Today has not felt real since breakfast. No, since before breakfast. Actually, I think I knew something had gone wrong as soon as I came down the stairs and heard my parents whispering. My parents never whisper. Oh, they'll try to be quiet if I'm not up yet, but I always hear them clomping around or rinsing their dishes in the sink. If they were actually being quiet, something was very, very wrong.
I was going to try listening in for a bit, but the stairs creaked. The whispering stopped. I instead kept going down the stairs, trying my hardest to look completely clueless. On the off chance that I was in trouble, it would make defending myself that much easier.
The faint hope that it was something so simple flew away as soon as I saw their faces. My parents had the exact same expressions as the time they had to tell me Uncle Steven had died. They looked at me, then at each other, then at me.
Finally my dad cleared his throat. "Sophia, sweetheart," he said, "you might want to sit down."
I can't remember exactly what he said after that, or which parts my mom added. I just remember the basics. After school Iggy had left to pick up some groceries. Tomatoes. That's right. Apparently they didn't have enough tomatoes for whatever they were making for dinner. When he wasn't back after an hour, Sol ran after him to see what was going on. Pretty soon Sol was back at his house, freaking out because he couldn't find his twin brother. No one at the grocery store had seen Iggy that day. Iggy wasn't answering calls or texts. As they went between the house and grocery store one more time, they finally found his cell phone at the side of the road. That was when they called the police.
They gave me a few minutes to try to calm down before we left for the police station. The police had asked all his friends to be interrogated -- I mean interviewed -- in case they knew anything about where he had gone. All of us ended up excused from school for the day. They didn't ask me many questions. Just when I had last seen Ignatius -- so strange to hear his full name -- whether he had told me where he was going (like he left on purpose or something), and what I had done yesterday. They nodded when I mentioned I had hung out at Jack's house in the afternoon. They must have interviewed him first.
My head was buzzing when they let me leave. In my mind, it was clear what had happened. Iggy was targeted. Whoever was going after supers had gone after him. But why the disappearance? No one else on my list had vanished, just stopped going out as a super. Actually, that wasn't true. My knees started shaking, and it was all I could do to keep walking. Jack had disappeared. How had I missed it? Jack must have been one of the first ones targeted. Power stealing? Power draining? That's why the supers would be inactive while their secret identities went on with business as usual. But why go back to kidnapping after all this time?
I threaded my way back to the lobby. I noticed some familiar faces: other classmates, teachers, neighbors. The Garcias all looked up expectantly as I came out, then looked away in disappointment. Then I noticed Sol shaking -- crying? Was he crying?
That did it. I knew I couldn't contain my emotions, so I ran to the bathroom. For a second I thought I might throw up, but I burst into tears instead. I hid in the stall, leaning against the cold metal wall. The cynical voice in my head told me it was my fault for getting close to someone when I knew they were trouble. The rest of my mind told it to shut up and let me think about helping my friend.
Eventually the debate stopped and I focused on calming down. There wasn't much else I could do. I headed to the sink and splashed water on my face. I was dabbing my eyes with a paper towel when the door creaked open. I instinctively turned to see Wisteria poking her head in.
"Are you OK?" she asked. She came into the room, and gently closed the door behind her.
I didn't trust myself to talk. I knew I would start crying again if I did. I shook my head.
Wisteria hugged me. I hugged her back, grateful for the company. I focused on taking deep breaths. Wisteria kept repeating stuff like "I'm sorry," and "He'll be OK." People say the stupidest things in these situations. "I'm sorry?" Like it was her fault or something? And how could she know Iggy would be fine? I didn't care. It was enough to know that not all my friends were gone.
My parents drove me back after that. They kept talking about the most random things, trying to keep my mind off what happened. It was futile. I was too busy trying to fit together what was going on. The Blue Order, the fire sword, the missing notebook, Iggy's kidnapping -- it all jumbled together in a confused mess. Then I remembered I was also being stalked by a demon's lackey and I had to put my head between my knees for a second. Why did I ever think I could stay safe in this city, let alone lead anything resembling a normal life?
I locked myself in my room for the rest of the day. It took me a while to calm down enough, but once I did I called Jack. I had to get some answers, or at least warn him.
Jack picked up immediately. "You heard about..." he hesitated.
"Yes," I replied. "The police talked to you too?"
"Yes." Silence. "What do you think happened?"
"I think..." I hesitated. Emergency or not, was it right to tell Jack about Iggy being a superhero? It's not that he wouldn't believe me, but Iggy did at least try to keep it a secret. I continued. "I think I want to know if you've remembered anything about when you were missing, or before that."
I couldn't hear anything, not even breathing. "Hello?" I finally asked.
"I'm here," crackled Jack's voice. "Why would you ask that?"
I paused. I knew it was a painful question, but it was one that needed to be asked. "I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have said anything. I just thought maybe they were connected. So... if you remember anything?"
"No... nothing... it's just..."
"It's not even a memory, really. It's just I had this weird feeling that... that I was allowed to leave." He paused, then his words came in a rush. "I didn't want to tell anyone because it's nothing really but I just couldn't shake this feeling that I was a prisoner or something but everyone just thought I got lost but you know about the Blue Order so maybe that really did happen?"
"Yes," I blurted out. "I mean... maybe. Look, this is all really weird, but I looked into that stuff for you, and the Order has been getting a lot more active lately. And..." I sucked in my breath. "And other supers? Like giant robots or the Gemstone Captains? They're getting way less active." I held my breath, waiting for a response.
"But why would Iggy... oh."
I stayed silent.
"...So you think the Order might know something about this?"
"Maybe. I mean... they're normally really secretive, but now they're popping up on some reputable news sources. And you were a member, so..."
I cocked my head sideways. "Wait, what?"
"I'm going to try to meet with them tonight. I need answers, and it sounds like they might have them."
"Be careful," I blurted out.
"What, you think they're dangerous? That I would join people like that?"
"Um..." I stammered. "Well, whoever took Iggy is still loose, right?"
"Oh. Yeah. Of course I'll be careful. And I'll let you know what I find out."
I sighed. "Thank you. Bye."
He hung up.
I suddenly felt tired. I stretched, trying to regain my alertness. I looked out the window and saw Azlyn's house. How was Azlyn holding up? I hadn't seen her at the police station. Guilt shot through me as I realized I should have talked to her as soon as I found out.
Another wave of sleepiness hit, and then I understood. I crawled into bed to take a nap.
My eyes had just closed when I found myself in a garden. This time the sky was dark, and I heard rumbling. Azlyn was sitting at a bare table, and gestured to the other chair. I sat down, but couldn't think of what to say.
She stared at me, then looked down. "So you do remember?"
I nodded. "I didn't want to say anything before..." my voice trailed off. I couldn't talk about that. Instead I stood up. Azlyn did too in surprise, and then I hugged her. Her arms wrapped around me tight. I could feel her shaking, just like I was earlier. I felt a tear trickle down my face. I didn't bother saying anything; it wouldn't matter.
Azlyn's arms loosened, and I sat back down. She kept staring down, but her voice was clear. "We have other things to talk about."
I shifted. "Is this about last time?"
"A little bit." She tried to smile, but failed. "If you remembered then... maybe you can already tell things are about to happen." She looked up. "I have bits and pieces, but Iggy --" she stopped and clenched her hands. "-- Iggy is just part of all this. It's disconnected, but I know some things are involved. The sword. The Blue Order. People being taken? Stolen from?" She paused and screwed up her face. "Oh, and our old biology teacher for some reason."
I felt panic spread against my face. Crap, was Mr. Daemon behind this? Crap, crap, crap.
Azlyn flinched back, startled. "Do you know something about this?"
I broke down and told her everything. I told her about Mr. Daemon actually being a demon, and even the role her mom had played that night. I told her that Harriet and I had been stalked. I told her how I had found out a bit more about the Blue Order and how it might be connected to the sword. I even told her why I had started keeping that stupid notebook and how supers on it were dropping off the map even when they didn't disappear.
"Oh, and sometimes you beat people up in your sleep," I threw in for good measure.
Azlyn stared. "My mom did WHAT!?!?!?!"
We stared at each other, then burst out laughing. It was hysterical, sobbing laughter, but laughter nonetheless. Azlyn calmed down first.
"Sophia, you have got to stop keeping so many secrets from me. Next time something like... like any of that happens, you come to me."
I nodded, squelching giggles. "I just didn't know how you'd react." I thought of Iggy, then stopped cold. "So... what else do you know? Do you know where Iggy is? Will he be OK?"
Azlyn hesitated. "I think so. The other dreamwalkers and I are still cleaning up that... fiasco... but when we worked together we realized that we could actually see some of what would happen. Not by trapping people," she added, holding up her hands. "By working together, watching the... well anyway... what you told me actually makes this a lot clearer." She shifted in her seat. "The Blue Order is guarding the sword. That much we knew already. Someone is going after the sword. Now I know it must be Mr. Daemon. And the sword... I think it's a prison. And whatever they're doing to people with abilities, it's to help the plan along."
I groaned. "So basically one demon is stealing every superpower it can to crack open a sword holding another demon?"
Azlyn nodded. "Seems to be."
"So what do we do?"
Azlyn paused, then looked down and to the side. I narrowed my eyes. That's the look she always got when she didn't want to tell me something.
"What?" I asked. "What aren't you telling me?"
"Well, um..." she stuttered. "I don't know," she blurted out.
She met my eyes, then looked back down. "I'll relay most of what you said to the other dreamwalkers and see if they can figure out anything else, but I don't know how to find Iggy or Mr. Daemon or what we'll have to do to stop him. But I do know we'll both have to try or things go sideways."
I groaned and put my head on the table. "By which you mean that nightmare comes true."
Azlyn nodded. "You said Jack is getting in touch with the Blue Order? You might want to use that to compare notes with them. I do know," she continued softly, "that you should keep a plain vessel on hand, whatever that means."
And before I could ask whether she had suggestions, I woke up. I snuck down to the kitchen, grabbed something to eat, ran back up to my room and wrote down everything in my diary. That brings me to here.
I had hoped writing everything down would make things clearer, but there are still too many questions in my head. I have this nagging feeling that I'm missing something important, something about the notebook. But when I try to remember that missing time... static. I hope Jack is doing better on his end. Or maybe Azlyn will come up with something else. Either way, not much to do but check the news and keep my cell phone handy. Oh, I should call Harriet and let her know that Mr. Daemon is up to something. We were supposed to check in today anyway. Guess this is it for tonight.