Someone had left the window open. The warm, late August air wafted through the darkened bedroom. An overstuffed teddy bear was the only witness as the light grew brighter and brighter.
“And then you lift the child like so,” he placed a hand under the child’s back and elevated her slightly.
“Or like this.” Keira took hold of the sleeping girl’s wrists and waved them side to side, mimicking hula dancing.
Arden glared at her. She rolled her eyes, but lowered the girl’s arms. Keira stood up and moved away as he continued.
“Then in one hand, you hold the vox and position it directly in front of the sternum. Hold it against the charge’s body.” A thick British accent lent his speech a condescending edge.
“Yeah, I got it,” Keira whispered as she wandered absentmindedly to the window.
He looked to her. “Are you even paying attention?”
“Kid. Vox. Coil. I said I got it,” she huffed without a look at him.
“The vox takes several minutes to pass. However, after it completely dissipates, do not dilly-dally. Release the child for the coil will manifest itself promptly.”
Arden jerked his head up. “What the…”
Keira thought he was responding to her comment until she turned to see the glowing green eyes and a burst of crimson. A mogdoc, hidden within the canopy above the bed, had lowered itself and surprised Arden. It slashed his cheek, drawing blood and causing him to drop the vox. Arden smacked the creature into the wall with so much force that its head broke through the drywall. The commotion woke the child.
Startled, the girl screamed and knocked the vox from the blankets onto the floor. The mogdoc seized her and scrambled up the bed post. It dangled her by the neck from its perch on the canopy crossbeams. The girl kicked the air, gasping for breath. So strong, the creature held her neck in a single hand as it clung to the canopy with the other.
Keira could hear worried shouts as rushed footsteps hit the hallway. She leapt to the door and locked it.
“Hurry, Arden. The parents are coming!”
She braced the door as the girl’s parents started to beat against it. Their frantic voices were muffled; Keira turned her attention back to the bed.
Arden, with a dagger in hand, stood on the mattress. His dark brown eyes were locked on the mogdoc, waiting for an opening. Seeing that it had the upper hand, the mogdoc smiled wickedly. It bared razor teeth and the gills at the sides of its neck flared. It pressed its thumb into the girl’s neck. The creature’s sharp thumbnail pierced her skin. The girl’s eyes widened as the creature lowered its head to lick the drops of blood that escaped. Its forked tongue savored only a quick taste of the rare treat.
At that point, Keira felt as though the world fell into slow motion, but only seconds passed. The mogdoc tightened its grip and a tear ran down the girl’s cheek. She stopped struggling and gasped one last time. Satisfied, it dropped her limp body. The creature shrieked triumphantly. It swung under the canopy and dove out the open window into the night.
Fury flamed in Keira’s eyes. Just a week ago, she had watched her friend Jumper fall lifeless to the ground at her own hands because of mogdocs. She had let it happen again. She pulled a dagger from her boot and rushed after the creature.
“Wait,” Arden ordered.
The door was quiet. The parents probably went to get help or find an ax or something, Keira thought. She didn’t want to be there when they came back and saw that their daughter was…no, she couldn’t even think it.
“It’s getting away,” Keira pleaded, but instead of following, she stopped, fixed by the sight of the child in Arden’s arms. The girl looked like a doll with eyes closed and mouth open.
“There’s a pulse and she’s breathing again. There’s still time,” he said. “Get the vox.”
“It doesn’t heal,” Keira said as she reached under the bed and lifted it to him.
He placed the vox to the girl’s chest. Its light slowly disappeared and the wind picked up. He lowered the girl to the bed.
“What are you doing? We have to take her with us.”
“That is not permitted.”
“She needs help. She’ll die.”
“I said no.”
He grabbed Keira’s hand. She kicked him, but he was stronger. He yanked her into the coil and they were gone.