Instinct Cover

Instinct – Season 1

Author: Sarah Aderholdt




Born into a world of magic, secrets, and class rank, Candace has been training for as long as she can remember to be a guardian. In her world, when a shifter is born, their master gets to choose the animal that they will shift into when they come of age.

A war has broken out between the civilians of the magical world, and their government, the Dragmon Order. These days, with the war at its full strength, guardians are mandated to shift into German shepherds to portray an image of conformity and order.

As Candace’s 16th birthday approaches she is at the top of her class and is anxious to complete her shift, but with only a few days left, she is ambushed. Candace finds herself in the fight of her life, so much more savage than her training could have ever prepared her for. Candace puts up a good fight, but she is soon knocked unconscious. When she awakes, she finds herself in an unfamiliar white room of a hospital. She feels as if her skull is shattering constantly and her limbs ache fiercely. She is suddenly shocked and confused as she searches her memory for any image of what happened the night before, or any other night of her life. It is gone. Her whole life seems to have vanished from her memories and now she has no clue who she is or was.  The only identification that she has at all is a bracelet on her arm that says Candace. When the government decides to put Candace in foster care, she is uneasy. Soon she becomes comfortable with the woman she has been placed with and her adopted son.

Candace quickly makes friends at her new school, and the most popular boy in school is interested in her. One day while researching material for a project she is about to do with her crush, Jake, she finds an image of a red wolf in one of the books. She runs her fingers over it as if mesmerized and closes her eyes. She could almost feel the wind blowing through her fur, and then suddenly it happens. When she changes back to human form she struggles to make sense of what has happened. Jake is shocked to find out that Candace is a shifter, but not as shocked as he should be. When Candace learns who she is, and her role in the war, she is apprehensive. Most shocking of all, she learns that the boy she has grown to love is a target and it is Candace’s duty to kill him.

Now that Candace’s freedom is being questioned, she must decide if she is willing to sacrifice everything for something she cant even remember believing in.


Episode 1:



“Don’t worry you’ll be fine,” Jane said as she wrapped her hands in white cloth. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Uh, I could get knocked down on my butt in front of everyone.” Candace sneered a reply. Jane didn’t have nearly as much pressure on her to come out on top as Candace did, of course she wasn’t nervous.

“Don’t be so negative, it’s just a fight. Besides, it’s the last one of our sophomore year.”

“Yeah, I suppose so,” Candace looked at the locker room floor and kicked a stray bottle cap with the toe of her tennis shoe, she was so anxious for the school year to be over. “What are you doing over the break?” She secretly hoped that her friend would stay with her during the next few weeks. The day of her shift wasn’t for another thirteen days, but she could already feel the animal inside her churn in her gut. She wouldn’t admit it, but she was scared.

As if reading her mind, Jane responded, “Relax, I’ll be with you every step of the way. The shift isn’t as painful as everyone makes it out to be.” Jane tried to hide a grimace as she remembered the day of her own shift. It felt so unnatural as her whole body contracted into a big German Shepard. The pain was excruciating, but she wasn’t about to tell her best friend that.

Suddenly, the locker room door burst open, and the room was filled with the rough voice of their teacher, “Candace!!! Jane!! What are you doing in there? You were supposed to be out here ten minutes ago!!”

“Be right there!” Jane shouted back.

The teacher replied with a grunt and the door slammed shut behind her with a bang. “I swear that woman is going to get an ulcer if she ever finds out about me and Robby.” A wicked smile formed on Jane’s face. Candace made a great show of gagging. Robby was Mrs. Ramon’s son, and the stalky woman had no clue the two were going out.

Jane put both of her hands on Candace’s knees and looked her in the eyes. Her eyes were the color of light almonds and sharply contrasted with Candace’s light blue eyes. Candace always thought her own eyes made her look blind. “Just breathe. It will all be over a minute.” Jane stood and led the way to the gym. She had never given Candace a reason to doubt her. Candace followed her friend’s every step, trusting her as she always had.

Jane was up first. The gym was adorned in the schools colors. Black and red ribbon lined the walls. Years of football, volleyball, soccer, and basketball championships were celebrated with banners that hung from the ceiling. The schools mascot, a brown German Shepard, was painted on the far wall. Big letters were pasted under it spelling out ‘Masters High School’. Jane’s sleek figure looked so natural in the ring that was mounted in the middle of the basketball court, straddling the centerline. The door that led to the football field was opened and a cool breeze swarmed the gym. Candace took a deep breath and watched as Jane’s long blonde hair blew freely with the flow of wind. A tall brunette joined Jane in the ring. The girl had at least six inches on Jane, but Candace already knew the outcome of this fight.

Jane and the girl faced each other. As they locked eyes, Jane’s muscles twitched with anticipation. A man seated at the judging table counted down from three. Candace breathed the words with him. “Three. Two. One”

The brunette took a swing just as the countdown ended. As her right arm came forward, her body expected the impact. Jane leaped back quickly; her arms already up. She landed gracefully on her toes. The girl over swung and lost her footing. Jane took the opportunity to kick the girl in the ribs. The girl lurched, but was balanced again in an instant. As they faced off once again, Candace thought she saw something pass between them that resembled respect. Everyone in the school knew who Jane was, and everyone wanted to be her. She was the best, but Jane refused to accept the title. She always said that there was something about Candace that made her think otherwise.

Suddenly, Jane took a swing. Her power came from her entire body, and her fist struck the brunette squarely in the jaw. Blood gushed from her lip, but she wasn’t about to call it quits. Jane was taken by surprise as the brunette swung her leg to the side and kicked the back of her knees, making her collapse. For a moment, everyone in the room stopped breathing. Everyone but Candace. She cracked a smile as she watched Jane’s leg come back and catch the brunette in the chin. Just like that she was on the ground, and Jane moved to pin her down. The judge counted down from ten, and the crowd roared.

Candace didn’t have time to congratulate her friend. It was her turn now. Each step felt agonizing as she approached the ring. Her small body slipped through the ropes effortlessly. Candace was well aware of her short stature, but she wouldn’t let her insecurities take over her right now. It was time to fight.

Candace could feel her blood pulse through her neck. She knew she was more powerful than any human, but these weren’t humans she was facing. She went to a school full of shape shifters, and she had to be careful not to underestimate any of them. That mistake could cost her the fight, or worse.

A redhead joined her in the ring. Candace knew this redhead. Her name was Grace, a girl from her homeroom, and Candace had no qualms about kicking her ass. Grace smirked at Candace, as if she was nothing to sniff at. The judge counted down from three, and this time Candace didn’t dare breathe. She could see Jane standing on the sidelines out of the corner of her eye. She remembered what Jane had told her, and her whole body calmed.

“…One” She barely jumped out of the way as Grace threw a kick in her direction. It was obvious that Grace didn’t have any problems with fighting her either. She may have been a royal brat, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t fight. Candace’s arms went up as Grace looked for an opening. Candace wouldn’t give it to her. She moved around the ring, and Grace followed her movements. Grace threw a punch and missed. The dance continued, and Candace wondered if she would ever get an opening. Finally! Grace’s shoulder dropped an inch, and that was just enough for Candace to land a blow to her temple.

Grace barely swayed, but anger glinted in her green eyes. Anger was a dangerous thing during a fight; it could easily be used against you. Grace rushed forward and Candace saw her shot. She swiftly dodged the attack, and turned just in time to get an opening at the back of Grace’s neck. And as her elbow struck Grace’s spine, she heard a slight gasp. Grace crumpled, but only for a moment. As the girl started to stagger forward, Candace heard another gasp, only this time, it was her own. Her hands flew up to her head. What was going on? It felt like her skull was shattering. She forced herself to regain control in order to maintain consciousness. She was still in a fight. She would have finished Grace off if it weren’t for her head. Her vision was blurred, but she could see Grace rush forward, and this time, Candace didn’t have the presence of mind to avoid her advance. Instead she made an X with her arms in front of her and let them absorb the force of the impact. She needed to end this quickly. Candace didn’t know how long she could keep this up. She quickly sidestepped to move out of Grace’s punching range, but stumbled. Grace saw this as an opportunity and put her whole body into swing. Candace moved back and barely dodged the blow. She caught Grace’s arm with her right hand, and elbowed her in the cheek with the other.

Grace was out. Her whole body crumpled again, but this time, she didn’t move. Candace staggered out of the ropes. She barely avoided falling on her face when she jumped down from the ring. She saw Jane rush forward to greet her with a huge smile plastered on her face, but Candace wasn’t smiling. Jane’s outstretched arms were the last things she saw before everything went black.


“What on Earth could be wrong with her?” Candace heard Petunia’s muffled voice as she came back into consciousness.

“We can’t be sure until we’ve run all the tests, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.” The doctor tried to sound assured, but his voice faltered slightly.

“What do you mean it’s nothing to worry about? Her shift is in less than two weeks.” said Petunia in a harsh whisper.

“You just need to calm down, ma’am.” The doctor seemed agitated.

“No. I don’t need to calm down! You just need to fix her.” And with that, Candace could hear Petunia’s heels click down the hall away from her room. ‘Fix her’. Petunia said the words like she was some kind of machinery that had a glitch. Ever since Candace was three, Petunia had taken care of her. Although the lady was a harsh woman who had a distasteful sense of fashion, Candace had to respect her. The woman was powerful.

Although Petunia wasn’t a shape shifter, she did belong to a species that used magic. Petunia was part of the Dragmon Order. It was a group of about two hundred magical beings that ruled over the magical realm. Each species had a role. Candace’s role, like the other shape shifters, was to protect one of the rulers. Candace was assigned to Petunia when she was very young. Now with the rebellion in full gear, Petunia had a right to be worried. She couldn’t protect herself without the help of Candace. The rebels would be targeting the rulers first, which put Petunia at a very great risk.

The Dragmon Order mandated that each shape shifter must take the form of a German Shepard in an attempt to portray conformity and command. Candace had never questioned the decisions of her masters. This was her world, and she accepted it.  Her high school was made up of about one hundred and fifty shape shifters, one hundred fairies, while the other five hundred kids were a mix of about thirty different magical species. There were no humans at the school, which was in their own best interest since about three different species at the school fed on human blood and spirit. Petunia and Candace’s two aunts were furies. They could torment sinners, but they are very poor at defending themselves.

The return of Petunia’s clicking heels brought Candace back from her trance. The door opened rapidly as the woman entered. “Good, your up.” Petunia tossed a tee shirt and some jeans onto the bed. “Get dressed, we’re leaving.” The doctor entered suddenly with an exasperated expression.

“Miss, I strongly recommend that she stay in bed…”

“We don’t have time to just sit about…she can rest at home.” This seemed to appease the doctor a bit as he took the suggestion into consideration. Candace knew it wasn’t simply a suggestion; it was a command. She jumped up quickly and walked swiftly into the bathroom.



When Candace and Petunia finally arrived home, night had fallen. The night’s fresh air flooded Candace’s lungs and gave her a sense of peace. She decided to take a walk around the neighborhood.

The manicured lawns were quiet, and the only noise came from the crickets. Her life was usually so hectic. Moments like this, when she could forget about her troubles, were precious. She still felt a little dizzy, but she pushed away any thought of worry. At the end of the neighborhood, the houses were replaced by the tallest of trees. They were spaced apart so that a person could walk through them. The forest was quiet and beautiful. The green leaves were tipped with red, and signaled that fall was approaching quickly. It was only September, but Candace felt the cold icy chill of winter in her veins. She loved snow, and waited eagerly for it every year. She would go to this part of the woods whenever she felt stressed, and all of her fears would evaporate.

As she entered the woods, she could hear the scurrying of little animals, and she could smell the bark of the pine trees. Candace was acutely aware of each and every noise, no matter how small. She walked by a tall oak tree and let her fingertips brush against the rough bark. She couldn’t help but feel like a part of this forest. It was her salvation…the only place where she felt normal. She reached a clearing, and laid her brown jacket on the tall grass and curled up on the ground. The stars pierced the nighttime sky and shimmered. When Candace was small, she used to believe that the stars were her friends. She would talk to them, and would listen as if they had something to say back to her.

“Candace! Candace!” Petunia called from the edge of the forest. Petunia swore she would never enter the woods. Candace let out a sigh.

“Yeah, I’m here.” She called. A slight tinge of annoyance hung in her words. She scrambled up and grabbed her jacket. She paused for a second and took a deep breath. “Alright.” She whispered to herself and turned to leave.

Petunia looked scornfully at Candace. “You need to rest.” Candace met her gaze and nodded. They both headed back to the house in silence.



The smell of grapefruit and peaches assaulted her as she threw open her bedroom door, and she cursed under her breath as she realized that Petunia had “freshened up” her room again. Candace tossed her backpack onto her bed and flung her pillows down on the floor in order to make room for herself on the over-decorated bed. The day had taken a toll on Candace’s strength. It was as if all of her energy had been zapped right out of her. She closed her eyes for a moment, letting the feeling of freedom from school take hold. She was already planning all of the shopping-filled trips she had yet to take with Jane. The nice part about guarding a ruler was the pay. Talk about a summer job. All she had to do was put up with the lady’s mood swings, and she could afford all of the shoes she could ever want.

Candace’s thoughts drifted to her sixteenth birthday that was only a little more than twelve days away. She was so nervous for her first shape shifting experience. What would she look like? Candace could imagine herself as a German Shepard with matted black fur. She had always hated her black hair, and sometimes wished she could just dye it. Petunia said that it was elegant and she forbade Candace to do anything to it.

Soon the world began to fade away as she drifted into a light slumber. Dreams overtook the darkness, and a man with a goatee stood over a girl and began to laugh. The laugh was soft at first but then it grew louder and louder. Candace heard a voice in the distance call her name. The voice sounded frantic as if it was trying to will the girl to live by sheer volume. The girl began to shake violently. Suddenly Candace was looking at the man from the girls eyes, and she reached up and grabbed his arm. She twisted it fiercely and the man flipped on his stomach in front of her.

Candace awoke to find Petunia sprawled out on the floor in shock. A glass of water lay on its side as it flowed onto the pearl white carpet. Candace leapt back against her bed frame. What on Earth just happened? The thought replayed again and again in her mind as Petunia began to stand. Candace’s hands grasped the pink sheets as if she were trying to keep herself from falling. She had just attacked Petunia, the woman she had sworn to protect.

She expected to be scolded or even slapped, but Petunia had only a look of worry in her eyes as she approached the bedside. “Are…are you alright?” Candace managed to get the words out.

“Don’t worry about me,” Petunia spoke in a calm whisper, “I’ve had to deal with a lot more in my lifetime than you will ever know. I’ll be fine, just get some rest.” She knelt down to pick up the cup from the floor. She stopped at the doorway on her way out as if contemplating saying something. Her right hand rested softly on the doorframe. Finally, she turned and left Candace to her own worried thoughts. Candace closed her eyes, and wrapped her arms around her chest as if pulling herself into a hug. She felt as if she was letting Petunia down in some way. A silent tear crept from the corner of her eye, but she quickly brushed it away. What was wrong with her? Why was she acting this way? She was a warrior: she was strong, fast, powerful, and determined. But now… She never wanted a break more in her entire life. The events of the day had been overwhelming, and now Petunia was acting as if Candace was a fragile child. Of course, she was only trying to take care of Candace, but it was supposed to be the other way around. Candace had always been taught that sacrifice was necessary to preserve the greater cause, even if that meant sacrificing her own life. Now Petunia was worried about her? Ha! What kind of guardian was she?


The next morning, Candace awoke to the sound of Claire De Lune. Why would Jane be calling her this early, she wondered, as she reached over to her nightstand and fumbled for her phone. “Hellllooo!!” Jane cooed from the other end. “Has sleeping beauty awoken from her slumber?”

“Hi, Jane.” Candace feigned annoyance at being woken up.

“Are you feeling better?”

“Yeah, I’m good.”

“Any plans for the first day of break? Jamie is having a bonfire tonight….”

“No. Definitely not, Jane, come on… Remember what happened last time?” Candace had to shut her eyes as she remembered what had to be the most embarrassing moment of her entire life. She had stripped down to her bra and underwear and jumped in the creek next to the woods where Jamie was having one of his famous bonfires. She had emerged from the water safely, but her bra had not.

Jane began to giggle. “Yeah…. speaking of which…. Tommy still has the biggest crush on you.” Candace blushed, but didn’t respond. Jane continued, “Fine, we don’t have to go, but you are not going to spend the day moping. Yesterday wasn’t that bad. I wish you could have seen Grace after she woke up. I swear she had steam coming out of her ears.”

“I really wish I had been there to see that.”
“Yeah. So what do you say we celebrate by taking a shopping trip.” Of course that would be Jane’s Suggestion. Candace grinned.

“Alright. When do you want me to come get you?”

“Maybe six-ish?”

“Sounds good. Make sure you’re ready by then.”


Candace drove her orange Jeep to go pick up Jane. The trees zipped by as she passed the forest that ran along the road. The sun shone bright and made Candace squint, but the forest was dark and calm. It seemed welcoming to Candace as if beckoning to her. She spotted a deer darting through the brush and she wondered what it would be like to be free of her responsibilities. Free to run. Candace had to keep herself from becoming too distracted. She focused on the white lines that seemed to flow endlessly towards her destination, a destination that had been mapped out for her since birth. Fate had led her to Petunia, and the war. The rebellion had started before her birth. The rebels wanted to take over everything. They believed that, as magical creatures, they were stronger and more advanced than the human race. They wanted to control everything. Petunia’s, and the Dragmon Orders’ job was to make sure that didn’t happen. Candace’s job was to make sure Petunia stayed alive. She was a soldier.


Jane’s house crept into view. It was a tall structure that stood in the middle of a lush green field. The forest outlined the field. There was no fence to keep the wildlife out, and nature was welcomed. An occasional fox could be seen prancing about on the grass, searching for its next meal. The driveway was long and thin and outlined by wildflowers. The front of the house was a dark grey, but the dark shade faded towards the back of the house. It looked ancient, and Candace was sometimes spooked by the old energy that flowed throughout it.

Jane stood by the front of the house. Her yellow sundress rippled with the light breeze. Her blonde hair glowed in the sunlight. She jogged up to the car when Candace approached. She quickly hopped in and Candace backed all the way out of the driveway. They talked about the events of yesterday. Jane told Candace about her most recent encounter with Robby.

“Are you still tired?” Jane asked when they neared the mall.

Candace was taken aback at the abruptness of Jane’s question. “No. What makes you think that?”

“You’re a horrible liar.” Jane said after a moment. “I can see the bags under your eyes.”

“Okay, maybe I am, but only a little.” Candace felt like every second of the day was weighing down on her. She didn’t know if she could take it any longer.

“What’s wrong with you? You usually have enough energy to keep every kid in school going for an entire day.” That was definitely an exaggeration, but Jane had a point. Candace felt like she could get all the sleep in the world and still feel exhausted. Something was definitely wrong with her, but she didn’t want to worry anyone.

“Will you stop worrying about me?” Candace was tired of feeling like a burden to her friend. Candace put the car in park in the back of the mall’s parking lot. She looked over at her friend. “Can we just pretend that I didn’t pass out in front of everybody yesterday, and that I won’t be morphing into a scruffy dog in less than two weeks. I just want to relax for a little bit without people watching me like I might break.”

“OK. Fair enough. Now, let’s hurry up and get inside. We get the mall all to ourselves since the other teenagers will just be starting their school year, and I can already picture myself in those white wedges I’ve been eyeing.” Jane winked and Candace rolled her eyes with as much exaggeration as she could manage. The two girls walked quickly towards the front doors. To the outside world, they looked like ordinary teenagers, but power, grace, and responsibility gleamed in their eyes.



“How about this one?” Candace held a red blouse up to her chest. Jane nodded and threw a white top at her.

“Try that one on too….” Suddenly Jane was cut off by an angry shriek coming from a clothing rack about ten feet away.

“Get your hand off me!” A middle-aged woman dressed in designer jeans and a flowing white blouse jerked away from one of the store employees. The employee looked flushed and irritated at the woman.

“Ma’am, I’m going to have to call security.” The employee began to speak into her radio.

“I cannot believe this! I will have you fired!” When the employee ignored her, she grabbed the radio from her and slammed it over her head. Candace rushed over and threw the woman up against a wall with a little more force than she had intended. As Candace pinned the woman, Jane helped the employee to her feet.

“Are you alright?” There was a long thick cut on her forehead that had a steady flow of blood coming from it.

“Um…Yeah. I think so.”

“Do you want me to call an ambulance?” The girl looked horrified at Jane’s suggestion. She shook her head fiercely.

“What did she do?” Jane motioned towards the woman still pinned against the wall.

“I saw her putting jewelry in her purse. She was trying to steal it.” Candace smirked at Jane and rolled her eyes. People could be so superficial. They were so concerned with worldly things. Candace grew up in a world where she always had to check over her shoulder because the monster in the closet usually wasn’t part of her imagination. People were after her, and Petunia.

When security arrived, Candace let go of the struggling woman. Jane joined her and the two girls returned to their clothing pile. “It’s pretty ridiculous what people will do.” Candace said a she rifled through another rack of clothing. She paused at a light blue dress. She held it up to herself and looked in the mirror. Her eyes stood out with the color.

“Yeah, I know… And I saw the jewelry. It wasn’t event that cute.” Jane said after a second. “That’s a cute dress, you should try it on.” Candace threw the garment into her accumulating pile. “I think this is enough for now.”

“Alright I’ll go grab a changing room.” Candace walked over to the desk in front of the dressing rooms. A short woman sat at the desk. It took a moment for the woman to acknowledge that Candace was even there.

“How many?” The woman’s voice was jagged, as if someone had seriously pissed her off recently.

“Umm…” Candace began to count the pile. The woman let out a large sigh and didn’t even attempt to hide her annoyance, but when she finally looked up at Candace for the first time, her eyes became wide.

“Don’t worry about it. Right this way.” She unlocked one of the room doors and stumbled back to her desk as if in a daze.  Candace didn’t know why it happened, but sometimes people reacted like that to her. It was as if they sensed something predatory about her.

After trying on about three pairs of clothes, Candace’s cell began to ring. She sighed. It was Petunia. “Hello?”

“Hey, a meeting’s been called for tonight, I need you here in an hour.”

“Alright, I’m on my way.” She sighed and opened the dressing room door.

“That was Petunia, I take it?” Jane asked quietly.

“Yeah, I got to go. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. Another time.” Jane hugged Candace. “As for me,” she continued, “I’m gonna keep shopping.” She winked at Candace.



Candace and Petunia walked swiftly down the street. Candace walked just behind Petunia’s right hip. She could sense something wasn’t right, and she put her guard up. Maybe it was just a part of her imagination, but she swore she could feel something in the shadows.

“You know, I hate it when you wear that thing.” Petunia spoke and broke Candace’s trance. How could she not feel the impending danger as Candace could? Candace wore a brown sweatshirt from her school. It contrasted greatly with Petunias black blouse and business skirt. Usually Candace would respond with some trite remark, but right now she was all business. If she was right that they were being followed, than she could very soon be in the fight of her life.

Petunia didn’t comment on Candace’s lack of response. When they finally made it to the meeting, Candace let out a sigh of relief. The building was adorned in elegant furniture. Petunia’s heels clicked against the gold speckled tile floor as she approached a room with huge wooden double doors, which had a lion and gazelle carved into them. The gazelle was sprinting, and the lion was posed just above it in mid-leap. There was something eerie about the image. As always, Candace was asked to wait outside.  She sat on a black leather couch, and put her feet up on the ivory coffee table. Although Petunia was in the meeting surrounded by some of the most powerful creatures imaginable, Candace still felt uneasy. She watched the front door as if waiting for something to barge in. It was her job to keep Petunia safe, but she hadn’t yet completed her shift, and she doubted her ability to protect Petunia as she was.

Time passed slowly and she looked around at the other guardians that sat around the room. They were almost all fairly young, only a few years older than Candace. She wished Jane was there, but Jane protected an elder who didn’t attend the meetings, so Candace sat silently as the hours passed.

Petunia emerged from the meeting with tired eyes. She looked even more exhausted than Candace felt. As they started down the street, Candace could hear her heartbeat in her ears. Her adrenaline was pumping; preparing her for the evil that lurked in the shadows. “Someone’s following us.” She said it simply, and authoritatively. Now she knew. Something was tracking them, and Candace had to find out why.

“What? I think you’re still a little out of it, Candace. There’s nothing behind us.” Petunia talked to Candace like she was a child, but Candace grabbed Petunia’s wrist and yanked her to a stop. If they were going to make it out of this, Petunia had to understand that Candace was in charge now. Her one job was to save Petunia, and the understanding of that mission coursed through her blood.

Candace began to walk again, motioning for Petunia to do the same, and Petunia obeyed.  Candace turned into an alleyway with a dead-end. It was dark and secluded, but she only had to watch the opening. Candace braced herself in front of Petunia. Whatever was coming, she would be ready. Petunia called for backup.

Just then, two men appeared in tattered jackets and blue jeans. They approached slowly, but Candace held her ground. Her arms quivered from the rush of adrenaline. She could feel her diaphragm tighten. She had to control her breathing. The man on the far right laughed at the sight of the young girl standing up to the two of them. The man on the left looked older and wearier, as if he knew not to underestimate her. It was Candace’s turn to laugh. It didn’t sound like her; it was dark and cruel. Petunia shot her a look of anxiety, and she did a very poor job of hiding her trembling.

“What do you want?” There was a bite to Candace’s voice. She felt like she was ready to tear them to pieces.

“Just the woman. Give her to us and you can go.” He said it slowly, and waited. His brown eyes were filled with hate. Candace cocked her head to the side, and a slight smirk played on her lips.

“Go to Hell.” She spit the words out, and they advanced. The older man stayed slightly behind, but he shared the same malice as the other man did. He wouldn’t hesitate in killing her. That was fine, neither would she. She rushed to them, and landed a blow to the younger man’s tough jaw. She continued past him to the older man. She felt the younger man behind her and skidded to the ground. Her outstretched legs collided with the older man’s, and all three of them went tumbling to the ground. Candace tried to get up quickly, but the younger man had her pinned before she could move. His knuckles crashed into her skull, and her vision became hazy. There was no pain, but she could tell she was injured. He stood up and kicked her in the ribs. She could feel a sharp pinch in her gut, but she paid no mind to it. She jumped up, and took the men by surprise. She slammed the older man’s head into the wall. He crumpled to the ground out cold. She whipped her head around just in time to see an iron bar collide with her temple. Warm blood streamed down the side of her face, and she knelt to the ground. Her vision was completely clouded now. Her hands met the ground, and she expected another blow, but it never came.

A van screeched to a halt outside of the alleyway. She could smell burning rubber. She rolled over on her side.  “Grab Petunia!” A man’s commanding voice echoed through the alleyway’s brick walls.

“What about the girl?” Asked another man.

“Leave her. She’s done her job. We just need to worry about Petunia right now.” Candace knew she wasn’t hearing this right. Leave her? She tried to yell, but she couldn’t get the words out. How could they do this to her? Everything went quiet, except for the drops of water leaking from the pipes that lined the alleyway. Drip by drip, Candace listened until everything went black.



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