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About Traditional Art / Artist Member Chris D. Phillips a.k.a. PhiarMale/United States Recent Activity
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Where We Place Our Hearts Chapter 3 by Phiar
Where We Place Our Hearts Chapter 3
This picture' chapter is in my journal list.

Synopsis (Action/Supernatural/Drama): Venelope, an eighteen-year-old high school graduate, dreams of being a track star. Upon visiting family, she learns that she can interact with her consciences; the good and the bad side. Through further interactions with each, she's able to use supernatural powers based on her dominant conscience. A dark future presents itself when she learns there are others with these powers. Using her abilities, she tries to keep a normal life while not turning a blind eye to the ones using these powers for wrong-doing.

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                                                                                                                       "Where We Place Our Hearts"                                                                                                                  


                                                                                                                    Chapter 3: "Light & Clouds"
                                                                                                                                              by
                                                                                                                   Christopher D. Phillips a.k.a. Phiar







(1)     Flames? Flames filled the cave and seared away the cold in seconds before vanishing just the same. The storm continued battering the cave from outside as another hour went by.


Sweat. The raven-haired girl woke up soaked in it. She rose up to a sitting position against the wall. A sigh of relief caught her attention. She looked up to see Venelope sitting against the opposite wall with a faint smile.

      "I'm glad you came to." Venelope said. "I was freakin' out. I checked to see if you had a pulse, and you did. I was just hopin' you'd still wake up. "Her soft smile filled with relief. "I hit my head on somethin'. Still hurts." She chuckled. "You feelin' alright?" The girl noticed Venelope sweating just as much as herself and wondered how it got so hot. Oddly, she then showed a slight look of understanding. She adjusted herself, trying to get as comfortable as possible. Wiping the sweat from her face, she groaned in disgust. Venelope chuckled but stopped instantly as the girl eyed her sharply. It was obvious the girl wasn't thrilled to be trapped in a cave with her. "I'm Venelope." She said reaching out to shake hands.

      "I know who you are." The girl replied as she turned her eyes away from Venelope. "Obviously, you don't remember me." Venelope retracted her hand slowly. She felt nervous, wondering if this girl was a childhood friend of hers. If she was, she knew she'd feel worse for forgetting once remembering. "Not like I wanted to remember you." The girl thought to herself. "Jesus!" She said then aloud leaning forward slightly. "You really don't remember me?" Venelope was flushed with even more nervousness. Smiling sheepishly, she didn't know how to respond. The girl sat back with a shake of her head. "We were always competing against each other. From elemetary to middle school." She said in a common tone of voice with her eyes facing further down into the cave. Venelope felt a little bad now. The girl' face was quite somber as Venelope was pulled into the same state.

      "I'm sorry." Venelope said quietly with her eyes down. "I really can't-- maybe you've just changed so much since I last saw you, is all."

      "Well, don't beat yourself up over it. I didn't remember you, either." The girl said assertively.

      "But, you said--"

 (2) "I saw you with Travis." The girl interrupted. "I just put two and two together." She looked back at Venelope to see a quirky smile of confusion.

       "It's just... really not clickin'." She chuckled as the girl then stood to stretch.

       "It's obvious you don't know much about them." She said straining. Venelope' face slowly went blank from the comment. "Wow! You don't know anything, do you? About your consciences?" Venelope' eyes widened as she shimmied up the wall to her feet. Though she wanted to ask the obvious, she was rendered speechless in learning the girl knew about her consciences. The girl could tell Venelope was just begging for answers. "You're still in between on the whole thing. Lights can't use fire, only electricity. That's how it is in the beginning. You just gotta figure out where you wanna stand. And I doubt with your lack of info, that you've been using your powers long enough for them to be strong enough to heat up this cave like you have." Venelope continued free-falling without a clue to catch herself with. "But, you must be since this cave is as hot as it is." She thought to herself before continuing aloud. "You don't look like a Cloud, though. I was out-cold, but you obviously used fire and not electricity to heat this place up." Venelope looked to her sides to see Penelope and Cassidy standing there. Looking back at the girl, she saw her conscience standing beside her. Her heart jumped. Like Penelope, the girl' conscience emitted a light of safety and purity. She also being dressed in white and light brown clothing. Venelope' mind went blank, unable to process it all. She grabbed her head and rubbed her eyes strongly before looking back at the girl and her conscience, trying to force her mind to believe what her eyes where seeing.
      "I'm outta here." Cassidy said upon vanishing like smoke. Venelope paced a bit, trying to get this all through her skull.

      "Okay, okay." Venelope said with her hands out front. Stopping, she took a deep breath and exhaled sharply out her nose. "Rewind a bit, and chopped this down for me, please--" They both went silent as a grunt sounded from deeper within the cave. A rough and scruffy sort of grunt. Not the kind of sound you'd hear from a human. The only things lighting the cave were the auras of the girl' consciences. They etched back as quietly as possible as the grunting grew closer and more consistent.

(3)  "Kill the lights, then shine as bright as you can on my word." The raven-haired girl whispered as the cave then went pitch black. Several seconds went by as they continued tip-toeing backwards towards the exit. Their eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness enough to clearly make out anything, but they knew something... something big, had turned the corner. Venelope' lip quivered with fear. Penelope lightly took her hand to help keep her calm. However, the raven-haired girl was surprisingly composed. No, she was more than that, and though Venelope couldn't see her expression in the dark, it was one pure focus; her conscience' as well. The mouth of the cave was only several steps away now. Venelope tripped over a cluster of rocks and fell backwards. Luckily, Penelope caught her, but Venelope' feet had kicked up some debris and caused a fairly loud clatter of noise. The unknown creature grunted again in response. It was certain something was in its cave. "Now!" The raven-haired girl said as the consciences then lit up the cave. A large bear was revealed. It roared fiercely, sending chills up and down the girls' spines. Due to Cassidy' flames, the cave' frozen mouth had been melted away enough for them to run out easily. Needless to say, said flames yielded a double-edged effect, and awakened the bear from its hibernation. The snow was thick on the ground, but the blizzard itself was over. The bear roared again upon exiting the cave. Now fully awake in a livid state of mind.

       "Come on! Let's go!" Venelope shouted from a fair distance away. The raven-haired girl remained much closer to the bear and eyed it with the same focus as before. "What the hell is she thinking?" She thought to herself. The girl slowly opened and closed her hands. Her back arched with knees bent. Even Venelope could read this sort of atmosphere. Much like a school yard squabble, only now, instead of a simple disagreement being settled. Their lives were on the line. Or rather, in Venelope' mind, only the girl' life was. How could she possibly take on a bear? She was a bit shorter than Venelope and around the same weight. With or without a conscience by her side, the odds still seemed gravely slanted in her favor.

(4)   "I can move... I'm calm..." The raven-haired girl thought to herself as she continued opening and closing her hands. Static electricity became visible around her hands, coming and going every few seconds. Venelope looked on as she then thought about when she shocked Evette earlier. Her train of thought altered to the raven-haired girl' recent words about Lights and Clouds using fire and electricity. She still didn't understand. The entire scenario was jumbled in her head. The snowfall lightened up even more. "I can move. I can move!" She ran at the bear at a speed just over a jog' pace. She stopped just outside the bear' reached as it swiped at her. Growling ferociously, it continued its attack as the girl backed away quickly with several short hops. Just from that short display of skill, Venelope knew this girl wasn't ordinary. But as of late, the same could be said about her. Although, who in their right mind would have the nerve to fight such a beast barehanded and alone? The bear' assault was like a berserker, as one would expect. The girl' evasive skills were unbelieveable as she remained out of harm' way, even if only by mere inches. Ducking a swipe that could've scalped her, she shouted to her conscience. "Whitney, now!" Whitney' body became covered in electricty before firing and striking the bear from behind with a strong volt. As its attention was taken from the raven-haired girl, she struck it with another volt of her own. Whimpering, the bear fled back into its cave. The girl panted lightly with her hands on her knees. She smiled at Whitney who then vanished a moment later.

      "You okay?" Venelope asked as she ran up to the raven-haired girl. "That was freakin' amazing! I can't believe what I just saw." She said containing the full amount of her excitement. The girl stood with a sigh.

      "You could've helped." The girl said staring into the woods. The snow stopped seconds laters.

      "Well, I wanted to, but... honestly, how much could I have done? I'm sorry." The girl smiled faintly.

      "That's true." The girl replied with her smile still present as Venelope showed her own. "You don't know squat about this kind of thing, so it fits." She stared at Penelope for a moment. "That's how I remember you... when you left town." Referring to her longer and wavier hair style.

      "Well, you're not the Gabrielle I remembered, either." Venelope replied as the girl faced her quickly with surprise. Venelope chuckled. "Some where during that fight, I remembered you. I don't know why, it just clicked, finally."

(5)  "You remember anything else?" Gabrielle asked as she placed her hands in her pockets. Venelope shook her head with a nervous smirk. "Mm... I need to sit down for a sec." She sat down on a log as Venelope took a seat on it as well. Venelope rubbed her own arms to build some warmth. "Where'd you move to?"

      "California. I've been living with my-- Holy-- I completely forgot!" Venelope said shooting to her feet. "My uncle and Travis! I forgot about them during all of this. They were caught in the storm with me." She looked around with a worried expression, trying to figure out which way to head.

      "I don't know about your uncle, but I'm pretty sure Travis is all right." Gabrielle answered, throwing more confusion into Venelope' head. "I was near you guys when things went bad. You being the closest." Venelope' expression softened as she listened attentively. "I found your board snapped in two before I found you a few feet away. The wind must've threw you off and made you slam into a tree or rock. I carried you as far as I could before I had to drag you the rest of the way into the cave."

      "Oh... thank you for that." Venelope said quietly. "I guess I owe you."

      "Well, if it wasn't for you heating the cave, we'd both be dead." They chuckled. "But, I did fight off that big-ass bear while you stood around like the paparazzi." She laughed as Venelope smiled bashfully. "So, you did still owe me." She said as she stood up.

      "... 'did'?" Venelope asked.

      "I'll let it slide since you remembered me." Gabrielle replied as both smiled. "I guess I didn't leave a strong enough impression before you moved." Venelope offered a handshake again as Gabrielle accepted this time.

      "We can catch up on our way back? And, maybe, you can fill me in on all this conscience stuff?" Venelope said as Gabrielle sighed with a smile.

      "You are already asking for too much." They laughed as they then started walking.

(6)  Sunrise. Venelope' parents and the other locals began organizing a search. Just as they stepped outside, they saw Venelope and Gabrielle in the distance heading their way. Ray ran to Venelope as fast as his legs could carry him. Lauri smiled with teary eyes as Danny and T.J. stood just behind her. T.J. smiled at Danny, but his face quickly saddened as he saw Danny wearing the same worried face from the night before. Ray reached and hugged his daughter strongly. He was silent, but the warmth of being alleviated from his worries was enough for her to understand.

      "I'm okay, dad. I'm okay." Venelope said softly as she hugged him back while shedding a few tears. He stepped back with his hands on her shoulders to look her in the eyes. He smiled warmly as Lauri made her way over. Lauri hugged her tightly as both smiled and chuckled.

      "I was about to lose my mind." Lauri said still hugging her daughter before stepping away.

      "I'm okay, thanks to her." Venelope said gesturing towards Gabrielle. "I got a bump on my head, but other than that, I'm fine." Lauri turned Venelope around to inspect her injury. "um, this is Gabrielle, guys. She saved my life."

      "We saved each other." Gabrielle said in a common voice. She was trying to avoid being seen as a hero. It wasn't the type of admiration she was comfortable with. Lauri gave her a hug and a 'thank you' as Ray followed suit.

      "Yo, look! It's Travis!" T.J. shouted happily as he pointed at Travis walking in the distance their way. Just behind him was Marvin who had the unconscious Nigel over his shoulder.

      "Oh, yeah." Venelope thought to herself as she looked at Travis. On she and Gabrielle' way back, the latter told her that Travis could also interact with his and other' consciences. A bit later, they arrived at home. Venelope relaxed in a hot bath with her music playing. Absolutely relishing the heat. She couldn't take her mind off of the previous events for long. She zoned in and out from said thoughts to singing along with her music.

      "Everyone just left to the grocery store." Penelope said while remaining invisible. She gave Venelope a spook as they both chuckled after the fact. "I'm sorry."

(7)  "Naw, it's cool." Venelope smiled. "Where are you?" She asked looking around.

      "I thought you'd be more comfortable if I stayed out of sight."

      "Seriously, Pen?" Venelope frowned playfully. "We're the same person, for Pete' sake." Penelope chuckled as she then appeared, sitting on the sink counter. "There. Now we can talk like--" Knock, knock! Venelope froze from the knock on the door, hoping said mystery person didn't hear her talking to 'herself'.

     "Who is it?" Her voice cracked from the nervousness.

     "Travis."

     "I-- I thought you went to the store with everyone else." She said glaring at Penelope who played oblivious.

     "Yeah, I changed my mind." He replied. "We need to talk... before everyone else gets back." He waited several seconds for her reply. "Okay...?"

     "Oh! Yeah, yeah." She answered with a startled jump in her voice. She then heard his foosteps fading away from the door. She glared at Penelope again with a smirk before submerging in the tub. "Ow!" She yelped from the hot and soapy water stinging her head injury before going under.

     Now dressed about ten minutes later, she made her way into the living room. Travis was sitting on the sofa playing a video game on the tv. He paused the game as she took a seat on the other couch. He looked at her for a moment before sitting back with a sigh.

     "I can honestly say, that I would've never guessed that you'd be one of us." He smiled. She tucked her feet beneath her and sat on them. She tried to smother her smile. This was a serious topic and she wanted to approach it correctly.

     "Well, why is it so surprising?" She asked with a blank expression. "Or, is it just surprising to you in general?" He took his glass of juice from the in-table in hand.

     "No, it's not a big deal." He replied. "Just gives me an odd feeling, is all." He took a sip before placing the glass back onto the table. "Well, get dressed. I called Gabrielle and Marvin. We're gonna meet up at the diner so we can talk about this." Venelope had short-shorts, socks and a long t-shirt for sleeping in on. Needless to say, to go out in that kind of cold, thicker clothes were needed.

(8) "What? Gabrielle? You have her number-- wait. Marvin, too?" She said jumbling it all together. Travis walked over to the game console and turned it and the tv off before heading into the kitchen. Venelope followed him, taking a seat on one of the bar stools as he drank half of his juice and placed the rest in the fridge. "Come on! Talk to me." She said fairly loudly.

     "Jesus! Just get dressed like I said." He replied matching her tone. "Your mom' making that bomb-ass meatloaf tonight, and I ain't gonna be late for that." He said leaving the kitchen. Heading up the stairs, Venelope followed him quickly and closely.

     "At least tell me how you made it out of the storm. Give me something!" She said stopping as she threw her arms down with frustration. Travis continued to his room at the end of the hall and closed the door behind him. She exhaled angrily. Arriving at the diner, Marvin walked outside to greet the two. Minutes later, they got into Gabrielle' car with her in the driver' seat.

     "Venelope!" A girl exiting the diner shouted. Venelope was sitting in the backseat beside Marvin. She looked out the back window at the girl. Recognizing the girl, she smiled as she unfastened her seatbelt.

     "Come on. We have plans already." Gabrielle said annoyed with eyes on Venelope via rear-view mirror. Venelope slowed down, but continued unbuckling herself.

     "That's Denise." Venelope replied.

     "Yeah, I know. She's not one of us, so it's not important." Gabrielle said uncaringly.

     "Oh, you're just mad that I didn't recognize you right off the bat." Venelope said with a smirk as she got out of the car and closed the door. Gabrielle turned around to look out the back window at Venelope and Denise chatting before facing Travis in the passenger seat.

     "... get out." She said to Travis with all seriousness. Looking him dead in the eyes, he smiled confusedly.

     "What?" He replied with a chuckle.

     "Either she walks to the spot alone or with you." Gabrielle said with the same unchanging expression.

(9) "Are you serious? That's four miles. Uphill!" Travis said with a fairly serious expression. He wanted to believe she was joking, but he knew Gabrielle well enough to know that that wasn't the case. He opened the door and shouted-- "V, get'chur ass in the car!" Venelope brushed him off with a smile as she continued talking to Denise. Travis closed the door. He sat idle for a moment before he sighed. He scratched his nose and rubbed his face before looking back at the stone-faced Gabrielle. Her Poker face had no trace of a bluff on it. Since Venelope was partially right in saying she was mad about her not being recognized, and Gabrielle having a bit of a temper, to put it lightly. This was her way of getting back at her. The car' tires ripped up the icy pavement upon it taking off down the road. Travis stood beside the tire tracks left behind with his hands in his jacket pockets - pissed. Venelope ran up beside him.

     "What-- what the hell!?" She shouted with her arms out. She looked at Travis who was wearing a face that could burn through lead. Only his eyes moved to face Venelope as her arms dropped. The aura of his anger could nearly be seen as his glare beamed into her eyes.

     "I told you to get'cho ass in the car." He enuciated with the voice of a quiet storm. Venelope was filled with nervousness as Denise etched up beside her.

     "I, uh... I'm sorry." Denise said just loud enough to be heard. "I have a car. I can give you guys a ride." Travis exhaled with closed eyes.

     "No, thank you, Denise." Travis answered in the same tone of voice as before but as politely as possible before he started walking.

     "What're you doin'?" Venelope asked. "She offered us a ride--"

     "I'm pissed off!" He shouted as he continued walking. Venelope froze from his explosion. "I need to walk it off! Damn!" The girls stood speechless as only their heads turned to face each other.

     "Um, just give me your number. I'll call you later, okay?" Venelope said to Denise. As she and Travis had now made some progress down the road, she continued apologizing.

     "No, no. Just stop talking!" Travis said to her.

     "What's the big deal?" Venelope asked. "She just wanted to be a jerk!"

(10) "And I told you to get'cho ass in the car!" He said stopping as he turned around to look at her. "Gabby ain't all 'there' as you can see. When her crazy-ass says something, she usually means it." He said pointing a finger at Venelope. "And when she means it, we have our asses a four mile walk uphill in the damn cold to deal with." He exclaimed as he continued walking. Pow! A snowball smacked him on the back of the neck seconds later. "What the hell!?" He shouted as he turned to face Venelope who was readying another snowball. "Quit it! I ain't in the mood."

      "Too bad!" She shouted with a big smile as she threw the ball. "Yellin' at me like you've lost your mind!" She started scooping up another, but Travis beat her to it." Pow! His snowball struck her shoulder. She fell to her knees laughing before throwing hers. Travis couldn't help but laugh as they continued their battle.

      "You're stupid!" He said with a big smile as Venelope laughed louder. Not too long later, they arrived where Gabrielle and Marvin drove to. It was a large clearing fairly deep in the woods to insure seclusion. The ground had tire tracks imprinted around, showing that they came to this area frequently. A small rusty green shed stood a short distance away with its door chained and locked. In addition to Gabrielle and Marvin, two others, Pablo and Phillis, were at the scene. The two were sitting in Pablo' truck with the heat on. Inaudibly, they conversed happily as Travis and Venelope walked passed the truck. Travis tapped the door upon doing so as the two got out seconds later. Marvin noticed Travis and Venelope had worked up quite a sweat as the two walked up.

      "Pablo said he passed you guys on the way here." Marvin said.

      "Yeah, he offered us a ride. But we decided to run instead." Travis replied. "Gotta good warm up in." He was panting lightly, but Venelope was completely composed. The benefits of her track team training showing. Sitting on a lawn chair a short distance away, Gabrielle eyed Venelope. She walked over a moment later.

      "You still runnin'?" She asked Venelope.

      "Yup." Venelope replied with a mixed expression. She was still a bit upset that Gabrielle ditched she and Travis, but her smile won over her frustration in the end. "So--" She said placing her hands on her hips "--what're we doin' here?"

(11) "All those questions you were trying to ask me at home, you can ask here now." Travis said to her. Pablo and Phillis joined the conversation, standing beside Marvin. Venelope let her hands drop as she tried to remember what she was trying to ask. "To answer how we made it out of the storm... well, more than just that happened, then." Everyone was now seated in lawn chairs. "Me and Marvin are used to the cold, and the blizzard itself wasn't really that serious. The problem... was Nigel."

      "Oh, yeah. Your other friend." Venelope said.

      "Not exactly." Marvin added to Venelope' surprise. Actually, everyone was confused by the statement.

      "Nigel' a Cloud." Venelope was still in the dark about the Lights and Clouds. But everyone else looked even more surprised now.

      "Let's fill her in on that part first." Gabrielle said. Travis gestured at her to continue. "What's wrong with your mouth? It was working just fine a second ago." Her tone with a touch of anger in it.

      "I guess, you could say my feet are hurting too much to continue." He replied with a smirk. Gabrielle was about to respond to the verbal jab when Marvin intervened.

      "Lights and Clouds, that's what we call ourselves." He said to Venelope. "I'm sure you already met one or both of your consciences by now." Venelope nodded. Marvin' conscience appeared beside him, then Pablo, Phillis and Travis' followed suit. All of them emitted the same light as Penelope, who had then appeared a moment later just behind Venelope. She and Venelope smiled at each other before giving their attention back to Marvin. "For obvious reasons, you can see why we call ourselves 'Lights'." Venelope chuckled from Marvin' faint smile.

      "Do they all have names, too?" Venelope asked. "I named her Penelope... after my mom' aunt. She passed away years ago." Penelope smiled with closed eyes. "I just figured I'd give her a name that meant something."

      "Unfortunately, I wasn't lucky enough to have that luxury." Marvin' consciene replied as Venelope chuckled. "He had a bunch of t-shirts scattered around his room when we frist met." He said gesturing at Marvin. "I'm not good with names'. Is what he said. His exact words." Marvin dropped his head chuckling. "He picked up a dirty, plain white t-shirt and said-- 'There. T's your name." The others laughed.

(12) "I never get tired of that story." Travis smiled.

       "So, I'm T." He said with a proudly raised chin.

       "Nice to meet you, T. I'm Venelope." She laughed.

       "Likewise." He nodded. Pablo and Phillis then introduced their conscienses, Mateo and Dawn. Travis introduced his, Vincent.

       "I'm Whitney." Gabrielle' conscience said to Venelope.

       "Nice to meet you." Venelope replied. "This is amazing". She thought to herself. She felt completely at home among these people. Feeling so elated, she smiled until it hurt.

       "Anyway, as I was saying." Marvin said returning to the previous topic. "The Lights, us, have our good consciences as our dominant ones. The Clouds, are the opposite." Venelope nodded attentively. "Until yesterday, we didn't even know Nigel had these powers, or that he was a Cloud."

       "Gabrielle told me the good and bad consciences have different powers...?" Venelope said questionably.

       "Yeah, that's right." Marvin replied. "We don't know how far these powers can go, but we do know they gradually get stronger. So far, none of us have reached a limit."

       "Okay, my eagerness has gotten the best of me." Venelope said enthusiastically. "What kind of powers do we have?" Marvin looked at Travis before they stood along with Pablo and Phillis.

      "Time for some show-and-tell." Pablo said with a smirk. Marvin unlocked the shed as he and the guys then took training equipment out of it.

      "We know the Clouds and us have one power that's the same." Marvin said exiting the shed. "It being this--" He Lifted an 80lbs. punching bag from the ground to eye level with a single hand. "--super-strength." Venelope' eyes widened with awe. Yet again with a single arm, he threw the bag nearly twenty feet with very little effort. Venelope looked on speechlessly as she waited to see if there was anything else left to show, which there was. Pablo stood alone in a clearing. He opened his hands as water began gushing from them. With a flashy spin, he fired a powerful stream at a tree and tore the bark from it. Phillis followed promptly, striking the same tree and spot with a strong wind. The tree shook and swayed as snow fell from its limbs. The crackling of static electricity caught Venelope' attention. Gabrielle walked over and stood before Pablo and Phillis with voltage crawling all over her body.

(13) "I held back on that bear since I was only trying to scare him away." Gabrielle said with a grin. "But this tree ain't gonna be that lucky!" Firing a thick volt, it drilled into the tree before making a large piece burst away. It looked like something had taken a bite out of it. Venelope was standing in the spot where the tree was about to fall in. Just as she was about to run, Travis flew up to the tree and stopped it. Venelope was astonished to see him flying. Frozen in awe, she took in the unbelievable sight with unblinking eyes. Travis cleared his throat after having been holding the tree in place for several seconds.

       "...um, you can still get out of the way!" He shouted down to her. She snapped back as she then scurried over beside Pablo and Phillis. Wham! The tree sounded as it crashed onto the ground. Travis slowly landed seconds later. Venelope couldn't tell which of their powers fascinated her the most.

       "And, uh, since when can you use electricity?" Phillis asked Gabrielle.

       "After I met her--" Gabrielle replied gesturing towards Venelope. "--it just happened. Simple as that. Why are you so surprised anyway? The same thing happened before with me when I met Pablo. That's how I gained the ability to use water."

       "Yeah, that makes sense." Marvin added. "Travis didn't get super-strength until after we were around each other more."

       "Sounds contagious." Pablo chuckled. "Maybe that's all there is to it. Just being around each other long enough to... absorb the same powers, maybe."

       "Maybe." Travis replied. "But we've all had our powers for awhile now, and have been around each other just as long or longer. I've had mine for about two years now."

       "Now that I think about it. I didn't get my super-strength until after I met Gabby, and she had hers months before me." Marvin added. "I meant, her powers in general. Not the super-strength, since she doesn't have that. We've already assumed with the little proof we have, that our powers can awaken those in others, or is it just like Pablo said, and it's just contagious? Can anyone that's simply in close contact with people with these powers get them, or is it just a rare few who have these dormant powers already, and just need that close contact as a trigger to wake'em up?"

       "I don't think so." Venelope said. "...um, who was the first out of you guys to find out they had these powers?"

       "Me." Gabrielle replied. "Then Marvin, then Travis. When the three of us met Pablo and Phillis, they already had theirs. But we've already been over our timelines, and they didn't get theirs until after Travis." The others nodded. "And as far as being 'contagious' goes, they're a prime example."

(14) "That's true." Phillis added. "I got my powers before Pablo, but we had been dating years before so, and we haven't given each other our powers."

       "I'm confused, then." Venelope said as she took a seat back in her chair. The others took their seats as she continued. "I can't say for sure, since you guys seem to be experts at keeping your powers out of the public' eye. But back in California, I don't think there was anybody at my school, or in town, who had these powers. My question being: how did I get them from out of no where?"

       "That's how it is for some." Gabrielle replied. "Me and Phillis were the same." Venelope zoned out as Travis snapped his fingers to bring her back to Earth.

       "What?" Travis asked her. "What were you thinkin'?"

       "...um, it's a crazy thought." She replied quietly with a sigh. "I was thinking that, maybe... Danny has these powers, too." Travis took on a skeptical, though it had a glint of understanding to it. "And maybe that's how my powers awakened. I've been around him for the last six years... so, maybe... I don't know."

       "I think we should focus on the origins of this power later." Pablo said. "Right now, I think we should focus on getting Venelope' powers to a combative level."

       "C-c-combat? What-- what!?" Venelope said shooting to her feet.

       "You're in this now, whether you like it or not." Gabrielle said to her sternly. "It's gotta be one of the Cloud' powers that lets them search others like us out. That's the only explanation I can think of for why Travis and Marvin were attacked by Nigel." Venelope didn't know what to think. "If they found out Travis and Marvin have these powers without them being caught using them. Then, they can find any of us the same way. Meaning, they can find you, too. And if they do find you--" She said stepping up to Venelope "and you're still as weak and clueless as you are right now. You're gonna be easy pickings, to put it lightly."

      "... she ain't lying, V." Travis said subtle but seriously. "Me and Marvin could tell Nigel wasn't just trying to kick our asses and bounce. He was gonna kill us and leave us out there for the blizzard to bury." Venelope sank back into her seat with her eyes on the ground. "If we weren't together... Nigel would've killed us. That's how strong just one of them is."

(15) "It's true me and Travis debated on leaving him out there after taking'im down..." Marvin added. "...but, we just didn't have it in us. It's not in our nature to be that cold."

       "We don't know how many of them there are, and, of course, we're not trying to, or going to force you into this." Pablo said. "But with your help. With another Light on our side... we'll be better at keeping each other safe." Venelope looked at everyone before planting her elbows atop her knees and covering her mouth. She stared blankly into the woods. She felt helpless and a bit scared. She thought having these power wasn't so cool, after all. But what was she to do? Was there any way to avoid such future confrontations? Was she really stuck in this dilemma with no way out?




Where We Place Our Hearts by Phiar
Where We Place Our Hearts
This may be the cover of my story, "Where We Place Our Hearts", chapter three. I like it a lot, but I tend to draw at least two or three covers before deciding on one. As for said chapter, I'll be uploading it into my journal soon. Thank yous to those who read is/are reading it. I appreciate it.  
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Where We Place Our Hearts Chapter 2 by Phiar
Where We Place Our Hearts Chapter 2
This picture' chapter is in my journal list.

Synopsis (Action/Supernatural/Drama): Venelope, an eighteen-year-old high school graduate, dreams of being a track star. Upon visiting family, she learns that she can interact with her consciences; the good and the bad side. Through further interactions with each, she's able to use supernatural powers based on her dominant conscience. A dark future presents itself when she learns there are others with these powers. Using her abilities, she tries to keep a normal life while not turning a blind eye to the ones using these powers for wrong-doing.

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                                                                                                                       "Where We Place Our Hearts"                                                                                                                  


                                                                                                                    Chapter 2: "Blizzard Bargain"
                                                                                                                                              by
                                                                                                                   Christopher D. Phillips a.k.a. Phiar


(1)       Later that night, Venelope lied wide awake on the living room sofa. It was already passed midnight. The crackling of the fireplace, she loved the that sound. Though as calming and nostagic as it was, she just couldn't drift off to sleep. Having already been lying there since ten o' clock, it's natural that a slight frustration added to her inability to doze off. She tossed a few blocks of wood into the fire before going into the fridge. She grabbed a can of soda and plopped back onto the coach with a sigh. She skimmed through her cell' text messages. Several friends from Laguna had messaged her. It made her smile to know they were thinking of her. As late as it was, she wasn't going to message them now, even though she wanted to. She just wanted someone to talk to who was as restless as she was. As she sat her phone down, a voice from the fireplace' direction sent a chill up her spine.

       "Why so restless?" Venelope recognized that the voice was different from before. The sound of footsteps-- more accurately, boots, nearing her, stopped halfway between her and the fireplace.

       "... is that you again?" Venelope whispered, thinking it was the girl she spoke to earlier in the car. As spooked as she was, she remained vigilant as to not be caught talking to someone - someone she still thought wasn't actually there. The battle between sane and insanity was still conflicting in her mind.

(2)  "What do mean 'again?'' The voice answered, only now it was coming from the kitchen behind her. Venelope turned around quickly. Her hands gripping into the couch. Her eyes speedily skimmed over the entire kitchen. The dense footsteps sounded again, coming from the kitchen to around the far side of the sofa into the living room. The heaviness of the steps had a dark feel to them that was fear inducing all their own. Venelope could see the voice' boots now. Their visibility came and went in the flickers of the fire. Steel-toed and worn in. They were black, but the wear made them grayish, too. Thick mud stuck in the grooves and caked along their sides gave Venelope even more chills. "You're not scared... enough... yet." Venelope swallowed slowly. The windows creaked and tree branches clawed the roof before silence took over the room - instantly. Her fingers etched towards her pillow and blanket. Eek - squeaked a cupboard opening in the kitchen. Venelope turned sharply to face it. The voice chuckled as the cupboard slowly closed. Venelope looked back at the floor to see the boots were gone. Her heart pounded, almost loud enough to overtake the fire' crackle. "You're gettin' there." The voice chuckled as the creaking and clawing returned. Venelope was now petrified. Only her uncontrollable trembling gave motion to her stone-like posture. Her unblinking eyes lit by the fire. Her quivering lips parted-- "HEY!" The voice screamed directly in her face. Venelope now looked the voice in the face. A sinister, grinning face. A face that was identical to her own minus the wickedly sharp features. Pale-faceted, sweating and shaking. Venelope' voice had been arrested by the utter fear. The voice snickered as it placed a hand on Venelope' chin. "Now, you're scared--"

       "Enough!" It was the other voice, the one bathed in light from before. The other two' eyes turned towards her instantly. She stood before the fireplace, glowing as beautifully as the last time she had showed herself.

       "... you." The sinister voice said depressed and annoyed. With a sigh, she stepped away from Venelope and went over to the other coach. Venelope' eyes raced back and forth between the two. The three of them identical. "You had your time with her already and I didn't interrupt you." Her entire body could be seen now. She wore tattered dark clothing - black and browns with numerous chains around her neck and bracelets on her wrist. Her pale skin contrasted against the darkness of the room so much that it lit itself. A pierced nose with wild shoulder-length black hair made her look as ghastly as the aura that accompanied her. "Can you leave now?" She said far more annoyed. With a crooked neck, she played with her black diamond earring.

(3)  "I'm not leaving." The other voice replied calmly. "I'm not leaving her alone, and, especially, not alone with you." She said turning her eyes to Venelope who was still frozen to the coach. Unlike the wicked one, the voice of light wore new clothes that were white and beige colored, and barefoot. Her latte complexion matched Venelope', but her hairdoo was how Venelope used to be years ago. Shoulder-length in curly waves. She wore a sea shell necklace, small earrings, but bracelets or other piercings. She placed a hand on Venelope' lap. Her touch uncuffed Venelope' voice from the fear and warmed away the petrification. Venelope was mesmerized by her presence. Several veils of darkness fled as the fire' crackle whispered into her ears again; giving her even more comfort. Venelope looked over to see the wicked one had vanished. She returned her gaze to the other who had taken a seat beside her. Venelope smiled, unsure of what to say first.

        "... what's your name?" Venelope asked as the girl smiled in return.

        "What would you like to call me?" She answered. Her voice alone resonated with a warmth that continued to strengthen Venelope.

        "I feel... awkward giving you a name." Venelope shrugged bashfully.

        "Try." The girl said with her eyes on her lap. It seemed like Venelope' shyness was contagious. Even Venelope noticed said subtle change in the girl' demeanor. Venelope looked around the room as she tried to come up with a suitable name. Then, it clicked. It showed on her face as a tender smile anxious to speak.

        "Penelope. I know it isn't too different from mine--"

        "I like it." The girl said as they smiled at each other.

        "It was the name of my mom' aunt. They were really close."

        "...I know." The girl replied, making Venelope' head shoot up slightly. " I have the same memories as you, because I am you. " Venelope' eyes softened as she completely took in the sencerity of Penelope' voice. So much so that her tears began to fall. Penelope wiped them away with her sleeve. Venelope chuckled as Penelope started to cry, too. They held each other' hands firmly. "Well, to be more accurate, I am your conscience-- both of us." Penelope said referring to the wicked one as well.

(4)   "Ah... I get it." Venelope nodded. "I'll come up with a name for her later." They chuckled.

The smell and popping of bacon filled the room. Morning had come. Danny, Travis and Ray sat at the bar section of the kitchen eating.

       "Does she always die when she sleeps?" Travis asked with a strip of bacon gripped in his teeth.

       "If it weren't for food and the beach, she'd hibernate all year 'round." Danny added.

       "Hey." Lauri said pointing a spatula at the two. "Leave my baby 'lone. You bums don't do nothin' but eat my cookin'."

       "Mm, had to be good at somethin'." Ray mumbled. Lauri stared him down as he obviously avoided eye contact. She had a glare that would make a rattlesnake run away.

       "We still boardin' today?" Travis asked. "It's almost eleven. She sleeps any longer, she might as well go for the Dracula record."

       "That goes for you, too." Lauri said as Travis chuckled.

       "Sleeps like her mother." Ray mumbled. Lauri now loomed over him, pressing her busty chest into his arm. "As in, she sleeps as peaceful and as beautifully as Snow White." Lauri sneered as they then kissed. She went back to the stove to scramble the eggs. Seconds later, Venelope rose up like a corpse. Taking a deep breath, she stretched and exhaled.

       "MM-MM... Do I smell bacon?" She said with one eye still half shut.

       "Told ya." Danny said with a mouthful.

       "Didn't even beat the Dracula record." Travis said shaking his head. Venelope wiped her eyes with a yawn as she made her way over to them.

       "Morning!" She said brightly. The guys grunted their greetings, more fixated on their food. She walked over to Lauri, both giving each other a hug and kiss. "Morning, mommy."

       "Morning, baby." Lauri replied as Venelope then snagged a fresh piece of bacon.

(5)   "MM! That smells good." Venelope said with a stomp. She kissed her mom' cheek again. Pressing into her so much that they nearly lost their balance.

       "Cool it, crazy." Lauri said to her daughter' laughter. "You know how I do." She added proudly.

       "Hey. I'm supposed to get the first kiss of the day." Danny said dropping his fork onto his plate. He picked up his glass of orange juice as Venelope kissed his cheek. "Yeah, all right." She gave Travis a hug before giving her dad a hug and kiss.

       "Oh!" Ray exclaimed. "You're your mother' daughter all right. That's some morning breath, right there." He laughed as Venelope drummed his back with her fist.

       "You really don't want another meal, do you?" Lauri said to Ray.

       "For real." Venelope added. "I mean, I'd expect that from unc, but not you."

       "Runs in the family." Ray replied.

       "Yeah-ha!" Danny laughed as he and Ray bumped knuckles. The doorbell rang. "Get the door, M.B. Make yourself useful." He said to Venelope.

       "Yeah, that's clever, unc. But don't show us the extent of your intelligence in one sentence." Venelope said as she made her way to the door. Lauri laughed in her daughter' favor. Venelope stopped in front of a mirror to fix herself a bit.

       "Oh, God! Are you serious?" Travis asked loudly.

       "Shut up!" Venelope shouted back at him.

       "Just get the door!"

       "You're goin' to the door with that mornin' breath, M.B.?" Danny added. "You're bold. You're a bold one." Grinning, he stuffed some eggs into his mouth.

       "Forget all three of you! And that's not gonna become a nickname. It stops now." She said gettting to the door. Opening it, Evette stood there happily before they hugged each other and squealed.

       "Really? You just saw each other yesterday." Travis played.

       "Ignore him." Venelope said to Evette.

(6)   "I was doin' that way before you came back." Evette said as they laughed.

       "Burned! Ooh, ooh!" Danny said tugging on Travis' sleeve. "Go outside, get some snow and put the fire out." The others laughed as Travis brushed off the taunting as he went back to his plate.

       "Morning, everybody." Evette said as she and Venelope walked up to the others.

       "You want a plate?" Lauri offered. "I live with these two." Referring to Travis and Ray. "So, you know I gotta keep the fridge full."

       "No, I'm good. Thank you, though." Evette replied.

       "I'm gonna hop in the shower." Venelope said to Evette.

       "I'll be here." Evette said taking a seat on the sofa.

       "I left the toothpaste on the sink counter for you." Danny enuciated at Venelope. "Right in the open."

       "Forget yo~u!" Venelope sang from around the corner as the others laughed.

       "She' gonna need a mop bucket for that breath." Travis added making Danny choke on his food with laughter. He wheezed and pounded his chest to get the cough in check as the others laughed loudly at his expense. A bit later, all were outside loading their snowboard gear and whatnot into the vehicles. Venelope stepped outside and down the steps as she eyed her cellphone with disbelieving eyes.

       "What's that look about?" Evette asked as she walked up to Venelope from her car. Venelope looked up at her with her jaw hanging as she tried to form the words to speak. "What is it?" Evette laughed, making Venelope chuckle.

       "Have you been on Face Book in the last few days?" Venelope asked with some slight nervousness in her voice.

       "You talking about that pic your friend Rosey posted of you at the restaurant?" She couldn't help but laugh at the same time the question ran out of her mouth.

(7)   "Ahh! Freakin' Rosey!" Venelope stomped. "This is embarassing. I can't believe she posted this." Evette continued chuckling, trying to get it in check so she wouldn't be adding to her friend' frustration. "And, look. She waited 'til after I left town to post it. By then, I was already on the road."

       "Sounds kind of stalkerish, taking into account the time she chose to upload it. Maybe she watched you leave town. Maybe she watches you." Evette said with a creepy demeanor. Venelope pushed her away as they laughed.

       "Forget that! As my mom would say "there ain't that much 'sugar' in my 'tea'." Both continued laughing as Danny ran out of the house. He exclaimed happily suited in his winter gear.

       "Ready for this, V, and, uh... V' friend?" He asked with a big smile.

       "You know her name." Venelope shouted. Ray, Lauri and Travis stood around the vehicles with everything packed and ready.

       "Yall ready?" Ray shouted as everyone then made their ways into the vehicles. "Hey, where you goin'?" He said to Lauri who was walking over to Evette' car.

       "I'm gonna hang with the girls." She said with some playful street sass. She and the girls high-fived as Danny walked up behind them.

       "Do I see some three-on-three action trying to happen here?" Danny asked gesturing towards the ladies, then himself, Travis and Ray.

       "For your own good, don't even think about it." Travis said pompously sitting in the backseat with his legs hanging outside the open door. "We told you... we own the mountain."

       "Tell'em one mo' time." Ray added from the front seat as he started the engine.

       "Full of themselves, aren't they?" Evette frowned.

       "Ah, what? Don't even try to act like you don't know." Travis said to her. "You know how I do when I'm doin' what I'm doin'." Danny exclaimed from Travis' words.

       "Save it for the mountain." Lauri said as Danny then placed his arms around she and Venelope' shoulders.

(8)  "I gotta give it to my fellas." Danny said smugly with eyes closed. "Especially, since they have me on their roster again. Yeah-ha!" He said as he ran over to high-five Travis before rounding the vehicle to his seat. The doors shut all at once as if choreographed. Everyone was ready to go.

       "Doors are shut. It's on!" Venelope said from Evette' passenger seat with a cocky smirk. Lauri let her inner child take over and happily took the backseat. The tunes blared as they hit the road. Turning to face her mother, she then sees Penelope sitting beside her. She felt nervous, but only for a moment. She remembered Penelope said she could only be seen by her. Smoothedly playing it off, she turned back around and grooved to the music, smiling even bigger on the inside. She and Evette rocked along to the song. Although this type of music wasn't Lauri' cup of tea, she let herself take it in to let the good times roll. "Come on, momma!" Venelope shouted happily over the music.

       "Don't get me started!" Lauri shouted back as the girls laughed. Evette turned the volume down a few turns down the road.

       "When'd you get your license, Evee?" Venelope asked Evette.

       "'bout two years ago, I think." Evette replied. "You're mom helped me out a lot."

       "Huh? Why? I mean, why didn't you ask your mom or dad?" Venelope asked.

       "They're always claiming they're too busy." Evette said slightly saddened. "I did ask them. More than a couple times, too. But, I was, like, forget it, then. All was good thanks to your mom." She smiled.

       "That's 'cause my mom' the business." Venelope said happily.

       "She's been your friend and coming around the house for years, so I didn't mind helpin' her out." Lauri said.

       "Any new books in the making?" Venelope asked Lauri. She was a great writer and already had three books published that sold quite well.

       "Yeah. I have to keep myself busy." Lauri replied. "When Evette asked me to help her out, I was goin' through a writer' block. So, I needed to get away and clear my head. It was fun, though." She smiled. "I helped Travis, too. He was hangin' around doin' nothin' before he landed the job at the diner. So, I said he might as well get it out of the way, too."

(9)  "She didn't even give him a choice." Evette laughed. "She, basically, threw him in the car." They all laughed. Venelope looked at Penelope who was also laughing along. A bit later, they arrived at the skii resort.

       "We have plenty of time to have some fun here today, but keep in mind, the weather report said there's a good chance of a blizzard coming through." Ray said as they walked. "Stay together, and keep your cells on, please." Locals filled the area, chatting happily. Venelope stopped to look around and take in the nostagia. Facing the mountain, she took a deep breath and smiled before following behind the others. Up the skii lift and reaching their starting point a little later, Danny whoo'ed anxiously to get things rolling. He was without a doubt the cocky type, in a fun way, though. But he was the real deal. He had carved down many mountains in his time. He would even go as far as calling himself a veteran of the sport, whether it was true or not. They all had sorted out their contest to come before getting on the skii lift. The starting gunshot was all that was left.

       "You were shaking like a leaf from the cold before we left." Evette said to Venelope. "Now, you're standing there looking warmer than me." She and Venelope chuckled.

       "I don't know what to tell you." Venelope replied with a shrug. "I guess the adrenaline' pumping. I'm really amped up to do this again. Been too long, Evee." She said serenely with eyes down the mountain. She clapped and exhaled happily. "Hope I'm not too rusty."

       "I got'chu... on camera if you bust your ass." Evette laughed as Venelope jumped on her playfully.

       "Some friend! Really!" They laughed. "Like you can actually board and record at the same time. I doubt you're half that good, even as long as I've been gone." She pushed Evette. Zap!

       "Ouch! Damn!" Evette exclaimed from the static shock she just got from Venelope.

       "Sorry... but you deserved it, though." Venelope laughed. "You're just another Rosey."

       "How the hell do you static shock somebody with that thick jacket on?" Evette said caustiously touching Venelope to see if it would happen again. "Ow. Geez. That really stung. Had some zing to it."

       "Well, quit touchin' me before it happens again!" Venelope said laughing brightly. "You a masochist?" They laughed. Travis was checking his board when a young man his age jumped on him.

(10) "What it is, Vice-Grip!?" The young man said happily as he and Travis then shook hands.

       "T.J.?" Danny said with an unsure smile at the young man.

       "Oh, snaps! No way. The legend'-- the legend' back." T.J. said as he shook hands an hugged Danny. "No way, man. Look at'chu." He said taking a step back.

       "Look at me? Look at you. You really shot up." Danny said. Two guys T.J.' age walked up and stood behind him.

       "These are my boys, Marvin and Nigel." T.J. said as the two greeted Danny. Travis knew the two and hung out with them and T.J. regularly. "So, how long you in town?" T.J. asked Danny. "Travis told me you were down for Thanksgiving, but I was out of town myself for the same thing. Gettin' my grub on." He laughed.

       "Ah, I see." Danny replied. "Well, I'm gonna be here a couple days... like, 'til Christmas."

       "'til Christmas?" T.J. laughed at the joke. December had barely started, so, obviously, Danny was going to be in town for weeks. "Good, good. That's business. Me and Vice-Grip held the mountain down in your absence." He said bowly lightly.

       "Vice-Grip?" Danny smirked at Travis.

       "It just means, when my board grabs the mountain, my moves are so tight it can't get away from me." Travis said before he and T.J. screamed playfully and shook hands.

        "I feel you." Danny said with a smile. "You got it like that now, huh, T?" Travis smiled with a bit of nervousness. "I'ma grab a coffee and catch you guys in a few, alright?" He said shaking their hands before walking off.

       "Alright, legend!" T.J. said with his hands raised to the sides of his mouth. "Now--" He said clearing his throat as he leaned closer to Travis. "--for the real reason I came over here. Who is that cute mullato cookie over there with Evette?" They looked over at Venelope who was about twenty yards away.

(11) "You don't recognize her with the short hair?" Travis smirked. "You weren't feelin' her back then." T.J. put his thinking cap on, but found no clue in Travis' words. He was utterly puzzled. A wet match in the dark. As he took a real good look at Venelope, Travis counted down like a game show host. "3... 2... 1... and your time' up, sir." T.J. waited eagerly for Travis to tell him who she was. His corky smile made Travis laugh. "That's my cousin, Venelope, fool!" He said pushing T.J.' shoulder.

       "What? No way!" He said with a dropped jaw. "She, uh... man. She grew up."

       "Like I said, you weren't feelin' her back then." Travis said walking towards Venelope as T.J. quickly jogged up beside him.

       "Man, Evette ain't bad. She' bomb, actually. But, standing next to her... she just seems... irrelevant." T.J' eyes never leaving the sight of Venelope. "She with anybody?"

       "I'd set her up on a blind date with a rattlesnake before I gave you the go ahead to get with her." Though he was joking, Travis' face was as serious as could be.

       "Man, that's colder than the ice we're walkin' on." T.J. said with a playfully depressed tone.

       "Hey, V." Travis said to Venelope as they reached the two girls. "You remember Thomas?" Venelope looked at T.J. awkwardly before it sank in.

       "Yeah, I do." She replied as she reached to shake T.J.' hand. "Good seeing you again."

       "You, too. And it's T.J. now, please." T.J. said with a confident smirk.

       "Okay." Venelope nodded.

       "Sup, Evee?" T.J. said to Evette who simply gestured 'what's up' with a raise of her chin. "You back for good this time?" He said looking at Venelope.

       "Nope. Maybe. I don't know." She replied. Danny, Ray and Lauri walked up to them as they then made their way to the starting point. Danny took off down the mountain like a mad man as T.J. and Travis followed behind him. "I thought you were gonna do it, too, mom." Lauri stood there boardless beside Ray.

(12) "I skii, girl." Lauri replied to Venelope' laughter. "I need four sticks. One for each leg and hand."

       "Aww." Venelope said as Ray shuffled and hopped into his start.

       "Watch the ice melt behind me!" Ray smiled as he took off. Venelope whooped for her dad as she felt butterflies in her stomach.

       "Ready, girl?" Evette said brightly. Venelope nodded as Evette then sped down the mountain. Looking at her mother once more, Venelope hopped into her run. A bit shaky, but she quickly regained her knack for the sport in the moments to come. Travis and T.J. tailed Danny who pulled a big-air trick off one of the snow ramps.

       "Le~gend!" T.J. screamed as he and Travis then flew off the same ramp.

       "Thomas Jenkins. Thomas Jenkins and Vice-Grip!" Danny said happily as the boys caught up to him. The entire day flew by on the slopes. Dusk was near.

       "We wanna get one last run in." Travis said to Ray and Lauri. Lauri looked at Ray to handle the decision who shoo-ed them off with a sigh.

       "Come on, Evee!" Venelope said trailing behind Danny, Travis and T.J.

       "Mm-mmm. I'm done." Evette replied bashfully with some fatigue in her tone. "I'll see you when you get back."

       "Fine." Venelope smiled as she sped up to catch the guys.

       "The wind' picking up already!" Ray shouted. "Tell that surf-bum uncle of yours to put a rush on it, alright?"

       "Ok~ay" Her voice slightly drowned out by the wind. A bit later, Evette took a seat in the resort' cafe with a steamy latte and an eager face to go along with it. She stirred in some marshmallows before taking a sip.

(13) "I ain't never seen nobody put marshmallos in a latte." Lauri said sitting opposite to Evette. Evette couldn't help but to chuckle, postponing her initial sip just that much longer. Lauri looked at Ray who was sitting beside her next to the window. His eyes peering into the darkness beyond the window. His expression was solemn. He saw the storm building and began regretting the permission he gave for that last run. Lauri placed a hand on his lap as he then faced her. She pecked him on the cheek with a faint smile. He lowered his gaze towards the table slightly before looking back through the window.

       Just over half an hour passed. The blizzard had come. Ray was pacing before the cafe' door. He was obviously worried, but there was a strong sensation of anger in his demeanor as well. Though he, Lauri and Evette had tried to contact the four via cell, reception in such a storm, let alone them even being able to hear or feel their phones ringing, was a stretch. Just plain old wishful thinking. Boom! The cafe door burst open and smacked into the wall from the strong wind. Danny and T.J. entered the cafe with several others behind them. It took three men to shut the door. Ray' eyes widened with worry and disbelief to see his daughter and Travis were not among the group. As Danny tried to get to his feet on the slippery floor, Ray hauled him up. Wham! Slamming Danny up against the door, Ray eyed him fiercely.

       "Where's my daughter!?" Ray shouted nose-to-nose at Danny. His grip was inhumanly strong. Though Danny was the bigger stronger brother, a man gains a certain kind of strength in such situations. "Where the hell is she!?" Lauri tried to get Ray to unhinge his steel-trap grip. A few other men were able to pry Ray away, but not before he knocked Danny to the ground with a punch to the face.

       "Baby, calm down!" Lauri said to Ray with her hands on his chest. He couldn't keep himself still as he continued pacing back and forth as Lauri then turned to face Danny and T.J.. "What happened?" T.J. was so shaken he couldn't answer. Danny got to his feet, etching up against the door. "Danny, dammit, say something!" Her voice breaking slightly. She was holding back her tears as best she could. The wind roared through the trees. Venelope' snowboard had been snapped in two from being blown against a tree. But, where was she? The sound of something being dragged-- a body, came to ear. The lifeless heels bumped over the snow-caped earth and stone. Hot breath screamed as it met the adverse air from blue lips. A raven-haired girl was dragging the unconscious Venelope towards a cave to escape the storm. Reaching it, the girl sat up against the inside wall trying to catch her breath. Her body shivered feverishly as she tried to warm her hands. She looked at Venelope for a moment before dragging her further away from the cave' entrance and laying her over her lap.

(14) "Why are you ignoring me?" Penelope asked the girl. "I just want to help." The girl could see and hear Penelope? She looked up at Penelope with a sharp glare as her own conscience appeared beside her. Just like Venelope, her conscience was identical to her. The mouth of the cave was gradually closed by the snowfall. The storm could barely be heard now. A couple hours went by. The others were forced to stay at the cafe. The locals slept on the floor and seats. Some were fortunate enough to be given blankets from the workers, while others just bundled together. Evette and T.J. cuddled up to stay warm. Ray and Lauri held each other tight as they stood with worry ridden eyes aimed out the windows. Danny sat at the opposite end of the cafe just as worried. He blamed himself for his recklessness, beating himself up on the inside. He wanted to run out into the storm and find Venelope and Travis at all costs.

       Venelope coughed hoarsely as she came to. Her hands were like stone. She couldn't even make a fist. She looked up to see the raven-haired girl was asleep. She tried to get up, but her body was just too cold. She managed to roll off the girl' lap onto the floor to her back. She looked up to see her wicked conscience had returned. Looming over her with a grin that fed off of her agony. Penelope appeared. A glint sparked in Venelope' eyes. She felt safe, but then she took in Penelope' uneasy expression.

       "Hurry up already." Penelope said to the wicked one.

       "What's the rush? Not like she's gonna freeze to death-- oh, yeah. She could, huh?" The wicked one replied with a vile smirk.

       "Enough of your nonsense!" Penelope shouted. "Save her! Both of them!"

       "I will, I will." She said looking at Penelope. "But I have a condition that needs to be met first." Penelope' eyes narrowed as the wicked one turned her gaze back on Venelope. Venelope looked on in fear. Her blood went colder as she looked into the wicked one' eyes. Her black, lifeless eyes. "I want a name, too." She smiled. She could almost pass for being innocent in that moment. "I recall you saying you'd give me one later." She sucked her teeth with a shake of her head. "Ya know, that really hurt my feelings. You've never once gave me a smile, either."

       "Stop torturing her like this!" Penelope said stepping forward. "Just give yourself a name and be done with this... please!" Penelope' heartache filled her eyes as tears brimmed. Venelope' stammering caught their attention. They faced her instantly as she tried as hard as she could to speak.

(15) "Ca--Ca--ss--ss--" Venelope coughed as she continued trying to speak throughout.

       "Take it slowly, Venelope." Penelope said kneeling down beside her. "Easy."

       "Spit it out already. My, God." The wicked one said rolling her eyes uncaringly. Venelope took a moment to right herself and managed to stop her shivering for just long enough.

       "Ca--Cassi-dy... C-assidy." Venelope said to the wicked one who was now facing her again. After a hard swallow, she said once more-- "Cassidy! Your name'... Cassidy!" The wicked one grinned ear-to-ear.

                                                                                                                       "Where We Place Our Hearts"                                                                                                                  


                                                                                                                    Chapter 3: "Light & Clouds"
                                                                                                                                              by
                                                                                                                   Christopher D. Phillips a.k.a. Phiar







(1)     Flames? Flames filled the cave and seared away the cold in seconds before vanishing just the same. The storm continued battering the cave from outside as another hour went by.


Sweat. The raven-haired girl woke up soaked in it. She rose up to a sitting position against the wall. A sigh of relief caught her attention. She looked up to see Venelope sitting against the opposite wall with a faint smile.

      "I'm glad you came to." Venelope said. "I was freakin' out. I checked to see if you had a pulse, and you did. I was just hopin' you'd still wake up. "Her soft smile filled with relief. "I hit my head on somethin'. Still hurts." She chuckled. "You feelin' alright?" The girl noticed Venelope sweating just as much as herself and wondered how it got so hot. Oddly, she then showed a slight look of understanding. She adjusted herself, trying to get as comfortable as possible. Wiping the sweat from her face, she groaned in disgust. Venelope chuckled but stopped instantly as the girl eyed her sharply. It was obvious the girl wasn't thrilled to be trapped in a cave with her. "I'm Venelope." She said reaching out to shake hands.

      "I know who you are." The girl replied as she turned her eyes away from Venelope. "Obviously, you don't remember me." Venelope retracted her hand slowly. She felt nervous, wondering if this girl was a childhood friend of hers. If she was, she knew she'd feel worse for forgetting once remembering. "Not like I wanted to remember you." The girl thought to herself. "Jesus!" She said then aloud leaning forward slightly. "You really don't remember me?" Venelope was flushed with even more nervousness. Smiling sheepishly, she didn't know how to respond. The girl sat back with a shake of her head. "We were always competing against each other. From elemetary to middle school." She said in a common tone of voice with her eyes facing further down into the cave. Venelope felt a little bad now. The girl' face was quite somber as Venelope was pulled into the same state.

      "I'm sorry." Venelope said quietly with her eyes down. "I really can't-- maybe you've just changed so much since I last saw you, is all."

      "Well, don't beat yourself up over it. I didn't remember you, either." The girl said assertively.

      "But, you said--"

 (2) "I saw you with Travis." The girl interrupted. "I just put two and two together." She looked back at Venelope to see a quirky smile of confusion.

       "It's just... really not clickin'." She chuckled as the girl then stood to stretch.

       "It's obvious you don't know much about them." She said straining. Venelope' face slowly went blank from the comment. "Wow! You don't know anything, do you? About your consciences?" Venelope' eyes widened as she shimmied up the wall to her feet. Though she wanted to ask the obvious, she was rendered speechless in learning the girl knew about her consciences. The girl could tell Venelope was just begging for answers. "You're still in between on the whole thing. Lights can't use fire, only electricity. That's how it is in the beginning. You just gotta figure out where you wanna stand. And I doubt with your lack of info, that you've been using your powers long enough for them to be strong enough to heat up this cave like you have." Venelope continued free-falling without a clue to catch herself with. "But, you must be since this cave is as hot as it is." She thought to herself before continuing aloud. "You don't look like a Cloud, though. I was out-cold, but you obviously used fire and not electricity to heat this place up." Venelope looked to her sides to see Penelope and Cassidy standing there. Looking back at the girl, she saw her conscience standing beside her. Her heart jumped. Like Penelope, the girl' conscience emitted a light of safety and purity. She also being dressed in white and light brown clothing. Venelope' mind went blank, unable to process it all. She grabbed her head and rubbed her eyes strongly before looking back at the girl and her conscience, trying to force her mind to believe what her eyes where seeing.
      "I'm outta here." Cassidy said upon vanishing like smoke. Venelope paced a bit, trying to get this all through her skull.

      "Okay, okay." Venelope said with her hands out front. Stopping, she took a deep breath and exhaled sharply out her nose. "Rewind a bit, and chopped this down for me, please--" They both went silent as a grunt sounded from deeper within the cave. A rough and scruffy sort of grunt. Not the kind of sound you'd hear from a human. The only things lighting the cave were the auras of the girl' consciences. They etched back as quietly as possible as the grunting grew closer and more consistent.

(3)  "Kill the lights, then shine as bright as you can on my word." The raven-haired girl whispered as the cave then went pitch black. Several seconds went by as they continued tip-toeing backwards towards the exit. Their eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness enough to clearly make out anything, but they knew something... something big, had turned the corner. Venelope' lip quivered with fear. Penelope lightly took her hand to help keep her calm. However, the raven-haired girl was surprisingly composed. No, she was more than that, and though Venelope couldn't see her expression in the dark, it was one pure focus; her conscience' as well. The mouth of the cave was only several steps away now. Venelope tripped over a cluster of rocks and fell backwards. Luckily, Penelope caught her, but Venelope' feet had kicked up some debris and caused a fairly loud clatter of noise. The unknown creature grunted again in response. It was certain something was in its cave. "Now!" The raven-haired girl said as the consciences then lit up the cave. A large bear was revealed. It roared fiercely, sending chills up and down the girls' spines. Due to Cassidy' flames, the cave' frozen mouth had been melted away enough for them to run out easily. Needless to say, said flames yielded a double-edged effect, and awakened the bear from its hibernation. The snow was thick on the ground, but the blizzard itself was over. The bear roared again upon exiting the cave. Now fully awake in a livid state of mind.

       "Come on! Let's go!" Venelope shouted from a fair distance away. The raven-haired girl remained much closer to the bear and eyed it with the same focus as before. "What the hell is she thinking?" She thought to herself. The girl slowly opened and closed her hands. Her back arched with knees bent. Even Venelope could read this sort of atmosphere. Much like a school yard squabble, only now, instead of a simple disagreement being settled. Their lives were on the line. Or rather, in Venelope' mind, only the girl' life was. How could she possibly take on a bear? She was a bit shorter than Venelope and around the same weight. With or without a conscience by her side, the odds still seemed gravely slanted in her favor.

(4)   "I can move... I'm calm..." The raven-haired girl thought to herself as she continued opening and closing her hands. Static electricity became visible around her hands, coming and going every few seconds. Venelope looked on as she then thought about when she shocked Evette earlier. Her train of thought altered to the raven-haired girl' recent words about Lights and Clouds using fire and electricity. She still didn't understand. The entire scenario was jumbled in her head. The snowfall lightened up even more. "I can move. I can move!" She ran at the bear at a speed just over a jog' pace. She stopped just outside the bear' reached as it swiped at her. Growling ferociously, it continued its attack as the girl backed away quickly with several short hops. Just from that short display of skill, Venelope knew this girl wasn't ordinary. But as of late, the same could be said about her. Although, who in their right mind would have the nerve to fight such a beast barehanded and alone? The bear' assault was like a berserker, as one would expect. The girl' evasive skills were unbelieveable as she remained out of harm' way, even if only by mere inches. Ducking a swipe that could've scalped her, she shouted to her conscience. "Whitney, now!" Whitney' body became covered in electricty before firing and striking the bear from behind with a strong volt. As its attention was taken from the raven-haired girl, she struck it with another volt of her own. Whimpering, the bear fled back into its cave. The girl panted lightly with her hands on her knees. She smiled at Whitney who then vanished a moment later.

      "You okay?" Venelope asked as she ran up to the raven-haired girl. "That was freakin' amazing! I can't believe what I just saw." She said containing the full amount of her excitement. The girl stood with a sigh.

      "You could've helped." The girl said staring into the woods. The snow stopped seconds laters.

      "Well, I wanted to, but... honestly, how much could I have done? I'm sorry." The girl smiled faintly.

      "That's true." The girl replied with her smile still present as Venelope showed her own. "You don't know squat about this kind of thing, so it fits." She stared at Penelope for a moment. "That's how I remember you... when you left town." Referring to her longer and wavier hair style.

      "Well, you're not the Gabrielle I remembered, either." Venelope replied as the girl faced her quickly with surprise. Venelope chuckled. "Some where during that fight, I remembered you. I don't know why, it just clicked, finally."

(5)  "You remember anything else?" Gabrielle asked as she placed her hands in her pockets. Venelope shook her head with a nervous smirk. "Mm... I need to sit down for a sec." She sat down on a log as Venelope took a seat on it as well. Venelope rubbed her own arms to build some warmth. "Where'd you move to?"

      "California. I've been living with my-- Holy-- I completely forgot!" Venelope said shooting to her feet. "My uncle and Travis! I forgot about them during all of this. They were caught in the storm with me." She looked around with a worried expression, trying to figure out which way to head.

      "I don't know about your uncle, but I'm pretty sure Travis is all right." Gabrielle answered, throwing more confusion into Venelope' head. "I was near you guys when things went bad. You being the closest." Venelope' expression softened as she listened attentively. "I found your board snapped in two before I found you a few feet away. The wind must've threw you off and made you slam into a tree or rock. I carried you as far as I could before I had to drag you the rest of the way into the cave."

      "Oh... thank you for that." Venelope said quietly. "I guess I owe you."

      "Well, if it wasn't for you heating the cave, we'd both be dead." They chuckled. "But, I did fight off that big-ass bear while you stood around like the paparazzi." She laughed as Venelope smiled bashfully. "So, you did still owe me." She said as she stood up.

      "... 'did'?" Venelope asked.

      "I'll let it slide since you remembered me." Gabrielle replied as both smiled. "I guess I didn't leave a strong enough impression before you moved." Venelope offered a handshake again as Gabrielle accepted this time.

      "We can catch up on our way back? And, maybe, you can fill me in on all this conscience stuff?" Venelope said as Gabrielle sighed with a smile.

      "You are already asking for too much." They laughed as they then started walking.

(6)  Sunrise. Venelope' parents and the other locals began organizing a search. Just as they stepped outside, they saw Venelope and Gabrielle in the distance heading their way. Ray ran to Venelope as fast as his legs could carry him. Lauri smiled with teary eyes as Danny and T.J. stood just behind her. T.J. smiled at Danny, but his face quickly saddened as he saw Danny wearing the same worried face from the night before. Ray reached and hugged his daughter strongly. He was silent, but the warmth of being alleviated from his worries was enough for her to understand.

      "I'm okay, dad. I'm okay." Venelope said softly as she hugged him back while shedding a few tears. He stepped back with his hands on her shoulders to look her in the eyes. He smiled warmly as Lauri made her way over. Lauri hugged her tightly as both smiled and chuckled.

      "I was about to lose my mind." Lauri said still hugging her daughter before stepping away.

      "I'm okay, thanks to her." Venelope said gesturing towards Gabrielle. "I got a bump on my head, but other than that, I'm fine." Lauri turned Venelope around to inspect her injury. "um, this is Gabrielle, guys. She saved my life."

      "We saved each other." Gabrielle said in a common voice. She was trying to avoid being seen as a hero. It wasn't the type of admiration she was comfortable with. Lauri gave her a hug and a 'thank you' as Ray followed suit.

      "Yo, look! It's Travis!" T.J. shouted happily as he pointed at Travis walking in the distance their way. Just behind him was Marvin who had the unconscious Nigel over his shoulder.

      "Oh, yeah." Venelope thought to herself as she looked at Travis. On she and Gabrielle' way back, the latter told her that Travis could also interact with his and other' consciences. A bit later, they arrived at home. Venelope relaxed in a hot bath with her music playing. Absolutely relishing the heat. She couldn't take her mind off of the previous events for long. She zoned in and out from said thoughts to singing along with her music.

      "Everyone just left to the grocery store." Penelope said while remaining invisible. She gave Venelope a spook as they both chuckled after the fact. "I'm sorry."

(7)  "Naw, it's cool." Venelope smiled. "Where are you?" She asked looking around.

      "I thought you'd be more comfortable if I stayed out of sight."

      "Seriously, Pen?" Venelope frowned playfully. "We're the same person, for Pete' sake." Penelope chuckled as she then appeared, sitting on the sink counter. "There. Now we can talk like--" Knock, knock! Venelope froze from the knock on the door, hoping said mystery person didn't hear her talking to 'herself'.

     "Who is it?" Her voice cracked from the nervousness.

     "Travis."

     "I-- I thought you went to the store with everyone else." She said glaring at Penelope who played oblivious.

     "Yeah, I changed my mind." He replied. "We need to talk... before everyone else gets back." He waited several seconds for her reply. "Okay...?"

     "Oh! Yeah, yeah." She answered with a startled jump in her voice. She then heard his foosteps fading away from the door. She glared at Penelope again with a smirk before submerging in the tub. "Ow!" She yelped from the hot and soapy water stinging her head injury before going under.

     Now dressed about ten minutes later, she made her way into the living room. Travis was sitting on the sofa playing a video game on the tv. He paused the game as she took a seat on the other couch. He looked at her for a moment before sitting back with a sigh.

     "I can honestly say, that I would've never guessed that you'd be one of us." He smiled. She tucked her feet beneath her and sat on them. She tried to smother her smile. This was a serious topic and she wanted to approach it correctly.

     "Well, why is it so surprising?" She asked with a blank expression. "Or, is it just surprising to you in general?" He took his glass of juice from the in-table in hand.

     "No, it's not a big deal." He replied. "Just gives me an odd feeling, is all." He took a sip before placing the glass back onto the table. "Well, get dressed. I called Gabrielle and Marvin. We're gonna meet up at the diner so we can talk about this." Venelope had short-shorts, socks and a long t-shirt for sleeping in on. Needless to say, to go out in that kind of cold, thicker clothes were needed.

(8) "What? Gabrielle? You have her number-- wait. Marvin, too?" She said jumbling it all together. Travis walked over to the game console and turned it and the tv off before heading into the kitchen. Venelope followed him, taking a seat on one of the bar stools as he drank half of his juice and placed the rest in the fridge. "Come on! Talk to me." She said fairly loudly.

     "Jesus! Just get dressed like I said." He replied matching her tone. "Your mom' making that bomb-ass meatloaf tonight, and I ain't gonna be late for that." He said leaving the kitchen. Heading up the stairs, Venelope followed him quickly and closely.

     "At least tell me how you made it out of the storm. Give me something!" She said stopping as she threw her arms down with frustration. Travis continued to his room at the end of the hall and closed the door behind him. She exhaled angrily. Arriving at the diner, Marvin walked outside to greet the two. Minutes later, they got into Gabrielle' car with her in the driver' seat.

     "Venelope!" A girl exiting the diner shouted. Venelope was sitting in the backseat beside Marvin. She looked out the back window at the girl. Recognizing the girl, she smiled as she unfastened her seatbelt.

     "Come on. We have plans already." Gabrielle said annoyed with eyes on Venelope via rear-view mirror. Venelope slowed down, but continued unbuckling herself.

     "That's Denise." Venelope replied.

     "Yeah, I know. She's not one of us, so it's not important." Gabrielle said uncaringly.

     "Oh, you're just mad that I didn't recognize you right off the bat." Venelope said with a smirk as she got out of the car and closed the door. Gabrielle turned around to look out the back window at Venelope and Denise chatting before facing Travis in the passenger seat.

     "... get out." She said to Travis with all seriousness. Looking him dead in the eyes, he smiled confusedly.

     "What?" He replied with a chuckle.

     "Either she walks to the spot alone or with you." Gabrielle said with the same unchanging expression.

(9) "Are you serious? That's four miles. Uphill!" Travis said with a fairly serious expression. He wanted to believe she was joking, but he knew Gabrielle well enough to know that that wasn't the case. He opened the door and shouted-- "V, get'chur ass in the car!" Venelope brushed him off with a smile as she continued talking to Denise. Travis closed the door. He sat idle for a moment before he sighed. He scratched his nose and rubbed his face before looking back at the stone-faced Gabrielle. Her Poker face had no trace of a bluff on it. Since Venelope was partially right in saying she was mad about her not being recognized, and Gabrielle having a bit of a temper, to put it lightly. This was her way of getting back at her. The car' tires ripped up the icy pavement upon it taking off down the road. Travis stood beside the tire tracks left behind with his hands in his jacket pockets - pissed. Venelope ran up beside him.

     "What-- what the hell!?" She shouted with her arms out. She looked at Travis who was wearing a face that could burn through lead. Only his eyes moved to face Venelope as her arms dropped. The aura of his anger could nearly be seen as his glare beamed into her eyes.

     "I told you to get'cho ass in the car." He enuciated with the voice of a quiet storm. Venelope was filled with nervousness as Denise etched up beside her.

     "I, uh... I'm sorry." Denise said just loud enough to be heard. "I have a car. I can give you guys a ride." Travis exhaled with closed eyes.

     "No, thank you, Denise." Travis answered in the same tone of voice as before but as politely as possible before he started walking.

     "What're you doin'?" Venelope asked. "She offered us a ride--"

     "I'm pissed off!" He shouted as he continued walking. Venelope froze from his explosion. "I need to walk it off! Damn!" The girls stood speechless as only their heads turned to face each other.

     "Um, just give me your number. I'll call you later, okay?" Venelope said to Denise. As she and Travis had now made some progress down the road, she continued apologizing.

     "No, no. Just stop talking!" Travis said to her.

     "What's the big deal?" Venelope asked. "She just wanted to be a jerk!"

(10) "And I told you to get'cho ass in the car!" He said stopping as he turned around to look at her. "Gabby ain't all 'there' as you can see. When her crazy-ass says something, she usually means it." He said pointing a finger at Venelope. "And when she means it, we have our asses a four mile walk uphill in the damn cold to deal with." He exclaimed as he continued walking. Pow! A snowball smacked him on the back of the neck seconds later. "What the hell!?" He shouted as he turned to face Venelope who was readying another snowball. "Quit it! I ain't in the mood."

      "Too bad!" She shouted with a big smile as she threw the ball. "Yellin' at me like you've lost your mind!" She started scooping up another, but Travis beat her to it." Pow! His snowball struck her shoulder. She fell to her knees laughing before throwing hers. Travis couldn't help but laugh as they continued their battle.

      "You're stupid!" He said with a big smile as Venelope laughed louder. Not too long later, they arrived where Gabrielle and Marvin drove to. It was a large clearing fairly deep in the woods to insure seclusion. The ground had tire tracks imprinted around, showing that they came to this area frequently. A small rusty green shed stood a short distance away with its door chained and locked. In addition to Gabrielle and Marvin, two others, Pablo and Phillis, were at the scene. The two were sitting in Pablo' truck with the heat on. Inaudibly, they conversed happily as Travis and Venelope walked passed the truck. Travis tapped the door upon doing so as the two got out seconds later. Marvin noticed Travis and Venelope had worked up quite a sweat as the two walked up.

      "Pablo said he passed you guys on the way here." Marvin said.

      "Yeah, he offered us a ride. But we decided to run instead." Travis replied. "Gotta good warm up in." He was panting lightly, but Venelope was completely composed. The benefits of her track team training showing. Sitting on a lawn chair a short distance away, Gabrielle eyed Venelope. She walked over a moment later.

      "You still runnin'?" She asked Venelope.

      "Yup." Venelope replied with a mixed expression. She was still a bit upset that Gabrielle ditched she and Travis, but her smile won over her frustration in the end. "So--" She said placing her hands on her hips "--what're we doin' here?"

(11) "All those questions you were trying to ask me at home, you can ask here now." Travis said to her. Pablo and Phillis joined the conversation, standing beside Marvin. Venelope let her hands drop as she tried to remember what she was trying to ask. "To answer how we made it out of the storm... well, more than just that happened, then." Everyone was now seated in lawn chairs. "Me and Marvin are used to the cold, and the blizzard itself wasn't really that serious. The problem... was Nigel."

      "Oh, yeah. Your other friend." Venelope said.

      "Not exactly." Marvin added to Venelope' surprise. Actually, everyone was confused by the statement.

      "Nigel' a Cloud." Venelope was still in the dark about the Lights and Clouds. But everyone else looked even more surprised now.

      "Let's fill her in on that part first." Gabrielle said. Travis gestured at her to continue. "What's wrong with your mouth? It was working just fine a second ago." Her tone with a touch of anger in it.

      "I guess, you could say my feet are hurting too much to continue." He replied with a smirk. Gabrielle was about to respond to the verbal jab when Marvin intervened.

      "Lights and Clouds, that's what we call ourselves." He said to Venelope. "I'm sure you already met one or both of your consciences by now." Venelope nodded. Marvin' conscience appeared beside him, then Pablo, Phillis and Travis' followed suit. All of them emitted the same light as Penelope, who had then appeared a moment later just behind Venelope. She and Venelope smiled at each other before giving their attention back to Marvin. "For obvious reasons, you can see why we call ourselves 'Lights'." Venelope chuckled from Marvin' faint smile.

      "Do they all have names, too?" Venelope asked. "I named her Penelope... after my mom' aunt. She passed away years ago." Penelope smiled with closed eyes. "I just figured I'd give her a name that meant something."

      "Unfortunately, I wasn't lucky enough to have that luxury." Marvin' consciene replied as Venelope chuckled. "He had a bunch of t-shirts scattered around his room when we frist met." He said gesturing at Marvin. "I'm not good with names'. Is what he said. His exact words." Marvin dropped his head chuckling. "He picked up a dirty, plain white t-shirt and said-- 'There. T's your name." The others laughed.

(12) "I never get tired of that story." Travis smiled.

       "So, I'm T." He said with a proudly raised chin.

       "Nice to meet you, T. I'm Venelope." She laughed.

       "Likewise." He nodded. Pablo and Phillis then introduced their conscienses, Mateo and Dawn. Travis introduced his, Vincent.

       "I'm Whitney." Gabrielle' conscience said to Venelope.

       "Nice to meet you." Venelope replied. "This is amazing". She thought to herself. She felt completely at home among these people. Feeling so elated, she smiled until it hurt.

       "Anyway, as I was saying." Marvin said returning to the previous topic. "The Lights, us, have our good consciences as our dominant ones. The Clouds, are the opposite." Venelope nodded attentively. "Until yesterday, we didn't even know Nigel had these powers, or that he was a Cloud."

       "Gabrielle told me the good and bad consciences have different powers...?" Venelope said questionably.

       "Yeah, that's right." Marvin replied. "We don't know how far these powers can go, but we do know they gradually get stronger. So far, none of us have reached a limit."

       "Okay, my eagerness has gotten the best of me." Venelope said enthusiastically. "What kind of powers do we have?" Marvin looked at Travis before they stood along with Pablo and Phillis.

      "Time for some show-and-tell." Pablo said with a smirk. Marvin unlocked the shed as he and the guys then took training equipment out of it.

      "We know the Clouds and us have one power that's the same." Marvin said exiting the shed. "It being this--" He Lifted an 80lbs. punching bag from the ground to eye level with a single hand. "--super-strength." Venelope' eyes widened with awe. Yet again with a single arm, he threw the bag nearly twenty feet with very little effort. Venelope looked on speechlessly as she waited to see if there was anything else left to show, which there was. Pablo stood alone in a clearing. He opened his hands as water began gushing from them. With a flashy spin, he fired a powerful stream at a tree and tore the bark from it. Phillis followed promptly, striking the same tree and spot with a strong wind. The tree shook and swayed as snow fell from its limbs. The crackling of static electricity caught Venelope' attention. Gabrielle walked over and stood before Pablo and Phillis with voltage crawling all over her body.

(13) "I held back on that bear since I was only trying to scare him away." Gabrielle said with a grin. "But this tree ain't gonna be that lucky!" Firing a thick volt, it drilled into the tree before making a large piece burst away. It looked like something had taken a bite out of it. Venelope was standing in the spot where the tree was about to fall in. Just as she was about to run, Travis flew up to the tree and stopped it. Venelope was astonished to see him flying. Frozen in awe, she took in the unbelievable sight with unblinking eyes. Travis cleared his throat after having been holding the tree in place for several seconds.

       "...um, you can still get out of the way!" He shouted down to her. She snapped back as she then scurried over beside Pablo and Phillis. Wham! The tree sounded as it crashed onto the ground. Travis slowly landed seconds later. Venelope couldn't tell which of their powers fascinated her the most.

       "And, uh, since when can you use electricity?" Phillis asked Gabrielle.

       "After I met her--" Gabrielle replied gesturing towards Venelope. "--it just happened. Simple as that. Why are you so surprised anyway? The same thing happened before with me when I met Pablo. That's how I gained the ability to use water."

       "Yeah, that makes sense." Marvin added. "Travis didn't get super-strength until after we were around each other more."

       "Sounds contagious." Pablo chuckled. "Maybe that's all there is to it. Just being around each other long enough to... absorb the same powers, maybe."

       "Maybe." Travis replied. "But we've all had our powers for awhile now, and have been around each other just as long or longer. I've had mine for about two years now."

       "Now that I think about it. I didn't get my super-strength until after I met Gabby, and she had hers months before me." Marvin added. "I meant, her powers in general. Not the super-strength, since she doesn't have that. We've already assumed with the little proof we have, that our powers can awaken those in others, or is it just like Pablo said, and it's just contagious? Can anyone that's simply in close contact with people with these powers get them, or is it just a rare few who have these dormant powers already, and just need that close contact as a trigger to wake'em up?"

       "I don't think so." Venelope said. "...um, who was the first out of you guys to find out they had these powers?"

       "Me." Gabrielle replied. "Then Marvin, then Travis. When the three of us met Pablo and Phillis, they already had theirs. But we've already been over our timelines, and they didn't get theirs until after Travis." The others nodded. "And as far as being 'contagious' goes, they're a prime example."

(14) "That's true." Phillis added. "I got my powers before Pablo, but we had been dating years before so, and we haven't given each other our powers."

       "I'm confused, then." Venelope said as she took a seat back in her chair. The others took their seats as she continued. "I can't say for sure, since you guys seem to be experts at keeping your powers out of the public' eye. But back in California, I don't think there was anybody at my school, or in town, who had these powers. My question being: how did I get them from out of no where?"

       "That's how it is for some." Gabrielle replied. "Me and Phillis were the same." Venelope zoned out as Travis snapped his fingers to bring her back to Earth.

       "What?" Travis asked her. "What were you thinkin'?"

       "...um, it's a crazy thought." She replied quietly with a sigh. "I was thinking that, maybe... Danny has these powers, too." Travis took on a skeptical, though it had a glint of understanding to it. "And maybe that's how my powers awakened. I've been around him for the last six years... so, maybe... I don't know."

       "I think we should focus on the origins of this power later." Pablo said. "Right now, I think we should focus on getting Venelope' powers to a combative level."

       "C-c-combat? What-- what!?" Venelope said shooting to her feet.

       "You're in this now, whether you like it or not." Gabrielle said to her sternly. "It's gotta be one of the Cloud' powers that lets them search others like us out. That's the only explanation I can think of for why Travis and Marvin were attacked by Nigel." Venelope didn't know what to think. "If they found out Travis and Marvin have these powers without them being caught using them. Then, they can find any of us the same way. Meaning, they can find you, too. And if they do find you--" She said stepping up to Venelope "and you're still as weak and clueless as you are right now. You're gonna be easy pickings, to put it lightly."

      "... she ain't lying, V." Travis said subtle but seriously. "Me and Marvin could tell Nigel wasn't just trying to kick our asses and bounce. He was gonna kill us and leave us out there for the blizzard to bury." Venelope sank back into her seat with her eyes on the ground. "If we weren't together... Nigel would've killed us. That's how strong just one of them is."

(15) "It's true me and Travis debated on leaving him out there after taking'im down..." Marvin added. "...but, we just didn't have it in us. It's not in our nature to be that cold."

       "We don't know how many of them there are, and, of course, we're not trying to, or going to force you into this." Pablo said. "But with your help. With another Light on our side... we'll be better at keeping each other safe." Venelope looked at everyone before planting her elbows atop her knees and covering her mouth. She stared blankly into the woods. She felt helpless and a bit scared. She thought having these power wasn't so cool, after all. But what was she to do? Was there any way to avoid such future confrontations? Was she really stuck in this dilemma with no way out?




deviantID

Phiar
Chris D. Phillips a.k.a. Phiar
Artist | Traditional Art
United States
Been drawing since Preschool, if not before. Started growing into my own style around my late teens. I'm in my twenties now and am working on my original comic, 36. Music, I like whatever sounds good to me, giving me a very eclectic mind. I like to stay in shape, and since my love for anime and action alike plays such a role in my life. I practice swordsmanship and acrobatics to stay fit and to simply go banana-sandwich crazy. With that being said, 36 started from just that. My co-creator friend and I would larp (as it's called now; we just called it playing back then), and eventually we started writing and building on our same larp characters. That started around ages 13-15, I think, which is also when I first started writing. Beforehand, I just drew pictures. Anyway, drawing and writing are my passions, music motivates and inspires me, and I love to eat, fight and live in my imagination.
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:icondrchrisman:
DrChrisman Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hello:) long time no see:D
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014   Traditional Artist
Hi. I suppose so.
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:icondrchrisman:
DrChrisman Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
guess you forgot me^^;
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014   Traditional Artist
I don't chat with anyone on here, so of course I wouldn't remember.
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(1 Reply)
:icongreenyeti:
GreenYeti Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch bro :D
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014   Traditional Artist
I just read your first "Comatose 7" chapter on MM. I left a comment.
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:icongreenyeti:
GreenYeti Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks bro :D
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:iconautoclave07:
Autoclave07 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014
Have a llama :)
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014   Traditional Artist
:happybounce: 
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:icongonzain:
Gonzain Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thnk for you watch ;)
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