The Monster Below

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Part 1

Well that could have gone better!

Why did he have to take it so hard? It wasn't as if it was really going anywhere. We had been going out for almost a month and had only kissed once. I just couldn't bring my self to do it, it seemed wrong. James was a nice enough guy, spiked brown hair, brown eyes, nice body. He could probably be a model he was that good looking. But he did nothing for me. The one time we had kissed I had been a little tipsy, having drunk a 2 litre bottle of cider with my friend Anita before we made the mistake of drunk calling James and his friends. And to be honest that kiss hadn't really done anything for me. It was never going to work between us. So why had he been so shocked that I had ended it? Anyone could have seen it coming.

Checking through the rooms of our small townhouse as I made my way upstairs to my room I checked that my parents were out, more than likely at one of the neighbourhood meetings. Someone round here was always gathering the troops to tackle what they called unsuitable behaviour in the local area. Which basically meant moaning and whining about the local youth having more fun than them.

When I was satisfied that the place was indeed empty I practically ran to my room. Jumping on to the bed I settled myself in thr middle, leaning back against the pillows, making myself comfortable. The sun was setting so I knew he would be here soon. A few minutes later his voice rose from below, sending a shiver down my spine.

"What are you doing home so early? I thought you would be out with your friends. It is a Friday isn't it? Or have I got my days mixed up again?"

"No it's Friday alright, no more school thank god, but I just couldn't be bothered with them tonight."

"So instead you came to me." I could hear the smile in his voice. He may always be at me to spend more time with my friends but he couldn't hide that he was glad to hear from me. "So tell me what happened." He also always knew when something was wrong."

I ended things with James tonight. He didn't take it well."

"I thought things were going well between you two."

"They were at first, but I don't know, I just couldn't get into it."

"And he was upset?"

"A little it seems, though I don't know why. It was obvious to all that it wasn't going anywhere. Even his friends seemed surprised by his reaction. So anyway, once I got that out of the way I came back here, left the others to party without me.

"They wouldn't miss me. Anita was the only one that wanted me around, the others all thought I was strange, werrid. James may be mad at me for now but I was in no doubt that the others weren't at this very moment telling him he had had a lucky escape.

"You should be at that party Phoenix, not spending all your time hiding away in your room."

"I'm not hiding away, I'm talking to you, there's a difference."

Laughing, "Maybe but your parents don't know that, the last thing we need is them thinking there is something wrong with you again and having you locked away."

He had a point but I didn't want to spend time with them. I liked coming home before the sun set so that the moment it did I could head to my room under the pretence that I was doing homework and talk to him until I fell asleep.

"I know, but it's so hard, I have nothing in common with any of them. I never know what to take about and it wouldn't matter if I did, there never gonna forget that day."

Years ago when we first moved to this town, when I had first met Anita, me and a group of friends had been playing hooky from school. We hadn't wanted any of our parents to find out so had headed away from town towards the old estate. The place had once been a great neighbourhood but when the locals fell on hard times things changed. What was once a thriving community was now an area of crime and burnt out houses. That hadn't scared me. The place looked terrifying, but no one was around, it was at night when you had to steer clear. We had been messing around playing hide and seek in some of the old buildings, the ones not on the verge of falling down, when I had seen it. A symbol. One that he had warned me about.

It was a simple thing, a circle with strange lettering around it and an eye in the middle. He had told me that if I ever saw that symbol I was to go straight home and never go back there again, said it wasn't safe. So I did. My friends had been skiving when I had demanded that we leave, said it wasn't safe. They had argued with me at first but eventually after I began freaking out, shouting that it wasn't safe, they conceded and left with me. The next day it was all over the news that a group of youths had been killed in a bloody killing... in that very spot. Since then I had been seen as the freak of the group. I think they only kept me around because Anita.

Talking of which decided to at that very moment to crash through my front door. "Phoenix, you're never gonna guess what just happened."

This was gonna be a long night.

"Phoenix where are you?"

"I'm here," quickly scrabbling up from my bed and heading for the door. "I'll be back as soon as she gone," I whisper, looking down at the darkness under my bed. I had looked hundreds of times over the years but there was nothing to see. He had explained to me once that even though I could hear him, he was not physical there. I still didn't quite understand it but who was I to question.

"Take your time, I will still be here when you return."

Running down the stairs in a panic, not wanting her to come into my room, I practically ran into her as she ran round the corner about to take to the stairs.

"Wow," grasping my arms tightly to avoid falling backwards. "Your in a rush, " she laughed. "You hiding someone up there?" Giving me a strange look.

"What? No, of course not."

"You know in all the time that we have been friends I have never been in your room."

It was true, no one but my parents had ever stepped foot in my room, though nowadays I didn't even allow them in. I wasn't stupid, I knew that they went in there when I was at school, but it wasn't as if they were going to find anything. But I felt uneasy about people going in there. I think a small part of me wanted to make sure that he never spoke to anyone but me. He was mine, my monster. If he spoke to someone else he might like them better than me and leave.

"Your not missing anything, it's just a room."

Linking my arm through hers I began moving her towards the kitchen. I needed to get her back on topic and away from wanting to see my room. "So what did you come to tell me?"

"Oh my god, you missed everything," she began, her eyes lighting up with excitement. "The moment you left James started drinking loads, downing every shot in sight. He was a mess. Anyway, the guys started with the usual shit, you know the whole 'more fish in the sea' type thing. When that didn't work and he just kept going on and on about it Harry started slagging you off, like he does."

Yeah, I knew perfectly well what Harry thought of me, he made it his mission in life to let me know on a daily basis.

"Well then it really kicked off. James swung for Harry but in his drunken state the punch landed on Adam instead, and Adam in his usual way ended up swinging for someone else and before too long all the lads were brawling."

Anita went on and on about the fight that had broke out for almost an hour until she noticed the time. "Crap, I didn't realise it was so late." Jumping up from the table she grabbed her coat, shoved her shoes on and was running to the door within seconds. "The oldies will be finishing up their meeting soon, I have to get back before they do."

Anita's parents were the leaders of the neighbourhood watch, were on the school's board of governors and numerous other groups. They tended to be at meetings night and day, leaving Anita to take care of herself. But the one rule they had, and refused to bend on, was they she went home straight after school each day and did not leave again until it was time to return there the following day. Only at weekends was she granted some freedom, though even that was limited. The weekend rule was as soon as it started to get dark she had to be home, which wasn't great at this time of the year when the sun set ridiculously early.

"Oh, Phoenix. Now that your not with James who you gonna go to the dance with?"

Hell I had forgotten about that. Our school was holding a winter dance, that was actually taking place on my birthday. I couldn't turn up alone. How embarrassing would that be. And the chance of finding someone else to take me now was like zero.

"I have no idea."

Once she was out the door I quickly made myself some food and took it upstairs to eat. Just as promised he was still there, lurking unseen in the darkness.

"So what did the girl have to tell you?"

"Apparently James got drunk and a fight broke out. I shouldn't be surprised really, every party that Adam attends usually ends in a fight. The only difference tonight is that James threw the first punch."

"True, I don't think you have ever told me about a party that hasn't ended with that boy hitting someone. And if getting drunk is how that lad James deals with his problems, then I think you made the right choice dumping him."

"You think really think so?"

"You deserve the best," an emotion I couldn't quite place in his voice.

"Thanks. Problem now is I have no one to take me to the dance. I can't go by myself. "

"That's probably for the best."

"For the best?" For some reason he didn't seem keen on this dance, he'd been trying to talk me out of going ever since I first brought it up. "How is being dateless and missing the best dance of the year 'for the best'?"

Out of all the dances our school held the winter dance was the best, mostly because it was our R.E teacher and a couple of teaching assistant that chaperoned. Mrs Newton had kind of lost her faith in humanity a few years back, so no longer cared what any of us got up to. And the TA's, well I think it was them that spiked the punch at last year's dance.

"No reason, I just remember the state you came home in last year," his voice sounding a little off.

I wish I could see him, see his face. Maybe then I might be able to tell when he was keeping something from me. But then again, while his voice wasn't scary in the slightest, I had no idea what he actually looked like. I mean was he green, red? did he have horns? massive long teeth? I had no clue. In my head I always pictured a young Johnny Depp. A girl could always dream.

"That wasn't my fault. I had no idea the stuff was spiked, not until it was too late anyway." Too late meaning I was passed out hugging the toilet. "Anyway unless I can find someone to go with it looks like I'll be spending my birthday at home, alone."

"You're never alone Phoenix, I'll always be here."

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