Chapter 1 Part 1
by Skye Callahan
Kaylyn pulled the covers over her head as if they could block out the sound threatening her sleep. After another series of knocks on the front door, she was left in silence again. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
Holding her breath, Kaylyn listened for an indication of someone approaching.
Sure enough, a floorboard creaked, then her sister’s voice rang out.
“Come on Kay. You can’t avoid me when I have a key. We’re going to be late.”
“Go away, Cole. I’m sick.”
“Bull shit. If anything you’re hung over.”
“I haven’t had a drink in weeks.” Although at the moment, she thought, I’d kill for one…or several. “We’ve worked for Carlisle for more than three years, he won’t—”
“We have a meeting. Mr. Edwards. Historical Society. Wooden box engraved with occult symbols. Ring a bell?”
Oh yeah. Kaylyn groaned as she flipped the covers off of her head. Her younger sister stood over the side table, leaning against the inside of the doorway. A crisp pink collar peeked out from the top of her dark grey peacoat, paired with matching grey slacks.
Always overdressed, Kaylyn thought, especially for a job that often had them crawling in dank and dusty places. She pulled herself up, balancing precariously on the edge of the bed before forcing her body to move toward the closet.
“If you don’t hurry up, the cappuccinos will get cold.”
“You know I prefer it that way.” Kaylyn said as she pulled some moderately business-casual clothes out of the clean clothes pile and headed into the bathroom.
“Weirdo,” Cole called after her.
Kaylyn was blessed with silence as she pulled on a pair of black jeans and a blue long-sleeved V-neck. She smoothed out the wrinkles in the shirt and focused on her matted hair.
“Come on, sis, we’re supposed to be there at 9:30,” Cole yelled, smacking the bathroom door.
Three days until the weekend, she promised her reflection. Then nothing is stopping me from sleeping as long as I want.
Nothing except the dreams.
As soon as she opened the bathroom door, Cole corralled her toward the front door, leaving just enough time to grab a jacket, get outside, and climb into the black Mustang parked out front. It was Cole’s pride and joy, but usually the sisters spent at least ten minutes competing over whose car to take, Kaylyn preferred the grit and classic simplicity of her classic Chevelle, but today left no room to doddle on their opposing tastes.
During the twenty-minute drive to the historical society Kaylyn lost track of the number of questions she deflected. It started with something along the lines of, “What the heck were you going to do if I hadn’t showed up to drag you out of bed?” And continued with an assortment of brash allegations concerning guys… booze… parties….
Without the energy to interrupt or point out that she had been home every night for the past month, Kaylyn pressed her forehead against the cool window, sipped her cappuccino, and mumbled a response when necessary.
By the time they pulled up to the stonehouse that housed the historical society, it was 9:36.
“Of course we’re late.” Cole growled, shifting the car into park in the graveled lot beside the building.
Kaylyn unfastened her seatbelt, but even after the cappuccino, her eyes refused to focus. She reached for the door handle only to get punched in the arm by her younger sister.
“Try to act alive, Kay.”
Cole was out of the car and at least ten steps ahead by the time Kaylyn closed the passenger door. She shook enough dullness from her head to manage a quick sprint to catch up. Each thump of her foot against the ground echoed through her head, drowning out the latest spiel from her sister—presumably yet another lecture.
“He was supposed to meet us at the main entrance,” she said, pulling on the front door. “But it’s locked.”
“So… lecturing me about being late was all in vain?”
Cole clicked the heel of her boot against the concrete porch, her lips pressed into a tight line. “Or he gave up on waiting.”
“Five minutes, Cole. No one gives up after five minutes.”
Kaylyn and Cole peeked through the windows on either side of the door.
“Well I don’t see anyone around,” Kaylyn said.
“I have a bad feeling.”
No. Not today. Whether Cole’s bad feelings turned out to be accurate or not, they always meant Kaylyn was about to have a shitty day. When little sister had a bad feeling, everything got done the hard way.
Kaylyn closed her eyes, reaching deep to muster enough energy to keep up and whispering a silent plea for Mr. Edwards to rush to the door and apologize for losing track of time.
Her plea was answered by a crash somewhere on the second floor of the house.
“Fuck,” she muttered, with little regard to who might hear it.
“We’re not getting in through here, let’s try the back entrance.”
Cole led the way around the building to a door marked Employees Only. It stood slightly open, a rock being used as a doorstop. The bricks around the door reeked of cigarette smoke.
“Nice to know his habit leaves anyone an open path to the back room,” Cole said, pulling the door open.
Silence fell around the sisters as they squeezed through the back room. Between metal shelves that stretched to the ceiling and huge cardboard boxes, the pathway curled around in a pattern as the confusing corn mazes they visited as children.
The wood above them creaked as someone walked over head. Kaylyn looked up, getting an eye full of dust as something stomped or fell above her. She squinted and rubbed at her eye. Blinking again, she noticed that Cole had disappeared and rushed forward to catch up, but even when she rounded the corner, her sister was nowhere to be seen.
Following the wall, she came to a narrow flight of stairs. Cole was already halfway up, clinging to the wall. Kaylyn had a flash to their days of bringing in bail skips before they were recruited to Aicil. But with all of her prior experience, the tightening in her chest told her that this was foreign and wrong.
She slinked up the stairs and catching up to Cole at the top, she grabbed her sister’s wrist.
“What?” Cole mouthed back.
Kaylyn shook her head and made a hand motion.
Cole nodded and stepped to the other side of the door. Pushing the door open, she pressed her back against the wall to assess the situation in the room. Then, she motioned for Kaylyn to have a look.
Mr. Edwards—at least Kaylyn assumed it was Mr. Edwards, having never met the man—stood with his head hung over the table with a brown carved box sitting in front of him. He jerked like someone had pulled him upright by the greying hair on top of his head, but continued staring straight ahead.
Kaylyn glanced back at her sister, who shared her puzzled expression.
“I think that’s our box,” Kaylyn mouthed. And from the looks of it, he found something that changed his mind about handing it over.
“We can’t just barge in, he’ll know we broke in,” Cole whispered.
“Door was open, and he was expecting us.” Kaylyn peeked through the door again. “What the hell—”
Her back hit the wall on the other side of the hallway, leaving her feeling as if a bomb exploded in her chest. Mr. Edwards stood at the threshold, staring at her without a hint of expression. Kaylyn didn’t move.
Cole backed away from the doorway, holding her hands out in a defensive posture. “Mr. Edwards?”
He didn’t acknowledge the disturbance, his gaze was set on Kaylyn.
“We’re here about the box,” Cole continued.
“The box.” He said in a dry, toneless voice.
“Yes, the box.” Cole said, taking a step closer to her sister. “You reported that something had been turned into you that wouldn’t fit your collection and spoke with Carlisle Palmer about turning it over to the Aicil Foundation for research.
“Your services are no longer required,” he said, tilting his head.
Kaylyn felt a tickle in her forehead and pressed her hands into the wall to suppress the urge to try and rub away the sensation and risk setting off Mr. Edwards again—Cole’s bad feeling was turning out to be an understatement. She took a deep breath to steady herself enough to speak again. “Can you tell us what happened?”
“Your services are no longer required,” he repeated, turning on his heal and disappearing back into the room.
Kaylyn kept her back against the wall, letting the twitching in her nerves subside.
With a quick glance in Kaylyn’s direction, Cole slipped into the room, following Professor Zombie.
“You signed a contract,” Cole said.
Kaylyn pushed off the wall and stumbled into the room where her sister was closing in on the unpredictable man. Bad idea, Cole.
But it did leave an opening. Keeping her back to the wall, Kaylyn slid around the room, hoping he wouldn’t notice much with Cole talking to him. Then, they’d be able to trap him from both sides.
“Look Mr. Edwards,” Cole said.
He slammed his hands down on the counter on either side of the box, causing both girls to jump. Kaylyn tried to keep quiet, biting down on her thumb nail to suppress the effects of the rush of adrenaline.
“Why don’t you tell us about the box?” Cole said, her voice calm and steady despite the marionette-like stare of Mr. Edwards.
“It’s my box.” He repeated.
“Fine. Alright. It’s your box. I just want to know more about it, like the carvings. Do you know what they are?”
Mr. Edwards cocked his head and squinted at the younger sister. “Carvings are something made by cutting wood. An object or design formed by cutting and shaping a material such as wood or stone—”
Kaylyn had heard enough, but as soon as she took a step forward, Cole glared at her.
“The guy has gone dark. His power ring has faded.” She kept her jaw clenched, wondering how much—if any—of the conversation the man actually understood by now. “Let’s just grab the jewels and get out before his head explodes.”
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Fractured Legacy by Skye Callahan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.