The words hung in the air between us all for a second or two before they were swallowed up by the thick silence that was slowly stifling me. For another half a minute, no one answered or even moved.
Then eyes that had been staring into the waterlogged distance turned toward me with reluctance, as if pulled out of the daze I felt myself. Three pairs of eyes still clouded with shock at our sudden, very bad situation.
After a second, all of our eyes reverted back toward the surrounding view. It wasn't my hometown city in South Carolina anymore. If this had been a picture from some remote place my best friend Phil showed me, I would say it was cool. But, dude, this was not cool. If it was, it was cool in a very weird and terrifying way. What we should have been looking at was a crowded bunch of buildings and houses, tall and short, spreading about as far as the eye could see—which was pretty far. The streets would be below us—Far below us. And there would be people.
Sure, we saw buildings. And we could still see clear out into the distance because of our spot on the top of this cathedral's spire roof thing. But we could only see the tops of the tallest buildings now. A sea of water surrounded us on all sides, in all directions. A little unidentifiable wreckage floated here and there. But there were no streets and the people that used to live here were long gone on the ferry headed for safety, along with my parents, sarcastic sister Savanna, and that jerk who stole Caitlin's scooter, forcing me to come back here to save her.
I shook my head thinking and stared down at my hands. I could feel now Nim's instinct and the electric power that was trapped inside me ever since my pet's little friends bit me and I ended up in the hospital. It was ready to jump out and attack. That was two people I had hurt now: the bully (my sister's ex boyfriend) and the dude who stole Caitlin's scooter. People were afraid of me. I was afraid of myself. It wasn't right.
And all this ocean—it seemed to tug at me as if inviting, and I could sense more than just water out in the distance. We were alone up in this tall cathedral spire roof thing for now, but not for long. I could sense them all, creatures like Nimrod but much, much bigger. Did we have even the smallest chance of surviving this?
Nim was restless on the wall in front of me. He gave out his little dragon-like cry and frolicked, inviting me to play. I smiled and he began to "purr" in his own way that sounded a lot like a bunch of pebbles falling repeatedly onto wet stones.
He was my friend, the little lizardfish squirt I raised from an egg and the one that caused me so much trouble with dogcatchers, parents, friends and restaurant owners.
He was pretty crazy looking. His dull wet greenish skin rippled with little bunched muscles, especially in his forequarters. Spines of some kind frilled down the length of his compact little body and ended in a thin, fin-like tail. His claws were webbed and his eyes were like a cat's. Self consciously I remembered my own eyes had started looking the same recently.
My thoughts were interrupted thankfully by the two strangers standing on the other side of Caitlin. For the first time I really looked at them. Who were they anyway? I didn't know and instinct told me I should be careful.
The woman had a determined looking face framed by thick wavy brown hair, hard but kind eyes and a sharp, defiant looking chin. She held a long fingered hand up to her temple as she paced, despite our cramped space, and spoke rapidly, almost frantically.
"Rich, we need to do something. Something…w—we need a plan. Something. I know we can get out of here if we just think a bit. Before those—more of those creatures come back to pick us off. We can't lose hope, right? We'll just think up a plan and get out of here. I don't think we can wait for search and rescue. Does anyone even know we're out here?"
"My parents know me and Caitlin were left behind," I offered. I had jumped off the ferry before their eyes. They'd better know we were here.
"That's good." The woman stopped pacing and faced me. "They have a cell phone, right?"
"Uh, I think so…—"
"So we'll call them and...but how can they get to us? Rich, anything?"
The tall, brown haired, burly man beside her stood at a loss and shook his head firmly. "Calm down a little, Laura. I got nothing. So far. But we will." His voice held a small southern accent. He crossed his arms and stood more firmly, his serious, rough face frowning at the ground before us, shoulders tense. This guy was the one who worried me. Seriously, he'd been about ready to punch me after I didn't stop in time and almost ran over him and the other lady in my parent's siphoned car—accidentally. I thought we didn't have time to stop with that tsunami on our heels! And this Rich guy was practically freaking out when he saw Nim in the back seat with us after he took over driving. But then, everyone was afraid of Nimrod—even Caitlin sometimes. He did eat a dog, after all.
I glanced over at Caitlin. Her brown eyes still looked red from crying back there in the room below us before the second wave struck. At least the woman Laura seemed okay. She comforted Caitlin when I couldn't and just stood there, not knowing what to do. Laura didn't seem too confident right now though. Who could blame her?
Rich dug in his pocket and brought out a cell phone. "This is all we've got, right? So let's use it. Get the kid to call his parents and, supposing we survive long enough, with no food or water and sea monsters,"he pointed at Nim, "like that and bigger after us, we can at least count on someone knowing we're out here. We've survived in the middle of a freezing ocean before, I'm sure we can survive on top a building for a bit."
He stepped forward and held the cell phone out to me. "What's your name again, kid?"
"Miles Bennet," I answered and reached out to take the phone.
But I never got the chance to take it. My luck struck out again. As I stretched my fingers out in the phone's direction, a spark, green colored, electric, and deathly bright leaped from my fingers and hit the phone with a bright flare and a fizzing sound that made my heart sink. Not again.
I jerked my hand back and stared at the cell phone now on the ground, dropped in a rush. It probably wouldn't work any more. Rich jumped back and hugged his hand to his chest while gawking at me in shock. Caitlin looked away. Laura who hadn't been watching stopped abruptly and turned in my direction, confused.
"What happened? I heard something. What just zapped?"
"I'm sorry!" I mumbled and backed away from everyone else. Nim pranced over along the wall, oblivious.
Why did this always happen? I didn't want to hurt anyone else. It was enough that the bully had third degree burns all over his body and there were angry, frightened parents ready to burn me at the stake before the police interfered and warned everyone of the tsunami. It was enough that my parents and even Caitlin thought I was some kind of freak. I was and I only wished I knew why. I felt it. The electricity, the weird cat eyes, the strange animal instinct, the very thoughts of Nim and his friends swimming through my head—even the salt cravings—it wasn't natural! And now these strangers knew.
"What was that?" Rich asked, blinking. "Some kind of electric charge—? That's some static shock, uh, Miles." He laughed a little nervously.
"I don't get it. What happened?" Laura goggled from me to Rich.
Caitlin had her hands over her face. Then, wearily, she combed her fingers back through her beautiful light brown hair.
Please don't spill the beans, Caitlin, please, I pleaded silently.
"Miles…he…Miles, what should I say? I mean, what if they can help? They know about Nim's people, right? They've seen…I don't know, Miles…"
Why did she look close to tears again? I didn't understand. Maybe I could comfort her this time—she was still with me. She didn't hate me for being a freak, after all—it was the least I could do. I took a step toward her, but my outstretched hand became my doom once again as I watched in horror the green flash of a brilliant streak. She cried out and I staggered back, stumbling.
Suddenly, my leg hit the base of the wall and I briefly caught the sound of Nim's whine as I toppled backwards over the wall and fell headfirst into the bleak water far below. The last thing I caught sight of before I hit was a fleeting picture of everyone's faces staring in shock over the edge.