wordless screams were ripped from his throat as his left side was bitten down on. Whatever it was that had him was so massive that its jaws wrapped halfway around his waist, and it was strong enough to lift him off his back from the ground by that bite alone. Kevin kicked his legs as he was picked up in the air, and screamed as the beast shook him. It was trying to tear him apart!
"Help me, help me!" Kevin screamed and cried, swinging his fists wildly, connecting with the beast's head a few times but hardly hitting hard enough to get the thing to let him go. Kevin's screams raised an octave higher when the thing bit down on him that much harder, the pressure that much more fierce and penetrating. The thing was going to bite a chunk out of his side.
Kevin felt the back of his head and his feet touch the ground first as the thing set him down. It released him and Kevin for a moment though it was letting him go, but as the clouds shifted and there was enough light to see the massive beast beside and above him, he realized it was only going for another angle. Kevin screamed as he saw its bloody teeth in its open and massive mouth. He kneed the thing in the throat and caused it to yelp, but it did not back off.
Bleeding all over the fallen leaves Kevin was shaking too badly to move right then, but he was trying. He scooted back on his elbows and butt, trying to ease out from under the beast's head. The creature however, did not want to let him go. T turned its head and attacked Kevin's upper body. Kevin threw up his arms and they were in turn jammed into the thing's mouth. Kevin screamed as it bit down on him.
A growl and a bark seemed so distant in Kevin's ears. His vision was dark and wobbly, his thinking slow while panicked, but some part of him knew…it was Charley he heard.
Appearing out of nowhere, enough to surprise not only Kevin but also the beast, Charley tackled the thing that had Kevin by the arms and knocked it over. Kevin screamed as he was ripped from the thing's mouth and closed his eyes, the sounds of the dog and the beast's fighting, barking, scratching, and growling filling the night air. The sound of ripping, and yelping, rusting of leaves and thumping of heavy bodies being thrown onto the ground were more than scary enough right then.
Kevin managed to open his eyes to see Charley taking on the much larger, much darker beast. Charley, so light coloured, was easy to see, even in the dark. What he was fighting, Kevin could still not make out. Was it a bear? What else was that dark and big?
Charley's massive jaw was around the thing's arm and there was a wet snap followed by a high yelping howl from the beast as its arm was broken. It swung at Charley with its right to get him off before it then ran off into the dark woods, howling.
Charley limped over to Kevin, fur matted in blood, panting heavily. Kevin was hyperventilating and shaking terribly. He managed onto his hands and knees, and leaned on Charley to stand. It was only a moment before Kevin was running back towards the cabin, weak and shaking but adrenaline pumping, all the while wordlessly screaming on the top of his lungs.
"Help!" he screamed, falling and scrambling to his feet again and again, leaving blood splatter on the already autumn-red leaves. He leaned on tree after tree to keep his balance when he could, trying his best to stumble back to the cabin as fast as possible.
Kevin tumbled into the clearing beside the cabin and collapsed, Charley at his side. His grandfather, having heard the distant cries for help, was already charging out of the house with a riffle in hand.
He lept off the porch and ran over to Kevin.
"Oh god," he said as he neared, seeing the blood everywhere in the moonlight. Kevin coughed up some blood and his grandfather turned the gun on the dog.
"Attack my boy will you, you bastard." He said, pointing his gun at the dog, clearly thinking that, covered in blood and with it still dripping from his massive mouth, Charley had attacked Kevin.
"No," Kevin moaned, blood oozing from the corner of his mouth. "Charley…saved…me…" he said, a bubble forming between his lips from the blood.
"Oh my god. Kevin, oh my god." His grandfather kept repeating. He grabbed Charley by the collar and held the gun loosely at his side as he quickly marched the dog up to the porch. He set the gun down, grabbed the chain, and tied Charley up right there before running into the house, grabbing a blanket, and running back out to gather his gun and hurry over to his grandson.
"I'm here Kevin. I'm gonna take you to a hospital." He assured as he started to wrap Kevin up tightly in the wool blanket. Kevin did not say anything, or even respond. His face and lips were stark white; his head limp as he was moved.
"Come on boy, I have you." He said, scooping Kevin up in his arms, his bad hip far from his mind as he limped over to his truck. Charley sat at the end of his chain, looking like he wanted to follow. Unable to however, he simply sat back down and whimpered, looking concerned and frightened.
Sitting Kevin down in the passenger side seat as carefully as he could, his grandfather hurried stiff legged around the truck and climbed into the driver's seat. He jammed the keys into the ignition and peeled out of the muddy tracks that made up the driveway.
He was speeding down the dark country road, foot flat against the accelerator, the truck growling under them. They were stopped on the way by a state trooper, clearly because they were pushing ninety on the dark road, but in his frantic explanation, Kevin's grandfather was able to get a police escort to the hospital, with a radio ahead.
The hospital was the largest building in the small town. It stood tall and dark, each window lit from within giving the whole place an eerie yellow glow.
"What's his pulse?"
"And his blood pressure?
"Seventy over fifty."
"He is in shock. Is the OR ready?"
"Then lets get him there." The doctor said as he and several others ran alongside Kevin's rolling stretcher. They were moving fast, talking faster, and trying to stop the bleeding. His grandfather had been left behind at the swinging doors, looking shocked and scared.
Kevin was rushed into the operating room, bypassing completely the emergency room, the doctors concerned over how much blood he had lost and how low his heart rate and blood pressure were.
Propping up his feet and tilting back his head Kevin's clothing was cut off of him, leaving him naked but no one able to spare a moment to even notice his nakedness. Blood was everywhere, draining off the table and onto the white floor in splatter, quickly forming a puddle. Pressure was being applied to his left arm that was torn open, and on his left side deep wounds had perforated his abdomen, deep enough that his visceral were poking through like obscene pink and red balloons.
"He is going to throw up!" a nurse shouted as Kevin started to gag. As a team they all used the blanket he was laying op to tip Kevin onto his side in time to allow him to throw up a wave of blood.
"His stomach is punctured. Open him up so we can find the source of the bleeding. We need O- blood in here now!"
The doctors worked, stitching, searching, clamping.
Kevin's right arm was hooked to an IV blood drip for the transfusion; his left arm was stitched and wrapped up. His left side was cut and clamped open as his organs where searched over for punctures and tears. A clear wash was being sprayed in his cavity, washing away foreign matter, disease, and blood.
"His blood pressure and pulse are dropping!" a woman called, looking over at the boy then back to the monitors she was stationed at.
"Roll the defibrillator over here." the head doctor called, throwing a blue blanket over the gaping exposed cavity and Kevin's nakedness to step back.
Grabbing the two paddles and holding them up for another to squeeze some clear goo on them he then rubbed them together and looked up at the heart monitor that was now flat lining.
"Clear!" he shouted, everyone stepping away from the bed as the doctor placed the paddles on Kevin's chest in the appropriate places and sent a shock through his body, causing his back to arch and for him to flop back down onto the table. The heart monitor had spiked but was flat once again.
"Clear!" the doctor repeated.
Out in the waiting room, Kevin's grandfather sat, face in his hands, elbows on his knees. The policeman that had pulled him over and then escorted him to the hospital was with him, already having taken his statement. There wasn't much more to say, and little that could comfort the man.
"Where is he?" Kevin's mother asked, rushing in through the doors and seeing her father immediately.
"They took him to the OR immediately." Her father said, voice distant and hollow.
"What happened?" she asked, crying, hair a fly away mess in her rush to get there after the call she had gotten so late at night.
"I'm not sure. He had gone out in the woods with the dog. He was only gone for fifteen minutes I swear! He came screaming and running out of the woods, looking like he had been attacked by a bear or something! I grabbed him and brought him here and that's all I know. I'm so sorry Jessica. I'm so sorry." He said, finally breaking down and crying himself. Her mother came in, at a slower but still rushed pace. She limped with a cane but made her way over to them to join in on the hug while they all cried.
"Mrs. Van Lunis?" the doctor asked, walking out into the hallway. The family had been removed from the waiting room and taken to wait out in the hallway, outside the OR, so that they could wait, and cry, and wait some more in private. The doctor was bloody and tired looking. He still had all his scrubs on, only his mask pulled down from his face and gloves missing.
"How is he?" Kevin's mother demanded, standing up and grabbing the front of the doctor's smock. Her father stood up and pulled her back from the doctor to give him room, hugging her to his side and looking solemn, ready for any bad news.
"He has stabilized." The doctor said cautiously, though clearly with more to say and none of it good.
"Oh thank god." His grandmother said, placing her hand over her heart while she sat in her chair still, a lace handkerchief in her hand.
"When can I see him?" his mother asked, looking urgent.
"Mrs. Van Lunis,"
"When can I see Kevin!" she demanded.
"Mrs. Von Lunis, you have to understand, Kevin is stable, but in critical condition and has been put on life support." He said delicately as her hand covered her mouth, her legs looking weak.
"No," she said breathlessly. Her father was all that kept her from falling to the floor.
"Jessica," her mother said, looking panicked.
"She's alright." Her father said, leading her over to a chair to sit and regain her breath. Her father straitened and faced the doctor, holding out his hand. The doctor accepted it with a firm shake.
"Thank you doctor."
"You have to understand, there still is a chance,"
"Shh." He said quickly, turning towards his wife.
"Watch Jessica for a moment." He said, his wife nodding, before walking off with the doctor a distance so that they could talk freely without Jessica fainting.
"There is still a chance Kevin will die sir." The doctor continued, hushed and solemn.
"Call me John."
"Well, John." The doctor said, taking a deep breath. "Kevin died twice on the operating table with us." He said and Kevin's grandfather ran his hand over his mouth and down his beard to hold it in his fist. "It took quite an effort to get his heart started again the first time, and the second time I was nearly ready to give up. It took a shot of adrenalin straight into his heart through his chest to get his heart beating. We also had to give him a massive blood transfusion. That, with the amount of trauma his body has endured, it may just reject all our help and give out." He said, looking serious but sympathetic.
"What are the odds doctor?" he asked softly.
"Not good. I'm not aware of his medical history, but for any healthy child, their chances would be less than thirty." He said and his grandfather nodded slowly.
"I'm sorry." He said.
"I am too." he said softly. "I don't know what I will tell his mother." He said, indicating the fragile looking woman in his wife's arms. "I don't think she would be able to survive the loss of her son too." He said.
Down the hall was one of the nurses that had been in the OR. She was still covered in blood and looking pale. She was on a pay phone, speaking in hushed tones quickly, in a language no one overhearing would know. A bracelet hung from her wrist of a pentacle star.
There was only clear word whispered if one were to be eavesdropping.
"He looks so peaceful." Kevin's grandmother said softly, standing in the hospital room, full of machines that beeped, and lit up, and looked expensive.
"He is in a coma Ma'am." The doctor explained.
"Will he wake up?" his mother asked, looking down at her son's limp body.
Kevin's forehead was wrapped in a bandage and his face was bruised down the right side from being slammed into a rock buried in the leaves during the attack. His bottom lip split open as well as the edge of one nostril. There was a large ribbed tube down this throat and taped in place, hooked to a machine with a diaphragm that moved up and down. A respirator, because he had stopped breathing on his own. The rest of his body was hidden under thick warm blankets. An IV of blood was hanging above his bed; a tube leading to under the blankets was taped to his inner arm, slowing adding to his own weak supply.
"His fever was unexpected and unimaginably high. It took us a long time to get it to come down. High fevers lead to hallucinations and even brain damage if the person survives them." He said softly.
"Oh my god." his mother gasped.
"You think he will wake up retarded doctor?" his grandfather asked, looking down at his grandson.
"If he wakes up at all, I can only guess as to how he will be. There is a chance that there has been permanent damage done. There is a chance he will never wake up. There is a chance that he will wake up and have only minimal complications."
"But there isn't a chance for him to wake up and be perfectly normal is there?" his mother asked, looking right into the doctor's eyes. He looked right back.
"In medicine, there are no certainties." He said.
"'Mom?' he whispered, 'Dad?'…They just looked at him, smiling. And slowly, Harry looked into the faces of the other people in the mirror, and saw other pairs of green eyes like his, other noses like his, even a little old man who looked as though he had Harry's knobby knees –Harry was looking at his family, for the first time in his life." Kevin's mother read, voice soft. She sat beside Kevin's bed, book open on her lap.
"Jessica?" her father asked, appearing in the doorway. "It is late. We have been here all day." He said.
"I'm reading to Kevin." She said.
"I know sweet pea, but you need to go home and rest. Last night was rough, and you have been with him all day. You need to sleep before you make yourself sick."
"I don't want to leave his side." She said.
"What if he wakes up and I'm not here?" she asked, tears forming in her eyes and she marked her place in her book and closed it on her lap.
"The doctors will call us."
"But what if he is scared when he wakes up? I don't want him to wake up and not have someone that loves him here."
"I can't leave him." She said.
"They wont let you spend the night in here with him. Come on. We will feed you, get some sleep, and be back first thing in the morning." He said, trying to coax his daughter out of her chair.
"Come on." He said, taking the book from her and placing it beside Kevin, on the table that was left there more for the benefit of the family than the patient. "You can finish reading to him tomorrow." He said, leading her away.
Kevin moaned. His body ached but not as badly as it would have if his system was not pumped full of painkillers. Without opening his eyes he tried to lift his arm and found he couldn't. Trying the other arm with just as much success his eyes eventually opened as panic washed over him. Why couldn't he move?
Trying to swallow compulsively he found he could not do that either. Something was not only holding his mouth open, but was all the way down his throat, keeping him from being able to swallow.
Panicking now he tried to move his legs, but they were just as heavy and immovable as his arms. Tears forming in his eyes he did the only thing he could do. He moaned a scream through his taped up mouth and throat.
A nurse came running in from just outside the hall.
"My god." She said, hitting the call button, hoping to gather the doctors immediately. "Kevin? Kevin? Can you hear me?" she asked as Kevin tried to shake his head free of the equipment taped there, the tape that held the breathing tube in his mouth pealing away. "Don't move." She said.
Kevin's body was waking up slowly. His left arm was taped down to a board, but his right was free. Heavy and awkward to lift, Kevin tried to reach up and pull at the tube.
"Don't touch that. It's a breathing tube. You can't swallow and I know it feels terrible. We will get that out of you as soon as possible." She assured, pushing his arm down and pulling out a penlight. She held his eyelids open with her thumb one at a time and shone the light in them, watching the pupils contract.
Doctors rushed in and the nurse turned to them.
"He's awake!" she said, looking as flabbergasted as she sounded. "I can't believe it, but he is responsive too."
"You scared us half to death Kevin!" his mother said, leaning over him and kissing him over and over and over again. His grandmother and grandfather stood on either side of him, equally happy to see him but content in watching their daughter smother him in the kisses.
"Mum, mum, please," he said, trying to fight her off with his weak right arm.
"How are you feeling my boy?" his grandfather asked.
"A right bit worse than usual." He said, leaning into his pillows, eyelids shiny and bruised.
"I should think so." His grandmother said, taking her turn to give him a few kisses, leaving peachy coloured lipstick stains on his pale cheeks.
"Nana, please." He said.
"I was so worried. I thought I had lost you." His mother said, tears falling down her cheeks.
"Now sweet pea, don't be crying and don't be thinking of that. This is a time to be happy and celebrate."
"I'm sorry." She said, brushing some of Kevin's messy dark hair away from his forehead.
"You look so ill." She said, acknowledging Kevin's fever, his clammy and pale skin, the dark shadows under his eyes, and his labored breathing.
"Well, the kid was just eaten by a bear sweet pea. I would expect him to look a little worse for wear for a while." Her father said.
"Is that what they found out attacked me?" Kevin asked. He had not been asked.
"They caught a bear some miles away. Killed it didn't they John?" his grandmother asked.
"Right they did. I am so sorry Kevin. I can't help but feel this is all my fault. There has never been a bear attack in the area, but still, I should not have let you run off in the woods alone."
"It is not your fault. I ran off when you told me not to. Charley. What happened to Charley?" Kevin asked, his memory of that night coming back in waves. "Charley saved me. He attacked the bear and got hurt." Kevin said, feeling panicked as he sat up.
"Just relax Kev. Lie down and don't get so worked up. The doctors will have a fit and send us home if you do." His grandmother warned.
"What about Charley?" he asked stubbornly as he lay down.
"He's fine. He is at home. A bit beat up, a little sad without you around, but he is fine." His mother assured. A visible relief washed over Kevin.
"Hello Kevin." His doctor said kindly, walking into the room, holding a chart to is chest. He held out a hand for Kevin to shake, which he did, though weakly.
"Hello doctor." Kevin said.
"Dr. Darko, please." He said with a smile. "My, my Kevin. What can I say?" he said, looking down at the chart. "You are a remarkable young man." He said and Kevin felt a slight flush creep up his face. "Eight broken bones, over one hundred and fifty stitches, hemorrhaging, a nasty concussion, severe blood loss, major emergency surgery, a removed spleen, a punctured stomach and kidney, a torn liver, and a bruised lung…and here you are, a week later, awake!" The doctor said, looking up from Kevin's chart from which he had been listing, to smile at him. "It's remarkable."
"When will he get to come home?" his mother asked.
"Oh, not right away." the doctor said though with a smile. "We need to monitor him, his heart, and there is still one more surgery we need to do to remove the drains we put in, in the OR." He said.
"How soon doctor?" his grandfather asked.
"A week, maybe two." He said.
"But he has already been here for a week." His grandmother said, looking shocked.
"Healing takes time Ma'am." He said with a kind smile.
"I have you. Come on, up." Kevin's grandfather coached as he helped Kevin step up the stairs of his front porch. His mother had the wheelchair already at the top, but Kevin had to make the five steps slowly with much support, on his own.
"Sit here Kev." His mother said, helping him turn slowly and sit down gently in the seat. Kevin's face was tight and forehead creased with pain as he settled.
"You aright?" his grandmother asked, her purse hooked in her elbow as she leaned down to look him in the face.
"Yeah," Kevin said, though his voice was strained as though he was holding in a scream. He unclenched his eyes and saw past his grandmother, to the sidewalk, where the red-haired girl stood, looking concerned and interested. Kevin's mother looked to where Kevin was staring and smiled at the girl.
"You know her Kevin?" she asked.
Kevin looked at the girl, Lissa, for a moment and then shook his head just a fraction.
"She is just a girl from school." He said.
The autumn air was crisp and even a little harsh, but Kevin was enjoying it. He was parked in the backyard, in the sun for warmth, with a blanket across his lap. He was in his wheelchair, skin so pale and eyes surrounded with such heavy dark circles that it looked like someone had punched him in both eyes.
His mother was in the house, looking out the window, on the phone.
"Yes Doctor." She said, watching over her son. "No, I have been giving him all the antibiotics, yes and the painkillers. Yes, yes." She said, switching the phone to the other ear and gripping the lace curtain in her now free hand, looking and sounding very worried and urgent. "I don't understand. He seems to be getting worse. Yes, we have been changing the bandages. Three times a day." She said. "He does not want to go back though. I know checking him back in would help, but he doesn't want to go back." She said, pausing to listen to the doctor on the other end of the line. "It has been three weeks. Yes. I know. A secondary infection? You think so?" she asked, listening again.
Kevin sat outside, birds chirping loudly, a squirrel scurrying across the yard to bury another acorn, unbothered or unaware of the unmoving Kevin. Charley was in his doghouse. Chained there but unwilling to come out. He had a major change in personality since Kevin had come home. He was mean, he would bark and nip at everyone, and he would not come near. Kevin could not help but feel it was his fault, felt that Charley believed he was betrayed that he had saved his life and he had just left him there for two weeks without a word.
Charley wasn't the only one that had had a bit of a personality swing though. Kevin too was meaner and grumpier than ever before. He was short with his mother and grandparents, he demanded to be left alone every time someone simply entered a room with him, and he made a major fuss over everything, including taking his medications and the bandage changes. Asking him to eat was sure to set him off.
Kevin looked up. He saw the red-haired girl with long braids walking around his house slowly, to peek around at him.
"Oh, hey there." She said, walking around fully so she could be seen as a whole. She wore a thick coat that hung open to reveal a pair of denim overalls with a daisy decal on the chest and a hot-pink turtleneck. She wore big heavy black boots and a yellow knit hat over her once again braided behind each ear hair.
"What are you doing here?" Kevin asked, looking as grumpy as he sounded despite the bright sunshine he was sitting in. His arms were resting on his wheelchair armrest, his chin was pointed down so that he was looking at her with an angry brow, and the scowl on his face only just hid the pain he was in.
"I was worried about you." She said, her voice high and girlish. "I haven't seen you in school for three weeks and when I saw you last week on your front porch I realized why. What happened?" she asked.
"What do you care?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" she asked innocently, walking a little loser, her hands behind her back.
"I mean what I said. What do you care what happened to me, or why I have not been to that horrible school?" he asked, still scowling up at her with his bruised looking eyes as she approached.
"Be cause I was worried."
"Because I feared something bad had happened to you."
"Because maybe I like you." She said, successfully shutting him up. "And maybe because I saw a story about you on the news with my mom and she asked me to bring you these." She said, holding her hands out to reveal and present to him a cellophane-wrapped plate of cookies. Kevin looked at them, then up at the girl, then at the cookies before sighing and taking them from her, placing them on his lap and putting his arms back on the armrests of his chair.
"Were you really attacked by a bear?" she asked.
"That's what they told me." He said dismissively.
"You mean you don't know?" she asked.
"I was a little preoccupied with the attack to notice." He said, sounding grumpy.
"Alright, alright, no need to get all bent out of shape." She said.
"What?" he asked. She just smiled and shook her head.
"What night were you attacked? They news article did not say."
"Friday night. Three weeks ago." He said.
"The sixth?" she asked.
"I can't say that I really know the specifics." He said.
"Oh, I just remember that date because it was the full moon." She said, looking at him. He lifted his eyes to look at her, a look that was none-too-friendly. "It's just a funny coincidence right? You were attacked on the full moon in an area that has never had a bear attack in its history? Makes you wonder if it was really a bear is all." she said, laughing light and girlish.
"I'm glad you are finding my pain so fucking humorous." He snapped, causing her laughter to die instantaneously.
"No, no, that is not what I meant. I'm sorry." She said, looking at him with sincere apology all over her face.
"What are you still doing here?" he asked.
"It seems to me that you need a little company is all. I also wanted to apologize for Eric. He's an asshole." She said.
"I don't want him sending people to apologize for him, and I have company already. Thank you." He snapped.
"He did not send me. I just felt back because he was being a dick to you, but honestly, I thought you were a nicer guy than this. And what company? You mean that dog that won't come out of his house?" she asked, the first hint on anger in her voice.
"Just go away." he said, handing her back the cookies with a glare. She put her hands up and refused them.
"I'm not a taker-backer." She said, stepping backwards from him with her hands still up. "I know now it's because you are sick that you are like this. So I will forgive you." She said, walking backwards still. Kevin, unable to hold the plate up with his weak and bandaged arms, placed it back on his lap, but looked angry still. Lissa was backing up and neared a little too close to Charley's doghouse.
Lissa let out a surprised scream as Charley rushed out at her, barking like mad, foam and slobber dripping from his jaws, pulling his thick chain taught as he tried to bite her. Lissa ran away from the dog and Kevin looked surprised.
"Charley, Charley. Down!" he shouted, but the dog paid him no mind. Lissa looked at the dog, then to Kevin, then to the mad-barking dog again.
"I will come by again tomorrow Kevin." She said.
"Why?" he called after her as she walked away.
"Because it looks like you need a friend." She said, not looking back, disappearing around the house.
"Hello Mrs. Kevin's mom, Ma'am."
"Hello Lissa." Kevin's mother smiled as she answered the door and let Lissa in.
"Is Kevin home?" she asked, light and girlish.
"For one more day at least." His mom said heavily.
"He getting more sicker still?" she asked.
"I'm afraid so. If he does not get drastically better by tomorrow I am checking him back into the hospital." She said while looking up the stairs. She then glanced back down at Lissa. "I know he doesn't seem very appreciative of your visits but I know he is grateful to have a friend come around." His mother said, feeling bad, knowing how cold Kevin had been to not only her, but Lissa as well.
"It's alright. He's a boy. They are supposed to be jerks." Lissa said with a big grin.
Kevin lay in bed, in his bedroom. His scarf was gripped in his right hand while he lay there, staring up at the ceiling with his bloodshot and bruised eyes. He could not walk, sitting exhausted him, and he was sicker than ever before. His mother was going to check him back in to the hospital and he was furious with her. He did not want to go back there. He didn't care how sick he got; he did not want to stay in the hospital again.
He hated hospitals.
There was a knock at the door as it opened. Lissa poked her head in and smiled at him.
"Afternoons Kevin." She said.
"Not you again." He said and she ignored him. She had gotten that same greeting every day for the last week from him.
"I brought you your missed school work." She said, setting a huge pile of worksheets down on his bedside table and standing there, smiling. "The class and our teachers also signed this." She said, holding out a card that read "Peas get well soon" and had a bunch of beat up and sick looking little peas in a pod on the cover. Kevin looked at it and without opening it and reading any of the messages he just let it fall out of his hand and onto the floor. Lissa did not let it get her down though.
"Oops." She said with a smile. "Don't worry about it. I'll get it for you later." She said.
"What do you want?" Kevin asked, turning his head away so he did not have to look at her smiling round face and pink cheeks. Her green eyes were so shiny with laughter, her teeth bared in a giddy grin, her red hair loose and curling around her face and down her back. She wore a little green plaid jumper, white leggings, and black buckle shoes. She was cute.
He did not think she was cute however. She was annoying. All girls were icky and annoying...even when they were cute. Not that he thought she was cute.
"I wanted to give you your school work, to show you the card, and to see you." She said simply, smiling sweetly while he refused to look.
"Why?" he asked.
"You know, I have been visiting you for a week and the only things I have heard you say are "Why" and "go away"…honestly, do you know how to say anything else?" she asked, putting her hands on her hips.
"Go to hell?" he offered.
"Very funny." She said. "What if I told you mom you said that to me? Sick or not I'm sure she would wash your mouth out with soap." She said.
"You come here every day. Why?" he asked.
"Be cause I like you." She said simply with a grin.
"You don't know me." He said.
"So?" she replied.
Kevin shook his head.
"I am really not feeling well today Lissa. Please…"
"You know what tonight is?" she asked.
"Sunday." He answered.
"The full moon." She said.
"You really have a prevalent fixation with the full moon don't you." He said, eying her.
"I think you will too." She said.
"Really. And why is that?" Kevin asked sarcastically.
"Because of your attack." She said.
"Oh, right, because I'm a Werewolf." He said, rolling his eyes. "I forgot…you are completely mental."
"Is it crazy to think it?" she asked.
"Yes." He said simply.
"Why?" she asked, for once being the one with that short, one word question.
"Because they don't exist!" He said harshly.
"Says who?" Lissa retorted.
"I was attacked by a bear you loony girl! You don't become a Werewolf because of a bear bite, or a bog bit, or any kind of bite, because they don't exist." He said.
"I told my aunt about you." Lissa said.
"She is a Vampire." Lissa said matter-of-factly.
"Oh god, here we go…" Kevin said, turning his head away from Lissa again.
"No, listen to me! She is a Vampire, and she got a call about you from a Witch that works at the hospital you were taken to. She called and told my aunt that a boy had been attacked, possibly by a Werewolf."
"So let me get this straight." Kevin interrupted. "Your aunt is a Vampire, a Witch works at the hospital I was at, and I'm now a Werewolf?" he asked.
"Yes." She said angrily, knowing he did not believe her.
"I have a high fever, so I have an reason behind my delusions. What is your excuse?" he asked, rolling his head to look at her now.
"I'm not crazy. Listen. I talked to my aunt about you. Witches are coming for you tonight." She said.
"Really? Why not UFOs?" Kevin mocked.
"I'm being serious Kevin! They will come for you tonight so you can transform in a safe house." She said.
"Yeah, they will gather me up, along with the Abominable Snowman, and some Fairies." He said.
"Why are you so unwilling to believe me? Or at least listen?" she demanded.
"I had to bury my dog!" he suddenly shouted.
Lissa was caught off guard and looked shocked.
"Charley went nuts and tried to attack me when I was outside yesterday. Grandpa had to kill him to prevent him from hurting me or anyone else." Kevin said, the first signs of sorrow in his angry face showing in his eyes.
"Charley was always such a gentle dog." Kevin sobbed. "He never hurt anyone or anything in his life. I can't understand what happened to him." He cried.
"It's they Lycanthropy. It drives animals mad. It makes people meaner too." She said.
"OH, will you shut up please about all that already and give it a bloody rest?" he demanded.
"My father got me Charley as a Christmas gift when I was a lad. I have lost my father, my friends, my home, and now my dog! I now live halfway around the world from all I have ever known, and what happens the moment I get here? A bloody bear tries to eat me!" he shouted.
"I'm so sorry Kevin." Lissa said, looking close to tears herself.
"Why do these things have to happen? He cried.
"I'm sorry he yelled at you like that Lissa." Kevin's mom said as she bid Lissa good night.
"You heard him?" she asked.
"It was not hard to overhear him when he yells." She said, sounding so sad. "It's because of Charley. He took his father's death so badly, and moving here was rough on him, and with the attack? Loosing Charley was just the straw that broke the camel's back, you know?" she said, dabbing at her nose with a tissue.
"If I could promise you that Kevin will be alright, would you believe me?" she asked. His mother smiled.
"I would like to believe it to say the least."
"You don't need to worry about him too much longer Mrs. Von Lunis. Kevin will be better. Give him a week." She said.
"Alright Lissa." His mom said, looking like she was humoring her all the while longing so much for it to be true.
Kevin panted and held in moans while his body was wet with sweat. It was almost full dark and Lissa had been gone for a little more than an hour. His mother would be bringing him dinner soon but he did not want her seeing him like this. She would take him to the hospital. He did not want to go back to the hospital. His father had died there.
Swallowing a wave of vomit Kevin sobbed. His body ached so fiercely that he was sure he would pass out soon. He welcomed that if it relieved him of some of the agony, but he did not want to wake up in a white hospital room again.
Moaning Kevin rolled over on to his side despite the pain it caused him. His internal pain was so much worse that what he felt in his skin and muscle.
What was happening? Had something ruptured? Had a clot torn? A popped stitch? An infection? What?
Letting out a sudden gasp from his throat he gripped his shirt over his chest tight and pulled. It hurt so badly. Tears were streaking down his cheeks is a steady flow as he fought not to scream.
"Oh…god…" He gasped, a tremor sliding through him from head to toe. His body growing stiff.
"Kevin?" the distant call of his mother from down stairs wafted up to him. "Kevin? Is everything alright?" she asked.
"I'm fine. Fine!" Kevin shouted back, the effort it took him not to scream in agony right then exhausting. The effort and fear in his voice was evident though and his mother noticed.
"I'm fine. Really!" he shouted, now crying and unable to stop himself. His mother was outside his door.
"Kev." She said, opening the door and gasping, hand shooting up to her mouth when she saw him. "Oh my god, Kevin!" she shouted, running over to him and falling to her knees at his bedside, grabbing his shoulders tight and giving his a shake, his eyes rolling back into his head. There was blood on the bedding, from torn stitches in his side.
"Oh my god, oh my god," she panted, over and over.
Hands shaking so bad she dropped the receiver twice before being able to hold it. His mother started to dial 911 but before she could ever get her shaky thumb to hit the 9 the phone rang, ripping a scream from her throat. She managed to hit the "talk" button and gasped into the phone.
"Hello?" she managed.
"Mrs. Von Lunis?"
It was Lissa.
"Lissa, darling, I can't talk with you right now. I need to use the phone. Kevin is very sick…"
"I know Ma'am. My aunt is a doctor and I called he when I got home. She is at your house now if you would invite her in." Lissa said calmly.
"Oh, my, thank you Lissa. God bless you." She said, hanging up the phone. Looking back at Kevin for only a second as his body remained stiff as a board and his breathing labored, she ran from the room, down the stairs, and to the front door. Swinging it wide open she discovered a man and a woman standing there in the dusk.
"Evening." The man said.
"Thank god you are here, doctors?" she asked and they both nodded mutely. "It's my son. He is very sick. Please, come in, please." She said, stepping back to allow the two in.
"It's very good of you to invite us in. Where is the boy?" the woman asked.
"Upstairs, I will take you too him." She said.
"No, no, I will go alone. You stay here with Dr. Kaplan." The woman said. The man placed his hand on Kevin's mother's shoulder and she became instantly relaxed.
"I will gather the boy. Modify her memory, and be quick about it. He will change soon." The man said.
The Vampire did not need telling twice, she could sense the Werewolf above them just as easily as the Witch could. Without hesitation she rushed up the stairs in a blur of speed and turned directly into the boy's room. There she found him in the first stages of the transformation of the newly infected. Bloody foam was dripping from his mouth while his eyes were rolled back and eyelids fluttering. His chest was moving up and down rapidly in loud labored breathing; his body was stiff while his back was arched up off the mattress. No wonder people who came across such a thing thought the new Werewolf was a person possessed. He did resemble something demonic, though it would only become more intense the more he shifted.
Moving over to the bed she scooped up Kevin in her arms as if the boy weighed nothing, but did struggle at the stiffness of his boy and how fragile she knew he was.
"I have him Kaplan." She called while walking down the stairs, turned so as to not bump Kevin's feet or head on the wall on the way down.
"Good. The mother is sleeping, believing she took him to a private hospital earlier. Let's go." He said, looking down at the little boy and pausing. "He is so young." He said.
"I know. But we must get moving. We have less than fifteen minutes." The Vampire said.
Kevin, in the form of a massive, nearly black, wolf, ran down the dark and quiet residential street. It was not that late, but thankfully, it being a Sunday night, not too many people were out or on their way home from work.
He stopped and sniffed here and there, but otherwise moved with great swiftness down the street, across lawns, over fences with graceful leaps. He was thirsty after his change and the first thing he wanted was water, then he would get the next thing his body needed.
Finding his way into someone's backyard he found a small pond with large goldfish swimming in it. Crouching down low on his haunches, shoulder blades sticking up, he lowered his head and started lapping in the ice cold water quickly. He guzzled down the water, feeling so dehydrated from the change he did not realize he had even gone through.
Kevin was no longer "home." He was not at the helm. The beast, his beast, was in control. His beast had taken care of his thirst, and now was looking for a way to deal with its hunger.
"How could this have happened?" Kaplan asked, looking at the back of their van. It had been done up to look like an ambulance, and it was convincing, if it weren't for the fact that the back end was actually just a steal reinforced cage on the inside, and with the back end torn open like a can that had lost a fight with a lawnmower, everyone would be able to see it for what it really was.
"He was stronger than we had anticipated, and he changed so much quicker than he had counted on." The Vampire said.
"Damn it Amanda! He is going to kill someone!" Kaplan shouted.
"Just relax. We will accomplish nothing by panicking or yelling at each other. We are three blocks from the safe house. Radio in with what happened and have help sent out. I will track him and see if I cannot stop him from eating someone." She said, hurrying off while shouting back at him.
Kevin swallowed the piece of dog he had just ripped off the bone. The Golden Retriever had had no chance while chained up in his fenced in back yard. Now it was dead, its blood all over the grass, its insides now outside as Kevin devoured it, satisfying his hunger the transformation had brought on.
The cracking of ribs was wet and loud in the quiet night air as he buried his muzzle deeper into the dog. Kevin was new, young, and stupid, but his hearing was still sensitive, so he looked up when he heard the Vampire.
She stood atop the tall wooden fence like it was just any other piece of ground. Her eyes were glowing green in the darkness, her long red hair flowing in the wind, the rest of her body in black and blending in well with the darkness around her.
"Kevin. Bad dog." She said, scolding. Kevin growled, baring his bloody teeth and crouching low.
The Vampire rushed him and Kevin did not have a chance given how young and new he was. He was small for a Werewolf. He was only just larger that a real wolf, but given a few years and he would be the size of a pony. Kevin growled and snarled as he struggled, but the Vampire was superhuman strong too. She gave him a quick squeeze to show him she was serious and he let out an involuntary squeak at the air in his lungs escaped him.
Using her mind she contacted those searching for them. She willed them to know where she was, and within a moment two much older Vampires with the ability to skip appeared on either side of her, prepared to take the pup from her.
"Take care of him." She said as the one Vampire left with him by means of another skip, the other sticking around to examine her wounds she had received from the struggling Lycanthrope.
Kevin moaned and rolled over, feeling like he was out of place. Not only was he on a much harder surface that his bed –the last place he remembered being- but he was also lying on his stomach, something he hadn't been able to do since his attack. Eyes popping open, the thought that he was not at home becoming clear, the idea that he was in a hospital causing him to go into a panic.
"Good afternoon Kevin" came a young girl's voice. He knew the voice.
"Lissa?" he asked, his voice so raw that he had to try and force it out. That hurt so he tried to swallow but that only hurt worse.
"That's-a-me." She said happily.
"What, what are you doing here? Where am I?" he asked, looking around and realizing then that he was naked but for a blanket that had been thrown over him. "And where are my clothes?" he asked, his raw voice rising slightly.
Lissa giggled at him.
"You're clothes are gone. Torn to shreds and in the trash, as are your casts and bandages." She said.
"Why? Where am I?" he asked again, hugging the blanket around him.
"You are at the Safe House I was telling you about last night." She said. "Can you remember last night yet?" she asked softly.
"No, I…I can't remember." He said, frowning his brow.
"Well, you will, in a little time. You were brought here by my aunt Amanda." She said.
"Why?" Kevin asked.
"You really like that word, don't you."
"I think it is the best word for the situation, yes. Now what the bloody hell is going on?"
"Just calm down." Lissa said with a smile. "I'll tell you." She said, sitting down on the floor with Kevin, to explain to him again what she had tried to explain to him the night before. Maybe now that he wasn't in so much pain, and he wasn't so mean now that his beast was released, he would hear her out.
"That's not possible." Kevin said, shaking his head, pacing back and forth in the little room that had no windows and but one door that looked like it was bombproof.
"Then how do you explain your ability to walk now when you were confined to a wheelchair last night?" Lissa pointed out, drawing Kevin's attention for the first time to what exactly he was doing. Kevin paused to look down at himself. Looking to Lissa for a second he then turned his back to her and stuck his arms out so as to hold open his blanket and look down at his self. There he found himself nude and scarred, but otherwise undamaged. The nasty incisions and bite wounds that had covered his entire left side were now just raw pink scar tissue. His legs were steady and firm beneath him, no signs of having been broken. He could breathe easily, no more broken ribs or bruised lung. Other than feeling cold, shaky, tired, and hungry, he actually felt pretty good.
"They had to come in after you changed back to remove the last of the stitches that had not been torn out when you transformed. Now that you are healed there is no need for them." She said.
"This is…impossible." He said, closing his blanket and turning around to face Lissa full on, shock evident on his face.
"It is never an easy thing to break this sort of news to someone, and it is even harder to try and explain." She said heavily. I am not the one that will help you there." She said.
"Then why are you here?" he asked.
"Because we never let a Werewolf wake up for the first time alone, and I knew you would appreciate waking up this time with someone you know loves you." She said with a smile.
"You will have to wear these casts until the next moon. We will then cut them off and let you shift." The Witch said as he expertly wrapped Kevin's arm and legs in identical casting materials as he had worn before. Kevin nodded quickly, silent and a little wide-eyed. "We will then put new ones on for a few more weeks, just enough time for people in your life to believed you healed." He said. "Don't worry about your doctors, their records and memories will be modified. This safe house acts as a "private hospital" as far as anyone is concerned, so we will be your "doctors" from now on and will be seeing you regularly to keep up appearances with your family." He said. Kevin nodded and then opened his mouth, a croak escaping him. The Witch looked at him and Kevin snapped his mouth shut quickly before trying to talk again.
"So, you, you do this often?" he asked.
"Oh, yes." The Witch said with a smile while looking down at Kevin's leg. "Most people who are infected are infected through a violent attack and none of the family, or even the victim, know what a Lycanthrope is. They are in rough shape and are often still in the hospital when their first shift is approaching. We have to have the victim moved to our facilities so that they can shift safely, thus why we front as a specialized private hospital, and since a Lycan can heal so quickly after their first shift, it is an important part of our discretion policy to cover it up." He said.
"Discretion policy?" Kevin asked quietly.
"Yes. Both us Witches and the Vampires follow the code of Discretion." He explained. "We cover up all possible leaks of our existence and never ever reveal ourselves or showoff our powers. To expose our nature –whatever it may be- to a mortal is a betrayal of us all. Normal Humans don't know about us, and we of the Paranatural community intend on it staying that way." He said.
"Why?" Kevin asked, feeling a little lightheaded every time it was implied that he was no longer a "normal Human" or even just plain "Human."
"Well, because people wouldn't handle it well." He said.
"How do you know how they would react and handle it?"
"You ever heard of the Salome Witch Hunt? All the superstition that surrounds the Vampires? Witch burnings? The horrific and violent stories that involve Werewolves carrying off and eating people's babies?" he asked. Kevin's eyes were wide –showing a little too much white- while he nodded mutely. "Well, you can see, Humans have a very strong preconceived notion of what we are and what we are like."
"Some are based off of singular true events regarding one of our own that is then blown out of proportion and wrapped up in superstition and folklore. Sometimes Humans make things up as a way of scaring others into following them or acting a certain way, or to explain things they don't or can't understand. Humans simply fear what they do not understand." He said.
"I'm afraid. I'm really afraid." Kevin said, hugging himself with his newly bandaged arms.
"Don't be. You are among good people here." he said with a smile.
"What will I tell m mother?" Kevin asked.
"Well," the Witch said slowly, considering his words carefully. "Normally we rule against telling family members of a person's condition like Lycanthropy. Too easily spread that news. But you are a minor, and therefore we would want go to the parents with this. If the news is not received well however, their memory of the event is altered and the condition is kept secret."
"My mother will not take it well." Kevin said heavily, shaking his head and looking down.
"What makes you think that?"
"My father died of cancer three months ago. She was, is a mess because of it. She has been a wreck ever since my attack, fearing she would lose me too. She would not take well to the idea that her son has some incurable disease," he said sadly at the last, feeling sick to his stomach.
"Hey, hey, don't get down on yourself like that." The Witch said, placing his hand under Kevin's chin and tilting it up. "We don't call it a "disease" here. That is a nasty word. We call it a condition." He said.
"Why not an affliction?" Kevin asked, looking down and tilting his head away.
"This is all very new to you and I understand you predicament. But please Kevin, understand that were are here to help and give support."
"Who did this to me?" he asked suddenly, eyes fierce when they locked with the Witch's. The Witch said nothing. "Who is it that attacked me that night and did this to me?" he demanded.
"Kevin, knowing won't change anything. The one responsible was caught and is being dealt with…"
"Where are they?" he nearly shouted. The Witch sighed. He knew he would have to take Kevin to see his attacker.
"Let me out of here you scum sucking maggots!" the man shouted, pulling at the chains that restrained him, shouting out through the bars of the cage that contained him. He could barely move the chains held him so tight, attached to a collar and bolted to the floor.
"Let me out and I promise your deaths will be quick!" he shouted as the cell door opened and Kevin stepped in limping, not from pain, but because of how limited his movement was with both his legs in a length of cast. One was over the knee and left his leg stiff, the other ended just below the knee, at least allowing him to bend that one and walk. The man in the cage, surprised by seeing the young boy, stopped shouting for a moment. The Witch followed in after Kevin and closed the door behind him.
"This some fresh meat for me? I am rather hungry." The caged man finally asked, regaining his violent composure now that there was a recognizable Witch in the room.
"Kevin, this is McClain. He is a Werewolf from the Vampire city Carthage." He said.
"That's right, McClain at your service. What can I do for you strega?" he asked.
"You don't have to talk to him Kevin, but he is the one. So now you know." The Witch said, leaning down to speak into Kevin's ear from behind. Even though Kevin was only twelve, he was exceptionally tall ad the man did not have to lean down as much as over. A few more inches and Kevin would be six feet.
"I can hear you strega." The man in the cage shouted. The Witch ignored him. Kevin looked over his shoulder at the Witch as he continued to lean and whispered.
"What is a strega?" he asked.
"It is a not so nice term for a Witch. Don't worry about it." The Witch said, gesturing Kevin to move on, move forward, with his hands.
"McClain?" Kevin asked, stepping awkwardly forward just a little, careful to stay far out of reach from the bars of the cage.
"Yes strega?" he asked.
"I just wanted to see you, meet you." He said.
"Well, I am flattered." He said.
"Do you remember me?" Kevin asked.
"Can't say I do, but you know, when you are popular, it's hard to put the right name to a face." He said wistfully.
"I met you last month." He said.
"Well, I bet I was a little more imposing then, given my current situation now." He said, tugging on a chain again.
"I met you on the full moon." Kevin said. The man in the cage stopped moving to look right at Kevin then.
"You are the boy I attacked. You are the reason I am in here."
"You have no one to blame for that but yourself, McClain." The Witch said from further back, knowing the man was ready to imply that it was Kevin's fault he was locked in that cage at the moment.
"What were you doing out there that night boy?" McClain demanded suddenly. Kevin took a step back. "What were you doing out there, in the woods, at night?" he shouted.
"I was staying at my grandfather's cabin…"
"But why did you have to be out in the woods boy? Why did you have to show up in the area I retreated to to shift?"
"If you accepted our help and used a safe house to shift none of this would have happened." The Witch interjected.
"Don't talk to me strega!" the man shouted. "I would never accept help from a Witch!" he shouted more, tugging at his chains. Kevin backed up more to almost stand beside the Witch.
"I did not seek you out boy! I was alone, in a wooded area that never had anyone around. Not at this time of year! What were you doing there? Why did you have to go in the woods?" he asked, looking angry and even a little sad at the same time. Kevin just shook his head, turned, and fled from the room. He did not want to look at the man anymore.
He did not want to look at the man that was to be executed because he had been foolish and gone out into the woods that night.
"Hello Mrs. Kevin's mom, Ma'am. Is Kevin here?"
"Hello Lissa, yes, he is up in his room." Kevin's mother said warmly as she welcomed Lissa into her home with a smile.
Lissa skipped up the stairs and did not even bother knocking on Kevin's door. She burst in with her contagious energy; wide smile in place; arms out in presentation.
"Hellooooo Kevin!" she said cheerily. She was dressed in another jumper, this time denim, a white turtleneck that kept her warm in the cold autumn days, and white leggings that had tiny pink flowers stitched throughout them like tiny specks from a distance. Her hair was down and curling softly down her back, pushed back from her face with a plastic pink headband that clashed with the red of her hair just slightly.
"Hello Lissa," Kevin said, standing on his bed, still wrapped up in casts, hanging a poster on his wall.
"Kevin, what are you doing? If your mom or grandparents catch you up and about like that your cover will be blown and my aunt and the Witches will have to come here and try and adjust their memories, and I have already told you what sort of bad complications arise when a person's memory is modified too often." She said, placing her hands on her hips.
"Alright, alright, don't get your knickers in a bunch." He said, sitting down on his bed, left leg sticking out, stiff in its cast.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, stepping further into the room.
"Other than a bad case of cabin fever? Fine. My mother wont leave me at peace either. Thinks my recovery is miraculous and wont stop going on and on about you and how you "saved my life" and stuff."
"I know your mother adores me." Lissa said with a confident smile.
"Yeah, well, she is the only one, trust me. I think you are annoying." Kevin said with a smile.
"I brought you your school work." Lissa said with a grin, holding out a stack of worksheets from her backpack she had just slung off her shoulder to dig through while it sat on the floor.
"Oh, joy." Kevin said with a sigh.
"Well, you have missed so much class, I doubt you will be able to do the work on your own, so I have volunteered to be your tutor until you are able to return to school." She said with a smile. "I arranged it already with our teacher." She explained while still holding the papers out.
"You're kidding me." Kevin said, looking at her with something close to horror evident on his face.
"A study-buddy if you will." She smiled.
"How long will I have to put up with you?" he asked.
"Everyday until you are all better. Then you will just have to put up with me everyday in class, the bus ride home, and whenever your mother invites me over given how much she adores me." Lissa said with a giggle.
"I won't ever be rid of you, will I?" Kevin asked, scraping his fingers down his face while he looked up at his ceiling.
"Not a chance in hell." Lissa said while tossing her backpack onto the bed so that it thumped against the wall and sitting beside Kevin, closer than was necessary given the size of the bed.
He would not admit he enjoyed her company…occasionally, or that he thought she was cute…kind of.