Tess returned to Sasha’s front porch, every hair on her tail standing at attention. Something or someone had been nosing around the house while she was gone. She hoped Mariel had convinced Sasha to follow instructions and that both girls were safely locked in the basement.
She walked through the closed door acknowledging the locked deadbolt with a small nod and paused just inside. The hairs on her tail relaxed when she felt Earth’s energy alive and well within the walls. Reaching outwards with her mind beyond the confines of the shielded house she recoiled. The energy outside the protections felt sick and tainted. It moved sluggishly and resisted her touch; more like wading through quicksand than the free-flowing energy field to which she was accustomed. Was it possible something in this town had poisoned or contained the energy? Had communication which flowed through the earth energy been effectively halted? If so, what else was affected? It occurred to her that since their move, communication with Sasha’s parents had been by traditional means such as telephone and email. Why had nobody questioned the lack of telepathic messages?
Tess could totally agree with Sasha that her parents’ decision to move to this god-forsaken little town was a recipe for disaster. If it had a single redeeming quality, she had yet to find it. Was it really the town or was someone in or near it thwarting her search for the girls’ parents? She gave herself a brisk shake. This wasn’t the time to dwell on the unknowns. She needed to find out what was standing in the way and clear it as soon as felinely possible; just as soon as she got Sasha and Mariel to safety. Before this was over, she knew a great many more untrained teenagers would have to be relocated as well. Preparing the compound to contain an unquantifiable amount of wild and untrained Gifts made her shoulders sag and she hadn’t even taken the first step yet.
Tess forced her thoughts away from lay ahead. She curled her tail around her while surveying the downstairs rooms, relieved to find signs the girls had followed the instructions she’d left with Mariel. The closet door in the entry was ajar and a couple hangers were askew as if their contents had been yanked off by impatient hands. The cupboards and refrigerator in the kitchen were hanging open, the shelves empty. Mounting the stairs to Sasha’s room she found the same small hurricane had spun through, leaving discarded clothing and knick knacks scattered across the bed and floor. The closet was a dark, gaping maw and the drawers hung from the dresser lacking a purpose.
She returned to the living room and deactivated the compulsions Sasha’s mother had enacted to keep the house stocked with food, ensure that Sasha had power and water, and provide a limited amount of protection for her. Her fur bristled as the protections yielded without resistance and she forced her muscles to relax again. She stamped her foot to remind herself that railing over the inadequacy of Barbara’s shields wasted what little time she might have to build the protective cocoon around the Star Guides’ most valuable assets. She closed doors and cupboards, turned off lights and shut down the thermostat making the house look like the family had left in a hurry, abandoning their home to the elements and whatever creatures chose to find shelter beneath its roof. Once satisfied she had done what she could to discourage any inconvenient attempts to locate Sasha and her parents, Tess headed for the basement door, satisfied the girls had followed the instructions she had given Mariel. Since both Sasha and Mariel were naturally inquisitive, stubborn as two young mules and not prone to doing things without a clear understanding of the purpose, she schooled her features to mask her surprise before revealing herself. Normal teenagers teetering on the edge of adulthood and unprepared for what lay ahead were unpredictable at best. But weren’t we all at some point?
Her lips twisted into a half smile. This is going to be an interesting journey.
She checked the house to ensure she hadn’t missed anything before walking through the door the girls had closed when they relocated to the basement. She stood on the top step listening to girlish laughter for a moment. Sighing, she moved down the steps, making more noise than necessary to avoid startling the girls, wishing she had the luxury of allowing them even a few more moments of childhood.
“Thank you for taking my instructions seriously.” Laughter died as she moved into view and looked into two pairs of cold, distrustful eyes. “I know you have a million questions and I promise they’ll be answered. Right now, though, we have to move.”
The girls rolled their eyes at each other, then rose from their nest of blankets, hands clasped tightly. Mariel’s unexpected arrival was proving to be a blessing in disguise in more ways than one. Coincidence? Tess had learned to distrust anything that even smelled like a coincidence. A light bulb went off in her brain. Is it really coincidence that Karl and Anita have also disappeared, or had Phil and Karl executed another of their crazy, elaborate plans? She’d learned long ago where thos...