In Dreaming Reality

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Unshackled

Christmas passed. It was a nightmare. Angela and Mike bought me tons and tons of presents, spoiling me as per usual. Trying to buy back my affection, or trying to keep me from telling Anna the truth-- I don’t know which bothered me more... Anna didn’t get me anything, but just to show her I didn’t hate her I did get her a gift; knee high socks, a tuque, gloves and scarf which all said Team Bella on them. She didn’t comment as she took them, nor did she thank me for them. All in all I was glad that Christmas was over. Normally I loved the Christmas time, but this year was just stressful. By the time January finally rolled around I was anxious to get back to school.

Without Topher’s grubby hands attached to me, I was hoping to at least make a few friends, but I was slightly concerned as I hadn’t spoken to Marissa since she had phoned me to tell me about school being cancelled. It was highly possible she was avoiding me because she was afraid of Topher-- and I didn’t blame her; a part of me was afraid of him as well-- but I was also wondering if he had threatened her in some way-- told her not to speak to me until I came crawling to him begging for him to make me mine… THAT was never going to happen; but I did want Marissa in my life-- her and Sebastian; they were my only two friends in the entire school-- and Claire had finally stopped messaging me so I didn’t even feel like I had her in my life anymore-- which stung more than I had thought it would.

When the first day of the new semester rolled around I decided I wasn’t going to wait around to see if Marissa was going to come pick me up. Dressing as warmly as I could I threw my binders into me purple messenger bag and tromped out my door a good two hours before I had to be at school. It took me just under forty five minutes to walk there, and I felt like an icicle when I finally entered the main school building. It was strange to be here so early, it seemed like the only people here, were teachers-- and they were the creepiest of all seeing as that they all looked too young to be teaching and had the most bizarre contacts of all times. They never spoke to you directly or looked anyone in the eye… I often shuddered when I walked into the class because of the way they looked like statues sitting behind their desks as we filed into our seats; only moving when they had to, and always with such poise that I felt like my posture was continuously bad.

I walked down the long white hallway and quickly deposited my things into my locker before heading toward the school office to ask if maybe they would give me my new schedule to look over for this new semester. I’d have to be really diligent now since I didn’t have anyone to show me where everything was-- memorize where rooms were etc. I’d have to find my own way around the school if I was to ‘stay alive’ this semester as Topher had put it. As I entered the office I noticed a tall blond leaning over the desk looking at something the secretary was showing him, probably a new time table. From the back he looked like Topher, and my heart gave a small squeeze. I didn’t want to see him. But when the boy turned around I knew it wasn’t Topher, he had a different grate to him, and his eyes were green, his eyes which narrowed to slits when he saw me. Sticking his nose in the air and tossing his head, he took his schedule and swinging his brown side bag closer to himself he walked around me like I had a disease and left the office. Frowning I marched up to the front desk.

“Who was that?” I tried to ask politely even though I felt extremely insulted.

The secretary was typing away on her computer but briefly paused to look up at me. “That.” She said as she blinked huge wide baby blue eyes at me. “Was a new student.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Oh,” was all I managed to reply, even though she had now gone back to her clicky clack typing. Well that was interesting-- Dean Melrose had made it sound like there were never any new students here… Like ever.

I cleared my throat. “Actually the reason that I came in this morning was to ask you if I could have my new class schedule for the term.”

The secretary minimized the window she had been typing in and opened another, then she looked up at me again. “Name?” She asked, seeming rather annoyed.

“Genevieve Pradora.”

The secretary nodded, her mouth pressed into a thin line. A picture came up of me and a little blurb, I leaned in closer wondering what it said, but she scrolled down and clicked on a link which said, second semester. A schedule popped open and she hit print. From behind her the printer whirred to life and as the secretary shut all the windows that she had opened the printer spat out my schedule. The secretary spun her chair around and handed me my schedule, then she went back to her typing. I rolled my eyes and left the office. Where was good help when you needed it...

The school was still pretty empty but here and there pockets of students were beginning to arrive, not that made me feel any better. I still felt like I was surrounded by people in wigs and insane costumes; which was a thought pattern that wasn’t going to help me make friends. I’d have to learn how to blend in better -- I was already somewhat able to do that at the Club; but here at school where skanky was skankier I wasn’t sure I would even be able to get out of my house without severe comments from both Angela and or Mike. I glanced at my schedule and decided to head to my homeroom. I noticed I had been given a new homeroom classroom which I thought was super strange, and tried not to wonder why. Had Dean Melrose thought I should be in the same homeroom as my friends? Marissa had asked if we could be-- but that had been before she had stopped talking to me… And the Dean had been super strict with me up to this point, telling me several times over that students were not allowed to transfer homeroom classes mid way through the year-- so this was weird.

Curious, I wandered down the halls pointing myself in the right direction I found myself entering one of the older buildings-- the one that appeared on the outside to be a broken down ivy covered building-- an area of the school I had never explored but had really wanted to. When I had been out with Topher one particularly boring night in October when Topher was going on a really long rant about the service at Red Robins -- I had tuned him out and instead imagined that I was at the school and there was mist and I was wearing a blue fur coat sneaking through the ivy-- looking for the hidden door like the girl in Secret Garden; though she hadn’t been wearing a blue fur coat and I couldn’t remember if it was misty out when she discovered the garden. I had been convinced from the first day of school that these outer buildings hid things; secrets… strange people… I don’t know, it made sense at the time. Now that I stood in front of them on a really cold day I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out any more secrets or hear anything or see anything else strange. I just wanted normal -- like the normal girl that my parents wanted to come home this summer; I wanted her, before the lies and the creeps and before Acroft. Couldn’t I just pretend and it would all go away?

Lost in my frustration another student brushed by me and opened the door, disappearing inside the recess of the dark decrepit building. Well, there wasn’t anything else for it-- might as well head into the building myself to check it out. Obviously the doors weren’t locked like I had originally thought-- in fact they pushed inward much easier then I would have expected on such an old building. It was like they actually maintenanced the building regularly but just let it have the appearance of decay and age. After entering the building I found myself in an open foyer with painted royal blue and dark grey brick walls and a staircase ascending into a dimly lit hall with several windows to the outside, or a staircase leading down into a very poorly lit hall with lights that unfortunately were flickering. I glanced again at my schedule, breathing a sigh of relief that my classroom number would be located above ground. I headed up the stairs, it was darker in this building then the main school building despite the windows and sky lights that popped up every so often because of what looked like green foliage obstructing the light. The only lights I could see were hanging shaded lamps down the center of the ceiling casting a very pale glow on the grey halls.

The hallway was narrow unlike the broad hall of the other building, so narrow only two people could probably walk side by side. One side of the hall was lined with lockers the other was classroom door after classroom door and it seemed that no matter how far I walked it looked exactly the same which gave you that feeling you get when you look in front and behind you and it’s all the same on either side and for feel like you’re not going anywhere… I eventually tried a few classroom doors, merely because I wanted a change of scenery and to maybe throw up out the window to quell the nausea this hall was creating in my stomach. All the classroom doors I tried were locked. I tried to peer into several with no luck either because of the frosted bubbly glass that covered the door windows; a few even had blinds which were pulled down so you couldn’t even see light from within the rooms at all.

I kept walking glancing from time to time at room numbers-- I’d reached the end of the first hallway, which tuned and was the exact same thing all over again-- here though there were less lights and the beginning of what looked like an abandoned wing with cobwebs blowing near some ceiling vents. I tried not to frown and looked down at the paper in my hand to make sure I had not read the homeroom number wrong as I continued to walk down another empty endless hallway. The air was colder here than the rest of the building; all the vents seemed to be on-- and I swear I could see my frosted breath as I breathed in and out trying not to freak out. A light was on in a classroom along this hall -- I tried the door and instead of it opening the side of someone’s face bashed up against it; I jumped then ran forward almost passing out from relief when I finally saw an open door just ahead.

FINALLY.

I’d at last reached my destination-- must have taken me like an hour to find it though, and now I was going to be marked late. I walked a few more paces and looked at the numbers on the doors, yup I was in the right spot. Still found it really odd that it was the only door that was open on this whole hallway, like in this whole building probably. I glanced into the room, not quite sure what I was going to see considering that I was pretty sure I saw someone’s face smushed against the side of a window already …. Sitting inside the room were already several students. I felt my anxiety begin to melt away. I noticed two of the students right away because their hair reminded me of Sebastian’s, and they had similar tattoos to Marissa. They were laughing just now, I couldn’t hear about what. There were three girl students, so far in the room and only a few guy students. Out of the girls one had blue hair and green eyes like Sebastian, it made me wonder if she was his sister or at least related; another of the girls had a dark purple hair that looked black when she wasn’t moving, and the third girl had pink hair.

I looked over at the boys, one had deep red hair, and I am not talking what they normally call a red head, those kids who have hair that isn’t red at all, but orange-- no this kids hair was deep red-- like redder than auburn.... The other two had black hair but it was their eyes that made them all stand out, that and their tattoos-- which made me stare at them. These boys reminded me of the biker guy-- they looked almost normal… but knowing my friends they would say that they were dangerous. So weird and lame. Was being normal something dangerous to them? Cause in that case, maybe I was dangerous too.

All the girls had tattoos on their faces, like the ones that I had seen on Marissa, though they were all smaller by far and less noticeable, and theirs didn't move like Marissa's did. Marissa’s tattoo covered half her face and I had often noticed that she was always trying to hide it as if she wasn’t proud of the amazing ink. I frowned. And if I had thought Marissa had dressed scantily, well these girls were ten times more. I wondered that they were not shivering wearing so little, especially since it was fricking freezing, but then a there was a voice behind me; someone clearing their throat. I turned slowly to find a short rather squat man standing there; he had a briefcase in one hand and was tapping with an extremely long finger his watch with his other as he looked at me. I tried to say something but I didn’t know what.

“Are we attending homeroom or not?” He asked briskly.

I managed to mumble; “Yes.” And followed him meekly into the classroom.

“Shut the door please.” He said over his shoulder to me.

I obeyed not wanting to look like an idiot in front of my new classmates.

The students had stopped their tittering to turn and stare at me, like I was a new product fresh off some shipping line. It made me feel nervous, and I really didn’t like it, mostly because I was still feeling nauseated. I looked away from them and up at the man who had made his way to the front of the class. He stood on a step stool, the man must only be five foot four! His chocolate hair was curly and his skin a cream color. He didn’t appear very old either. He wrote on the blackboard, Mr. Flimheart, in bright red letters then turned to face us. His eyes frightened the crap out of me, they were completely green, like two little marbles someone had put in his eyes instead of eyeballs. I tried not to stare. What was with these people and contact lenses? Seriously? At least he didn’t look like he was seventeen like most of the other teachers-- he actually looked like he was in his twenties or perhaps a little older, which oddly made me feel more comfortable.

“Good morning class.” He said in a loud masculine voice.

The class mumbled something that sounded like good morning, back to him. I glanced around me at the other students, there were only eight of us in the room, I looked down at my IPhone, there was still twenty minutes until the first bell rang, which first of all -- had I really walked that fast? I could have sworn I was walking forever and second of all … surely they were starting way too early. There had to be more students in this homeroom than this.

“Welcome back to Acroft High. I trust you all had an exceedingly wonderful Christmastide with your families, and are now ready to resume our lectures.” Mr. Flimheart picked up a pointer from his desk and stepping off his step stool walked around the front of his podium and began pacing in front of us. “Some of you.” He tossed a look my way. “May be wondering what you are doing in this class, so please let me explain, and forgive me if you already know this information.” He paused, scanning the eight of us. “Based on last years tests, scores and final grades, certain students have been found to be at a higher academic level then they were being challenged with. So to solve this problem students with these higher grades were split off from their old classes and assigned to smaller classes and more advanced course levels. There are currently two classes like this in the school, one will meet in the evening, and you will meet here every day at this same time.”

I tried to take it in, to understand what he was saying …and to remain warm. Why was it so cold?

“Since there was a shortage of Professors here at Acroft High, they have brought me in to teach you during the normal school hours and brought Dr. Gristman in to teach in the evenings. As is of such I will be teaching all your subjects. Classes will be forty minutes long each with ten minutes breaks between classes, so we will be covering more, at a much quicker speed.” He cleared his throat. “Classes this semester will include; Socials a history of Mankind, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. Now before we begin, I will do roll call.”

He shuffled back behind his podium and opening his briefcase pulled a folder from inside and began listing off names, he paused slightly before reading my name off. Once again I could feel eyes staring at me. I shifted in my seat and said ‘here’ quietly as he checked my name off then shut his folder with a thud.

For the most part classes were interesting. I mean it was weird that classes were so short, but most of the classes were double blocks. None of the students left I noticed, when we had breaks. In fact I was the only one who stood up and walked around at all during our first ten minute break. Mr. Flimheart’s style of teaching reminded me very much of how I had imagined a college or university professor to talk.

History of Mankind was a strange course. Instead of being based on facts, many of which I had studied over the years, he instead centred the course around every known myth about man that there was; and told us we would eventually have to write a paper on our theories of which sounded most plausible and why. In Chemistry I was partnered with the blue haired girl, Kiera. At first her green eyes watched me hesitantly but as the class moved on she seemed more willing to work with me. We didn’t speak much, but then no one did. We all did our work in silence; which was kind of nice. After our second block of chemistry the lunch bell rang. I scooped up my bag, and decided no matter what everyone else did I was still going to the cafeteria for lunch. So I left the classroom and bravely made my way back down along the hallway. It was still dark but I now noticed lights on in several of the classrooms. I still couldn’t see into most of the rooms, but I could see outlines of students, or I think they were students …

I again I jumped when the side of someone’s face smacked up against the side of the glass. What was happening in there, like seriously? There was a giggle from behind me. I spun around, only to find blue haired Kiera behind me. She had pulled on a black sweater over her skin tight top and deep blue skinny jeans.

“Don’t worry, that’s just the wrestling team.” She told me with a smile, her neon eyes glittering, and her white teeth flashing.

Wrestling team? We had a wrestling team? Why the heck wasn’t Sebastian on that team? He would kick butt!

“Are you following me?” I asked changing the subject.

Kiera shrugged. “That depends, if you are headed to the Cafeteria, then yes; I suppose I am following you.” She giggled again.

I frowned.

Her cold fingers reached across and over my arm as she gave it a slight tug.“Can’t I please have lunch with you?”

I sighed, what I really wanted to say was no, but then I had been wanting to make some new friends. Maybe Kiera would make a great friend, if I gave her the chance.

“Fine.”

She jumped up and down in a mini victory dance that would have made boys stare, but I merely turned my back and kept walking, trying to breath evenly as I made my way along the last bit of grey hallway, down the staircase and outside. I almost forgot that Kiera was beside me, she was so quiet. When we entered the cafeteria which was in the main school building, I saw Marissa talking to the new boy who had been rude to me this morning, but Sebastian was no where near her. I bought my lunch and sat as far from the boy as possible. Kiera sat next to me, and without warning suddenly Sebastian was sitting across from me. Where the hell had he come from? I tried to be mad at him since Seb hadn’t even talked to me for almost a whole month, but it was hard to be mad at one of your only friends, even when they had been a dick.

“Ahhh so you’ve met my little sister.” He mumbled tossing me a grin, his eyes burning me with their intensity.

Kiera pouted.

“WHAT? I thought the two of you looked similar! I knew you had to be related!”

“I was going to tell her.” She muttered, and tossed her head.

Sebastian laughed. “You are very young my sister.”

I looked back and forth between them, they looked more like twins than siblings.

“Who is older?” I asked, trying not to sound confused.

“I am by a clear two minutes.” Sebastian said, as Kiera rolled her eyes.

“Then why are you saying she is so young if you are twins?”

Kiera laughed this time. “He only says that because while I was cooped up at home for years he was allowed out only because he’s a guy.”

I could hear how annoyed this had made her. I didn’t get it but let it go. I turned to Sebastian.

“Hey why aren’t you sitting with Marissa?”

Sebastian’s eyes narrowed. “We aren’t really together right now.” He snorted and pulled open his bag and tossed Kiera a water bottle full of a red liquid. Raspberry or Cranberry juice probably.

I cleared my throat. “Okay-- what gives? Why the heck not?”

He shrugged. “I supported your decision to free yourself from that violent ass-wad To-to, she-- let’s just say she is afraid of what he might do-- so she’s convinced herself that she thought you could work it out. I hate him for reasons I will not mention. Ever.” He smiled at me and patted my head. “That and I don’t like the new guy they sent in. I put up with Christopher because he was mild, but this guy is tough.”

I felt awful I had been the cause of them disagreeing, but I didn’t know how to voice it.

“Where is Topher by the way?” I asked.

Sebastian frowned. “Not here, which is good. He needed replacing.”

I was confused, he needed replacing? What the hell was that supposed to mean? And was that Topher’s elusive brother Mark?

“So.” Sebastian said turning to his sister. “How is Genevieve fitting into her classes Kiera?”

Kiera shrugged. “I think eventually Mina and Lexi will accept her, I haven’t the foggiest about the boys, they’re the Flagstone boys though, and well--” She hesitated. “You know how they are.”

Sebastian turned to look at me. “One other thing, be careful. There will be a day when none of your friends are there to protect you from--” He paused. “Things that you can not control.”

I was confused, but let it be. It tugged on a memory of the last conversation Topher and I had, the one that I really wanted to forget. The bell rang and then Kiera was tugging on my arm, pulling me back down the dimly lit corridors to our classroom. The rest of the day passed as one big blur; I mean I remember fragments, but none of it seemed to stick in my brain -- it was like that hallway, that building had the capacity to wipe my short term memory. I do recall that none of the Flagstone boys talked to me… pretty sure I met the other girls. The girl with the pink hair was named Lexi-- the one with purple hair… Mina? While I couldn’t remember if that was one hundred percent correct I had to admit it was nice to finally be talking to other girls, besides Marissa that was.

Mina invited me to go out dancing with them that night, I was thrilled to finally be included in something with other people outside of my friend group-- which at the moment didn’t even exist. After we finished class I mentioned that I would just have to zip home to change but could meet up with them, to which I was met with a chorus of laughter. I honestly didn’t get the humor at this school. Kiera slipped me a note under the desk--

“We gotcha COVERED girl!” With a winky face.

Which I could only assume meant that they had some sort of really skanky clothing which they wanted me to wear-- and that it wasn’t actually going to cover me at all. I felt my face burn purple. I let out a sigh as I glanced over at what the girls were currently wearing; classic Acroft High apparel it seemed. There must actually not be a standard here for really anything … except attending classes. I mean if the teachers cared one iota about their students wouldn’t they address the obvious? Wouldn’t they want to stop teens from dressing like-- trollops? I don’t remember much else of the day besides trying to keep up with course materials; the classes moved super fast!

Mr. Flimheart dismissed us right at three thirty on the dot; Mina, Lexi and Kiera scooped up their things and dragged me with them. They took me down the creepy staircase into the dark and dingy basement where there were still classes going on. I could only assume that was what was happening since there was a light coming from the inside of frosted windowed doors as we wove our way through a dizzying maze along even narrower corridors. When we finally stopped moving it was only because we had to wait for a few girls to hustle out of the bathroom and shuffle past us down the increasingly narrow hallway. The girls who brushed past were the most normal looking girls I had seen in the whole school. They had normal colored hair and were wearing hoodies with skinny jeans. Why couldn’t I have friends like that? Huh?

In that moment I had a chance to look around. It felt super old here -- like world war two old. Yellow paint was peeling from the walls and the door was painted a sickly turquoise that had paint flecking off as it swung. I suddenly felt not like I was at a highly respected, wealthy school, but like I had been rushed into the zombie apocalypse. The interior of the bathroom was no better-- there was a rusty looking sink, and two bathroom stalls with the doors hanging from the hinges.

“Don’t worry about it!” Mina had said when she saw the horrified look on my face.

“Yeah -- almost no one uses these bathrooms anyways.” Lexi continued as she pulled a bright pink makeup case out of her purse.

The makeup case was a complete opposite of this bathroom; it was new and full of amazing beauty products that someone of Lexi’s natural beauty didn’t really need-- while this bathroom could have come from hell-- well almost. Kiera dove into the makeup and disappeared in a cloud of glitter and hairspray as soon as the bag hit the counter. I’d never seen anyone love sparkle as much as Kiera.

Mina dropped a purple dress into my hands. I didn’t even want to know what it looked like on. Off it was a pile of thin purple material that could have scrunched into a ball and fit into my hoodie pocket. I sighed. I knew they weren’t going to let me out of the bathroom until I listened so I shed my safety net of hoodie and jeans and dragged the skin hugging strap of a dress on. I couldn’t, wouldn’t dare look at myself in the dress so I closed my eyes as Lexi excitedly swooped in on the chance to do my hair and makeup. So this is what a Bride must feel like… “Don’t blink, look up-- turn your head to the left… not your left, my left…" I felt like I had been poked and prodded for so long, but only half an hour had gone by. When I finally had the courage to open my eyes I noticed two things; one that this dress was almost sheer, and I felt too exposed and two that all three of the girls were also wearing a similar dress to mine, they cut off mid thigh which was long for some of these girls. They’d woven their long hair into breath taking braids and loose French rolls and dusted it with hairspray that had sparkles. Kiera glittered every time her head moved.

I looked down at my legs -- I’d been given black ankle booties and my white legs had never looked so white in my entire life! The purple and black against my pale skin and brown hair made me feel like a bratz doll. I shivered, if I was freezing here inside then I was definitely going to freeze in the wintery January snow. This was a really bad idea. Why was it that I was the only one who thought these things through?

“Um guys I hate to break it to you, but it’s really cold outside, and with these dresses on…Well, we’re probably going to freeze our asses off.”

Mina laughed, no correction, she howled with laughter. “No sweat.”

No sweat? Was this girl insane? IT WAS SNOWING OUT! Even as this was going through my head, Kiera handed me a thick woolen like cape, which once draped over my shoulders and clasped with a silver rose hook, fell all the way to the ground around me. Mina and Lexi also put on one of these capes. We looked like the female version of the four musketeers.

“Ready?” Lexi asked.

Mina and Kiera nodded. I suddenly felt too warm -- was that even possible? It was like the cloak was a heating pad.

“Kiera you keep a close eye on Genevieve.” She gave her a look and Kiera nodded in understanding of some unspoken message.

It still irritated me when people talked about me as if I wasn’t there. I almost said something but then Kiera was tugging on my arm and we left the bathroom single file, that was as wide as the hallway would allow. I broke from the girls to stash my school bag in my locker in the main building. It was quiet in the building, all the students had left by now, or almost all. It felt eerie; like it should be locked and all the lights turned off but instead everything was lit up like it was Christmas Day -- and all the classrooms were empty. In fact the only place I even heard a peep from was where empty cafeteria was. I peeked my head in and saw a group of students huddling around a table heads all bent in toward each other -- and of them had normal hair colors…and I swear that two of the girls were from the bathroom in the basement. I would have stayed to watch them longer to figure out why they were all still here when school had clearly been over for two or more hours but the girls were waiting for me.

I exited the building and took a deep breath letting out frosty air. Just beyond where I was standing was a long black limo.

“What are you doing Gen?” I asked myself out loud.

Really, I had just met these girls. I wasn’t sure who they were or if they were sketch… I mean Kiera I felt like I could trust, if only because her brother was Sebastian-- other then that I had no clue what I was walking into. My hand grazed over the silver clasp. It looked like an insignia, for something… some family crest or-- or cult? BUT I wasn’t joining a cult or anything-- I was just going out to have fun with my peers, to dance and forget about everything else. That was it right? This wasn’t dangerous?

“Gennnnnnnn!” The limo door opened and Kiera’s sparkly blue hair and green eyes called out to me.

I shook my shoulders and straightened my back. I would not let the stupid words of my friends stop me from making new friends and having fun.

“Come on! Let’s go!!!!!!” A purple head of hair popped out the door beside Kiera.

I rolled my eyes, as; “We are the champions” came blaring out the open door-- I looked one last time at the dark school and ran towards the warmth of the limo.

Once in the limo I turned to look at the girls.

“Are we going to Plumanara?”

The girls tossed a look back and forth among themselves.

“Er-- Not exactly.”

Mina looked at Lexi who looked at me.

“We’re going somewhere much more fun.”

Kiera frowned. “But twice as dangerous.”

Mina shrugged. “I live for danger.”

Lexi giggled. “Don’t we all?” She grinned and in that moment I thought her teeth looked more like a shark’s teeth; where had I seen that before?

“Dangerous? Like Dangerously loud music? Or--”

No one answered me, but the limo was already slowing to a stop. All the girls looked excited, even Kiera! I felt a surge of curiosity -- I had been told several times that Plumanara was the only club around that you could sneak into; the only safe one as Marissa had put it. The limo door opened and one by one the girls exited the car. I was last to get out. It was dark here; no street lamps, and colder-- the air thick with something salty, were we by the ocean?

Though snow was steadily descending, under the cape my body was warm. In my excitement I wanted to throw off the cape and dance under the falling ice. I felt invincible like even if I took the cape off I would still be warm in the snow. Random weird thought, almost like it wasn’t my own. Kiera bobbed to my side, and grinned up at me. We followed Lexi across a narrow alleyway, the limo pulling off as we walked away.

The alleyway smelt of fish and dirt. I tried to hold my breath as I counted my steps following the other girls -- twenty, twenty one… When we finally emerged you could see that we were practically standing on the water. There were a few spotty street lamps blinking but the dock was for the most part empty. Why the heck were we here? I should have told them to go to Plumanara where I knew we would be safely surrounded by the majority of our grade and where I knew how to exit and find my own way home.

A wall of frustration hit me; and oddly I knew it wasn’t my own.

“Shit.”

I squinted in the twilight-- Lexi was trembling like a leaf.

“Lex?” Mina sprung to her side. “What is it?”

“The seer.” Lexi hissed.

“What did he say?” Mina prodded.

“Nothing that is important.”

“Lexi. You have to listen to their advice.” Kiera snapped.

I had no idea what they were going on about. A Seer? Those were from movies and video games -- they weren’t real.

“Your neck.” Kiera muttered as silence fell between them.

We’d reached the end of the pier where a massive staircase descended into a black abyss on the corner of a large warehouse.

“Finally.”

“We’re here.”

All three girls began to descend into the blackness. I froze on the top step. If you looked down you couldn’t see anything. Where were these girls taking me? My heart pumped faster; I suddenly wished I hadn’t come. Even as the thought entered my mind I heard a voice.

“Calm down Gen.”

Who was that?

“Breath -- I just need you to breathe.”

Kiera was at my side, her blue head of curls bobbing as if she had run up the stairs in a moment -- which wasn’t possible! Nothing else about her seemed to be moving, I even began to wonder if she was breathing at all! I stared at her and forced myself to slow my breathing, she really was a replica in girl form of Sebastian -- petite where he was muscular and yet if you looked into her eyes and only her eyes-- it could have been him.

“Good. That’s good. Stay calm, and come with me.”

Kiera led me down the steps into the blackness. I grasped the rough railing as my lifeline as foot by foot we went down the steps. It was pitch black at the bottom -- I couldn’t see anything for the life of me, but I could hear Mina and Lexi.

“WOW. That took way too long.”

They formed a tight circle around me. Kiera patted my arm, then gave it a squeeze. I tried to keep my breathing even -- what was happening?

“You may enter.” An old man’s voice cut through the darkness sharply.

I heard a door open and then we shuffled into a dark recess where there was lights and techno music thudding the walls, strange how I hadn’t been able to hear the music from outside. I could see better here-- at least when there were flashes of light from the strobes. The door thudded shut behind us and I realized we were standing in what looked like a coat check area. Mina collected our capes and handed them to someone only half visible in the dim light-- then Kiera herded us in-- deeper into the basement.

“What’s this place called?” I shouted over the music.

“Nameless.” Mina shouted back.

“It’s called NAMELESS?”

“No -- it hasn’t ever had a name.” Kiera tried to say without shouting.

If I had been able to see better I bet Lexi rolled her eyes; unfortunately I couldn’t see her very well and that would be just a guess.

“See you losers later!” Lexi waved, blew us a kiss and she and her white dress were swallowed by a throbbing mass of bodies.

Mina danced to one side of me and Kiera the other, we made our way to a high table with bar stools. We stood for a moment as we watched the chaos unfolding before us. I felt joy, power, passion-- it seemed to be coming from the mob of dancers. It was calling to me this oozing sensation, and several times I clenched the table, my fingers digging into dirt and grime. It became too much for Mina who after a few minutes of bobbing to the droning beats couldn’t resist the urge to join them. It felt cultish I have to admit as I ground my teeth and clenched my fists against the table.

A Plumanara I had always felt the electric vibe of energy -- it made you want to move, to dance, made you feel alive; THAT was why I loved going there. Here at ‘Nameless’ I felt an undertone of desire, power and passion. It wasn’t the pure energy of Plumanara, it was dark… devious and deadly.

Kiera seemed unmoved by the scene before her; she danced and swayed but wasn’t even looking at the mob of dancers-- she seemed entranced by the lights flashing around us.

Lexi’s in her white was making her way towards us, it was the first time I had seen her since we arrived. I felt a shudder of relief make its way through me -- maybe just maybe if Lexi could survive dancing in that then so could I. A hand shot out from the shadows, my heart lurched as it grabbed onto Lexi’s forearm. Lexi didn’t even flinch -- as the light played over her face a huge grin broke out on her dark lips. The hand was followed out of the darkness by a tall muscular man -- I couldn’t see his face, the color of his hair, or anything really but his shape. He leaned down and whispered something to Lexi. Lexi’s face glowed in the shadows as she leaped towards the man, her legs locking around his waist her white dress hanging behind her like a tail. She looked up at him and nodded as his face swept down to meet hers.

My jaw dropped -- I should look away but I couldn’t. Lexi leaned into the man and then arched away as he kissed her neck; then she was wrapped around him in a tight embrace. I watched as her body shuddered, his lips on her neck-- I was terrified and nauseous. The man broke from her neck and looked up, his eyes staring directly into mine as if to defy me, then he stepped backwards into the darkness, taking Lexi with him.

I turned to Kiera hoping she had seen what I just had, but she was still bobbing to the beat as if nothing was wrong. I searched the dance floor for Mina but her hair was so dark that it made it hard for me to see her. Never mind Nameless, this place should be called FACELESS! As the night continued I edged my seat closer to where Kiera bobbed-- suddenly thankful she hadn’t run off to dance like Mina and Lexi but had stayed by my side despite the cat calls and arms reaching out towards her, inviting her to join the black mass of bodies crowding the dance floor.

Time seemed to pass slower here than at Plumanara. Ten minutes felt like an hour and an hour felt like three. I had no way of checking what time it was since I left my phone in the pocket of the black cape which was at the coat check. While I pondered running to the coat room to retrieve my phone, and what the likelyhood of something creepy happening would be in that span of forty or so steps, Mina came dancing over to our table.

“Kiera.”

Kiera stopped bobbing for the first time since we had arrived; her eyes narrowed to slits. I suddenly felt left out of some sort of conversation even though I knew that was ridiculous. There was just something in the way the two of them looked at one another and then at the dance floor… like they were measuring something-- but what?

“We need to leave.”

Mina nodded and grabbed my arm tightly; so tightly I felt it begin to bruise. I struggled in Mina’s grasp -- she was strong for her size… I’ll give her that.

“Stop it.” Mina hissed. “We need to get you out of here.”

“But what about Lexi?”

Kiera frowned, but didn’t say anything; instead she made her way around the table and to my other side. I found myself standing in a vice grip on each arm, and being hustled towards the coat check.

“We shouldn’t have stayed this long.” Kiera mumbled.

“What?”

“Be quiet Gen -- and very still, only move if we tell you to.” Mina snapped.

We were in the coat check area now, but the girl who had been behind the desk was nowhere to be seen. This was getting really weird really fast. Kiera let go of my arm but it was still throbbing -- I wanted to throw it in the air and stretch it but I got the meanest look from Mina and a growl so I didn’t.

“Something’s not right -- do you smell it?”

SMELL IT? Okay-- someone needs to put a stop to the crazy train!

“Get her out of here!”

Mina nodded and dragged me out of the room and into the darkness of the stairwell, letting the door slam shut behind us. Without the cape I was immediately hit with an icy blast, and falling snow, and the loss of vision. Mina’s hand released me and she shoved me forward -- my hand hitting a rough wooden railing as I groped in the darkness.

“RUN!”

My muscles screamed at me as the cold bit me -- the last thing I wanted to do was run, but there was something in the intensity of how she said it that made me believe I needed to run; so I hoisted myself up the steps my hand grasping the wooden railing as a lifeline, slivers etching my frozen palms. When I reached the top and was finally in the dim glow of the dock lights I wanted to stop but there was growling coming from all sides and it sounded like a rabid dog. I was so shaken I almost had my first panic attack since coming home. I forced my legs to keep moving; dragging myself through the gathering snow back down the alley and out onto the pier. I stopped under the lone light and rubbed my numb fingers on my arms leaving red streaks of blood from where deep slivers had made their way into my palms.

I heard a motor purring beside me but I was too cold to turn. I closed my eyes. I was so tired. So confused. So afraid. The engine stopped and I heard a door open.

“This way Madam.” White gloved hands lifted me from the ground like I weighed no more than a paperclip. The blood from my hands dripped off my arms from where I had rubbed them and stained the white gloves. I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

“Haven’t you heard that this is a bad area of town?”

“Sebastian?”

“Shhhhh, my little bird. Don’t talk now. Everything will be alright now.”

We were in the car now, and moving… I wondered slightly about the other girls; if they were ok? What happened to Lexi? What was even happening? Would I get my phone back? But the motion of the limo soon lulled me to sleep, and I didn’t bother fighting it. The last thing I remembered was a pale cold hand stroking my cheek, and a rose tattoo swirling around a white wrist.

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