Spirit Hunger – Chapter 17

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 17

Honi had no classes after lunch. It left him plenty of time to mull over what had happened. He took a little stroll to his favorite place on campus, a small pond providing a home to a family of ducks. As he sat by the edge of the water, the occasional rumble of delivery trucks and the laughter and shouting of kids seemed very far away.

A mother duck with six yellow ducklings in tow gave him the stink-eye. When he didn’t move, she quacked indignantly and led her family around him towards the water. He watched in amusement as the little balls of fluff struggled to keep up with their brown-feathered leader.

Eventually they floated off, the mother gliding elegantly ahead, the babies floundering after her. The water of the pond soon was perfectly calm again and Honi’s mind settled as he stared at the dark surface. He moved into a meditative pose and breathed slowly in and out.

Ring! Ring! Honi jumped. For the love of… He’d picked a shrill, old-fashioned 1940’s ringtone but he’d forgotten to set his phone to silent on campus. He pulled his phone impatiently from his back pocket, grumbling under his breath. After snapping an impatient ‘hello’, he quickly added a somewhat contrite, “oh hey John, what’s up?”

  “Hi Honi, am I catching you at a bad time?” Honi could hear the amusement in his mentor’s voice.

“No, not really,” he sighed. Honi knew that John wasn’t calling to exchange pleasantries, so he waited for the older man to continue.

“So I talked to Dan Whitefir from the Southern Mekui’te reservation. His grandfather died back in the 60s, but Dan remembers some of the stories he told him when he was young.”

John’s voice was far more serious now and Honi listened intently.

“Dan told me what he knew about spirit animals. He confirmed what I already suspected. There’s a fine balance between this world and the spirit world. If that balance is destroyed, both worlds are in danger.” John stopped for a moment and Honi could hear him drink something.

“Sorry, I had a long talk with Dan, my throat is dry,” John explained.

“Sure, no problem. So what’s this got to do with Adi?”

John hesitated again. When he continued, he did it slowly, like he was talking to a frightened animal. “Honi. Are you… Do you like this girl?”

Now it was Honi’s turn to hesitate. He knew he was attracted to Adi. There was something about her, underneath her stubbornness and aggression. Something that drew him, that made him smile when he thought of her. Even now, talking to his mentor, he could feel his mouth curl up. The answer was easy.

“Yes. I like her. She’s special and I’d really like to get to know her better,” he said confidently.

John sighed again, an unhappy sound he couldn’t suppress. “Okay, let’s work with this. You might be able to save her if she returns your feelings.”

Honi blushed a little and quickly interrupted, “I’ve only spoken to her a few times. I have no idea how she feels about me and I’m not going to push her.”

“You may not have a choice. That boy who was killed? Remember I told you about him last time we talked?”

Honi nodded. After a second he realized that John couldn’t see him, so quickly added, “Yeah, I remember.”

“Dan’s grandfather told a story about the spirit animals growing angry if they were ignored by the few chosen who could see them. If that happened, they would eventually attack and… well, I think that’s what happened to the poor kid.”

Honi sniffed in disbelief. If that was true, how come this didn’t happen all the time? As if John could read his thoughts, he continued, “In the olden days, people believed more. Nowadays, with fewer and fewer people able to see them, the spirit animals are more vicious when they finally find somebody with the gift who denies it.”

Honi still listened intently. When John stayed silent for a moment, he asked, “So you believe Adi is one of the few, even though she isn’t Mekui’te? And because she doesn’t believe, the spirit animals are going to attack her eventually?”

They had certainly been acting very strangely over the last few days. Then another thought occurred to him. “John, I can’t tune them out anymore. I see them everywhere and no matter how much I try to control them, the dreams get worse.”

“Do you still dream of her?”

He admitted in a low voice, “A few times? Only the first one was a nightmare though, the others were… not?”

“Well, what were they about?”

Honi felt his ears go hot. How old was John anyways? Did he have to spell it out? When he didn’t say anything, the shaman eventually got it.

“Oh.” He laughed. “It’s like that, is it?”

Honi rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever.” He quickly changed the subject. “So what do you want me to do?”

John sounded serious again. “Befriend her. Stay close to her, she’ll need your help soon enough. Waiting for me to come back is only going to waste time you don’t have. And Honi…,” he sighed again, “don’t get too attached. It may already be too late.”

And with those comforting words the shaman hung up, leaving Honi staring at his phone. Images of bleeding eye sockets and a lifeless body swam through his mind for a second before he rubbed his forehead vigorously to get rid of them. He stood up resolutely, eager to find Adi and try yet again to convince her of something most people would consider fairytales and legends.

 

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Spirit Hunger – Chapter 16

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 16

Adi looked at him expectantly and Honi wasn’t quite sure how to start. Her outfit was drab, her hair parted in the the middle and tied into a messy ponytail. There was nothing special about her at first glance but the closer he looked at her, the more he noticed. The girl was truly beautiful. She obviously didn’t know this herself which added to her appeal. Her perfect lush lips, her cute nose, slightly turned-up at the end, her luminous honey brown eyes, now slightly narrowed in growing irritation, it all made her increasingly attractive.

“You’re quite done staring yet?” She lifted her eyebrow as she waited for his response. He liked this about her as well. She certainly wasn’t a pushover, maybe a little too aggressive at times, but always with an underlying vulnerability that made him feel like wanting to protect her.

Before she could say anything else, he put his cup down. “There are stories about people like us in our tradition,” he began slowly.

“People like us?” Adi interrupted.

“People who can see spirit animals. I’ve been able to see them since I was a little child. The shaman recognized my gift early on and trained me.”

“Why do you keep calling this a gift?” Adi looked a little upset. Honi’s heart went out to her. It must have been very hard for her to be able to see people’s souls but not understand what she was seeing. Once again, he silently thanked his family who took such great pains in educating him and showing him his path.

Then he looked back at Adi’s troubled face and tried to think how best to approach this. “It’s a gift because we are the intermediaries between the spirit world and the representations of the human spirit. Soul, essence, character, it all means the same. When we die, our spirit rises to another realm, the spirit world.”

“Yeah, I’m not really religious,” Adi interrupted.

Honi could see that he was losing her, so he continued quickly, “This has nothing to do with organized religion. These stories have been around for many many generations. And aren’t the animals you see around you every day enough proof that there is more to our world than people know? Do you think it’s a coincidence that all our mythology has animal representations of human characteristics?”

“What do you mean?” Adi leaned forward a little.

“Well, you know I’m Mekui’te. Our people have many stories that were passed down the years. For example, Wi’ite the great trickster was both a spider and a man. Wanna hear the story?”

Adi nodded, “Yes please, I really love fairy stories.”

Honi laughed. “I’ve never heard anybody refer to the great trove of Mekui’te legends as fairy stories! There are no princesses or Prince Charming and a lot of them are not exactly PG.”

Adi’s mouth twitched a little. “Really? That sounds interesting, please carry on.”

“Yeah, many legends deal with incest or girls marrying animals. When animals take on human shape or men can turn into coyotes, modern rules don’t apply.”

“True, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog, even Little Red Riding-hood are borderline.”

“I’ll tell you a quick legend of Wi’ite.” Honi’s voice dropped as he remembered when he first heard this tale. John had told the story to all the kids around the campfire. They had huddled together, staring into the orange heat of the flames. The crackling and whooshing of the leaping fire was a formidable barrier against the night noises and black shadows of giant firs encroaching on their little campsite.

Honi had felt safe in the arms of his father whose bulk was both protective and warm against his own scrawny 5-year-old body. When John began speaking in a hoarse deep murmur, every child’s eyes were wide and glued to the shaman’s silhouette next to the fire.

“A village owned two horses. Little Fox, Wi’ite’s enemy, was the Chief’s son-in-law. Wi’ite found out that Little Fox wanted to play a trick on Wi’ite and decided to punish him for it. He went out into the wilderness.

There he found one of the horses and he put it to sleep. After it was fast asleep, he found Old Mouse and he said to her, “here is a dead animal. Go to Little Fox and tell him, ‘My dear grandson, here is a dead animal. I couldn’t move it. Just near the village, that’s how far out it is. Pull it to one side, and we alone shall eat it,’ you may say to him.

“Mouse was very willing, so she ran back and spoke to Little Fox. But Wi’ite ran back and waited for them in the village.”

Honi paused. Adi was listening intently with a little smile on her face. Honi felt a flutter in his stomach. He really liked the way she focused on his face so intently. While he talked, he had forgotten where they were. The background noise had all but disappeared and it felt like there were only the two of them. Adi blinked and he hurriedly continued before the spell broke.

“Mouse tied together the tails of Little Fox and the horse. She tied them very tightly. Little Fox said, ‘I am strong. I will pull it.’ When he tried to pull it, he woke up the horse. When it saw an animal fastened to its tail, it became frightened. It ran away and dragged Little Fox like a branch to the village.

“Right away, Trickster shouted very loudly, ‘Look at Little Fox, the son-in-law, he is doing something crazy. Look at him!’ All of them ran out. There Little Fox was bouncing up and down, tied to the horse’s tail. Finally it went back to its owner and they untied Little Fox. His mouth just quivered as he sat there. He was very ashamed. He didn’t even go back to his own lodge. Now from there he went away somewhere and that was the last of him. He had a wife and many children, but he left them all there.”

Honi paused for effect, “since then he has never again been among the people. Anywhere they saw him, he would feel ashamed. If one is seen someplace, his mouth would twitch as he sits. For he is ashamed of this same thing, even to this day. That’s the story why foxes are so shy, to this very day,” he finished solemnly.

There was a moment of silence. He nervously looked at Adi. Was she bored? He had always liked the story but it was very simple and maybe Adi didn’t appreciate the old-fashioned feel of the tale. But then Adi’s eyes lit up.

“Wow, that’s a great story! You know, this really reminds me of the tales my grandmother in Germany read to me. Everybody only knows the disneyfied versions, like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but there are so many more stories. And many of them feature animals with human characteristics like Oda and the Snake or the speaking horse head Falada!”

Honi sat up in surprise. It hadn’t occurred to him that European tradition might have anything in common with his own Mekui’te legends. But of course, at some stage Europeans had lived off the land not unlike the plains tribes. And if you went far enough back, research into human history showed that all of humanity derived from only 3000 individuals. So why wouldn’t the spirit world and its animals be a common phenomenon all over the world? Just because modern society didn’t believe in anything that couldn’t be measured and photographed?

“Would you tell me some day? I would love to hear those stories and compare them to my own tradition,” he asked.

Adi returned his smile. “Of course.” Then she frowned. “I still don’t understand what that has to do with my… my gift as you call it?”

Honi took another sip of his milky drink, then glared at his glass as he set it back down. Warm frappe, not his favorite thing. He considered his answer for another few seconds.

“My point in telling you all of this is that these stories have been around as long as people have. And there’s a reason for it. My ancestors, and yours as well, used to see spirit animals everywhere. For some reason the ability has declined and now there are very few who can see them.”

“But what’s the point?” Adi asked, not unreasonably.

“I’m not sure. Our shaman told us that losing the connection to the spirit world is a bad thing. They feed from the living and we feed from them. There should be an exchange between the spirit world and our world, and for generations, that exchange has become less and less. We just don’t know what the effect will be in the long run.”

Adi looked very skeptical. “And you really believe that?”

“I do. Have you not noticed that many of the animals are looking sick and act aggressively?”

“I wouldn’t know what’s normal.” Adi swallowed. “I saw them when I was a child. Then I got better and they disappeared. Now they’ve come back. I’m still not sure if you’re sharing my delusions or if you’re serious.”

Honi bent forward and took her hand. She was so fragile and her fingers felt like he could crush them if he tried. The wave of protectiveness towards her surprised him with its intensity. He swallowed and concentrated on her eyes.

“I’m not delusional. And neither are you. I don’t know what happened to you as a child but believe me, you weren’t crazy then and you aren’t crazy now. This is real. And if you want to, I’ll help you control the visions.”

Adi’s breathing had turned shallow and fast, and while Honi still watched her, he saw her emotions flit over her face until they settled on determined. She firmly pulled her hand out of his. Honi immediately missed the warmth and softness of her palm.

Adi got up quickly after glancing at her iphone screen. “Thanks for the tea. I had a great time but I’ve really gotta run. I’m late for class,” she quickly said. Her voice was firm and she had obviously come to a decision.

She grabbed her bag and before Honi could say anything else, he looked at her back halfway to the exit already. The mirror above the sofa where Adi had sat only a minute ago reflected his confusion back at him. That could have gone better. He was sure he had gotten through to her but at the last moment, she had withdrawn, just like last time. Something was preventing her from trusting him fully.

He pushed down hard at the little flutter of worry rising inside of him. She would be back, he was sure of it, and maybe she’d be more willing to listen to him then. He only hoped it wouldn’t be too late to help her. A whine and a quick wet swipe of Ho’neo’s tongue let him know that his wolf shared his concern.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 15 

Link to Chapter 17 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 15

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 15

Adi didn’t want to let go of his large, warm hand but didn’t know how to hold it any longer without it becoming awkward. Needing her hand to open the door out of the building was a good excuse to let go. When she glanced over at him, he seemed disappointed for a split-second before his usual serene expression took over.

“I need a cup of tea. You?” she asked self-consciously.

Honi smiled weakly. “Yeah, lead the way.” They walked shoulder by shoulder the brief distance to the coffee shop. Their foot steps crunched in unison on the loose gravel and the occasional small rock got flung aside. The noises of spring were all around them. The conversational chatter of students hadn’t managed to scare away chipmunks and bluejays.

There was an odd tranquility over campus that belied Adi’s inner turmoil. She was grateful for the little breather it allowed her. The constant having to ignore what was plain for her to see was eating up her nervous energy. She was craving Honi’s state of mind, his calmness. He seemed incapable of being rattled and Adi was looking forward to learning how to achieve his zen. A feeling which lasted another ten minutes until Honi stumbled, dropping his books everywhere and hissing a curse in exasperation.

And there, for just a moment, Adi saw the wolf she had seen in her dream appear by his side. There was no doubt, Adi would have known the creature anywhere. The animal was massive. Walking next to the tall boy, its shoulder reached as high as Honi’s hips. The large paws gave away its youth but the sapphire blue eyes held a wisdom beyond its age. The vision only lasted for a second but the wolf looked straight at Adi and… smiled?

Adi returned the smile in reflex and before she could straighten her face, Honi said softly, “you see him?” For a moment Adi wanted to deny it, but then sighed and nodded. Holding her breath, she waited for the inevitable response, for the smirk, the pitying widening of his eyes. Instead Honi picked up his books, took her hand again and said, “You’re the only one who can, you know? Well, besides me, obviously.”

Adi was still slightly in shock when they arrived at the small two-story building with its red brick facade and green awning. The young man politely held the door for her and she slipped into the dark interior. The clattering background noise of coffee shops everywhere soothed her racing thoughts. Hushed murmuring, the sharp wet hiss of the cappuccino machine and the clinking of porcelain added to the soundscape. What a pity that she didn’t like coffee, she thought yet again. The smell, warm and deep, wrapped around her senses like tendrils of liquid comfort.

She walked to the front desk and ordered a cup of Orange Pekoe with a feeling of regret, of missing out on a big secret that most other people shared, but that she was excluded from. Then again, coffee tasted gross, she decided defiantly, lifting her head and meeting the barista’s judging look straight on. Honi added his order of chocolate frappe with a friendly smile and Adi couldn’t help noticing how much the amused expression in his face suited him. Still, she had a reputation to uphold so she said sharply, “I don’t like coffee, okay?”

Honi lifted his hands in mock surrender. Still smiling, he paid for both beverages despite Adi’s admittedly weak protest. They picked up their orders and Honi led the way to a wooden table in the back of the room. The terra-cotta feature wall was complemented by a chocolate brown soft sofa that was just the right level of squishiness to be supremely comfortable, yet firm enough to offer some support. Adi had snuggled into the sides of the leather three-seater many times and she quickly out-paced her companion to secure her favorite seat. Honi gave her a slightly irritated look and settled on the single leather chair instead.

“I haven’t been here a lot,” he admitted.

“I love the atmosphere in here. Particularly the way the coffee and spices smell,” Adi replied. She adored the freshly-baked scent of muffins mingling with the cinnamon and vanilla flavored coffees. It reminded her of her grandmother Oma-Adi back in Germany, about the stories she told of Scheherazade beguiling the Sultan with 1001 stories. Oma-Adi would sometimes sip her special chai tea, exuding the same fragrance of warming scents that to Adi encapsulated all the magic of the Orient. She sighed contentedly. Then she remembered why they were here and her mood changed quickly.

“So you can see them too?” She stopped herself and pulled up her shoulders. This was something she’s been spending most of her life denying, so saying it out loud felt daring and brash. Honi didn’t answer immediately. His long body sprawled in his chair, legs parted, thumb stuck in his front pocket. The large glass with its dark content topped with white cream covered the lower part of his face as he sucked thoughtfully, but his warm brown eyes were looking steadily at her. Adi twitched a little under the attention. People, men, didn’t usually look at her like that. Eventually, Honi put his glass down and sat forward. He continued holding her gaze with his intensity.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 14 

Link to Chapter 16 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 14

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 14

Diepger continued glaring at her and Adi held his gaze without blinking. Her stomach felt heavy and her head faint with nerves. She really hated confrontation but no way would she look away first. As she stared at him, something moved on his shoulder. Adi’s eyes widened. She suppressed a shocked inhale. There it was again! Just like before, a small monkey, its face twisted with malevolence.

Diepger said something but Adi wasn’t listening. That animal freaked her out so badly as it looked at her, never blinking. Then, as Adi continued to watch, it deliberately lifted its skinny fingers, tipped with sharp nails, and plucked out its own eye. This time Add gasped, overcome with the memory of her dream. Her blood was thudding so hard in her ears, she couldn’t hear anything around her. As she stared, her mouth hanging open in shock, the creature vanished.

“…have you gone deaf? I am talking to you! Are you trying to challenge me, here in my classroom, in front of my class?”

Adi suddenly became aware that there was total silence around her, except for her teacher talking louder and louder until he was screaming at her. When her eyes met his, the anger in his face felt like a physical punch.

“You know what? Get the hell out of my lecture! I don’t need you sitting here, pretending to be, whatever you’re pretending to be…” God, he was so angry, he tripped over his own words. Adi blindly fumbled for her things and got up. She needed to get away.

Then she heard a deep calm voice behind her: “Professor Diepger, I’m sure Adi didn’t mean to be disrespectful…” When Adi turned around, she saw Honi look at the teacher with a pained expression on his face. He quickly glanced over to Adi and threw her a smile. That was a mistake.

Diepger took a deep breath and bellowed, “Well, if you’re such good friends, why don’t you join your crazy girlfriend! Get out of my class!” and he theatrically stuck out his hand, pointing at the exit door. Adi’s eyes were burning and she was seconds away from bursting into tears. No way was she going to give that jerk the satisfaction. She grabbed her bag, pushed past the boy sitting next to her and ran outside.

“Adi, wait!” Honi called after her. Damn it, she had gotten him expelled as well. She felt like she owed him, trying to stand up for her, whatever good it had done, and stopped with her head hanging down. Honi stepped around her and said quietly, “You’re upset. You look like you need a hug.” And before Adi could respond, the young man had pulled her gently against his chest and held her tight.

Once again Adi was calmed by his scent. She couldn’t help herself, after all the upset and feeling tired and mentally exhausted, she let go, pressed closer against his warm chest and started crying. Honi held her tight and walked her to a few chairs in front of somebody’s office. He guided her down without saying anything.

Adi couldn’t stop crying. She sobbed even though her face probably looked like an ugly mess. Every time she calmed a little, she thought of something else. Her parents’ death. Her fear that her father’s family hated her so much they tried to have her declared mentally unfit. Her nightmares. Everything just came to a head in Honi’s arms.

She pressed her cheek against his shirt and tried to ignore how the fabric turned damp under her face. His heart beat steadily compared to her own frantic pounding. It felt incredibly safe and she snuggled just a fraction closer against his chest. They sat like that for a  while until Honi moved back a little. Lifting her chin, he asked softly, ”Hey, are you okay? We should probably move before class is over.”

Adi didn’t want to move away from him but equally she didn’t want the rest of the students to see her like this. She wasn’t a child, she was a grown-up and now embarrassment crept up on her. Christ, Honi must think she was a nut case. She sat up straight and turned her face away. Her eyes were probably red and swollen, tear tracks down her face, and oh no, had she snotted onto his clothes?

Honi kept his hand on her chin and then he kissed her forehead. Just a small peck but when Adi looked up, he seemed just as surprised as she was. His face slowly turned red and with a feeling of giddiness, Adi realized he was blushing. It made her smile. Apparently she wasn’t the only one affected by the situation. Resolutely, she stood up and pulled him to his feet by his hand. He followed willingly and they stood opposite each other, still smiling.

“Come on,” she finally said. Seeing that ugly monkey on Diepger’s shoulder had made up her mind. She was done ignoring the situation. Unless she was suffering a psychotic break, Honi was her best chance to find out what was going on. If he had the same experience, maybe he knew what to do about it.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 13 

Next chapter on Monday

Link to Chapter 15

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 13

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

 

spirit-hunger

Chapter 13

Adi was upset. The conversation with Honi had started out so pleasantly and for a little while, she’d been able to forget her dreams. Of course it couldn’t last. When Honi had started talking about his nightmare, the images from last night had invaded her mind with such power that she stopped breathing for a moment. Continue reading “Spirit Hunger – Chapter 13”

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 12

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

 

spirit-hunger

Chapter 12

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.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 11 

Link to Chapter 13 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 11

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spirit-hunger

Chapter 11

It was time to go back. Honi walked faster, feeling the night’s icy chill biting through his jeans. He cursed himself for forgetting his gloves and stuck his hands deep into his pockets. A loose thread kept getting stuck under his fingernail and he pulled at it with a scowl. His shoulders were hunched and he doubted the wisdom of stomping through the night instead of reading some books in his light-filled heated room.

It was pitch-dark in the park, streetlights and traffic blocked by large trees and bushes. His imagination conjured up ominous noises and movement in the blackness that wasn’t there. A cold breeze blowing down his neck – because he was too stupid to remember a scarf as well as his gloves – added to his growing unease.

Just as he decided to screw his dignity and break into a jog, the night became less impenetrable. Minute by minute, the pale light grew until the lifting fog revealed rocks and trees instead of distorted and hunched over trolls. By the time he left the park and re-entered college grounds, the sun was climbing over the city’s high rises. As he stared, the light suddenly exploded above the last edge of building and blinded him with its intensity.

He blinked his eyes closed and smiled as the light broke through the night’s chill and warmed his skin. As long as the sun rose every morning, everybody living under it would get their do-over, John always said. Until they didn’t, a dark voice inside of Honi whispered. He shook his head at himself. Damn, he was negative this morning. John would kick him with that attitude. The thought made him smile. It had been a long time since John could best him physically. Not that that stopped him verbally abusing him if he felt like it.

Now he was chuckling to himself like a weirdo. Maybe he could call the shaman before class. John always rose early. Checking his phone, Honi blinked. Damn, he needed to get back, grab a bite to eat and get his books ready for class. He had lost track of time while talking to himself. A few minutes later, he was leaving the dorm when his cell phone rang. A quick glance confirmed that John had beaten him to it.

“What’s up?” Honi asked casually as he crossed the square between the dorm buildings.

“Honi, are you okay?” The young man frowned.

“Yes?” he slowly replied, waiting for further explanation. John was silent for a moment.

“Something’s happening in the spirit world. The spirits are agitated and some of the younger kids have had really bad dreams…” Again he hesitated. Honi frowned. It was rare that the shaman was at a loss for words and he seemed even more intense than usual.

“I had some worrying visions myself last night. The spirit world is restless,” John finally continued.

Honi was thinking for a moment. Then he said, “I went spirit-walking last night. It didn’t go well.”

His mentor stayed silent, waiting for the young man to continue. Honi imagined John sitting in his kitchen with the old-fashioned pea-green phone connected to the wall with the spiral cord that always entangled itself. His wife Judy had threatened to cut the damn thing with her kitchen scissors if John didn’t upgrade it. Such a rush of bitter-sweet homesickness hit Honi that he needed to close his eyes for a moment and compose himself.

“I was there as the wolf.” No need to clarify where “there” was. “This girl I told you about? Adi? She was there too. We…,” again he hesitated, “we played. It was peaceful and she wasn’t afraid of me.”

Honi swallowed hard as the memories rose up. “I don’t know what changed but suddenly… Suddenly we were attacked… She was attacked by these things, they looked like birds…”.

Honi’s voice shook as he recalled the shock he felt when he saw the misshapen creature holding Adi’s eyeball in its beak. Even though he knew it wasn’t real, her scream had torn through him and even now, he felt like throwing up. He continued, his words tumbling over each other, “They attacked her and hurt her badly. They blinded her and I tried to help her and I jumped and fought but I had to run! There were too many…,” his voice trailed off again, helplessly.

John was still quiet on the line. Honi waited, then whispered: “John? You still there?” The shaman grunted, then Honi heard a deep inhale. “Yes. I get a feeling that this isn’t good. Something about this girl is provoking the spirit world, and that can’t be good for any of us. I’ve only ever heard of one case like this and it didn’t end well.” Again he stopped and Honi could hear his loud breathing through the phone line.

Then he continued in his slow, measured way, “Many years ago, there was a young man over in Custer County, Weatherford, if I remember correctly. He had terrible nightmares. Every night he was screaming himself awake. Then one day he disappeared and was found dead in the hills. The coroner declared it death through exposure. There wasn’t much left of him. Coyotes had seen to that.

“But just before he disappeared, he started talking about seeing all kinds of animals following him, and that they were hunting him, even into his dreams. Nobody took it seriously. His friends thought he was trying to draw attention after his girlfriend ran out on him.”

Another long moment of silence. “His father asked me to look at the body and I could feel that something wasn’t right. There were wounds on the poor kid that didn’t look like coyote bites. You know, he looked like he had been attacked by lots of different animals, birds, coyotes, snakes.”

Honi held the phone tighter to his ear. “So what, you think this’ll happen to Adi?”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t around to talk to the boy then. When I saw his body, it was too late. But I have a feeling that your friend might be in danger. Hang on a second.” John put his receiver down and Honi could hear him talk to somebody. After a moment, he was back on the line:

“I’m really sorry. I’d like to come down and speak to her myself. Unfortunately I’m leaving for South Dakota tomorrow and won’t be back for a week. You need to talk to her, Honi.”

“Talk about what exactly?”

“About what she sees, whether she has nightmares. Find out if she has the gift and tell me.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know her that well…,” Honi trailed off.

“Try. It might not just be her in danger.” And with these cryptic words, the shaman hung up.     

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 10 

Link to Chapter 12 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 10

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 10 

Honi often woke up from his spirit travels slightly disoriented. While his body slept, his spirit was busy navigating an alternative reality. He was used to feeling tired and not very well rested after those nights. This morning was no exception. He opened his eyes and stared at his dorm room ceiling. He had spent a couple of hours when he moved in and stuck night sky constellations on the white painted plaster. The eerily glowing sticky stars were a strange comfort to him and helped him remember where he was.

This journey had been particularly weird. Honi was used to strange visions and John had told him in the past that the spirit world would never expose him to more than he could handle. This time though he felt like he was pushed a little far. Vague memories made him shudder. He tried hard to recall what exactly made him feel so uneasy.

There was a girl. His brows drew together in concentration. Not just any girl, Adi with her hair down and looking serene and happy. Ho’neo had merged with him for this experience. He remembered a strong feeling of belonging and an urge to protect. Honi smiled at the memory of her fingers caressing his fur, relaxing him. There was nothing sexual about touch and it had felt so nice, so peaceful. Her little body, even smaller when he was in his wolf form, curled up against him. Her warmth against his flank, an overpowering instinct to protect, to love.

And yet there was still this unease, this dread. It made him itchy. Honi closed his eyes and did an internal check on his body. This was a basic meditative technique that had served him well ever since he was a young boy on his first spirit quest. He relaxed each body part in turn, feet, thighs, hips, belly, chest, arm, hands, and finally his face and head. The familiar routine calmed him and allowed him to try to assess what else he had experienced in his journey.

There was something else, something his mind wasn’t allowing yet to rise to the surface. Honi frowned and tried harder. Little by little, the calmness drained from him again and was replaced with fear. A threat was coming.

Honi’s teeth ground together and he willed himself to relax his jaw muscles. The dream images strengthened and Honi’s eyes flew open. He moaned a little with what he saw in his mind. Adi had been under attack and he had tried so hard to defend her. There had been too many flying shapes. His wolf eyes hadn’t allowed him to recognize the animals but they were evil and their intent murderous.

He threw his arm up over his eyes as if to wipe the images off his brain. Those bird-like creatures had hurt the girl, had plucked both her eyes out and the wolf could do nothing but watch and suffer with her. Adi’s screams echoed in his mind and Honi rolled himself into a ball, whimpering as if he still were the wolf. He nearly threw up, swallowing convulsively to keep the bile down. Adi wasn’t really hurt, he kept chanting over and over in his mind. It had felt real though and suddenly he was overcome with a protective rage that slammed into him like a fist to the stomach.

He sat up in his bed and shook his head, trying to clear it some more. He needed to talk to Adi. Ho’neo had allowed him to experience these images during his spirit journey. There was a reason why he had witnessed the attack on her. That together with her uncanny ability, the gift she shouldn’t have, made him fear for her safety. He quickly splashed water into his face and cursed his long hair. As much as he loved the effect it had on girls and didn’t mind the extra care he had to take with it, today he really just wanted to finger-brush it and get out.

Then he caught a glimpse of his face, the wild eyes and near manic expression. It brought him to a dead stop. He couldn’t go and meet Adi like this. Plus it was way too early. He needed to wait at least another couple of hours before he could try to barge into her dorm. He knew that they had another class together first thing so maybe he could catch her outside the classroom before she went in.

He took his time with the rest of his morning preparation, brushing his teeth and throwing on a white t-shirt. He would have loved to wear something nicer but he was completely out of clean clothes and this was the last shirt that didn’t smell like he’d worked out in it. So what, he wasn’t trying to impress her, right? Honi scoffed at the thought. Adi wasn’t really his type at all, too small, too skinny, too pale. The reason why he wanted to rush to her side was because she needed help.

And yet – his wolf had felt attraction to her. Honi knew not to ignore his spirit animal’s intuition. Ho’neo had felt safe with Adi. Honi shook his head. He didn’t want to examine this thought any closer. He quickly scanned the room for the wolf but he was wherever spirit animals went to when they didn’t want to hang. Honi scoffed. Trust the wolf to get lost when Honi needed a distraction. He was too wired to stay in his room, yet it was too early – a quick glance at his alarm clock made him roll his eyes – to talk to Adi.

So he walked. Campus security were used to him stretching his legs at weird times of the night. When he first got here, he was stopped a few times but pretty soon everybody got used to him walking around the large green space between the dorm buildings or even the park not far away. The place was so different at night. The daily chatter and clamor of students was replaced by different sounds, the barking of foxes, the melodic rasp of cicadas later in the year. Sometimes he felt like he was the only person alive on the planet. Tonight though, he wasn’t alone.

In fact, there were quite a few kids. Some swaying suspiciously after a late party, some working late shifts and getting home for a few hours sleep before late morning lecture. And every single one had a spirit animal on their shoulder or walking with them. No amount of squinting or concentrating made them disappear. Honi hadn’t experienced such a lack of control over his ability since he was a kid. Another question that needed to be answered. Right after why Adi appeared in his dreams.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 9 

Link to Chapter 11

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Chapter 9 

Tall grass blades rustled in the wind. A blue sky stretched over miles and miles of rolling hills, mirroring the color if not the texture of wind-driven ocean waves. Adi stood still on the highest point, enjoying the soft warm caress of the breeze on her skin. Her hair fell freely around her shoulders and even though her feet were bare, the grass did not hurt them. That alone made her realize that this couldn’t be reality. It felt so peaceful, so soothing, just standing here, looking around her. The sun was bright but didn’t burn or glare, the wind was gentle and rustled with hypnotic rhythm through the prairie grass.

When the rustling increased behind her, she turned around dreamily, no rush, no fear. The grass parted and she found herself face to face with the most beautiful animal she had ever seen. She took in the wolf’s sapphire eyes, the white teeth in his parted mouth, his over-sized puppy paws, too large for his body. She didn’t feel afraid. The animal took a step towards her, his tail wagging like a dog. There was no threat in his movement, no growling. In fact his face looked like it was smiling at her.

Adi stretched out her hand and the wolf sniffed it in a dog-like fashion. She smiled and scratched behind his ears. The animal’s eyes closed contentedly and he laid before her feet to enjoy her caress better. Adi followed him down and curled next to his furry bulk. The wolf briefly licked her hand, then settled down for a nap. For a moment his scent seemed familiar to Adi. There was none of the faintly unpleasant odor she knew from large dogs. The wolf smelled of ozone and fir trees, pleasant, woodsy and calming. Adi smiled and relaxed further against the animal’s strong side.

She didn’t know how long they were pressed against it each other. After a while, she was a little bored and started shifting around. One of the animal’s eyes opened and conveyed how not impressed he was with her wiggling. Adi stilled for a moment, but then on a whim poked the wolf in his side. With a surprised ‘whoof’, the wolf rolled to his front and sprang up. His head tilted he seemed to consider her for a moment, then without further warning licked her face.

“Ewww,” she giggled and wiped his slobber off her skin. When the wolf tried again, she made a run for it. Vaguely she remembered hearing that one should never run from a wild animal. Surely that didn’t apply to a dream though? She made it a couple of steps when she saw the black coat of her new friend out of the corner of her eyes. When she turned her head, his face looked so funny with his lolling tongue, that she laughed out loud and put on a burst of speed.

She gained a little bit of distance before he was huffing behind her, the noise getting louder and louder. Before she could brace herself, a huge weight hit her back and she was taken down. The wolf wrapped himself around her and they rolled together before Adi ended up on top of the animal, laughing helplessly. Briefly it occurred to her that if this were reality, she’d be dead, but in her dream, there was no danger, only safety with her furry friend. His tongue licked her face again and she warded off his attacks with both arms, giggling so hard that her face hurt.

For a while, both beast and human rested in each other’s arms – or paws. Adi’s face was only inches away from what in nature would be a fierce predator, her natural enemy that could rip her throat out with one clench of his jaws. His eyes were kind though and when Adi looked closely into them, her own widened. She could see a person in there, like a photographic overlay, a transparent figure that reminded her of somebody. Somebody she liked. A lot. But she couldn’t focus enough and when her eyes blinked, all that was there was the wolf.

Suddenly his ears pricked up. Muscles and tendons tensed under her body and with a quick shuffle, the animal squirmed out from under her. Adi fell onto the ground with a huff. It didn’t hurt, it was still a dream after all, but something was wrong. A feeling of dread crept up on her and when she raised her head, she saw that bright blue sky had turned into a maelstrom of grey and black clouds. That couldn’t be good.

Wake up, wake up, wake up! Adi always managed to wake herself up when dreams turned bad before. When she was a kid, she could even continue where she left off if she got woken out of a good dream. Why didn’t it work now? Her furry companion reacted to the threat as well. His furry butt turned towards her, the wolf stood in front of her, neck hair on edge, both front legs stiff and anchored to the ground as if he were trying to ward off an attack. What could possible freak out a huge powerful predator? Adi looked in the direction the wolf was facing but couldn’t see anything but swaying grass.

Then beating wings, loud as bull whips, sounded right above her. Adi’s head snapped up, just in time to see a black shape hurdle past her field of vision. Adi gasped and twisted her body out of the way but couldn’t avoid the sharp beak tearing a hole into her sleeve. What the hell was that? Before she could react, she felt her skin tear when another bird-like creature attacked. Adi screamed when the pain burned through her like a knife cut. There was no time to check her injury with more and more attacks happening quickly.

Adi felt her hair being torn off her scalp and when she touched her head, her hand came back covered in blood. She heard her friend growl and snarl as he jumped as high as he could to defend her. There were just too many sharp claws and beaks. Adi cowered on the ground and covered her head with her hands that were torn mercilessly. A sharp yelp made her look up and she saw the wolf being beaten back by a cloud of creatures. They weren’t birds exactly, more like caricatures of what some mad artist might conjure up.

Then an unbearable pain tore through her left eye. Her remaining eye stared in disbelief as a creature retreated triumphantly, clutching an eyeball with trailing nerves and muscles in its beak. Adi’s mind wailed in horror. This couldn’t happen to her, why her, never her! And just before her second eye was torn from her skull, her friend and protector turned tail and abandoned her.

Adi shot up straight in bed, her breath whistling through her heaving chest. Her exhales sounded like muffled screams to her and it took a her a moment to realize that she wasn’t blinded. There were no birds or wolves or any other weird creatures in her bedroom. Adi grabbed for her phone and turned on the flashlight app. She sprinted towards the switch and bathed the entire room in bright light. Her hands were shaking and she poured herself a glass of water in order to calm down a little. The pain and terror still echoed in her mind. There was no way she would go back to sleep in the dark. Or at all. Ever.

Adi slowly walked towards her bed. The shadow under her bed had different shades and textures. It moved when her toe pushed against a sweater sticking out from the darkness. She gulped and her mind went into overdrive. What if there was something under the bed? What if it grabbed her ankles just as she got in? With that comforting thought, Adi took a giant leap from standing and landed in the middle of her mattress. Her heart was racing. She pulled the cover around her heck, barely resisting the impulse to hide underneath completely. Nope, the light stayed on. Definitely.

While her heart took a little while to slow down, Adi tried to focus on something positive. Her thoughts landed on the irritating but seriously attractive boy Honi. What an odd name, she thought for a moment before she drily acceded that her name wasn’t exactly the most usual either. Adalwolfa. Nobel Wolf. Who would curse their daughter with a name straight of a Prince Valiant novel, seriously?

Thinking of wolf, what about that wolf in her dream? Adi sighed tiredly. Before her dream had turned to all hell, she had felt so safe with the large animal, so cared for, so … loved? Whatever. With a snort, Adi turned over and as the bad dream drifted away like cobwebs, she tried to catch another few hours sleep before her alarm went off in the morning.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 8 

Link to Chapter 10 

Spirit Hunger – Chapter 8

Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly urban fantasy romance story.

If you’d like to read two short stories and the finished novel Spirit Hunger FREE, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in with Unapologetic Romances!

spirit-hunger

Chapter 8

Honi watched in incredulity as Adi walked away. His scowl deepened. If he had thought this through, he could have avoided the humiliation. There were very few students left after the lecture but some had overheard. And while they probably hadn’t understood what they heard, a group of girls close by snickered and threw pitying glances at him.

Of course they thought that Adi had blown him off. Honi shook his head and turned away. If she didn’t want his help, fine. Obviously she wasn’t in as much distress as he had thought she was. As he stomped away from the lecture hall, he began to feel a little childish. Ho’neo followed him, his tail wagging like a flag. Honi could have sworn the wolf was sniggering. He threw him a betrayed look that was met with more animal amusement. Honi rolled his eyes and moved faster.

So what if she didn’t jump at his offer. Maybe he had misunderstood the situation and she wasn’t freaked out about the spirit animals. Maybe it had nothing to do with that at all. And once his anger passed, he felt guilty again. He ate his lunch by himself as usual and came to a decision while trying to chew a chunk of meat into submission.

If she needed help and came to him, he wouldn’t turn her down. Otherwise he’d ignore her and continue doing what John and his family wanted him to do: concentrate on his studies and become the legal spokesman that his tribe needed. That resolution lasted exactly until the afternoon.

***

Honi was walking back to his room, when something odd tickled his subconscious. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was different. He stopped and looked around, really concentrating on his surroundings. This was odd. Maybe it was thinking about Adi and her possible predicament, or maybe it was the call with John that had him on edge, but for some reason he couldn’t tune out the spirit animals.

Not seeing until he wanted to see had become second nature to him, but today it didn’t work. They were everywhere. Some were lizard-like, wrapped around their person’s necks or perching on their backs. Others were large predators, following their humans with heads down but eyes alert and tails twitching. Honi knew that animal species had nothing to do with character. It was the state of the animals and their behavior that showed him whether a person was fundamentally good or evil.

He met a girl once, volunteering in a homeless shelter, who carried a giant tarantula on top of her ear. He shuddered at the memory. Even with the knowledge he had gained about the spirit world, even when the huge spider was incredibly healthy and non-aggressive, even though the girl was a saint to all that needed her, he couldn’t get over his arachnophobia. He had told John about it, and after John had recovered from a laughing fit, he had assured Honi that personal preferences absolutely meant that he didn’t have to love somebody if their spirit animal grossed him out. And he had never been happier than on the days when he didn’t have to talk to the lovely volunteer with that disgusting creature leering at him from the side of her head every time his eyes strayed from her face.

A hiss right next to him ripped him out of this memories. A black jaguar spat at him and Honi jumped back. A skinny guy with a shock of red hair glared at him suspiciously and Honi tried to smile in apology. His face fell when the cat tried to swipe at him with his paw. Honi tried to hide his shock – he had never encountered a creature that tried to attack him. Another person’s spirit animal had no power over him and he couldn’t be hurt. The owner’s intention was another matter but another quick glance showed no aggression, only a raised eyebrow at Honi’s erratic behavior.

Honi shook his head and continued walking at a greater speed. Every time he passed students, their animals hissed, growled or barked at him. No matter how hard he tried to tune them out, he couldn’t make them disappear. They were everywhere. The noise level began to hurt his ears. He walked faster, keeping his eyes on the ground in front of him and tried to keep the rising panic under control. And then suddenly – silence.

Honi looked up in alarm. Now what? Every animal, every creature, their owners unaware, were silently staring at one point in the distance. Even Ho’neo’s bright blue eyes were staring and a light growl worked its way out of his broad chest. Honi put his hand on his head, a gesture he had perfected to connect to his spirit animal while not drawing attention to a creature only he could see. The world seemed to hold its breath. Together they squinted at the person coming closer and closer until Honi recognized the familiar gray hoodie.

Adi had her head down and so far had not noticed anything. Her face looked sickly in the late afternoon light, and there were even larger circles under her eyes than before. Honi’s breath stopped for an instant. There was something really really wrong here and Adi was in the middle of it. She had now reached the intersection of paths when she hesitated. Obviously she sensed that something strange was going on.

Honi watched with wide eyes as Adi lifted her head. Another second of silence, then the creatures’ noise level went through the roof. If Honi had thought that the previous cacophony was loud, now that the animals had a focus, the noise became deafening. Adi’s hands flew up as if to defend herself, then covered her ears. She screamed, “No, stop it,” then turned around and ran back in the direction she’d come from. Immediately the animal noises died down again.

“What’s up with her? She looked like she saw a ghost!” Two guys had turned around and commented on Adi. A spark of defiance, of wanting to speak up for her, rose up in Honi before he swallowed it down. It was none of his business. But as he walked, a thought kept going through his mind.

There was something going on with the spirit animals that had to do with Adi. For some reason she was in the middle of it. There was a reason that a gift that was to Honi’s knowledge only ever bestowed on his people, manifested in this plain student with glowing amber eyes and the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen on girl.

Link to Chapter 1

Link to Chapter 7 

Link to Chapter 9