TITLE: Nikko's Bond
GENRE: Middle Grade (Sci-fi)
Marni left us during the night.
Constant tremors rippled through her body as she accepted our condolences.
She came to me last.
I knelt in the dust of the yard, taking her stick-like frame in my arms. Her heart fluttered against my chest like a trapped bird, and my throat closed in response.
The anguish in her voice sliced through my soul. I tried to swallow, but the vice-grip morphed into a lump the size of a softball, choking off my words and stinging my eyes.
"I can't hear him, Nikko."
I shuddered. I wanted to be strong for Marni, but the idea of losing my connection to Pherecles terrified me. Bile burned my throat as I fought the urge to vomit. I clutched her tighter, pressing her head against my shoulder.
"Hush," I croaked.
I focused beyond Marni's red curls at the other children. Twenty-one faces blurred as I blinked back tears in the glare of the compound's lights.
"Make it stop, Nikko." Her fingers clawed at my shoulders. "Please."
I swallowed, determined not to let the sobs escape. I sensed Pherecles--his presence woven into my mind since birth--trying to soothe me. His emotions washed through me in an orange wave; assuring me everything would be all right.
But it would never be right for Marni.
Her symbiont was dead.
She clung to my neck, begging me to make the pain go away.
No one could, but I had to try.