The boy in front of me twirled a butterfly knife over his hand as we rolled pass the giant spiked gates. The blade swung back into the handle for a few seconds before he released it again, repeating the same pattern almost like it was a nervous twitch. He wasn’t the only one on the bus who’d decided to bring an extra weapon this morning. The student next to him showed off a tomahawk axe that his father had given him, and a few girls had throwing daggers strapped to their boots or hips like fashion accessories. Who could blame them? Especially if what they had been whispering about was true.
The breaks whined as the bus came to a full stop inside the grounds, which was new, usually the driver dumped us by the curb outside. Students rushed out as soon as the doors opened. I rose off the back seat and joined the flow. Most kids clumped together in groups of two or three, while they walked toward the main building; only a few of us traveled in solitude across the field, of which, I was the only girl.
A cool breeze danced through my untamed carrot mop and brought with it a familiar prickling that tightened my neck muscles. I stopped and turned. The bus was pulling out of the school, but the gates did not close behind it. They would not until the first bell rang. There should be guards posted at the entrance. It would’ve been smart to have some after what I’d overheard this morning.
The hairs on my arms rose up as a new tremor crept up my spine like a wet snake. On the other side of the road, the rising sun casted shadows through the gently swaying evergreens and played tricks with my mind. Figures took shape, crouching under the trees, darting between them and staying in the darkness. The fuzzy forms reminded me of the beasts terrorizing our community. Monsters, who had patiently bided their time before claiming their newest victim last night. My heart convulsed into a thumping frenzy and I jolted backwards, seeking to put distance between me and the possible danger but instead, I slipped on the dew-slicked surface. When I looked back the threat had vanished, like it had never been there.
A gunmetal Aston Martin turned in and I glanced back towards the school. There was no one else nearby, the rest of the students were already entering the main building. I whipped around and rushed for the safety the teaming locker hall would bring. It wasn’t wise to be alone at the moment, even if I was within the school grounds.
Inside the corridor, low murmurs created a heavy blanket like atmosphere. More than half the students wore weapons like they were part of their daily wear, in easy access locations. It was the smart thing to do, since four people had already gone missing—not including the one last night.
I copped the normal amount of lethal glares on the way to my locker, which I’d learned to avoid but today, I kept my eyes open for Marc. I was worried about him, with everything that was going on. I didn’t want him to be singled out for all the wrong reasons. From my locker I grabbed a fraying book then hurried toward the back stairwell.
As I approached a cluster of younger students, from behind, someone shoved me, hard. I bulldozed into the group. They shrieked and hollered.
“Get off me!”
Their hands struck out, bouncing me off on to the next person like I was a pinball. Pressure grew at the base of my skull. I tripped over a dropped bag, sliding face first down the stairs. Luckily the building was so old, that the steps were narrow and worn down enough not to cause too much damage.
I slid to a stop on the landing. My head throbbed. It was the telltale start of a vision, and because so many people had just come into contact with my skin, I had no idea who’d instigated it. It had been weeks since I’d last had a touch induced premonition. Usually, when someone accidentally touched me, I’d fight the vision because I didn’t like loosing control of my mind, but this one was so powerful I doubted I could stop it. Tears leaked from my eyes. My skull felt like it was going to explode. Then everything went blank.
A white screen filled my mind. The sound of my pulsating heart flooded my ears, its pace increasing at a disturbing rate. Air rushed out of my lungs. I gasped for air.
Images blurred across the screen. My stomach lurched like I was falling from a cliff.
Everything jerked to a halt.
A crescent moon lit a black sky. The outlines of trees passed as I raced by. I sucked in oxygen greedily, trying to refill my hollow lungs. My legs muscles burned. I glanced down and jumped over giant root. I was barefoot, but they weren’t my feet. They were small, childlike. Hot tears streamed down my face, but I didn’t know why I was crying. My head turned involuntarily. A hulking figure blurred through the trees. Fear filled my core and a high pitch whimper—that sounded nothing like me—echoed through the muted forest.
What is wrong with my legs? I can run faster than this.
Like a drill piercing my head, the pain caught up. The throbbing agony that usually came with a vision made me remember, this was not real. This wasn’t even my body. I was seeing everything from the victims perspective. If I could recoil in terror I would have, but I was just a spectator. Again the runner looked behind and we saw the stalker, more clearly this time. His crimson eyes gleamed in the darkness. She sobbed loudly. I didn’t need the gift of foresight to tell me this was not going to end well. Something slammed into my toes. No, not just mine, the girl’s too. Agony warped our foot, at least one toe had broken on impact. The ground sped towards our face. Rocks dug into our arms and elbows as our body tumbled into the dirt.
A faint voice called in the distance. “Emilia.”
We rolled over and over. A frantic pulse pounded in our ears.
“Emilia.” The voice came louder. I recognized it.
The moon melted away like water washing over wet paint. My body started to shake. A sharp sting bloomed over my left cheek. I blinked. Bright light overwhelmed my vision and I groaned. Gradually, I focused on the source of another pain. Marc’s hand squeezed my arm so tightly I thought my skin might burst.
“Ow…” I moaned and squinted, trying to adjust to the sudden increase of light.
He frowned, relaxing his grip. “Sorry, you wouldn’t wake.” He knelt next to me, his dark brows furrowing together as he inspected me. At some point he must have propped me up against the wall. I glanced around, the stairwell was empty bar us. The students from before had taken off, obviously none of them had cared if I was hurt.
“Can you stand?” He asked.
I nodded and regretted it as soon as I did. My head hadn’t recovered, it felt like I’d just bruised the front of my brain.
Marc stood over me, “Break anything?”
“Don’t think so.” I groaned, while trying to stand. He stepped back. It wasn’t very gentlemanly of him, he could’ve helped me up. Unmitigated pain ripped through my right foot as I put weight on it. I cried out. He rushed in and caught me before I collapsed.
“What happen to your hands?” I looked down and my palms were nearly rubbed raw. “Did you get that from the fall?” He asked.
Had I? I did just fall down a flight of stairs but the scrapes were suspiciously similar to the injuries the victim had suffered in my vision. I shook my head. The idea was preposterous. Even the notion of it made me want to laugh, as if I could get injured from a vision.
He leaned in closer and gasped as the grazes healed in front of his eyes.
My mouth dropped. The tightness in my knees was subsiding and my foot felt like it was almost back to normal. I stared blankly into his grey eyes. His pupils reflected my shock.
I managed to blink and was first to recover. I tried to smile to hide my unease, but only one side of my face responded. “Maybe I’m more powerful than we thought? Supers heal fast and my mom is one, so…maybe I can too?”
He shook his head slowly. “Has this ever happened before?”
He looked me over before wrapping his gloved hands around my upper arms. “You can’t tell anyone about this Emilia. Do you understand? They’d never stop hunting you.”
“Marc, you’re over reacting.” I shrugged him off. “No one is hunting me. I’m not powerful enough for anyone to care.”
“You have to be careful, even with the Hunters protection, many will view you as unaligned.” He increased the distance between us, and it was only now that I noticed the purple bruise on his jaw.
“What happened to you? And why are you wearing gloves?” I reached for his face and he flinched away, like I was diseased. My heart ached with rejection. “Sorry.” I mumbled. Marc was my only friend at Deity High. In my three months here, he’d been the only one who hadn’t shunned me or held my human ancestry against me, or at least hadn’t until now.
He sighed. “It’s not you. It’s just better you don’t carry my scent.”
“What?” I had super senses just like everyone else at school, but that didn’t mean I could pick up a person’s individual scent like a dog. He was being a bit extreme. Sure there were going to be idiots who’d assume the worst just because he happened to be half werewolf, but who cared about them. I certainly didn’t.
“Don’t talk to me until this is over. Okay?” My world shattered.
“The second bell is about to go. You’d better get to class.” He bolted up the stairs, blurring out of sight with his enhanced speed. A hollowness expanded through my chest. A second later a chime echoed through the empty halls.
Shit. I was going to be late for class.
I snuck into the extravagant auditorium just as two teachers walked up to the stage. The gothic decor and lingering scent of century old dust made this place seem like a set straight out of a Dracula movie, but thankfully vampires weren’t real. I crawled along the burgundy carpet and popped up in a seat seven rows back, relieved that no one had noticed my tardy entry.
The other students sat in the first three rows, but there was a distinct divide down the middle, because today was a joint lesson between classes A and D. Which is going to be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I don’t know what the teachers were thinking. But I’m told, this was an annual event, aimed to inspire us D students—the subs—to be more like the supers, the uber powerful A brats.
Everyone at this school, in the whole blooming town—Sanctuary—was a Deus, it’s Latin for deity, as in gods, as in inflated ego much? They’re all those creatures that go bump and shred you to ribbons in the night. Sub is the Deus’s classification for the weaker species, the cute, cuddly creatures like fairies, gnomes, brownies, and the other ones featured in happily ever after fairy tales. As opposed to the supers that usually played the villains, like dragons, griffins and harpies, and who are full of themselves because they dominate the elementals.
A sort of frenzy buzzed through the air, coming off of every girl from class D—except me. They bounced in their seats and pointed excitedly at the supers. Strangely enough, the A students were not complaining nor sulking about the setup, it seemed like they were as resigned to the impending torture as I was.
There was one student in particular that was getting most of fingers aimed in his direction. Christian Hunter, an annoying griffin, who came complete with excellent grades and breeding, and of course was student bloody president. He was sickeningly perfect and one of the biggest, rudest snobs I’d ever met.
During my first morning at Deity High I’d crossed paths with him, and like most girls in this freaky ass school I’d been mesmerized, by his piercing aqua eyes set against his golden skin and his tousled sun kissed hair, that was almost too long to spike. The air had felt like it had been charged with electricity as I’d stared across the empty hall, mouth gaping, at probably the most stunning male specimen I’d ever seen. But my dreamy state lasted only a minute before his cool mask turned into a murderous glare that’d made me flinch as if he’d slapped me. After that he’d always scowl at me. Only at me, to everyone else he was cordial, somewhat aloof but not glowering. So I quickly learned to keep my distance, it helped considering he had a cult following at school and I’d been warned by many of them not to get close.
I sighed loudly when the instructors—Miss Forrester, my teacher, and Professor Alcock, a tall, sinister looking man—started the Magic Practice (MP) lesson.
Professor Alcock’s voice boomed over the chatter. “Quiet.” The effect was immediate. “Miss Forrester and I took the liberty of pairing you up before class in an effort to maximize time. We’ve randomly selected the pairs, so there are to be no complaints and no changes.”
Everyone nodded. This was not a man to question nor deny. It dawned on me how very lucky I was to have the sweet, air headed siren, Miss Forrester, who was fresh out of teacher’s college. She was of course much nicer to look at than her male counter part, as a siren she was genetically predisposed to have the looks and a voice that would lure men to their deaths. Some of the human legends about Deus were correct but not many.
“Once I’ve called your pair, the two of you may take your bags and find a quiet place to practice. You will return here five minutes before the end of class. We will be watching, so I expect you all to behave responsibly.” He looked pointedly at a few students in the front row. “My class, remember what you are being graded on.” His deep voice resonated as his dark beady eyes swept over them before he held up a clipboard and read. “Right. The first pair is Ashbolt and Short. Next, Drake and Chase. Come on. Quickly. Get your stuff and scatter.”
Four students departed, and others stood as he called their names. Alcock was calling the pairs in order of class A students’ surnames, which meant I could be called at any time, so why bother paying attention? My thoughts returned to the whispers I’d heard on the bus. Could it really true? Had a student become a victim last night?
“Hunter and Hunter.” Professor Alcock's voice caught my attention. That’s strange. Why did he just read out Christian’s name twice? I looked up and found half the girls twisting in their seats, glaring at me.
“Miss Emilia Hunter. Get a move on.” Professor Alcock bellowed, looking directly at me.
Crap. Troll vomit! I’d completely forgotten, Hunter is me now. Fan-frigging-tastic.