Name: Tina Brockett
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: My Lullaby
Mother said my visions were a gift from the devil. I tried to ignore them, and because I had, I risked losing the most important person in my life. My dad. The father I’d not seen for over a year.
The images that came to me in recurring dreams, the only two I ever remembered, didn’t really show me anything. It was the feeling they left me with. I’d wake euphoric after the one in the woods with the boy in the shadows and a fairy singing my lullaby. The one my dad wrote the day I was born. In the other, hundreds of crows squawked from a lone tree in the middle of a barren desert. I didn’t like that one. It made me physically sick. I’d thrown up all morning. The last time I’d dreamed of the crows, Abuelito died.
An image of my dad had come to me when I woke. After having “the” dream, I should’ve called him, warned him. I’d let Mother’s overzealous preaching and fear get into my head, and I knew better.
Dear God, please don’t take Daddy from me. No, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. I’d had that dream before, and no one died. I chose to believe no one would die that day either.
Exiting the border 15 freeway, I skidded to a stop at the top of the ramp. Of course, it had to be lunch hour, the streets packed with hungry workers. Vegas Boulevard, for miles either way, had office buildings, lavish Twelver temples and standard issue apartments. They used to be high-end casinos and hotels, but Twelver Law made it illegal to gamble within the Zones.
I slammed on my breaks to keep from hitting the idiot in front of me, who’d stopped on a green light.
I don’t have time for this. MOVE.
Sirens wailed. Flashing lights from a passing ambulance took me back to Welita’s call that morning. Grandma had sounded so worried, her broken English harder to understand than usual. My dad had fallen at work. He was in critical condition. She said to come right away.
Daddy, please hold on. I’m coming.
My fingers danced on the steering wheel as I willed the traffic to move. I had less than twenty minutes to get to the depot, make it through security checks, and board the train. If I could get to the other side, I could speed down Greenhouse Row’s alley, and maybe, just maybe make it in time.
I made it to the other side, and took the first left. “Crap.” I swerved to miss the back of a patrol car sitting at the entrance of the alley that split the acres of greenhouses down the middle and waved.
“Slow it down, Katrina,” The officer yelled as I passed.
“Great way to fly under the radar, Kati,” I grumbled, chastising myself. They all knew Mother. As Secretary of Defense, she was their boss. If he’d stopped me and called her, I’d never make the next train or any others that day. Maybe, none ever.
I drove the speed limit until he was out of sight and then punched it.
The front parking lot of the depot looked full, but the small one in the back was where I was headed. I pulled in beside a large truck that would hide the Jeep, in case Mother sent someone looking for it. Hopefully with it concealed, it would take her longer to figure out what I’d done.
I climbed out with a glance at the clock. Seven minutes to get through security, and board the train. I had to make the Express to L.A. I had no other options. No one, not even the Zone idiot, would dare drive across the desert.
When I reached the front entrance, out of breath and dripping sweat, I cursed the August heat of the Vegas/Henderson Zone. I longed for the lazy summer days by the beach, I’d enjoyed while growing up in L.A.
I removed my shoes then passed through the first metal detector tunnel. Nothing beeped. I stepped onto the traveling belt that transported me to the first check-in station. I searched the screen to see what time the Express left for L.A. Five minutes until departure. I rested my arm on the counter, to steady my hand, and gave my resident card to the guard. Maybe he wouldn’t even question that I was there without Mother.
After a cursory glance at my ID, his eyes met mine. His smile disappeared as one brow rose. I felt for my crowning cloth. Had I forgotten it in my rush to leave the house?
Nope. The large crème colored triangle with twelve diamond-shaped gems was right where it should be, properly placed to cover half of my forehead then wrapped around the back to conceal my long hair. All Twelver girls wore them. Mine had an insignia, also, to establish my status as a Prime daughter.
I lowered my hands and stood as straight as I could. “Good-day, Sir.”
I hated the gold curly-cue positioned in the middle of the cloth at my forehead. It told people I was better than them. They had to show me an added bit of respect. I didn’t feel better than anyone. As a matter of fact, I felt less than most. I don’t know if it’s because I had a non-Twelver, alcoholic dad, or because at home they treated me like a slave rather than part of the family. Maybe it was because I only wore the first cloth I’d ever earned. Most girls cherished the new one they earned each year but not me. I liked my tattered original.
“What’s that?” He leaned in closer, eyes narrowing. “Is that some new fashion statement you kids are wearing?”
The guard shook his head. “Colored eyes, what’s next?”
Crap, crap, crap, my brown contacts. I’m dead. Mother insisted I always wear them while in public. How could I have forgotten to put them in? Shoot. What do I say?
“Yeah, they’re the coolest, aren’t they?”
Maybe the strange green eyes and red hair I’d been born with, that Mother made me hide behind brown contacts and brown hair so that I didn’t look different, was what made me feel that way.
The guard laughed, “If you say so. He leaned to the side. “Lady Prime Ramirez coming, or are you with your father today?”
I hated it when people referred to Carlos as my dad, but when we’d moved, I stopped correcting them. It made it easier. In L.A. some parents wouldn’t let me play with their kids because of who my father was. In Henderson only a few people knew the truth, and the others never asked. Even though I had the surname Callaghan, while the rest of my happy little family went by Ramirez, no one seemed to make the connection that Carlos wasn’t my real dad.
“Neither. I’m traveling alone today.”
His brows formed a V and then the guard shook his head.
“I’m fifteen. I have my driving permit. You can’t stop me.”
“I meant no disrespect, but Lady Prime Ramirez knows better than anyone how dangerous the lines are. Why, we had an attack just last week.”
“She’s busy. I can’t wait.” Too many stupid meetings to take me to see my dying dad. Whatever. I wasn’t scared to go alone.