BEEP BEEP BEEP… BEEP BEEP BEEP…
My hand slammed down on the alarm to switch off the irritating noise.
The alarm read: 8:00AM 29/03.
My body ached as I dragged myself out of my warm covers. It was still dark, making it that much harder to get up. I wrapped a dressing gown round me and went downstairs.
The wintry weather this morning took on freakish proportions with torrential rain, turning to sideways sleet as the blustery wind continued to create havoc. I found it ironic that Eastbourne is called ‘The Sunshine Coast’ when most of our weather is this miserable.
“... terrible events caused by last night’s storm. A tree was uprooted by gale force winds crushing two people inside their car in the early hours of this morning. They haven’t been identified. It has been reported the branches snapped off, stabbing them in their hearts. It killed them instantly…” The woman on TV reported. Mum sat in her chair when I came into the living room.
“Hey, can you turn that up, please?” I asked. She looked up from reading the newspaper and turned up the volume.
“… Paramedics and the fire department cut the car to free the two people inside. The paramedics on duty told the news they were unresponsive arriving on scene. They worked quickly with the fire department to free them. It was only when they were able to get the tree off the car, they were able to see the branches had penetrated through their chests…”
“Those poor people.” Mum said. “This weather is awful and it’s not going to get better any time soon. It’s going to be raining till next week.”
“Great.” I mumbled sarcastically.
Then the doorbell rang.
“Oh, that will be your Nan. Go let her in. I’ll put the kettle on.”
The second I opened the door, Nan shoved passed me to get into the warmth. She looked like a drowned rat. Nan held the door open to shake the dripping water outside.
“Mums' put the kettle on.” I said.
“Oh good! I need a cuppa to warm up. It’s bloody awful out there.” She went on. “Why are you not dressed?”
“It’s not even half eight in the morning…” I looked at my watch.
“Nonsense, go get dressed. We’ve got a long day ahead of us. Why do you think I put your alarm on?” she ushered me towards the stairs.
“Where are we going? It’s horrible outside.” I protested.
“We’re staying here but you need lessons with your powers. Now, do as I say and after I’ve had some tea we can get to work. Okay?”
I grumbled. “Alright.” and began to climb the stairs.
When I reached the top I heard her say, “Meet in the attic.”
In the attic.
Nan scanned the book on the podium, flicking through the pages before looking up and giving me a smile. She took her glasses off and let them dangle like a necklace.
“Good, you’re here.” She said. Nan snapped her fingers to create a table out of thin air with a stack of glasses in a pyramid shape. A clock sat next to the glasses. The ticking seemed to be louder than any regular one. Nan picked it up.
“You have the ability to freeze time. As you get to know your powers better, they will grow and develop. That is, as long as you keep practising. Firstly, we’ll try something small. Freeze the clock. Stop it ticking. It’s simple.” Nan instructed.
“Use your mind or your hands. Whichever one feels more natural to you.”
The sound of the clock kept ticking as I stared and concentrated on stopping time. I reminded myself that I was able to stop the wind with just my thoughts - I could do this.
TICK TOCK…TICK TOCK… TICK TOCK…
The sound kept getting louder, like it was mocking my abilities. I looked away, disgruntled and sighed.
“I can’t do this.” I said, deflated.
“You don’t expect to get all this right away, do you? It’s a learning curve. However, sometimes you might need more motivation.” Nan sad with a wicked grin. Then, knocked the table over.
Suddenly, I could see the event in slow motion. My reflexes kicked in, extending my hands to catch the glasses from smashing on the ground. It was like I could control gravity, stopping them mid air, avoiding the mess it would create. The clock stopped ticking.
“You’re a fast learner.” Nan smirked.
“Whoa, I did it. How come you didn’t freeze?” I asked. “Everything else has frozen.”
“Good witches are immune from other witch’s powers.” Nan answered. “Now, we better sort those glasses out before they all smash.”
Nan snapped her fingers again and they vanished before my eyes. The table was cleared and the only object to remain.
“Use your telekinesis to move the table.” Nan instructed.
There was a little fire burning within me. It was buried beneath the layers of worry to use these powers. It guided me on how to use them even if I didn't fully understand how. My arm extended towards the table and I held my concentration. It trembled and stopped.
“Find the power within you. You can do it.”
The table started to tremble again. This time more forceful. I closed my eyes, searching within myself and believed. The table shot across the room as my hand willed it. It crashed against the back wall, smashing into pieces. I let go but my head throbbed.
“Well done, Penelope.” I heard Nan say but I wasn’t listening. I held my head. “Are you okay? Sweetie, you’re bleeding.”
Nan held a tissue to my nose is the next thing I knew.
“I think that’s enough for now. Your powers are strong and you don’t want to do too much too soon. You did brilliantly though.”
Later in the afternoon, we came back up to the attic. Nan, mum and dad were helping me with my powers. It was difficult learning these new skills but I soon got the hang of things. It became easier the more I practiced. By the time they had finished their teaching, I knew the basics of how to freeze time and move objects with my mind. It took time, as there was so much to learn, but it was worth it. I was so engrossed with my new powers, I forgot about the date I had with Isaac. Checking my watch it was already 5 o’clock.
The doorbell rang at quarter to six. It was lucky I was nearly ready and only needed to put my socks and shoes on. I grabbed a small black bag from my wardrobe, stuffing my purse and keys inside, rushing down the stairs. When I opened the door I was surprised to see Justin.
“Justin? Hey. Everything alright?” I said, slightly awkwardly.
“Hey, I’m good. I came over to see how you’ve been doing. Did you get a new job yet?”
“I’ve been okay thanks. No, I did try getting a new job but it didn’t work out. I’m actually on my way out somewhere.”
“Oh. I was wondering if I could have a quick word with you, for a moment. It won’t take long. I promise.” He smiled.
I glanced at my watch. Isaac was supposed to be here in just over ten minutes.
“It’s not really a good time. Can I see you tomorrow?”
“It really can’t wait till then. Please, it’s important.” He said with wide eyes. “It won’t take long.”
“What is it?” I said, gritting my teeth. I didn’t like the feeling in the pit of my stomach. The thought of being late. It irritated me more than anything, not only was it rude and impolite but it just didn’t feel right.
“Lets go for a quick walk.” He said.
“I hope you’re joking, Justin. I’ve got plans. I’m going to be late.” My patience running thin.
“Please.” He sounded sad. It was against my better judgement but he was a friend in need and if it was truly this important, I felt I should help him.
“Fine. We can’t take too long, okay?”
Before leaving, I cocked my head into the living room.
“Mum, I’m just going for a quick walk with Justin but I’m expecting someone at six. Can you let them know I won’t be too long?” I said with a smile.
“Of course honey, is everything okay?” She asked.
“I think so.”
“Alright, be careful.”
Justin lead the way, his pace a bit fast. I tried to keep up with him. The rain hadn’t quite stopped, it was more of a drizzle than the heavy flood like rain earlier in the day.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“You’ll see.” was all he said.
“What do you want to talk about?”
We turned the corner, passing an empty park. We kept walking until we reached a path leading into the woods.
“I’m not going any further, Justin. Not till you tell me what you brought me here for. You haven’t even said a word! What is so important you had to drag me all the way to the woods?” I yelled.
“Alright.” He said. He kept his head down and refused to look me in the eye.
“What’s going on?” I urged.
Then, he looked me in the eyes. I wasn’t going to admit that I was slightly scared of him at this moment. He seemed different, he wasn’t himself. I took a step back.
“When were you going to tell me, Penelope? Huh. I know what you are.” Justin said with a nasty tone.
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” My voice steady but my heart started to beat a little faster.
“Don’t fucking lie to me!” He shouted. “You know what! I didn’t want to believe it. I was praying it wasn’t true. Now every fibre of my being is itching to kill you.”
“What? Why? What have I done?”
“It’s not what you have done. It’s what you are.”
My chest felt tight and my breathing had become more ragged.
“I don’t understand, Justin.”
However, I had a terrible feeling. I knew what he meant. He knew what I was! I didn’t know how or when he found out but it scared me. He's a hunter. I knew what they had done to previous witches. My denial only made him more angry.
“Shut up! Stop lying to me. You’re a witch. A filthy, disgusting witch. You’re just like one of them.”
The hurtful words brought tears to my eyes but I tried to hide them.
“Justin, who told you that?” My voice croaked.
“It doesn’t even matter.” He snarled. He looked at me differently, like I had been the one to kill his parents.
“Who told you?” I demanded. “It’s important you tell me.”
“Eleanor!” He yelled. “Who else do you think told me?”
“Eleanor?” I couldn’t believe it at first. Then, it made sense. Of course Eleanor would know about me. Somehow she always knew where the vampires were or who their next victims would be. It made perfect sense she would discover the truth. I just didn't think it would be this soon.
“Eleanor sent a hit out for me? How did she even know? I’ve only just found out myself.”
“So it’s true. You didn’t even try to deny it.” He said, then spat in my direction. “I can’t believe I even cared about you.”
“I’m sorry you had to find out this way. I would have told you when I understood it myself. It wasn’t the right time.”
The bushes rustled, at first I thought it was the breeze but in the corner of my eye I saw two figures emerge. My stomach dropped. Eleanor and Craig came out to join Justin. It all became clear that this was a set up. They needed me to admit the accusation, especially if they didn’t believe it. They had to hear it for themselves. Suddenly, Justin punched me in the stomach, the blow knocked me to my knees.
“I’m not going to fight you, Justin.” I managed to say.
“Then you’ll make this a lot easier.” He said, his voice stone cold.
Craig swung his foot and kicked me in the face. There was no time to react when another blow winded me enough to stop me breathing. Even when I could finally inhale some air, no sound would come out of my mouth. I tried to scream for help. These people that I once called friends gave no mercy as I was inches away from death. The taste of blood ran down my throat as I sniffed. It was warm, salty and almost metallic. In these last few moments I thought to myself that this was the end. This was how I was going to die - bloody and in pain.
When I saw Craig’s foot swing for another blow towards my face, I tried to brace myself for an impact... but that never came. My eyes shot open, wondering what stopped him. It was then that he screamed in agony. It took me a minute or two to process what was going on. A figure behind him was chomping on his neck, the blood splattering everywhere, then breaks his neck. Craig drops to the floor lifeless. In the time I blinked, the figure had disappeared and reappears in front of Justin, sinking his hand into Justin’s rib cage. A figure grabbed my attention as it shot across the trees. Eleanor took off into the night, not even looking back.
When I looked back towards the figure who came to my rescue. He was closer and I was able to see his face more clearly. The vampire who held Justin's life in his hands was someone I knew. He had the other half of my soul with the same imprinted tattoo on his hand. Isaac Lockhart.
“No!” I tried to scream but it was too late.
Justin landed on the ground with a thud. Isaac chucked his heart next to him. My body bruised and painful but I managed to crawl over. The tears running down my face, mixing with the blood pouring from my nose. Even though he had just beaten me to a pulp, I still cared about him so much. And now he was dead. I would never be able to have a witty conversation with him again or laugh at his stupid jokes. I would never see his cheeky smile or be able to cuddle with him when I felt sad. He was gone.
“Penelope?” I felt Isaac’s hand on my shoulder. I struggled with the little strength I had left as he pulled me away. I was powerless against his strength.
“They were my friends!” I screamed.
“Friends don’t beat each other. Come on, drink this…”
Isaac held me in his arms while he pushed his wrist to my lips. I struggled at the taste of the blood, tried to spit it out but he kept a firm grip. I had no choice but to ingest it. At first, I didn’t understand why he was doing this, forcing me to drink his blood. Then, a few minutes later it became obvious when all of my open wounds and bruises healed completely. The blood had miracle healing powers. I felt incredible.
When my senses came back to me, I felt awful and pushed Isaac away from me. He let me move and I stood up. There were bodies that needed to be taken care of before someone comes round the corner. It was too open, too exposed and they were just laying there while Isaac fed me blood. I grabbed Justin by the feet and pulled him towards the woods. When I looked up, I saw Isaac pick up Craig effortlessly. We went deep into the woods until I physically couldn’t drag him any longer and dropped his feet. Isaac dumped Craig beside him.
“If you want to help, then you need to find a shovel.” I said.
In a split second, Isaac disappeared. Only waited a few minutes till he came back with shovels and shower curtains.
“Found these in someone’s shed.” He said whilst handing me a shovel.
By the time I had dug half a grave, Isaac had already finished his, wrapped Craig in the shower curtain and almost finished piling the dirt back on top of him.
“Let me help.” He offered but I wasn’t going to acknowledge him. Isaac grabbed a shower curtain but before he could touch Justin I screamed at him.
“Don’t touch him!” I could feel my throat burning and the tears welling in my eyes again. “Haven’t you done enough?”
His face changed to an apologetic grimace, holding up his hands. “Alright, I’m sorry.”
Turning away from him, I continued to dig the grave until pain radiated between my shoulder blades. I climbed out the grave and stuck the shovel in the ground. It was hard to ignore the pain while I wrapped Justin in the shower curtain but these moments weren’t about me. It dawned on me that his grandparents would never know what happened to him. How can I live with myself everyday knowing the truth?
“Goodbye, Justin.” I murmured.
Battling through the pain, both physically and mentally, I buried Justin in the dirt. The grief overwhelmed me and I broke down in uncontrollable tears and couldn’t stop. It was hard to imagine my life without him. He had been my friend for many years and he had helped me through some dark moments in my life.
Once I had stopped crying I found myself leaning on a tree, sitting still and quiet thinking about the happy memories Justin and I had. At the corner of my eye I noticed Isaac had stayed, he sat on a tree stump not too far away and mostly watching me.
“Do people know?” I finally said.
“Know about what?” He asked confused.
“About vampire blood. It healed me. Maybe it could have healed Justin.”
“I can’t heal the dead. Besides, I wouldn’t have healed him even if I could.” He answered.
“Why?” I snapped.
“Three reasons. 1) He’s a hunter. 2) Hunters kill vampires and wouldn’t give a second thought about my life. And 3) …” He paused until I looked over at him. “He beat you. When I came over to your house, I could sense you weren’t there. There was this tiny feeling I had, telling me you were in trouble, so I went to find you. I could feel what you were feeling, when you was near death. When I smelled the blood, nothing on this earth could stop me from ripping them apart because I wanted to protect you.”
I stayed quiet. The sad part was I could understand why he killed them. Our souls were linked and he came to my rescue.
“It doesn’t make it okay.” I whispered. He heard and nodded.
“I know. I am sorry. It wasn't my intention to put you through this pain. I didn’t know they were your friends. I thought you were being attacked by strangers.”
Eventually, I mustered all the strength I had to get up. Isaac shot up. Through our soulmate link I could sense how much he wanted to do anything to make it up to me. I held my hand up to stop him.
“Please don’t come any closer.” I took a moment to get my bearings. I gulped. “I want to thank you for saving me and giving me your blood so I don’t have to go home covered in cuts and bruises. I understand what they did to me was wrong but I also know they were good people and didn’t deserve to die. I want you to know that I can’t forgive what happened tonight. I just can’t… And before you give your staunch defence, which I don’t want to hear by the way, I want you to know that I might not ever be able to forgive what happened tonight.”
He tightened his lips, his expression unreadable but then his face softened and he nodded.
“I don’t want to see you again.” It felt horrible to say. I wasn’t sure if I meant it but for the time being I didn’t want to look at him. When I left the woods it felt like I was leaving part of my heart behind and I didn’t look back.
Earlier that day…
Across the town, in a office near the beach, sat Eleanor Bretherick holding a golden goblet with red liquid inside. She swirled her finger in the blood until she could see and hear the conservation between Penelope and her grandmother. She heard the truth of who Penelope was and it pissed her off. When she was finished listening in she made a call… Half an hour later there was a knock at the door. Justin walked inside and came to sit opposite Eleanor.
“You’re late.” Eleanor scowled.
“I came as soon as I could.” He said. “What’s going on?”
“I have some bad news. There is a coven of witches in our town. Its our job to kill them.”
“What are you on about, witches?”
“Justin, there’s not just vampires in this world but more than you can imagine. You are a pure hunter with a hunter’s mark. You know it’s our responsibility to kill all supernatural creatures.”
“I kill vampires because they killed my parents and they feed on innocent people. Why haven’t I heard of real witches before? And what have they done to deserve a death sentence?”
“Witches are just as bad, if not worse than vampires. They would break your neck at the snap of their fingers. They could perform cruel spells on you. It’s kill or be killed in this line of work and I need you to take out the one that threatens us the most.”
“Alright, who is it?” He said.
“Whoa what? I’m not killing Penelope. She’s my friend. She’s our friend and one of us. There’s no way she would hurt...”
Eleanor held up her hand “Justin, I’m not asking for your opinions here. I am giving you a direct order.”
“I don’t care, I’m not killing her.” He argued.
“You are a hunter, Justin. A pure blooded hunter. You won’t be able to fight it. Penelope is a witch and she needs to die. There are no grey areas here - just black and white. I have given you an order and I don’t want to be disappointed. Do you understand?”
“But what you’re asking is wrong. Get someone else to do it.” He yelled, then turned to storm out the room.
However, he didn’t get that far. When he touched the handle he froze, unable to move his own body.
“What have you done?” Justin said with a panicked voice.
“I always get what I want, Justin.”
Justin’s eyes widened as black smoke circled him. It engulfed him and he had no choice when it forced its way through his nose. Justin’s eyes turned black, he blinked and they returned to blue.
“Go kill Penelope.” Eleanor ordered.