The Crimson Girl
The thought of going home for the Winter break had crossed Jasmine’s mind once or twice, but in the end, she concluded she had no real home. So, she decided to stay at her boarding school, Sanctum on the island of Haven. Her father and sister were dead, her mother had abandoned her, and her grandmother had made it clear she wasn’t raising anymore children. She wasn’t alone. She had made a few friends who would be staying on campus with her.
When Ari, the water dragon, invited Jasmine to Dragon Lake, she thought it would be uneventful. Ari wanted to show the gang the transformation that she had been working on in her Water Creatures class. Micah, Jasmine, Nicole, and Jeremiah left their boarding school early that Saturday morning. Once they had set their things down, Ari dived in. When she emerged, Jasmine stood at the edge of the lake where the water barely covered her feet. Ari had gone from a young girl with layered blue hair and turquoise eyes to a white dragon with the same eyes. The hair around her face had ice blue tips much like Ari’s own hair. She was smaller than Jasmine thought she would be.
Ari snaked around them before diving back into the water. She came back up. Her head bobbed in the clear water as she stared at them.
“That’s amazing,” Nicole said as she stepped into the water. It lapped at her ankles.
Dragon Ari nodded her head.
“That’s cool. Wish I could do that,” said Jasmine. “Don’t you Micah?”
Jasmine spun around to see if he was behind her. “Where’s Micah?” she asked.
The rest of the group had joined Ari in the water. They stopped when they heard her talking.
“What do you mean?” asked Jeremiah. He was right-,” Jeremiah pointed to a spot behind Jasmine. “He was right behind you.”
“Micah!” Jasmine yelled.
They all screamed for him. Ari dove back underwater to see if he was there playing a trick on them. When she rose to the top she stared at Jasmine and shook her head. The forest they were never supposed to enter was beyond the lake. Jasmine stared at it. Sunlight glinted off something shiny on the ground. She ran to it. By the time she picked it up, Jeremiah and Nicole were next to her. Ari, in her human form, wasn’t far behind.
“What is that?” asked Ari.
“It’s Micah’s,” said Jasmine. An old pocket watch, his grandfather had given him was at the entrance to the Forest of a Thousand Screams. It was silver with leaves etched into the back of it. He carried it with him everywhere.
“What do we do?” asked Ari.
“What do you mean? We take his watch and go back to the school and tell someone he was taken into the forest,” said Nicole. Nicole had never been in trouble. Ever. Micah’s disappearance would not change that.
“He was here a minute ago which means he couldn’t have gotten far. Won’t take long to find him ourselves,” said Jeremiah.
“I agree,” nodded Jasmine.
“Seriously?” We aren’t supposed to go in there,” said Nicole.
“We need to find him. And they won’t believe someone kidnapped him anyway. Especially Headmistress Verna. He’ll be kicked out. We have to get him,” said Jasmine.
“Okay. Quick question: How are we going to fight whatever dragged him in there?” asked Nicole.
They all stopped. None of them had thought that far ahead. After a moment of silence, Jeremiah was the first one to speak up.
“Well, you’re a pretty amazing witch. I’m sure you could conjure something to distract the thing,” Jeremiah said with a dazzling smile.
Jasmine could tell by the smile on Nicole’s face he had her.
‘Fine,” she sighed. “Let’s go back and get our stuff.”
With their backpacks packed, Jeremiah scanned the area to make sure no one was around before they entered. It was winter break so most of the students were away with their families. Jasmine would have gone home if her grandmother hadn’t made it clear she was only to come back during the Summer. Truth be told she didn’t want to be there anyway.
As they stepped into the forest all the sunlight seemed to vanish. The further they walked, the darker it became. Having wandered around for what seemed to Jasmine like an hour, she was both excited and worried when they found an old run-down house.
“Should we?” asked Jeremiah.
“Micah!” yelled Ari. They waited for an answer. Nothing.
The wooden floor creaked with every step they took up to the door. Jeremiah was the one to open it and the first to walk through as Nicole, Jasmine, and Ari trailed close behind. There was nothing in the living room but a few dusty chairs and an old piano. There was so much dust caked on the piano, Jasmine knew no one had touched it in a long time. The girls followed Jeremiah as he stepped into the next room. He stopped short causing Nicole to walk right into him.
“What the-,” started Nicole.
Jasmine and Ari entered to see what had Jeremiah and Nicole so speechless. Micah was there. He sat at a dining room table, but he wasn’t alone. Sitting at the head of the table was a monster. A headless monster. The thing was light brown with loose hanging skin. His fingers were sharp points. He had them laced together resting on the table in front of him.
“My master says hello,” said a voice behind the monster.
Behind the monster, there was a faint outline of a person. The room was too dark to make them out completely. Micah looked up at them and Jasmine could see the fear in his eyes. A tear rolled down his cheek as he stared up at her. His body shivering.
“He says it is rude to not respond,” said the voice.
“H-Hello,” stammered Jasmine.
“Ah! That’s better. Yes. Now we assume you’ve come for your friend and we would be more than happy to return him to you on one condition. You find my Master’s head,” said the voice.
“His head?” asked Jeremiah. “Where?”
“That we do not know but it is somewhere in the forest. You find it your friend gets returned to you unharmed and you are free to leave this house,” answered the voice.
“How would we find it?” asked Jasmine.
“I know a way, but I would need some of his blood for a locator spell,” answered Nicole.
It was quiet for a second and the voice answered fine. The monster took a knife, sliced into his hand and slid it down the table into Nicole’s hands.
“We’ll be back,” said Jeremiah reassuringly to Micah. Jasmine smiled at him before following the others outside.
Nicole, always prepared for anything, pulled a map from her backpack and laid it on the porch. Then she took the knife dropped some blood onto a crystal, said some words and swirled the crystal around the map. It took a moment before the crystal stopped and dropped onto the cemetery on the other side of the forest. She put the crystal away grabbed the map and lead the way.
“So strange for it to be so close,” said Jasmine once they were away from the house. “Once the exchange happens, we get Micah and run.”
They moved through the trees looking for the cemetery. They found it past the house, down another path filled with more trees and past an old well. A skeleton sat on a headstone staring at them.
Shrouded in a black robe with nothing but skeletal hands visible. “What are you guys doing here?”
Jasmine remembered him. He wasn’t in any of her classes, but she had seen him in the hallway. “Who are you?” she asked.
“G,” he said plainly.
“I know you,” said Jeremiah. “You’re the Grim Reaper’s son.”
“Yeah,” he said as he hopped off the stone. He removed his hood to expose his skull.
Jasmine and Ari took a step back. Jasmine had been trying to get used to seeing things she never thought possible. She thought she had been handling it well. Everything had been explained to her on the ferry ride from Key West to Haven. Her grandmother told her the mythical creatures she had read about were real and lived on a group of islands in the Bermuda Triangle. And that one day she would get her powers and become a witch or an elemental or even a shadow person. Her family was mixed with so many things anything was possible.
“The Grim Reaper has a son?” Jasmine asked.
Jeremiah and Nicole turned to look at her as if it was a strange question. Nicole was a witch and from Haven, while Jeremiah was from the island Malius. It was the island of darkness where vampires, shadow people, and werewolves came from. So, they were used to it. Ari was from Kansas while Jasmine was from Florida, so they were still getting used to their new surroundings. Although Ari knew more about the world inside the Bermuda Triangle than she did.
After her mother had abandoned her, Jasmine was forced to live with her grandmother. A woman she had never met but who had made it clear she didn’t want her. They sailed from Key West on an old wooden ship with few passengers and fewer crew members. Their destination was Haven. Niarus was the island of fire. Gaeath the island of nature. Taurashi the island of water. Haven was the island of wind and Malius the island of darkness. Haven was a place anyone (nonhuman of course) could come regardless of the island they came from. It was also explained to Jasmine she was not human, her grandmother was a witch and she would be going to Sanctum, a boarding school for Others until she graduated.
“Of course,” said Jeremiah.
“What?” asked Jasmine surprised by their calmness.
“Seeing a monster doesn’t surprise you but he does?” asked Jeremiah.
“Yes. I don’t know why but yes it does,” answered Jasmine. “Is there a Mrs. Grim Reaper?”
“Yes, mom’s back home,” said G.
“Oh,” said Jasmine unsure where to take the conversation.
“It’s not like the human world Jazz,” said Jeremiah.
“Yeah, that becomes clearer every day,” said Ari.
“So back to my question, what are you doing?” asked G.
“What are you doing out here?” asked Ari.
Jasmine noticed she had a point. Yeah, they were out in the cemetery but so was he. What was he doing?
“In a cemetery?” asked Nicole.
“As a skeleton, where else would I be?” G asked,
“What about your friends?” asked Jasmine.
“Not a lot of people, half-human or other, want to be friends with death’s son,” he answered.
“Oh,” said Jasmine. She felt sorry for him. He was so alone that he came to a graveyard.
“I’m Jasmine, this is Ari, Nicole, and Jeremiah.”
“Nice to meet you. So, what are you doing?” he asked again.
“Looking for a head. Seen one?” asked Jeremiah.
“You can’t give that thing-,”
“We know that,” said Ari. “How do you know about him? And we don’t have any other options.”
“My dad. He knows about this forest and the creatures here. When I told him I come here sometimes, he told me about the monster and to stay away from the cabin.”
“What other monsters?” asked Jasmine as she inched closer to Ari.
“If you haven’t seen them it’s because they don’t want you to,” he answered.
“Micah,” whispered Jeremiah. Micah and Jeremiah grew up together. They were born a month a part and had been together ever since.
When Jeremiah said Micah’s name they all got quiet as if they understood. They had to do this, or they wouldn’t get Micah back. It was too late to run and tell someone or try to get help. Micah needed them now.
“We need to get our friend back. This is the only way,” said Jasmine.
Nicole moved around the graveyard with the dagger and the crystal until the crystal jumped out of her hands and landed on a plot. “Here!” Nicole yelled.
They all ran to her. It was an unmarked grave. Far from any of the others.
“What do we dig with?” asked Ari.
“Hold on,” sighed G. He pulled two shovels from a shed near the entrance, brought them back and handed one to Jeremiah. They had to dig deep. When Jeremiah looked as if he was about to give up, G hit something. Jeremiah brushed it off and pulled it out of the hole. Laying at Jasmine’s feet. Reluctantly and mostly because no one else looked like they wanted to do it, Jasmine kneeled over the burlap bag and opened it. She gasped and jumped back.
“Guess that’s it,” said G.
All Jasmine could do was nod her head. If she even thought about opening her mouth more than words would be come out.
Back in the dining room, the monster and ghost or assistant stood on one side while Jasmine and her group stood on the other. Close to the door. Micah was tied to one of the chairs.
They had come up with a plan that made Jasmine happy they found G and his power in the graveyard and not something else.
“We found your head,” said Jasmine.
“My master says thank you,” said the voice.
“We will give you his head when you promise you will let us all walk out of here,” said Nicole.
Micah’s hands were under the table tied to the arms of the chair. Jasmine could see the rope unraveling. Micah sat frozen as if unsure of what to do. He looked at Jasmine and she winked at him.
“That was the deal,” said the ghost.
The monster stood up. Jasmine slid the burlap sack to the middle of the table and they took off. Micah was being pulled by something he couldn’t see. He didn’t resist when he realized it was leading him towards the door. G only materialized when they were outside as he tried to steady Micah on his feet. They stood there for a moment.
“We should get going,” Jeremiah said.
“Why?” asked Micah. “I’m free.”
“No, he’s right we have to get out of here,” said G. A large blast shook the ground and knocked them off their feet.
“What was that?” asked Nicole.
“I think the monster put his head back on,” said G putting his leg bones back together. Jasmine picked herself up. The blast came from the house, but nothing looked destroyed. “We need to go,” she said as she helped Ari and Nicole to their feet.
“Oh, kids,” said a voice behind them. The door to the cabin swung open and the monster stood in the doorway.
“Run!” yelled G. G led the way through the trees down a path, through more trees. All the while the monster stomped behind them making the ground quiver. Branches clipped them in their faces and tore at their clothes. Roots of trees seemed to rise to trip them as they ran by. Jasmine had bloody knees. Jeremiah’s shirt had been ripped. And Ari had a busted lip. But they still ran. Not knowing where they were going. Or how to get back to the school.
When the ground stopped shaking behind them they were on a gravel path that wasn’t like the one they took to get to the cabin. It was black, with vines growing through it. Because it had grown quiet they stopped to catch their breath. Jasmine’s lungs were on fire. The more air she sucked in the more they burned.
“Where. Are. We. Going?” she gasped.
“I don’t know. We have to get out of the woods,” said G.
“Do you hear that?” asked Ari. Everyone got quiet and listened. Jasmine could hear the wind, leaves rustling.
“What are we-,” started Nicole.
Then there it was. Crying. Someone was crying softly. Jasmine spun around it wasn’t any of them. So, who was it?
“Hel-” Jasmine clamped her hand over Ari’s mouth.
“If you yell the monster will know where we are.” She put a finger to her lips and moved off the path to follow the sound. It sounded like a child. Maybe he was a fifth grader and lost like them. They all fell in line behind her. No one made a sound. Not even a whisper.
Ahead of Jasmine was a bush and on the other side of it, the cries grew louder. She pulled down the leaves, so she could peer through. A boy was crouched down on the ground sobbing.
“It’s a boy,” Jasmine whispered. They stood up and pushed past the bush.
“What’s wrong?” asked Jasmine as she moved towards him. He kept crying not even lifting his head at the sound of her voice. She continued to move towards him. He was small, with dark brown hair, a red and white striped shirt and blue jeans. His arms were wrapped around his legs with his head resting on his thighs. Jasmine crouched down next to him, touched his hands and said, “It’s going to be okay.”
The crying stopped. The boy grabbed her hands and looked up. “You’re going to die here.”
His face was pale. His eyes two black holes. Jasmine pulled away and stumbled. The boy began to laugh loudly. “They’re here. They’re over here!” he shouted.
“Run!” Jasmine yelled. They ran back to the path and kept running. The boy was singing behind them. The Monster is coming to get you! He’ll Pluck out your eyes and swallow your tongue-
A branch clipped Ari in the face making her fall. Jasmine stopped to help Micah pick her up. The rest of the group disappeared. A man appeared next to Micah and the three of them fell backward. He was a soldier covered in armor. His face was hidden by a helmet. He leaned down in front of them. “Go down the path,” he whispered. “Now.”
Jasmine and Micah jumped up and pulled Ari to her feet. They got back to the black gravel path and followed it looking for the rest of the group. After a while, she could see a white shirt like the one Jeremiah was wearing ahead of them.
“Jeremiah,” Jasmine whispered.
He turned to look at her and smiled.
“We thought they had gotten you. We were just deciding to go back and look for you guys.”
“Ari had fallen. We had to get her.”
“Now where?” asked Micah.
“We have to keep going,” said Jeremiah as they continued down the path.
“Got you!” said a voice behind them.
Jasmine jumped before she started running behind G down the gravel path. She knew it would be better if they split up but none of them knew the woods except for him. They would end up getting lost and easy prey for the monster. So, she followed him further and further down the path. Until they came to an open field.
The monster stomped through the path smiling. The trees closed behind him.
“There you are! I’ve been wanting to thank you for returning my head,” he said smiling.
“You’re welcome,” said Jeremiah. “Now let us go home.” They were in a tight circle looking for a way out.
“Hmm. Or I could kill you now and you could stay here forever. I hear you already made some friends.”
“We gave you what you wanted. Let us go,” Nicole pleaded.
“You did. And now no one knows you’re here.”
He was right. No one knew they were going to Dragon Lake so when they turned up missing no one would know where to start looking for them. Winter break wouldn’t be over for another week. No one would come looking for them until they didn’t show up for their classes. They were in the ninth grade but still had no real powers between them. Jasmine had none, Ari could only change when she was near water, Jeremiah was a vampire and Nicole was a witch and hadn’t learned enough to defeat a monster. Neither had Micah as a shadow person.
The monster yelled and swatted at something around his legs. G went flying, landing on the ground with a hard thud. When they ran towards him the monster slammed his foot down with such force they went flying. G’s bones were scattered on the ground. Jeremiah was thrown across the field when he went to help Nicole. Nicole hit her head on a rock. Ari laid next to Jasmine unconscious. Jasmine was trying to pick herself up. Every time she tried her head felt too heavy to lift.
When she finally managed to sit upright so much time had gone by. Ari was still lying next to her while Nicole wasn’t moving. Micah was next to G’s bones. And Jeremiah was starting to pull himself up. The monster was stalking towards Micah.
“Hey!” she yelled as she slowly climbed to her feet.
The monster spun around and smiled. “Give up.”
Jasmine looked around. Only she and Jeremiah were standing but she had to do something. The monster turned around and went back to Micah.
“Don’t hurt him!” she screamed. “Get away!” she was running towards him when it happened.
Jasmine heard the crackling of flames as they engulfed her. Red, orange, and yellow wrapped around her until she couldn’t see anything. But she could hear. The monster had stopped.
“What is this?” he asked.
The fire didn’t burn her. Instead, it caressed her skin gently before fading away. With it gone she could see clearly. The monster stood still next to Micah. Staring at her in confusion.
“What are you?” he asked.
“I don’t know.”
She could still feel the fire coursing through her veins making her blood boil.
“Leave Micah alone,” she said feeling stronger than she ever.
“Or what?” he asked.
It was as if her body knew exactly what to do because without thinking her arms raised towards the monster, her hands opened. A perfectly round ball of red and orange fire burst from her palm towards the monster. Like fiery bullets, she shot them, but he was fast. The monster leaped, ran and dodged each one.
“Very interesting,” he said as he backed further and further away.
Jasmine looked around. Jeremiah was the only one standing. Even if she could burn the trees to make a path for them, between the two of them they couldn’t carry the rest and G’s bones.
“Got you!” Long flappy arms wrapped around her. When did he get behind her? His loose dangling flesh slapped against her skin every time he moved. The monster smelled of rot and smoke. He lifted her off the ground, pulling her to his chest. She struggled against him. But the more she thrashed around the tighter his hold on her.
“Annoying,” yelled the monster who then dropped her.
After landing, Jasmine stared up at him. He swatted something away from his face. A bat. A small black bat was going after his eyes and smacking him with its wings. Jasmine looked around. Jeremiah was gone, Ari started to stir but Nicole was still lying there. Don’t vampires turn into bats? She asked herself.
“Uhh,” the monster growled swung his long arm. Knocking Jeremiah out of the sky. He landed on the ground a few feet from Ari. He transformed back into his human form on impact. “I will kill you irritating children.”
He moved towards her slowly. The fall left Jasmine disoriented. Her legs were sore, her head ached, and the fire had gone from her. She frantically tried to get it back. She closed her eyes trying to will it back to her, but nothing happened. When she opened them, the monster stood in front of her leaning down. She could feel his hot sticky breath burning her cheek. Water shot from her right, blasting the monster in the face knocking him off his feet.
Jasmine looked up to find Ari on her feet with her opened water box. Her teacher Miss Lily, who was a mermaid with lilac hair, told her to always carry the water box with her so she could use it as a water source. Miss Lily taught a class for water creatures in the middle of Sanctum while sitting in the large fountain pool that she shared with Mrs. Cilia, a water nymph.
Ari moved the stream of water with her hand, wrapped it around him and squeezed. The monster looked helpless as he struggled against the water ropes. Jasmine smiled at Ari.
“Ha!” laughed the monster. “Not so easy,” he chuckled as he burst out of the water ropes. The force sent Ari flying. She landed on the ground five feet away with her legs folded over her head.
“No!” screamed Jasmine.
Fire swarmed her covering her entire body. When she held out her arms they had been swallowed by the flames. The fire wasn’t caressing her body as it had done before. It was her body. She stared at the monster who took a step back after her transformation. She wasn’t sure what to do or what she could do with all this new-found power. She felt it rising inside of her.
Jasmine held out her arm. A thin rope of fire shot from her wrist. It flew and wrapped around the monster. It bound him from his feet, up to his shoulders. He fell over with a loud thud. The ground shook.
“What are you?” the monster kept asking while struggling against her fire ropes. She didn’t know what she was or how she was doing it but keeping him tied up wouldn’t end this. That much she knew.
She stood right in front of him. There was something in the pit of her stomach that was waiting to get out. Jasmine pointed her hands towards him and closed her eyes. A ball of fire rolled around inside of her. The more she focused on it the bigger it became. Until it dispersed, splitting in two, she felt a jolt before a burst of flames came from each hand burning the monster. He screamed and writhed in pain, but the flames kept coming. She opened her eyes to see it searing him.
She didn’t stop the fire. It did it on its own. Her arms fell to her side as the monster laid on the ground charred and quiet. A soft wind blew through the trees, making him crumble into ash.
But Jasmine was still covered in flames. She had no idea how to turn it off. Just like she didn’t know how to turn it on. She turned around and saw Jeremiah. He stared at her. She waved. Ari, Nicole, and Micah weren’t moving. She walked over to Nicole who hit her head on a rock. She reached out to touch her. That was when she noticed the flames weren’t red anymore. They were green. A bright glowing green all over her body. She placed a hand on Nicole’s head.
The green flames swallowed Nicole’s body. Jasmine jumped back, unsure of what to do. She turned to look at Jeremiah who was still staring at her with his mouth gaped open.
Nicole wasn’t burning. After a few seconds, the green flames died down and then went out completely. The gash on her head had been healed.
“Interesting,” said a voice behind her. Jasmine slowly turned around to find a woman with long black hair, pale skin wearing a black cape.
“Maybe you are it,” she said moving towards Jasmine.
“It? What?” Jasmine backed away.
“What I’ve been looking for all this time,” said the woman as she pulled out a knife. It had a black blade with a silver hilt.
Before Jasmine could utter another word, the woman was on her. It happened so fast Jasmine had no time to think. She was shoved to the ground with the woman on top of her. She raised her blade and stabbed Jasmine in the stomach. Jasmine could hear Jeremiah screaming for her as the lights seemed to dim. The woman took some of her blood and stood over her.
Jasmine tried to lift her head to get a better look at what she was doing. The pale woman smeared Jasmine’s blood on an amulet, but nothing happened. She did it again but still, nothing.
“Oh well, guess you’re not the Phoenix after all,” said the woman as she walked away and vanished before Jasmine’s eyes.
Jasmine could feel the world falling away as she struggled to breathe. She no longer heard Jeremiah screaming. Her whole body was heavy. Right before she closed her eyes she felt two strong arms lifting her up.
“Not yet love. You can’t die yet,” he whispered.
It wasn’t Jeremiah or any of her friends. The voice was one she had never heard before.
“Who-,” but before Jasmine could finish her question she disappeared into the darkness