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   Chapter 3 Training the Walker Cassie Wilson Book 2

Training the Walker: Cassie Wilson Book 2 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 16623

Updated: 2018-03-14 10:59

Chapter 3

Once home Cassie dropped her book bag by her desk, took her school clothes from her gym bag, adding them to her clothes hamper. She then peeled off her sweaty clothes, adding them to the top before moving into the shower. Once clean and dressed in her standard at home clothes, consisting of an old pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a cardigan and pair of fuzzy socks, Cassie went to the kitchen in search of dinner.

She pulled a large baking potato out of the pantry and turned on the oven to pre-heat. She poked the potato all over with a fork so it wouldn't explode in the oven and then placed it on the rack inside the oven.

"I forgot to ask about the man with the scary eyes, " Cassie realized as she began assembling the items she wanted to add to the potato once baked. While she routinely saw many strange looking people, she never saw anyone who looked like him.

"Or her, " she conceded as she took out a head of broccoli and cut off a chunk. She returned the rest to the fridge and cut the piece she was using into smaller, bite sized pieces. She put the cut up pieces to the side to steam when the potato was nearly ready to come out of the oven. "Scary eyes could have been female."

Cassie took out a couple of strips of bacon and set them on a frying pan to crisp up so she could turn them into bacon bits. "Of course the lizard man could have been a lizard woman too, " she decided. Something about the creature seemed masculine, but she decided she could easily be wrong. When the bacon was as crisp as she liked, Cassie set the strips onto a paper towel and patted off the grease. When it was cool she would crumble it to top her potato. The bacon settled, she took out a wedge of cheddar cheese and began to grate it.

She set the small mound to the side and realized she still had a little time before the potato was baked. She looked to her bedroom. Part of her wanted to pull out her journal and add the new information she found. Admittedly, it wasn't a lot of new information, but she could add sketches of the lizard man, the wolf man and the cloaked figure to the small volume she kept since the age of eight.

"But I still have homework, " She reminded herself.

As she was predominantly left alone, Cassie usually set her own schedule. She was responsible for not only cooking for herself and making sure basic things like laundry were done, but she made sure she got her homework in on time and kept her grades up. Despite wanting to add images to the book, a life time of discipline and responsibility took over. She retreated to her room, picked up her school bag and took it back to the breakfast bar overlooking the kitchen. Remembering she was quickly running out of workout clothes, Cassie left her bag there and took her laundry to the washer, getting it started before returning to her homework.

Cassie settled herself at the breakfast bar and pulled out her calculus book. Even though she saw the edge of her grandfather's note and itched to read it once again, she ignored it and completed her homework. By the time she was finished and sliding both her notebook and book back into the bag, the potato was nearly ready to come out of the oven. She steamed the broccoli bits and took out a plate. Cassie slid the potato on her plate cut it wide open and began adding her toppings. She started with a dab of butter, then added the broccoli, cheddar cheese and topped it with the crumbled bacon.

Satisfied, Cassie, cleared off the breakfast bar, straightened the place mat and took out one of the linen napkins from the drawer. She folded it into a triangle by her plate, added the silverware and filled one of her parent's fancy wine glasses with raspberry and lemon iced tea. Deciding she gave her dinner enough presentation, she set her plate on the placemat and settled herself in the barstool in front of it. While her meal was a simple one, Cassie still thought about it as she ate, debating what other toppings she could add to the baked potato when she next constructed her personal topping selection. Her thoughts ranged wide and varied from left over chicken to small tofu squares crisped up in duck fat.

"I wonder if it would fully take the flavor of the duck fat or if I'd need to add some meat, " she asked herself as she finished her potato and climbed down from her stool to begin the washing up. She knew she still had a container of duck fat in the freezer from the last time she roasted a duck. "I also have a large supply of potatoes. Adding tofu to the list would be easy."

Realizing that groceries would soon need to be ordered from the local store, after washing up and transferring her laundry to the washer, Cassie composed a grocery list. The small store near their house had a delivery service and as Cassie's groceries typically came from their selections, she long since memorized the phone number. The delivery service kept the store's staff from asking uncomfortable questions about her frequent lack of parental supervision.

"I'll call it in Saturday, " she told herself thinking she had enough food to last until then. Setting the list to the side, Cassie went to her armoire. Currently, her summer clothes were stashed here, tucked away with lavender sachets she made from the herbs growing in the garden. There was one shelf occupied by non-clothing items.

Here was where she kept her selection of cookbooks. Some were written by world renowned chefs and helped her when preparing dinner. One was dedicated to sandwiches and was the inspiration for her school lunches. More of the books were dedicated to baking and pastry. With Bert, Oliver or Ina stopping by on Saturday to help with her lessons, she would need something to offer them.

"My first guests, " Cassie said. She looked over her books as she tried to decide what sort of snack to have available for them. "Well, the first invited guests who I know aren't here to kill me, " She amended.

She pulled her book of French macarons off of the shelf. "I did pretty good with these, " she said as she closed the doors to the armoire and took the book back to her bed. "And cookies sound like a good Saturday afternoon snack." Before settling herself with the book, Cassie peeked under the shawl at the front of the boxes. No metal plates appeared.

"I'll have to check in the morning, " she reminded herself as she climbed onto the bed. She found the first plate on the box shortly after she was beaten by Erra, but she didn't know if it appeared earlier, since she wasn't looking.

"I also don't know if finding it earlier would have let me avoid the beating or if I would have just been scared waiting for it." Cassie shook slightly, her mind replaying the terrifying look of rage etched into Erra's face as he attacked. "I wouldn't have seen any similarities between the dancer and me if I saw her before the attack, " Cassie reminded herself.

She wasn't sure how she felt about guides that would only help her out after she took a beating, and her thoughts turned dark, fear rising as she thought about what might have to happen to trigger the other guides into appearing.

"Too quiet, " she decided. Cassie reached for the remote and turned on the television. The noise filled the room making her feel not quite so alone and she automatically turned the channels until she found a survival themed broadcast.

"Why is it they always look either cold or about to pass out from heat exhaustion?" Cassie asked herself as she watched a sweat drenched man traipsing through the jungle, talking about poisonous snakes for the at home audience. "Don't they have adventures in temperate climates?"

Cassie watched the show for a moment and then reached into her night stand to take out her notebook. In addition to other things, she was keeping a list of things she needed to either know or add to her survival pack. She added 'book about snakes' under 'book about mushrooms' and then closed the notebook, setting it and her pen aside as she picked up her book and tried to decide what sort of macarons to make for her visitors.

The evening passed quietly, Cassie moving her attention between the show and the book. When it was time for bed, she put her book on the desk, washed her face, brushe

d her teeth and changed into pajamas.

"I'll finish the last of my left over chicken for lunch tomorrow, " she reminded herself as she realized she hadn't picked out a recipe to make. Satisfied everything she needed for the next day was done, Cassie made a circuit through the house, checking each of the locks to make certain they were bolted down. She frowned at the back door. While she was always careful to lock the doors, her checking became more obsessive after several break-ins. The back, garden door was always the point of entry.

Oliver told her it was the only door Enki could figure out how to unlock without breaking something and suggested she change it. While she agreed in theory, reality was somewhat different. If she was going to replace the lock, she needed an explanation why. People didn't randomly start adding new locks to doors unless they had a reason to believe the locks they had were inadequate. While she knew this lock was not up to the task of keeping Enki out, technically she shouldn't have known he was there at all.

Cassie made certain the lock was thrown and walked back to her bedroom. There she closed and locked her bedroom door. Its lock was weaker than the one on the garden door, but if anyone opened it, she was pretty sure she would be able to hear it. It might not give her more than a seconds worth of warning but even a second was better than nothing.

She put her thoughts about locks out of her mind as she turned off the lights and the television and slipped between the sheets. In the darkness, Cassie closed her eyes and drifted off into sleep.

In her dreams she found herself standing in what she thought of as the map room. All around her were flickering lines. It looked as though they were cut into a sheet of heavy black material and a flickering light was placed behind. This was what she thought of as standby mode. She knew that if she named a destination then the line leading to that destination would glow a brilliant gold while the others faded to pencil sketches on the black cloth. If she grabbed a hold of that line she would be whisked off to a location. Each location had a specific symbol etched onto it and Cassie long since memorized the lines and curves of that symbol.

At first she thought that the symbols were placed where gates were located since, when she traveled to those places, she could usually hear the hum of a gate. Then she marked the symbol on the underside of the window sill in Mr. Babbin's office and found she could travel there to listen to him plot and scheme while he and Skadi tried to find anyone who might be a Walker. She still wasn't sure why her line was silver and the others were gold, especially as she found other lines that connected to places other than gates and they were still gold.

"As usual, so many questions, so few answers, " Cassie mused to herself. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of the questions she was going to be able to ask Oliver, Ina, and Bert. They didn't know she was the one opening gates remotely and she didn't plan to tell them. As the lines in the map room were helping her with that, she knew she couldn't discuss them. Cassie shook the thought away and tried to decide where to go first.

"The Gray Cat, " Cassie decided.

She spoke the thought out loud. The line that would take her to the bar the others like to congregate glowed a brilliant gold as though made of liquid metal. All other lines faded to a dull charcoal gray. Cassie grabbed the line and felt as though something hooked her behind her belly button. She flew forward faster than a thought. Although she felt as though she was moving, there was no wind and her hair lay flat against her back. She still felt as though she was riding a rollercoaster and she enjoyed the feeling during the short time it lasted. At the end, she slammed to a halt where the symbol was etched.

This particular symbol was carved high above the back bar and Cassie felt as though she was a pair of eyes glued to the wall. She knew there were several other symbols placed around the bar, enabling her to flit around the room eavesdropping at will. At first she felt a little sneaky about eavesdropping on private conversations, but as most of the bar's patrons routinely walked around hiding their presence from everyone else, she decided she was willing to be sneaky to even out the scales.

She surveyed the bar below and was glad she decided to make this her first stop. "Although I wish I got here sooner, " she decided as she took in the action below. Instead of looking at patrons, drinking, talking or even arguing, she saw that the center of the bar was cleared out, the tables and chairs pushed to the side. The reason was immediately evident. In the cleared off space, Oliver Dana and Enki circled each other, each sizing up their opponents. Both were stripped to the waist, their bodies slicked with sweat. One second they were circling each other, the next they were diving forward, grappling as though it was a wrestling match.

"Although not a regulation one, " Cassie said to herself as Oliver punched Enki in the belly. Enki kicked out at his knee. Cassie could only stare as the two fought. Their movements were swift and sure. Few blows actually landed as both opponents were good, but when they did it was clear this was neither a friendly sparing match nor an exhibition of skill. Each man seemed intent on doing as much damage to the other as possible.

"I wonder if Enki managed to get into Oliver's building." She was certain that would make him made angry enough to fight.

All around them, people cheered the combatants on. Some clearly chose sides, others cheered indiscriminately applauding any good move made by either fighter. Cassie looked around and saw money changing hands as people placed bets on the outcome. As Cassie looked around, she saw the cloaked figure from earlier sitting off to the side, watching, but neither participating in the gambling nor the cheering.

Noticing the figure was sitting near one of the other carved symbols, Cassie concentrated on it and felt her position shift as her sight relocated to the new vantage point. It took her a while to get used to being a pair of bouncing eyeballs, but she thought she was getting the hang of it. From her new position she studied the cloaked figure. This close, she could see it was male. The cloak looked more like a darker mahogany type of brown rather than black when viewed up close, which made him look less like the grim reaper. In all he looked fairly normal, at least he didn't have a beak or slitted snake eyes with a long forked tongue. He looked like an average human and she wondered what she would see if she was to touch him.

'After all, to be here you have to be other and any one of the others who don't look strange show me someplace else when I touch them, ' Cassie frowned and wondered if any of the others who did look strange would show her other places as well. Since she could see they were other, she never actually touched one of them. She left the question for later and studied the strange man.

He had dark hair and tanned skin. Cassie couldn't tell if his skin was tanned because he spent a lot of time in the sun or because his skin was naturally a tan color. 'The eyes aren't normal, ' Cassie thought as she looked. While dark, almost black in color, whenever the man drew in breath they glowed a warm red like hot coals in a fire when someone blew on them. 'That's certainly noticeable.'

The man tilted his head as though hearing something and a slight frown of concentration creased his forehead. He looked around, his gaze flitting around the room and Cassie wondered what disturbed him. She let her eyes follow his gaze and realized with a start that he was looking at the symbols. He turned his attention to the one she was looking through and she froze as those dark eyes looked as though he was staring right at her. She held her breathe as he studied the symbol. The frown lines disappeared and the man smiled and winked at her.

'Home, ' Cassie thought in a panic, shutting her eyes. She felt the whooshing sensation of movement and a second later opened her eyes to find she was back in her own bed.

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