Chapter Eight, Sights of Darkness

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Bennie opened the window to let out the smoky smell that kept filling her room after every bout she had with the fire technique she was unsuccessfully using to get over...It. The flames she needed kept getting so big she risked setting something on fire, yet the small ones weren't helping her at all since it felt like play-acting in comparison to what she had reacted with that night almost a week earlier.

Her alarm went off. It was time for daily soccer practice part two, Guardian style. Bennie left the house; her mother's dislike of the ongoing training could be felt even without the sense enhancers.

Sean met her outside. Since that first night after she surprised everyone at the school when they thought she was grounded and not coming, Perce had asked Sean to swing by and pick her up in his car. Then, from the school Sean was also be flying her, in full gargoyle form, straight to that place called Pelanca for practice. Perce had found an indoor field or something where he could make it hot and bright as the Texas midmorning even when everything was dark or at a different time of day, since Pelanca's time apparently ran so unevenly with Earth's. Bennie played soccer again and again until she could feel the field and team as well as she ever could see them. It was definitely helping her cover her tracks on the real soccer field during the day time.

Bennie would have loved to cover so well with her friends or at home. Both her friends and her mom were beginning to notice that her eyes always seemed dilated whenever she would actually look at them, and people were getting on her case for not finishing up her summer reading.

I'd just get someone who knows my problem to read to me but that would be cruel to them and I have to find some solution for during the school year--

Perce blew a whistle. The "team" he had conjured up, or programed, or whatever he did to create two full soccer teams began moving. They were so like to her real team mates that she no longer needed them to shout for her to know who was whom. She could tell simply by listening to the way they breathed which person was closest and who they were. Along with that, the heat bothered her less and less each day as the extra potion took effect.

But Bennie wasn't "100%" yet. She was now able to locate the ball on the field but she couldn't always keep tabs on it, or all the players, friend and foe, and her range of observation was still very limited. Today her problem was the ball coming to her by surprise right near the beginning of the game, and the tall, strong-kicking nameless opponent who kept coming up at an angle and stealing it before Bennie knew what had happened.

"Try not to focus so much on every team mate of yours once you have the ball, Bennie," Perce said. "You need to keep a radius of awareness around you so you can tell when someone's coming up."

"I feel like I'm learning self-defense, not soccer." Bennie groaned as she got up off the floor from where she'd fallen when her foot hit empty space instead of the ball.

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