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This story is a continuation of Twinfinity: The Arena. While it is possible to read this story without reading The Arena I wouldn’t recommend it. In order to get the full effect of the story The Arena should be read first.
I would like to thank those that voted for and commented on The Arena. Your votes and comments were much appreciated, and if any of you made the decision to purchase the novel “Twinfinity: Nethermore” from Amazon I am honored by that. Every reader I acquire is deeply cherished, and with that said I give you the Onyx Ravens.
The Onyx Ravens
A Novella by Chris Podhola
Riding Along in the Car
Jacob’s family was, by no means, well off. His dad was a farmer and his mom stayed at home. The vehicle they drove was 1999 Ford Windstar. It was not the fanciest vehicle in the world. It was, by every means, a vehicle in which got the job done. It didn’t have working air conditioning. It didn’t have a working radio, and it didn’t have shocks that did the job that they were intended to do. The ride was rough, so to speak, and smelled as if it were stored in a barn.
Neither Tommy, nor Jacob seemed even vaguely aware of the intensity of the farm odor that permeated the inside of the vehicle, but then again both of them were sitting in the captain’s chairs located directly behind the driver and passenger seat. Whitney was very aware of it because her body was sitting directly in front of where the odor seemed to be emanating from.
She was sitting in the back bench seat with Jacob’s little sister, Riley, on her right, and Tommy’s crush, Jessica Miles, on her left. She was sandwiched in between the two and she felt like a warm tomato crushed in between two slices of bread with too much mayonnaise on it. The windows were down and wind was blowing throughout the vehicle, but it didn’t seem to help much, because the outside air was hot. They had been in the vehicle for less than five minutes and already she was beginning to regret the decision to come along. She suddenly realized she had a friend that she hadn’t even known existed before. She missed the air conditioner at home.
Don’t you smell that? Whitney thought to Tommy.
You’ll get used to it, Tommy replied. You do realize we live out in the country, right?
Yeah. I realize it, but I don’t think that means that your car should be used to haul cow dung, she thought back.
“So how come you never mentioned you had a sister before?” Jacob asked. Tommy turned his head toward Jacob and Whitney watched as his faced panned into her view.
Yeah, Tommy. How come you never mentioned that you had a sister? Hmm? Whitney thought to him sarcastically.
They were the first words that were spoken from anybody in the vehicle since Whitney had come out of the house. Carol Anne and Blake had both chased out after her, both of them passing Whitney on the sidewalk, and both of them going directly to Tommy after she had left through the front door. A mini argument had ensued, but ultimately the twins had won out. Neither Blake, nor Carol Anne was used to the twins insisting on anything so adamantly and they had both been stunned by it. But Tommy had insisted that Whitney be allowed to go along and, in the end, they conceded.
Carol Anne had thought to grab Whitney’s sunglasses from the end table before she came out, and she had handed them off to Whitney as she walked away. “I hope you two know what you’re doing,” she said as she parted. “Because your decisions affect all of us.”
And that had been it for the arguing. The twins had gotten what they wanted, but Carol Anne’s words still hung in Whitney’s mind like underwear hanging in the front lawn drying out after a wash. Whitney hoped they knew what they were doing too.
The mood inside of the vehicle when Tommy had first come out had been high and upbeat, but Whitney’s presence seemed to immediately change that. When he had first started walking toward the van everyone in it had smiles on their faces and laughter drifted out from the van. As the mini argument ended, however, and the twins finished walking up to the van, a quiet had fallen over the group inside. It was as if a hush cloud had entered the van before they got there.
“I guess I just didn’t know how to talk about it,” Tommy finally replied after a few moments. That much was true. He really didn’t know what to say on the topic. Having Whitney there made it an unavoidable conversation and he knew that, but having her there didn’t make anything easy to describe to them.
“But I’m your best friend! At least I thought I was. How in the world could I not even know that you had a sister? And a twin sister to top it off,” he said.
Let’s see you talk your way out of this one, genius, Whitney thought to him.
Shut up, he thought back.
“Don’t be offended, Jacob. I don’t tell anyone about my sister because neither of us want people’s pity. She’s blind and deaf and most people don’t know how to respond to that without feeling sorry.”
Whitney watched as Jacob spun around in his seat. It was obvious that he was trying to get a good look at her and the idea of being looked at made Whitney want to crawl under the seat and hide.
“Jacob! Turn around in your seat. You’re being rude!” his mother said.
Jacob did what his mother asked. He turned back around and sat for a minute. He was quiet, his eyes were pinched together, and it looked like he was trying to solve a difficult puzzle in his mind. “I don’t know. I guess you have a point. I know I don’t know what to think about it yet.”
“You mean you can’t hear or see anything?” Riley asked. Her little hand reached over and Whitney could feel Jacob’s sister gently clasp her wrist, and Elazığ Escort without thinking about it Whitney jerked her hand away. It was an involuntary reaction to being touched suddenly and she immediately regretted it because Riley gasped in surprise at Whitney’s reaction.
“Did I hurt her or something?” Riley asked.
“No, Riley,” Tommy said as he turned half around in his seat. “She just doesn’t know you yet and she didn’t know you were talking to her. Remember. She can’t hear or see you.”
I shouldn’t have come here, Tommy. This was stupid, Whitney thought to him.
Well I never said it would be easy, Whit.
Yeah but it’s like we have to lie to them.
“Oh,” Riley said. “Yeah. I guess I forgot already. That really sucks!” she added.
You ain’t kidding, kid, Whitney thought to herself.
Nobody seemed to know what to say after that. An awkward silence fell over the group as the van continued thumping its way down the dirt road, but just because no one was talking about it didn’t mean that it wasn’t still on everyone’s mind.
“I don’t think this was a good idea, Blake! Not a good idea at all!” Carol Anne said as she walked back into the house.
“I know it’s a little risky, but …”
“A little risky! That’s something you say about an investment, or when you have a pair of dice in your hands at a casino! This is our lives we’re talking about,” she yelled. She didn’t stop at the living room. Instead she kept walking. She went into the kitchen, opened the pantry door, and pulled out a sack of potatoes.
“Don’t you think I know that,” Blake said. “What was I supposed to do, Carol? Tell them no? Tell them she couldn’t go?”
“That’s exactly what you should have done,” she said as she slammed the potatoes down on the counter.
“Well they had a point, Carol. What good is living your life if you’re not really living it? I didn’t see it coming, but I couldn’t come up with a good argument against it. I still can’t. Can you?”
Carol paused with a potato in her hand. At first she didn’t say a word. She just stood there with the potato half way to the cutting board. It was as if she suddenly became single tasked, incapable of both thinking and moving at the same time. “I can, Blake. But I don’t know if I should,” she said after a few moments of thought.
Blake walked up to her, took the potato from her hand and sat it on the counter. Carol Anne had a habit of cutting food when she was upset and the look in her eye made him think having a knife in her hand during the conversation wasn’t such a good idea. “Do you honestly believe that they shouldn’t have the right to at least some freedom—that they should be kept cooped up in this house and never leave?”
Carol Anne gave him a serious look. He expected her to shake her head no, or to say the word no. He expected her to come to her senses and back down. They were, after all, only letting the twins go to a festival. It was only going to be for the day. It wasn’t like they were letting them leave the country for a month. “I do, but not for the reason you are thinking. I’m not being selfish.”
“Really? Because it kind of sounds like you are. You’re forgetting that I know how protective you can be.”
Carol Anne shook her head no. “We don’t know what they are capable of, Blake. They keep things from us. We think we know everything, but we don’t. Not even close.”
“No parent does know everything. All we can do is try our best and the twins know how important it is to keep what they can do a secret. We have to trust them.”
The argument that Blake was giving her was an argument that the parents of a normal set of twins would give. It was an argument that made perfect sense when you were talking about a normal everyday twelve-year-old. It was not, however, an argument that applied to their set of twins. “That’s not what I’m talking about,” Carol said. She pulled her hands from his and walked halfway to the living room. She looked back over her shoulder for a second and darted her eyes away from her husband.
Blake’s eyebrows furled with confusion. He leaned up against the counter and crossed his arms in front of him. “What are you talking about then?”
Carol’s finger went up to her mouth. If she couldn’t cut vegetables or shuck a potato, then biting her nails was the next best thing. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” she said with a sideways glance.
“Carol, stop beating around the bush here. If you know something then tell me. I always listen. I listened when you first told me your suspicions about Whitney being blind and deaf. I listened when you told me you saw Tommy floating a quarter in the air. I’d say I was pretty good at believing the unbelievable,” he said.
Carol turned and faced Blake front on. She didn’t know of a subtle way of saying it so she decided to just blurt it out. “I don’t think the twins are human.” She had made sure she was facing him because she wanted to see his reaction to her claim. She had been holding it back since the twins were born. She hadn’t told him because she knew it was something that he could never truly believe, but the situation was different. Now there were other people involved–other people that could potentially be hurt.
Blake stood there for what seemed like a lifetime with a dumbfounded look on his face. “That’s ridiculous, Carol. Just because they can …”
“That’s not why I’m saying it. Anne told me before she died that night. She told me that and she told me a lot of other things that sounded like they should only be said from a padded cell.”
“She told you that the twins weren’t human?” he asked her. He sounded very doubtful. Carol nodded her confirmation. “And how would she know that. She was still pregnant with them. She only ever even had the chance to see Tommy Elazığ Escort Bayan as he was born, and she died right as Whitney came out!”
“She never had time to explain it exactly. All I know is what she did tell me. She told me that the twins weren’t her kids. She told me that the twins weren’t even human, and she told me that both her and Jonathan were going to die that night.”
“You were right not to tell me this stuff. I don’t believe it. Jonathan died of a heart attack. You know that.”
“And he was the picture of health up until then. Nobody saw it coming and the doctor’s couldn’t come up with a good reason for his heart to give out like that. All I’m saying is that I think it’s too much of a coincidence that she somehow predicted that both of them would die like that. She didn’t just say that she would die. She assured me that they both would. She made sure I understood that, Blake, and she told me to always remember that they are not human. She told me to never forget it.”
“This doesn’t make any sense to me,” Blake said as he rubbed his forehead. It was as if the conversation were giving him a headache. “How would she know that they were going to die? Give me something here because I just can’t wrap my head around it.”
Carol sucked in a very deep breath and held it for a second. If there was a part that would make Blake want to call the padded wagon and throw a strait jacket around her shoulders this was it. “I asked her the same thing. She said that the twins were feeding on them. She said that was the way it works over there. She said that parents don’t ever live beyond the birth of their children. I don’t know where over there is and neither did she, but that’s what she said.”
The Burnsville Festival
The five of them got out of the van. Tommy slid the van door shut after Jessica got out. They all turned toward Burnsville and the sounds of joy-filled screams that emanated from the town’s center.
They’re actually going to let us just go there? They’re not going to come with us? Whitney asked Tommy.
Nope! Tommy answered with a smile. Jacob’s dad says that it does no good to lord over your chitlens. That’s what he calls kids—chitlens.
Jacob leaned into the passenger window where his mother sat. She handed him two twenty dollar bills and told him to ‘spend it wisely.’ Jacob nodded his head reassuringly and backed off of the van. His dad pulled away with a wave and they were off.
“What time they pickin’ us up, Jake?” Jessica asked as she started heading toward the town. The closest they could get dropped off was three blocks away and they barely got that far. There were cars lined up along both sides of the road, which narrowed after the fifth street junction.
“They’re not. Dad said for us to cut across Jessup’s creek. He says the walk will do us good.”
You didn’t tell me I was going to have to cross a creek, Tommy! I can’t cross a creek! Whitney thought to him as she pushed the button that extended her cane. Jacob had already started off behind Jessica and Tommy began walking too. Riley reached up and grabbed Whitney’s finger.
“I’ll make sure that your sister don’t get lost,” she said.
Oh great, Tommy, Whitney thought to him. I’ve got an eight-year-old chitlen for a chaperone.
Tommy laughed and started to pursue the others.
Uh, hem, she thought to him. I’m still going to need you to walk behind me. Otherwise it’ll take me a week to catch up to you guys.
“Wait up, guys,” Tommy called ahead. Both Jessica and Jacob stopped walking and looked back. Tommy walked so that he was behind Whitney and as soon as he was Whitney began to tap her cane from side to side and started walking.
Jacob and Jessica waited until the rest of them closed the gap. “I don’t get it Tommy,” Jessica said as she resumed walking again. “If she can’t see or hear anything why would she even want to come at all?” She said it as if she were annoyed. “It’s not like she can really do anything.”
Is this the girl you have a crush on Tommy? Really? Because I’m about to show her just what I can and can’t do!
“She’s no different than anyone else,” Tommy said (ignoring Whitney’s comment). She might be blind and deaf, but she still gets sick of being cooped up in the house, and she still gets tired of our parents.”
AUNT AND UNCLE! Whitney corrected.
“Oh, yeah. I guess that makes sense,” Jessica replied.
Jacob drifted back until he was walking right next to Tommy. “You gonna ride the Tasmanian Twister with me?” he asked.
“Hell yeah!” Tommy confirmed. “Might even do it more than once.”
Language, Whitney thought to him.
“What about Whitney?” Riley asked looking back over her shoulder to Tommy. “Is she gonna ride the rides too?”
Um … NO! Whitney thought to him.
“I doubt it sweetie,” Tommy said.
“Well that’s okay,” Riley said. “She can just stay with me. I can’t ride the big rides yet either so we’ll just stay together while you guys go on ‘em.”
How cute, Whitney said matter of fact.
The closer they got to the town the more people there seemed to be, which drew Whitney’s attention. There were two pavilion tents set up on their side of the first building. There were picnic tables lined up underneath it and it was loaded with people.
“What do you think? Start off by filling our guts with junk-food so we have something to puke up later when we ride the Tas?” Jacob asked. He punched Tommy in the arm after he said it.
“Ow,” Whitney called out. Shoot! She thought to Tommy, knowing that she’d just screwed up. Why’d he do that? It took me by surprise.
“No friggin way!” Jacob said. “Did she feel that?”
“Don’t be stupid Jacob!” Jessica said as she got into the line to the concession stand. “No way could Escort Elazığ she have felt it when you punched him in the arm! Could she?”
“Umm, no,” Tommy said. “Of course not. She probably just got bit by a mosquito at the same time.” Tommy emphasized the words ‘bit by a mosquito,’ and gave Whitney a mental kick so she’d try to help him play off her guffaw. Whitney took the hint, reached over with the hand she was using her cane with, and began scratching her other arm with the cane dragging in front of her.
“See! Idiot,” Jessica said.
Jacob seemed to think about it for a second. “You sure, because I would’a swore she even leaned to the side a bit when I hit you,” he said.
“I’m sure,” Tommy said. “As far as I know that whole twins can feel each other’s pain thing is a total myth.” He added hoping his friend would buy it, but it turned out that he didn’t have to worry about it because the conversation got turned on its head right at that point and thoughts about whether or not Tommy’s sister could feel her brother’s pain were totally forgotten.
“Well, well, well,” a strangers voice said from behind them. “If we don’t have little Jaky waky and his runt of a sister!”
“Beat it Decker!” Riley demanded as all but Whitney turned around. “We don’t like you!”
Decker gave little Riley a sour look, raised his hand in a mock ‘I’m gonna back-slap you’ motion and leaned forward slightly. Whitney felt her blood pressure rise slightly as he did.
The person that had so inelegantly intruded on their conversation wore a worn black leather jacket. He seemed infatuated with the color black, because nearly every stitch of clothing that he wore seemed to be black. His jeans were black, the fingerless gloves he wore were black, and his leather biker boots were also black, and even the expression on his face seemed to be black. The only thing that wasn’t black was his short blond hair.
Decker wasn’t alone. He had four guys standing behind him and every one of them was dressed pretty much the same as he was. Everyone in his group was at least two or three years older than they were.
“Go ahead and try it, Dick weed!” Riley said as she leaned forward slightly and stuck her tongue out.
“You’re mother know you talk like that?” Decker asked her, turning his attention back to Jacob. “You might want to put a muzzle on her before I do it myself.”
Who is this jerk? Whitney asked Tommy.
His name’s Decker Albright. He’s one of Jacob’s neighbors and Decker’s dad and Jacob’s dad don’t get along so well. That and Decker’s got this stupid gang that he calls the Onyx Ravens. He’s basically the local bully.
“You can’t put no muzzle on me! I’d kick you in the baaallls!” Riley informed him dragging out the word balls as if that would get her point across more clearly. The nearby crowd seemed to be migrating away from the confrontation. It was as if they believed that if they were far enough away that they wouldn’t be required to step in and help if things escalated.
I take back all the bad things I thought about you chitlen, Whitney thought to herself. I’m starting to like you! But she wasn’t liking Decker Albright at all. Her heart was thumping in her chest and her mind was on high alert.
Decker crossed his arms and gazed down his nose at little Riley, but his attention was soon taken away from her. “Who’s the rude one that refuses to acknowledge me and my gang?” Decker asked. He didn’t wait for an intro. He took two steps forward and grabbed Whitney’s elbow. It was a big mistake on his part.
Whitney lifted the butt end of her cane, spun half around, and busted Decker’s nose by jamming the handle into his face. It happened so fast that almost nobody that saw it, really saw what happened. It was as if Decker’s nose was fine one moment and then squirting blood the next. By the time the first drop of blood hit the ground the end of Whitney’s cane was already touching dirt, and Whitney was facing away from him again.
“SON OF A BITCH!” Decker squealed. “That bitch broke my friggin’ nose! SHE BROKE MY MUTHER FRIGGIN’ NOSE!”
Damn right I did, Whitney thought.
Whitney you can’t just go around breaking people’s noses! Are you crazy?
What? He deserved it.
“I think we should get out of here and do it right quick,” Jacob muttered under his breath to Tommy.
“I think you might be right,” Tommy muttered back.
What? I’m not going anywhere. I can smell cinnamon and it’s making my stomach growl, Whitney thought to Tommy.
“You want us to pound her?” one of Decker’s cronies asked him.
Decker took a deep breath. He was holding his hand to his face and blood was running down his wrist. “Not here, and not now,” he said through gritted teeth. “But mark my words bitch. You’ll pay for this and when I say pay … I mean with double friggin’ digits.”
“Man that was awesome,” Riley said after Decker and his gang were out of earshot. “I can’t believe you actually broke his nose like that! You’re sister’s soooo coool Tommy!”
“Yeah, I don’t’ think it’s so cool Riley. Decker’s not used to people standing up to him. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him for today,” Jacob said.
“Did you see the look on his face though?” Jessica said with a laugh. “I so wish I would have had my phone out!”
“Well if you have it with you then I think you should use it to call my dad back here,” Jacob said, but Jessica just gave him the ‘awe man’ look. “Seriously,” he added. “You don’t know him the way I do. “My dad tore down a fort that he built in a tree on our property and the next day seventeen of our chickens ‘broke’ their own necks! The guy can be flippin’ nutso. He denies he did it, but who else would’a done it?”
I mean it Tommy! I’m not going anywhere, Whitney thought to Tommy again.
Everyone seemed to be looking at Tommy as if he had the final say. “What?” he asked. “How tough can he be? He just got beat up by a blind and deaf girl,” Tommy said and he walked back to the end of the food line.
To Be Continued
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