Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chapter 1 - Lightning

It was a fall day—the kind of day where the leaves glide down from the trees, spinning and swirling in their final moments before coming to rest on Earth. A tall, slender young teenage girl strode through the park, taking her usual short cut along the lake. Even though her feet shuffled through the leaves, she was oblivious to her surroundings. She did not notice the blowing leaves, or the geese teaching their younglings how to take flight on the cool morning waters. She was so deep in thought that she never noticed that she was being watched, and followed.

A desperate man who lived in the surrounding woods had been watching her all week. He noticed things that she did not--she always walked alone, she always carried an expensive purse, her clothes had designer labels, she wore top-of-the-line jewelry, and her arms carried a heavy load of books. The aimless man had hungrily eyed her belongings but had patiently waited for the right moment to take them. He did not want to be caught. He could not risk that an early morning jogger or someone walking their dog might notice anything. The timing had not been right all week long, until that morning. It had rained the night before, fog was still lifting off the water, and the ground was still sodden and damp. No one was strolling in the park that day, except Jade.

Jade was always lost in thought. She was an only child, raised by nannies and butlers while her parents traveled the world on business and pleasure. They were not unkind people or cruel. They gave her everything a young girl could ever want, except their time. When Jade was little their inattention made her sad. Jade sang to her herself to relieve that sadness. Everywhere she went she hummed a tune in her head. She wrote lyrics and beautiful melodies in her mind, humming them into creation. Jade had given up being driven to school by the chauffeur so that she could have the quiet time to practice her songs in the privacy of nature.

She was singing her latest song, “The moment I laid my eyes on you...the moment I saw your smile...” when her stalker attacked. He rushed up behind her and knocked her to the ground. Her books scattered across the wet grass and the geese began to honk and flap their wings in alarm. Jade was dazed and struggled to get to her feet. The slippery leaves on top of the wet grassy turf put her at a disadvantage. She was so frightened she could not even scream. In her terror everything felt as if it were in slow motion and she noticed that she could sense the smallest details--the individual raindrops on the leaves, the sound of leaves separating from the branches overhead, the movement of small animals peering out from the woods, and the pounding of her own heart. Jade clawed the ground in an attempt to get away. The man grabbed at her and his hands caught onto her necklace. It momentarily strangled her, and then broke away, causing her to fall once more. Jade stumbled forward and began to pull away but he grabbed the back of her shirt, catching her long brown hair in his grip.

Jade screamed and twisted around and threw her left hand up to defend herself. To her astonishment a bolt of bluish-green sparks burst out of her palm and struck her attacker in the chest. His eyes widened and his mouth gaped open in shock as he slumped to the ground. Jade fell back and watched in confusion as her attacker gasped for air and writhed in agony. He struggled for a few seconds then fell silent. Jade was not sure if he was faking or if she had hurt him somehow. It had all happened too fast! What was that lightening-like bolt? How had it come out of her hand? She looked at her hand and saw nothing out of the ordinary. She looked back at her fallen attacker and then decided to run. She grabbed her books, and began to sob as she ran back the way she had come. She knew she was not going to school today.