Crash Landing

Chapter 1

Kara turned the medallion around in her hand again and again. Feeling the smooth surface on one side, tracing the strange symbols on the other. Searching the coin for an answer. Anything that would explain where she was, where her Mother had gone, what she was going to do…

Kara’s mind flashed back to last night.

She was standing in her room, holding her breath, listening to the wind howl, the thunder growl, and the branches sway. Every leaf seemed to be shaking, sending a choir of uneasiness through the trees. Her bedroom windows rattled in their frames, accompanied only by the clock’s consistent tick-tock-tick. Something felt off – strange. The air was full of some sort of heavy static that made it harder to breath. Did she smell something metallic?

Suddenly – Kara’s Mom came sweeping into the room. She was dressed in all black, like some sort of comic book ninja. Her long, dark hair was pulled back into a braided ponytail. She even wore a katana, clinching the ninja cliche.


“There’s not a lot of time Kara – I need you to put this on.”

“What is this?” Kara caught the bundle of clothes her mom had tossed. “What’s going on? Why are..”

“Kara!” Her mom’s eyes were dark – darker and colder than the warm chocolate brown Kara saw at dinner. Her strong jaw was clenched – her lips, stern.

Without another word Kara turned and dropped the clothes on her bed, sorting the bundle. A black bodysuit, a black cloak, and long black socks. She quickly got to work putting them on.

“Thank you Honey,” Kara’s Mom walked to one of the windows and peered out into the darkness. “Now listen to me, because this is very important” she turned back to Kara setting knee high black boots at the foot of her bed. “We need to…”

CRASH – the windows in Kara’s room busted inward, sending shards flying towards the center of the room.

Kara and her mom immediately huddled together, covering their heads.

“Look at me Honey – we’ve got to get out of here. There’s no time to explain. Put on the boots.” She looked around Kara’s neck. “Do you still have the necklace I gave you?”

Kara reached up and felt for the jewelry. It was tucked inside her suit, but she could feel the leather cord around her neck. It felt familiar and comforting. Kara pulled it out to show her mother.

Kara’s Mom palmed the large round locket and smiled. The chocolatey warmth returned for a moment as she opened the piece to ensure the gold medallion was still stored safely inside. In that same moment, the darkness returned and she quickly tucked the necklace back into invisibility, resting her hand over Kara’s heart and the hidden locket. “You have to keep this safe – no matter what happens to me okay? Never lose this, never let anyone have it, never let anyone know it exists.”

“What’s going on?”

Another crash came from outside Kara’s room – more shattering windows. Kara’s Mom moved the shoes directly in front of Kara. “Boots!”

Kara scrambled to put them on as her mom paced the room in front of the door.

As soon as Kara had her shoes on her mom was opening the door and motioning for her to follow. They quietly and quickly crept out of the house and into the backyard. The moon was full, the wind was still howling, picking debre up and twirling it in the air.

“We have to get to the lake!” Kara’s mom said loudly over the wind. She pointed past the barn, through the meadow, inside the trees.

Kara had been to that lake many times. She and her mother would frequently picnic there, go for a swim, or a ride on their canoe. She had a treehouse…

Kara’s mom was already on the move – Kara had to stop reminiscing and think about running to keep up. Why was she running so fast? What were they running from? Why were they seeking shelter at the lake? None of this made any sense.

As Kara ran, her cloak floated in the wind behind her, the edges flitting like the leaves in the trees. Her black bodysuit felt secure and tight, the boots gave her good traction and speed. She felt like she could jump in the air and fly through the branches, like a magical sidekick, chasing after her super hero into the darkness.

Chapter 2

Kara’s Mom was already at the dock, untying their canoe and getting ready to push off when she arrived at the lake.

“Come on Honey, get in ” She motioned to Kara, nodding her head in the direction of the boat. She looked so beautiful. Not a hair in her braid was misplaced. The blush on her cheeks from running perfectly complemented her naturally rosy lips. She seemed alive with excitement and adventure, but consumed with worry and fear.

Static filled the air around them. And while the atmosphere buzzed with energy, dark shadows emerged, swirling in the depths beneath the water’s luminescent surface.

Kara suddenly felt afraid – what were those shadows in the lake? Why was the water glowing? And why was her mom wearing a sword!?

“I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what is going on!” Kara stood tall in front of the boat. Her curly red hair swirled in the wind around her.

Kara’s mother looked at her and then looked behind her as lightning and thunder ripped through the sky.

“Kara,” her voice was deep, commanding. “Someone is coming to hurt us – and this person, he will stop at nothing to get to you. Do you understand?”

Anger started to replace fear as Kara replayed her mother’s words.

“No Mom, I don’t understand! Someone’s coming to hurt us? To get me? Who? Why?” Kara threw her hands up in frustration. “And now we are going to be safe from a ruthless murderer and the largest storm I’ve ever seen in this old ass canoe in the middle of an enchanted, monster filled lake?” Kara looked down at the boat and the water again. “What are those things?” she said, pointing at the shapes swirling beneath the surface. As she pointed, their movements intensified, circling like large eels surrounding their prey. The eerie lake pulsed back and forth, emitting green and blues hues like a steady heartbeat. Green – blue – green – blue. A deep fear settled into Kara’s bones. She’d swam this lake hundreds of times…there were no monsters here…no magical lights…and yet…

Kara’s mom carefully got in the canoe and sat down. She looked up at Kara and smiled. “I know all of this seems pretty strange…and Kara…I know I should have told you about all of this sooner..I just…I thought we had more time. But time is running out.” She outstretched her hands, “You’re going to have to trust me. I’ll tell you everything once we are safe.”

Kara looked at the water again.

“Don’t worry about those – they won’t hurt us. Come on Kara – please, we have to go.”

Behind them, something barrelled out of the woods and came crashing to a halt in the clearing.

Before Kara could turn around, her mom stood up, leaned forward, and pulled her into the boat. By the time Kara sat up her mother was already rowing to the center of the lake. Kara looked back to the shore and saw a tall silhouette standing on the dock with a bear shaped shadow at his side. Kara looked back at her mom. Tears streamed down her face as she sat rowing, rowing. Her sobs were lost in the howling wind. She looked up at Kara and froze – a thousand words and a thousand regrets suddenly surfaced in her eyes. She could see her mother was saying sorry, sobbing, rowing. Kara found herself crying too, staring back at her mother, shaking in the wind. Behind the thunder, the wind, her mother’s cry’s and the beating of her own heart, Kara thought she heard a guttural scream of rage. The lake lights continued to strobe – green, blue, green. The eels followed the boat as it rolled to a stop.

Kara’s mom cut the rope from the boat with her sword and tied it around her waist, leaving a long tail behind her. “This is all happening the wrong way. I wish so badly that things were different – that our family could have been different.” She wiped the tears from her face and held the other end of the rope out to Kara. “I know you have no reason to trust me right now, but please hang on to this and don’t let go. We are going to swim really deep, so I need you to take a deep breath. Don’t let go.”

“You’re my mom, of course I trust you – I just”

The eels became frenzied – thrashing instead of gliding. Their bodies rose from the water and, as they splashed through the air, Kara finally saw their matte black scaly skin. They darted away from the boat and back towards the docks.

“Kara – it’s now or never – hang on tight!”

Kara and her mom breathed together – in, out, in, out, in – they stood at the edge of the boat, took one last look at each other, one last breath, then they dived into the lake.

Deeper and deeper they swam – the water was warm and still pulsing – green, blue. It was so foggy Kara could barely see her own hands. She was grateful for the rope. She held onto it, comforted by the strong pull leading from the other end. As they swam deeper, the water got colder, darker. Kara started thinking about her lungs – about how they were pounding inside…thinking about how long she could hold her breath before she would start gasping for air?

Suddenly, there was a sharp tug on the line, and then it went slack.

Kara panicked and swam forward with all her might. Surely she would run into her mom right?
The water was so cold, but her body felt like it was on fire. The pitch black was so disorienting – she knew she had to stay calm but – what was that? – a glint? Kara swam faster toward what had to be her mother’s sword – and just as she felt like she would convulse into gasping, Kara broke the surface of a large lake, under a calm, cold night sky, lit by thousands of stars and the glow of two large crescent moons.

Chapter 3

“Mom?” Kara looked around as she floated in the water. She didn’t sense the eels anymore; she didn’t sense her mom anymore…she felt entirely alone. The surface of the lake buoyed back and forth, creating the illusion of four moons instead of two. The silence felt eerie – like the world was holding its breath. She could see a dark treeline just past the shore in front of her and couldn’t help but wonder what lived inside…

A splash came from behind her and Kara turned to see her mother coming up for air. She frantically searched around and, as she came to rest her gaze on Kara, a large smile spread across her face. She swam towards her daughter as fast as she could. “I knew you could do it Honey!” She grabbed her daughter and kissed the sides of her head. She kept kissing until Kara swam backwards to get away.

“Okay, okay, I’m glad to see you too.” Kara looked up smiling and pointed at the sky, “Now can you tell me where we are” Kara twirled in the water, taking in the strange, but familiar landscape once more.

There was something about the way the stars were hanging in the air, something about the smell of the breeze, the way it felt on her skin…Kara imagined places like this in her dreams…

“Would you believe me if I told you, this is where you were born?” her mom said smiling, staring up at the starry sky. “It feels good to be back right? You feel it in your blood?”

She was right, Kara did feel a thrumming in her veins; she felt… powerful…

“But in all seriousness Kara, we need to discuss exactly what’s going on. It’s the only way to keep you safe.” She smiled again, but this time her smile was weak and one sided. “Let’s get to land shall we?”

As they swam together to the shore, her mother continued speaking. “We were royalty here, your father and I.” She smiled again, “We resided over a small village court in the mountains just north of here.” She stopped swimming and pointed to her left, away from where they were swimming. “Merchant’s Spire…” she sighed longingly. She shook her head and continued swimming. “A tale for another time I suppose.”

Kara dared not speak and waited eagerly for her mother to continue. She yearned to hear more stories about her father, about an enchanted past she saw in her dreams. She wondered if maybe….things in her dreams were real….

They swam in silence for a while before Kara’s mother spoke again. “I’ve always wanted to tell you about this place. About our legacy.” They were coming out of the water now and standing in front of a grassy meadow. Tall, dark trees loomed further ahead. Kara paused, studying them. The forest looked pitch black. Everything else was illuminated – but the forest was pitch black – except for the tree tops. Those were vibrant whites and blues.

Kara was suddenly struck with a feeling….she felt dizzy, as if she was slipping back into the water, like she was drifting back down to the bottom of the lake. Visions flooded her thoughts. Eels wrapped themselves around her arms, her leg, her face…she saw the pulsing green and blue, steady as her heartbeat and body thrashed…she turned and saw fangs rushing towards her in the foggy deep…

“I need you to know, everything I’ve done has been to keep you safe Kara,”

As if time had skipped forward, Kara and her Mom were standing just outside the treeline. They walked through the whole moor and all Kara could recall was the eels…those fangs…

Kara’s mom found her hands and held them gently. Looking into Kara’s eyes she said softly, “You have a great power inside of you – I know you can feel it.” She put her hand over Kara’s heart. “That power needs to be kept safe – you need to be kept safe ” Kara’s mom searched her face, “You are so much like your father – that has always been true.” She smiled again and the warmth in her eyes filled Kara’s heart. “I always wanted to tell you about this place, about our past…but it just seemed safer to…to omit…” Tears spilled from her mom’s eyes, leaving trails on her cheeks. She shook her head and raised her hands, “I have no excuses Honey – I was just afraid, and I thought it’d be easier to let you forget…”

A flurry of splashing came from the lake behind them. The figure from the dock emerged from the water with his beast. Once again, they were silhouettes, dredging towards them in the darkness.

“Who the fuck is this guy, the Terminator?”

Kara’s mom turned towards her, eyes wide and disapproving, but also smirking. Haha, very funny, she seemed to say, but not the time. “Kara – this could get dangerous. I’m going down there and I need you to stay here in the trees.” She reached behind Kara’s ears, “Put your hood up.”

“Mom, stop. No!”


“You’re not going down there.”

“I have to.”

“Not alone.”

Kara’s mom became very stern. “I have to and that’s the end of it. You are staying here, no matter what. Do you hear me?”

Kara looked up defiantly. From the corner of her eye she could see the figures approaching. Slow – steady – swimming through the water towards them. Her heart raced as she focused on her moms eyes, trying to hide her fear, feeling unsuccessful.

“I’m serious Kara – no matter what. Stay here.” She gave another weak smile, then pulled her backpack off and placed it in front of Kara. “Everything you need to know is in here. If something happens to me down there….take my bag into the forest and run, blend in with the trees and get to the safe place marked on my map. Once you get there, you will know what to do – trust your instincts. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you.” She looked at Kara, searching her eyes for understanding and agreement. “Kara, do you hear me?”

What did her mom mean ‘If something happens to her’? What was going to happen? Blend in with the trees, find the safe place…

“Kara!” Her voice was low but carried a swinging weight.

“Yes, I hear you. I…”

“Great!” Kara’s mom tucked some stray hair into her hood. “I love you so much Honey.” And with a final kiss to each of Kara’s cheeks, her mom turned, pulled out her katana, and walked slowly down to the shore.The figures were reaching the beach as her mom walked back across the moor. Kara picked up the backpack, hugged the nearest tree, and prayed for her mom’s safe return.

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