Whitney and her group face off against the Onyx Ravens
“Well, well, well,” Decker said as he entered the clearing. “If it isn’t li’l miss walking stick!”
Tommy had started to try and figure out a way around entering their ambush. To him it seemed utterly ridiculous to knowingly enter an ambush point when you knew exactly where the ambush point was. Whitney pointed out to him, however, that it didn’t matter one way or the other. She explained to him that his earlier point still applied. They couldn’t outrun them, and if they tried to maneuver away from them it would only serve to make them even madder than they already were. It was actually smarter to just fall into their trap and hope they could out talk their adversaries.
“Leave us alone Decker!” Riley commanded as the rest of Decker’s gang came out into the open. Every single one of them was armed with a Rattan Escrima staff and every single one of them was closing in on them as if the small group were a feast.
“I’ll leave you alone runt! As a matter of fact you can even run along if you want,” Decker informed her. “It’s her I want,” he added pointing toward Whitney.
“Decker … Man she didn’t know what she was doing. She’s blind and deaf,” Jacob cut in.
“Shut the fuck up,” he said as he turned back to Whitney. He took a step forward and looked at her suspiciously. “Blind and deaf?”
“Yeah, man. She’s both blind and deaf. She didn’t even realize what she was doing. She just reacted to some unknown person trying to grab her!”
“Oh, well I didn’t know that. I guess I’m totally being a jerk and over reacting,” he said. He stepped slightly aside and waved his arm in an ushering motion as if he were allowing them to pass.
“You mean we can go?” Jessica asked.
“FUCK NO YOU CAN’T GO! I’m not buying that blind and deaf bull shit! That bitch broke my nose and I’m gonna make her pay for it like I promised!” he said as he jabbed the end of his staff into the ground.
“Over my dead body,” Tommy said taking a step forward.
“Hey, fine! That can be arranged,” Decker said.
It was as Tommy made his statement and took his step forward that something changed in Whitney’s mind. The something that changed was inarticulate in its deion and was signified to Whitney by one lone, brown leaf and there was no doubt that it was driven by her sense of danger.
That one lone, brown leaf, twisting in the breeze, set against a backdrop of its green compatriots, all of which doing their own twisting, as if they were having a secret argument, like a kennel of dogs barking for attention. That one lone brown leaf, dancing on the end of its twig, hanging on for dear life, from a branch in its tree, like all of the other, greener leaves. Whitney’s mind (using Tommy’s vision and hearing) plucked the differing color of that single brown leaf, from its perch in the tree behind Decker, and she became aware of her awareness.
She wasn’t just aware of that one brown, dancing leaf. She was aware of every leaf on every tree that surrounded them, but it was more than even that. She was aware of every twig that lay carelessly around their feet, aware of every blade of grass that tickled every ankle that stood in the clearing, aware of every flinch on every face, and every subtle movement of every finger.
It wasn’t long before that Whitney had crossed the bridge by herself. She had been just as alone as that one brown leaf in her endeavor to cross, and her fear of crossing it and falling, had danced through her heart just like the leaves in the trees were dancing in the breeze, but all fear had left her. Fear was something she felt when she was at risk of humiliation, for her heart’s desire to make connections with other hearts, beat in her chest and in her mind.
But Whitney did not fear danger. She craved it.
“Wait!” Jacob cried out. “Did you mean it when you said that Riley could leave?”
Whitney was relieved to hear Jacob’s question, because his question was also a part of the plan that was beginning to form in her mind. The first step of that plan was to get everyone else out of that clearing.
But her reasoning for wanting them out wasn’t to keep them safe. They were in no danger and her heart knew that. They were as safe as babies in a nursery that was staffed with expert nurses, because they were with Whitney, and as long as they were with her no harm would come to any of them. She would make sure of that.
So the reason that she wanted them out wasn’t to protect them from Decker and his gang. The reason she wanted them out was to protect them from what they would see if they stayed, and to protect her and Tommy’s secret. The secret of what they could do was still a sacred secret.
A smile crossed Decker’s face, brightening it temporarily, erasing the darkness that lie inside his heart, and disguising his intentions. “Yes,” he said genuinely. “All of you are free to go. All of you except for her.”
Whitney had no doubt that this part was true because she could see the intelligence behind Decker’s eyes as easily as she could see that one brown leaf as it danced behind him, and over his shoulder. She couldn’t see his plans specifically, but she knew he had them, and she knew that if it were her that were in his shoes, she would want to minimize the risks--the fewer the adversaries inside of the clearing the fewer the potential threats. He would allow the others to leave, but not because he had empathy for them.
“Go,” Tommy said to the others. He motioned to each of them individually, encouraging them to make like the trees that encapsulated them and leave.
Riley was the first to take flight. The fear in her eyes engulfed her face, making it look wider than it really was, as her feet began to move in wide sweeping strides, carrying her body along with them, increasing in their speed as she went. Whitney’s awareness stayed with Riley as she fled. She was prepared to react if she needed to. She was prepared to defend the girl that she was becoming fond of, but Decker kept his word and allowed her to go.
Jacob and Jessica followed suit.
What are you going to do Whitney, Tommy asked her. And don’t say nothing, because I can feel the anger building inside of you.
But Tommy was misinterpreting her emotions. She didn’t feel angry. She felt aware. She felt her heart thumping in her chest. She felt alive, and she knew in her heart that she was about to live in a way that she had never lived before.
Up until that point Whitney’s plan was executing itself without any effort on her part at all. Riley, Jacob, and Jessica had all extricated themselves from the clearing. They were safe from what they would see.
But there were parts of the plan that she would have to bring into being. Altogether, Decker had six cronies, standing at the ready, gripping their staffs in eager anticipation, not knowing how they would get to use them, not caring whether or not the damage they would inflict would be permanent. But what they didn’t know was that they would inflict no damage on anyone because Whitney was aware and her awareness was achieving levels that none of them could ever understand.
The first to go down would be the crony on Decker’s left. The simple minded kid, wearing his greed like a farmer wears a cap to block the sun from his eyes, the muscled kid, building his strength from hard work and a rigorous life, the determined kid, trying desperately to fit in with the group that he had chosen, the unpredictable kid, wanting to impress the one that stood next to him. He would be the first to go down because Whitney recognized that taking him first and doing it easily would cause Decker to act with discretion.
There were three that wouldn’t have to go down at all. That was another advantage to taking out Mr. Simple minded first. She could see it in their eyes as well. They were there because he was there. They would act because he was acting and they were confident because he was confident. Decker was no doubt their leader and they would follow whatever orders he gave them, but their respect wasn’t limited to Decker. It also extended to Mr. Simple.
The crony behind her would be the second to go down because taking down Mr. Simple would send him into a rage. Mr. Simple was his younger brother and it was his duty to protect him from danger even though the real danger was at home, coming in the form of a bottle, gripped in a drunken fist.
Nothing, Whitney said. Until after you leave.
Leave? Tommy inquired. I’m not going anywhere.
Go, she answered him gently. You are not ready and if you stay I might not be able to protect you.
But it wasn’t Decker that she couldn’t protect him from and it wasn’t his cronies. It was her that she couldn’t protect him from, but it wasn’t physical harm that would come to him. Whitney’s awareness wasn’t limited to the things and people that stood in the clearing. Her awareness extended deep into the sub-consciousness of both herself and of Tommy. And she saw things that he had been keeping from her. She saw his deepest secrets and she saw the locked door that Tommy had been keeping buried deep within his mind. He was telling himself that the locked door was to protect Whitney from a truth that he didn’t think that she could handle, but what that door was really protecting himself was the truth that he couldn’t handle. That truth was about to be exposed and Tommy wasn’t ready to see it.
Decker stood, glaring at Tommy, chest rising and lowering with rhythmic repetition, covering a quick beating heart, waiting for his decision to stay or go like the others. He slowly removed his jacket. It was a signal to Tommy and to his cronies that things were about to get heavy and that time was getting short. He bent to lay his jacket on the ground and a necklace with a black stone on it slid into Whitney’s view through Tommy’s eyes.
And her awareness told her that it was a blood stone. She had never heard the term before in this life, but somehow that didn’t matter because her awareness was connected to another life entirely, and this other life recognized the stone as it was. It was a vessel and in her other life she would know how to turn it into a quintarin and use it as a beacon.
There’s no way I can leave you here alone Whitney. I can see some of the things you are planning to do, and I think they would work fine against his cronies, but Decker is another thing altogether. I beat you in the arena by using my strength against you and Decker could wipe me up one wall and down another. We should take him together.
Go Tommy. What happened in the arena is irrelevant. I know I ask a lot of you sometimes, I am demanding in ways that you should not have to tolerate, but I need you to leave me here. I am not asking you to go. I am telling you and we don’t have time to argue about it. GO!
GO! Whitney thought to him again and the force of her command carried the weight of a battleship on a mission. It wasn’t just a command from a twin sister. It was the command issued as if it were issued from the highest ranking general in an army that was engaged in the bloodiest of wars. Tommy left and he left because he knew that he had no choice but to leave.
Whitney withdrew from Tommy as he took one last look at her from over his shoulder before he left the clearing. But Whitney didn’t withdraw from him unaccompanied. She took something with her. Normally Whitney respected Tommy’s privacy as much as she possibly could, but not on this occasion. It wouldn’t be the last time in Whitney’s life that she took something from Tommy without asking; she would do that again later in her life. Whitney wasn’t bound by dimensional limitations. She knew that now and she used that lack of limitation to reach behind Tommy’s locked door and take the things that he’d been hiding from her. She put them behind her own locked door so that she could review them later and she left the world of seeing and hearing. Sights and sounds would only keep her from doing what needed to be done.