Kevin moaned softly as he stirred from his fitful sleep. Visions of icy barren lands swept through his mind like torrent winter winds. His body shivered as consciousness began to lighten within his brain cells. He turned to toward the light, finding the warmth shining upon him. His lips quivered as he blinked for sight. The bright sun glimmered and twinkled about the room as his vision adjusted.
“Kevin?” a soft voice called.
“Kimmy?” Kevin called back through the hoarseness of his voice. He shivered as he tugged at the starchy sheets covering his torso. He made a face, realizing that the brightness washing over him were harsh yellow lights. He surveyed the area, realizing that he and his cousin were in a hospital room.
Kevin struggled to remember why he was in a hospital bed. He felt as if a fog had consumed his memory. All he could remember was frigid surroundings. He could only feel the intensity of the cold that covered his body – Such a frigid cold. Kevin felt his heart leap out of his chest as he heard Kimberly cough. He glanced over – frightened that Kimberly had been marred or hurt. He couldn’t imagine what he would do if Kimberly had been hurt.
Sure enough, Kimberly was fine. She was sitting up in her bed, wrapped tightly in several layers of blankets. Her dark brown hair was messy as she effortlessly pulled it into a ponytail. Her amber eyes scanned over Kevin quickly. Relief settled into her posture when she accepted that Kevin was healthy.
“Kim?” Kevin asked quietly, afraid to break the silent tension within the room.
“What, Kev?” Kimberly asked, yawning. She was so tired. Her body ached from stiffness. She wondered what had taken so long, and why she felt as if she had been sleeping for centuries. She yawned again, shivering at the intensity of coldness in the room.
“What happened to us?” he questioned in a serious tone.
Kimberly fell completely silent. Her eyes darkened as she furled in thoughts. She didn’t know what had happened. All she remembered was being at Kevin’s home, or was it the bakery that they had just opened? Kimberly sighed heavily, rubbing her temples. What had really happened? She shook her head as Kevin settled back against his pillows.
“I…” Kimberly struggled to admit that she hadn’t a clue.
“You guys got locked into a freezer,” a voice echoed against the room as the door clicked open. Kevin jumped with surprise as they turned to find two people standing within the room. Kevin’s chapped lips curved into a smile when he noticed his cousins. Brian and Alison were waiting patiently at the door. Brian’s blue eyes sparkled like gems within the harshness of the yellow lights. Alison’s darker complexion glowed against the lights.
“What?” Kevin asked in surprise as Alison immediately embraced Kimberly in a hug. She rubbed the older cousin’s shoulders, struggling to warm her cold body.
“We were just starting out the first day at the shop, remember? Then you guys went back to get the pastries, and all of sudden, hours passed and you two were gone. We didn’t know what happened. Ali was flipping like a madwoman. I went back to the freezer, and there you two were. I didn’t know what to think,” Brian explained. Remorse controlled his body movements as he sunk into a chair beside Kevin’s bed.
“A freezer?” Kimberly repeated. It sounded almost too strange.
“Bri thought you were dead at first. We didn’t know what to do. I called 9-1-1. These two paramedics picked you up, started C-P-R, and then put you in the surgery unit chambers in the back of the ambulance. The doctor said that you two are fine, and that you’ll be released tomorrow morning,” Alison explained softly to Kimberly as she laid her head against Kimberly’s shoulder.
“I guess we were lucky,” Kevin whispered.
“What was it like in there?” Brian asked quietly. He was almost embarrassed to ask, but the curiosity squeezed the best from him. His light blue eyes twinkled with mischief, although he was still remorseful.
“Terrible,” Kevin and Kimberly announced at once, though they hadn’t the faintest idea of being in the freezer. They looked upon one another, making a silent connection. Both nodded, vowing never to speak of the incident again.
“Sorry,” Brian answered, hating to bring up horrid memories.
“No problem, Bri. Just talk with us, and spend the night,” Kevin answered, reaching out to shake his cousin’s hand. Kimberly nodded with satisfaction as she pulled Alison closer to her. The Richardsons sighed softly as they held their cousins, the Littrells, closely. They hadn’t a clue what had happened, but prayed for God’s light to reflect memories of the past upon them.
Jamelet pulled her boyfriend into the room quickly. He had made a fuss about visiting two complete strangers. Jamelet had scorned him terribly. She had pressured AJ into visiting. She just explained that they had hurt the two, and it was only proper to apologize. AJ grumbled as Jamelet tugged him into the room. Immediately, two pairs of curious sapphire eyes gazed upon him. AJ fidgeted nervously as Jamelet smiled.
“Hello, again,” Jamelet called out.
“Hello, Jamelet,” the twins answered back, but immediately continuing to shovel piles of a jello-substitute the hospital had given to them for dinner. Both twins were too hungry to care what was being placed inside their stomachs. The sweet flavoring satisfied them.
“Is that the boyfriend?” Nick asked, swallowing hard.
“Yes, this is AJ,” Jamelet answered, elbowing him hard in the back.
AJ yelped as he jumped forward. He immediately reached backward to rub his back. He whimpered softly as Jamelet placed her hands against his shoulders, kissing his neck. AJ glanced at the twins. “Hello, I’m sorry that I hit you.”
“You didn’t hit us,” the female twin piped up immediately.
“Excuse me?” AJ choked.
“You didn’t hit us,” the male twin agreed.
AJ’s eyebrows furled in confusion. He looked back to his girlfriend for help. Jamelet shrugged her shoulders. AJ took a deep breath as he looked back at the siblings. “May I first ask your names?” he asked politely. He felt something catch against his stomach. Why did they look so familiar? He narrowed his eyes, absorbing the details and outlines of their faces. Why were they so familiar?
“Nick,” the boy answered.
“Rose,” the other chirped.
AJ nodded swiftly. His mind bubbled and toiled as he processed the names. Images of bright red flashed against his temples. AJ groaned, rubbing his forehead. His body felt as if it were on fire. He took a minute to breathe as Jamelet rubbed his shoulders. “J, Baby, you okay?” Jamelet cooed at him.
“F-Fine,” he answered, taking another deep breath as his body cooled. He glanced at the twins. “So, Rain and Ice—“
“Woah, hold the phone!” Nick yelped immediately, his Jello almost spilling across the bed table. His eyes bugged out in horror as he immediately looked to his twin. Jamelet’s eyebrows crinkled in confusion. Nick pointed his spoon at AJ. “What did you call us?”
AJ shook his head. “Nick and Rose,” he answered quickly.
“No, no, no!” Rose answered, glaring at him. “The OTHER names.”
“Ice and Rain?” AJ asked meekly.
“How did you know we called each other that?” Nick accused.
Jamelet felt her heart beat wildly as AJ went silent. The nicknames also rolled easily off her tongue. There was something so common about the nicknames and the twins. Her mouth went dry as she struggled to save her lover. She felt AJ’s fingers intertwine with her own. “He probably heard you two call each other that or something?” Jamelet asked, more of a pleading tone within her voice.
The twins glanced at each other with curiousness. Nick gave a small nod, and Rose shrugged her shoulders. They turned toward AJ. “Yeah, sorry for jumping your case,” Rose answered for her brother.
“So, what did you want?” Nick asked, resuming his eating habits.
“I just wanted to apologize for hitting you two. It seems like you came out of nowhere, and I couldn’t see a damn thing. I don’t know what happened in all reality. I apologize, and I was hoping if I could offer you two something for your troubles?”
“Like a bribe not to sue you?” Rose asked with an amused expression casting upon her face.
“No!” Jamelet blurted with a laugh. “You told me you two were looking for jobs, and that’s why you were on the road. AJ and I just opened a small club downtown. We’re looking for people to hire as wait-staff. Are you interested?”
“Working in a club?” Rose asked, her eyes lighting with delight.
Nick groaned inwardly, “Did you have to say club?”
“What’s the matter?” AJ asked.
“She’s trouble in the club!”
“I’m trouble anywhere, and we accept!” Rose insisted with a smile. Jamelet and AJ looked at one another, immediately bursting into laughter. Something seemed so natural about the picture before them, though, none of them realized how natural.
Ana yawned softly, she was still tired. She felt Howie tugging on her hand. He had dragged her out into the sunshine for a walk. Ana had been curled up in her bunk, just to be rudely awakened again. She planned to seek revenge on him tonight while he was curled inside her bunk. A silly smile appeared on her lips as Howie stopped her beneath a willow tree. Ana stretched, thinking of her plans, as Howie leaned against the tree.
Howie watched as the cool winds blew against Ana’s soft flaxen curls. Her pale skin glimmered against the sunlight as her blue-green eyes curiously took in her surroundings. Her posture remained loose and free. She was out of uniform, settling with her favorite pair of flares and electric blue ‘Adidas’ t-shirt. She was a natural woman, nothing seemed fake or painted upon her, and Howie admired that quality about her. However, her innocent and almost cherubic appearance suppressed Ana’s natural deviant behavior and mischievousness.
Howie stared into Ana’s ocean colored eyes. He felt his mind throb with anticipation. Suddenly, he could hear Ana’s voice within his brain. His eyes grew wide in surprise as she planned her cruel joke. He narrowed his eyes disapprovingly at Ana. “Why do you try to pull pranks on me so much?” he asked with hurt.
Ana’s eyes grew bright with shock. “Excuse me?”
“A bucket of warm water, honey, and whip cream?”
“Huh?” Ana felt her jaw drop open.
“Don’t be mean to me.”
“It’s too easy to read you at times,” Howie laughed, making light of Ana’s plans and her voice inside his head. He wrapped his arms around her, tugging her close. Ana squealed out as he rubbed his fist in her thick locks. She pushed against his shoulders, causing them to separate for a moment. Ana gave a devilish smile as she immediately jumped onto him, making him fall onto the soft grass.
“And, no matter how easy I am to read, I can still get you on the floor whenever I want,” Ana announced with a small giggle.
“Aren’t we supposed to wait for me to buy the ring?” Howie joked, letting his hands fall against her hips. It felt so natural for them to be intertwined in such embraces. They joked feverishly about one another since childhood. Their friendship was on a unique plateau. Somehow, Howie thought things were supposed to be more serious or intimate between them, but for now it was just friendship.
“You were supposed to buy that ring today!”
“We were on call!”
“WOULD YOU TWO GET UP!?” someone barked. “THIS ISN’T LOVE-FEST 3000! THIS IS DANGEROUS TERRITORY!”
Howie felt anxiousness crush against his chest as Ana jumped up. She immediately bent down to pull Howie up from the ground. They came face to face with a beefy man towering over them. His camouflage blended within the surroundings, almost making him invisible with the blink of an untrained eye. A large machine gun rested against his side. He narrowed his dark eyes at them as a scar throbbed below his right cheek. Ana shivered with disgusted as he fingered the large blade resting against his left femur.
“What’s your problem?” Ana immediately hissed, her muscles tensing. Her sense of survival kicked in as she watched the man. He looked oddly familiar, but she ignored the senses. Her heart ached with anger as she hunched herself into attack mode.
“My problem is you two exchanging sexual favors in a war zone,” the man hissed back.
“It wasn’t sexual favors, moron, and we were totally away from a war zone. We were in the peaceful section, and I would know. So keep your one-celled-shit-for-brains away from me and my rights, okay?” she growled.
“Why I ought to skin you alive in front of your boyfriend,” the man threatened.
Howie immediately clamped his hand against Ana’s soft mouth. She struggled beneath his grip as he pulled her close. His heart drummed with an intense fear. He felt his fingers tremble as he held onto Ana’s body. “We’re s-s-sorry. We’ll go back to the station now, okay?”
“Whatever,” the man grunted as Howie ran across the street with Ana in his arms.
“What were you thinking?” Howie screeched as soon as they were far enough away from the man. His dark eyes seethed with anger as he pushed Ana against a brick wall. He had feared for her safety. He cared all too much about her. Nothing would happen to her in his presence. He would die before he would think to sacrifice Ana to pain. He pointed an accusing finger at her. “You could have gotten hurt!”
“I’m sorry, okay? But the man should have known the boundaries of his rights. He’s not exactly in the right territory for being a Darker Elition,” Ana explained, running her hands through her long blonde curls. Her blue-green eyes filled with true sincerity. “I’m sorry for getting you worried, okay?”
“That’s fine, but how to you know about the rights of Darker Elitions?” Howie immediately asked, curious. The news had been blurting and blabbing crazily about the invasion leaking into Earth. The invaders, whom were called Darker Elitions, had filtered down through the solar system in different portals and other advanced technologies. They were beginning the start of World War Three, or so the newspapers accused.
“I just know, just like I know about the other stuff,” Ana answered as she started to walk toward the station. Howie grabbed her upper arm. She seemed unusually restless today. Howie wondered as to why she was acting so strangely. She had been unnerved since she had brought the twins and the couple to the hospital.
“Ana, what other stuff do you know?” Howie pondered.
Ana sighed, “I know that World War Three is going to involve all the countries on this inferior planet. It all started when the Darker Elitions came from their planet Darkera-Elite. They invaded Canada, and managed to secure plenty of land in their honor. They sent more and more of their men from the planet to colonize Canada to their liking. Afterwards, they began to grow stronger, and stronger. They overtook Germany, and began to make alliances with the Four Major Powers of World War Two. They convinced them to overtake America, and started their threats. They plan to conquer Earth for their own personal use. The start of World War Three will be the messiest, as the Darker Elitions filter down into the America’s from Canada. Their weaponry and such are too powerful for us to maintain our stronghold. If everything goes like it has been with their sneak attacks, we will all be dead, or Darker Elitions.”
Howie stopped Ana as she completed her tale. Everything had been right, more so than the news reports. The Darker Elitions had started several attacks in the corners of the Americas. Each attack had been extremely successful. Several threats were made to the United Nations for destruction of the Americas. Howie had lain away many nights pondering his and Ana’s fates. He sighed heavily. “Where did you read all this?”
“I didn’t read it,” Ana answered honestly.
“Then…” Howie let his sentence drop as several people passed him. He didn’t need her to answer his question. He knew that she was too intelligent for her own good. He believed every sentence she had formed from her lips. He nodded briefly, trying to calm himself, and trying to forget the man who threatened Ana’s life. “Can I ask you another question?”
“Always, Love,” Ana replied with a innocent smile.
“You’ve been acting differently since that call last night.”
“That’s a statement, not a question.”
“I know, but are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Ana answered as more people crossed before them. She couldn’t explain the tenderness she felt for the twins. Nor could she explain the maternal instinct that had taken over when she first glanced upon them. Her mind pressed her to remember things, but she couldn’t understand. The two who had hit the twins were strangely familiar also. Ana shook her thoughts free, preparing to speak.
However, her words were soon halted as a loud pop echoed against her eardrums. Ana felt a warmness wash over her body as something was thrown against her chest. She was propelled backward, her back cracking as she was crushed into the brick wall. Her chest heaved with surprise as she opened her eyes. She slowly slid down the cement as she listened to Howie scream. She glanced around her to find a decapitated and mortally mutilated man lying next to her frozen body. His arterial blood spurted forth in huge amounts, layering the sidewalk with a brilliant red and soaking Ana’s clothing.
In Ana’s arms she held his limb, which had been shredded instantly from his body. The limb had blown Ana back with such force to place large cracks within the brick wall. Her body felt numb as she sat there. Several people huddled around her as Howie bent down to her level. She could feel his hands in her hair. She could hear him asking her several questions. She could feel him hugging her close, praying that she was all right.
“Damn,” she moaned in agony, causing Howie to break out into a hysterical laughter. He pulled the limb from her arms, picking up her body. He thanked the Lord that Ana was alive. The force from the blow could have killed her. He held her battered body tightly in his arms, feeling the slickness of blood seep through his own shirt.
He had to take Ana back to the cryogenic surgery. In the chambers, her wounds would be healed, and she would be saved. Without the machine, Ana would die. Howie was grateful that the Emergency Para-Surgeons had installed the machine within their housing units. He had only a few minute walk to save Ana.
“Thank goodness you’re alive, Ana. I’d die without you,” Howie told her softly as she moaned softly. Her eyes fluttered briefly. Howie knew that she was telling him she’d be okay. Ana was too much of a fighter. Howie kissed her bloody temple, thanking the Lord one more time that his angel was safe.
Little did Howie realize that someone had assassinated this man in cold blood, but the worst was that the person was really aiming for Howie.