Tap, tap, tap.
Incessant tapping roused me from my sleep. Who could that be at this hour?
Claws scraped at my window, as a deep growl filled the room. Okay, that definitely wasn’t a person. The rhythm of the growl seemed to match the one of my name, starting to sound like a chant, “Kathryn Ann Lai, Kathryn Ann Lai.” The pattern changed. “Kathryn Ann Lai, come and join me. I know you are awake.”
My eyes snapped open. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. The red LED lights from my clock flashed ‘12:00’, broken. The stench of wet dog mixed with raw meat filled the room, making me gag. Distracted by the smell, a loud shatter brought my attention to broken glass flying across my room. I attempted to feign sleep, suppressing my flinch, but the putrid odour of dog crept up my nose, choking me. A coughing fit had already taken over before I knew what was going on. I had managed to inhale slightly in between coughs, but only just enough to satisfy my need of oxygen.
For a moment, I had forgotten that my window was open and something was most likely in my bedroom, until a large furry hand - no, paw - grabbed the back of my shirt and hauled me up. The claws dug at the base of my neck and my whole body froze.
I was face to face with a giant snout, matted with dried blood. Finally free from the petrification, I squirmed from its grasp, ripping myself from the claw and backed away slowly, feeling for the rough edge of my bedside table. My hand found the hilt of a dagger. Why was there even a dagger next to my bed? My room didn’t even have anything that could be considered a weapon.
Without any other oncoming thought, I plunged it into the oncoming wolf’s eye. A high-pitched squeal escaped the muzzle of the night-creature as it fell to the floor, presumably dead. With a thud as it hit the ground, the wolf started to transform. A mixture of wolf and human was on my floor, liquid oozing out its eye, where the dagger was still embedded. After the excruciating transformation, the end result was a young girl spread on the floor, around the same age as me.
My eyes widened as I gazed upon the teenager lying before me. Her platinum blonde hair was sprawled all over the carpet, glistening in the moonlight flitting through the window. The dagger protruding from her eye started to pulse and glow and soon, burst into minuscule golden particles. They swirled upwards and vanished as soon as it reached eye level.
It suddenly dawned on me. I was a murderer. I killed someone, but she wasn't human. She couldn’t be. I was filled with mixed emotions, and as soon as I realised this, terror and curiosity started to bubble inside me. Something in my mind urged me to turn and look outside my window. There, outside, was something that brought sense to everything. A full moon.
This wasn't the beginning. All this weird stuff started a few months ago, while I was doing my homework like a normal teenager should be, on a normal night.
I was furiously scrawling down my answers to my history homework, frustrated with my inability to grasp even the simplest of information. Tara could spit out historical facts like a fountain. Meanwhile, I had to slave away for hours on revision. In my frustration, I gripped the pen tighter. Like warming up next to a campfire, the pen emanated a comforting heat, without all the crackling and shooting embers. It was only when smoke started drifting upwards from the pen that I questioned the warmth. My own hand obviously wasn’t even that warm. And right after the smoke caught my attention, a fire sparked its way from the nib. It was a strange colour though, green. I didn’t have time to process this before the fire burned its way up my pen. As it touched my hand, I yelped, startled, though I had felt no burning sensation.
In my panic, pale, silvery water spurted out of my fingers and drowned out the flames on my arm, as well as the rest of my body and the carpet. What could be happening? I needed answers. I shivered in my wet clothes, as a thick, rusty-coloured cloud surrounded me and gently dried me off like an encompassing hairdryer. My initial shock morphed into a wavering confusion, but I was grateful for the brief warmth. Which was soon blasted away.
"Kat, dear," called my grandmother, who just had to appear at my room when I wasn’t prepared for any kind of visitors. She was dressed in her usual attire of flannel, draped in a way such that she seemed lost in a patchwork of quilts. Her wire-framed glasses were delicately perched on the tip of her button nose and her eyes were widened so that they surpassed the rims.
"Do you think my nails look good?” She asked, proffering her nails for inspection. I wasn’t taken aback by this question. I glanced at my clock on the side of my desk. 9:43. Exactly on time. As I stood up to check my grandma's nails, I realised my feet were firmly planted in the floor; they were not just stuck on the surface. My legs had started to sink right through the floor.
"Oh! You probably shouldn’t do that. It might hurt the floor. Imagine someone being planted in your face," tutted Grandma. Despite her lack of sympathy, I heard a hint of worry in her voice. It was probably for the floor though.
"Nonsyrtis," she muttered. I had stopped sinking but I was still stuck in the ground. What had she done? As I squirmed around in my hole, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The same Asian girl I had grown to love over these sixteen years stared back at me. But something was different. Everything was different.
I don't remember how I got out of that hole I made, but I was sure that I did. The proof lies in my room, two leg shaped holes, a perfect cast of the lower half of my body. I looked into the mirror as I had done three months ago. I glanced at my hands, wondering how such power had been conjured. More moments like that occurred sporadically as time progressed. Even the werewolf attack didn’t surprise me all that much.
A soft knock echoed through my silent room. I quickly glanced at the unconscious girl lying on the floor. She looked so fragile and petite. It was a wonder how she was the same thing that attacked me in the middle of the night. I covered her up with a spare blanket from the corner. Hopefully my grandma wouldn’t notice it.
"Is everything alright, Laura?" My grandmother peered into my room.
I sighed, "That's my mum. She died in a plane crash fifteen years ago. Don't you remember, Grandma?" I had tried all these years to get her to remember me, but it was no use. She insisted on referring to me as my parents. The parents whom I never met nor remembered.
"Is that you, Peter?"
"That's your son-in-law, he died with my mum. I'm Kat, your granddaughter, remember?"
My heart drooped every time Grandma couldn’t remember me.
"Kat? Who's Kat? I don't have a granddaughter? Who are you? Get out of my house!" she demanded. She ended this short speech by toddling out of the room, very calmly. It would seem strange to most people, but I had gotten used to it.
A few seconds later, the doorbell rang. I glanced at the clock on my table and wondered who would be visiting at this time. It couldn’t be those guys who continuously rang the doorbell in the middle of the night and wouldn’t leave until I answered the door. They had started doing that to me recently, using different people each night. Why did it have to be me? I didn’t do anything to either of them.
I sleepily trudged down the corridor towards the door. The adrenaline from the werewolf attack had left my body and I was barely awake now. I fumbled my way towards the door and struggled with the doorknob before yanking it open, ready to dismiss the waiting person.
"Please go away and leave me alone.” I just wanted to go back to bed and pretend all of this was a dream and continue living my relatively normal life. When I was about to slam the door in this mystery person's face, he/she, perhaps it, held the door firmly in its hands. I looked upon this person who was blocking the way and there he was. As expected, a guy around my age stood on the tattered doormat and stared right at me, his stern expression unmoving. However, his eyebrows were raised in confusion, as if I wasn’t what he had expected to see. He was dressed in a V-neck white shirt, appropriately matched with jeans, while I was in shorts and a tank top. Not something to be wearing when greeting others.
His hair was set in a style that seemed consciously messy, as if each strand was positioned exactly to achieve that look. All I could think of was that he looked like the stereotypical douche. Someone who would take up the task of annoying me. It was strange that he hadn’t said anything yet. He just stared at me in bewilderment.
When he came out of his trance, he started to read from a slip of paper he retrieved from a pocket, still not acknowledging or greeting me. How rude.
"Is this the residence of Kathryn Ann-"
"Just Kat. I’d really much prefer Kat. You see, the last person who even mentioned that name was a psychotic werewolf, who is now lying dead in my bedroom. Would you like that to happen to you?" It was nice finally getting the chance to threaten one of my persecutors before they took off. I wondered why he hadn’t run off yet. Instead he was questioning me. Surely, he would know that I lived here.
“Damn it, Saskia,” he muttered. “Why couldn’t she just stay in her cage tonight. She knows what happens when she stays out too long.” I didn’t understand anything he just said.
He scribbled something on the piece of paper, but he had no pen. There was something shining on the paper. Before I could ask him about it, he handed me the sheet, whilst asking, "Is all this information correct?"
I looked down at the flowing writing, which couldn’t have been written by him, and started to read it, despite my sleepiness.Name: Kathryn Ann Kat Lai Birthday: 27 November 1996
I looked up at him, hoping for some answers. “I guess so?” Maybe it was my lack of sleep that made me read and ignore things that made no sense.
"Any questions?" he prompted.
“What are you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you obviously came to my house to annoy me like all the other guys have done in the past. Why are you asking me to confirm my name when you obviously know it and where I live. Why am I even standing out here, talking to you?”
“Okay, listen to me,” he said. I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I swear I’m not here to annoy you or anything. I’ve come to you because of what’s written on that paper.”
I glanced back down at it. "Yeah, about that, what the hell is a pwasoon and what's up with the clan thing? What is happening to me?” I was quite irritated. “I’ve accepted enough weird bullshit in my life. I don’t need any more. Just leave me alone!”
"You'll understand once we get to the Academy, and we'd better hurry. That werewolf wasn't the only thing sent out to kill you."
"Kill me..? And you expect me to trust you? I swear you called that werewolf Saskia. If you’re a friend of that werewolf, it gives me more reason not to trust you." By now, I would do almost anything to be able to return to my bed, awaiting my arrival upstairs.
"If I wanted to kill you, I would have done so already." He paused for the dramatic effect. It didn't work.
“Prove to me that you’re not here to disrupt my sleep or kill me.”
He seemed to know what to do immediately. Presenting me with his hand, palm facing up, he brought forth a flickering flame, a stark contrast against the dark surroundings. The light allowed me to see more of his face. It illuminated the structure, emphasising the sharp bones of his jaw, held in firm indignation, certain that he could prove himself to me.
His soft blue eyes were almost pleading, and that was what made me trust him. It wasn’t the flame he produced or the piece of paper I held. It was his expression. But all of this was probably just a dream, and I was intrigued about how this ended, so I decided to go with the flow.
I peered around him. Even though it was dark, I could still make out shapes and there were no cars. No form of transport whatsoever.
"How are we going to get to this 'Academy', then?" Although I had trusted him, I didn’t trust his origins. Those strange words on the slip of parchment came back to me. Nothing made sense. I only knew that he was relatively trustworthy. At least he didn’t try to kill me like that werewolf.
"Oh, finally an easy question I can answer on the spot. We're gonna ride some leaves over there. Might want to hurry though. Professor Torus only gave me a specific time frame to use them and we need to get through the portal before it stops working.
I stared blankly at this guy, whose name I didn't even know. I had to ask him sometime soon. His eyes gave out no sign that he was lying. He moved to the side for me so I could have the first view of the transportation device. I was shocked. He couldn’t expect me to ride to some sort of school on that. He grinned at my expression, causing me to glare at him.
I looked back at him and said, "Before we leave, you’ve got to tell me your name."
"Adrian. Adrian Incaen."