I felt a pinch of hope, a part of my brain conjuring up the thought that they could be the Seers I was waiting for, posing as students to battle the demon infestation heading our way. But when the shorter of the two boys reached for his schedule I was able to see the palm of his hand—no Seer mark rested there.
My eyes spotted a different sort of mark right below his wrist, and my hands began to burn and tingle. Looking at my marks my breath caught in my throat at the sight of them glowing red. Then my surroundings faded along with all sounds, disappearing until it was only me and the three newest additions.
Before I could contemplate why my alarms were set off, all three of them lifted their heads up and sniffed the air. Their bodies were consumed with multiple spasms, and my heart all but stopped when they simultaneously turned their heads toward me, blasting me with robotic stares. A huge gasp broke loose from my mouth, and I stumbled backwards when I saw that their eyes had turned completely white.
“Hey, watch it!” a girl bellowed.
At that moment reality came crashing down around me, enveloping me from head to toe. Realizing I had just ran into someone I became immediately contrite.
“S-Sorry, “ I stuttered, trying to find my balance.
My vision started to blur and I felt wholly disoriented. The fast thump-thump of my heart beat pounded obsessively in my throat, and my stomach ricked itself into a thousand knots. The only sane solution was to escape from school, the strict need to run forcing its way through my body.
So, listening to my body, I began running. I pushed myself through the masses, pushed through the doors. . .
And fell right into Sam’s arms.
Sam hugged me tightly to his chest, his wings extended, and I twinged my eyes shut when he shot us straight up in the air. We landed on the school’s roof, though he kept me in his embrace. I took that time to let all my emotions surface, my fear, confusion, anxiety—all of those feelings came forth in his strong arms. I was sobbing, shaking like a dried-out leaf, when I began to worry about someone seeing us.
“No one saw,” he murmured in my ear, listening to my thoughts. “No one knows we’re up here. Please. Calm down.”
Even with Sam’s calming confection of lavender and warmth, it still took me a minute to settle down. Behind my closed eyes I could see the new students white eyes looking at me,staring with their machine like expressions, as if trying to suck my soul into them.
Eventually I chilled and Sam let go of me, taking a couple of steps away. His blazing blue eyes regarded me with love and concern. Thunder rumbled in the distance, the air smelling of rain.
Finding my will to speak I stammered out, “D-Demons. There’s demons enrolling at my school.”
He shook his head.
“No, Clarity,” he told me as sadness flashed across his face. “They’re not demons—they’re humans.”
“Then why did my hands burn and glow red—” I came up short, finally understanding. “They’re possessed,” I said aloud after a few silent ticks.
“They’re human pawns, Livian’s puppets. They are under her control.”
He nodded again.
I hesitated before asking this next question. “Are they willing participants?”
“They’re runaways,” he answered with a faraway look in his eyes. “They got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, just how the enemy likes it.”
His response perplexed me. “What the crap does that mean?” I said.
He let out a sigh. “It means they had no idea what was in store for them when they came into contact with Livian. They come from broken homes, unloved by the people who should love them the most.
“Most likely Livian took them in her arms and gave them the comfort and love that had been missing in their lives. Only with Livian, she does not love them or care about them. She’s using them for her own personal gain, but they can’t see that. They only see her as their beautiful redeemer, unable to see her sinister heart.”
“So they’re, what. . .brainwashed?”
“You can say that.”
“Give me a straight answer, Sam, please!” I exclaimed, frustrated. “Have they completely lost themselves or not?”
“No, but they’re close,” he responded, adding, “They can still be saved.” He stepped up to me, placing a hand on my shoulder.
His serious expression deepened. “You’ve got to help them.”
(Excerpt from Broken, Chapter Seven, Copyrighted material)