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Stephanie Steadman Stephanie Steadman
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Well, This Wasn't In the Textbooks...


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

      Chapter One:
       Okay, I'm not so sure how this happened. One second, I was enjoying a dreamless slumber, only to have some boy interrupt it the next. This irked me immensely, since it wasn't often my unconscious mind wasn't plagued by nightmares of an upcoming test or anything concerning school.
       “Gladys...” The voice said again, quiet yet masculine at the depth of its tone.
       I suddenly found myself in a familiar setting; Preston Cemetery, where I would often stop by to read a book or observe the wildlife. A thin trail of fog crept along the surface of the ground, twisting around my ankles and giving the graveyard an eerie (almost cliché) feeling.
       “There you are.”
       I whipped around in alarm, but the figure approaching was reduced to a featureless blur. My eyesight was virtually useless without glasses, and being unable to perceive whether or not the person was a threat invoked my more primal instincts: run you idiot!
       The distinct human-shaped contours about three feet away and advancing swiftly, seemed to be holding up its hands in a gesture one would use with a frightened animal. “Please, don't run. I come in peace.”
       My face reddened; I was in a graveyard with a male stranger and the only thing I could think about was the fact that he would see me in my ridiculous dark blue footie pajamas decorated with images of penguins.
       “Here.” The fuzzy image murmured, right in front of me, and a firm hand grasped my wrist. He peeled open my clenched fist and dropped a feather-light object into my palm, and upon contact with the item, I knew immediately they were my glasses. Ever so slowly, I brought the spectacles up to my face, looking through the transparent lenses at a kind-eyed boy before me as the world fell into perfect focus. “Better?” He tilted his head, long ebony hair obscuring velvety black eyes.
       “Uh, yeah. Much better, thanks.” I was a bit more confident now that, if I had to, an attempt at fleeing wouldn't result in the inevitable twisted ankle from tripping over a headstone. A still silence settled around the two of us, interrupted only by the mournful howling of the gentle breeze as it whisked past my ear, stirring a few strands of shoulder-length, curly mahogany hair and tickling the back of my neck.
       The boy standing before me, with his rich golden-brown skin that any devoted tanner would kill for and ageless visage, was trussed up in a plain white t-shirt and somewhat baggy trousers. If it wasn't for the clothing, one might think he was of a distinguished bloodline, perhaps even royalty. I was about to question him on his identity; before my mouth could even form a word, however, his body tensed and he half-tackled me, an action to which I responded to by crumpling to the ground with a rodent-like squeak.
       “Hey-!”
       He cut off my indignant protest by placing his hand over my mouth, whispering an involuntary “shush”. My nostrils were suddenly filled with the pleasant scent of vanilla; not a very manly lotion...
       The sound of heavy footfall and a laughing male voice, accompanied by the soft replies of a female, made any further thoughts of pummeling... well, you-know-who, into a bloody pulp. Not that I had much upper-body strength to leave anything more than a few sore bruises that wouldn't even mar his unblemished skin. I was dragged over to a tall granite tombstone, which the nameless boy used to hide us from sight; he peered over the top with genuine hostility agleam in his once gentle dark gaze, and when I tried to sneak a peak, he trapped me against the sleek stone. Who's out there?


       Chapter Two: Billy the Kid  
       My boots crunched over the furled, crisp autumn leaves blanketing the fog-shrouded soil.
       “Watch out!” A meek-looking girl with silken locks of hair the color of raven feathers reached out to grasp my elbow with a delicate, slender-fingered hand. She gently steered me away from a grave belonging to a person long forgotten, their headstone weathered and chipped beyond recognition.
       My eyes, an energetic electric blue, rolled in a look of exasperation; “I'm sure they wouldn't mind; it's not like they're sleeping under the dirt.”
       She cast the grave site an apologetic glance, topaz irises reflecting her sorrow that the current setting made her feel.
       I softened like a glob of butter on a hot skillet; why did such a sweet, innocent soul deserve what was coming? Being her Guardian Angel was gonna be tough on the ole' heartstrings. I contemplated whether or not to inform her of what to expect, but a sudden feeling of nervousness was beginning to set in, like we were being watched. The possibility of Fallen Angels roaming the area was close to nil, but my former occupation as an outlaw taught me to trust my gut. Gently, I pressed my palms flat on top of the bony shoulders of the girl and pressed her down to the ground. She complied, and when she was lying flat, I called out into the gloom: “Show yourself. I'd hate to have to come over there and make you cooperate.” When no answer followed, I tried again, this time with more conviction.
       There was a curious whisper from behind one of the newer tombstones, and a frustrated growl ensued. A boy about my own age (sixteen) poked his head out from the cover of the sleek, glittering iridescent white stone; he had soft, muted black eyes that revealed his kind-hearted nature far better than the suspicious frown that quirked the line of his mouth did.
       “Let me see!” Came another voice, and what I saw surprised me. Her eyes, a harsh gunmetal blue, glittered with a child-like curiosity, and a mop of wavy mahogany curls framed a round, pale-skinned face. So pale that I wondered if she had every been exposed to the sun at all...
       “Gladys?” The hushed voice I was so used to rose, startling me and the two strangers.
       “Mia? Mia, is that you?” The girl, whom I suspected was Gladys, blinked quickly behind her glasses, which she readjusted for a moment as if making sure she wasn't imagining anything. They both jumped up to greet one another, but me and the other boy caught them first.
       “Billy? What are you doing?” Mia gasped, glancing back at me with wide, worried eyes.
       “Hey, you butthead, lemme go!” Gladys demanded, and I suddenly felt sorry for the other boy; at least Mia had a bit more... well, manners. It makes the Guardian Angel gig so much easier.
       “Sorry.” He grimaced, but kept her locked in an awkward, protective embrace. I gave a sharp whistle, silencing Gladys's onslaught of insults, before loosening my grip on Mia. She didn't run away from me; just stood there with a confused look on her face.
       “What's your name?” I called out to the other Guardian. He wouldn't be so skittish around others if he wasn't protecting someone.
       The boy paused, blinking slowly. “I don't have one. Forgot it a long time ago.” He released his captive after a moment of hesitation, looking towards me with a look of reluctant trust.
       “Mia!” Gladys squealed, and hurled herself forward; I suddenly noticed her attire and had to fight the urge to laugh as No-Name approached.
       He glared at me for a moment, before his expression melted into a friendly smile, one that two brothers might share. It gave me a good feeling, since most of my old buddies are Fallen Angels and I am forbidden to contact them.
       We were both very surprised when a loud gasp issued from nearby, and my blood chilled when I realized the voice belonged to Mia.


       Chapter Three: Gladys
       Okay, first of all: nothing happened to Mia. Oh no, of course, it was just my dumb-luck that I tripped over a plastic grave marker and hit my head on the hard-packed earth. There was a sharp intake of breath from Mia, and as I rolled over onto my side, the world swam and blurred together; I'd dropped my glasses.
       “Mia?!” Billy, I think. He sounded really worried.
       “No! Gladys!” Was my best friend's ragged reply, as if she had strep and her throat was clogging up.
       Strange; I didn't feel anything. That was what confused me... then the whole world faded to black, and I welcomed the nothingness, hoping I'd wake up in my own bed soon, remembering the whole event merely in memory. Would've been nice to see Prince (well, he looked like one, and I couldn't keep calling him “the boy”) again though...


       Sunlight filled the small space of my bedroom, highlighting the cluttered areas that really needed to be cleaned. Some day. A massive headache pounded through my temples, and I rubbed my forehead with a grimace. “Dang. Must have hit it on something.” I muttered, rising up to a sitting position with a groan as various bones popped throughout my spine; God, I was sore.


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