Running hard, she focused with all her might on the tiny emergency exit light that now seemed miles away. That beacon was the only source of illumination in what had otherwise become pitch blackness. Shadows loomed and stretched around the faraway light as though mocking it, mocking her, dimming its effectiveness as she reached out toward it.
Then, as if the air around her had become molasses, her legs suddenly felt heavy and mired in a sticky goo of atmosphere, making her struggle just to put one foot before the other. She tried to scream, even to call for her mother or father, but no sound came out. Tami would help her. They could fight this beast together. Tami was standing in the darkened room, hands on hips, face wearing her usual smart-ass smile.
They were the eyes of the demon! The bedroom door slammed behind Sarah with a loud bang. Instantly the entire room went pitch black. Not even moonlight shone through the window. Her heart slammed against her breastbone.
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She could hear things moving in the dark, circling her, stirring the air. Sarah sat up quickly in the dark, panting. She immediately reached for her nightstand lamp and clicked it on, covering her heart with a hand. A slight sheen of perspiration made her tank top and panties cling to her body. The sheets around her were in a tangle about her legs, and she flung them off her. The pillows were gone from the bed, cast to the floor during the nightmare. Almost in tears, she leaned forward and rubbed her temples, feeling like her bedroom was closing in on her.
Her head ached in a strumming throb. This was the third nightmare in a week. She was tired of trying to convince her mom and dad that the dreams had nothing to do with the stress of taking placement tests for school. Each time the demon in her dreams got closer. Tonight it had gotten too damned close.
That had to mean something. It all felt too real. But it annoyed her to no end that her parents were always so preoccupied with their own lives and problems that they could never seem to make time to really listen to her or to take her seriously.
Other people had problems, too. If she were psychic, like they were, and had a daughter who was slowly coming into her extrasensory powers, like they did, she would make the time to listen. She was sure of that. Sarah frowned. They claimed she had performance anxiety and then blew her off. Maybe it was easier for them that way. Who wanted to deal with a kid who had issues when you had more important stuff to address? Sarah let out a forlorn sigh. She leaned forward and clasped her hands on either side of her head.
Yes, she could hear them. They were somewhere in the compound…. Were her parents fighting?
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She threw back the covers to completely untangle herself and easily navigated her way through her semi-darkened bedroom to yank on some sweatpants and her sneakers. Never in her life had she heard her dad sound like that; never had she experienced hearing someone so clearly inside her head. She needed to get closer. She slipped out of her bedroom and quietly made her way down the hall, still jittery from the all-too-recent nightmare, barely noticing the blood-red moon outside her window.
She had only gone twenty-five feet when she saw her brother, Alejandro, sneaking out of his own bedroom. Al gave a quick start and whirled around to face her. His surprised expression turned into his normal glower once he saw it was her. Did you hear it? Normally she only had biting comments for her irritating twin brother, but not tonight. She was glad he was there with her. He glanced down the hall.
They stared at each other for a moment. For once she wished her brother would just drop his defenses and be on her side. He was a telepath just like her. If they teamed up, they could find out what was wrong faster. Sarah briefly closed her eyes and bit her bottom lip, trying to find a way to reach her twin. When she finally looked at him, she could feel the wall Al always kept between them beginning to crumble. Al ran a hand through his hair. You judge people, Sarah. But whatever is going on with Mom and Dad is more important than whatever you think.
Al smirked when she had nothing to say in response.
Sarah scowled as he turned and began creeping down the hall again, then sighed and followed. It was better than nothing. She and Al had long since learned all the back service corridors and stairwells of the old hotel that their parents had converted into a mountain safe house for their family sixteen years ago.
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In fact, all the Neteru Guardian team members lived there as one big crazy combination of blood relatives mixed in with warrior friends for life that shared no actual blood ties—uncles and aunts were more titles than real biological links. They were still considered family. All the kids grew up like brothers and sisters or functioned like cousins under the same roof. All of them had long since learned their way around the property, unbeknownst to the often battle-distracted adults, and had spent hours of play going through the secret passageways of the old hotel.
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So, getting to the war room unnoticed—where they suspected their parents were—would be a piece of cake. Or would have been—until Tami opened her bedroom door and joined them in the hallway. Her best friend stretched, yanked the scrunchie off her long, dark-brown hair and tugged it into a tighter updo, and then put her hand on her hip. Sarah glanced at her brother. It was odd how even when he was being snarky toward Tami, his tone softened. Oblivious, Tami just looked at him for a moment as if he had lost his mind.
Sure you did, Tami replied. She tapped her temple with a finger and gave Sarah a wink. Yeah, Sarah thought.