* * *
Soon after midnight, I sat up in bed. I left the room and crept along the corridor, stopping outside Corrine’s door. I placed my ear against it. She was talking. Her voice was low, monotonous.
Through the thick wood it was hard to make out her words. It wasn’t clear whether she was talking to herself, perhaps in her sleep, or to someone else possibly in the room with her.
I pushed the door open. I winced as it creaked, expecting Corrine to come to the door. But when she continued to talk, I slipped into the room. My eyes fell on the bed.
She lay beneath the covers, her eyes shut. She continued to mutter to herself. Her face was contorted in pain and her head rolled from side to side. I crept closer, straining my ears, but I couldn’t make sense of her words.
I stood at the foot of her bed and stared down at her. “Corrine?” I whispered.
She continued muttering for several minutes. Maybe she’s just having a nightmare.
I was about to turn and leave when her eyes shot wide open. She began lifting her head off the pillow and throwing it back. Slowly at first and then more violently. Her breathing grew heavier and she began chanting a single word over and over. At first it was indistinct, like the rest of her mutterings, but the syllables became distinct.
“Mikau,” she said, her brows furrowed. “Mikau.”
“No!” she shrieked.
My jaw dropped as she began to levitate above the bed. Her body lay flat as she lifted off the mattress, the covers sliding off her. She floated in the air toward me. I ducked as she passed over me. Once she was about a foot away from the table, she fell to the floor.
Even after her fall, she didn’t seem to wake up. She scrambled to her feet and ran to her book case. She threw open the glass doors so forcefully one of them shattered, and her hands fell upon the black book I’d seen her reading earlier. She staggered back over to the table and slammed it down. She drew up a chair and picked up a pen. I hurried over and looked over her shoulder.
Her fingers flipped through the pages so fast, their contents were a blur. She stopped finally about a quarter of the way through the book. That was when I realized what it was. An atlas.
Her finger began tracing a map. I leant down closer as her pen hovered over a black circle that was obviously hand-drawn. It was so thick, she must have traced over it with ink at least a dozen times.
“What is this place?” I breathed, gripping the back of her chair.
She scraped her chair back just as I was trying to read the small text, and I was forced to step away. She climbed back into bed and pulled the covers over her. She closed her eyes and began snoring.
I stared back down at the atlas, finally able to get close enough to read the writing. This whole page was a map of Waianae, Hawaii. The black circle surrounded a tiny dot along a beach. I squinted to read the minuscule writing next to it.
I was still mystified by what had just happened. But it was clear that something—or someone—had just possessed Corrine. And whatever it was, I was damn sure it had something to do with the vampires and witches’ disappearances.
I reached for the atlas, tore out the page that contained Corrine’s mark, and tucked it into my jeans pocket.
I replaced the book in the bookcase. Walking over to Corrine, I touched her forehead. She was burning up. I shook her shoulders until her eyelids flickered open. And when they did, it was clear that Corrine was back. Her face was lined with fear, panic in her eyes. She gasped, clutching her throat.
“What just happened?” I asked, gripping her shoulders.
Wiping sweat from her brow with the back of her sleeve, she swallowed hard. “I’ve felt it only recently,” she said. “There’s something… something out there.”
“What?” I urged.
“A power unlike any I’ve experienced before. Trying to communicate with me. I’ve been trying to figure out what it could be. But I’m still uncertain.”
“Corrine, whatever this is, it’s responsible for stealing them, right?”
She looked at me, her lips quivering. She nodded slowly. “I believe so, Ben. Whatever it is, it’s certainly powerful enough to have overcome all those witches and vampires…” Her voice trailed off and she clasped a hand over her forehead.
That was all I needed.
It seemed that she hadn’t remembered marking the atlas and leaving it on the table. At least not yet. And by the time she did remember, I would already be gone.
I left Corrine’s bedroom and returned to my own. Sitting down on my bed, I reached into my pocket and unfolded the map.
I smiled bitterly as I recalled the words Rose had spoken not long ago.
“Hawaii, here we come.”
Chapter 21: Ben
I returned to my bedroom in the Residences and packed up whatever few personal belongings I could think of in my hurry to leave. I ran to my father’s library and, pulling open one of the cabinets in the corner of the room, withdrew a couple of stakes and two UV ray guns, along with a supply of bullets.
I had to be fast, because I had to be gone before Corrine woke up and tried to stop me.
I didn’t know what I was thinking going alone. I had no plan. I was walking into this blind, with just the conviction that the little circle on the map was where my family were being held.
I knew that I couldn’t start recruiting others to come with me. Corrine wouldn’t allow anyone else off the island, least of all myself, after we’d already lost three batches of recruits.