Gene was teaching me how to do a cartwheel. She could do it with swords in her hands, or even with no hands at all. It was so cool. I watched as she did cartwheel after cartwheel, circling around me, telling me how to do it without stopping. I watched her green-blue straight hair waving back and forth crazily. "So you just fall to the side on one hand and keep your other arm out, momentum will do the rest," her deep, velvety voice said. "What's momentum, Genie?" I asked around the thumb I was sucking on. Genie stopped her circling and walked up to kneel in front of me. She smiled wide, her sharp teeth glittering like the diamonds they literally were. "When you're older I'll explain it to you," she said. "But you won't be here then!" I said with a stomp of my tiny foot. Gene's smile disappeared as a sad look crept into her eyes. "Hey, now, don't say that. I'm not like Chase or Devon or Caenar or any of those guys. I really won't leave." "They said that, too. You just don't want to explain it! You think I'm stupid, too!" I accused, my little eyes daggers as they looked into her slit pupils. Her smile returned, the edges not quite reaching her eyes. "I think you're a genius, babe. Remember how you put on that band-aid for me earlier?" I nodded enthusiastically. "I saved your life!" She laughed and the smile filled her face once more. "You're right you did! I might've bled out if you hadn't been there with your doctor brains. Only a smart doctor would've known that cut needed a band-aid
Wait a minute, you're not secretly a doctor are you? Have you been keeping secrets from me, Chris?" she asked as her eyes widened in fake shock.
My giggles rang out around the meadow. "I would never lie to you, Genie! You're my big Sissy!" I shouted and threw my arms around her gleefully. Her arms wrapped around my frame and lifted me off the ground to spin me around, my peals of laughter joined by Gene's rough laugh. When she stopped, she gently set me down and took half a step back. Her smile couldn't have been bigger as she ruffled my hair. "You should leave your hair long more, pancakes," she said, using the nickname given to me by her brother, Nate. "Then I won't cut it!" I pronounced as I stuck my thumb back in my mouth. She laughed again and gently tugged at my wrist. "And I thought I told you not to suck on your thumb. That's a sign of weakness, and you don't want the demons to think you weak right, little soldier?" "Right, ma'am!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, saluting and clicking my heels together. With Gene's laugh encouraging me, I threw my arm down to complete the salute, moving my entire upper body to follow it before standing at attention. The woman I falsely called my older sister stood to play along. "Alright, men! Today we have a new mission! The objective: a perfect cartwheel! Do you understand?" "Ma'am, yes, ma'am!" I shouted back, my face comically serious. "Alright then! This is attempt number one! Go, soldier, go!" she shouted back to me.
I took off running, my little arms pumping and legs like pistons. Slowing my step slightly, I jumped on one leg and stuck both my arms above my head as I leaned the way she showed me. My left arm went down, my body curving up and over, and thenmy right arm collapsed, landing me on my face in the grass. Gene shadow stepped to my side, appearing there in an instant. "Sweetie are you ok?" she asked anxiously, her taloned hands reaching for my shoulder to turn me over. Before she could I pushed myself off the ground and stood back up. Blood dripped down my chin from my mouth. I had bitten my tongue as I fell. Tears in my eyes, I stepped to attention before the kneeling demon. "I-I'm sorry, m-ma'am. I failed the m-mission! Let me try again, ma'am!" I shouted around my swollen tongue, fighting the tears that wanted to fall. Gene's face grew cold as she grabbed my chin. "Let me see that tongue, soldier," she spoke quietly. I obediently dropped my jaw and stuck out my tongue. Gently pushing on my chin to turn my head, Gene examined my tongue carefully. "hmmm...looks painful, little soldier," she finally said. "I's jus' a
a skin woun'!" I tried to shout with my tongue hanging out. Silence. Then, "Flesh wound, Chris. The expression is flesh wound." Gene looked away from my tongue and into my eyes, showing me the sparkle that hid behind her eyes. Pulling my tongue back in, I tried again, "It's just a flesh wound, ma'am!" I was rewarded with laughter. "Hahaha, alright kiddo. You're a tough cookie, huh?" I smiled and nodded, wiping the blood off my chin with the back of my hand. "I take after you, Genie!" She laughed again and backed off. "Alright then Attempt number two, go!"
After two more failures and three half completions, I finally had it down pat. "That's my girl!" Gene beamed as I did it again. My smile couldn't have been bigger as I trotted back to the center of the meadow. "See, big sissy? I AM tough! Just like you!" I stated proudly. She nodded and bent down to give me a hug. Suddenly she jerked away. "What was that?" she hissed. "What was what, sissy?" I asked confusedly. "Shush!" she told me, her forked tongue slipping out from behind her teeth to taste the air. I grabbed at her hands, wanting her attention more than anything. Her eyes suddenly grew wide as she dropped to the ground, digging at the soft dirt frantically. "Sissy, stop digging! I wanna go home! I want food! I'm hungry!" I moaned as I stomped my feet. "I said quiet!" came her sharp reply. Immediately my jaw clamped shut and my arms crossed as my shoulders rose toward my ears. It was time for full on tantrum. "Ge-" Before I could finish my shout, her muddy hand clamped down over my mouth, her sharp claws digging into my cheeks painfully.
"I said quiet, Chris!" she told me once more, her eyes angrily glancing around the silent meadow. The forked tongue was going in and out so fast it was just a blur. She cursed under her breath and looked at me with sorrow etched in the lines of her face. "Baby doll, I'm sorry. I really did want to be different. You behave now, alright?" She slowly removed her hand from my face, rubbing off the droplets of ruby red blood her talons had created. She picked me up placed me in the hole she had dug. "Keep your head down and don't make a sound no matter what, ok?" I nodded silently, fear gnawing at my stomach. "Promise me, Chris. I need to hear you say it," she begged. "I-I-I p-promise," I said over the huge lump in my throat. Something warm and wet hit my cheek, but before I could tell what it was dirt hit my face. She was burying me. I wanted so bad to move. To scream. To fight. To get out. The dark was so scary.
I sat there shivering, cowering against the ground as I shied away from the dirt that fell on me. The dirt stopped falling and I was left in the dark. A moment of silence fell. Then the moment was over and a barrage of sounds hit my ears. Flesh ripping, pained grunts and screams, clothes tearing
I covered my ears and the tears I had been working so hard to keep in began flowing mercilessly. To keep from screaming, I bit down on my still swollen tongue. The thin dirt covering over me did nothing when the blood rained down. The heavy, rusted smell clung to me, its sticky warmth coating my skin and clothes. I wanted to run, to get away, but I had promised
After the longest time there was silence. The silence drifted on and I waited for Gene to come get me. Twenty minutes past, then thirty, and pretty soon it had almost been an hour. Slowly, I crawled out of my grave, the dried blood cracking quietly as I moved. I turned in a circle to take in the carnage around me. Body parts were strewn out about the field, blood staining every blade of grass, every flower pedal. The tears continues to fall, but I no longer felt the urge to scream. Until I looked down. There, laying near the hole, was Gene. Or pieces of her anyways. Her right hand was missing, as were both her legs and large chunks of her midsection. Her blood was in a pool around her, the ground refusing to absorb it. I dropped to my knees by her side and gently touched her left hand. "G-Genie? S-S-Sissy?" I asked quietly. Her glazed eyes stared up at the sky listlessly. My shaking hands breezed over her face, praying for some sort of reaction. "N-n-no. N-not again! G-Genie! W-wake up! P-pl-please!" I shouted over and over, my tiny fists beating at her broken body.
A loud crash resounded through the clearing as another person burst through the trees. A man who looked exactly like Gene ran across the clearing and to my side. Nate's fist connecting with my chest and threw me back as he fell to his knees by Gene. My ribs broke under the blow, my head bouncing painfully against the ground as I skidded to a stop. "Don't touch my sister, brat!" he shouted at me. I forced myself up and walked back over, keeping my head low and my movements slow. "I-Is she alright?" I stuttered. "Does she look alright?!" he screamed. I said nothing as the tears picked up their pace down my cheeks. "This is your fault! I told her to get rid of you!" Nate turned to me at this point, "But no! Who could get rid of the pitiful piece of shit that was cursed with the four! The only reason she kept you around was because you're so weak! So pathetic! One day you'll realize this, you worthless trash! I almost wish I could stick around to watch it!" Nate turned his back on me and scooped up what was left of his sister. He walked away from me, leaving me standing in the middle of the meadow, shell shocked from hearing those words again. I fell to my knees after a while, and eventually tipped over to my side, where I hugged my knees to my chest as sobs wracked my sore body. I stayed like that for what felt like forever to my young mind as the pain of losing Gene set in. Four shadowy figures dressed in black cloaks showing no skin floated over to me from the edge of the forest. The smallest one, at least ten feet tall, stepped forward and reached down to me. It gripped my hair and lifted me up to peer into my eyes as I stared into the darkness, the tears blurring everything past recognition.
"Come now pet. We wish to return home," a voice slithered out from the hood. Before I could reply it dropped me back to the ground and began walking away. I knew from experience that if I didn't stay close to them we would all be in excruciating pain. Wiping away the tears and shoving the memories of my newest loss away the best a five year old could, I jogged to catch up with the four.