This is the third and final part of the Surviving Elsewhere trilogy of flash fiction serials (Surviving Elsewhere, Escaping Somewhere Else, Saving Everywhere). Sometime in 2017, I hope to edit the entire series into a single book. You do not need to read the previous 86 episodes (45 for Surviving Elsewhere and 41 for Escaping Somewhere Else) to enjoy this story. Just know that the MC has only lately learned he's half fae and he's been fighting in other realities only to suddenly find himself (and friends) dropped back home.
Oh, and there's Edmond the talking (and now flying) cat.
I stared at the cars driving on the road below. Someone jogged by with his dog. A few blocks away, I could see the high school where I'd been right before this madness started.
"We're home," Maggie whispered.
Lightning flashed in the sky behind us. Trouble was still on the way.
Sunset. A storm brewing, but it wasn't a normal storm. I had to fight myself to look back over my shoulder at the door that had mostly closed behind us, but I knew that our enemies, Darman and Potillia, were coming after us and we were not ready to face them. A quick look around showed that Maggie and I were not alone, at least. Davis was there, frowning at the street below us. So was Lord Cayman, who was also my fae father. Powerful. Good. Lord Snow, the large snow leopard, was beside him.
And Edmond, of course. Edmond slinked through the shadows with his wings folded and all four feet on the ground. I could see the cat's eyes turn my way and catch a glint of the golden sunset.
"Where do we find help here?" he said and sounded worried.
With good cause. I could feel the power of the others growing, and they were going to burst through at any moment. The battle would be bad enough, but the effect of such a confrontation on good old, non-magical Earth would be far worse. Maybe I had picked up some of Edmond's ability to see the future. It looked bleak. But then, from the look on everyone's face, I wasn't the only one who thought we were in trouble --
Maggie spun, looking back at the forest. "The gate to Elsewhere is still out there. It's open. We need to get there!"
Lord Cayman was the one who nodded first. "Yes, you're right. We can't do battle here."
"Edmond --" I said.
"Right with you," he said and wound around my ankles, almost tripping me as we started to retreat from the edge of the woods and back to where we weren't as likely to be seen. I guess he was more like a normal cat than I realized. If nothing else, Lord Snow was conspicuous, to say nothing of Maggie with her bright blue hair and the wings she, like Edmond, had acquired somewhere during her own magical adventures.
I was still me -- except that I was also now a Sanctioned Protector which gave me very strong magic to protect others. The problem was that I had never been taught magic so much as had it stuffed into my head and I was still trying to sort it out. I kept thinking that if I could have just a few days of peace I could figure it all out. That hadn't happened yet.
The storm roared suddenly over us.
Nope, not going to happen anytime soon.
We reached a bridge over a small stream. I had dropped a gun in there when I first ran from home. I shuddered a little remembering how I had killed Tommy Creston -- or what had been his body since he was already a were-creature. His father, Sheriff Creston had come after me, but not for the reasons I'd assumed. The sheriff was really a fae named Darman, and he was my father's brother.
I looked away from the waters and kept going.
Lord Snow stopped and hissed.
The sound of a snow leopard hissing is not exactly the sort of thing you want to hear in the darkening woods on a day when not much has gone right. We all stopped. Lord Snow backed up, his tail twitching and his ears laid back. I could sense that Darman and Potillia were not quite in this reality yet, but they wouldn't be far away. I had to hope they came after us rather than bothering the humans.
But why had Lord Snow stopped? Why was he carefully backing up -- and what was it I could now sense in the woods and hear the furtive movements. No sounds of birds, either, despite the last light of the day. Something was not right here.
"Were-creatures, everywhere in the woods," Lord Snow said with a soft growl. "There must be hundreds of them, which would be bad enough. However, it will be worse when Darman gets here and takes control of them. They are his creations."
We had all begun to back up now.
"Edmond," I said and leaned down. He wasn't slow to leap into my arms, either. There would be no safe shadows, though he might be able to fly to a tree and safety if it came to it. I hoped he would go. Sometimes Edmond did odd things when he thought others were in danger.
I sometimes did the same. I was trying to find the best way to hand Edmond off so that I could get past Lord Snow and maybe do something to save the others. Protector: The compulsion to make certain the others were safe had me looking frantically around for the place to make my stand while the others were searching as frantically for a way to escape.
I was the first one to see the soldiers coming up behind us. I was glad to see them, even if I didn't think we were safe with their rifles aimed our way. For a moment, I considered trying to pretend that we were just people wandering in the woods -- but two things stopped me from even attempting that tale. First was Lord Snow. One didn't go walking in the woods with Snow Leopards. Second, though, was the fact that the soldiers were here and looking for trouble. I had the feeling things had changed --
That's when the were-creatures attacked.
To Be Continued