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Nimera, James and little Rebecca stood still, barely breathing. Even Rebecca, the most fidgety six-year-old on the planet, held her breath in her tiny body and squeezed James’ hand. Her coal black hair swayed with the breeze that was getting steadily stronger. Her brown eyes were wide with fear and brimming with tears.
James squeezed her hand back and looked to the ground, hiding his own tears within his blue eyes. His blonde locks of hair obscured the sorrowful expression on his face.
Nimera fought the urge to run to the body that lay in the middle of the greenhouse. She had seen enough. She was stiff and rigid and seething with rage. They had lost too many.
The body on the floor that received furtive glances from Nimera had a name. It was a name that nearly everyone recognized. She was Erella, mistress of kindness and slayer of evil. Everyone trusted her. Everyone loved her. Even those who despised her (not many) couldn’t help but smile when they saw her walk by in the summer. Her long, black hair blowing out behind her in the wind and her green eyes piercing your very soul made everyone’s day brighter. She was the embodiment of happiness, of purity, of innocence and bravery.
But it was those very traits that had put her in this situation. She was going to be taken back. She was no longer needed.
Everyone was Taken at some point in their lives. Some were Taken as soon as they came out of the womb and some were taken after centuries of living happy lives.
But this time was different.
Mother Nature always took people back. But if She had reason to keep you alive for Her own purposes, She would and you would continue living, oblivious to Her plans. But She had become rotten and evil. Mankind has destroyed Her and everything She has given the race of man. She has lost Her sanity and is taking Her revenge.
A group was formed to survive. A bunch of ordinary kids, with nothing special about them, except the will to live, grouped together to form an alliance. Their only goal was to outlive the others. They did not want to be Taken.
So, one by one, She took those who were weakest and most vulnerable. She harvested their souls to feed Her own greed and power. With each person She took, She grew stronger. The number of humans left dwindled until the only ones left were James, Nimera, Rebecca and Erella.
But Erella was being Taken that very moment.
“We have lost too many,” Nimera whispered, rasping through her anger and frustration. “What does She even want from us? We have done nothing to harm Her and She thinks She is justified in making meals of innocent people’s souls?”
James’ voice quivered as he answered silently, “Nimera, we have no choice. We must let Erella go. She will be better off where she’s going.”
Nimera turned on him like some kind of wild savage, “James, if we allow Her to take Erella all we’re saying is ‘come back later for the second course’. She cannot take us! Would you let Her take Rebecca?”
James looked down at the little girl huddled against him. She whimpered and buried her face into his jeans and cried. Before James could reply, a sound like static filled the air.
“Erella!” Nimera screamed. She dove for the body lying lifelessly on the ground. James let go of Rebecca and held Nimera back although she kicked of thrashed in his iron grip.
The noise grew in volume until it drowned out Nimera’s desperate pleas and violent threats. But what happened next made her freeze in mid-tantrum.
The vines that grew in the greenhouse reached down. They were green and thick and slithered like snakes towards Erella. They seemed almost to play with her body as Rebecca would play with her plastic dolls.
The vines ticked her feet and her nose and tossed her hair around. They coiled around her legs and hands and lifted her up high into the air.
Then a vine bigger than any of the others appeared out of the thick, humid air. Rebecca held her hands over her ears and closed her eyes, fat tears rolling down her cheeks.
The vine was about as big as a school bus and about twice as tick. But its tip was as thin as a needle which made it look comical. But no one was laughing.
It drew closer and closer to Erella’s face, twisting and shuddering with anticipation. She was ready to make a feast out of the helpless, unconscious girl.
It stopped a few centimeters away from her mouth, as if hesitating. Then, with a sudden movement, it shoved its way into her mouth, and continued until the entire thin portion of the vine had disappeared down her throat and into her heart. It stayed there for a long while, writhing and twirling as if looking for something or reaching for something it couldn’t reach.
Just when Nimera was about to yell, the vine slowly recoiled out of Erella’s mouth. At its tip floated a white sphere.
But there was a problem and the three companions noticed it before they noticed the color drain from Erella’s face.
Nimera’s voice shook. It was one of the first times James had ever seen her scared.
“That is no soul,” She said.
James clutched Rebecca to his chest as he cradled her in his arms, “It’s been…fabricated.” He said.
The white sphere turned grey. Then it turned as black as night, only blacker. It was not a soul. It was a fabrication. So Erella was not a human.
The vine sensed the fabrication and hurled the dark sphere at Erella. It clung to her cheek, where it had been aimed by the vine, and seeped into her pale skin, reviving the rosy color to her face.
A blood freezing shriek rang out from the vine. She was not happy with Her victim. As soon as they had come, the vines, including the enormous one, crawled back into the shadows and rested, silent and inconspicuous amongst the other greenery in the greenhouse.
Erella was dropped like a ragdoll but never hit the ground for James had run to catch her. He held her in his lap and whispered her name as Rebecca looked over his shoulder.
Nimera stomped over and bent over Erella, her face twisted into a scowl.
“We never should have trusted her,” she said. “She isn’t even human.”
Rebecca piped up, wiping tears from her eyes, “If she’s not human, what is she?”
At that moment, Erella’s eyes flew wide open and she sucked in great gulps of air. James scooted away from her as though he was burnt or shocked. She sat up and smiled shamefacedly. Her eyes had lost their green color. They were a bright red. The companions could almost see the flames lick her irises.
James gasped, “She’s a Demon.”