Falling Skies and Rising Tides

Hey readers, it's the author and I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1: I'd Ask for Your Autograph, But You're Bleeding Out

I had always wanted to be a hero, dreamed of saving the day and helping people. Boy, what a silly dream. Being a hero, it's dangerous, nobody cares if you're young, or still finding your way. It's always on you, the pressure, the eyes. The burden. I don't want anyone to make my mistakes.

If you're a fan of the great and mystical Healer, cool, awesome. Pleased to make your acquaintance. If you're reading this in hopes of learning how to become a hero.

Shut this book right now and go lead an ordinary life, no matter how boring. Being a Hero is lonely, it's painful, and there's a reason most heroes from old are painted as tragedies, because they are tragedies.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

My name is Emma Blake. I'm fourteen years old and live in the bright town of Oceanview. A town where every shop is family run and everybody knows everybody. Unless, of course, you're me.

You see, I tend to be a little forgettable. Not sure why even my parents and friends struggle sometimes. It's, well today is a good example.

We were sitting in English class, waiting for the last bell to ring. Ms. Kerri was trying to assign an essay for over the weekend, but it seemed no one, including myself, was going to listen. Fine by me, she had this vendetta to get me to pass English with an A, but I'm just not good at it.

Ms. Kerri was this nice lady, who came into the classroom once a month and challenged us to speak like Shakespeare for the class. She always wore shirts with cheesy jokes on them or wacky patterns. She has grey streaks in her hair, but I never think of her as old, she's just too youthful for it. She's always so caring, and always seems to know what's happening.

"Have a good weekend everybody, and don't forget your homework." She smiled at the groans she got in answer, and just as I was about to dodge out with everybody else. "Miss Blaze, a word."

"Blake." I corrected, turning to sit back down. Ms. Kerri cursed. "Suffering Shakespeare! I'll get it eventually Miss Blake."

She smiled warmly and tapped her fingers on her desk, just looking at me for a moment. It made me squirm a bit, it felt like she was looking for something, and I wasn't supplying it. "You wanted to see me, Ms. Kerri?"

That seemed to snap her out of, whatever that was. She blinked and straighten up, brushing out the wrinkles from her shirt that read SHAKESPEARE'S NOT PRETENTIOUS, YOU ARE. It took me a moment to realize she was speaking as I pondered her shirt. "Yes, right, lost myself for a moment, I just realized you remind me of someone I know."

She paused giving me one more once over before finally seeming to move past it. "I wanted to ask how you were adjusting to life at home. It's not every day your mother gets a promotion, to a new branch."

The question floored me a little. Here was a teacher, that couldn't even get my name right most days, asking about my home life. Alright, I thought. She's just curious, small town and all that. "It's fine, Mom really likes the new branch, and Dad's taking advantage of the free time to wander around and meet people. It's—"

I wanted to say lonely, a big empty house. Somedays I didn't even know what to do with myself. Of course, I wasn't about to tell Ms. Kerri that she was nice, but I barely knew her. I settled instead for the word. "Different."

Ms. Kerri's smile got all sad, like she knew exactly what I had wanted to say. To the point that I wondered for a moment if I had accidentally said it out loud. "Alright, but if you need anything, don't hesitate, I'm always around if you need some help."

With that strange, and out of place worry and conversation done, I bolted. Racing out of the school, and down the front steps to see if I could catch up to my best friend Rachel. It turns out I didn't need to go farther than the courtyard out front, because there she was waiting.

Rachel has been my best friend ever since the day I tripped and messed up one of her paintings, so in retaliation, she rubbed her paint pallet all over my face. She had this bright, fiery red mane of curls that she hid things in, and these eyes, that just had this look about them, I couldn't even tell you the color, but I know they have this spark of life that's unforgettable.

Rachel waved, flashing a white grin at me, then proceeding to realize she had paint on her arm and attempting to wipe it off on her overalls. Only succeeding in becoming more covered in it. "Hey, what took you so long, I've been waiting for like, ever."

I rolled my eyes at her. "You mean ten minutes? Ms. Kerri wanted a word, that's all. You just get out of the studio? It looks like someone used you as a canvas." She huffed, her usually good posture slumping into a look of defeat. "I tried to give some new guy a hand, don't know why, he's such a jerk."

Rachel then launched into the story of how she selflessly went to help the new boy, Mickey, find his way around, and then ended up covered in his canvas while the guy called himself a master of the renaissance. She then complained about him for the rest of the walk home. "Um. Rach? Not that I don't care, and support you, but we're at your stop."

She blinked, whipping around to see her house standing beside us. "Oh."

She suddenly looked very guilty, turning back to me she pulled on a piece of her hair. "I'm so sorry Emma, I didn't mean to talk the whole time! He just- "

She cut herself off, her eyes burned, and she buried her hands in her hair pulling a bit. Before she could start all over again, or maybe tempt me into the house with the promise of her dad's homemade pie. I jumped in. "Don't worry about it, I like hearing about your day, and we can talk later."

She glanced back at me, the fire in her eyes dying and her hands falling. Looking guilty once more she asked me. "You sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure, I have some errands to run, I'll text you later. Yeah?" Almost immediately she brightened up a bit. Nodding in agreement, we said our goodbyes and split off. Rachel to her house and me to my 'errands.'

My errands consisted of me staying out of my house as long as possible and hunting down the local hero, The Painted Lady.

The Painted Lady was a legend around the world, she moved from place to place, from time to time. She was known for her abilities to heal people who were in desperate need, and kick butt with some crazy cool water powers. Currently, she was in Oceanview, for whatever reason and this was my chance.

I had always dreamed of meeting her, getting her autograph, asking her questions. I've wanted to help people as long as I can remember, but how do you help someone when your own parents can barely remember your name at times. I wanted, no, needed to know how to be just like her. My hero.

I wandered around town for hours, the beach, the boardwalk, Main Street. You name it, I searched the place inch by inch. Nothing. Sitting back on the beach I watched the sun dip under the horizon, almost like the sea was extinguishing it.

It was almost dark, and both my parents would be home soon. With a sigh, I got up resigning myself to searching the town top to bottom again tomorrow. Until I was body-slammed into the sand by a low flying UFO.

I managed to peel my now throbbing head off the ground. "Ow."

Once my eyes were open though, the pain was gone, because in front of me was the Painted Lady, lying in the sand. I scurried over, managing to kneel next to her. After that, I didn't know what to do.

I didn't want to touch her, fearing it was a dream, or a hallucination, maybe she was. Maybe I was so busy looking I accidentally took one of Mr. Talsi's smoothies or something, the ones the high schoolers buy for parties. Maybe I fell asleep and a flying beaver would show up any second.

On the other hand, the Painted Lady wasn't moving. It barely looked like she was breathing. Okay Blake, you can do this, I told myself. You wanted to help people, start with your hero. I reached out to roll her over, before my hand could make contact, she jolted upright grabbing me. I screamed a little in surprise, wiggling to get loose, but her grip was firm.

"You-You must carry on." She wheezed. My brain shut down, probably a bad time to ask for that autograph.

I just looked at her, her breathing was ragged, and the white mask she was so well known for was shredded. She felt wet, and it took me a moment to connect that fact with the blade sticking out of her with a slowly blossoming dark red mark onto her clothing and probably me.

After figuring all of this out and realizing the fact my hero, my idol was dying my intelligent reply was. "Huh?"

She tried again. Pawing at something around her neck. "Carry on my legacy."

"We. We need to get you to the hospital." Finally, my brain kicked in, I tried to put pressure around the wound, and shifted a bit to support what weight I could from her. She just smiled, blood oozing out from between her teeth. She grasped my hand and pulled toward her neck. Laying it there, I felt something beneath her shirt, afraid it was choking her, I reached for it. Only to find a necklace. "Take it, you'll be fine chosen."

She was fading, and I realized. She was going to die in my arms. Oh God, what do I do? I looked up and called for help, but there was no one, some hero I am. I felt her hand once more in mine. While I was panicking the Painted Lady had gotten the necklace off. She pushed it in my hands. "I believe in you."

I was shaking. "Please."

What was I asking for? I don't know, but she seemed to understand. She just smiled. "The Fish."

I couldn't see now, I was crying, I was scared, someone was dying, and I was helpless to stop any of it. I wanted to be a hero, swoop in and save the day, I couldn't. "Don't die."

"It shows the way." She slowly relaxed, I fumbled blindly trying to do that thing where you check for a pulse. I was panicking, trying to remember how to breathe. Why couldn't I breathe. I don't remember after that.

I woke up all at once. That nightmare still playing in my head. I panicked a bit, searching myself over for blood, and evidence that I had practically killed the Painted Lady. Finding none I relaxed. Just a nightmare, I thought.

I chanted it in my mind all of Saturday morning. Just a nightmare. Just a nightmare, Just a nightmare. All through breakfast where I sat alone, through my morning routine of getting ready. At every turn, I said it until I almost convinced myself.

Almost.

Just a nightmare. Just a nightmare. Just a nightmare. I sat down at my desk. Phone in hand, ready to call Rachel and tell her about my vivid imagination. Until I saw a necklace sitting on my English textbook.

Green sea glass beads with a dulled golden pendant. Strange designs littered it, but that's not what made me run to the bathroom ready to hurl. It was the dried blood on it.

Kneeling over the toilet I tried my mantra again. Just a nightmare. Just a nightmare. Just a nightmare.

Until it wasn't.

I'll just leave this here, and the next chapter is currently being edited so be patient my pretties. 11/3/19