“Hey, Jasmine.” A man with a long, brown ponytail said as I walked out of my room two days after the nurse did her magic on my shoulder. It still hurt when I moved it around, which still meant I needed to wear the damn sling.
“Hey…” He didn’t look familiar at all and I pretended I knew who it was.
“Nick, you silly girl.” He said with a kind smile. His blue eyes shone behind his thick glasses. He was slim and tall and he gave off a… scholarly look.
“Nick,” the name was foreign to my mouth and I gave him an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry; ever since I woke up I’ve had the hardest time remembering anything, let alone names.”
“That’s what Jeffes said yesterday at lunch; I came over to see if I could help jog your memory a little.”
The feeling of wrongness was still thick in my heart but he seemed to be pretty nice. The beasts inside quieted a little and watched cautiously through my eyes as he drew closer to me. “Okay, can we walk? I really don’t like being cooped up for so long.”
A rueful smile graced his thin lips. “You may not remember things but you’re still the same old Jasmine.”
We walked down the white hallway to a fork. My steps faltered a little before he turned to the right and kept walking. It was quiet, he in his thoughts and I trying to remember anything about this place. A window in front of what looked like a janitor’s closet drew my attention and I turned to look outside. What lay outside drew a gasp from me.
There was a clearing first; the clearing was filled with what looked like an Army boot camp and more. There were tall wooden pillars the people would climb to leap from one wooden platform to another. There was a rock climbing wall where I could see a man and a woman were having a race to see who could scale up the quickest. A group of forty was practicing what looked like karate with each other at the edge of one beautiful lake.
“The forest behind the lake has even more. They have sword matches and all that back there. But, the favorite that you loved to do was the aerial fights. Basically, you would climb the trees and have races to wherever it was you needed to go. You had every right to push someone out of the trees. I think you sent at least three people to the infirmary.” He paused and then laughed. “Each game, anyways. We train every day for a whole month. Last day of the month, we battle it out to see who ‘won’ that month. They get the VIP treatment for one whole week.”
A large dog creature burst from the doors under our feet and I watched, amazed, as he/she took off at a dead sprint towards a little bridge that led to the forest. What looked like another wolf was close on their ass as they both disappeared between two very large pines.
“Another tiff, would you believe it? Why can’t they just realize that they love each other?” Nick grumbled.
Frowning, I felt as my beats longed to follow them into the trees and just run. “Who were they?”
“Kristen and Aaron; they are two people of your group that you usually hang with. There’s Kristen and Aaron, along with Claire, Stephen and Blake. Let me tell ya, most of the folks here don’t like it much either. See, most of them here are Shadow walkers and there are some Jagar here too; the six of you are the only Shape shifters within a forty mile radius.”
We continued to walk and then we started to walk down a flight of stairs, no windows. “Where exactly are we?”
A steel platted door was at the end of the stairs. He reached out and gripped the handle before looking over his should with a smile. “You really don’t remember anything, do you?”
Grimacing, I let him lead me through the door. A large room filled with tables and chairs, stretched out in front of me. “I feel like a goldfish, to be honest; can’t remember anything after three seconds.”
Smirking, he sat down at a circular table that sat in front of another window, this one bigger and facing a different view; I could see the ocean beyond the trees and a rocky beach.
“I’m going to guess that we’re somewhere along the east coast; South Carolina, maybe.” I guessed as I watched as people ran around in swimsuits and diving into the ocean waves.
“Either your mind is coming back to you or you’re incredibly smart.”
Smirking, I peeked sideways at him. “I’m just smart as hell.”
About a hundred people, ages ranging from ten to about thirty, all crowded into the clearing as Nick and I walked into the grassy field. Most of them sported white gauze bandages, crutches and bruises. They all chatted quietly as the man from before walked up onto a wooden platform. The claw marks were still gnarly looking and again, I wondered what happened to him.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen; as you all know, we have had someone in our ranks injured to t that they can’t remember anything; I ask you all to help her with her recovery and to help her remember key practices, drills and the consequences of misbehaving.” A steely note entered his tone and he sought me out. There was a cold look in his eyes that made my beasts growl loudly.
“Now, for the new business,” he continued as he broke our stare down. “Our brothers in Hong Kong have been attacked by the Jagar’s and now have Intel on our whereabouts. So now we not only have to worry about the Shape shifters-” a grumbling from the crowd dimmed out his next words but I heard them anyways. “But the humans who want to end everything we’ve worked on. We are expecting an attack in a few weeks and I expect that we’ll be more prepared than Hong Kong was. Now, resume your training and I’ll see you all at seven fifteen sharp for dinner.”
The people around me started to talk about the Jagar’s and he Shape shifters and how they’d rip them apart the second that they could. They were all males and all sported scraped up faces and bruises. The one on the very right looked at me with one green eye and one brown. He gave me a curt nod before they all brushed past us.
“Jeeze,” Nick grumbled as he scratched his long nose. “Damn humans thinking they can take us all out.”
Jagar. The name rang a small, dim bell in the back of my mind. Digging around, I tried to find out why. An ache, a horrible, horrible ache, began behind my eyes and I rubbed them to get it to stop.
“Hey! Look, it’s the child protégé, back and almost all together.” A girl around eighteen came up and smiled widely at me, revealing a gaped smile. Her hair, dyed the color of cotton candy pink, was tied harshly up into a ponytail.
“Hey, Claire,” Nick said with a grin and a flirtatious look in his brown eyes.
A blush as red as a tomato rushed across her skin and made me smirk a little. I still couldn’t remember anyone, let alone my real name but I could feel for the poor girl; a guy, as cute as Nick, flirting with you is very humbling.
“Hi, Nick; Jasmine, how are you feeling, girl?” Concern flashed across her blue eyes as she looked away from Nick.
Looking down at my almost-dead arm, I sighed. “Not as well as I thought I would wake up being.”
Both of them chuckled as I heard someone shout, “Hey!” before another kid, around Claire’s age, sprinted to us. His curly brown hair and hazel eyes not ringing a bell, unfortunately.
“Guys, we need to go get packed; Jeffes just told me that we’re heading to Hong Kong and it’s gonna be our whole group for right now. Jasmine, he told me to tell you to be careful with your arm and to have me help you with packing. We’ll leave in twenty minutes… Have ya’ll seen Kristen and Aaron?”
“In the woods; make sure you make some noise before you go out there so you won’t be blinded.” I said, surprising myself.
The boy laughed before saying, “Gotcha; see you guys in a bit!”
As Nick and Claire walked with me to my room, I started to have doubts. Doubts that maybe this was really where I belong; were I’ve always been. Even though I couldn’t remember their names, I felt… safe. Like I knew they and they were great friends. Maybe I was just being paranoid beyond hell and I really did live here.
Maybe, maybe not. What I do know, though… Jeffes did not have anything that looked like me. His eyes were small and dark while mine happened to be wide and bright. There had to be at least one similarity but was there? Hell to the no.
I couldn’t figure out why he was lying, though; what would he get out of it, except maybe a girl who would rather cut her own nose off than to apologize and have a tongue that’s sharp as a needle.
No matter the reason… I was starting to find out that I had great friends and didn’t really care about why he’s lying.