You’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang of genetic misfits continues…
“Is he dead?” A boy’s voice cut through the pitch-black mess of nothing filling my eyes.
“Holy macaroni. Look at this.”
Someone gasped. It was near me, too, but I couldn’t move. Where was I? What was happening?
“What the devil did they do to this boy?” Two hands cupped my face. “No collar to deactivate. That’s good. That’ll save us time.”
A piercing light stabbed my eye but then faded immediately.
“Pupils responsive. If that’s a blood pressure monitor, he looks stable. But—” A hand met the back of my skull. “What’s this?”
“Is that…plugged into his head?”
Someone whimpered nearby. It was a soft voice. A…mother’s voice. Yes. I wasn’t exactly sure what a mother was, but I wanted one. It was gentle, quiet, and soothing.
“Braeden, secure this room while I figure out what’s happening.” Shuffling, doors opening and closing followed.
What I liked was the warm hand still on my cheek. Very much I liked that. Muffled talking I couldn’t quite understand followed, and the hand suddenly shifted to my forehead. A few words slipped through. Computer. Hacked. Files.
Didn’t make much sense to me. But—a white light flashed in my mind. Something poked me in the back of my head.
“Ouch,” I said. Was that my voice? It sounded deeper than I’d expected. Then again, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What was happening?
The hand on my forehead vanished. “He’s…awake.”
I sat up, and there was one person on either side of me staring at me. It felt weird they way they looked at me and didn’t move. Didn’t talk. Just stared.
One was a boy and a girl. The girl seemed older. The woman smelled like vanilla. Roses, too. Those were pretty flowers. I wasn’t sure where I’d seen or smelled one, but I had.
The man was short. He had black hair but there were little white patches at his temples. Like someone took a coloring crayon and colored that part white.
The walls behind them were empty. White. Shiny. It was cold in here. And it smelled strange. Made my nose burn a little when I breathed.
“Do you know where you are?” the man asked me.
He was wearing a black shirt and pants with lots of pockets. He looked like someone…I couldn’t quite think of the word. Someone sneaky. Trying to hide. Army. Yes, an army person.
I didn’t know where I was, actually. Other than I was sitting on a hard, uncomfortable chair and the back of my head throbbed, I didn’t know anything.
As in nothing.
“Honey, can you hear us?” The woman standing on the other side of my chair smiled.
I like her smile. She had light brown hair, like a bunny. I’d touched a bunny before I think. Soft brown hair. “Are you my mother?”
“Oh,” she whispered. “No, honey.” She reached for my shoulder. “May I touch you?”
“Yes ma’am.” I swung my feet over the side and sat up. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I did. She needed to examine me. Make sure I was okay. I needed to comply.
Or there would be pain.
The woman had big green eyes. They were pretty. The man stood beside her. That’s when I noticed a strange belt around his waist and his thigh. It connected and held something shiny in a holster of some sort.
Gun. Yes. I knew what that was. “Why do you wear a gun?”
“You know what this is?” He tapped it.
Somehow I knew. I might have read about it. “It has bullets. Used for protection.”
I looked around the room. The door hung by its hinges, crooked. Smoke sifted in. Danger.
“Smoke.” I jumped down. “Must get everyone to safety.”
“It’s okay, honey,” the woman said. “There’s no fire.”
I looked at her. She, too, wore the same type of clothing and gun-things the man did. Behind me there was a dark window. In the reflection I could see the chair and the two people near me. Was I that tall person?
I touched my face. That was me! But my skin was so much whiter than the two people standing near me, and I towered over them.
“Do you know where you are?”
I thought super hard for a second and nothing came to me. Literally nothing other than how different I looked than them. My dark hair made my skin look even more white.
“Do you know your name?”
Again. Total blank. “I don’t know anything. What should I know?” My heart started pounding inside my chest and my stomach ached. “Why can’t I remember? Do you know me? I would very much like to know me. Where is my mother? Who are you?”
“Calm down,” the woman said. “I’m…Janet. We’re here to help you.”
“I need help?” Why couldn’t I remember anything? I understood what they were saying, but… “Do you know my name?”
“No, honey. But we’ll help you find it.” She nodded.
“You’ll help me? Thank you. But if you don’t know me, why would you?”
“It’s what we do,” the guy next to her said. “Hi. I’m Jeff.”
“Jack pot!” A smaller man came around the corner. A boy. He had dark hair and wore the same outfit as the two before me. He held a bag. “Whoa.” He stopped and stared.
I sure didn’t like how these strangers looked at me, but I didn’t feel scared of them. Only scared because I didn’t know who I was.
“He’s got to be seven feet tall.”
It was true. I was a lot bigger than they were.
“What’d you find, Braeden?” the woman named Janet asked.
The boy, Braeden, stepped through the doorway, holding something small in his hand. “Files. Not sure what. The monkey brains had a failsafe. Didn’t find much other than a few files.”
“Anything on this guy?” Jeff pointed to me then beside me. “I think he was connected to that computer.”
“Connected? As in—”
“Plugged in. Like a USB Port or something.”
“That’s new.” He shrugged then held up a duffle bag. “But along with these thumb drives, I found this in the room next door. Bedroom I think. Shoved everything I could in it. Might be his.”
“Good,” Jeff said.
“We should probably go,” Braeden said. “He got any powers?”
The woman looked at me. “Do you, son?”
Son. That sounded familiar. But what did they mean by powers? “What is a power?”
“No time. Let’s move.” Jeff waved me toward him, as did the woman.
Holding a round ball—er—a soccer ball, yes that’s what it was, I stepped forward. “I can’t leave. It’s forbidden.”
“Why not?” the kid in the doorway asked. “There’s no way you could possibly like it here with these psychos messing with your insides.”
“That’s enough, Braeden,” Janet said as she reached for my hand. “It’s okay to leave. We’ll be with you.”
I stared down at the small woman. Her face was sweet. And her smile. “Will you be my mother now?” I wasn’t sure why I asked that, but it felt right. I wanted a mother to take care of me. And I would keep her safe, too.
I was supposed to keep all girls safe. Protect them.
“We’ll take care of you,” she said, offering me her open hand. “You can trust us.”
Trust. No. I couldn’t trust anyone.
I palmed the ball. It felt like I might be in trouble for leaving, but I really wanted to. This woman might be worth the risk. Maybe she was my mother. I couldn’t disobey her.
Then there’d be pain.
This place was cold and scary. I didn’t like how it made my insides queasy. Nervous. Janet was nice. They were here to help me. They said so.
I stopped a step before the doorway. My stomach tightened. My chest hurt. I couldn’t catch my breath.
“Can’t leave,” I whispered. “Forbidden.”
I glanced over my shoulder. Someone lay on the floor at the foot of my chair.
“Shouldn’t we help that person?” I pointed to the motionless body.
The woman shook her head. “She’s beyond help now. I suspect she’s facing her maker and judge at this very moment.”
Maker. Judge. I didn’t understand.
“Come,” the woman whispered. “We’ll take care of you now.”
I very much wanted to leave. Wanted to be taken care of. She felt nice.
“Family?” I asked.
She grinned. “Family.”
I stepped through the doorway. Beeping blasted through my skull. Hurt my ears. My neck burned.
Braeden turned around. “Is he beeping?”
“I hear it,” Jeff said.
“Beeping is never a good thing.” Braeden stared up at me.
My chest ached. My neck throbbed. What was happening to me?
“It’s him.” Braeden pointed at me. “He’s gonna blow!”
Join us Monday for Chapter 3 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.
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See you soon….