Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.
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Honi looked at his phone’s display deep in thought. When he raised his head, Adi walked into his field of vision. If anything, she looked even worse than yesterday. Although her hair was pulled back into a pony tail, the style couldn’t hide the greasiness of the strands pulled tight over her ears. There were shadows around her eyes that hadn’t been there before.
As Honi turned her way, every single spirit animal in the square turned with him and stared at the slight girl. The feeling of wrongness, of unbalance was made him nauseous. Ho’neo growled and slunk closer, tail between his legs. What the hell was going on? He walked a little faster and then realized what had bothered him from the moment he had met her. Where was hers? Where was Adi’s animal? If he could see everybody else’s, why could he not see hers?
When he drew closer, Adi looked up and met his eyes. Did she ever wear anything else but her gray hoodie with ratty jeans and trainers? He stopped in front of her and smiled. Adi smiled back tentatively.
“Hey, you’re up early,” she said.
“Yeah, couldn’t sleep. Weird dreams,” he responded casually while watching her closely. She flinched a little when he mentioned the dreams. He had suspected that her presence in his vision wasn’t accidental and he really wanted to confirm whether she could remember being there.
“We have half an hour before class. Wanna join me for a quick bite to eat?”
Adi hesitated for a moment, then nodded. Together they walked across campus to the only decent coffee shop close by. Honi spent more than he could afford on two scrambled eggs with chives and bacon. When Adi’s face lit up at the sight of the plate in front of her, he was glad that he had.
Once they were both scraping the last bit of food off their plates, it was time to find out how much Adi knew about her ability.
“So I’ve been having some weird dreams lately,” he began. Adi’s eyes snapped up to his and he tried to return her gaze as calmly as he could.
“Funny thing is that you were in my the last dream,” he continued. Then he waited.
Adi spent a long time chasing a piece of chive across her plate with what Honi assumed was her ‘thinking face’. Then she asked:
“Why would I be in your dream? You know that sounds seriously weird, right?”
Honi grinned. “Yeah, but not as weird as having you appear in my spirit journey.”
“What? Okay I’m intrigued. What the heck is a spirit journey? Is that some Indian thing?”
Honi chuckled. “We prefer Native American. Well, there are a lot of names you can use, although Indian isn’t one of them. That’s a whole different continent.”
Adi blushed. It looked good on her. “Sorry. What should I call you then?”
“How about Honi?” he said drily. “I’m Mekui’te and moved here from Oklahoma. Your turn.”
Adi smiled hesitantly, then said, “Well, you know my name is Adi and I moved here from Germany. My father was American, my mom German. I grew up in a town called Frankfurt and I’ve been back in the States for a couple of years.”
“And? Do you like it?”
“Yeah, it’s great. I’ve been back to the USA a few times. My father was keen on keeping in touch with his family.”
Honi noticed that she didn’t say “my family”. There was a story there but he didn’t want to pry. He thoughtfully took a sip from his Darjeeling while keeping eye contact with Adi. Wow, she did have beautiful eyes. The morning light lit up her whole face and now that he sat opposite her, he could appreciate the color of her irises. He wasn’t really a man of words and he couldn’t think of a good description. Amber maybe? Just then, her eyes began to narrow. Oh crap, he was staring at her, wasn’t he? He quickly changed tack. There wasn’t a lot of time left before class.
“So…, the reason I wanted to talk to you…,” he began. Adi waited politely. “I had the weirdest dream last night. It was kinda scary and you were in it.”
“Okay, that doesn’t sound any less weird the second time you say that,” Adi said drily.
“Hear me out. There is a Mekui’te tradition where young boys go through a test before they become men.” When Adi raised an eyebrow, Honi smiled ruefully. “Yeah, it’s old-fashioned and not many kids do it nowadays, but I did. So during this test, the boy is sent into the wilderness and has to fend for himself. The idea is that he gets himself into a state of altered consciousness and finds his spirit animal, his guide that will be with him for the rest of his life.”
Adi frowned. “Sorry, are you saying that you send children out by themselves? What if they’re attacked by animals or have an accident? Is that even legal?”
Honi laughed. “In the olden days, it was a test to see if the child would survive and become a worthy warrior. Nowadays the kid is more protected than if he went shopping at Walmart. My dad and his friend, other family members, even my mom were always around me, making sure I didn’t get into any situation I couldn’t get out of. I didn’t know until after, so it was still scary.”
“Wow, that’s a great tradition,” Adi interrupted. “So the child has the illusion of being tough and capable but at the same time is totally safe?”
Honi looked at her sharply but couldn’t detect any sarcasm. He felt pleased that she got the point of it.
“Yeah, when I walked back to our village, I felt ten feet tall. And even when I found out much later that there’d never been any danger, it didn’t make the achievement smaller.” Adi was leaning forward, listening intently.
“Sleeping under the stars, listening to the coyotes, that was an experience I wouldn’t want to miss. One of the greatest of my life so far, actually.” Honi and Adi shared another genuine smile.
Then Adi asked, “So did you find what your spirit animal is?”
Honi turned serious. “Yes, I did. And that’s why I wanted to talk to you. During the third night, I had a vision of a large wolf walking towards me. I was half asleep but the animal looked and felt real. I remember not being very scared. The minute I looked at him, I knew what he was. And he’s been with me ever since.” Adi’s eyes widened. Honi resisted the temptation to pat Ho’neo’s head next to his knees.
“So last night I had another dream. This time I was the wolf. And I met you in the spirit world. You knew me and we were friends.” Adi scooted back a fraction, clearly starting to freak out a little. Honi hesitated but he knew he had to continue.
“The dream was beautiful and peaceful but then it turned ugly. I dreamed that you were attacked. I tried to help but couldn’t and woke up. I’ve had nightmares before but not like this…” He stopped.
Adi had scooted back all the way. She took a sip of her tea and he could see her hand shake. She knew what he was talking about alright. Before he could say anything else, her mouth tightened and she stood up.
“Thanks for breakfast. Sorry you had a nightmare. Not sure what you want me to do about it but I gotta go now. Things to do before class. See you round.” And before Honi could say anything else, she walked off, nearly falling over a trashcan in her rush to get away.
Honi sat back. Huh. He’d certainly hit a nerve. Her reaction proved that she remembered being there. Just before she jumped up, he had seen the fear in her eyes. Damn it, he didn’t even get to the part where he tried to convince her that she might have the gift herself. And he was running out of time, if John was right.
Talking of running out of time…. He checked his watch. Time to go and spend the next ninety minutes with the ever delightful professor Diepger.