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Chausiku: The Nightmare Begins: The Mystery of the Clans

CHAUSIKU

THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS:

THE MYSTERY OF THE CLANS

PAMELA E. CASH

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COPYRIGHT

Copyright © 2017 by Pamela E. Cash

Shakespir Edition

All rights reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without written permission of the author. Please do not participate in piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

ISBN 978-0-9985175-4-4

This is a work of Fiction. Names, characters, places, incidents and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Books by Pamela E. Cash

Chausiku: Nightmare of the Clans Book One

Chausiku: Dark Soul of the Clans Book Two

Chausiku: The Blood of the Clans Book Three

Chausiku: The Deadly Twelve Book Four

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SIX SECRET CLANS

THE SAKOMBI CLAN

THE SPENCER CLAN

THE QIÁO CLAN

THE AMARU CLAN

THE NATOSAPI CLAN

THE GALE GLAN

EXCERPT FROM NIGHTMARE OF THE CLANS BOOK ONE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

[]six secret clans

There are six secret clans across the six continents of the world. They live in Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, North America and Australia. They have existed since the beginning of time but the world has no knowledge of them. Hiding their existence is necessary…because of their unique abilities.

 

The Sakombi Clan

Born in the motherland of Africa.

 

The Spencer Clan

The land of ancient cities and royal palaces is their origin—Europe.

 

The Qiáo Clan

Emerged from the dynasties of China.

 

The Amaru Clan

First appeared before the Inca civilization in South American

 

The Natosapi Clan

The Blackfoot tribe also known as the Niitsitapi (original people) of North America.

 

The Gale Clan

The Australian Outback is their home.

 

[]THE SAKOMBI CLAN

The ancient Azande people of north central Africa are the ancestors of the Sakombi clan. The Azande now spread over three modern nation states, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) and the Central African Republic. They have also now been affected by education, market economies and Christianity. But from ancient times until well into the twentieth century, they lived in isolation from Westerners and held many ancient traditional beliefs which some still believe. The ‘Azande’, meaning “the people who possess much land”, dwell in the savanna forest where they cultivate the soil to bring forth rich food crops and exotic trees. They were known as great warriors and were recognized for their military skill.

Although many of the people in the Azande culture have adapted to the western world, many still hold on to ancient traditional beliefs referred to as mangu or “witchcraft”. They believe that magic is inherited from mother to daughter, father to son, in the child’s belly and that a person could be a witch without knowing it, causing harm to others. This belief is used to explain difficulty, sickness and death. The grieving believer will contact an oracle—one believed to have the ability to identify a witch. The one accused of being a witch is then made to make amends—by expressing good will—to the one the witch has caused trouble.

Modern civilization looks upon the Azande belief as mythical. After all, there’s no such thing as magic. The Sakombi clan agrees with the western world. They don’t believe in magical powers either…because they have supernatural abilities.

The Sakombi clan is the oldest of the six secret clans and some believe they are the strongest because of their telepathic ability. But most don’t even know they exist—not even the Azande are aware they live among the most powerful beings on earth.

 

 

[]THE SPENCER CLAN

 

Europe is the point of origin for the Spencer clan and most were born on the land now known as London, the capital of England. Their history stretches back before the first major settlement was founded by the Romans after the invasion of 43 A.D. As it is with all of the clans, they live a hidden existence among their people.

When they train their abilities, they search for secluded areas, such as forest preserves or rail yards, so that no one will see them. Rail yards are their favorites—lifting train cars with their bare hands is more fun than lifting trees.

The Spencer clan is closest to the Sakombi clan. They’ve been fighting together for centuries.

 

[]THE Qiáo CLAN

Shanghai is the largest city on China’s central coast. At its heart is the Bund, a riverfront promenade lined with historical, colonial-era buildings, restaurants and cafés. For over a century, the Bund—also called Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (East Zhongshan 1st Road)—has been a symbol of Shanghai, known for its various buildings of different architectural styles. What is not known is that well before the Bund existed, there was the Qiáo clan.

Between 770 BC and 476 BC, the Shanghai region was a dominion of the Wu Kingdom. It was during this time that the first stories were told of a people with the power to manipulate energy and produce electromagnetic force fields. But no one truly knows when the Qiáo clan came into existence.

Although many clan members traveled the world and settled in different continents, such as Africa, the core remained in the Shanghai region. They still speak the language of Wu Chinese instead of Mandarin.

Today, if you are walking along the Bund, admiring the architecture or sipping coffee at a trendy café, when suddenly your hair is static-charged and you feel as if you’ve been plugged into an electrical socket…don’t worry…you’ve probably just passed by the Qiáo clan.

[]THE AMARU CLAN

Peru, in western South America, was once a part of the great Incan Empire. It extends for nearly 1,500 miles along the Pacific Ocean. Columbia and Ecuador are their neighbors to the north. Brazil and Bolivia are on the east and Chile is to the south. It is divided by the beautiful Andes Mountains, the longest continental mountain range in the world. Peru is also the origin of the Amaru clan.

Many know of the Inca civilization that flourished in ancient Peru in the early 13th century. But only a select few know of the Amaru clan and that they existed long before the Inca Empire. When Peru was conquered around 1532 by Spanish Conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, the Amaru assimilated to speaking Spanish but still held on to their local language of Quechua.

As it is with the other six clans, the leaders of the Amaru believe it is important to hide their abilities from the world…but there are those who think differently. Some believe in a prophecy foretold long ago…and they will do anything—even kill—to make sure it comes true.

[]THE NATOSAPI CLAN

The Blackfoot Nation or Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot-speaking), encompasses three Indigenous nations, the Kainai, Pikani and Siksika. People of the Blackfoot Nation refer to themselves as the Niitsitapi, meaning the original people.

They reside in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and in the state of Montana in the United States. In Canada, they are the First Nations band of government. In the United States they are Native Americans. The Natosapi clan are proud to be Blackfoot and they have no physical boundaries.

It is said that the prophecy was foretold by one of their ancestors, only they know for sure. But there is one fact that the other five clans believe is indisputable…the Natosapi clan is the most feared.

[]THE GALE CLAN

The Commonwealth of Australia is surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is known for its nature, wildlife and unique Australian animals and it is the beloved home of the Gale clan.

It is not clear if the Gale clan emerged from the first human habitation of the Australian continent some 48,000 years ago or if they arrived years later—but this is unimportant. What is important to the clan is that they are distinctly different from all of the other Australians. Most Aussie’s don’t know the Gale clan is different even though many have seen the difference with their own eyes. Things tend to appear as a blur.

Unlike the other clans who have their share of disbelievers of the prophecy, the Gale clan are solid believers. And now their time has finally come…

[]EXCERPT FROM

CHAUSIKU

NIGHTMARE OF THE CLANS BOOK ONE

Read on to start the nightmare!

[]PROLOGUE

Adamma sat on a plane waiting for the passengers in the rows ahead of her to gather their bags from the overhead bin. They had just landed in London, England. She leaned to the side and peered through an opening between the seats at the people standing up. Passengers in the fourth row were starting to walk in a single line toward the head of the plane. She was in the sixth row so she reached under the seat in front of her and grabbed her purse. While she waited for people to exit, she contacted her mother telepathically.

Mother, I’m on my way to George’s house.

Malika was in Africa driving down the road on her way to her brother’s house when Adamma’s voice entered her head. She wasn’t startled because the Sakombi clan frequently used their telepathic ability to talk to each other.

What are you doing in London? Her voice sounded casual but a worried crease appeared between her eyes.

I’m going to contact Rasul and tell him to meet me here, communicated Adamma. I’m going to end this now. Mother…I told Charles about us.

Malika’s stomach fluttered with her worst fear. You told him everything? You told him about Chausiku?

Yes, everything.

And how did he take it?

Adamma sighed. He didn’t believe me.

Malika exhaled relieved. If Charles didn’t believe Adamma it was because she didn’t show him her powers. So you were careful.

Yes. I didn’t want to take the risk of putting Chausiku in danger—even though I’m confident I can block Rasul from sensing me. He probably thinks I’m crazy now. But that will change as soon as I get rid of Rasul for good. The serious tone of her voice was heard in Malika’s head as if she were standing right next to her and speaking out loud.

So that’s why you are moving forward even though we all agreed to wait until we were sure you have complete control. Malika pursed her lips. Adamma was being reckless.

I have complete control of my abilities, Mom. I’m just being cautious…a slightly overprotective mother…like you. The lift in her voice let Malika know she was teasing. She tried to ease her mother’s worries with humor.

Malika sighed. The situation was too serious for teasing. She prayed Adamma did have complete control because there was no turning back now. Listen to me, child, she communicated, as she drove her car onto her brother’s driveway and parked. She would tell him what was going on, then book a flight to London. I’m on my way to talk to your Uncle Zareb and then we will catch the next flight there. DO NOT FACE RASUL ALONE!

Calm down, Mother. Adamma winced from the yelling going on in her head. And don’t worry so much. It’s not as if I’ll be facing Rasul alone. George and Elizabeth will be with me. I have them for back-up if I get in trouble. There’s no need for you and Uncle Zareb to fly all the way here. Rasul’s Qiáo abilities are not that strong.

Don’t underestimate him, Adamma. He’s very cunning. George and Kate are visiting her parents and Elizabeth went with them. Wait for all of us to get there before you contact Rasul. There was silence in Malika’s head. Adamma, she continued, do not disobey me.

Adamma shrugged then relented. All right, Mother, I will wait at the house for George to come home. Then she blocked Malika from her mind. She had no intention of waiting. She wanted to get back to Charles and Chausiku.

It was her turn to exit the plane so she reached for her carry-on bag in the bin above her head and headed toward the door. Then she rolled her bag through Heathrow airport and followed the signs to ground transportation. Ten minutes later, she sat in the back seat of a taxi. As the driver steered the car through the airport traffic, she closed her eyes and concentrated on Rasul. It only took a moment for her to locate his mind and send her thoughts into his head.

Rasul, I know you can hear me. Meet me at George’s house. Let’s talk.

Surprised by the sudden voice in his head, Rasul dropped his fork. It landed with a clang on his dinner plate. He jerked his head up and tilted it to the side as if he could hear the voice better that way. Then he engaged his abilities and tried to detect Adamma’s location. Nothing happened. His eyes squinted in an attempt to concentrate harder and increase the intensity of his ability. He had the power to sense when other clans were using their abilities and to pinpoint their location. Still…nothing happened.

Strange, he thought. I can hear her but I can’t sense her or locate her. Somehow she is able to block my abilities while controlling her contact with me…I wonder if she knows I can’t sense her.

Yes…I know, said the voice in his head.

He raised his eyebrows then lowered them. He might as well give up trying to locate her and talk instead. Hello, Adamma, he communicated, you are much stronger than you were the last time I saw you.

Again…I know.

So you have been training…and now you’re even stronger than your mother. She can’t block me from sensing her. But I’m surprised you are contacting me. Have you finally realized I’m right?

Like I said, Rasul, let’s talk. Will you meet me?

Where?

At George’s house.

With Elizabeth and the whole Spencer clan there too. Now why would I walk into a trap? I’m insulted you think I’m that stupid.

Of course I know how brilliant you are, she retorted sarcastically.

The mockery dripping from every word wasn’t lost on him. But he was too curious to refuse to meet her. Besides, he doubted Adamma would flat out try to kill him. It wasn’t in her nature…and he couldn’t help the hope that flickered inside of him.

I can be there tomorrow.

Fine…I’ll see you then.

She abruptly cut her connection to Rasul, opened her eyes, and tilted her head to look out of the window. London hadn’t looked so beautiful to her since the day she arrived to attend the university. And she had never felt so calm.

Thirty minutes later, her taxi drove up in front of George’s house. She paid the driver, refused his help with her luggage then walked through the front yard to the door. George already knew she was there because Malika had contacted his mother telepathically. She could hear all of them constantly calling out her name in her mind…telling her to wait until they got there before she contacted Rasul. She ignored them.

When she reached the front door, she stared at the doorknob. Her green eyes sparkled as she concentrated on moving the lock with her telekinetic ability. The lock clicked and the bolt slid back. She turned her head slightly and glanced down the street to make sure no one was watching her. Then the door flew open and she walked inside. Her luggage lifted from the ground and floated in behind her. She settled in for the night.

Early the next morning, she cooked a light breakfast and then did her training exercises. By the time she finished, her clothes were soaked with sweat from working out her body and her abilities. She showered, got dressed then headed for the living room.

A moment later, she stood in the middle of the living room, raising her arms on each side. Gold flecks shimmered within her green eyes as she engaged her powers. The windows in every room slammed shut and the blinds closed. The double bolts on every door locked. The furniture sailed across the living room and settled up against the wall. The knives flew out of the kitchen drawers, into the pantry and its door locked. When she was done, her eyes stopped glimmering and she scanned the living room with a satisfied expression on her face. She tilted her head towards the cushioned chair against the wall and it soared across the room then stopped beside her, facing the front door.

Slowly she sat down in the chair, leaned back and waited…

[][] CHAPTER ONE

May 24th. The day had finally arrived and Chassie stared at herself in the mirror. It was the morning of her sixteenth birthday.

I’ve changed overnight, she thought. I must be more mature now that I’m sixteen, right? And I could swear my hair looks more full and shiny today. She moved closer to the mirror to get a better look as she touched her face. My skin seems to be glowing…and my eyes are absolutely brilliant! They’ve always been green. But is it my imagination or are they greener today than they were yesterday? In fact, they look like they’re sparkling!

“Naw,” she said, shaking her head. She knew she sounded vain. “Chaz, you’re tripping. Everything stands out on your sixteenth birthday.” She shrugged and then she continued getting ready for school.

She had just finished taking her shower and was standing on the mat in front of the sink with a towel wrapped around her body. The steam from the shower made her springy curls tighter so she grabbed the moisturizing cream from the cabinet, squirted a little bit of it in her hand then ran her fingers through her hair to loosen the curl. She didn’t like to wear make-up except for a little lip gloss. So she kept at least three tubes of her favorite brand within reaching distance at all times…one on the bathroom counter, one in her purse and one in her bedroom. She took the tube from the counter, swiped some gloss across her lips, gave herself one last look in the mirror then headed for her bedroom to get dressed.

Chassie Moreau was strikingly beautiful but she wasn’t arrogant about it. She was confident about her looks in an ‘I know I’m fly’ kind of a way but she didn’t spend hours in the mirror putting her ‘look’ together. Her dark, smooth skin was the color of bronze. Her blackish-brown hair wound in a tight curl that sprung out from her head in a thick mass of spirals down her back. She wasn’t short or extremely tall for her age. She was medium height with a slim and shapely body. But what really stood out on her was the color of her eyes. They were true green with flecks of gold that made them sparkle. Green was not an eye color usually seen in people with dark skin so strangers often stared at her when she passed by. Even her best friend, John, couldn’t stop staring at them occasionally.

John Spencer was almost the exact opposite of Chassie in looks. His Nordic skin, light blond hair and deep blue eyes were dominant traits of his paternal ancestors but he attributed his height to his mother’s family. He was 6’1”, had a muscular build and was ruggedly good-looking. He also had a dynamic smile that attracted girls to him like bees to honey.

Chassie and John had been best friends since preschool and they were almost always together. He’d moved to Chicago with his parents from London, England when he was three-years-old. On his first day of preschool, he walked into the classroom and saw Chassie sitting alone looking so sad. He had immediately walked over and sat down beside her. When he asked her why she looked so sad, all she said was that she wanted her mommy. He reached out to hold her hand and they had been inseparable since that day.

Damn, where did the time go? thought Chassie, tilting her wrist to check her watch. I spent too much time in the shower again! Now I have to hurry.

She dashed over to her dresser and pulled open the top drawer. Her towel dropped to the floor as she reached for her undies and put them on. Then she walked over to her closet and pulled out her black pants and white polo shirt with the school logo on it from the closet.

“Ugh” she said, holding the pants and shirt in the air and eyeing them critically. Her lips curled downward in distaste as she hastily put on her uniform. She hated her high school’s dress code. The options were limited to khaki, black or maroon skirts—khaki or black pants—maroon, white, black or gold polo shirts—and white dress shirts. It was difficult to put together a cute outfit with such limitations. But she did her best using accessories, shoes and boots.

The school didn’t have a dress code for shoes so most of the girls expressed their individuality by wearing outrageously different shoes…and hairstyles! Chassie didn’t change the way she wore her hair very much—she preferred a ponytail or curls framing her face—but she loved boots so she had several different pairs.

When she had smoothed her shirt down over her pants and laced up her black boots, she walked over to the full length mirror hanging behind her bedroom door. She tilted her head back and forth, squinting her eyes. Not bad, she thought, nodding her head. Her ‘look’ was complete. She primped her hair one more time and then turned to grab her blue jean jacket and book bag from the chair. She frowned. Her jacket was on the chair but her book bag wasn’t and she couldn’t remember where she left it. She huffed exasperated.

It’s almost seven o’clock, she thought. I’ll get detention for being late! Then it suddenly hit her. “Oh, right!” she exclaimed tapping her head with the heel of her hand. “I left it downstairs in the living room.”

She ran out of her room, jumped down the stairs then ran into the living room. Her book bag was where she left it…on the floor next to the couch. Her books were on the coffee table so she grabbed them and started stuffing them into her bag. Then the aroma coming from the kitchen made her stop for a moment. She lifted her nose and sniffed. Bacon and waffles, she thought. Dad’s cooking breakfast and I’m running too late to eat it.

Charles Moreau was in the kitchen making her a special birthday breakfast. The bacon was cooked and he had just put two instant waffles into the toaster. The syrup was heating in the microwave…just the way she liked it.

Chassis sighed. She wasn’t going to tempt herself by going into the kitchen. She shoved one last book into her bag, zipped it closed and flung it over her shoulder. “I’m out, Dad!” she yelled, walking toward the front door.

“Wait, Pumpkin!” Charles yelled back. “It’s your Birthday! I made your favorite breakfast.”

She hesitated. She could at least give him a hug and thank him for making her a special birthday breakfast. She turned and walked toward the kitchen.

“Thanks, Dad, but I’m already late,” she said, walking into the kitchen. Then she saw the big grin on his face drop in disappointment. Her eyes lowered and she checked her watch again. If I stay and eat, I’ll probably get detention. She looked at her father’s sad face again and decided she couldn’t hurt his feelings. She loved him dearly. It had always been the two of them. “Okay, I guess another ten minutes won’t make much of a difference.”

She slipped her book bag off of her shoulders, let it drop to the floor then pulled the chair from under the kitchen island and sat down. Charles grinned then turned to grab the waffles popping out of the toaster. He put them on a plate, poured hot syrup over them, put some bacon on the plate and then put it down in front of her.

“Voilà.” he said, waving his hand in a circular motion. “Your birthday breakfast is served.”

“Thanks, Dad,” she said, picking up her knife and fork and continuing without taking a breath, “so, when do I get my present? Is it in the garage?” She cut her waffles into small pieces, stabbed three pieces with her fork, stuffed the whole dripping mess into her mouth and then looked at her father expectantly.

“Chassie, take smaller bites,” he said in a reprimanding tone. Then his lips curled up in sly smile. “Now why would I put your present in the garage?”

She blinked several times then shrugged nonchalantly. “Okay, fine…be that way,” she said, picking up her bacon and continuing to eat. “I can wait until after school.”

She swiftly polished off the rest of her breakfast then gulped down the orange juice he had just put on the table. Five minutes later she was finished.

“Thanks for breakfast,” she said wiping her mouth with a paper towel and hopping off of her chair.

“Do you want me to drop you off on my way to work?”

“No, I’m meeting up with John. I’ll see you later.”

“Okay.”

Chassie grabbed her book bag then headed for the front door. Suddenly she stopped and a mischievous grin appeared on her face. She dropped her bag, ran quickly through the kitchen and out the back door. Charles just shook his head and fixed his own breakfast plate.

She ran through the backyard to the door of the garage, grabbed the doorknob and pushed the door open. When she stuck her head inside, her heart was beating with anticipation. Then her shoulders drooped. Nothing was in there but her father’s car. She sighed, closed the door and walked back into the house.

“Nice try,” said Charles as she walked back into the kitchen looking disappointed. She picked up her book bag and headed towards the living room. “Cheer up, birthday girl,” he said throwing an arm around her shoulders and walking with her. “Your birthday has just begun.”

By the time they made it to the front door, her disappointment was already dissipating. He kissed the top of her head, opened the front door then gently pushed her outside.

“Love you, Dad,” she said over her shoulder.

“Love you too, Pumpkin.”

Charles stood on the porch and watched her walk down the steps then out of the front gate. He lingered there for a while and his happy mood changed to trepidation. Today was her sixteenth birthday and instead of thinking about how excited she would be when she saw her new car—he planned to pick it up after work—all he could think about was her mother’s last words…before she died. The thought made his heart pound against his chest.

He had never told Chassie the truth about her mother’s death—it happened when she was three years old—and he had cut Adamma’s family out of her life completely. Whenever she asked about her mother, he had refused to talk about her. It didn’t bother her much when she was younger. But as she grew older, her curiosity increased and she was no longer satisfied with his cryptic answers. He could tell that his refusal to even mention her mother’s name irritated her and she was tired of the mystery he had created surrounding her mother’s family.

“She really misses having a mother now that she’s a teenager,” he said under his breath. “I won’t be able to dodge her questions much longer.”

After Chassie disappeared down the street, he walked back inside of the house and stood in the foyer for a while. He absentmindedly rubbed his hand over his slightly gray hair and frowned. What if I have been wrong all of this time, he thought, and Adamma was telling me the truth? God help me if that’s true.

He sighed. There was nothing he could do about it at the moment so he turned to go back to kitchen. He grabbed a waffle, shoved it in his mouth and looked at the clock on the microwave. He was going to be late too if he didn’t hustle. But he couldn’t seem to shake the feeling he had made a horrible mistake and Chassie would suffer because of it. He shook his head to clear his mind. “No, Chassie isn’t in danger,” he said shaking his head. “She’s a normal sixteen-year-old teenager.” He shrugged as if to shake off the bad feelings, snatched his briefcase from the counter then hurried out of the door.

[]CHAPTER TWO

Chassie walked down 49th Street between Greenwood and Ellis in the quiet neighborhood of Kenwood toward the bus stop. Normally, she rode to school with John. But he’d told her he had something to do early that morning and would meet her later. She wasn’t at all happy about having to catch the bus on her birthday. She frowned and shoved her hands into her jacket pockets. His “something to do” better mean he’s getting me a great gift, she thought.

When she reached her bus stop she peered down the street. The bus was less than a block away. When it arrived, she hopped on and stood near the front since the bus was crowded. The bus turned the corner—she grabbed the pole to keep from falling—and headed toward Lake Shore Drive.

It was a short ride to Loyola College Preparatory High School. As the bus approached her stop, she looked out of the window and saw John…leaning on the bus stop glass cover. He’d already parked his car in the school parking lot then sprinted over to the bus stop to wait for her. The bus pulled up to the curb and the doors opened. She jumped off, eyed him with narrow eyes, pursed her lips and put her hands on her hips.

“What’s up, Chaz?” he said a little down-heartedly. She noticed he wasn’t his usual light-spirited self but decided not to mention it. It was her sixteenth birthday and he’d better not spoil it.

“Nothing much…and I can’t believe you didn’t drive me to school on my birthday!” she said irately.

He looked at her without responding. Her irritation increased.

“HELLOOOO… it’s my birthday! Can I get a Happy Birthday, Chaz?” she yelled. She cocked her head to one side. “And what happened to my usual ‘Happy Birthday’ song you sing—all off-key?”

He shook his head slightly to clear his head and said, “Give me a chance.” He smiled and tried to keep his voice light but it was a strain. He couldn’t quite snap out of his dark mood. “Why do you think I’m standing here at the bus stop waiting for you? I was going to wish you a happy birthday after I said hello. And I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a ride to school but you know I must have had something really important to do if I couldn’t give you a ride on your birthday.” He put his arms around her shoulders and locked her in a big hug before she could bark back at him.

She stiffened as his arms surrounded her. She wasn’t quite ready to stop fussing. But her body relaxed as he continued to hold her and she lingered in his arms enjoying the moment.

When he finally dropped his arms from her shoulders, he looked at her with serious eyes and reached up with his fingertips to touch her cheek. Then he tucked her hair behind one ear and leaned in close. “Talk about being excited to turn sixteen,” he whispered. “I just hope you’re prepared for the changes that are about to happen in your life.”

“What does that mean?” she said. She tilted her head back to look at him, her eyes narrowing in puzzlement. “What changes?”

“Nothing, nothing,” he said, shaking his head. He decided he had said too much and pushed her away. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” he yelled, changing the subject. Then he started singing his usual happy birthday song, all off-key. It lightened her mood and she smiled.

As he sang, he pulled a gift wrapped in shiny birthday paper, out of his back pocket. Her smile turned into a wide grin. When he finished his song on a horribly flat key, he handed it to her.

“For …me?” she said raising her eyebrows and feigning surprise. She snatched the box out of his hand. “You shouldn’t have…”

“Right…and I never would have heard the end of it,” he said wryly. She started to tear through the paper but he put his hand on top of hers to stop her. “Chaz, do me a favor. Wait until after school and don’t open it without me.”

She quirked her eyebrows. “Why can’t I open it now? You’re standing right here.”

“For once, just do as I ask. Pleeeeeze. No questions.”

She gave him another puzzled look. He was really acting strange. She really wanted to ask him about it but it was getting late and the school bell would be ringing soon. So she slowly put the gift in her book bag. She would talk to him later.

“Okay” she said. “But you should have waited to give it to me then. Now, I’ll walk around all day with it in my bag, dying to know what’s in it.”

She turned abruptly and started walking toward the school entrance. He skipped to catch up and then fell in step beside her. They made it inside a few minutes before the bell.

“We had better hurry,” she said, turning toward the hallway leading to her locker. “See you after school.”

“Chaz,” he said grabbing her arm. His tone was serious again. He turned her to face him then held both of her hands.

“What?” she said a little tersely. Why was he being so dramatic?

“Do–not–touch–that–gift,” he said in a staccato tone. “Understand?”

“Okay, okay, back up off of me,” she said, jerking her hands out of his grip. “I’ll put it in my locker so I’ll forget about it.” Then she turned him around, put her hands on his back and shoved him in the direction of his locker. “Go!”

He frowned and turned his head to look at her over his shoulder. His mouth opened then he clamped it shut. It was better to let it go. “Later,” he said. Then he sprinted down the hallway and up the stairs.

She watched him go, shaking her head perplexed at his actions for a moment. Then she headed to her own locker on the first floor. She didn’t have much time left before the late bell. She needed to put her book bag in her locker then grab her books for the next two classes.

When she reached her locker her eyes widened in surprise. A “Happy Birthday, Chassie!” banner was taped to it from top to bottom. All of her friends had signed and wrote messages on it. Some were simple and wished her well while others were crazy jokes that made her laugh. She was still smiling and reading when Alexa came down the hallway waving her arms at her.

Alexa was Chassie’s closest girlfriend and their lockers were next to each other. They met when they were in kindergarten. The two were paired by their teacher on their first class field trip and they had been friends ever since. She had skin the color of a Latté, loose curly hair and the athletic body of a trained dancer. Her grandmother was a ballet instructor and Alexa had been practicing on the ballet barré since the age of two.

“Happy Birthday, Chassie!” yelled Alexa.

“Thanks, Lexie,” she said reaching up to give her a hug.

Alexa was standing a few inches above Chassie and since they were the same height, she stepped back and looked down at Alexa’s shoes. They were new…and platforms with five inch heels. Alexa always had the newest styles with the highest heels she could find. She loved shoes and had more than any one girl really needed.

“Girl,” said Chassie, crossing her arms and eyeing Alexa’s shoes in admiration. “How in the world do you walk in those heels?”

“You know, I could walk on my toes at birth,” said Alexa doing a little runway walk in front of the lockers. They laughed then Alexa continued. “Chassie, we have to celebrate your birthday on Friday. I already told John, Ashley, Chloe, Matt and Randy to meet us at First Fridays over on Erie. Did your dad give you the car you wanted? Can you pick me up?”

“I took a peek in the garage before I left for school this morning and nothing was there,” she said sighing disappointedly, “but I’m hoping my dad is waiting to surprise me later. If so I’ll be at the DMV first thing tomorrow morning to get my license.”

“So, what are you doing after school today—on your actual birthday?”

“I don’t know…I’m planning to meet John in the parking lot after school and I guess I’ll play it by ear from there. Want to meet me by his car?”

“Sure. We’ll think of something to do before you go home to check on that car! I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

The warning bell rang.

“I better run, I have a biology test first period,” said Alexa.

“Good Luck, Lexie. I’ll see you later. We can jump John and make him take us somewhere to eat.”

Alexa smiled and nodded then opened her locker to pull out her books.

Chassie opened her locker, put her book bag on its floor then stuck her head inside to grab her books. Alexa’s voice seemed to enter her head. Man, I am going to flunk my bio exam this morning. I studied so hard but now I can’t remember a thing.

“Don’t worry Lexie,” said Chassie with her head still in her locker. “You’ll be fine. You always say you’re going to flunk and then you get an ‘A’.”

Alexa pulled her book out of her locker, quirked her eyebrows, and looked at Chassie as if she didn’t recognize her. “Uh…I didn’t say anything.”

Chassie pulled her head out of her locker looked back at Alexa with a confused expression. “What are you talking about? You just said that you are going to flunk your bio exam this morning even though you studied so hard, because you can’t remember a thing.”

Alexa’s eyes grew wide. What the hell? she thought. I was thinking it but I know I didn’t say anything out loud.

Chassie’s mouth dropped open and she stared at Alexa as if she were from another planet. She was looking straight at Alexa’s face…and she had heard everything Alexa said…but Alexa’s lips hadn’t moved.

What the hell? Chassie repeated Alexa’s sentiments in her mind. She started to tell Alexa she actually heard her thoughts then realized how crazy it would sound. She snapped her mouth shut and shrugged her shoulders instead. She decided to pretend Alexa just didn’t realize she was talking out loud.

“I could have sworn I heard you mumbling about it, Lexie,” she said, trying to play it off. “Maybe I just knew what you were thinking because it’s what you always think.”

Alexa frowned and hesitated a moment before closing the door to her locker and turning the lock. She didn’t think she had spoken out loud…but maybe she did.

“Okay…well that was strange. Get outta my mind, girl,” said Alexa, one side of her mouth lifting in a skeptical smile. She quickly turned, walked away and tossed up her hand in a goodbye gesture. “Meet you after school,” she said over her shoulder. Then she immediately forgot the incident and resumed worrying about her biology test.

Chassie stayed by her locker for a moment shaking her head. Man that was freaky, she thought. I know I heard Lexie talking. Naw, I couldn’t have…maybe I was halfway daydreaming…while standing up…and looking straight at her mouth.

“Stop it Chaz,” she muttered under her breath. “Of course you didn’t hear Lexie’s thoughts.” She chuckled softly. “Man, I must be really excited about turning sixteen. It’s making me crazy!”

The late bell was about to ring so Chassie grabbed her books, slammed her locker door and turned the lock. Then she started walking—swiftly—to her class…running could get her a detention.

As she hurried down the corridor, she saw one of her friends walking toward her. Darryl. She was just about to speak to him when suddenly a voice popped into her head saying, I hope my knee injury won’t take me out of basketball practice today. But Darryl’s lips didn’t move.

She stopped abruptly and stared at him stunned. He smiled and waved at her. She waved back then hurried past him without speaking. What’s going on?

She continued walking toward another girl heading in her direction. She stared at the girl’s lips as she got closer to her. Suddenly another voice entered her head. Wonder if Andrew will be in my class today, said the voice. But the girl’s lips didn’t move either.

Chassie’s mouth dropped open. She couldn’t get her legs to move and she couldn’t stop staring at the girl.

“What are you looking at?” said the girl frowning at her. “Is there something on my face?”

The sound of the girl’s actual voice jerked Chassie out of her trance.

“Y–Yeah,” she stammered. “I think you have a little bit of your lip gloss smeared on your cheek. Need a tissue?”

“Uh, thanks but I got it,” said the girl quickly rubbing her face. What the hell is she talking about? I’m not wearing any lip gloss. She eyed Chassie strangely, pinched her lips together and walked away. Chassie heard every word she thought.

The hallway was full of students hurrying to class and she could hear their voices so clearly that she wasn’t sure if they were speaking out loud or if she was actually hearing their thoughts. She tried looking at their lips to see if she could tell the difference and at times she got so close to them, she bumped into them. It was a chorus going on in her head. I am so hungry already and only one day on this diet. It was the voice of a girl walking by. Hey, watch where you’re going, thought a boy who almost collided into her. She could tell he was annoyed because she could hear the tone of his thought in her head!

More and more thoughts entered her mind and her head started to ache. She reached up and held her fingertips to her temples as she turned round and round in circles. The thoughts of other people were bombarding her. She wasn’t even sure if she could hear her own thoughts anymore. Am I going crazy? What in the hell is going on? She felt as if her brain was exploding. She kept turning and holding her head as if she had a pounding headache. Then she screamed. “STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!”

Everyone in the hallway turned to stare at her. But their thoughts didn’t stop flying into her head. What’s wrong with her? Why is she screaming? Man, is she freaking out? Stop what?

She couldn’t take it anymore so she took off running towards the exit. As she weaved through the crowed, she looked over her shoulder and saw her biology teacher walk out of a classroom. Mr. Gerber looked in her direction and thought…Now what? She heard him but she couldn’t tell if he had said it out loud or if she was hearing his thoughts too.

I’m losing my mind. I’ve got to get out of here before I go completely crazy. She was just about to run by the stairwell doors when an arm reached out and grabbed her. The doors to the stairwell were jerked open and she was dragged inside. As she flopped through the doors, she saw that the arm was attached to John. She collapsed into his arms.

“John,” she said almost in tears, “I think I’m going crazy. “I know you won’t believe this but I’m hearing what everyone is thinking.”

“I know,” he said quietly.

“No, John, you don’t understand. I mean…I can actually hear what people are thinking!” she yelled. “Their lips aren’t moving but I can hear their thoughts.” She clutched at his shirt with her hands and shook him. “I know it sounds crazy but you have to believe me. The thoughts forced their way into mind so hard it’s giving me a headache. John, I’m losing my mind!!!” She looked at him with vivid green eyes wide with fear and she could no longer hold back her tears.

I know, Chaz, and I believe you.

John was looking directly into her eyes and she heard what he said…but his lips didn’t move either.

CHAPTER THREE

Chassie looked at John with wide eyes. Her heart thumped against her chest for five heartbeats then she opened her mouth and screamed. The late bell rang at the same time and drowned her out. John grabbed her shoulders and shook her so hard, her head wobbled.

Chaz, stop screaming and listen to me. You have to focus. Look straight at me and concentrate on just my mind. Try to block out everyone else you’re hearing. He still didn’t open his mouth to speak but she heard every word…uh…thought.

She stopped screaming—only because she ran out of breath—but her mouth was still wide open. Thoughts rambled through her head. Is John still talking to me with his mind? And he knows it? What the hell?! Her body went limp as if she were about to faint.

John gripped her shoulders tighter to keep her from hitting the floor. I knew this day would come, he thought, a scowl crossing his face. And I thought I was prepared for it. But now that it’s here I’m not so sure. How does anyone really prepare for the ‘change’? She doesn’t know what hit her. He propped her head on his shoulder and tilted his head to look at her face. She continued to stare at him with unfocused, glassy eyes. The scowl on his face relaxed.

She’s so vulnerable…thanks to her father, he thought. The frown returned. Now it’s up to me to get her focused. I have to help her control her powers…then I have to get her ready to fight. Rasul could have already sensed her and is on his way.

The thought of Rasul made him realize he had no more time to waste. She had to snap out of it fast. He shook her shoulders.

“CHAUSIKU!” he yelled.

Her eyes widened. Then they narrowed and she snapped her mouth shut. I’ve never told anyone that my birth name is Chausiku, she thought. It’s an African name from my mother’s side of the family and he doesn’t know anyone on my mother’s side…I don’t even know any family on my mother’s side.

She used her full name so rarely that most of the time she forgot it was Chausiku. Her dad always freaked out with any mention of her mother’s family and he refused to call her by her full name. Everyone just called her “Chassie” except for the occasional attempt to pronounce “Chausiku” by a teacher or two.

“Chausiku, snap out of it!” he said, shaking her harder. It worked.

“Okay, okay. Stop shaking me.” She jerked away from his grip and stood back with her hands on her hips. “How do you know my real name?” Annoyance had replaced her shock.

“I’ve always known your real name,” he said without giving her an explanation. How he knew was unimportant. He had more urgent things to tell her. “We’ll talk about it after school but right now, you need to listen to me so that you can go back to class without getting a headache from all of the thoughts you’ll be hearing.”

“NO! Tell me what’s going on…NOW!”

“SHHH,” he said, putting his hand across her mouth and a finger to his lips. I wish you would shut up before every teacher on the floor comes running through the door, he thought. I can’t control you if you get all hysterical.

She slapped his hand away from her mouth. She didn’t want to shut up now that she knew she wasn’t going crazy. And John knew exactly what was going on. He needed to start talking…but he did have a point. Teachers would hear them if she continued shouting.

“Okay, John, spill,” she said quietly through gritted teeth. “How do you know my real name? How do you know I am hearing thoughts?” She raised an eyebrow. “And stop thinking you wish I would shut up.”

He shook his head. Man, this is going to be hard, he thought.

You better believe it will be hard if you think you can control me, she thought.

His lips turned up in a sly smile. “Chaz, you might want to be careful about what you’re thinking too…at least until you gain control of your ability. You can also communicate telepathically. I can hear your thoughts when you concentrate on me. Your voice just entered my mind.”

Her mouth dropped.

And I didn’t really mean I want to control you, that’s not possible. I’m just trying to get control of the situation so that I can protect you. He switched back to communicating his thoughts to her so no one could hear them. But her mind was still reeling and she needed to continue speaking out loud for a moment.

“I’ve got to sit here on the steps for a minute,” she said, slumping her shoulders and dropping her arms limply to her sides. “Give me a minute to just chill.”

She plopped down on the steps and he sat down beside her. She inhaled deeply and exhaled hard—several times. Then she sat up, straightened her back and turned her head to look him squarely in the eye.

“Okay, tell me what to do to keep other people’s thoughts out of my mind so I can get through class,” she said giving him a determined look. “Then let’s meet later after school so you can tell me what is going on.”

He nodded and gave her a toothy grin. The level-headed, let’s get to work, sometimes bossy Chassie he knew was back. He wouldn’t have to deal with a hysterical female.

“I’m not hysterical so talk,” she said, giving him a look. He quickly morphed into teacher mode.

“All you have to do is concentrate on blocking thoughts instead of hearing them.”

“How am I supposed to do that when they’re bombarding me in the hallway?”

“With practice.” He turned his shoulders to face her and reached for her arms. “Look at me,” he said. She shifted her body. “Now, I’m going to stop talking out loud but continue thinking. When my thoughts enter your head, concentrate on blocking them out.” He pursed his lips and stared into her eyes.

I’m going to just keep talking about nothing in particular, he thought. Take a deep breath…concentrate…and just block me out. Speak to me out loud when you have me blocked. I will just keep rambling nonsense until you block me.

Chassie stared back at him, concentrated and repeated the word in her mind. Block. Block. Block.

It worked! She couldn’t hear a word he was thinking. Her head stopped hurting too. She opened her mouth to tell him she had blocked his thoughts from her mind but then she wondered—maybe the last ten minutes never happened—maybe she couldn’t really hear the thoughts of others—maybe she wasn’t even here and this was all a dream. She decided to give herself a test. She continued staring at John and repeated…Open. Op

John’s thoughts exploded into her head and her headache returned. Block! Block! she thought quickly. Whew! Sweet…blissful…silence.

“Okay, I have you blocked. God, you can think nonsense non-stop and Lisa is not interested in you so give it up.”

An arrogant smile tugged at his lips.

She sighed. “All right, she is interested in you. You are so conceited.”

“Whatever, Chaz, are you cool now? Can you make it through your classes for the rest of the day?”

“Yeah, I’m cool. I think I have a handle on it,” she said. Telepathy…that’s what I have isn’t it? She switched to communicating telepathically for practice.

Yep, he replied. But stop practicing on me. I’m not used to you being able to invade my mind either. It’s a little uncomfortable. Meet me on corner of Roosevelt and Halsted at 3:45.

“Cool,” she said out loud.

He pushed the stairwell door open and held it for her. She walked through the doors and without looking back, she invaded his mind. Don’t be late…and practice makes perfect. A small smile tugged at her lips. She still loved to annoy him.

He grimaced and slapped his hand on his forehead. Now, he was the one getting a headache.

CHAPTER FOUR

When Chassie arrived at the corner of Roosevelt and Halsted, John was already there, sitting in his car with the lights blinking. He was six months older than her and his parents had given him a nice black Toyota Camry for his birthday. It was his baby so he was almost fanatic about keeping it clean…and about people touching it. He would barely let anyone roll down the windows.

She slid into the front seat and buckled up. Then she leaned over to change the station on the radio. He sighed. If it were anyone else, he would have broken their fingers.

He started the car and took off down Roosevelt toward Michigan Avenue. One of her favorite hangouts was Water Tower Place, a high-rise shopping mall. Most of the kids from school hung out there. It was located in the section of Michigan Avenue known as Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and it was well known for its upscale and trendy stores. The Mag Mile was a main attraction for tourist and Chicagoans. People from all over the world went there to shop or just walk down the street. Water Tower Place was sort of an anchor location for Chassie. She would usually start her walk at Nordstrom’s near the Chicago River then end up at Water Tower Place.

“Water Tower okay with you?” he asked.

“Sure,” she said. “We can go to the food court, grab something to eat then sit down to talk. You have a lot of explaining to do when we get there.”

He nodded as she leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes. The rest of the school day had been torture and she had a pounding headache. She was grateful school was over and she only had to deal with his thoughts entering her head. Blocking his thoughts had been relatively easy after practicing it for a few times. But blocking the thoughts of all of the students in her classes and in the hallways had been extremely difficult. It had taken a while for her to get the knack of it. Jeez, some of the students had the craziest thoughts! She really didn’t want to hear them.

Thinking of absurd thoughts made her cut her eyes at John. She had not blocked his thoughts yet and what she heard was strange. He wasn’t thinking about anything in particular. In fact, he seemed to be rambling on and on about nothing. He was normally clear and direct so the rambling was peculiar.

She listened to the crazy conversation going on in his mind for a minute, then the thoughts started getting on her nerves. Block, she thought. His thoughts quickly stopped entering her head. Open! His thoughts came blasting back into her mind. Block! The thoughts stopped again. Wow! This is starting to get really easy, she thought.

They didn’t talk as the car sped towards Michigan Avenue so the air was filled only with the sounds of music from the radio station. He decided to skip the Kennedy expressway since it was always jammed after three o’clock in the afternoon. Instead he took side streets he could swoop down quickly—though he wasn’t in much of a hurry. He glanced at Chassie. She seemed to be taking refuge in the car away from people….and their thoughts! He was used to her being quiet when something was going on that troubled her. But he caught her eyeing him a couple of times and wondered if she wanted to talk.

“I’m fine, John, and no I don’t want to talk right now,” she said. “I was just practicing on you again.”

His thoughts immediately became incoherent as he sternly held on to the steering wheel and he pushed his foot down on the pedal. The car sped off and his clear thinking was once again haphazard.

Block, she thought as she sighed. She could tell he was getting agitated with her ability to read his thoughts. It must be unnerving to know someone can hear everything you think.

“Let’s not talk until we get to Water Tower and can sit down without interruption,” she said, giving him a chance to relax. “I will block your thoughts and will not telepath you mine for now, okay?”

He nodded. His relief was obvious.

As the car approached Water Tower Place, he decided not to bother with finding parking on the street and headed straight for the garage. The parking garages in Chicago were ridiculously high but he didn’t feel like driving around trying to find an empty space. So he paid the exorbitant fee and glided into a parking spot near the elevator.

They remained silent as they got out of the car and headed towards the elevator. Suddenly she turned to go back to the car.

“What are you doing?” said John, grabbing her wrist.

“I left my book bag in your car. I’m going to get it.”

“Why?”

“In case I need to be alone after we talk. I may walk down Michigan Avenue then catch the bus home. Now let go.”

He hesitated. He couldn’t let her go home alone now that she was sixteen. But he didn’t want to fight with her about it now. He shrugged and opened his hand. “I’ll get it,” he said, “wait here.” She would understand after she knew the whole story.

As they rode to the mall level in the elevator, Chassie felt as if she had never been to Water Tower before. Usually, she entered the mall through the revolving front doors on Michigan Avenue. Then she would go up the escalators to the first level. A waterfall ran through the middle of the escalators and she would always stick her fingers through the water as she rode up. It always filled her with joy. She believed it was because she had a foggy memory of being held in her mother’s arms when she was a toddler, going up the escalators, leaning over to hold out her little hand and trying to catch the water as it fell. Her father always told her she would have been too young to have that memory so it must be her imagination. But she was almost three when her mother died and she knew it was a memory. She could remember the smile on her mother’s face and how she laughed as she kept her from falling out of her arms.

The elevator stopped on the mezzanine floor where the food court was located and opened. On any other day, she would have gone straight to her favorite stores then spent hours trying on clothes and shoes. But today was different. She headed to the Chinese food counter to order one of her favorite dishes—Kung Pao chicken and fried rice. He veered over to the grill and picked up his usual cheeseburger and fries.

They packed their meals onto trays then met at the cashier station. After he paid for their food, they looked for a secluded spot away from people and found a table for four in the back.

As they sat down across from each other and she dropped her book bag on the chair next to her. Then she picked up her fork to eat even though she wasn’t really hungry.

He took the wrapper off of his cheeseburger and took a big bite. Then he grabbed some fries and shoved them into his mouth while he was still chewing on the burger. He was worried about the talk he was about to have with her but he was still hungry.

For the first few minutes they ate in silence. He was waiting patiently for her to be ready to talk. He didn’t have to wait for long.

“Okay, you’ve stalled long enough. Start talking,” she said, placing her fork on her plate and leaning forward on the table with her elbows.

“How’s your head?” he said. He still didn’t know where to begin.

She took a short breath and leaned back. She would give him a few more minutes. “It’s fine. I feel completely calm now. I can hear the thoughts of everyone in this food court but they don’t bombard me anymore…and they don’t give me a headache.”

“How long did it take for you to learn how to block multiple thoughts?” He picked up more fries and shoved them into his mouth.

“It was hard at first…but it got easier throughout the day.” She smacked at his hand. “Stop being such a pig and tell me what’s going on.”

He looked at her blankly. Then he picked up his burger and took a big bite. He still wasn’t ready. “So it was hard at first?”

She sighed. He could be so stubborn at times. “I could block thoughts completely by the end of fifth period,” she said, picking up her fork again. “By the way, you wouldn’t believe some of the things the teachers think about us as students—although most of the time, they’re not thinking about us at all. They’re thinking about their own lives and how they can’t wait for school to be over either.” She stabbed at a piece of chicken with her fork and put it in her mouth. “I guess it isn’t true that teachers live only to torture their students.” She reached for her bottle of water, sipped and then continued. “Anyway…at first, thoughts were attacking me like crazy. So I did what you told me to do and it worked. I could look at people and not hear their thoughts at all. Soon I was able to selectively hear thoughts. I could hear everything one person was thinking without hearing anyone else. It was like I could close the door to one person’s mind while opening the door to someone else’s. By the end of the day, I could listen to thoughts at will.”

He raised his eyebrows slightly amazed. “You’re learning even faster than we thought you would,” he said. “That’s good since you don’t have a lot of time.”

She put down her water bottle and looked at him pointedly. It was time for him to talk instead of asking questions. “Come, John, quit stalling. How do you know my whole name? Why can I do something I didn’t even believe existed before?” He didn’t have a chance to answer her questions before she was on to the next one. “In fact, who are you? Are you some kind of alien from another planet? Am I?” The look on her face was dead serious.

He burst out laughing. It made her laugh too, easing the tension. It was the first time she had laughed since she freaked out that morning. He reached out to hold her hand and rubbed his thumb across her knuckles. His touch was comforting.

“You know me, Chaz,” he said, “I haven’t changed. I’m still your best friend. The one who knows what makes you laugh, what makes you cry and how to irritate the hell out of you. I know you better than anyone else…better than you know yourself in fact. So why don’t I start with who you are?” The smile faded from his lips and he looked at her solemnly.

She nodded. “Go on…,” she said reaching across the table to hold his other hand. She kept a small smile on her lips but a slight crease appeared between her eyebrows. “Who am I?”

“You are Chausiku Aminia Sakombi Moreau,” he said, pausing for dramatic effect. She gave him a look that said cut the crap. He continued, “Aminia means ‘to believe in’ and Chausiku means ‘one born at night’. Your mother’s name was Adamma Sakombi. She was from Central Africa, and like her, you are a descendant of the very special and secret clan of the Azande people…the Sakombi clan.”

She blinked. What in the world? she thought, but her face remained blank. “The Sakombi clan?”

“Yes,” he said. “All of the members of the Sakombi clan have telepathic abilities. But telepathy is just the beginning of your abilities, Chaz. You are prophesied to be the most powerful of your clan. We don’t know how powerful you will become so some people are already afraid of you. But there are also some people that covet what you will be able to do.” He paused again to give her a minute of silence to absorb what she had just heard but she didn’t need it.

“Wow…so my mother is from Africa? I mean…of course I know I’m African American and that my ancestors came here as slaves from Africa. But I didn’t know my mother came here directly from Africa. I didn’t even know one of my middle names was my mother’s maiden name. But how do you know all of this, John?”

Here we go, he thought and he took a deep breath. “I know because I am a descendant of another supernatural clan. We are the Spencer clan from England and have abilities too…but not like yours.” It would be easier to show her than to keep answering questions so he reached over the table and grabbed her book bag. She quirked her eyebrows and leaned back a little. He pulled her thick algebra book out of the bag, held it in the air and then snapped it in two with one hand. He looked at her with a sheepish smile, held a half of the book in each hand and shrugged his shoulders.

“Damn,” she said looking back and forth from one half of the book to the other. Then she looked at him and frowned. “Uh, you’re paying for that, right?” It was a statement, not a question.

His face dropped. Algebra textbooks were not cheap. “Oh…yeah…of course,” he said putting the broken textbook on the table. “I’ll stop by the school bookstore in the morning and get you another one.” There goes this month’s allowance, he thought.

Should have thought about that before showing off, she communicated back telepathically. Then she laughed, making him laugh too. After a moment, they both became somber again. She could hear his thoughts and they had turned to her being in danger again.

“Go on, John,” she prompted.

“I’m here to help you learn to control your abilities and to watch your back,” he said.

So are you saying the only reason we became close friends is because you are watching my back? Her feelings were hurt so she unintentionally communicated her thought to him.

No,” he added hastily, “I did not become your best friend because of this clan stuff and I wasn’t forced into being your protector. We really did get close on our own. We were too young when we met for me to have faked my feelings for you—uh, you know what I mean—my friendship.” One look at his face and she knew his feelings for her were genuine.

“All right, I believe you…keep going.”

“What I’m going to tell you next will surprise you and hurt you. But you are going to have to trust me.” He took her hands again and held them firmly. Then he lowered his voice and looked steadily into her eyes. “You are in danger, Chaz…and your mother didn’t die the way you think she did. She was murdered.”

Her green eyes flashed with sudden anger and she snatched her hands from his grip. “That’s not true!” she yelled. Her voice was loud enough for people from nearby tables to turn and look in their direction. She realized people were staring at them so she lowered her voice but her eyes continued to blaze. “My mother died of an aneurysm when I was almost three years old. My dad would not have lied about that.”

“Your father lied to you, Chaz,” he said unwaveringly. “He was trying to protect you because he knew the truth would hurt you…and because he didn’t want to believe everything your mother had told him.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your mother told him about the Sakombi clan…about her abilities and about your abilities.”

She didn’t want to believe him but she opened her mind to his thoughts and she knew he wasn’t lying…besides she also knew he would never lie to her. But she couldn’t believe her dad would lie to her either. She frowned.

“He didn’t want you to be in danger,” he said as if he had heard her thoughts, “but he can’t change that fact. The sooner you understand this, the better chance we all have of saving your life.” Then his demeanor changed and he couldn’t keep the anger he felt for her father out of his voice. “Your dad’s belief that you wouldn’t be in any danger if you didn’t know who you really are has left you so unprepared!”

Charles’ defiance had left Chassie completely vulnerable. John’s parents had asked Charles to tell her the truth about her mother many times over the years but he had stubbornly refused. Charles was afraid he would lose Chassie the same way he’d lost her mother. So he had refused to believe people with abilities really existed and he had threatened to keep moving with Chassie if anyone tried to tell her those crazy supernatural stories. John’s parents understood how difficult it was for Charles and they didn’t want Chassie’s life to be unstable by constantly moving. They also needed to stay close to her at all times and they couldn’t take the chance of losing her—not for even a couple of days. So they promised Charles they wouldn’t say anything to her about her heritage as long as he let them watch over her. He agreed because deep down inside, he knew the Sakombi clan could find him.

As Chassie’s sixteenth birthday approached John’s parents struggled with whether they should tell her about the change coming in her life without Charles’ permission. But she had grown up believing that the supernatural didn’t exist. They knew she wouldn’t believe them unless they showed her the Spencer clan abilities—but it would have risked her life to do so. Now, she was completely blindsided.

John looked at her solemn face and his own face softened. He didn’t realize how hard it would be to tell her the truth about her parents. The sad look on her face suddenly reminded her of the first day his parents took him to his new preschool after they had moved to the United States. They walked him into his class and his eyes gravitated to a beautiful little girl with the two springy ponytails and green eyes. He had immediately let go of his mother’s hand, walked over and sat down next to her. His parents looked at each other and smiled. They had never shown him a picture of Chassie or even described her. But he seemed to have instinctively known she was like him…a clan descendant. They’d been inseparable ever since. It was their closeness that had made it so difficult for him to hide his own powers from her when he had turned sixteen.

He had almost blurted out his excitement a thousand times since his birthday, six months ago. After all, who wouldn’t want to let the world know they had superman strength? The day he received his abilities had been so different. He had known about his clan all of his life and he was so excited about receiving his abilities, he could barely sleep the night before. As soon as the sun rose on his sixteenth birthday, he ran into the kitchen where his mother and father were having breakfast, grabbed his father’s stainless steel knife and snapped it in two. Then he looked at his parents and grinned from ear to ear. His father had patted him proudly on his back while his mother was a little upset over the fact that her set of six knives had become a five. He continued snapping and breaking things until he crushed his mother’s coffeemaker. One look at his mother’s face and he knew he had gone too far. The next week he replaced it with a newer version.

My “change” came easily, Chaz, he communicated to her. And I thought I was prepared to help you go through it too. But I wasn’t prepared to deal with the pain I see in your eyes. I know how much you have missed having a mother and I know how hard it must be to hear she was murdered. But search your heart…you know what I’m saying is true. It explains why your father kept you in the dark about your mother’s family.

She had to admit he was right. Charles had gotten too defensive whenever she asked any questions about her mother. Yeah, I’ve always felt my dad wasn’t being straight with me. Tell me what you know…but talk out loud. I know it sounds funny but I want to actually hear about my mother’s death with my ears. I don’t want to have to focus on using my abilities.

John nodded. Then he wondered where in the world he should start her mother’s story when he saw his own mother approaching. He sighed in relief. He had called his mother while he was still in school and asked her to meet him at the food court to help explain everything to Chassie.

Kate Spencer walked up to the table, sat down next to Chassie and immediately grasped her in a tight hug. “Hello, Chassie, poor dear. I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. I hope you don’t mind that I am here. Are you okay?”

Chassie melted into her arms and buried her head in Kate’s neck. The sound of Kate’s voice—she still spoke with a British accent—was soothing. John had lost his British accent years ago.

“Hi Mrs. Spence,” she said in a muffled voice from under Kate’s arms. “Spence” was her nickname for John’s parents. It made her feel closer to them…like they were her family instead of her best friend’s parents. She let Kate squeeze her once more before she attempted to speak again.

“I figured John would call you. He’s never been any good at giving me bad news. Remember when I was ten and my dad had to put Shadow to sleep because he was too old? John walked me to the swings at the playground, gave me popsicles and kept swinging back and forth until you came to get me. You were the one who told me Shadow had gone to a heaven for dogs because John couldn’t do it. Well, John has already fed me and as you can see he’s getting jittery. I knew you would arrive soon.”

Kate laughed. “You certainly do know my son, don’t you, dear?”

“Laugh all you want,” said John, as he started putting the wrapper back on his burger. “Hi Mom. I’m just glad you’re here.” He put the burger on his tray.

“Hello dear,” she said blowing him a kiss from across the table. “I’ll take over from here so why don’t you take a walk. Chassie and I need to talk.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” he said. “See you later, Chaz.” He grabbed his tray and walked to another table far away from where they were sitting but close enough for him to still see them. He wanted be able to get to Chassie quickly if it seemed as though she needed him while she heard the news about her mother.

Kate got up and moved to the seat across from Chassie. She held her hands and looked directly into her eyes. Chassie, can you hear me?

She nodded. Kate’s thoughts even sounded like a British accent to her.

How much control do you have over your telepathy so far?

I can hear everyone’s thoughts in this food court. I can listen to them all at once or I can selectively listen to just one thought and block out everyone else. Right now, I’m only listening to you. I can also respond to only you telepathically, as I am doing now, but I’m pretty sure I can make all of these people in the food court hear me. I am able to block everyone or no on or I can just pick and choose whose mind to invade. I can also use my telepathy much faster now and I can hear thoughts much further away. For instance, John over there is worried I’ll fall apart when you tell me about my mother.

John, stop worrying about me and eat your burger, snapped Chassie, switching her attention to him.

His head jerked up and he frowned. He’d been staring at his food when Chassie’s voice entered his mind, startling him. He turned his head and glowered at her. She glared back at him. Then he put his food into the paper sack and walked out of the food court. He wanted to keep his thoughts to himself for now and he was tired of rambling to keep her from knowing his deepest concerns. But he wasn’t going to go too far away. He would slowly make his way back to the food court to see how she was taking things. Maybe she wouldn’t even notice it when he returned. Fat chance though, he thought.

Yeah, fat chance, she responded telepathically. He looked at her over his shoulder and she smiled. He sighed and walked into the mall area.

“He’s gone Mrs. Spence,” she said, nodding in the direction of the door. “Will you talk to me out loud and tell me what is going on?”

“All right dear, let’s talk. Feel free to interrupt me with questions anytime. I will answer everything I can for you. While you eat, I’ll start at the beginning…with your very special clan in Azande.”

Chassie picked up her fork and ate methodically as Kate told her all about her ancestors. “The Sakombi clan arose from the ancient Azande people in north central Africa. They now spread over three modern nation states. Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo—formerly Zaire—and the Central African Republic. They have also now been affected by education, market economies and Christianity. But from ancient times until well into the twentieth century, they lived in isolation from Westerners and held many ancient traditional beliefs which some still believe. The Azande—meaning the people who possess much land—dwell in the savanna forest where they cultivate the soil to bring forth rich food crops and exotic trees. They were known as great warriors and were recognized for their military skill.”

Chassie listened intently as Kate continued. “Historically, the Azande people lived in clans consisting of several families with a common ancestor or ancestors. You were born into the Sakombi clan, one of the most ancient and secret of all clans. Many of the people in the Azande culture have adapted to the Western world but many still hold on to ancient traditional beliefs referred to as mangu or ‘witchcraft’. They believe that magic is inherited from mother to daughter, father to son, in the child’s belly and that a person could be a witch without knowing it, causing harm to others. This belief is used to explain difficulty, sickness and death. The grieving believer will contact an oracle—one believed to have the ability to identify a witch. The one accused of being a witch is then persuaded to make amends—by expressing good will—to the one the witch has caused trouble.”

Chassie furrowed her eyebrows. “So, these abilities we have are magic?” It didn’t feel like magic…but then again, she had never thought there was such a thing as being supernatural either.

Kate shook her head. “No. The Sakombi clan—and the world you and I live in—think the Azande belief is mythical. There’s no such thing as magic and the people in your clan are not witches. You were all just born with abilities.”

Chassie nodded and lowered her eyes to her plate. Her eyes shifted back and forth as she thought about how crazy it all was…ancient Africa…supernatural clan…telepathic ability. She took a couple of bites of her Kung Pao chicken and then slowly drank some of her bottled water.

Kate sat back in her chair and waited. Chassie was clearly deep in thought but she wasn’t sharing. She decided to give Chassie a minute alone so she stood up intending to grab a bottle of water.

Wait, Mrs. Spence.

The sudden invasion of another voice in her head made Kate almost trip over her chair. “Goodness!” she shrieked.

Chassie jumped up and grabbed Kate’s hand. Sorry Mrs. Spence, she communicated as she helped her sit back down. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just going to ask how many clans are there in the world with special abilities? I know about John and I’ve seen what he can do with an algebra book…but what about you and Mr. Spencer?

“John really loves that little move with books,” said Kate chuckling. “He tore up all of our telephone books a month after receiving his abilities.” Her throat was scratchy from talking constantly and she rubbed her neck. “I think I still need a drink of water. My throat is already dry and we still have so much to talk about. I’ll just pop over to the counter to buy a bottle.”

“I’ll get it for you, Mrs. Spence.”

Chassie walked over to the food counter and picked up another bottle of water. While she waited for the cashier to ring up her purchase she looked around to see if John had returned. She didn’t see him anywhere so she decided to try to communicate with him. I wonder how far away my telepathy can reach, she thought. A moment later, she located his mind.

John, where are you? I can hear your thoughts but I don’t see you anywhere, she communicated.

He bolted upright in his chair. Chaz, you gotta be kidding me. Aren’t you and Mom still in the food court? He had taken the escalator to the 6th floor and sat at a table outside of a fast food restaurant. He was still eating when he heard her voice.

Yes. I’m just getting your Mom a bottle of water before she continues telling me about my family. I just wanted to see where you went off to…and I wanted to see how far away I can communicate. Where are you?

I’m on the 6th floor.

Really? Damn, I’m getting good!

No kidding…but could you just get out of my mind and go back to talk to my mom? Then his thoughts rambled with nonsense.

What’s with the rambling? she communicated.

He didn’t respond. She shrugged and cut her telepathic contact. Then she paid for the bottle of water and returned to the table.

“Thank you,” said Kate, reaching for the bottle and unscrewing the top. “So, I will now tell you about John, George and the other clans.”

“So, you don’t have abilities?” asked Chassie, sitting back down. “John told me his clan is the Spencer clan, right?”

“Yes, that’s right and I’m not a Spencer by birth so I don’t have abilities.” She took a sip of water and continued. “There are six clans like yours in the world, one in each populated continent on earth; Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Australia. The Spencer clan is from Europe. Then there’s the Qiáo clan. The Amaru. The Natosapi and Gale clans.” She clicked each one off with each finger from one hand. “And of course, your clan from Africa. I believe the Sakombi clan is the oldest. Some consider them to be the most powerful too—because of their telepathic and telekinetic abilities.”

“Wait…What? Telekinesis?”

“We’ll get to that later.”

Chassie blew a low whistle. “Wow. Can everyone in the Sakombi clan…in my clan…do what I do?”

“Not exactly,” replied Kate. “There are different levels of powers in every clan. I know your grandmother and mother were very strong telepathically, but it is believed you will be able to do much more than they could do…and that you will be the most powerful of all the clans.”

Chassie looked at Kate with a disbelieving frown. “Why on earth would anyone believe I would be the most powerful?”

“I know this all sounds very strange and unbelievable but given the fact that yesterday you had no idea telepathy existed and today you find you can hear other people’s thoughts and communicate to them without speaking…” She paused to take a breath. “Well, nothing should be outside the realm of possibility to you, don’t you think?”

“Sorry Mrs. Spence,” she said, lowering her eyes contritely, “you’re right.” Then she leaned forward and raised her eyes expectantly. “Please continue,” she said. “Who believes I will be the most powerful and why?”

“Most of the members from each clan believe it but not everyone,” Kate replied.

“You said there is a clan originating in North America. So, does that mean there are others living here in the United States with different abilities?”

“Yes,” said Kate. “Actually the North American clan—the Natosapi—originated from Canada and the United States. They are Blackfoot First Nations and Native Americans. But there are some members of every clan here just as they are in other parts of the world.”

“Wow…so why do they think I am or will be the most powerful? And John said I’m in danger. Why? Is it because other clans think I will be more powerful?”

Kate frowned and hesitated. She had told John to wait for her to get here before telling Chassie she’s in danger. The boy couldn’t hold water when it came to her. Chassie had to deal with finding out she had supernatural abilities first. She needed to learn how to control them before she could take on Rasul.

But Kate didn’t think she should be the one to tell Chassie the truth about her mother’s death either. She should hear it from Charles. After all, he was her father and he was the one who was actually there when Adamma died.

“Chassie,” said Kate, looking at her with sympathetic eyes. “Before we go any further, I think you should go home and talk to your father.” She reached out, cupped Chassie’s chin in the palm of her hand and kissed her forehead.

“What?” Chassie leaned back with wide eyes. Then she shook her head. “No, Mrs. Spence, please don’t stop now. You know my dad…he won’t talk to me about my mom.”

“I know, I know,” said Kate, rubbing Chassie cheeks with her thumbs. “Charles has never wanted to believe there really are people with supernatural abilities in this world and he has never wanted to talk about your mother’s death. He wrote it all down as silly Azande mythical beliefs. But I still think he is the one who should tell you how your mother died and you will have to help him…by communicating with him telepathically. Make him understand he can no longer deny the inevitable. John and I will be close by if you need any help.”

Chassie didn’t want to wait until she got home to find out how her mother died or why she was suddenly in danger. But she knew Kate well enough to know the discussion was over. Kate had made her decision and Chassie wouldn’t be able to change it.

“Okay, Mrs. Spence,” said Chassie. She pressed her lips together sadly. “I’ll try to get my dad to talk tonight. Thanks for coming here and for telling me about my heritage.”

“You still have a lot to learn but I will be with you every step of the way.” She stood up and gave Chassie a hug before leaving. Poor dear, she thought, this would have been such a happy day for any other sixteen-year-old. She held on to Chassie for a moment then continued, “Can you tell John to come back from wherever he’s lurking?” She untangled her arms from around Chassie’s shoulders.

“Sure can,” chirped Chassie. Her mood lightened. She would get John to tell her what happened to her mother.

John!

What?! He was clearly annoyed.

Get your butt back down here. Your Mom wants you.

He didn’t bother to respond but just hurried to the down escalators. When he arrived back at the food court, he irritation evaporated as soon as he saw Chassie. A line appeared between his eyebrows and he tentatively approached the table where she and his mother were still standing. He’s eyes met hers and he searched them for some indication of her feelings. She gave him a small smile.

“There you are, John,” said Kate, giving him a kiss on his cheek. “You can take Chassie home now.”

“You’re done?” He looked at his mother confused. Chassie didn’t look at all like she had just heard how her mother was brutally murdered.

“I think it would be best if Charles told Chassie about her mother,” said Kate. “He was there. He knows exactly how it happened…and I think it will be just as good for Charles to have to say it as it will be for Chassie to hear it.”

Kate turned to Chassie. “Go home…talk to your father.”

Chassie nodded. “Thanks again for everything, Mrs. Spence,” she said.

As John reached out his arm to get Chassie’s book bag from the floor, Kate grasped his arm, leaned down and whispered in his ear. “John, be alert,” she said firmly. “Chassie is progressing quickly and Rasul may have already sensed her. It won’t take him long to find her now.”

He nodded and Kate quickly walked away.

“What was that about?” asked Chassie

“Let it go for now,” he said taking her hand. She didn’t object as he guided her out of the food court and headed back to the car.

*****

May 24th. The day had finally arrived and across the Atlantic, deep in the African savanna, Rasul looked into the mirror as he shaved. His goatee and mustache had to be perfectly lined as always and today he was particularly precise. He could hardly contain his excitement because Chausiku had turned sixteen. He would finally be able to sense her whereabouts. He wondered if her ignorant father had kept her from knowing about her abilities. He hoped so. She would have no idea how to use them to protect herself…making it so much easier for him to get her.

Books by Pamela E. Cash

Chausiku: Nightmare of the Clans Book One

Chausiku: Dark Soul of the Clans Book Two

Chausiku: The Blood of the Clans Book Three

Chausiku: The Deadly Twelve Book Four

 

 


Chausiku: The Nightmare Begins: The Mystery of the Clans

Fans will love this short companion book to the Chausiku series. It unlocks some of the mysteries surrounding the six secret clans with supernatural abilities, explains the origin of each clan and includes ancestral charts that can be used as a guide to each book in the series. As a bonus, it also contains four tempting chapters from Chausiku: Nightmare of the Clans Book One.

  • ISBN: 9780998517544
  • Author: Pamela E. Cash
  • Published: 2017-03-07 01:05:14
  • Words: 15375
Chausiku: The Nightmare Begins: The Mystery of the Clans Chausiku: The Nightmare Begins: The Mystery of the Clans