The Howl

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THREE

Is 6:30 and he's not here.

Deya arrived a half hour early to make sure she doesn't miss Tyler when he gets here, and we both dressed up a bit since the restaurant is pretty expensive. Deya and mine's outfits are pretty similar. We're both wearing short-ish skirts, along with some sort of long-sleeve top to go with it. Deya has a navy blue blouse with a high-waisted black denim skirt with silver buttons, fitting her shape perfectly, and matching her crystal blue eyes and amber hair, which is tied into a messy knot at the top of her head. I have a mustard-yellow sweater tucked into a gold-buttoned white skirt, which is also denim (We both got a kick out of that one when she came). My white hair is in a French braid wrapped around my head, strands of hair having fallen out over my hazel eyes. Kinda like Elsa from Frozen.

"Has he answered any of your texts yet?" I ask Deya after a moment's silence.

"No," she says, hanging her head a little. "You?"

"No." I look down, too. I'm really concerned, because Tyler isn't the kind of guy to just bail on us, his best friends. If he had something important he has to do, he would've at least sent us a text to let us know. But he hasn't said anything for the past hour, and it worries me. We tried to call him too, but it went straight to voicemail.

"Lets call his mom," Deya says suddenly.

I think about that. It wouldn't hurt. Maybe she'll tell us what's going on. So I nod. "I'm assuming you have her number?"

She nods, searches for her number. Finds it, clicks call.

Rings.

Rings again.

Rings aga-

"Hello?"

Deya hands me the phone instead of responding. I look at her with confusion in my eyes, but still take it without question. "Hi, Mrs. Crooney. It's Lisanna and Deya."

"Oh, hi girls! What is it you two need?"

I take a steady breath. "Um, Tyler was supposed to be here a little over a half hour ago, and we're worried. Do you know where he is? He's not answering his phone."

"Oh." She hesitates. "Well, he's not here. Said he was going for... a walk."

Her response is normal, but I hear the robotic-like way she delivers it. Something not right. There's something she's not telling us.

"Do you know where?" I ask, determined to find him now, but not letting my eagerness show in my voice, lest she should hear it.

She pauses like she's choosing whether she should tell us the truth or not. "Well..."

"Mrs. Crooney, please tell us. We're worried about our friend," Deya cuts in. "I feel like there's something you're not telling us, and we need to know. To help him."

"Okay. He's gone to the cemetery."

"What? Why?" Deya and I ask at the same time. Why would he need to go to the cemetery?

"I'm afraid that's all I can and will tell you. I've already given you too much information, and I won't say anymore because I care for your safety, and I will not betray what Tyler doesnt want me to tell you. You'll find out the rest yourselves when you get there."

"Wait," I say, confused. "Mrs. Crooney, what-"

Click.

I sigh and look over at Deya, who looks just as confused as I feel.

"Alright. Let's go to the cemetery," I say.

She nods. "Let's see what this is all about."

💛💛💛

We're driving in my car in complete silence. Which were fine with. I just want to think about Tyler and if he's okay. I'm really confused with his mother, though.

What did she mean? Why would she be more concerned for our safety, rather than Tyler's? He's the one who took a walk to the cemetery, for God's sake. And why wouldn't Tyler tell us? This definetly isn't like him at all.

And then I realize what she meant when she said she wanted us safe. She was warning us to stay away from Tyler.

But why? Why would she be scared of her own son? What the hell would Tyler, my best friend Tyler, Tyler who feels guilty for killing an ant, what the hell could he have done that makes his mother worry for us? I'm so confused so confused so confused

And we reach the cemetery. "C'mon, let's go," I say urgently to Deya. She wastes no time getting out, grabbing the flashlight.

We take a look around, checking twice. "He's not here," Deya says, sounding a little angry.

"Let's look around a bit more. We might've missed something," I suggest, desperate to find him now. She nods.

We walk around again, looking in spots we think we might've missed. When we haven't found anything, we start to walk back to the car. That's when I notice something sticking out.

"Hey, what's that?" I point at what I'm seeing, walking towards it.

It looks like a mossy, ancient vault. The doors are actually on the ground, and they're wide open. Which means someone's been here.

Deya seems to think the same thing, because she starts to go down the stairs.

"Wait, Deya!" I whisper-shout. "What if someone else is down there? We need to stay on guard."

"What if it's Tyler? We can't leave him down there-"

"We're going in there; we just need to be cautious. Someone else could be down there and we need to be prepared," I say. "You got something that would work as a weapon?"

She holds up the flashlight.

"Okay, that'll work." I start to go down the stairs.

"Wait, what about you?" Deya says after me.

"I'm a black belt in Martial Arts. My weapons are my fists and my legs. Let's go."

We slowly make our way down the down the stairs and start walking down the corridor into a wider space. Then I hear a faint rustling movement, like metal clinking against itself. A chain?

I start to walk faster, grabbing Deya's arm to keep going. "What is it?" She says, anxious. I put my finger to my lips, telling her to be quiet. I strain my ears, listening. This time, it's louder. Chains moving, and heavy breathing. Deya's eyes go wide. "What the hell?" She whispers.

We jog to the sound, wanting to and not wanting to know who it is.

And then we hear it. The sound that sends us running toward it.

Crack.

A yell of agony, pain, so much pain.

Tyler's voice.

"Tyler? Tyler!" Deya and I are yelling his name, running in the direction of the sound, desperate, scared, afraid afraid afraid and worried and confused and I'm wondering when the hell am I going to wake up from this nightmare and hoping this is just a nightmare, that Tyler's not actually here in agony, and we're all at the restaurant laughing and having a good time and I don't know I don't know anything at all except Tyler's hurt.

He's in pain.

Deya's eyes say she feels exactly how I feel. They're darting from left to right, up and down, diagonal, at me, crazed, confused, scared.

There's an opening to a space, a glow lighting the small area. We waste no time running inside.

I almost fall to the ground. Almost can't believe my eyes.

Tyler is chained to the wall by his arms and legs, wearing nothing but boxer briefs, beads of sweat having made a home on his forehead, dripping down his face like rain. He's staring at us, green eyes wide.

"Lis-Lisanna?" He struggles to speak. "D-Deya? What are you-?" He's interrupted by a loud crack, a sound of pain ripping from his throat. His back is arched, his left shoulder blade sticking out farther than it should.

"Tyler!" Deya and I scream at the same time.

"W-what's ha-happened to you? Who- who did this t-to you? What-" Deya is frantic, trying to understand what's going on and I can't I can't breathe I can't breathe

I'm a pile of bones discarded on the floor, old and forgotten. I tell myself to focus, remind myself how to breathe.

In.

Out.

Count them.

"Tyler," I whisper and I feel a tear roll down my cheek.

He turns his gaze from Deya to me. I take a shaky, uneven breath before I whisper,

"What's happening to you?"


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