The pain in my face immediately faded, but it was replaced by a tingling sensation all over my skin. Blood was pouring into my mouth from my nose, and I tried to move my hand to wipe some away…
But I couldn’t move anything. I couldn’t even lift a finger.
My father’s chant had changed into humming, that same tune he’d been spouting this morning. He stepped out of my vision and I heard the door behind me open on River’s side.
I tried to yell something, to warn my brothers that they were about to be drugged, but all I could manage was a gurgle. Even my tongue was numb from whatever he’d shot me with.
Is he going to kill us?
The thought shot through my head as I heard River yell something and the sound of struggling behind me.
There’d been many times that he’d stared at me like he hated me, and some of my beatings had been so bad I’d actually wanted to die…but nothing had ever happened like this.
And where the fuck were we?
The struggling had stopped, and there were just garbled moans coming from River now.
But Caspian…my sweet little brother, was shrieking in fright. I could hear him trying to get out of his car seat, but I knew he wouldn’t be able to.
“Hendrix!” he was screaming as the truck door opened on his side. I couldn’t see what was happening since I couldn’t move my neck, but the sound of it was horrifying.
And then…there was just silence.
I tried to scream for Caspian again, desperate to know he was still alive, even though I knew the effort would be fruitless.
But all I could hear were River’s grunts behind me.
There was the sound of crunching footsteps, and then he was standing next to me again, reaching over me to undo my seatbelt. I immediately slumped over and he caught me right before I fell, dragging me easily out of the truck and onto the soil-covered ground.
My cheek was pressed against the dirt as he grabbed one of my arms and dragged me along the ground, tiny rocks embedding themselves into my skin. Thank goodness for the drug, I supposed. I could feel the pressure of the sharp edges digging into me, but the pain that should have been there as my skin was scratched off was non-existent.
We finally stopped, and I felt something cold and wet against my outstretched hand when he dropped it. The ground beneath me was also cold and wet. Sand maybe?
Something tickled my extended hand again. Water. I was near the water. It was small waves licking against my skin.
There was the sound of something being dragged across the ground towards me, and a few seconds later, River’s form appeared next to me. His eyes were wide and devastated as we stared at each other. I couldn’t give him any comfort. I had none to give.
I let out a bleating moan since it was the only thing I was capable of and listened as my father dragged Caspian towards us as well.
Of course he couldn’t just pick us up even though he was strong enough to hold all three of us at once. No, we had to go through the indignity of being dragged to our demise.
Caspian was plopped in between River and me.
“Demons!” my father abruptly screamed into the night air. “I will now free myself from the curse that has stained my house since the moment of their birth. I will be free!”
He stepped over our heads and then he grabbed all three of our still outstretched arms and began to haul us deeper into the water. Deeper and deeper until my body was floating and water was pouring into my open mouth.
I guess I hadn’t really thought much about my future. I had always just been dreaming of the day when I’d be free and able to get my brothers and me out of my father’s household.
But now here I was, at the end. I guess I was going to be free after all, just in a different way than I’d dreamed about.
I felt my father let go of my hand and then I was drifting, drowning…dying as I sunk below the cold depths.
The underwater world around me had drifted to a pinprick of blue, and I was at the end when suddenly, sparks started to light up my veins. The sparks moved through my body until they got to my heart.
I was on fire. All traces of the cold and the numbness…gone. I tried to move my leg, and I was able to kick out. Bubbles blasted from my mouth as I moved towards the surface, bursting above the water and gasping in huge gulps of air. My whole body was tingly and full of light. I moved to dive back down to try and grab my brothers, but they both popped up a second later, taking in heaving breaths of air.
I could see my father walking towards the truck in the distance. Suddenly, white-hot rage carved my insides up, combining with the strange sparks remaking me.
“I feel weird,” gasped Caspian. I was temporarily yanked from my anger and back to the situation where my little brother was trying to tread water. He’d only learned to swim in the spring. I swam over to him and arrived there right as River did, and then we worked together to head towards the beach.
The tingles were still all over my body, gathering in intensity and distracting me as I tried to get us to safety.
Except…it didn’t feel like trying. It wasn’t hard actually, not how it should have been since we’d just been drugged and almost died. I knew from my lessons that my body should have continued to shut down.
So what was happening to me?
We somehow made it to the shore as we heard the truck starting. I fell back against the sound, my body shaking…and not from the cold.
“Hendrix,” River cried out sharply, and I glanced over to see that the same thing was happening to him.
Abruptly, white-hot pain flashed through me, and I screamed in agony. Pain like I’d never experienced before laced every cell in my body.
I prayed for death like I’d never prayed for it before. My brothers’ screams mingled with mine in the air, and I wondered why we’d been spared a watery death only to experience this. What god had we angered before we were born?
Just when my mind was about to crack from the pain, it completely disappeared. Besides the sweat dotting my brow and my breath coming out in gasps, my body felt fine. Better than fine. I felt energized and strong. Like I could run forever if I needed to. Like I could lift anything. I’d never felt this way.