Old Nick’s Lascaux
Anguished and tortured screams.
They rung in my ears as I stood near the wall, my eyes squeezed shut and my hands trying to block my ears to stop the agonizing sounds. My heart was beating erratically and I took deep breathes to keep myself calm. I got dizzier and dizzier as the screams pierced through my brain, like a million people being stabbed to death repeatedly. My legs gave out and I slid down the wall. I hugged my legs to my chest and buried my head to keep from crying out. I felt moisture in my eyes but refused to let any tears slide down.
I don’t know how long I stayed like that before I felt a hand on my shoulder and shot up, a shriek escaping my lips. Cold blue eyes stared back at me and I was met with the sight of none other than Mrs. D’onofrio, the in charge or keeper of Old Nick’s Orphanage.
“Ms. Orphelia what is it that you are doing out of bed at three o’clock in the morning?” her rough voice sent shudders through my body as her ice cold eyes stared at me suspiciously. “Are you having nightmares again?”
“No.” I protested, my voice coming out stronger than I felt. “I’m fine; I just had to get a glass of water.”
She raised an eyebrow at my lame excuse but nodded before stepping back as I stood up, my legs wobbling slightly leading me to lean against the wall to support my weak state.
“Then go on, dear. You need all the rest you can get.” The evident glee in her voice was clear and her eyes glinted in the dim hallway light. I nodded curtly and she turned around, walking back down the hall while mumbling incoherent things under her breathe.
I stood in my place, watching her form disappear before taking a step forward, afraid the haunting sounds will come back if I moved too much. When I reached my room, I locked the door behind me and walked to the window. Opening it, I let the cool night air in and inhaled deeply. I could hear the sound of waves crashing against the rocks in the quietness of the night even though the sight was blocked by the grand shady trees.
Old Nick’s Orphanage was one of the oldest and biggest buildings in Old Nick’s Lascaux. It was built near the sea and away from the hustle of the city. The building used to be a mansion belonging to the Osborn family until something tragic happened and they sold it. It remained abandoned for several years before it was bought and turned into an Orphanage. This history was disclosed to us on our first day of every year without any further elaboration of the tragic incident.
Mrs. D’onofrio was the in charge of the orphanage and had been here for as long as I could remember. She was in her fifties with greying brown hair and piercing cold blue eyes. She had a stick thin figure with a crooked nose, thin lips and high cheekbones. Her hollow face resembled that of a crow and her suspicious ways made the orphans steer clear of her. She kept a sharp eye on me amongst all the orphans which could make anyone uneasy. Nobody knew whether there even was a Mr. D’onofrio but we all were too scared to ask and find out.
As for the staff, we never saw any of them, we were forbidden to go to the staff quarters and once when I tried to do so with David, Mrs. D’onofrio found out and banned me from leaving my room for a whole week. She could treat us any way she wanted and nobody would care. After all there were only 14 orphans here so why bother.
“Did you have nightmares again, Jade?” Cara Lovibond asked the moment she saw me, her face scrunching up in concern. I smiled and shut my locker before turning to her and shaking my head. When I received a scrutinizing glare from her, my smile dropped.
“Yes, but don’t make a big deal about it, Cara.” I stated, turning away from her and letting my black hair shield my face from her. She let out a deep sigh and nudged my shoulder so I could turn and look at her.
Cara had been my best friend for four years now, and she knew the most about me. She was slightly taller than me with strawberry blonde hair reaching her waist and brown eyes set in a heart shape face along with a left cheek dimple and a slightly squished nose.
“Fine, but don’t lie to my face, Jade.” Cara said, sounding irritated and hurt. “Your tired pale face is enough for me to know the truth and I would appreciate it if my own best friend won’t lie to me. You can fool others but not me, got it?”
“Got it, grandma.” I said, smiling genuinely now. After we both went to our classes, my smile once again dropped. Cara knew the most about me but the keyword in that is ‘most’. She didn’t know that I didn’t only have nightmares when I slept but also when I was wide awake.
Two years ago, I had been forced to attend a psychiatrist because of my ‘nightmares’ but a few months later the psychiatrist not only refused to see me but also ‘left’ the town a few days later. Unfortunately, I had scared him off and that was when I refused to be called a freak anymore and stopped discussing my ‘nightmares’ with anyone. People backed off when they saw my new personality and Cara was one of the few friends to stick around. They all thought that the brutal death of my parents had left me mentally unstable even though I had only been six then and barely had memory of them.
Eleven years had passed since their death but even now when I thought about the way they died, shudders went through my whole being. I had only heard what happened from the reports and the police as I was too little to remember. All I remember is them leaving me in my room, going into theirs and never coming out.
At the end of the school day I left the building, plugging in my headphones and putting on Beethoven’s melodies. I liked listening to classical songs as well as rock. My car appeared in front me and just then I saw a flash of black near it. My heart pace quickened but I kept walking, my thoughts scrambling to find an explanation that would be logical. The music suddenly became noise and I switched it off. When I was near enough, I saw the silhouette of a boy my age through a car window and I released my breath.
The person stood up and turned, meeting my hazel eyes with his green ones. The tousled black hair and sharp features were of none other than Axel Merlyn.
Axel Merlyn, twin brother of mute Ariel Merlyn was a fellow orphan living in Old Nick’s Orphanage. They had come to the orphanage two weeks after I had when their mother had committed suicide by jumping in front of a car. Both were a year older than me and at first I thought we could be friends but Axel had developed a hatred for everyone and used to lock himself in his room with only his sister to accompany him. Ariel was born a mute, she was a sweet girl but she, like, her brother was an introvert and could only be found in the company of either books or her brother.
Axel lips turned into a sneer and his green eyes glared at me with such intensity that I felt like drowning myself.
Without saying anything, I maneuvered past him and opened my car door, sliding in. I could feel his gaze burning in my back but I kept my eyes on the steering wheel as I inserted the key and the engine purred to life. I pulled the car out of the driveway and just as I was about to pass Axel, he raised his hand. I could see his guarded green eyes sparkling when his lips turned into a secretive smile, making the scar near his lip more prominent as he waved good bye to me.
I drove through the town, heading straight towards the orphanage, as I got nearer I could see the ruins of old buildings near the road. Long mangled trees were planted along the road to create shade and they did so, blocking out the sun rays due to their grand size.
Finally the old huge building appeared, its old walls covered with plantation and its paint long faded away. It was a three story building, some of the windows closed off with bars. The library was on the ground floor, and took over half of the floor. The kitchen and lounge were also on the ground floor along with Mrs. D’onofrio’s room and office. The rest of the building contained empty rooms and some belonging to the orphans. My own was on the highest floor, right end. Behind the building was a forest leading to a cliff. Sometimes, some of us would go there for picnics but never alone.
I parked the car in its normal place, locking it up and making my way to the front door. Last summer, I had gathered up enough money to buy my own car since the bus that went from here to our school was not only unhygienic but also very unsafe. I grimaced and readied myself before opening the door and stepping in.
‘Beautiful darling’ was the word I heard before the bloodcurdling screams of children pierced through my head, fading away quickly as I squeezed my eyes shut. My hands fisted, I stepped forward. Since my sixteenth birthday, this had been the greeting I got whenever I entered the house alone. My legs were wobbly as I rushed upstairs, quickly locking my door behind me and climbing onto my bed, I sat with my back against the headboard and grabbed my music player, plugging in the headphones and playing my normal playlist.
I was surrounded. I looked all around, the figures in cloaks closing in on me. My throat felt dry and my heart was pacing. I tried to scream but couldn’t, my hands closed in on my throat trying to claw any sound out of it but nothing came as even more figures surrounded me. Their faces were hidden by the shadows. I tried to back away but my body wasn’t responding to me, it stood in its position as I screamed internally; panic and fear had taken over my body as I tried to do something, anything.
The figure that was nearest to me raised its talon like hands. The metal nails were long and sharp as they advanced towards me, touching my shoulder slightly but enough pressure was applied to emit a droplet of blood from my skin. A sheering pain went through my body at the mere contact before it blazed into full fire as one of the figures behind me dug its nail into my back. I wanted to cry and scream but remained frozen. My knees buckled and I fell, I wanted to squeeze my eyes shut to end this but they lingered open.
The figures were now all around me, I looked down to see blood pooling on the ground before looking up and finding myself face to face with one of the most horrific things I have seen.
Their faces were no longer hidden; instead I could see the hollowness of their face, the sunken cheeks, the vacant inhuman pupil-less eyes and the perpetually screaming mouth. They had shark-like jagged teeth and their black tongue rolled in their mouth as if they were soundlessly singing.
As I stared at them, their faces morphed into ones of those whom I knew. First appeared my parents, their eyes still void but their lips turned up into a cruel smile, all the rest took the shape of people I saw daily at shops, in school and even some of the orphans.
The crowd suddenly parted and there in the mid stood a soaking 14 year old David Price. His wet brown hair looked thin as they dripped water onto the floor, his blue eyes popping out of his thin and weak face. He was a picture of vulnerability as he moved towards me soundlessly, his face sad and water dripping from him and making a trail behind him. He mouthed me some words but I was unable to decipher them as blood rushed into my ears. Once he was near enough, he said words that sent shudders through my being; ‘We are coming for your death.’
His voice was the completely opposite of how he looked; it was melodious, gleeful and yearning. His hands gripped my shoulders and despite his appearance, his fingers dug painfully into my skin. My body was protesting in agonizing pain and I opened my mouth to let out a bloodcurdling scream before slumping on to the ground and drifting into oblivion.
“Jade! Wake up!” A familiar rough voice floated into my ears as someone shook me by my shoulders. “Wake up, Orphelia!”
My eyes fluttered open and I could feel the sweat covering my body, I threw off the blanket and got up, my legs wobbling so much that I had to lean onto the cold wall and slide down, pulling my legs up to my chest, I buried my head. I was breathing heavily and I could still feel the ache throughout my body. A hand was placed on my shoulder and I let out a shriek as I looked up into the face of one of the horrific things in my dream.
“Jade, relax! It’s me, Axel!” I shook my head, unwilling to look up. I felt him grab me by my shoulders and finally looked up into his emerald eyes. The moonlight from the window illuminated his scar as his eyes inspected me meticulously.
“What happened?” He asked seriously, not taking his hands off me. I swallowed, my dry throat making my voice coarser.
“Nothing.”, was the answer I gave, looking away from his curious green eyes. My hands were clenched at my sides and I could feel a sob building up in my chest. Cold hands grabbed my chin and I gasped as Axel faced me towards him.
“What happened?” He asked again, a bit more commanding this time and I searched his eyes, trying to find out why the green eyed orphan was so keen for my answer.
“Why are you here?” I asked instead of answering, my weak voice cracking at the end. Axel stared at me emotionlessly, both of us frozen in our positions as we tried to decipher each other’s thoughts. I could see the confusion and curiosity shining in his eyes and this close I noticed that the scar beside his lip was jagged shape, neither a moon nor lightening. My breath came in pants and my body was soaked from the sweat while my head protested in pain. I had a stack of hidden medicine to help me in such situations but I couldn’t get them while Axel was still in my room and currently inspecting me like a chemist inspecting a new chemical.
Axel finally sighed and stepped back, giving me more space to breathe which I did so while wrapping my arms around my knees more tightly. He gave me another glance and dug his hands into his pockets, his normal façade back on. Before he could turn away, I opened my mouth.
“What are you doing here? And why are you dressed like you are going out?”
One of his eyebrows’ cocked up in amusement while one corner of his lips turned up into a smirk.
“I’ll answer if you do.” He stated calmly, looking me daringly in the eye as if taunting me. When I remained silent, his smirk widened, his scar appearing ominous in the moonlight and he left the room without another word. His footsteps faded slowly, echoing through the old building and I kept sitting in my place until my headache made a comeback and I got up to take a tablet for it.
I stared at my bed in fear and kept my distance as if it was the bed which had caused the nightmare to happen. I knew that wasn’t true but I still remained away from it and instead, went to stand near the window, letting the cool wind in. It felt good on my heated body and I wrapped my hands around my waist, staring out into the night, the moon shining down.
I was about to step back when a movement on the ground caught my attention and I looked down to see a girl of about my age looking back up at me. The moonlight made her appear ghostly and I could feel her eyes trained on me, staring at me in such a way that made me shudder in fear. The girl kept staring and I felt hypnotized by her petite figure. She finally turned away, not looking back once as she entered the woods and disappeared into them like the ghost she had appeared to be, leaving me with unanswered questions and curiosity.