This story is by Barbara Forward and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
I rushed through the door to Brock’s Library, whirled around and slammed it shut with shaking fingers. < He’s still out there, I can feel it!> Placing my sweat drenched forehead on the cold door, I tried to slow my breathing. When my pulse stopped pounding in my ears I turned around. Susan, my supervisor was staring at me with concern, so I gave her a quick wave, put my head down and walked quickly to my desk. < Why did no one else notice him? It’s not like he looked normal; with a black cloak on, tangled hair down to his waist and an ax in his hand! > Just as I reached my desk, my knees gave out and I fell into my chair causing a paper to flutter off the desk onto the floor. As I reached for the paper, black letters started to appear on it. They swirled around and then arranged themselves into a straight line. Startled, I read the words, LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT.
With a shudder, I slowly raised my eyes up and looked across the room. He was standing outside the window staring straight at me. The air froze in my lungs and I scrambled back against the wall. He raised his index finger up to his lips and gave me the signal to be quiet. Silently he walked through the glass and entered the library. I glanced rapidly around and no one seemed to notice him. His lips curled up into a smile as he walked steadily towards me. Wild eyed I looked for an escape. The door was too far away. I threw myself under the desk and put my arms over my head. After a few seconds I heard a few people snickering and someone asked in a whisper, “What is she doing?”
“Are you okay, Chloe? What are you doing?” she said in an angry whisper. “You’re freaking people out. Come out of there!”
“But, he’s out there,” I said frantically.
“Who’s out here? What are you talking about? Come on, you need a break.” She sighed heavily and reached in to grab my arm.
Shivering, I inched my way out from under the desk, glancing around at all the eyes staring my way. The man was not there. I patted my hair and tried to look nonchalant as I walked to the door, only twisting my ankle twice.
Susan shoved me out the door and said in my ear, “Get some rest, you can’t act that way here.” She turned around and smiled at the people scattered around the library and shut the door in my face.
A low laugh rumbled right beside my ear. I jumped as a deep male voice said, “Chloe, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m here to protect you.”
I whipped around to see the man in the black cloak and tangled hair inches from my face. I glanced at the ax he was twisting in his fingers.
“Who are you? What do you want with me?” I exclaimed.
His chiseled features softened slightly and his green eyes roamed over my face. “I am your new Protector. Your last one was killed last night trying to keep you safe.”
“Wait. What are you talking about? Who was killed because of me?” I asked, my voice rising in pitch with each word.
“Shhh.” He said, looking around. Only you can see me. Actually, you’re not supposed to see me either, but you’re too important and I need to get you out of here.”
“Why?” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t understand this at all,” I whimpered.
He put his hands on both sides of my face and looked deeply into my eyes. “My name is Rhys. You need to trust me. Your boyfriend is mixed up with some bad people. They are coming after you to get to him. The Protectors have been watching over you since you were born, but you have not made it easy. You have a lousy choice in men by the way.” He dropped his hands.
Looking around, he tensed and put his hand out for me to take. “Come on, I’ll explain more later.” He looked back at me and his eyes were now a vivid blue.
I couldn’t believe that no one could see this handsome, wild man standing beside me. People went swiftly past, not noticing the peril I was in. Or maybe, he was the one to keep me out of peril. Hesitantly, I reached out and placed my hand in his. Instantly the street was gone and we were in a forest beside a bubbling stream. His eyes were green again and his black hair was straight and moving around his shoulders in the breeze. He gave my hand a squeeze and then let go.
Startled, I turned in a circle and gaped at the huge trees and greenery surrounding us. The chirping of birds and a soft breeze rustling the leaves calmed my nerves. I filled my lungs with exquisite fresh air. Rhys had started down a path leading deeper into the forest. He glanced back at me and beckoned me to follow. < Oh Chloe, what have you gotten yourself into?>
I felt my body start to tighten into a panic attack, but then a tiny, brilliant blue butterfly landed on my shoulder. A feeling of peace and warmth emanated from its little touch and spread like a wave throughout my whole body. I closed my eyes, relishing the feeling. After a few calming breaths, I opened my eyes and smiled. I tentatively took a step along the forest path, entering this strange world destined to be my future.