The Screech Owls – Chapter I Part I

Novel: Fantasy Horror

He looked up, and saw that although the sky was gray the sun shone bright as if there was no cloud cover at all. But despite the sun the air was so cold Edward could see the breath of the boy puffing frantically. He couldn’t see his own breath though; there was something covering his face.

He took off the thing on his head and looked at it – a sinister black helmet that completely hid his face, with small pointy horns and something of a beak – and the boy stilled. They looked at each other for a moment, and Edward remembered slicing his wrists in the bathtub, the water turning first pink and then red.

“I thought you were one of them,” the boy said. He was maybe twelve years old.

“Who?” Edward asked.

“The screech owls.”

“Who the hell are they?”

The boy’s eyebrows knit in confusion. He seemed to struggle with his thoughts, and said “I don’t know.”

Edward looked down at the rest of him. He was entirely clothed in black armor. It was as hideous as his helmet and so dark it absorbed all light. He stood and was astounded that it seemed to weigh very little. On the dusty ground was a tremendous black ax. It looked like an amalgamation of several different axes, as if the maker had been unsure what to create. It certainly looked deadly. Edward ignored it and turned back to the boy.

He didn’t want to ask. He was afraid to hear the answer. But he said “Where are we?”

The boy only said “I don’t know” in a shaky voice. “I…I woke up here. And then you sat up.”

“But I should be…” He couldn’t finish the sentence. He looked around again, searching for something that might make sense. But there were only the dead trees and the rocks and the enormous ax.

The boy wrapped his arms around himself and shivered. He was not dressed for the cold. He had on dark pants and a thin white shirt perhaps made of cotton. Edward stood and looked at his own clothing again and started trying to figure out how the armor connected.

“How’d you get here?” he asked the boy.

“I don’t know.” He was on the verge of tears.

“I mean…what do you remember last?” There, there were clasps on the sides he could undo.

“I was in my bed at the hospital.”

Edward stopped messing with the clasps and looked at the boy. Something in his expression must have frightened the kid, because he whimpered and hugged himself tighter.

“Can you help me with this?” Edward said, turning again to the clasps. He really did need help with it, but he also wanted to get the boy’s mind on something else for now.

The kid nodded and undid the clasps as if he had done the task a hundred times.

“What’s your name?” Edward asked.

“Cole. What’s yours?”

“Edward. Edward…” He stopped. He couldn’t remember his last name. He said so.

“I can’t either,” Cole said.

Edward eyed him, unsure whether that was true or if Cole was just trying to make him feel better. Then he shook off the chest armor and found a layer of chainmail and a thick long-sleeved cotton shirt underneath. He pulled it off and handed it to Cole.

“But you’ll be cold,” Cole said. Even his voice shivered.

“I can put the silly armor back on.”

Cole took it and pulled it over his head. That’s when Edward actually took a look at his own arms. They were as thick and muscular as Cole’s were small and thin. He felt his bicep and it was like a boulder. He looked down at his chest and it was ripped like a body-builder’s.

“What’s wrong?” Cole asked.

“I don’t think this is my body.” He turned his arms over and looked at the wrists. There were no cuts or scars. He twisted his right arm to check out the elbow. There should have been a large scar from when he had impaled it on a fence when he was ten, but there was nothing.

Cole watched him twist around trying to check out his elbow. “I don’t think this is my body either.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t hurt.”

Edward looked down at him. He had pulled his arms inside the shirt, which hung down to his calves.

I have to say something. I have to do something. Or I’ll go mad.

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