“You’re one of those terrorists, aren’t you?” Came the childlike question from the back of the car.
“Is that what the news calls us?” The driver asked, glancing up to the rear view mirror to see the young girl nod, her face very grave as it was framed between dirty-blond braids.
“Well, we don’t see ourselves as terrorists. After all, we rescued you from those monsters, didn’t we?” He asked, eyes going back to the road as they drove.
“But the news said you do bad things like blow up cars and buildings.” The girl commented, clinging protectively to her seatbelt.
“That’s certainly true, but the reason for the act justifies it. Well, at least that’s how I see it.” She was talkative, he gave her that. Some of the children they had rescued on these missions were incoherent from bouts of heavy sobbing. It made a pleasant change.
“What are you going to do with me?” Her hands gripped the patterned ribbon of the seatbelt tighter, folding it in half.
“We’re criminals by necessity, not monsters. You’re not going to be harmed.” He reassured her, the stolen car they were in zipping down the narrow and winding lanes of rural Yorkshire.
She puffed her cheeks out and gave the back of his chair a look with furrowed forehead. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“You’re a sharp one, you know, Kid?” The driver laughed. “Alright, I’ll tell you if you tell me something; what do you know of the Black Fog?”
“It’s something that happens up here, it sweeps in from the Northlands and sometimes people who are in the affected areas disappear.” It was something known to all school children in the north of the country from an early age, infrequent as far south as they were, but it still happened.
“That’s only the half of it, Kid. It’s not a natural thing, or something that is just a phenomenon. That’s how they propagate.” He said, his voice tight and grim.
“They? Propagate? I don’t understand…”
“The Dark Ones. They come out of the Northlands at night, cloaked in the Black Fog. They take kids of all ages, those who have the gift. And they turn those kids into Dark Ones. The more there are, the more they’ll spread south, which gives them more to spread quicker. They’re vermin. And the Government does nothing, because they don’t want to offend the Grey Ones in Wales and Cornwall. And that’s why we target the government, blow their buildings up and kill their complicit little drones.”
The little girl huffed. “I don’t understand some of what you said, and you haven’t answered my question from earlier. What’s gonna happen to me?”
“Sorry… I’ll get someone to explain it to you when we get there. As for what’s going to happen, like I said, we’re not monsters. And you’re special. You’ve got the gift.” Taking one hand off the wheel, he offered it back to her. After a few moments, a small ball of blazing white light appeared floating just above his palm, like the fire he had used to drive off the fog earlier. Tentatively, she held her own palm out, a much tinier ball of light appearing as a spluttering little orb.
“We’re going to train you. If your parents survived the attack on your house… we’ll get them to come too. I hope they are, but often… we’ll train you how to use this amazing gift, to save others like yourself, to fight the Dark Ones, hell, to fight the Grey Ones if they complain.” Putting both hands back on the wheel, he drove in silence for a while, leaving the child to her tears. He hadn’t intended to put that fear into her. His tongue had just slipped.
“Momma and Daddy said I shouldn’t use my gift…” She spoke quietly, looking down at her bare feet.
“They usually do that. They worry that using it acts like a beacon to the Dark Ones. It doesn’t, but… they just want to protect you.”
“Because I can… am I like them?” Her voice was very small,
“The Grey Ones might think you are, but they’re wrong. We’re few, and hunted, but we’re not monsters. We’re Light Ones. And light is good, unlike scary darkness.” He said with a forced laugh, passing back a blanket that had rested on the passenger seat. “It’s cold in the car, especially for someone in her pajamas. Put that over yourself. I give you my word though: We’re benevolent. And you’ll be safe with us.”