Into The Shadows

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Chapter Five

I awoke to the easy sound of birds singing and bright sunlight flooding through an open window. The air smelt like spring and a cool breeze brushed itself across my face so softly it could have been mistaken for a feather.

But, this wasn’t my bed. This wasn’t my bed; this wasn’t my room, or my house.

I sat up in the bed and glanced around. Posters of musicians and Jennifer Lawrence covered every square inch of all four walls, so much so that it was impossible to tell what colour the wallpaper was originally.

In the corner was a magnificent acoustic guitar; black, sleek and shiny. The longer I stared at it, the harder it became to look away; it held my eyes there in a trance, beckoning me over whilst taunting me with its beauty. Beside it sat an amp tangled with wires like vines from a rainforest and if I were to stand next to it, it would quite easily reach my hips.

I reached for my Gram’s necklace and sighed in relief to find it still attached to my neck. My good luck charm, it meant the world to me. Then the door began to open like a whispering wind, quiet and slow; the bottom of the door gliding across the carpet in a stretched hush sound.

I waited and watched in complete silence, frozen in an upright position, my breath quickening; eyes wide like a petrified rabbit.

I was on the verge of crying out when a voice, so gentle it was like a kitten’s fur, came through the gap, closely followed by a head of dark hair and a pair of beautiful eyes full of worry, “Ivy? Are you alright?”

“David,” The word cracked as it left my lips. Seeing his face had caused tears of reassurance to spring to my eyes; I managed to keep myself from launching at him in search of comfort.

He sat down beside me, “You’ve been out cold for nearly two days, I was so worried about you,” He lifted my chin up with his thumb, “And that’s one ugly black eye you have Ivy.”

Automatically I touched the tender patch of skin on my face, flinching as pain shot through the muscle.

David’s face, now very serious, leaned in closer, “Who did this to you? Tell me what happened?”

I swallowed so hard it felt like needles were being shoved down my throat, it hurt so much I was forced to cough. Covering my mouth with my hand and sitting up, I considered my options. I couldn’t tell David. I couldn’t tell anyone. They would think I was crazy, more than crazy, they would think I was loony-bin material. David was my friend, always had been, but I doubted he would believe me when I was finding it hard to believe myself.

I knew, I couldn’t tell anyone.

As the last cough broke out of me, I just leaned back against David’s arm which supported my back and shook my head.

“You can tell me Ivy, you have to tell someone.” I refused to look at him until he took my face kindly between both of his hands, “You can trust me,” David’s eyes were so deep with reassurance I almost cried. Not just the odd sniffle, but really cry. I closed my eyes and found sanctity in the darkness they gave me. This was the only darkness that held no danger.

“I can’t,” I sobbed, feeling tears fall down my cheek as cold as a dead man’s finger, “I can’t.” I put my head in my hands and let David hold me close to him, feeling safer than I had done in as long as I could remember.

He sat there saying nothing and let me cry myself out, stroking my hair, humming soft lullabies, rocking me from side to side and it was only when I was merely shuddering he began to speak again. “Ivy, you have to tell me what happened.”

I wanted to; oh boy did I want to. I just couldn’t bring the words to leave my mouth, they were bottled so tight inside me even I didn’t have access to them. This scared me, the words were building up and building up within me and they had no way out. I thought I might explode, or throw up.

“I want Ben,” I said simply. I knew that he got back that day and I would feel so much better to have him here by my side, so he were able to take me home. If I even had a home left.

So, David let me ring him, the phone rang and it rang and eventually Benjamin picked up.

“Izzy, are you alright? I haven’t heard from you since Friday night, I thought something had happened to you,” The pure worry in Benjamin’s voice made my heart melt and almost brought up a sob.

“Ben, where are you?” I asked.

“I just got into town, but are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I got out, and I’m at David Cutler’s house.” I explained as calm as I could, but then I couldn’t hold in what I wanted to tell him anymore, “You can’t go back to the house. You just can’t go back there.”

“Izzy, I’m already there.” Benjamin’s voice sounded odd and far away.

“Ben?”

No answer.

“Ben?” I said a little more urgently.

No answer. Not even the sound of his breath, just complete silence.

“Ben!”

One sound. One word. No human could have possibly made a sound like that. It was a deep, rasping voice of hunger and longing saying one elongated word that chilled me to the bone, “Ivy…

I hung up sobbing, throwing the phone away from me as if it were a venomous snake.

David immediately came in with the questions, “What is it?”

I couldn’t help but think what’s happened to Benjamin. Had they killed him? Was that what happened to mum too? What did they want with us?

“Ivy? Ivy, what is it?”

I wailed, and I couldn’t stop. “They’ve killed Ben! I know it, they’ve killed him!”

“Who have?!” David frowned, “Ivy, what is going on?!”

“I don’t know!” I wanted to throw up.

David sensed this and just said, “Okay, okay, let’s just try something a little simpler?” He started rubbing my back soothingly.

I nodded but then all of a sudden my story burst out of me like a loose cannon, the words blew up and out like a lit firework. David just sat back and listened until I had finished. Word after word came and I didn’t know when it would be over, reliving that night hurt me in ways I didn’t think possible.

Then the words stopped and all I could hear was the sound of my own pulse inside my head.

David took a fleeting look at me, unable to meet my eyes, “You’re crazy.”

Stunned beyond belief I just stared, wide-eyed, back at him. The only word I could manage was a coarse and almost soundless, “What?”

“You heard me. You’re crazy. There’s no such thing as ghosts or demons.” David’s tone was so full of anger my heart tore open with every word. How could he not believe me?

“You weren’t there! I swear, I swear it couldn’t have been anything else.” I cried in exasperation.

“Yes, it could. It could have been a burglar – of some kind.” All I could hear from his voice was betrayal and fury. “Nobody has a reason to attack you. You’re nice to everyone and you haven’t done a single thing wrong in your life. Also there’s no way that a burglar or attacker would have able to get into your house through the back door and be able to lock it again without a key. And another thing, how does your average burglar control the electric within your house to his requirement? He cou-”

“Stop!” I yelled, covering my ears, “Just stop!”

David returned to silence.

“How can you not believe me? I thought I could trust you! I thought I could tell you anything!” I howled, “How can you not believe me?”

“I would believe you if your story were believable, but it’s outrageous and impossible. There is no such thing as ghosts or demons. Just good people and bad people.”

“Just get out. Leave me alone.” I whimpered.

“Not until you tell me what really happened, I need to know Ivy, you can’t tell that to the police – they’ll lock you away. So just tell me?”

“You already know!” I screamed, “I just told you! It’s your decision to believe me or not!”

“Was it you? Did you do something bad and had to run away because of it? Was it Ivy?” David blamed harshly.

I didn’t want to listen, David had always believed me before, and now here he was accusing me of doing something unspeakable.

“No!” I said, “Of course not! I don’t-”

I was cut off by the understanding in David’s eyes. His change of heart stunned me into motionlessness. “Ivy I’m sorry, I didn’t realise how much of an emotional and mental jolt this had given you. You can tell me when you’re ready.”

“But-”

“No Ivy, really it’s okay. I shouldn’t have forced you into telling me,” He brushed a strand of hair back from my face and tucked it behind my ear, “It’s okay, tell me whenever you want. For now though, sleep. You’re obviously tired. I will wake you up in the morning for school.” And with that he kissed my forehead and left the room, closing the door behind him and leaving me in a distressed and astounded silence.


The next morning I was woken up, as promised, by David. He presented me with the clothes I had worn when I was attacked but this time they had been washed and recently ironed. I smiled in thanks and, when David left the room, took a hot shower and dressed in the confinement of the bathroom. This is where I noticed an ugly bruise on my left shoulder; I left the bathroom thinking of excuses I could use for my physical state.

David was in the kitchen, rummaging through the fridge when I reached the bottom stair. At the sight of me, he turned the radio up and danced to the upbeat song with the bottom half of his body while dropping a loaf of bread onto the counter.

I smiled as he offered me his hand and I took it without hesitation. We danced like fools, he span me away from him and pulled me back in carefully, as not to cause me further injury because my ribs were still incredibly sore from the other night’s ordeal. He held up his arm high above our heads so I could twist elegantly around under it. I hadn’t been this happy, free-feeling with someone other than my brother for a long time and with the most popular, good-looking guy at school smiling his heart-melting smile at me.

The song ended. He bowed and I curtsied over exaggeratedly then I walked over to the fridge to get the milk for my cereal. Then there was an important announcement on the radio.

“A police cordon is still in place at the property on Sutton Road. Fire crews were called to the property at about 23.15 Friday night. The road is still closed as investigators still don’t know how the fire started or why. Luckily no bodies were found so the police have asked if anyone knows the whereabouts of the owners of 84 Sutton Road please, Ms Taylor and her two children Ben and Ivy Taylor, contact the following number…

I dropped the milk carton in my hand. It hit the floor in slow motion and with a low, hollow thud which was closely followed by the sloshing of liquid as it flooded from the carton and glugged onto the kitchen floor.

I didn’t care, I didn’t even notice. I just listened to the radio as it repeated my address.

My house had been burnt down. It had burnt my house down. Was Benjamin inside it?

I felt faint and I had to steady myself on the kitchen table. My clumsy, trembling hand smacked against a glass of apple juice, knocking it onto its side and sending the contents all over the wood, it crept over the surface and when it reached the edge cascaded over it and onto the floor.

David just stared at me. He didn’t speak and neither did I, all I could hear was the sound of our heavy breathing.

“Is this why you wouldn’t tell me what happened?” David broke the silence first, his eyes staring at the ground before my feet. “Are you going to tell me why you set fire to your own house?” A deep frown placed in stone on his beautiful face, “Or more importantly, when were you going to mention it to me?”

“David I didn’t, I swear I didn’t!” I gasped; the burning down of the home I had grown up in was tragic news to me too.

Our eyes met, “Who did it then?” David’s jaw was set; I could hear the rage gradually bubbling up in his voice, “Your invisible man?” He waved his arms up in the air, “I don’t really know how you expect me to believe that!”

“Stop it David,” I whispered, fresh tears brewing in my eyes, “Please just don’t,” Flashbacks of the night attacked my brain; I closed my eyes and did all I physically could to swallow down a sob, “It burnt my house down for crying out loud!” I cried in distress, my outburst sending David into a shaken, immobile state; his next words frozen on his tongue.

I made the sound of a scared dog, collapsing to the floor while breathing in tired sobs and out exhausted wails.

I was more alone than I thought was humanly possible.

I sat there, with the apple juice falling into my hair in beads of cold, sticky fluid and the puddle of milk seeping through the fabric of my jeans.

I didn’t care; I knew I would never see my brother again. My best friend was gone forever; he had been taken away from me. How was I meant to live without my brother? Possibly my mother too.

I was more alone than I thought was humanly possible.

That’s when I felt the strong, warm and comforting arms around me, they held me, they made me feel safe, feel protected. It took me an extra few moments to realize they were the familiar feel of David’s arms.

“I want Ben,” I sniffled. “I want Ben!” I yelled repeatedly. I knew it was hopeless. I knew that he was dead, and whatever had been after me that night had got Benjamin too. It had killed my brother.

I was more alone than I thought was humanly possible.

I knew now that he was dead and that they, whoever they were had killed him and most likely my mother along with him.

I was more alone than I thought was humanly possible.

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