“Who was that guy standing by the tree?” I ask Colton
“What are you talking about Mae? What man?” Colton replies as he pushes his glasses up his nose,with his index finger.
“You di-didn’t see him. He was standing right there in the brightest, whitest suit possible.” I say. Am I going crazy? How could he not have seen him?
“Mae, if you are not going to say anything useful, you might as well shut up. If you have not realised by now a bomb has just exploded and you are not the most important thing in the room.” I’m taken aback by what Colton says.
“Sorry, I just... He seemed strange, that’s all.” I mumble quietly, though he does hear me. For a second, I see regret in Colton’s eyes but then it is gone, like it was never even there.
I stand awkwardly for a few minutes before I bravely-if I do say so myself- ask Colton another question, “You know when Jake said that my friends were safe did he really mean it...or was he trying to spare my feelings?”
“Your friends,Becka and Kaiko, were safely dropped off at their houses yesterday evening. They have no recollection whatsoever of the events that have taken place these past few days so I suggest you don’t mention anything of what we’ve told you about us to them. Now go and make yourself useful. Unless you want them to think you’re crazy.” Colton says, not hiding any irritation in his voice, “And stop distracting me.”
I watch as Colton walks away from me, the image of him getting lost amongst the people that dash about, frantically trying to find lost family members. The place is now one of anarchy, more people emerge from the burning building, each one as bloodied and bruised as the last. Screams can still be heard from within the castle, as the trapped people inside voice there pain and beg for mercy. It’s a devastating view and I have to turn away to stop myself from gagging.
I realise now that I am completely alone. Colton has abandoned me(not that I mind) and Becka, Carma and Kaiko are God knows where. The feeling of loneliness starts to creep in, winding its way up my spine until my whole body feels as though it has been submerged in a pool of it. I just want to go home, I want everything to be normal. My mum’s probably worried sick. Oh God, she’s gonna kill me when I get home.
“Mae!” I turn around at the sound of my name being called, watching as Rolan walks towards me.
“Rolan.” I greet flatly.
“You’re safe.” He says, almost sounding relieved. He comes close to me, too close, and places a light kiss on my cheek. Small tingles erupt from where his lips connect with my skin and I almost smile.
“Yeah,” I say with a hint of confusion in my voice, “I’m safe.” We stand for a second, with Rolan’s hand delicately stroking my cheek as if I’m the most fragile thing in the world, making me feel so safe.
“So,did you miss me?” He says, shoving his hands into his pockets. And he’s back. “Actually, don’t answer that. I already know you did.” I roll my eyes, could he be anymore arrogant? ... Probably.
“I know you’ve got a lot of things to do, but I was wondering whether you found Kaiko and Becka?”
“Yeah, my father sent them home, they’re completely fine.” He answers. I nod and ask again,
“And is Carma ok?”
“Yeah all you’re friends are fine... but are you, are you fine. You’re acting off, quiet, different.” Rolan says, whilst digging his foot into mud and scratching the back of his neck.
“And how would you know Rolan? How would you know how I normally act? You barely know me.”
“No Rolan, I’m done. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. I’ve been put through enough bullshit because of you. I just want to go home, I want to be safe and sound, in my bed.” My voice cracks by the end and tears threaten to spill out my eyes.
Rolan’s jaw clenches shut and his eyes harden no longer showing his emotions. Dark swirls of what I can only describe as ink bleeds into the whites of his eyes until they are completely black. Small but thick hairs begin to appear on his neck and hands. He is changing, shifting, whatever you call it.
“You want to leave. Fine then Mae,leave.” In the blink of an eye, Rolan is gone and I am left with a sinking feeling in my gut.
“Uh...Me?” I ask. A man with dusty blonde hair and a kind features approaches me. He wears a black suit with shiny black shoes.
“Yes, hello ma’am, my name is Alan. I have been told by Master Rolan to escort you back to your home and Master Rolan also said to give you this back,” The man hands me my phone and then says, “If you would like to follow me.” I nod, at least Rolan is letting me go back home.
We walk through a little pathway until we reach a car. The vehicle is black with tinted windows. Nothing can be seen on the inside from out here and to be honest it’s a little unnerving. Alan opens the door to the car and I climb inside, he then opens the drivers door and revs the car to life.
I almost feel selfish for leaving all those people behind, especially at a time like this. The thought that that place might have been people’s home didn’t even cross my mind until now and I’m wanting to flee to the safety of my room. To be honest it doesn’t half surprise me, I am not the head strong heroine that can take everything in her stride and overcome all her challenges. No, I’m just me. An introvert who tries to get by in this extroverted world.
I look out of the car window, recognising the familiar streets of my hometown. The familiarity calms my unsettled nerves and my fast beating heart. We pull into my driveway and relief floods over me. Home, sweet home. I don’t even wait for Alan to open the car door, I bound out and run to my front door, knocking on it, full of glee.
My mum opens the door, dressed in her usual sweat pants and tank top. Her hair pulled back into a messy bun. A grimace on her face. I laugh to myself, I must have woken her up.
“Mum!” I exclaim, wrapping my arms around her in a tight hug. She doesn’t hug me back, instead she says ” Do I know you?”
My heart drops into my stomach and I look up at my mum in shock.
“Mum, it’s me.” I say, voice cracking.
“Look, I don’t have time for you kids and your pranks. I have work tomorrow. Don’t ring my doorbell again.” She closes the door in my face, leaving me shocked and devastated. My own mother doesn’t know who I am.
The phone in my pocket begins to vibrate. I take it out and look at the screen; an unknown number. For reason I feel compelled to answer it, so I do.
“Are you ready to come back now?”