The Unkown Land

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Chapter 8

Tossing the jasmine had not, however, tossed aside the questions her mom had, nor the questions Tracy had. All the way home her mom kept prodding and prodding, not taking ‘no comment’ as a valid answer. They finally ended up in a fight, and they both slammed into the house after her mom parked the car in the garage.

“I still don’t understand why a boy you say you hardly know would give you a flower that must have cost hundreds of dollars, and why you seem to despise him for it? Boys don’t just give girls presents like that without it meaning something!”

“Mom, just stop, OK, just stop! I don’t know what he wants with me, he went to the fair with Amber, for God’s sake.”

“And don’t you swear, young lady!”

“You want to hear swearing? I haven’t sworn at all. I do not know him, I do not care about him, I don’t want to know him. I think he is rich and arrogant and thinks he can get away with murder, if he wants to. I don’t want to talk about him any more!” Tracy ran upstairs and slammed the door of her room, hard.

“This isn’t over Tracy. Tomorrow, when you’ve calmed down, we’ll talk this out. You hear me?”

Tracy heard her mother’s door close, and proceeded to cry. What did Neil want? Why did he pick her? What was she going to do about the fact that he could insert himself in any aspect of her life as long as they were in the same town? How could she make her mom understand this?

Her cellphone rang, and she picked it up without even looking at caller ID. Only her mom, Miss Jonker, the school secretary and Amber had this number. And Amber only had it because of the movement classes.

“Hello.”

“Is that Tracy?” The voice was deep and instantly recognizable – Julian. How had he gotten the number? Why was he calling her?

“Yes?” Oh my god, was that all she could say, yes? And not even positive yes, no, she had to go and make it a question. She fell on her bed, curling into a fetal position out of sheer embarrassment.

“This is Julian Vay, you know, who w-wrote the music you danced to?”

“Hi, oh hi, Julian. Yes, I know who you are.” Her voice was a good octave above her normal speaking voice. “It’s – uh – nice to hear your voice.” Nice to hear your voice? How lame was that?

“Good. I w-wanted to say that I thought you were the star tonight, you had so much energy and light in you. I don’t know if you ever get a chance to go to the Varsity Inn? We play there Sunday afternoons and if you w-wanted to come and w-watch I’d love to talk to you.”

“Varsity Inn? That’s the place next to the river, right? Maybe, I don’t know, I’d have to ask my mother. I mean, I’d love to, but..”

“Don’t w-worry. If I see you, I see you. Sleep well.” He hung up.

Oh you idiot – just the most sexy and wonderful man ever calls you and invites you out and you have to ask your mother! What are you, twelve? And what are you going to do about all the other stuff? Oh God, my life sucks, she thought, and tossed and turned for what felt like hours before finally falling asleep.

Sunday morning was quiet with that sulky silence that always follows raw emotion between family members, but Tracy was worried on too many levels to worry about the fight. She decided to look up jasmine on the internet, which she should have done ages before, and found that it was indeed a flower associated with revolutions – Chinese students had carried jasmine flowers in their protest marches – and the name came from a word meaning ‘gift of god’.

She also decided to look up swords, and was surprised at how many sites there were for buying, selling, trading and learning how to make them. To her even greater surprise the name Neil Juvay popped up as a collector of swords, and as a holder of several championship titles in fencing with foils and epees, which, she learnt as she continued reading, were closer to the traditional sword, while foils were simply very lightweight, flexible swords that were used mainly to run an opponent through, having no cutting edge.

She also learned that the University in Lincoln had a fencing team and offered lessons for anyone interested.

In the back of her mind she kept replaying her inane, inept conversation with Julian, and at the back of that she kept screaming at her mom. She finally decided she’d have to try and think things through logically. And the best way to start was to go for a long run.

“Mom, I’m going running, OK?”

Her mom came through from the living room and stood in the doorway.

“No, you’re not. I said last night that we’d talk things through, and you are not going out until we do. So, if you want to go out, you first come and sit down and answer my questions calmly and clearly, and then we’ll see.”

Tracy’s redheaded temper, always on a short fuse, rose like a tsunami, but then she saw the look in her mom’s eye and realized she’d have to rein it in.

Seated on either side of the dining room table, they looked at each other for a while, then her mom said, “Tell me how you two first met.”

“It wasn’t even a meeting, not really. I was outside the principal’s office and he came out and spoke to me for like two seconds before going to his class. He simply wanted to know how to get class. And I told him and we hardly spoke since then until yesterday evening. And that’s the truth.”

Except that I’m leaving out the part where he tried to strangle me and I fell into an alternate world and I’m scared spitless every time I see him. And that he’s written me a ton of notes. And I wish he’d move away again so that I can get on with my life. And that I really don’t know how the hell he knew about me and jasmine and wanting some.

“You’re not telling me everything. That’s no reason for him to fly flowers halfway around the world to give to you.”

Maybe he’s feeling guilty about his impulse to murder me, or maybe he’s trying to win my confidence so that he can try again.

“Honestly, mom, you can check with the teachers and with Mr. and Mrs. Young about visitors I’ve had in the dorm. We spoke outside the principals office, we saw each other from a distance since he’s in grade twelve and I’m in eleven, we spoke again for a moment at the fair when I caught a fluffy toy for Amber, who was hanging on his arm, and we spoke last night. That’s three times in total, I don’t like him very much, and I don’t know why he would get me flowers, let alone that flower.”

“Oh Tracy, no boy does things for no reason.”

“Mom, please, please, please listen carefully. The first time he spoke to me he tried to turn on the charm and I cut him off, because there’s something about him that makes my flesh creep. I don’t know what it is, but I didn’t like him then and I hate him now for what he’s done to make you distrust me.”

Tracy could see her mom trying to listen, and finally relenting.

“Well, in that case I suppose we can call it settled. I still think he’s a nice, polite young man, but I know that sometimes people just dislike others for no reason. I think you should talk to him and make it clear that gifts like that are not welcome, you owe him that much at least.”

Tracy could see there would be no way around this.

“Yes, I’ll talk to him tomorrow at school. Can I go for my run?”

Tired but full of endorphins, Tracy sat down at her desk later and decided to write things down.

1. I was strangled and fell into a different world where I am the fulfillment of a prophecy – what evidence do I have for that having happened?

She looked at that for a while, then realized that she hadn’t really looked through the backpack she’d carried to the fair since the whole thing happened. But, that pack was still in her dorm room, so she couldn’t do anything right away. She added a note about checking the backpack as soon as she could.

2. Why does Neil want to kill me, talk to me, give me flowers?

There did not seem to be any way to answer those questions from what she knew. Either she would have to talk to Neil, or she’d have to find a way to find out about him. Wait, didn’t he say something about his family having holdings all around the world. Juvay, Juvay, not a common name, surely? Good old Internet to the rescue! She logged back in and typed in Juvey. She found no hits for family names, but a lot of hits for juvenile detention centres. Maybe he spelt it with an a – Juvay. This was more promising, and she soon found the homepage of Juvay Holdings. It truly was a globe-spanning organization, mainly from Chile but with a lot of interests in South Africa and Australia according to the blurbs, but there was no mention of a family, or any hints about who the owners were.

Another dead end. Nothing about A Neil Juvay, nothing about parents, nothing about dead girls with red hair…

Could she talk to him in safety? Maybe in the cafeteria? Did she need answers that badly? She’d have to think about that one.

3. How did Julian get my number, and how can I get hold of him again?

That one was easy to answer – their common link was Miss Jonker. She could ask the teacher about it on Monday, and maybe get to the Varsity Inn some Sunday.

4. If I do believe that I was in another world, and that I need to go back, how do I go about getting a sword? Maybe join the fencing club? Investigate it further next week.

That seemed to cover most of the issues, and she put the pad into her bag. And went downstairs to help her mom with lunch.


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