Hi! I’m Eva Hanson. I live in Dublin, Ireland – and yes, I do occasionally say things like: ‘Top of the morning to you,’ I’m a drama scholar at a performing arts school near the north of Ireland.
Anyhow – before we begin, I would just like to introduce you to six important people:
Jackson Gregory. Jackson (or Jack, Jackal, J-Dawg… the possibilities are endless) has brown hair and eyes, and lives near me, in Wales. He couldn’t draw or paint for his life, but for some reason, he has this talent for sculpting and photography.
Carl Hall – Australian, blonde and funny – is like that, except he could draw, and not so much with sculpting. In my personal opinion, he has the second best accent of the group, but in his, I do. He’s empathetic and kind, but sparky, and active.
Molly Lín (that’s her English name – she’s Chinese) is really pretty – not to say the others aren’t – but Molly is just something else. Shiny, jet black hair and matching eyes that light up her face, although they’re dark. She dreams of designing clothes for a living, and we all agree she could also model them.
Taylor Hunt took the prize for best accent with Southern US (from Tennessee). I love her expressions. She has waist length blonde hair and brown eyes, and a strong passion for music. I think she plays piano, viola, flute, guitar (she never does anything without her guitar), cello and clarinet. She doesn’t sing badly, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say singing was her ‘thing’.
Singing’s Dom Kelley’s ‘thing’. Dom’s Canadian, brunette and as Taylor would put it, a few cards short of a deck. But he’s still a great singer, and more importantly, friend.
Serena Thompson, England, is sensible and beyond smart. The three things that seem to matter to her are reading, writing and I think the other six of us matter a lot, too. She has light brown hair, grey eyes and some major self esteem issues.
The seven of us were closer than atoms in a diamond, which was useful, as if we weren’t, it would have probably led to some pretty rough things happening by now… but I’m getting ahead here. The point is: we came from different countries, had different personalities, and liked different things, but we were all united under one thing: creative arts.
Oh, wait, there’s also this other pretty significant thing that ‘unites’ us, but I’ll come to that later…
“What’re you doing?”
“Could you come here, please?”
“Yeah. ‘Kay, Mam.”
I stood up and stretched for the first time in what must have been…. four hours? My legs were dead from me sitting on them, but I managed to limp from the cream carpet to the freezing stone kitchen floor without falling over.
“What is it, Mam?”
“Eva, what are you going to do today?” asked my mother.
“I – eh – didn’t have any plans.”
“Well – what day is it?”
“And have you done anything all half term but watch Television?”
“Eh… no…” I smirked guiltily, tucking my ginger hair behind my ear.
“Well then, you know as well as I do, if you don’t do something else you’ll feel like you’ve wasted half-term when it’s over.” She was right.
“So…” I began,
“So, do something else!” she pleaded, “Call a friend! Read a book! Revise scripts!”
The rain poured down viciously on the glass conservatory roof. I smiled, “You know what? I’ll go for a walk.”
“Really?” Mam raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” I said, “I need some fresh air, and I – I just like the rain.”
Of course, the moment I stepped outside, it started hailing, but I didn’t mind that, either.
Mud scattered every square-inch of the Lucy Balk, even though the rain and hail had let up minutes ago and the sun was beginning to shine. I used to walk my dog down here with my granddad when I was young; this was more a walk down memory lane than anything else. Everywhere I looked, I saw visions of six-year-old me with an elderly man and a black and white Border Collie, up to the knee in mud.
I reached the end of the lane – and came to a cross-junction. The cross junction was always my favourite part of the walk, because we weren’t just following one path – we had a choice. And the choice six years ago may have affected the conversation we had for the next – say – forty-five minutes. This choice now would affect the fate of the universe for the next – say – eternity.
One path (the one to the right) led to the dog kennel, another (the one to the left) led to an inn, and the last one, the one straight in front of me, led to a road. I’d gone up that path thousands of times before, but I had never gone past the road before. Until today.
I actually started up the road to the inn, until I looked to my right and saw what must have been the most vibrant rainbow I had ever seen. I stood there for a while in awe, and then I thought to myself, ‘You know what would be stupid? Turning onto the other path and trying to find the end of it.’ So that is exactly what I did.
The fields were flooded with rain, and pea-sized hail stones scattered the ground. I had drifted off long since seeing the rainbow, but I kept walking, despite being locked in a daydream.
I didn’t look up until I came to the kissing gate at the end of the path. This indicated the road. I climbed the gate instead of walking through it, the way I always used to. Then I sat and looked at the road – it wasn’t busy, but the few cars that came down there came down unrealistically fast. The rainbow still hung in the sky, motionless. I stared at it some more, until a car drove past me, splashing a road puddle into my face.
I squealed and jumped off the gate. I ran across the road, and came to a path I had never noticed before. And the scary thing was; it was exactly in the direction of the rainbow.
I mean, I still couldn’t see its base, obviously. Yet.
So, I decided to set down the path I’d never been down before. I spent minutes running through my various play lines, until I looked up and saw the rainbow missing.
I laughed at my own immaturity – you can’t find the end of a rainbow – it’s simple physics. And what did I even expect to find there? A pot of gold? Of course, six perfect strangers that each thought we were somewhere different wasn’t top of the list.
“What are you laughing at?” asked a voice – definitely not an Irish one – and I swung round to see a boy who must have been about my age (twelve), with dark – not black, but barely brown – hair and light brown eyes, and dressed in black trousers and an orange hoodie.
“Nothing,” I smiled, “Sorry, but where are you from? Scotland or something?”
“Wales. I mean, we are in Wales.”
“What? B-but…” I began.
“G’day,” remarked an unmistakable Australian accent belonging to a blonde boy dressed in a tracksuit and a yellow baseball cap. “Um… wasn’t this Sydney, a moment ago?”
“Excuse me?” said an exotic, smooth voice, “This is Beijing, isn’t it?” We turned to see probably the best looking person I had seen up until then. Silky black hair, dressed in a green, knee length dress.
I was about to shake my head at the two of them, when a low, but feminine southern US drawl cut in, “Beg pardon, but, err, this is Tennessee.” Its owner had long, fair hair tied back and wore a green shirt and electric blue jeans.
“You’re thinking a few thousand kilometres north. We’re in Canada?” a dark haired boy rolled his blue eyes and rested a hand on his dark purple shirt.
“Okay, firstly, Tennessee is south of Canada. Secondly, this is England.” said a girl with brown hair and a British accent. She wore a blue T-Shirt and purple trousers
“What? You’re all crazy. This is Dublin. Dublin!” I yelled.
Eyebrows were raised. “Look, I’ll show you!” I grabbed the wrist of the nearest person (who happened to be the Welsh brunette) and belted in the direction of home.
“W-wait!” called someone from behind us.
…And then blackness.
“Whoa… did she just….”
“A-are you okay, miss?”
“Could someone please explain what’s happening? Because I have absolutely no idea.”
Fragments of conversation I heard while semi-conscious bounced around in my mind. Until suddenly –
“Mph!” I came round with a gasp, sitting up, eyes wide open. Five pairs of astonished eyes blinked at me from across the ground. I frowned, “Not to sound stereo-typical or anything,” I panted, “But what just happened?”
“Uh…” began the girl convinced we were in Tennessee.
“You… uh… you kind of passed out…”
“Yeah… just out of nowhere. It was kind of like you crashed into something – except you didn’t.” he continued, voice thick with what I now knew to be a Welsh accent. “I’m Jackson.” he smiled, pathetically.
“Eva.” I raised a hand as a ‘friendly’ gesture.
“Excuse me – um – Eva, does that usually happen to you?” asked the girl from Beijing.
“What? You mean fainting? No, this is the first time.” I laughed.
“No,” she lifted her hands to symbolise frustration, “I mean, the lights?”
“Yeah, I didn’t know that was possible!” chimed in the English girl with the brown hair.
“I have… absolutely no idea what you’re on about.” I stood up and shook my head.
“You know the red lights around your face!” she continued, “You know what, never mind.” she said, after noticing my black expression. “I’m Serena.”
“Okay… if we’re going to be announcing names, call me Dom.” explained the geographically confused boy.
“I’m… not too sure if this is completely appropriate right now… but I’m Taylor.” added the girl with the southern US accent.
“Min – or Molly.” nodded the girl from Beijing – it was inches of being more of a curtsey than a nod.
Nobody else had anything to say now, which resulted in an awkward silence. Then I looked at everyone else and we simultaneously burst into fits of laughter.
Any tensions had been eliminated, but that didn’t mean the curiosity of the situation had. And what were Serena and Molly talking about with the lights around my face? Something was strange here, and it was about to get even stranger.
“Wait… we’re missing someone.” I realised out loud.
“Oh yeah. Carl. We saw this tent kind-of-thing over there and he went to see what it was.” explained Jackson, pointing to what could only be described as a tent – and a somewhat familiar boy, exhausted and petrified, running towards us.
“Hey! Hey, listen!” it exclaimed.
“What’s up?” asked Taylor.
“I-I found this on the tent door.” he panted, thrusting a yellow post-it note to Dom.
“Eva, Jackson, Carl, Molly, Taylor, Dom and Serena,” he read, “I realise your confusion at the situation you are in.”
“You can say that again.” Taylor raised an eyebrow.
“I realise your confusion at the situation you are in.” Dom repeated.
“No – it’s just a figure of speech.” said Serena.
Dom shrugged, and carried on, “You all think you are in different places. You are all wrong. You are at the end of a rainbow. You will only stay here for one night, but if you go further than a half-mile radius, you will hit a barrier. Barriers are invisible, but touching one can lead to unconsciousness.”
“Well – that explains why I…”
“Yeah.” Dom’s eyes looked at me for a second, and then flashed straight back to the note he was holding, “Besides that, you may experience some unusual sensations. Now, I urge you to go into the tent – you need a place to stay tonight. Sincerely, EJCMTDS.”
“EJCMTDS?” asked Molly, “What could that stand for?”
“Exactly!” exclaimed Carl. “Now, about the tent. Do we… go inside?”
“What else can we do?” I smiled.
“I… realise we’re not acquainted. I’m Carl.”
“This is it? It seems a bit small for all seven of us.” Taylor frowned.
“Yeah. But…” Carl opened the mouth of the tent, and what we saw was the most unbelievable thing yet. An entire indoor festival was taking place inside the tent (the festival was bigger than the tent, obviously). Sweaty visitors danced to music being blasted from a stage in the corner. Bartenders happily served them drinks. Parents rocked babies to the song playing.
“Oh my.” said Serena.
“Well – shall we?” Taylor crawled into the tent and stood up.
“Wh… hu… so… Are you crazy?” shouted Jackson.
“Yeah. This song’s pretty good.” Taylor nodded in time, “Never heard it though.” And then she ran closer to the stage and disappeared into the crowd.
We exchanged glances, until I shrugged and said, “May as well.” It was that simple. The rest of us joined Taylor in the tent.
That night was fun, we had no idea how you could fit this room into a tent, wondering who EJCMTDS was, not to mention all the other crazy statements from the note, but we had fun. We barely knew each other, but it felt good to be together.
A hand tapped me on the shoulder, a hand belonging to a sluggish Serena.
“Eva,” she yawned, “I’m tired. The note suggested we could sleep here…”
“It did – we could ask at the bar, I suppose.”
Serena dragged me by my cuff to the bar, where a man served us quickly: “Can I get you ladies anything to drink?”
“Er… we can’t drink alcohol.” Serena winced.
“What is alcohol?” enquired the man.
I sniggered. “We’re just looking for a place to stay. We got here through a tent; a note told us to go inside. I think it was signed by… EJC… something.”
The man’s jaw dropped to the bar. “EJCMTDS?” he whispered.
“Maybe.” I shrugged.
“My friends!” The man stood on the bar and shouted. “They are here! The keepers of the auras are here!”
I stared at him, blankly as the room fell silent. And then a humungous cheer burst out from the room.
“Should I ask?” hissed Serena.
“I wouldn’t…” I smiled. The man dabbed his brow, and looked at us.
“Oh, let me introduce myself. I’m Andrew. Where are the other five of you?”
I opened my mouth, but Serena interrupted, “Partying.”
“Oh – I’m glad my accommodation was satisfactory.”
“Yeah… um, we’re just looking for somewhere to spend the night.”
“Please, sleep here. Eh, absolutely free of charge. How many rooms do you need?”
“Uh, two would be fine.” Serena smiled sweetly.
“But make them big.” I added.
“You know what that was all about?” a voice whispered in my ear. Dom was standing behind me with an eyebrow raised.
“Not entirely.” I cringed. “This guy just… flipped out when I told him about those letters on the note.”
“Weird.” Carl appeared next to Dom.
“Oh, like everything else about this wasn’t.” Jackson appeared next to Carl.
“But… did I overhear we can stay here?” Molly smiled hopefully, her face lighting up. Serena nodded.
“Well, that sure gets one issue out of our way.” Taylor appeared next to Molly. A streak of perspiration lay on her forehead.
“But it isn’t bedtime yet, right?” Dom had the hopeful, innocent look of a little boy wanting to stay up longer.
“Never!” Carl said, as he ran back into the crowd, where he was shortly followed by all of us but me and Serena.
“We… could always wait a bit longer.” she shrugged. I asked her if she was sure, and she nodded and insisted it was fine.
“Eva! Serena!” Molly called, after finding us sitting by the bar sipping tap water from dark blue glasses. “Something’s up with Jackson. He’s all… dizzy?”
I glanced at Serena with concern, and hopped of the bar stool to follow Molly. Although I hadn’t known him for more than four hours, it felt like I’d known Carl for years.
“Serena – ask Andrew to open Jackson’s room. He can be with Dom and Carl, and we girls can go together.”
Serena gave a dutiful nod and turned around to get Andrew’s attention. But I followed Molly, into a quieter area of the room where Jackson lay across a sofa, where Dom sat patiently.
“What happened?” I asked, and Dom explained how he was (I quote) super-energetic, and then he just collapsed. “Is he unconscious?”
“I think so. But he’s breathing okay.” Dom added.
“Serena’s getting a room ready. She should be done by n-“ I stopped. My knees shook a little and my eyes widened. A strange orange light floated around Jackson’s head. At first I had thought it was just an illusion, but now it was clearer and I saw that it was three-dimensional.
Jackson sat bolt upright, breathing heavily. His eyes flicked orange, then returned to his usual brown
“Hello? Jackson?” Dom asked, in a wavering pitch, waving a hand in front of his face.
“Oh, hi Dom…” Jackson whispered.
“Jackson! Oh, you’re okay.” Serena appeared ran to his side. “We’ve got the rooms ready. I’ll get Carl and Taylor, and then let’s just stay there for a little while.”
We nodded. “F-fair enough.” Jackson stuttered.
A couple of minutes later, we were sat on beds in what would be the girls’ room, chatting and laughing like we’d known each other for years. Until:
“And then, there was this…” Carl trailed off.
“This what?” I asked.
“Ah, I – ugh.” Carl moaned.
“Are you okay, Carl?” I asked.
“Yeah, I just… Ah!” he cried. “You know, I think I’ll go to bed now…” Carl stood up and began walking towards the door.
“You sure you’re okay, Carl?” Taylor asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine…” he insisted, then put his hand on his head and fell to his knees.
“Carl!” somebody shouted, but there was no point. Carl was unresponsive. Then the lights glowed again.
This time, in yellow, but brighter and larger.
“Oh man… oh man…” Dom whispered
Carl came round swiftly, and I noticed his eyes change colour in the same way again. He was perfectly happy to stay up later, but we weren’t convinced.
“I’m not so sure, Carl.” said Jackson. “It’s possibly time we all got some rest, actually.”
“No, no… I’m fine…” he persisted.
“I’m so thirsty.” Molly cut in.
“Same.” agreed Taylor, “Let’s go ask Andrew for something to drink. Anyone else want something?”
“No thanks.” and “I’ll pass.” followed.
“Suit yourselves.” Taylor shrugged, “Let’s go, Molly.” They left the room, closing the smooth cream door behind them.
“Where are we?” Serena said softly. This was the first she’d spoken in a while.
“Wh- don’t you remember?” enquired Dom.
“I remember everything,” Serena reasoned, “But I still don’t remember where we are. The note said we were at the end of a rainbow. That’s all. What does it mean? How do we know we’re not here forever?”
I think a couple of us may have given this deeper thought if Taylor hadn’t burst into the room with Molly drooping at her side.
“It’s happening again!” was all she needed to say. But, she was Taylor, so she said more: “We were just walking into the bar, and Molly was one-hundred percent, then next thing I know, she’s out like a light bulb! And then the light thingies happened again.” She laid Molly on a bed where the rest of us crowded her.
“Hmm…” said Serena, “In what colour?”
“Uh, green, I guess.” Taylor reflected distantly.
“Wait – when I passed out, was I doing that?”
“Yup. In red.” Taylor rested her hand on Molly’s bed. Molly moaned slowly, and sat up a little, supporting herself with her elbow. Her eyes turned florescent green before returning to black. She mumbled something in Chinese and then something in English that wasn’t clear enough to understand.
“Okay, okay, I’m awake.” Something in Molly’s casual attitude suggested she was able to piece together exactly what had just happened, and that she didn’t mind too much, either. Later, I would understand that that was just typical Molly.
“So, how many of us does that make?” Carl raised an eyebrow.
“Wait – four – but if you remember: the note said that if we hit a ‘barrier’, we could become unconscious. And, we think that’s what happened to Eva, right? But the rest of you passed out, just like that!” Serena suddenly exploded information after not speaking for a while. And this was typical Serena.
“Right. Man, you’re smart, Serena.” Taylor nodded, but the last few syllables of ‘Serena’ choked in her throat. “Nah, geez…” she sank to the floor, her palm glued to her face.
Then the ‘pass-out, freaky lights (blue), wake up, eyes flickering, I’m fine’ sequence repeated.
“This is kind of concerning.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I think I’m seeing links, but it still makes no sense.” Serena frowned. “Dom, are you- Dom?”
But he didn’t answer, purely because he had been knocked out. The lights, a deep purple, had already started coming by the time we noticed. Nobody even looked remotely worried anymore. It kept happening, and the excitement had disappeared.
Dom was fine, obviously, and Serena, sitting cross legged on the bed, was about to fall into deep thought, but then, she fell into unconsciousness. So that was just too bad.
Her lights were violet, and they were the heaviest yet. When she woke up, her eyes flashed so intensely I squinted. But she was only asleep for a few seconds, whereas we spent minutes like that.
“Wh-what colour was I?” Serena blurted.
“Violet.” I said slowly, not knowing what I’d trigger.
“Knew it!” Serena fell back on her bed.
“Knew what?” Taylor and Dom chorused.
“Think about this. The colours… and the orders…” Serena raised her eyebrows, smiling expectantly. No reaction. “It’s the order of the rainbow.” she finally sighed.
“Oh my gosh. Yeah, that’s right!” Jackson stroked his cheek. Glances were exchanged in awe. Nobody else passed out that night, but we decided it was time to hit the hay.
“What is it, Zephyr?” Jet stood in front of Album’s cylinder. The aura he and his army had stolen from her years ago was spinning around inside it relentlessly as ever.
Zephyr knelt down and placed his fist on his heart. “Master, we’ve just checked the cylinders. The keepers… they’ve been replaced. And they’re united.”
“What?” Jet shouted, turning. Quickly, he returned to his usual state of calmness. “Tell me, Zephyr, do they know who they are yet?”
“Not that we know of. I have seven slaves on watch as we speak. How would you like us to proceed?”
“I want them dead.”
“Wh- yes, Master.”
‘Wow, this is a comfy bed. This is a really comfy bed. How do they even get beds this comfy?’ I thought, half asleep. My eyelids peeled open and let in unwelcome light.
Serena was opening the curtains; whistling ‘Good Morning’ from Singin’ in the Rain, and Taylor was sat on her bed, absent-mindedly tapping the mattress to the beat.
In the bed next to mine, Molly sat up, pressing her eyes thinner than pennies on their sides, scowling.
I laughed at the whole scenario and stood up, realising I had slept in my clothes, now damp with sweat. I shuddered.
“Good morning, everyone!” I smiled cheerily.
“Aww, aren’t you going to use the traditional Irish way of wishing one good morning?” Serena teased.
I rolled my eyes, “Top of the morning to you all.” I said through gritted teeth.
“More like ‘stereo-typical Irish way’.” Taylor kept tapping, even though Serena had stopped singing.
“Good morning, Eva!” Serena giggled, “Anyway, do you think the barrier will still be down?”
“Hey, ladies!” Dom entered, swagger style, with Carl and Jackson either side of him.
“Morning.” we chorused.
“Oh, dang!” I cried.
“What?” asked Taylor.
“My mother is going to be so angry. And worried.”
“Me too.” Molly’s hand was over her mouth, muffling her speech, slightly.
“Oh my gosh. How could I forget something like this? My parents are going to be worried sick.” Dom face-palmed.
“Dang it! My folks are gonna kill me, see if they don’t!”
I can’t remember the exact manner, but we all looked at Carl, as if expecting a comment.
“Oh yeah. Um, mine too. They’ll be, um, really, um, scared for, um, me.”
“Okay, then. I guess this means, bye.” Serena scratched her leg awkwardly.
“No it doesn’t. We can meet up later, right?”
“I don’t know, Eva…”
“I do. Same place.”
“Okay, but what are we going to tell are parents.”
“Meh. We’ll think of something.”
“If you’re sure…”
“But what time? Oh great, we need to work out time zones…” Serena fretted.
“No we won’t. I think we’ll know when.” I winked. “I don’t know about you guys, but when I got here, I saw the most vibrant rainbow ever.”
“Same! Oh, I see…”
I think Jackson and Serena had started to grasp what I was getting at. But the others frowned.
“I think, what Eva means, is there we all saw a rainbow before we got here, follow?” Jackson checked.
“Good, so maybe, there’ll be one again, when we’re supposed to come back.”
“Ah, okay then…”
“Goodbye. And remember to bring overnight stuff, too, this time.”
“Gotcha. Bye, everyone!” and me made off down the stairs, laughing. I didn’t know how long I could go without seeing them, but, I went with it.
“Mam! Mam! I’m so sorry! You’ll never believe this, but-“ I blurted, running through the doors. I was ready to burst into tears, if it would get me out of trouble.
“What are you sorry for, love?”
“I-I-I’m late back…”
“No you’re not! You’ve only been gone an hour!”
“But-but I…” Come on Eva, think about this. If lights can come out of your head, if you can fit an inn into an ordinary tent, let’s face it – you can probably be somewhere where time doesn’t go by. I shrugged it off, “Oh yeah. Heh heh…”
The ceramic plate clattered as I put it above the dishwasher. As it did, an eerie red light burst out of my fingertips, and I cleared it away quickly, before my mother could see. It hadn’t been the first time that evening.
“Not bad, for a microwave meal.” I joked, trying to take my mind off it. I didn’t know what it was about, but I had a feeling it was something to do with the rainbow.
“Hey, cooking may not be my strong point, but ask me one on geometry.” my mother sighed. “Anyway, could you take out the recycling? I’ll load the dishwasher.”
“Deal.” I nodded, and ran to the blue box full to the brim with plastic and paper. I kneeled down and heaved it up, and staggered towards the front door. The red exploded from my hand again, and I ran outside.
I sat the box down on the grass (still damp) and looked up at the stars that shone against the dark night sky. I wondered how long it would be before I would see the rainbow again…
“Turn, Keeper! Turn and fight me!” something shouted.
I glanced backwards. A dark figure stood, braced, arms positioned. I opened my eyes wider in shock. “Who are you? What do you want?” My voice wavered.
“You don’t need to know – trust me…” it growled. “Now fight!” As it spoke, shivers rose up my spine. It held its gloved hands in front of its body, and a white light grew from the centre. Without warning, the light burst out towards me – but I managed to dodge, just as the tiniest bit of white singed my hair.
“Keeper, you must retaliate.”
“Why do you keep calling me that? And how?” I struggled.
“Use your aura!”
My what? The red lights fizzled in my palms, as if to say ‘Let loose, Eva. Use me!’
I raised my hands to my chest, and an enormous streak of red shot out of them, towards the figure, who dodged them easily.
“Not bad. But next time,” it jumped, and kicked me on the shoulder. I fell down on my side, and saw it bring its hand up to its face, and white light form around it, “Aim for me.” It brought its hand back, and shot it forward expelling the light at me.
But, an orange light collided with the white, stopping it, just about saving my life.
I looked at where it came from, and saw Jackson, beaming. He took another shot at the figure, but missed when it dodged. I took my chance when its attention was all on Jackson – I fired red at it, and it just fell down to the ground and disappeared.
“Eva! Are you okay?” Jackson cried, running to me.
“Yeah, fine. How did you know to find me?”
“I don’t know – I just did. I went through the place with the tent.”
“Oh, okay then… Uh, do you want to come in?”
“No, I should go home. Bye, Eva!” he waved.
“Bye!” I ran inside, hoping my mother hadn’t just seen all that. I didn’t know how long I could keep this a secret, but I would try as hard as I could to make it a while.
“Master! I sent a warrior… he failed us.”
Jet gasped, but contained his rage, and took up a frustrated but steady tone: “Zephyr, do you mean to say… he was defeated? Why didn’t you go for one at a time?”
“Master, we attacked the red keeper… but the orange one – he was already aware of what he’s capable of.”
“Already able to use his senses? That’s some orange keeper…” To Zephyr’s surprise, Jet wasn’t too unhappy with their loss. He was almost perfectly calm.
“We have gathered some information on them.”
“Such as names? Ha, Zephyr, we both know that isn’t important. We simply need to know how strong they are.”
I stepped out of the car, threw my bag onto my shoulder, and took my suitcase by the handle. I dragged it along the path to the boarding house, paying no attention to my shoulders aching from my rucksack digging in to my skin.
“Hi, Eva. Have a good half term?” asked Cassie Saunders sweetly.
“Fine, just fine.” I grunted.
Cassie giggled, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, just leave me alone. Just give me one week, Cassie.”
Cassie laughed manically and ran away, probably to quote my exact words to her friends. I ignored her, kept my eyes forward and my thoughts calm.
Cassie, Diane, April and Susie were clustered together, laughing, and when they saw me looking they looked away quickly and laughed harder.
‘C’mon, Eva, you just need to put up with this until Friday night, and then you’re home.’ I thought, gritting my teeth.
I put my suitcase in the boarding house, and then walked down to our first class – English.
Now, don’t think just because this is a performing arts school we don’t do any academic subjects – as much as I wish we didn’t. We just do more music, less maths, more drama, less history.
English, I didn’t hate, but I didn’t love it either. It wasn’t awful, but give me acting over grammar any day of the week.
“Hurry up, everyone. How was your holiday?” Without waiting for an answer, Mr Jenkins, my English teacher, carried on: “Now, this half-term, we’ll be looking at the genre mystery.”
Oh great. Because I didn’t have enough of that in my life, now, did I?
“Can anyone give me an example of a mystery novel?” All hands went up.
“Anything that isn’t Sherlock Holmes?” All hands went down.
Mr Jenkins sighed. “Okay. Well, we’ll start this unit by reading some detective stories, and then you’ll go on to write your own, then we’ll finish the term by watching Sherlock.” Various levels of enthusiasm ensued.
The rest of the day went on like any other day, but it wasn’t easy to stop the explosions from my fingertips. I walked around with my hands in my pockets for most of it – although it was material for Cassie and her friends. But, I’d rather have a bunch of immature girls following me around than have people know about my… what did that figure say it was? Oh yeah: aura.
I got supper as soon as the dinner hall opened and sat alone, but Cassie decided it would be a good idea to come and sit with me. Yay.
“Hey, Eva!” she said in her irritating, patronising tone.
“Hi.” I stared at the food on my tray: A cheeseburger and chips. Maybe not the healthiest option, but I wasn’t too interested in that.
“How was your half term?”
“You’ve already asked me that.”
“Yeah.” Cassie tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear. “And you didn’t answer.”
“You know what?” I decided to tell her the truth. She’d never believe me, and I was digging my own grave, but I needed her of my back. I pretty much gave her every detail up to finding the festival in the tent.
“Oh yeah. Why do I even bother?”
“Hmm. I don’t know, probably because you’re a self-centred, annoying pain who won’t do me the favour of leaving me alone?” Oh: well – that was a mistake.
“What did you say?” Her voice become prickly and I noticed just the tiniest bit of smoke escape her ears. Nice one, Eva. Well done.
“You heard me.” I couldn’t stop it, either.
“Eva… You can take that back now, you know.” Cassie smiled robotically.
Take it back, take it back, just take it back… I told myself silently. “No thanks.”
“Okay, have it your way.”
I rolled my eyes. “Thanks. So, if you could either move table or stop talking…”
“Hey, Cassie. What’s up?” April sat down and Cassie winked at her, motioning to me.
“Oh, Eva just called me a… what was it again, Eva?” she giggled.
“Cassie, if you can think of one valid reason why I should tell you, I will.”
April and Cassie burst out laughing. “Because I want you to.”
“Lighten up, Eva.” April scowled.
“You’re so angry at me all the time, and I haven’t done anything!” Cassie added innocently, before looking at April and laughing again. I had had enough.
“Cassie, you and I are probably never going to like each other, so why would it be so hard for you to just stay away from me?” I stood up and looked for somewhere else to sit.
“Well, sorry, but it’s not exactly like you have anyone else to talk to.”
“Shut up. Shut up, shut up shut up.” I shut my eyes, but I still felt my aura escaping.
I heard intense, obviously fake laughter from behind me and felt warm, thick liquid.
“Oh no.” I said out loud, because the red was actually melting my tray, and the gray plastic had come off on my hands and was dripping all over my shoes.
I prayed nobody had noticed, ran it to the tray wrack and made for the door.
Quickly, I ran towards the theatre. It was always open in the evenings in case anyone ever wanted to practise on stage, but nobody ever did. Tears jerked into my eyes, and I dedicated every muscle in my body to keeping them there. I balled up my fists, and red lights were expelled.
“Eva? What’s wrong?” whispered a familiar accent.
“Jackson! What are you doing here?” I demanded.
“I felt you were in trouble again. Are you?”
“No, not real trouble. Oh wait, am I?” I looked around cautiously.
“Ha ha, I don’t think so.” laughed someone else.
“Taylor! Wh- you can sense when people need help, too?”
“No – I was just around the tent when I saw Jackson run by.” she explained.
“I see. Why would you think I was in trouble, Jackson?” I enquired, kind of hoping it wasn’t about my incident in the dining room.
“Because you are.” a scratchy, low voice whispered.
“Where are you?” I whispered in the back of my throat. No response, not that I expected one. Red light burned through my fists. “Ready, Jacks-“
But before I could finish, a black figure like the one from before seemed to come down from the sky just in front of me, and kicked me in the neck so that I was propelled backwards. For some reason, I managed to stand my ground.
“Get back now!” cried Taylor, running at it.
“Taylor, no!” Jackson panted – he was having his own problems with one, “You told me you can’t control your aura!”
Taylor paid him no attention and positioned her fists. The figure turned its dark head to look at her. Quickly, she darted forward and punched it in the chest. It gasped, but stayed together and white grew around its hands.
I shut my eyes, not wanting to see Taylor being signed to a crisp – I still had a charred circle around where the end of my hair was hit the other day – but opened one just in time to see Taylor hitting it repeatedly in the same place, and it falling back on the concrete, the white at its fingers disappearing.
“Now, Eva!” Taylor shouted. I smiled shooting my aura at the figure, so that it disappeared the way it had done last time.
Taylor smiled at me, twirling a lock of blonde hair innocently.
I smiled back, but my eyes widened in horror as another figure, the one Jackson had been fighting, was running towards Taylor from behind.
Taylor smile became tactful, and she quickly swung her leg behind her to kick the figure in the shoulder, tilting her body a little, and then turned around to knock it over by jumping and kneeing its chest. Hard.
I shot out my aura without waiting for instructions, and again it vanished.
Taylor folded her arms, breathing just a little heavily. I wasn’t about to be taken off guard, but nothing seemed to come at either of us, so we dashed over to Jackson to see if he was okay.
He was kneeling on the ground rubbing his eyes.
“Jackson! You okay?” Taylor bent down beside him.
“Yeah… just tired.” He stood up and smiled.
That’s when we heard footsteps and stood to attention like meerkats. Red and orange aura leaked out of our fists at the ready, but I ducked behind a bush and pulled Taylor and Jackson down with me.
That’s when I saw two of my classmates run by laughing.
“She told Cassie that?”
“Yeah. I mean, Eva must really be fed up with Cassie bugging her all the time if she could come up with something like that on the spot.”
“Told Cassie what?” Jackson hissed.
“Shut up.” Taylor and I chorused.
They carried on running, and I checked to see if the coast was clear before standing up.
“You guys should go home.” I said purposefully. “Hey, Jackson, when you go past the tent, is it always there? And how come you know where to go?”
Jackson laughed, “I go the route I came when we first met, then I just see this other path and sense that’s where to go. It’s weird.”
“Honestly Jackson, nothing’s weird anymore.”
“Bye guys. See you around.” Taylor waved, already heading off.
“Oh, I love her accent.” I whispered to Jackson. “Hey, Taylor! Wait. That stuff you did… it was awesome.”
Taylor shrugged, then smiled bashfully. “I gotta go.”
“Me too. Bye, Eva.”
“Hey Eva, you want to go find the end of the rainbow?” Dennis Warner teased with his small group of followers.
“I don’t know, wouldn’t you rather be finding a sense of security?” I snapped. Whoa, that comeback wasn’t awful. And it was true – Dennis depended on his band of worshipers to tell him he was doing the right thing all the time, instead of thinking it himself.
Cassie cut in, laughing. “Thanks boys, I’ll take it from here.”
Dennis shot Cassie a smile, and walked away, his man-slaves on his tail.
“So Eva, got any more stories to tell?”
“Yeah: Once Upon a Time there was a-“ I was about to say swine named Cassie, but before I could she interrupted.
“Oh, shut up Eva.”
“Sure, you’re not worth talking to anyways.” I began to walk away, but she took me by the shoulder and said:
“Oh Eva, you think you’re clever, don’t you.” Cassie grimaced.
“I don’t know… perhaps a little above average.” I replied.
“You know what I mean. Well you’re not. You’re insignificant and disrespectful.”
“I’m disrespectful? Wow.”
“You could earn my respect if you deserved it.” Cassie said icily.
I sighed, “Cassie, this can escalate quickly, or, you can leave me alone, and it doesn’t have to escalate at all. At this stage, it’s really up to you.”
“I hate the way you think you’re so perfect. You pretend it’s my fault we fall out.”
“Well… I don’t patronize, tease, or have everyone turn against you.” I pointed out.
“Yeah, you’re so mature and calm and-“
“Cassie! Would it trouble you so much as to take a walk! I don’t know why you decided I was the one to turn on, but you did! And I don’t care, okay! You’re just annoying, mean and pathetic!”
I watched Cassie’s face fall and she burst into tears. “Why are you accusing me?” She ran into the boarding house.
Well that was…
Before I could think of an appropriate adjective, Mrs Manning, our boarding teacher approached me.
Oh. It added up now – Mrs Manning had just seen the end of that conversation, when I was having a go at Cassie, and Cassie was aware of this, so by bursting into tears it made me look bad.
Over all, I was in trouble.
Thank goodness that week ended, I thought, gazing up at the sky. I had managed to last five days of torture, but now, I was running down the Lucy Balk in excitement with a black rucksack – I had seen the rainbow again.
I came to the path. I saw the tent in the distance. Hmm… No one else was here yet. I went through my rucksack until I found my script folder. I pulled it out and stroked the green plastic and smiled. The elastic unhooked from the button and I searched for my collection of Shakespeare.
I practiced and revised, practiced and revised until I turned around and saw Jackson and Serena sitting on the ground behind me, looking interested and impressed.
I stopped mid-sentence and felt my face burn. “Aw, it was just getting good!” Jackson pouted, and then laughed a little.
“That was really great, Eva! You’re amazing! That was Macbeth, no?” asked Serena.
“Um, yes.” I nodded.
“Where did you learn to do that? It was seriously good!” Jackson nodded.
“Uh, I go to this stage school in Northern Ireland.” I shrugged.
“Eva! Jackson! Serena!” Molly squealed, green erupting from her eyes.
Yeah, her eyes.
It shot out towards me, but I managed to dodge just in time.
“What was that?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t control it; it just comes sometimes, ever since the other day. Especially when I have emotional outbursts.” She giggled, as if she hadn’t just potentially put my life at risk.
“Has anyone ever seen it?”
“No, not yet. Has it happened to you at all?”
“Not from my eyes, but from my hands. I can do that when I want to, but sometimes it just comes, like you said.” I explained. “It happens to Jackson, too.”
“I get it from my hands as well.” Molly added.
“Hey guys!” Dom grinned, waving his hand (along with a strand of indigo light) beside his head.
“Hi Dom – good to see you, just watch what you’re doing with that.” I chuckled.
He noticed it and wailed, sending it in odd directions, none of which bothered us, but I still put my arms in front of my face defensively. “Has anyone else been having these problems?” he sighed irritably.
I nodded reassuringly.
“Hey. How’re you all doing?” Serena smiled innocently.
“We’re great!” said Dom, “Just having problems with… you know.”
“Ugh! Tell me about it, I’ve been waking up with it around my face.”
I laughed, “I can control mine, but it still comes when it wants to occasionally.”
“What comes when it wants to?” asked Carl, appearing with Taylor by his side.
“This.” I said, looking up and raising a hand, shooting out my aura at the sky. It seemed to go quite a way.
“Right.” Carl said after a while, almost speechless. “I can do that too.” He waved his hand around like it was a paintbrush, creating a vague image of a yellow butterfly.
Carl shrugged it off naturally.
“I need to tell you something. Well, I’ve been getting these attacks from weird figure-like things. Has anyone else had this?”
Heads were shaken.
“Really? So it’s just me?” I panicked.
“Relax, Eva. Whatever this is, it seems to be obsessed with doing things in spectrum order. The fainting came with you first, and who can control their light-thingies, again?” Serena asked.
“Auras.” I corrected her, but raised my hand, like Jackson, Carl and Molly.
“Well, that’s red, orange, yellow and green. Spectrum order. Taylor, you’re next.” She giggled quietly. “Oh, so basically, we’ll probably get attacked by whatever it is later.”
“Yeah, relax.” Dom said sarcastically.
Serena laughed her patronizing, high laugh. You couldn’t help but smile at it
“So, tent?” asked Taylor. On her back was what looked like a guitar in a black fabric case.
“Sounds good.” said Jackson.
“Oh, wow, it feels like forever…” Carl shook his head.
“It was a week and a half.”
“Still feels like it. Hey, look at that!”
“Wh- oh.” Molly blinked at another yellow sticky note on the tent.
“Who keeps putting these there, and why can’t they just talk to us?”
“Your guess is as good as mine.” I shrugged. I picked the note of the rubber and read aloud, “Eva, Jackson, Carl, Molly, Taylor, Dom and Serena.”
“Spectrum order, again.” Serena cut in.
I nodded, “Welcome back. How was your week? As you may have gathered, you are back at rainbow’s end. Would any of you, perhaps, have been bothered by silhouettes?” I looked up.
“Okay… Guessing they’re the shadows.” Carl pondered.
“If so, know that they will have been the weakest of the army. Know and respect that what you still have to face is nothing compared to what you have already. Know and respect your enemies.”
Taylor laughed. When we looked at her, she just held up her hand and shook her head, “Sorry, this just reminds me of martial art class.”
I smirked, then continued, “One day, my children, I hope we shall meet. Until then.”
“Until then what?”
“It just says until then. Oh, and EJCMTDS again.”
“Those initials…” Serena thought.
Dom unzipped the door of the tent and looked inside, and past his brown head I saw the bar like it was before, except this time, it was empty. I had watched enough cartoons to visualise tumbleweed rolling past us then. “No people?” he said, disappointed.
“No music?” Taylor.
“No food?” Jackson.
“No perspiration.” Serena said gladly.
“That’s not the point.” I scrambled into the tent and looked around. It was pretty mournful, it almost looked abandoned. “Huh, so…” I began, pacing to the door that lead to the rooms. It was shut, and when I tried to pull it, it didn’t come away.
“Oh, that’s just great.” Taylor folded her arms.
“Hey, I have an idea!” Molly shouted from the back.
“Okay, fire.” I said.
“What if we go out of the tent, zip it up, then try again!”
“Worth a try, right?” Carl asked.
“Ready?” I asked.
“Wait- wait!” Dom cried, who was bent over a bunch of logs.
I looked at the others, who nodded patiently. “What’d you find?”
“Come look.” he said.
I stumbled over a few hidden dips in the field, then looking, I saw that the logs were stumps, arranged in a neat circular pattern. Also that there was a fire already burning fiercely, but controlled, plus seven sleeping bags and a pack of hot dogs, marshmallows and skewers.
“So…” Carl began.
“I think we’ll spend the night out here.” Molly grinned. “If you need me, I’m changing in the tent.”
“Okay. My bag’s just there.” Carl ran over to a yellow (ironic, right?) rucksack next to the tent.
“Mine’s over there.” I pointed to where I left it when I saw Serena and Jackson watching me rehearse.
I legged it over to my bag and tucked in my folder, before making back to the camp fire. I noticed something fall out of the rucksack Carl was carrying.
“Hey! Carl! You dropped this…” I bent down to examine a white notebook, closed, but a gust of wind blew the pages open to reveal… Well, lots of things.
There was a drawing of a woman’s face, with plaited brown hair and round glasses over her black eyes. She was smiling warmly, and next to her was a man with dark ginger hair and blue eyes. The detail… the shading… the contrast was incredible, and you wanted to keep looking for a while longer.
A few more pages flitted by, and I made out landscapes, a few of the same black and white dog, and an oak tree. Then, the wind stopped to land on another of the man and the woman before, except someone had scribbled over them both with a shade of red used in the man’s hair, straight from being used properly.
“Mph… Give me that!” he cried and took it right from my gaze.
“Er, sorry?” Carl looked really ticked off at me. “Did you draw those?”
Suddenly his expression softened. “Um, maybe.”
“That’s amazing! Seriously, how did you even do that?”
He shrugged. “Practice, I guess.”
“You mean, like, the practice of wizardry?” Molly had rested a hand on Carl’s shoulder to look at the notebook he was flicking through.
“Hey!” he cried, shutting it, but this time he sounded a little more amused.
“Oh my gosh, I love your pyjamas.” I said, looking Molly’s outfit. She had on a white shirt illustrated with a cute chibi girl, and pale purple cotton bottoms decorated with white floral designs. “Where’d you get them?”
“I… um, kind of made them…”
“You kind of did?”