A Light Within: Chapter One
After a long workday, Meghan heads to her car where something waits for her.
Keys clicked beneath Meghan’s swift fingers as she finished the note on her previous patient. She was expecting a new patient today. A Reta Brown. She lifted her head from the notes at a soft knock on the door. There a woman stood. Her arms covered her chest and her eyes were downcast.
To avoid startling the woman, she kept her voice light. “Reta, is it?”
The woman nodded and stepped into the office.
Meghan engaged her power, pulling it up from her core and out. Bright red light radiated and snapped from the woman. Spikes of electricity moved over her face, arms, and her lower back. A red aura often signified a severe soul trauma and the electrical spikes showed her the physical pain. She extended her hands, open and palms up, an invitation of safety, toward the woman. “Please, come in, and have a seat. Can I get you something to drink? Water? Soda?”
Reta pulled her purse tight to her chest and shook her head. “No, thank you.” Black and blue eyes lifted to meet hers as she lowered herself into the chair.
Bruises covered her face and arms. Blood filled the split on her swollen bottom lip. Yellow splotches spread over her right cheek. Meghan imagined they were from the last beating. The bastard.
“So, Reta — can I call you Reta?” She nodded. “Camden Hospital referred you to me. The paperwork shows you requested services outside your county and I would be happy to help you. But — ”
“You are a healer.”
“I — yes. How did you know?” The woman’s bluntness surprised her. It wasn’t uncommon for a few people to sense something different about her, but they rarely identified what she was. If they did, it was much later in the relationship.
She shrugged, winced, and clenched her teeth. “I see colors, it’s nothing special. Your kind always shines a bright golden light.”
“I see, well —”
She smiled and softened her tone. The woman needed a friend, not a clinician. “Meghan. My name is Meghan.”
“Yeah… okay… Meghan. So, you’re a healer. Can’t you do your thing? Make me better?” She squeezed her arms tight around her chest, a defensive move, and her legs bounced to a rhythm only she knew.
Now, for the negotiating. She had to do this carefully or Rita would bolt. “I would be happy to ease your physical discomfort and I can give you relief from some of the emotional suffering. However, the deep healing comes through talking, learning, and practicing coping mechanisms. With more meetings, I can use my power to move the healing along. But I can’t do it all at once. To your benefit, it makes things easier that you know about my gift.”
“I… I mean… I guess if that’s what I have to do.” Her body trembled. “I can’t be doing no weekly sessions or nothing. If he finds out — he’ll kill me.”
“I understand. Reta, your safety is my highest priority. I need you to trust me and believe me, if we are to work together.”
“Okay, Lad… er… Meghan. I can try it. But if he finds out, I won’t be coming any more. Maybe, maybe you could check on me. Maybe… if it comes to that.”
Meghan sat back in her chair and looked hard at Reta. She gathered the warmth from her core, pulled it up through her body, and pushed it out. This allowed her to fully assess her new patient.
Despair hung heavy over the woman’s soul, and splinters of sharp stabs enveloped her body. The desire to get help rang true, for now. She knew these things could easily turn, and she could lose her patient in more ways than one. She decided to take a chance. “I can do that. Again, your safety is the most important thing.”
A sigh escaped Reta’s lips, and she loosened her arms. Meghan released her own sigh of relief. It would be easier to heal her, the more relaxed she was. “I can work from here, Reta, but it is better if I can touch you.” Reta winced, but eased her arms to the armrest.
Meghan turned the chair next to Reta toward her. She skimmed her hand down her arm. It shook beneath her hand, so she started there. Warm light danced and twisted as it pushed outward from her center. The tremors stopped, and she sunk down into the chair and closed her eyes. Perfect, she thought, now for the hard stuff.
The physical pain came next. The spikes of electricity on Rita’s body became a map. She didn’t want to cause her any more pain and accepted the slap of electricity. It was part of healing physical injuries, and she absorbed it into herself. Removing it from her arms and down into her lower back caused sparks to bite into her own back as she lifted it.
He had done a number on her. She was certain this pain came from a kick. The healing wavered, white fiery rage rolled through. She breathed out to release it, then moved up to her face. When done, the yellow splotches had vanished and the black and blue marks had dimmed to a dull yellow.
It would have to be enough for today. Placing her hands on Reta’s head, she pulled up more of the sweet, tingling warmth. It filled her whole being. Then moved it into her hands and pushed it out, coating Rita’s mind.
Exhausted, Meghan sat back, her breath heavy. Reta opened her eyes. “I know it doesn’t fix everything, but do you feel better?”
She paused, then lifted her arms, and her eyes grew wide. “Yes, thank you. Thank you. I didn’t really think — but — Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome. This will have to end our session for today, as it takes my energy to zero. I want to help you, Reta, I do. Next visit, we will have to put in a deeper kind of work, the kind that may help you avoid ending up like this again.”
She watched as the woman’s hands balled into fists. “Thank you again, Meghan. I will call you when I can come again.” She walked taller as she left the office, and she no longer stared at the floor.
Meghan grabbed a soda from her mini fridge. It was stocked for patients, but also for those times when she had overworked herself. The full assessment in the record would have to wait. She couldn’t go into detail about the actual work done today, so she gave highlights, mentioned the patient’s hesitancy to share her problems, and described her physical condition.
Pleased with today’s work, she shut off her computer and headed for the exit. She flipped the lights off and locked the door behind her. The clock above the elevator showed ten minutes to five as she entered the elevator. Just enough time to stop by the house, change out of her work pants, and step into comfy jeans and a t-shirt before meeting her twin, Gabby. They tried to meet up once a week at the local diner. It gave them time to catch up on each other’s lives and stay connected.
The doors opened with a ding. She paused. Something felt off. Scanning the parking garage, she looked for anything out of place. There was nothing. The wind whipped around and sent her brown curls flying, and her nose turned to ice as she stepped out from the shelter of the elevator.
Winter had blown in hard and fast this year. To avoid suspicion, he left the van off. It felt like an icebox. The warmers he put in his boots and gloves that morning were wearing off. He listened to the battery-operated radio as it crackled classic rock from its speakers. Lunch had been a cold cheeseburger he had grabbed from the drive through and he threw sunflower seed casings on the floor as he snacked to keep from grabbing a cigarette.
He had sat for hours watching through the frosted and fogged up windows for the healer to leave her office. His Ma had always told him to make careful plans, so he wouldn’t end up in a bind. So, he was careful, and he always planned.
The last few days he’d followed her to make sure he had her schedule down right. He knew she usually worked till five, so he got there a couple hours early to set everything up. He’d found a parking spot halfway between the elevator and her car. The back door to the van had stuck when he tried to open it, so he thought leaving it slightly open would be good to avoid having to fight with it in a hurry.
He hadn’t hunted in months. There hadn’t been a need. His current healer had submitted with little effort. It was likely because she was old. But he had needed a healer in a pinch, and she was the first he had found. Which was helpful and boring. He did, of course, want them to submit. However, he preferred the fight and delighted in the pain. A fire burned in his belly and he allowed a black, sticky fog to fill him.
He knew when he received his powers a few years ago it was a gift to him in order to rid the world of those with power and to restore balance back to regular people. They all thought they were better than regular folks, but they weren’t. He wasn’t either. The gift only belong to him because it would take a person with powers to take them down and he was strong enough to do it. He would suck out the power of every last one of them. He could do it nice. They wouldn’t feel no pain. But he wanted them to suffer. His jaw clenched and he growled. “Especially the healers.” They deserved to suffer. It would all be worth it, and no one said he couldn’t enjoy himself while he was saving the world. He would then do what needed to be done and then join his Ma in the final resting place.
He’d been desperate once, when his Ma was sick, before he knew how vile they were. He remembered now how she had spit and cussed all the way to that healer’s house. “That heathen will not touch me.” She was kicking and screaming. “They aren’t natural. God will take care of me if He sees fit.” She had stopped fighting then and got so still he placed his hand on her chest to make sure it still moved. She smiled then, “I ain’t dead yet, son.”
She’d been right in the end. The healer had refused to help her, said she was too far gone. She hadn’t even tried. Thought she was too good to help us regular folks, that’s what she thought. Ma died within the week.
He took that healer’s powers a week after he discovered his own. She hadn’t remembered him. But he made sure she knew exactly who he was before she went blank. He could still taste the victory.
The elevator dinged. He pulled himself back from his reminiscing and watched as his new healer stepped out of the elevator. His pulse raced, and his blood turned to ice as power coursed through his veins. Everything was ready. He stepped out of the van.
Meghan wrapped her coat tight, flipped up her hood, and tucked her head down to brace herself from the cold. Her black Honda Civic sat at the other end of the garage. Her heels clicked against the cement and echoed off the walls, creating a strange sort of music mixed with the whistle of the wind through the garage.
She didn’t hear him step out. “Ooh — I’m so sorry! I didn’t see — ” His hand clamped down on her shoulder. She winced as a stab of heat shot through her arm and his grip bit into her arm. Her heart raced in her chest. He was big, too big, and his body was rock solid.
Red hair covered the back of his head and a hint of red blew in the wind on top. He smiled down at her. His teeth were overlapping and black filled the spaces in between. He smelled like onions and sunflower seeds. “Thanks for, catch — ” Her world tilted sideways. Bile crept up her throat, and the man holding her disappeared behind a fuzzy haze. She tried to take a step back, but he held her in place with a grip like steel.
His cold gray eyes stared down at her as a fire burned deep in her belly and spread slowly out to the rest of her body. She tried to scream. She was screaming, but there was no sound. Her knees, unable to bear her weight, buckled. A white light flashed, blinding her, and she heard something hit the pavement. Then there was nothing.
He quickly threw open the back door of the van and glanced around the parking lot. The buzz from the use of power vibrated through his body. Need to make sure no one saw. His muscles strained as he lifted her off the ground. Must take care with this one, he thought as he gently placed her in the back. He wrapped her feet and hands with duct tape. She wouldn’t wake up for a while with the amount of power he had pulled from her, but they had a long drive ahead of them and he didn’t want to take the risk of her waking up and trying to escape.
Swinging the doors shut, he locked them in place. The power pumping through him receded. He climbed in behind the cracked steering wheel, reached over to the passenger seat, and dug through a pile of sunflower seeds to find his cigarettes, lit one, and breathed in a long steady draw.
“This is going to be fun.” Smoke poured out through his wide grinning mouth.
If you enjoyed the start of this novel, check out Chapter One of The Cliff, a Novella: