“Hello! Willow! Are you feeling OK?”
“Huh?” I snapped out of my day dream. “What? Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You’ve been acting strange lately.” Aiden admitted.
“Thanks, fills me with confidence.” I said sarcastically.
We were sat in Aiden’s expansive bedroom attempting not to fall asleep while reading Act 3 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet for the fifth time.
“I’ll read that bit again then.” Aiden muttered.
I tried to listen but I found my mind wavering. Staring out of the open window at the starry sky I almost actually fell asleep.
“Ok, time for you to go home.” Aiden said as he slammed his Romeo and Juliet script shut.
“What? Why?” I asked.
“You’re obviously tired; you’re not even registering a word I’m saying. I’m taking you home.” He said.
“I don’t need a body guard.” I argued as he pulled me to my feet.
I slipped my script and exercise book into my shoulder bag and followed Aiden out of his room and down the stairs.
“I’m just going to drop Willow off home mum!” Aiden shouted into the living room as we went past.
“Okay darling!” She shouted back.
“Make sure you don’t get attacked by the bogie monster.” Aiden’s older brother said sinisterly as he left the living room. He was a lot taller than Aiden, with wispy blonde hair and dazzling eyes. His build was quite muscular in comparison to Aiden.
“I won’t, Jack.” Aiden replied as he opened the door for me gentlemanly. “My lady.” He said humorously, with a low bow.
“Why thank you sire.” I answered with a curtsey.
“You’ve been studying Romeo and Juliet far too long.” Jack muttered behind them.
“Bye Jack.” Aiden smiled as he shut the door.
“It’s getting chilly out here.” I commented as we trudged down the driveway.
“It’ll be winter soon.” He agreed.
There was an awkward silence as we walked slowly along the street. The quiet was only interrupted when a group of teenagers came down the street towards them larking about and generally being noisy.
It was only half past seven but it was still dark. The only light came from the lampposts which were spaced at regular intervals along the path, their light spilling out in small pools at their base. The moon was hidden behind clouds meaning there was only a faint silvery glow.
It seemed to be getting colder the further we walked, as if it was behind us, creeping up on us gradually… I spun around quickly. I had not imagined the shadow flicker across one of the pools of light cast by the lampposts. I had definitely seen it. Or had I? I scanned the street frantically but there was no sign of movement.
“What is it?” Aiden asked, he’d only just noticed I’d stopped.
“Oh, nothing, I just thought I heard something.” I said dismissively.
“Okay then, if that’s all.” He didn’t sound convinced.
Soon we arrived at my house and Aiden walked me to the door. I took out my key and unlocked it then stepped inside.
“I’ll you tomorrow yeah?”
“Huh?” I had to try and stop daydreaming.
“Never mind.” He said as he turned to leave.
“You’re not going to walk home by yourself are you?” She asked.
“Yes, is there a problem with that?” He was eager to get going.
“But it’s dark and-”
“I’ll be fine! Stop your worrying and go to bed!” He sighed as he walked down the driveway and waved goodbye.
But I still felt a little nervous and had to run up to my bedroom window to watch him walk home, just in case. Something had been following us. But what?
“So, can anyone tell me the chemical formula for the reaction between magnesium and hydrochloric acid? Anyone?”
To be honest, I wasn’t listening. Chemistry wasn’t that bad, but when Mr. Jayree is teaching us I’d rather be in double Maths, and I’m not joking.
Mr. Jayree has an oversized nose and beady eyes like a hawk. His white beard is long and tangled, and his puffed up hair reminds me of Albert Einstein. You probably think of this as a stereotypical view of a chemistry teacher. But that is what he genuinely looks like. He also always wears a long white coat with a pen in the top pocket, but he always forgets it’s there.
“Willow, you seem to be enjoying yourself daydreaming far too much.” Mr. Jayree grinned at me, and when he gins like that, you want to run half a mile in the opposite direction.
“Magnesium and hydrochloric acid go to make magnesium chloride and hydrogen.”
“Ye-yes. Correct, well done.” He said.
I smiled to myself. For some reason teachers always think I’m not paying attention, when I actually am. I’m sure our school got its teachers from a teachers bring and buy sale.
It was then I saw him. The mysterious boy from art class. He was leaning against the doorframe in a casual manner. His hands in the pockets of his torn jeans, his black jacket hung open, showing a plain, grey t-shirt. He smiled at me across the classroom, a smile that would melt the heart of any girl.
I felt a sudden urge to point him out to Aiden but he would probably say she was imagining it anyway. I looked to Mr.Jayree but he was busy writing a formula equation on the board. When I looked back to the doorway, the boy was gone.
Was he the person following me? No, he wasn’t. That feeling of being watched I’d felt the night before was different, imposing and cold not warm and welcoming.
I hadn’t taken in anything the teacher had said but gathered from the rush of people milling about the classroom that we were doing an experiment.
“How do you do that?” Aiden asked while we set ours up.
I shrugged. “Do what?”
“Know what the question is and the answer even when you’re not listening.” He said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“But I was listening.” I said.
“Yeah, sure you were.” He said sarcastically. “It was probably those insanity powers you have.”
I was about retort when something outside caught my eye. There was somebody, or something, standing there, in the shadow of the trees. As I began to walk towards the window for a closer look, someone dashed in front of me. When they’d passed, the figure was no longer there.
“So, are you coming?”
Aiden was trying to persuade me to go to some cool kids’ party down town where they play music at full volume, get drunk and vomit on the carpet. We were just walking out the school gates at the end of school, fighting through the impossible large mob of chatty school kids.
“I don’t think so, we don’t belong there.” I replied.
“But it’s going to be amazing!” Aiden exclaimed. “Katy Smith is hosting it, the prettiest girl in the school!”
And for some reason that last sentence felt like a poison tipped arrow in the heart.
“Come on, please! Katy asked me directly and she told me that you could come to!”
Oh great, so now I’m the tag-along.
And now he’s doing the puppy dog eyes.
“Fine!” I gave in.
He grinned at me. “See you at six, I’ll pick you up and we can go together.”
“Yeah, sure.” I said, but he’d already turned down his road.
The heat was overwhelming. The music blaring out of the speakers was so loud I could barely hear what Aiden said before he melted into the crowd. I felt very self-conscious; I’d never been to a big party before, especially a cool kid’s one.
I’d spent half an hour getting ready. A strapless, cream mini-dress, tan coloured tights and gold mini heels was all I needed, and a small splash of neutral make-up. But the girls here were in my opinion dressed ridiculously in see-through tops and fishnet tights with so much make-up on their faces that it looked like they’d had plastic surgery.
The room everyone packed into was probably the living room, but it was hard to tell with the mass of bodies packed together like sardines. I tried to worm my way through the crowd, receiving many disgusted looks from some people. I tried standing on tiptoe to see if I could find Aiden but everyone else was far too tall for me to see over.
There were lasers from special effect machines making patterns on the wall and gobo lights made the room seem dark with splashes of multicolour lighting.
I had to get out. I couldn’t take it, the heat, the music. It was all too much.
I pushed through the crowd and into the kitchen where a group of boys much older than me were dragging out boxes of beer and other alcoholic beverages from the cupboards. They called to me as I passed but all I was interested in was the back door in front of me that led out into a large garden.
I collapsed on the patio steps, panting. I could still hear the pumping music but it wasn’t so loud out here. The cool night air was refreshing and the breeze that ruffled my hair was like a blessing.
My heart skipped a beat. I stepped up slowly and made my way down the steps onto the lawn. I looked around frantically. Had I imagined the rustle in the bushes? No, I must have imagined it, I told myself. Hurriedly, I turned away to go back inside.
“So we meet at last.”
I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. My throat felt dry as sandpaper and I instinctively took a step back. I had no doubt that this was the person who had been following me.
“Don’t be scared.” His voice was patronising, but was also tinted with a hint of charm. I estimated he was only a year older than me, but his stance and presence made him seem far older.
His dark hair hung around his face, straight down to his broad shoulders. His face was smooth with angular features. There was a silvery red scar running down his cheek like a river tributary. His eyes were a cold grey, empty of warmth like they’d been starved of colour. His thin lips were pale like dry petals on his sickly, pale skin. He wore a long, black leather coat with a silver glove on one hand. His tight-fitted trousers were tucked into his black boots. His bare chest was muscular and laced with sweat, white markings traced across his skin like intricate patterns that seemed to be moving. Around his waist was a thick belt, hanging from which was a cruel-looking flail mace, made of a hard black metal. The chain rattled as he stepped closer to her. He stood two heads taller than me, towering over me imposingly.
“Wh-who…” I stuttered. I couldn’t move, I was frozen to the spot; my beating heart seemed louder than the music in the house.
“Who am I?” He chuckled. “That is irrelevant. What is more important is who you are.” He said, pointing his finger at me like I was some kind of criminal. The way his spoke made me shiver. It was like he knew everything about me and knew exactly what would make me tick.
“Oh really, then why didn’t you just murder me quickly and check the nametag on my dress.” I spat sarcastically.
“Hmmm…you’ve definitely got some spirit.”
“You really need to get a new stylist.” I retorted.
“And you really need to get some manners.”
“I think you’ll find I already have manners.” I said haughtily.
“Is that so?” He didn’t sound convinced.
I flinched as he took a step forward and reached out, running his finger along my jaw, caressing my skin, obviously enjoying my discomfort at his icy touch. I wanted to scream, to step away from him but I couldn’t. He moved his hand down so that he was holding my neck, so very gently that it seemed so strange from a fierce looking man.
I felt a small stab of pain as he dug his nails into my shoulder. I could feel the trickle of blood down onto my dress. I winced as he withdrew his nails. My shoulder felt like it was burning, the indents in my shoulder oozed red blood.
I tensed as he leaned so close that his face was almost touching mine. So close that I could feel his freezing breath on my cheek. I closed my eyes, afraid of what he might do.
But he just whispered. “I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again.”
I opened my eyes slowly as his body gradually transformed into a swirling black mist that drifted off into the sky.
Then I ran.
TO BE CONTINUED....