I am shocked you have taken this path. You have come such a long way from when we first met. You had great potential in our line of work.
After the death of our colleague, I thought you would have realised your mistakes and turned a new leaf. I was sadly mistaken. We still have some unfinished business which I would like to discuss with you. However, if you do not respond I will take your silence as ‘the cowards way out’ and burn down your home with your family inside. You are familiar with how I get my own way.
Don’t make me ask twice.
The letter laid on the desk in my room. The words churning in my mind. My world had changed drastically since leaving them. Now they were a dangerous enemy to have. It worried me they would hurt my family. There was no doubt she would carry out her threats.
“I have to go with my family. Back home. They can’t be left unprotected.” I said. Arms wrapped around my shoulders. I leaned into Isaac, resting my head against him. “Isaac, you should stay here. Your people need you.”
“I’m also needed on there too. My business has been running without me since I’ve been here.”
“I understand that but we can’t just leave after making these changes. You need to stay and lead them. I can check on things at the pier while I’m there, if you want?”
“Alright. Thank you.” He said, “Do you have a plan for when you get back?”
“Not really. She’ll be ready for me, I’m sure. The other Hunters will probably try to kill me alongside her. All I can do is fight.”
“You shouldn’t be doing this alone. You will get yourself killed.”
“I have no choice. If I involve my coven in this situation, I will either get them killed or, they’ll end up on her hit list. Witches will be hunted all over again. I can’t let that happen.”
“You need to promise me that you will keep yourself safe.” He lifted my chin and made me look him in the eyes. “Please Penelope. I’d much rather come with you knowing you are safe than let you handle all of this by yourself and end up dying.”
“You must’ve forgotten they are marked vampire hunters. I’m not risking your life too. Look, this is the end of discussion. I’m going by myself. I work better alone.” My voice stern and matter-of-fact.
He held me securely in his arms and nestled into my neck. His warmth relaxed me. I enjoyed these last few minutes with him.
“I’m coming back,” I said with a more chirpier tone. “I promise.”
On Earth I had only been gone a day. It felt odd, slightly dissatisfying as I had spent so much time in Enukeador. It hardly felt real.
Saturday, 30th July. Yet, it didn’t feel like it. It was a complete mind boggle. My family took the train over to Nan's house for the day. I was glad they would be out of the way and no where near Eastbourne while I confronted Eleanor.
As I walked into town, there was a tap on my shoulder.
“You didn’t think I would let you do this without me?” a voice spoke. Alexia looked completely different with her hair nicely brushed, in a ponytail. She was wearing light blue skinny jeans, white vest top and a black jacket. She was standing with Asher, who looked like he had just showered. He was wearing dark blue jeans with a red and black chequered shirt. It was so surprising to see them in such modern clothes.
“What are you doing here?”
“The Prince gave us a heads up on what you were planning. He said if he couldn’t come to help then your friends should be here with you.” She said.
“Alright, well before we confront Eleanor - come with me to the pier.” I said. “There’s a cool arcade you guys can check out while I pop off and do some errands for Isaac.”
The day was bright. The blue sky was clear from clouds with very little wind. It was quite pleasant. The look of excitement filled Alexia’s face as she ran towards the arcade like a small child ready to spend her pocket money. It brought a smile on my face to see her happy.
“If you need us, you know where we will be.” Asher said before catching up to Alexia. They were a sweet couple.
It was nice to be walking along the wooden boards of the pier on a beautiful day in July. The good weather had brought a crowd to the surrounding beach. Families sat on the benches eating fish and chips from the local chippy and the seagulls hovered eagerly for their next targets. The pub was full of customers having a good time. It seemed the business was running smoothly without Isaac but I wondered if the staff were coping without him.
Cian seemed frustrated behind the bar. He gave me a warm smile when he came over to serve me.
“What can I get for you?” He asked.
“Nothing thank you. Isaac asked me to check in on the place in his absence. He knows he’s been gone a while but he had to leave for an emergency.”
He frowned at me. “Come with me a second.” And he directed me into the back out of the earshot of customers.
“I don’t mean any disrespect, whoever you are…” He said but I cut him off.
“My name is Penelope.”
“Whatever. Where has Isaac gone for the last four months that he’s forgotten how to pick up a phone? I’ve had to cover him since his disappearance. Never sure if he’ll bother turning up again! The only thing stopping me filing a missing person’s report was the note he left me saying ‘I’m really sorry but gotta leave for a bit Cian. You can be acting manager while I’m gone.’ Only for him to be gone for four months! Do you know how stressful it is to be the manager?”
“Clearly, quite stressful. Look, Cian I didn’t come here to get shouted at. I’m literally on an errand for Isaac in his absence. For the last four months he’s been caught up in a whole world of problems - not that I’m defending him. He’ll be back soon but in the mean time I’ll help in any way I can. I’ll take the load off your shoulders. Anything to keep this place going.”
“Wait… you can’t just come here and take over. I don’t even know who you are!” He exploded.
“Alright. If you don’t want the help then I won’t bother. I was only trying to help Isaac out.” I sighed, holding my hands up. “I’m leaving now.”
I stormed out of the pub so fast I never wanted to come back. Even though I was angry it was short lived when I witnessed a disaster happening before my eyes.
An explosion of fire engulfed the arcade. The thick black smoke overwhelmed the building and the flames ripped through the roof. It was spreading so fast that you didn’t have many options to escape the pier.
I ran straight back into the pub and yelled, “EVERYBODY NEEDS TO EVACUATE. THE PIER IS ON FIRE!”
The sudden urgency to escape caused people to panic. Everyone rushed out of the pub to be guided by others for a safe exit off the pier. If it wasn’t for the screams in the arcade, I would have evacuated the pier like everyone else, but I had a bad feeling it was Alexia in trouble. The desperate cries to stop didn’t faze me as I ran into the burning building.
The first thing that hits you is the intense heat from the fire and how difficult it is to breathe. I covered my mouth with my jacket as I worked my way towards the frantic screams followed by wheezy coughing. Alexia and Asher were trapped under debris. Asher, out cold, had fallen bricks and most of the roof on him. While Alexia had a heavy pillar crushing her legs.
“Penelope!” She screamed when she saw me. “Please help us!”
The pillar was too heavy to be lifted or pushed off her legs. The terrible thought that she might not get out of this fire alive occurred to me in that moment. Using all the strength I had to get it off her proved useless since it wouldn’t budge an inch. The scary thing was I was running out of time . This place was burning to the ground fast. If we stayed here for too much longer we would all die.
“Calm down, Penelope. Focus and use your powers.”
I rose to my feet and concentrated on the pillar. I extended my arm and used my mind to lift the pillar off her crushed legs and shove it into the corner. Then treated her broken legs with the golden light from my palms until she was completely healed. Then, checked on Asher. He was alive when we pulled him from the debris. Though he wouldn’t wake however hard we tried to shake his shoulders.
“Come on, Asher! Wake up!” Alexia screamed, coughing more.
There was blood on my hands after resting his head gently on the ground. The small bleed wasn’t noticeable as it soaked into his red and black shirt. The golden light shone through my fingertips onto his head until his eyes fluttered open, healed completely.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” I said grabbing one of Asher’s arms. Alexia grabbed the other, supporting his weight. We headed for the exit.
Another explosion pushed us out of the burning building and over the edge of the pier. We were suspended in mid air but gravity took hold of us - splashing down into the sea below.
There was no time to catch my breath before the cold water hit me. We were pulled under the forceful waves, the sea dragging the three of us down further to the ocean bed. My lungs filling up with salty water; gasping for air but all I was getting was disgusting water. The strong waves gripped me tight, not letting me go to the surface for air… but I wasn’t going to stop fighting and kicked my legs as hard as I could, pulling myself up until I could get that much needed gasp of air.
There was a boat speeding towards us with COAST GUARD in red lettering on the side. My lungs coughing up the water I had ingested; all the while my nose kept burning and my eyes stinging… Arms grabbed under my arms and pulled me in the boat where I was greeted by a young man with blond hair. He was wearing a red t-shirt with LIFEGUARD in yellow lettering and yellow shorts. He wrapped a blanket around my shoulders. For a second, he reminded me of my old friend, Justin. I rubbed at my eyes and realised it was my mind playing tricks.
“Hey, I’m Ben. Do you know if you’re hurt anywhere?” He asked. He seemed sweet, and genuinely concerned.
“I’m alright,” I struggled to say through the teeth chattering shivers. “Just breathed in lots of water.”
I was thankful to see Alexia and Asher safe in the boat. They had blankets round them too. They looked just as cold as me. Ben kept trying to engaged a conversation out of me but I struggled to answer him; my attention focused on the pier.
The view from the sea was devastating. The black cloud of smoke engulfed the domed pavilion. The fire had demolished the entire building. It looked like the fire fighters had stopped it spreading to the rest of the pier, saving most of the little shops and Atlantis. The thrumming of a helicopter became louder, circling and hovering near the pier.
Once we were on dry land, the paramedics came to check on us and I had a sudden cold feeling. My gut felt knotted and that familiar feeling of being watched made me shiver. I glanced over my shoulder.
In the far distance I recognised the short blonde hair and the familiar way this woman swung her hips as she walked confidently to a black Volvo. Eleanor gave me a dirty look as she caught my eye before getting into the car. My stomach dropped. Somehow, I knew she had caused the fire. She had intended for me to die in the blaze - I was sure of it.