Chapter 1: September 2030
I wish they’d shut up, you’d think it was world war four down there. They’ve been at it since 5am fighting about the only thing keeping us out of Camp, Dad’s job. Being associated with anyone classed as “Abnormal” is not highly thought of in this day and age, luckily witches don’t have any of the four recognised abnormal genes but if we were ever caught practising witchcraft we’d get a one-way trip to the gallows.
I shake the depressing thoughts from my head when I hear the car horn outside. I look out my bedroom window and see Stefan Bain stationed by that hideous jeep. His dirty blonde hair brushes like feathers against his fair skin. His blue eyes look up to meet mine, a flirtatious smile creeping across his lips. He looks so handsome in his cadet uniform. He acknowledges the troops as they march past on morning patrol their boots stomping obnoxiously. There’s no telling if they’re all "pure" humans, probably not. I quickly dress, run swiftly downstairs passed my feuding parents and sprint out into the first light of Monday morning, first day of semester. Just turned 24 and still in mandatory studies. Whoever thought it was a good idea to keep the youth of Britannia in education until 25 has some issues, they clearly don’t know what else to do with us. Then again you could say the entire situation with the faceless King has issues, a faceless fascist passing judgement and setting down ridiculous laws.
Thinking about it gets me irritated for the day ahead but Stefan greets me with a kiss that sweetens me up. I inhale his scent, a mixture of citrus soap and that autumn smell. His eyes look a little distant but I’ve become used to ignoring it. I climb into the jeep and pull out my phone.
I never had to get up this early in the city so when my alarm goes off I want to smash it. Why did I come here? 50,000 people living in a fenced in former tourist town controlled by the King’s army, full of nosey neighbours you want to shank and spiritual gossip queens that make you want to scratch your own eyes out. The thundering of soldiers in street adds to my headache then, on cue, my phone rings blaring out heavy metal to complete the cacophony of noise. I glare at my bag on the floor, it fidgets until my phone is released hovering in the air for a moment before floating over to me.
‘What?’ I answer.
‘You’re late.’ Gwen replies.
‘Time?’ I ask groggily, rolling over to glance at the clock noticing the amount of eyeliner smudged into my pillowcase, another morning looking as a raccoon.
‘Almost six, you want picking up?’
I sigh deeply. ‘Nah.’ I hang up and throw the phone away, I roll and lean over the body next to me to grab my tobacco deciding to lie on top of his morning boner to roll my cigarette.
‘Mph, Ri.’ the body moves. Heaving myself off the boner and the bed I see his boxers and send them flying into his face as he sits up. ‘What-’
‘Bye.’ I say as he looks up at me. He doesn’t say anymore just dresses quickly before jumping out my window and scaring a stray cat, first time or everything.
I walk into my bathroom wincing at the fluorescent light and cold tiles. My alarm goes off again, now I’m running late but awake thanks to the insufferable noise. I stub out my fag, quickly wipe away the stray eyeliner until it looks all right then rummage for clothes on the floor.
‘We’re going to be late.’ I say through the bathroom door, ‘Let’s go.’ hard rain batters the windows as I loose control of my temper, I don’t understand lack of excitement for knowledge these girls have. Though I should be grateful, when I first came into existence I was lucky to be found by someone kin enough to give me a home.
Though this world doesn’t seem right and in my short time here I have seen what humans do to simple variations of their species, I often wonder what they’d do to someone who wasn’t human at all? I know nothing of who I am but I know I certainly can’t trust those in charge.
The sound of combat boots is all but drowned out by the intense rain, clouds covering the sunrise. Through my annoyance at I feel something odd, what one of my classmates might call ‘a disturbance in the force’ whatever that means. I can’t place the feeling, it’s not a full emotion more of a niggling that things are about to change, something in the world has shifted.
Oh splendid, we’re all running late now. I roll my eyes at the thought as I take my iron tablet swallowing with a swig of blood to keep the craving away and then stare at the rain.
‘Stop sulking, dear.’ I say to Belle who is glaring at me when I open the door.
‘We’re late.’ she pouts. “Have you…?”
‘Yes, dear.’ I say as I head up to the attic bedroom. ‘Rihannan?’ I call through the heavily decorated door of posters and offensive signs. She walks out scratching the scarred branding on the back of her hand, her headphones float between us untangling themselves.
‘You got enough make-up on?’ she says in that sarcastic tone I’ve grown so use to. The doorbell rings it droll tones and Ri rolls her eyes. ‘Better not be that fucking warlock again.’ she says trudging downstairs.
‘Surely the good Captain can leave you alone for one day.’
‘Rent.’ she tosses a roll of money behind her, I catch it easily and place it in my bag.
‘And only three weeks late this time.’
We get downstairs to see Belle signing for a parcel. ‘It’s for you.’ she says brightly her tantrum clearly finished as the sun begins to shine again. She hands the long box to Ri. I look at her wondering if the Captain changing his tactics or if she has a more romantic admirer? She shrugs and throws the parcel on the bench by the door.
‘You’re not going to look at it?’ Belle asks her.
‘It’s not going anywhere.’
As my hands sit idle on the steering wheel the pitchfork shaped brand glares at me, an ugly reminder to the rest of the world of what I am. Abnormal. Telekinesis is my thing, they don’t know about my other thing though, if they did I’d be a lab rat in Camp. I listen to, what the King deems as non-offensive, music while I sit in traffic.
Finally I reach the campus, a hideous concrete building patrolled by lack-lustre soldiers, some human most not. I meet the others outside having a cig and chat about how the mental rain turned into glorious sunshine, courtesy of Belle though of course she had no comment on the event. I make sure to fortify my mental blockade before we venture in.
Stepping into the air conditioned building makes me shiver, they’ve obviously got it set on arctic. I notice that the subject boards have changed. The curriculum is limited; Technology, Science, Mathematics, and ‘Creative’ Industries. With the exception of Belle we all study creative which is further limited to; Design, Philosophy, Literature and Music.
‘Almost free.’ I sigh.
‘Lucky you.’ Gwen jibes. ‘Why am I on level four? Design is supposed to be on two.’ she complains.
‘Perhaps I should take up music again.’ Cherry muses remembering her dancing days.
‘Don’t you have a meeting to go to?’ I remind her she’s already late.
I head for the Philosophy class, passing the dreary magnolia walls and trying to ignore the puke inducing sterile fumes. A soldier, Gibbs, stands at the front of class handing out tablets for us to work on. I make mine float of his hand.
‘Ms. Delphine.’ he plucks it out of the air and glares at me as though I’ve just kicked a puppy as other soldier goes for his taser. As the only Abnormal in the class I’m used to it, with the exception of a handful most are either afraid or disgusted by me. Gibbs hands the tablet to the next student ignoring me. I shrug at him and take my usual seat at the back.
The lecturer, Professor Stringent, walks in. Her fake cheerfulness fills the room contrasting with her plain black dress. Her pinafore should swish around her skinny legs but it stays starched and regimented. She already looks bored. A man follows her in. He reminds me of an actor from a black and white film. Dark hair, deep-dark ebony eyes framed by pale skin that covers his chiselled features. He has an air of importance about him though he looks just like everyone else. But there’s something about him that tells me he’s “different”. I clench my fists as the wave of thoughts break my barriers.
‘Who is he? Is he single?’
‘He’s hot, I wonder where he’s from?’
‘Ri? You ok?’ the girl in front of me looks back at concerned, I nod and she turns back around. I get the thoughts under control. The guy stops in front of Roxie Moseley, she particularly thinks my kind are abominations.
‘Hi, I’m Roxie.’ she flirts as I struggle for mental control.
‘Where you from, Wolfe?’ what some would call a flirtatious grin twists her face as she flips her long dark hair into the face of the poor fella behind her.
‘I’ve come from the Americas.’ he speaks with confidence but with an undertone I can’t place. How did he get out of America? Or a better question how did he get back into Britannia? I try focus on my own thoughts in an effort to stay sane.
‘You’re a soldier.’ Roxie lights up.
Wolfe Draven doesn’t sit down with Roxie. Bollocks. Though when he slides into the seat next to me I find all the thoughts are gone, I am alone in my own mind for the first time since I was a child. Not a whisper of his or anyone else’s thoughts, all I hear is the most blissful silence.
‘There are other seats closer to front Mr. Draven.’ Prof. Stringent verbalises her hatred of me.
‘Something wrong with this seat?’ he stares at her, she glances my way. A half-smile appears on his face before he turns to me. He holds out his pale hand. ‘Wolfe.’ he smiles a very tempting smile.
‘I heard.’ I can only see him in my peripheral vision. I don’t shake his hand, but the silence coming off him is intoxicating, like a drug I’ve never had before. Slowly everyone’s thoughts come back to me but they’re much quieter than before allowing me to put up my barriers far easier than usual. He’s Abnormal. He faces the front laughing to himself and I don’t think I’ve ever needed a cigarette more.
I’m naturally good at science, the power to manipulate the elements helps I suppose. I stroll into the lab and the waft of Bunsen burners hits me. I see only one seat left. Doctor Bonce walks in behind me and instantly starts talking about the mechanics of the human brain. I grab a tablet from the front desk and rush to the remaining seat next to a new boy. I start taking notes then I notice him.
‘Good morning, I’m Donavon Zane.’ the new boy says politely. He’s an exemplary human specimen with broad shoulders, slicked back brown hair, porcelain skin covering high cheekbones and a well-defined jaw. He has icy blue eyes that stare out through his glasses, I’ve never seen eyes like that before.
‘Beautiful Earth, the meaning of your name, suits you.’ he says holding out his hand, I shake it and the cold touch of his skin thrills me like an electric current through my body. That’s when the ground violently shakes, the moment our hands meet. The whole building vibrates. Glass shatters; people fall from their stools others taking shelter under the desks and screaming, an earthquake. Is that the shift I felt this morning? Donavon releases my hand. The earthquake ends.
‘Does that happen often?’ he asks.
‘Not since I arrived.’ I say getting up to help put the lab back in order.
‘I didn’t mean to be so forward. However, I know I’m not mistaken about your name.’ he says pushing his glasses back in place. I return his smile, replaying his words in my head.
He holds the door open for me at the end of class and we exit, he smiles that smile and I find myself gazing after him as he walks away. I shake my head and stop staring as he disappears around the corner. I walk outside in search of fresh oxygen and spot Ri smoking atop her car bonnet.
‘Nothing is damaged?’ I ask glancing at her car.
‘Nah,’ she says before motioning to the school. ‘Furniture and some windows, don’t think it was the quake though.’ she smiles.
‘How can you tell?’
‘Some of us spent the last hour in isolation.’ she says her eyes scanning the car park. ‘Who’s the Harry Potter look-a-like?’ she quips raising her eyebrows.
‘Who’s Harry Potter?’ I ask confused as Ri laughs making a cross with her hands indicting it’s black listed. Then I see him. ‘Donavon.’ I smile.
‘Huh, got a newbie in my class too.’ she replies, not so heavy on the enthusiasm.
‘Oh, is he-’
‘Arrogant.’ end of conversation.
An announcement sounds over the speakers. ‘Due to the damage from the earthquake, the school will be closed until tomorrow. Please sign out in the usual manner.’ Ri smiles throwing away her cigarette.
‘Is this bad?’ I wonder.
‘Not for me.’ she searches the car park for Gwen finding her with Stefan. ‘Oi, coming?’ she shouts.
‘Meet you there.’ Gwen shouts back.
Ri gets in her car rolling down the windows. ‘Wanna come?’ I shake my head, she rolls her eyes and drives away. I know she thinks I’m a prude for obeying the rules but surely it’s the best way to stay undetected.
’Excuse me? Ms Terran? a masculine voice behind me.
I turn, ‘Yes?’ he’s a tall man, Lieutenant Lachlan, and broad. His yellow eyes are sickly yet attractive, a uniformed Demon.
‘Ms Terran, I’m-’
‘How can I help you Lieutenant?’ he smiles and holds up a file.
‘It’s yours, I’ve noticed it’s a bit thin.’ he opens it and reads. ‘You arrived four months ago, correct?’
‘Doesn’t say from where.’ he pauses for a moment then looks impressed. ‘You appear to be a very promising scientist, however no testimonials from previous professors.’ he always puts me on edge. He closes the file and looks at me. ‘You have no family and the only person to vouch for you is a Vampire. You may understand my unrest, after all it is my duty to protect this province.’ he stares at me waiting for an answer. Relief fills me as Cherry pulls up in her car, she steps out and looks the Lieutenant in the eye. She motions for me to get in the car and I do.
She smiles sweetly, ‘I’ll see you this evening Lieutenant.’
In my car, ageing, sat in traffic. A shadow falls over my dash and a tap hits my window. It’s a soldier I don’t recognise, I roll my window down letting a breeze into the car.
‘What d’you want?’
‘Captain Mordane would like to speak with you.’ he says very polite.
‘I spoke to him yesterday.’ the soldier goes to open my door for me. ‘All right, keep your fucking hands off my car.’ I get out and walk slowly over to the man in the immaculate uniform, he’s got my file again.
‘Ms Delphine-’ his voice is pleasant but now slightly irritating, like a fly that can’t get out the window it came in.
‘Just a few things to clear up.’
‘On the side of the road?’
‘Now as we’ve discussed before, you’ve been here for some time after being extracted from-’
‘Oh, yay, this chat again.’ if he’s going to keep asking me the same questions over and over surely it would be easier just to detain me. Wouldn’t that be fun, to see how they would try and suppress my telekinesis?
‘I’ll cut out the formalities then shall I?’
‘You’ve had quite an “interesting” life, not being classified as Abnormal until the age of five, the only one of your siblings.’
‘Get to the point.’
‘The Major is simply wondering which career path you’ll take?’ I smile, they’re worried that I might be trouble. Of course they’re only judging on my attitude and behaviour which is less than exemplary, not that I can see that from his mind. Warlocks are difficult to read with them thinking in dead languages.
‘I study literature and philosophy Captain, which path do you think I’ll take?’ I shove my way past him and the unknown soldier getting back in my car.
‘Careful Rihannan, that attitude may get you into trouble.’ Captain Mordane, a professional suck-up and shit stirrer.
‘Get fucked.’ I shout back, not only a leave me alone but also some advice he should consider taking, it may even take the stick out from his arse.
The traffic has cleared and I speed toward the abandoned retail park. I leave my car in the drive of a long forgotten house closed in by tress and I walk through the empty car park listening for the sounds of the market. I lighten my blockage and let the feel and sound of peoples inner voices lead the way. I walk over to one of the disused stores glancing at the sign that once said Sports Direct.
Lit by temporary lights the market only fills a corner of the cavernous store. I browse the assortment of stalls full of contraband. Libraries, record and film collections, art galleries and various electronic bric-a-brac. I see Gwen with the records and am about to go to her when I spot some rare gems in the bins of books.
‘Find anything?’ Gwen asks trying to get her purchases in her bag. ‘Should’ve brought a bigger bag.’
‘D’you even have a record player?’ I glance at her before roaming the tomes again.
‘You do.’ she says mentally. Great more crap to be stored in my room. I hold up the book in my hand not finding anything else.
‘1984. Just the vinyl?’ the vendor and I exchange money. Gwen smiles waving two ancient CDs in my face.
‘Eminem, System of a Down and so we can dance it out, The Beastie Boys.’ I smile remembering when my sisters and I would dance around the old flat to the black listed tunes.
‘Sweet.’ I say stashing my purchase in the depths of my bag. We walk through the stalls rummaging through all the bins stopping at the electronics assessing the first tablets.
‘These work?’ I ask the vendor.
‘All fully tested.’ he replies.
‘Stefan won’t get you connected.’ Gwen chimes in.
‘Come on, give him a blow job and he’ll do anything.’ Gwen pulls me away and over to the graphic novel stall and we flick through. ‘Where is he anyway?’
‘Fuck knows.’ I can tell she’s agitated about something without looking in her head.
‘Maybe one of those will help.’ I nod to a vendor selling good luck charms. Gwen goes over to look.
‘Do these work?’ she asks the ageing gypsy.
‘Depends how much you believe.’ the vendor replies cryptically. I’d take that as a no but Gwen has more faith than I do. Within seconds of the transaction I start to gag as an awful stench invades my nostrils, I look at Gwen she too is trying not to be sick. It smells like death and rotting flesh.
‘What the fuck?’ I shout though I know what the stench is, though it’s more common in the city than down here.
‘Rose gas?’ Gwen speculates between coughs.
‘Rose gas doesn’t smell.’ the vendor informs her. ‘Keeps happening though, no matter where we set up, that smell comes eventually.’
Belle is quiet in the passenger seat, I’m not sure what to say so I focus on driving. She looks anxious, not surprising Lachlan has been looking into her for weeks the settling in period is well and truly over. They should be questioning me about why I took her in like they did with Ri but they’re not. Though Lachlan will probably try tonight at the banquet, he’ll try charm answers out of me in the hopes of getting me removed from the council. It’s not likely though, as the only Vampire in town I’m obligated to represent. Seems foolish to me to sit there and give the Vampire opinion as if I speak for more than myself.
Belle fidgets as we pass more soldiers. ‘I wouldn’t worry dear, they’re just getting antsy because I’ve missed a few meetings.’ I say knowing that’s only 1% of the reason.
‘He asked about my past.’ she looks down at her hands, she’s scared. I pull the car over and park, I turn off the engine and face Belle.
‘Do you trust me?’ Belle nods immediately and I smile. ‘You’re the same as Rihannan, you both have pasts you can’t tell me about. And that’s fine.’ if not slightly difficult, ‘Belle, no one’s going to take you away while you stay with me. I promise you that.’ she smiles but I can’t tell if she believes me.
Belle returns to her cheery self by the time we get to the hospital, we sit in the tiny waiting room. The white walls and uncomfortable chairs somehow create the clinical quiet, it’s not an environment for conversation but Belle tries.
‘I’ve never seen you drink blood.’ I give her a look, she’s never wished to discuss Vampirism with me before.
‘Nor would you want to.’ I say glancing back to a year old magazine. ‘In the months you’ve lived with me you’ve never asked about my condition.’
‘Is that what you call it?’ it always throws me the way she asks questions like a child.
‘You’re a scientist, you tell me.’ I put the magazine on the chair next to me, I’m intrigued to hear her response.
‘Vampire venom is highly efficient and takes hold instantaneously, it enters the blood stream, the body mutates, the blood coagulates and the processes of the body begin to slow. Blood cells are no longer produced and so the blood needs to be replaced either by ingestion or transfusion, if not the body will die.’ she recites the textbook answer.
‘Well, that’s the jist of it.’ I smile hearing someone approaching. ‘Ah, finally.’ the blind on the counter is taken up and to my surprise Macintyre Blake stands there looking as handsome as ever. ‘Mr. Blake, so you work here as well?’ I can’t help but flirt with him. He shrugs. ‘So this is why you’ve been missing meetings.’ he nods in response. ‘Shame, I’ve been missing our chats.’ I smile, he raises an eyebrow at me. The man who never speaks turns me into the teenager I still look like, feeling like a princess whose spotted prince charming. ‘I’m here to pick up my blood ration.’ he nods and smiles before disappearing into the office beyond. He returns with the usual small cooler and passes me the boring forms. I sign and take the cooler. ‘Thank you.’ I wink at him and again he smiles and nods.
When we get home Belle retreats to the solace of her room. I worry for her and her innocence, it’s only a matter of time before this world rips it from her as it has everyone else. She’s doing well in this town but I know I can’t keep them from her forever, soon they’ll ask for her blood and her secrets will be revealed. I can’t help but wonder about her myself after the mysterious circumstances of her arrival. She’s not human I know that much.
I put the cooler in the kitchen then make my way to my own room. After an hour of deciding what to wear and another hour doing my make-up and hair I’m ready for the banquet. I’m dreading it, every month the Major insists on these tedious social gatherings for the town council. A night of meaningless conversation and bad wine. A red dress for tonight I decide and red lips to match, it’s a small pleasure seeing their faces as they see me dressed in the colour of blood, it reminds them what I am. Not that I think myself above them or my disease, but it helps to remind them I’m dangerous. I grab my clutch and head down stairs. The cooler is right where I left it, I start putting the blood bags in the fridge as Gwen and Ri come through the back door.
‘I still smell. It’s gonna take more than a fucking shower.’ Ri says as they dump their bags on the table.
‘It could’ve been rose gas.’ Gwen is saying.
‘Why don’t you ask your boy?’ Ri replies seeming bored with the conversation.
Finished with the blood and confused by the conversation I turn to them. ‘What’s going on?’ Ri takes two beers out of the fridge and throws one to Gwen, she takes a long swig and hops up on the counter.
‘We went to market.’ Gwen confesses.
I sigh, they just don’t listen to me. ‘How many times-’
‘They aren’t gonna send me to Camp for buying George Orwell.’ Ri rolls her eyes in her cynicism.
‘I’m not so sure anymore.’ I confide as I smooth out my dress, now I’m dreading the night even more.
‘What’s the occasion?’ Gwen asks.
‘Maybe she’s gonna get laid.’ Ri jokes, one of her favourites.
‘Nah, she’s holding out for the mysterious Mr. Blake.’ they both laugh. I shake my head as Gwen opens her beer, I look at the time and realise it’s a bit past fashionably late. I leave the girls laughing at me and steel myself for the night to come.
I arrive at the Major’s overly large house, it sits on the edge of a small wooded area with a long sweeping driveway. Classical music floats out of the door while officers and their upper class wives mill around in the evening breeze. They clink champagne flutes with each other making long shadows in the light of the house. I enter and an attendant takes my shawl, I continue walking through the lavish entrance hall when a soldier stops me.
‘Sorry miss, I need to check your bag.’ he says.
‘I’m a Vampire dear.’ I say sweetly. Lachlan then appears flanked by two other soldiers, his yellow eyes lazily look me up and down.
‘Good evening Ms. Samson, you look a vision.’ he takes my hand and kisses it softly.
‘May I have a word?’ he walks me over to the drinks table.
‘This is the third word in a month Lieutenant, people will think we’re having an affair.’ he picks up a champagne flute and passes it to me then picks one for himself.
‘What an imagination you have,’ he smiles as I sip my drink ignoring the subtle hint at his disgust to my condition. ‘I hear you’ve been making visits to Camp again.’
‘Well, I am a humanitarian.’
‘Humanitarian? Well, no wonder the Major is concerned.’ he stands a little too close, that atrocious aftershave he always wears makes me want to vomit.
I push down the bile. ‘Concerned?’ the Major is always concerned about something, I wish he’d stop being subtle.
‘You seem to be neglecting your duties. Not to mention the interesting guests you have.’ he’s digging for information.
‘This is a small town with very little happening, and my guests-’ I stop mid-sentence as Major Moseley walks over.
’Ms. Samson.” his belly wobbles beneath his over stretched uniform, his pink face looks pleased to see me. He waves Lachlan away and takes my arm steering me towards his study. ‘How are you my dear?’
‘We’ve been worried.’
‘No need, I’m here.’ I smile.
The campus is awash with gossip and chatter as usual, you’d think there’d never been an earthquake before. Though as Ri pointed out this town is more used to bombs and gunfire than weather phenomenon. Ri and I walk through the food hall navigating our way around full tables, we make it to ours and sit down. Gwen is sat on Stefan’s lap eating his lunch as well as her own while Stefan gives us an update.
‘They’re to start investigating anyone from London.’ we all glance at Ri. ‘Rebels, he says, are fleeing from the city.’ I watch as Ri pushes her food away taking out the local newspaper and a pen not looking at anyone.
‘Guess my secrets out.’ she says underlining something in the paper as Gwen and Stefan laugh at her comment.
‘They say the Camps are over flowing. Wants the wealthy to make donations to extend Camp 4. Cherry will be thrilled.’ Stefan finishes.
‘Why on earth would anyone flee here?’ Gwen asks gesturing to the room.
‘Clearly not for the peace and quiet.’ Ri doesn’t even look up from the newspaper, the rest of us laugh.
‘Belle? Got room for two more?’ I smile as I look up into Donovan’s ice blue eyes. I also notice his friend as Ri looks up and mumbles under her breath.
‘These girls are yours, I like the look of those.’ his friend says, pointing his thumb behind him then leaves. I look over at Ri confused and she mouthed back one word, arrogant. I realise that’s the new guy from her class. I revert my eyes back to Donavon. He takes the seat next to me in rather close proximity.
‘Apologies, he’s normally not so rude.’ he says to the table before placing his hand on mine. His skin is cool and soft against mine but there it is again, another quake more violent than the last. Windows crack, a few lights dislodge from the ceiling one hitting a table of lecturers making them scatter. I look around as if in slow motion, Stefan holds Gwen tight both now on the floor, he uses himself as a shield.
Screaming, crying and desperate thoughts invade my mental barrier, I feel myself falling backward landing on my spine. I look up into Belle’s eyes, her face seems paler. She hasn’t moved and neither has Donovan, as though everything is happening around them. Her thoughts are a muddled mass. I feel blood dripping from my ears as Belle looks down, I follow her gaze to see Donavon’s hand upon hers. She deliberately slides her hand out from under his abruptly placing it under the table. Her cheeks flush a slight pink, she’s wondering if she caused the earthquake. I ponder this as soldiers file in to secure the room. We file out of the food hall and onto the next lectures of the day. Except me, I walk back outside for another cigarette after stuffing tissues in my ears. I hop onto my bonnet and cross my legs, I glance around looking for soldiers and see Belle walking towards me. I pull the tissues out noting the amount of blood and quickly shove them in my bag so Belle doesn’t see.
‘Two earthquakes in two days... weird huh?’ she wrings her hands as she speaks, something she only does under stress though her voice tries to remain cheerful.
‘Must be global warming catching up with us, there were tremors felt in the Highlands last week.’ I say. Her mind is whizzing so fast it’s adding to my headache, the thoughts are clearer now though.
‘What if it happens again?’ I don’t know what to say so I say nothing, I flick my cigarette away sliding off my car as a screechy laugh claims my attention, I turn and see the hag, Roxie, and Wolfe Draven. He’s whispering sweet nothings into her ear that make me want to heave and gag as I hear them echo in Roxie’s mind. So I re-strengthen my barriers and avert my gaze away from the happy couple before I throw up. Christ I need another cigarette. Belle is still looking rather anxious. I can hear she’s convinced that these quakes have something to do with her. I peek deeper into her thoughts but I’m distracted by Roxie’s flirty cackle. I glance over at them, her face is screwed up with laughter. Her laugh is a sound I would describe as an ear-numbing girlish screech. I focus on Wolfe’s mind but he’s still unreadable to me. I feel a pressure like his mind is repelling the scrutiny I pass over him. That tongue tingling silence. It feels like trying to walk through a brick wall while taking heroin, each nudge towards him hits me back tenfold. I frown in frustration. It’s confusing and annoyingly intriguing that I can’t get access to his dirty secrets, I’m certain he has a few. It’s only now that I realise I also can’t read his friend either, Donavon, who Belle seems already infatuated with.
‘You like him?’ I turn to Belle, she’s looking at Wolfe and Roxie.
‘Do I like a self-obsessed prick?’ Belle shrugs plainly amused by my annoyance. ‘No, I don’t, why d‘you ask?’
‘You’re staring at him.’ she shrugs again. ‘Not that I blame you, he’s attractive.’ she looks at me, eyebrows raised. ‘Isn’t that how you choose your fuck buddies?’ I stare at her for a moment, its odd to hear her swear.
I snort and change the focus. ‘We need to get you a fuck buddy.’ Belle blushes scarlet. ‘Come on, before they shoot us.’ I say inserting my earphones letting the banned voices of punk fill my ears.
I’m fashionably late for another meeting and Councillor Pratchett is rather peeved.
‘So glad you could join us.’ he glares at me as I strut past. I see Macintyre Blake at his computer smile to himself as he types the minutes.
‘I apologise, did I miss the riveting discussion about bin collections again?’
‘And what do Vampires prefer to discuss?’ he asks stating with his hands on the desk.
‘How about the horrific conditions of Camp 4?’ I sit down not breaking eye-contact with him as the rest of the council starts to murmur.
‘Enough this meeting is adjured.’ he yells and leaves the others following like sheep behind him.
I ignore them all and stare out the window until a shadow is cast over me. Macintyre stands next to me placing a piece of paper in front of me. I study him for a moment he’s far more interesting than the other dullards here. He has wide shoulders and dark brown hair arranged to hide a litter of tiny scars on his neck. Olive skin, a youthful face and intense brown eyes. Though his lips stay silent those probing eyes do all of the talking. And I’ve decided I like the silent type. I smile at him then glance at the paper.
‘So it was the bins.’ I say simply, he half smiles and flashes those emphatic eyes at me, a deep pool of questions and answers. He nods and turns to leave. I can’t tell if he’s disinterested in conversation or simply doesn’t like me, though he’s given every indication he does. I struggle to find suitable conversation and end up talking about myself. ‘I couldn’t help myself after banquet last night.’ he pauses in his stride and turns back. ‘Such hideously bourgeois people. And the officers of course, most of them Demons. I hate those parties. After the conversation I had with the Major I simply had to visit the Camp again.’ a sad look comes over his features and I decide I don’t like it. ‘So distraught I was after that I had to buy a new pair of shoes.’ I lift my leg to show him the red heels. I stretch my bare leg out resting it on the chair next to me, careful not to let my underwear show as my skirt rides up. A deep satisfaction forms when I see the appreciation and a dangerous glow of passion, hunger fills his eyes as he looks down at my leg his eyes glancing up at my thighs. He stares a bit longer than is socially acceptable, though my actions aren’t either, then he abruptly blinks finally noticing my shoe. ‘Do you like them?’ I smile. He gives a slow nod then looks up at me again and smiles.
Walking back to my car after the dullest Shakespeare lecture, I’m amazed I’m awake. I put my key in the car door when I hear the screeching of tires, I turn and see Wolfe Draven is blocking me in.
‘You’re in my way.’ I say bluntly.
‘I didn’t know how else to get your attention.’ he says grinning as he steps out of his BMW. Ignoring him I get in my car, start the ignition and rev the engine but he doesn’t give. He approaches my window leaving his car undefended. ‘I’ll be at the Vault on Friday, I was hoping you’d come with me.’
‘Why would I do that?’ I say innocently before putting my foot on the accelerator, my car jerks forward denting his BMW before I back up slightly.
‘Jesus-fuck, you win.’ he glares at me getting in his car and leaving. Only two days and he’s already at the top of my Cunt List, and I have the feeling he’s not going away. It’s frustrating that I can’t read what he wants or find out what he is from his thoughts. Either he’s deliberately blocking my telepathy or he’s something new. Either scenario is annoyingly intriguing.
I get back to the house to see Cherry acting stranger than usual. She sniffs the air and rummages through shelves and drawers for something. Seeing her in what I like to call “Vamp mode” is fairly amusing. Knowing that her senses are super sensitive right now I can’t resist the urge to make a very loud noise. As she rummages through the cupboard under the stairs she doesn’t notice all the furniture lift slightly off the ground. She screeches in shock as I let them fall back against the hard wood floors. She spins round hand on heart looking suitably petrified before that turns to anger.
‘Must you, really?’ she says in her stern motherly voice, I just laugh.
‘What you doing?’ I finally ask.
‘Something smells like death.’ well that killed the mood. I dump my bag noticing the parcel form yesterday, unopened, I’d forgotten. I don’t get mail, I don’t have anyone that would send me anything. I pick it up ignoring Cherry and go into the living room, I sit on the couch and put the package on the coffee table. Cherry, curious, sits opposite as I break the seal and gags instantly. ‘What on earth?’ she holds her nose. As I slowly open the box the smell hits me, decay, dead roses and maggots.
The last lecture of the day ends and I emerge from my inner babbling. I exit and see Stefan waiting for me.
‘This is a nice surprise.’ I say, his face is stoic as he slings my backpack over his shoulder.
‘Lieutenant Lachlan wants to see you.’ he’s trying hard not to look at me.
‘Not sure, but, people are saying you were seen at market.’ he glares at the space behind me. I’m unsure what to be more concerned about, Lachlan wanting to see me or my usually pleasant boyfriend being a dickhead.
On the walk to the office he’s quiet, he’s not my boyfriend he’s Officer Cadet Stefan Bain. The office Lachlan has occupied while on his search for sympathisers is not far from the campus main entrance, I’m tempted to run for it. But if I did they’d find me guilty of something and I’d disappear, not to mention Stefan would lose his job.
Lachlan sits behind a big oak desk. He’s handsome in a dangerous way, he looks as though he could devour you at any moment.
‘Ah, Ms. Watkin, please sit.’ he motions to the chair. I look at Stefan worried but he stares at the Lieutenant. ‘That will be all.’ Stefan nods and leaves while Lachlan opens my file. ‘Gwendolyn Watkin, only child, mother is a secretary, father is a doctor at Camp Four. Oh, what’s this?’
‘Please Lieutenant, what’s this ab-’
‘Grandmother, that’s your mother’s mother, was a practicing Witch. Executed several years ago.’ he stares at me for a long moment.
‘What has that got to do with anything?’ Lachlan clicks his tongue.
‘I have a report here. You and Ms. Delphine were seen buying wares from the Black Market.’ he waits for a response but I give him nothing. ‘Rihannan is a frequent visitor to the market that’s no secret, but you’ve never been seen there before. At least not by any of my eyes.’ he stares at me waiting for a response as I wait for him to directly accuse me of something. ‘Perhaps Rihannan is a bad influence on you.’
‘What do you want?’ I ask getting annoyed.
‘What do I want?’ he ponders this before leaning forward in his chair. ‘I want people to do as their told.’
He leans back and smiles. ‘Yes, overall, your father appears to do as he’s told as well, and yet there are three prisoners missing from his care.’ I’m sure my face is a mask of shock. He can’t really think my father would be so stupid? As I sit there confused and looking around the room he abruptly stands and walks brusquely to the door and opens it. ‘Thank you for your time Ms Watkin, I have everything I need.’ I stand numbly and walk out into the corridor, Stefan is waiting. Everything he needs, what does that mean? Why isn’t he arresting Ri and I for buying from market? Before I realise we’ve walked out and away from the campus we’re sat on the low wall by Stefan’s car, he pushes the hair out of my face as I calm down.
‘No wonder you’ve been quiet today.’ I light a cigarette and take a long drag.
‘Have I?’ he moves his hand away from me looking at his shoes as if he may find gold there.
‘You’ve barely said anything. I guess you knew this was coming though.’
‘Ain’t seen you, but yea I was told this morning.’
‘You’re angry with me.’ I state not needing it to be a question. He’s stiff in his posture and he too has a cigarette, something he rarely partakes in.
‘Why were you at market?’
‘Does it matter?’ I throw my cigarette to the ground in frustration, though if it’s him or the situation I’m pissed about I’m not sure.
‘I don’t wanna talk anymore.’ I say cutting him off as I stand, I walk to the jeep and get in. I see Stefan rub the bridge of his nose before getting in the driver’s side. We drive in silence but panic grows within me, and as more soldiers appear the closer to my house we get, my fear increases rapidly. I start to think I will be arrested and Stefan’s anger is justified. We round the corner and I stop breathing. Soldiers surround the house automatic guns in hand, I see Lachlan stood outside. His smugness clouds the street and I’m certain he smiles in our direction. Stefan stops the car in the middle of the road, I struggle against my seatbelt but stop moving when I hear screaming.
‘No. Please.’ Mum’s voice, I stare as my father is bodily dragged from the house his feet making gouges in the lawn. I get the seatbelt off and stumble out the car grazing my knees on the road. Blood runs down my father’s face from deep wounds, his nose broken and his skull cracked a piece of bone protruding above his eye. Mum tries to stop it all, a soldier back hands her the sound echoing in the silent street and shoves her to the ground pointing his gun at her temple. I’m running toward them but I don’t seem to be getting any closer, all I can do is watch. They put my unconscious father in a black SUV after placing a black bag on his head. I find my voice.
‘Dad. No. Leave him alone.’ I scream, Stefan grabs me from behind before I get too close. I struggle against his arms begging him to let me go.
‘Gwen be careful.’ Stefan whispers as the guns turn to me but I’m beyond caring.
‘No, Dad.’ they close the doors of the SUV. “DAD!” My throat tightens and tears flow freely, mum is still screaming, the soldiers are leaving their work is done.
My breath quickens as rapid images shoot violently through my mind. Penetrating my vision before I lose it. I see a strange and haunting scene. Curious fissures are erupting in the earth. An eerie, deathly cold mist ascends from the darkness and the stench of decay follows. A feeling of dread washes over me like a tsunami. Something is coming.
I float in and out of consciousness, a premonition is said to take its toll on the body. Stefan’s concerned face hovers above me. I can still hear my mother wailing at the loss of her husband, I smell the exhaust as the SUV drives away. My dad is gone.
I feel like I could soar above the highest cloud and catch the stars. Such silliness created by the chemicals in the brain, all causally connected to one person. Donovan will be here soon. I was over-whelmed when he asked me to tutor him. I could barely contain myself upon telling Cherry, and she turned into the mother I’d never had. I sit beneath the glass chandelier in her room as she applies what feels like tons of make-up to my face. We don’t speak as she concentrates but when Ri walks past Cherry asks the question we both what the answer to.
‘What happened?’ Cherry asks both of us still in the dark after Gwen’s radio silence this last week. On her way out earlier Ri mumbled something about Gwen’s father but didn’t stop to explain. She walks in looking tired, we both notice another person behind her. A handsome boy we haven’t seen before, we stare at him and Ri glances back. ‘Go on.’ she says to him gesturing toward the attic, he quickly gets the hint and disappears. She rubs sleep from her eyes. ‘He’s been black bagged.’ she finally says.
‘No, for what?’ Cherry say pausing the make-up session. My happiness disappears as my sympathy for my friend takes over.
Ri shrugs, ‘Missing inmates.’
‘First I’ve heard of it.’ Cherry shouts suddenly before calming herself and continuing with my make-up. ‘I assume Stefan is watching over her and her mother?’
‘Judging by the black eye, I’d say him and Gwen got into it.’ it’s difficult to read Ri’s expressions, she never sounds sympathetic and doesn’t seem to care about anyone. But there is something in her voice hinting at some emotion though I can’t pin-point it.
‘He should be more supportive.’ Cherry declares.
‘How’s her mum?’ I ask joining the discussion.
‘Hold still.’ Cherry chastises me.
‘Locked in, soldiers watching the house.’ Ri, tired, turns to leave. The doorbell rings and I freeze, Cherry gives me a look. I rush down the stairs and stop before door, I calm myself instantly feeling guilty about my giddiness. Through the stained glass I can see him. I count to three before opening the door. He smiles a sheepish smile walking over the threshold adjusting his glasses.
‘Good evening. So, where do you want me?’ he asks in a relaxed tone, I feel myself blushing thinking of the innuendo Ri would’ve taken from that question.
’Uh,. I mumble stupidly.
‘Good evening indeed.’ Cherry appears at the bottom of the stairs appraising Donovan as a mother would her daughter’s boyfriend.
‘Hello, I’m-’ he holds out his hand.
‘You’re Donavon Zane.’ she shakes his hand. ‘I’m Cherry Samson.’
‘Nice to meet you officially.’ Donavon answers politely. Though the pleasant conversation is interrupted by the handsome boy from earlier running down the stairs half naked and out the door. Silence falls over us for a moment and I dare not look at Donovan. ‘Dare I ask?’ he laughs breaking the awkwardness. Ri shuffles down the stairs moments later trying to put her hair in some sort of order. She looks annoyed about, well, everything really, which isn’t unusual.
‘That was quick.’ Cherry quips, Ri just shakes her head. ‘Donovan, this lovely lady is Rihannan Delphine.’ Cherry continues the introductions and we all stare at Ri modelling her work uniform, consisting of a black corset and jeans.
‘Of course, Wolfe’s told me about you.’ Donovan again holds out his hand, Ri ignores it.
‘Fuck sake.’ she curses slamming the front door behind her.
‘Must’ve been disappointing indeed if she’s in that much of a bad mood.’ Cherry smiles moving into the lounge. I hastily change the subject by motioning Donavon to follow me into the study glad to see he’s smiling too.
I stew in my anger over the shit sex, proving that good-looking guys don’t have a fucking clue. I sit in my car outside Gwen’s house thinking of a name for the disappointment, record-breaking in its brevity. Barely even a rhythm after a full minute of leg poking.
Gwen needs to hurry her arse up otherwise we’ll both be late for work. I don’t fancy another bollocking form the boss though hopefully we won’t be disgusted by his presence tonight. Understandably, of course, the tragedy with Gwen’s father has slowed her down. Three inmates from Camp Four missing but no one seems to care about finding them, though they’re most likely already dead. I watch Gwen and Stefan exit the house, Stefan tries to give Gwen a kiss but she walks past him like a robot and gets in my car. I stare at her for a moment before looking at Stefan walking to his car.
‘It’s not his fault.’ I say to the robot, she doesn’t move or even look at me. I honk and Stefan looks back. He eventually walks over and I lean through the window. ‘Pick her up after her shift.’
‘I don’t think-’
‘It wasn’t a question.’ I start the engine and he heads to his car. ‘Wanna hear about Speedy Gonzales?’
Sat in the plainly decorated study at the ancient desk. I’ve been tutoring Donovan on meteorology for a while when I look up to see him peering at me with a strange glint in his eyes. Those ice blue eyes are intense I suddenly feel self-conscious and start playing with my hair. It’s stuffy in here and I’m glad I can use that as an excuse as to why I’m blushing. He smiles and starts to speak but a shout from the hall interrupts.
‘I’m getting more wine, do you want anything?’ Cherry shouts.
‘No.’ I hear the front door close, we’re alone in the house. For some reason this makes me even more nervous as these new emotions surface again. Having only existed for a short time I feel like an infant, those first few days everything was new and stupendous. But I learnt very quickly how harsh this world is, I know how savage nature can be but humans are something else. Humans, to me, seem to be the most savage of all thinking they own this world rather than a small part of it. I don’t understand most of them and yet I walk among them, I am not that different though I don’t understand myself either.
‘Wine at this hour? What time is it?’ Donovan asks breaking me free of my thoughts.
‘Almost midnight.’ I say glancing at the clock.
‘So late, I should be going. I apologise for stealing your entire evening.’ I feel disappointed but his apology sets me blushing again, my lack of experience with men showing though my body seems to know how to act around him.
‘Oh no, we got some great work done.’
‘You’re a good teacher Ms. Terran.’ he smiles as he helps me clear the desk of books and papers.
There’s no time to think about dad now, this is clearly Ri’s plan to take my mind off it. The underground club is over crowed tonight, hot and sweaty people grind against each other on the small dance floor, guys drool over the girls on the poles and the rest wait for drinks. The DJ plays rock music a fair bit tamer than the music Ri or I listen too but as the first of many genres to be black listed it’s still hard to ignore. I still don’t know how this place stays open, sure there’s a steady stream of customers but as an unlicensed bar the soldiers should have shut it down years ago. Ri and I work hard to keep the queue down, two useless guys work with us as well. Ashton mostly admires his reflection and Tegan is slow and doesn’t remember anything. A fine-looking boy approaches Ri’s till, he orders his drink and tries to talk to her but she ignores him, he keeps trying appearing apologetic.
‘No, next.’ she just glares at him waiting for him to leave, she glances over at me confirming my assumption that this guy is Speedy Gonzales. Wolfe appears next. I keep glancing at Ri, she’s in a bad mood and I know it’s not just because of the bad sex. I can’t help but wonder if I’m the reason why or whether it’s my situation, I remember her ranting about it when she found out. I shake it out of my mind and continue serving, I overhear Wolfe’s attempts at conversation.
‘So, you came anyway.’
‘Not by choice.’
‘Clearly you’re succumbing to my charm.’ Wolfe smiles, Ri stares blankly.
‘Are you ordering or just here to piss me off?’
‘Budweiser.’ Ri turns, gets his drink, they exchange money.
Ri turns to me. ‘Break.’ I nod, Wolfe is still lingering.
‘Matter of time.’ he walks away. I shake my head not quite understanding Wolfe’s persistence. I glance around at the guys they’re still not doing much, then I spot him. Lachlan is leaning on the end of the bar, he looks more handsome out of his uniform, and he stares directly at me. He smiles putting his finger to his lips then disappears into the crowd.
Donovan and I stand awkwardly on the porch, I glance around myself as if I might find something to say on the ground, finding nothing I just play with my hair.
‘You do that a lot.’ he says observing me, an odd look in his eye.
‘You twirl your hair.’ I feel my cheeks burn up a few more degrees. ‘Don’t be embarrassed, I think it’s charming.’
‘Um, thanks.’ I smile to myself.
‘I apologise, I’ve been too forward again haven’t I? Note to self, stop saying every thought that enters my head.’ he appears embarrassed playing with his glasses though something tells me he’s not really. His icy blues stare straight at me. It’s as though I’m in a trance. All I can see is his eyes, not his face nor his body moving closer to mine. Just those strange icy eyes. He kisses me chastely and his arms go around my waist pulling me gently closer to his body. As my body reacts to him a flag in my mind is raised, it tells me this may not be a good idea. I don’t know how long we stay locked in the embrace but it seems the longer his lips stay on me, the more violent the earthquake. The thunder and lightning help completing the symphony of bad weather. Though it isn’t until I hear the pavement rip that we separate and the earth stops moving, I don’t know why I didn’t stop it sooner. How am I doing this unintentionally, or could it be him? No that’s silly, he’s just a man.
‘I love thunderstorms.’ he winks at me. It must be me, my emotions wreaking havoc with my powers. I need someone to help me puzzle this out.
Since the storm the other night the weather has dramatically improved so we lounge in Cherry’s garden, its neat with a boarder of flower beds and one big oak tree. I sit in the shade of the tree sketching the garden before me, Belle lies on a sun lounger reading enjoying her sunny spell. After a while Cherry comes out the back door followed by Macintyre Blake.
‘Time to work on my tan.’ Cherry declares.
‘You wish.’ I say barely glancing at her. She sits on the warm grass, while Mac lingers by the BBQ inspecting it in a typically male way. I light up a cigarette, using a recently emptied beer can as an ashtray while opening another.
‘A girl can dream.’ Cherry replies as Mac gets the grill going. ‘I thought you’d persuaded Gwen to come?’
‘I rang, left a message.’ nothing more to do, if she wanted to be around people she’d be here. Belle looks up from her book confused.
‘Is that Macintyre Blake?’ she asks. Cherry just smiles. I stub my cigarette out glancing over at said man and my head floods with images. It’s strange, his mind is radically unfamiliar, few of his thoughts are in words and if they are its one or two at most. His mind is raw somehow, animalistic. He’s more than just silent. Not a Silver wolf a shifter or one of the rare Lycan’s perhaps? As if feeling me prodding at his mind he glances over at me and smiles. He makes a hand gesture for a lighter I glance and mine and send it over to him. He seems unfazed by my ability.
Stefan pulls the jeep up close to the woods surrounding the graveyard.
‘I’ll pick you up in an hour.’ he says without feeling. I just nod hopping out grabbing my bag and walk into the woods. Its cool under the canopy though the sun tries hard to puncture it, I keep walking until I see the graveyard. I stop for a moment and stare at the layout of the gravestones a big tomb stands at the centre of the labyrinth of stones, it looks somehow familiar. Clearly ancient and not had much attention lately, I shrug it off and walk around to a wide grassy field that no one uses anymore. The perfect place for me to practice a bit of witchery without being seen. I pick a spot and sit on the warm grass. I take out a large leather bound book left to me by my Grandma, I open it and read through until I find what I’m looking for. This was her journal, everything she knew went in this book and since my vision clearly I have some of her gifts. I don’t bother with the basic stuff instead looking for tricks and practises that will help me survive and protect my family. I find an exercise that seems simple enough, how hard can it be to draw in energy? I stand arms at my side, close my eyes taking in deep breaths imagining myself surrounded by bright white light. Instantly the air becomes harsh on my skin, it’s barely minutes before my whole body is radiating with heat. I feel all my weakness slowly melt away. I’m thinking of energy and it glows around my hands, making them ache and weighing them down. The energy pulses through my veins, hurting so much it’s almost unbearable. I lose all feeling in my hands. My blood circulation numbs as I feel the unpleasant stab of pins and needles. I draw in a steady breath, and imagine that power forming a protective barrier around me. My senses become so potent that I can hear and feel everything around me. The trees rustling in the lightest of breezes, the electricity in the air indicating a big storm. I draw it all in, my strength growing.
I knock on Gwen’s door, no answer. I walk backward in a useless attempt to see in her bedroom window but it’s clear no one is home. I try call her again, voicemail. I try call Stefan, voicemail. I glare at the lock annoyed that I can’t see the mechanism otherwise I’d be able to get in. I hear a door slam, across the street Lieutenant Lachlan steps out of his car.
‘She left about an hour ago, with her young man.’ he steps in front os me blocking the path to me car, I walk around him reach my car and open the door, he closes it appearing at my side swiftly. ‘My eyes can’t find her, do you-’
‘If I knew would I be here?’ he stares at me for a long while then smiles and steps aside.
‘Your attitude never ceases to entertain me Ms. Delphine.’ I roll my eyes getting behind the wheel, driving off I think over the only two words I could extract from his brain. ‘Lovely Gwen.’ Demons, also difficult to read not surprising given their efficiency at hiding things.
I get back to the house in record time having broken the speed limit more than once. My anger is beginning to show, the situation with Gwen’s family is getting to me. She’s about to lose everything and I can help her, there’s no preventing it. Slowly Gwen’s life is starting to resemble my own. As I walk up to the house I hear several cracks, looking up I see a fracture in the window in front of me. Great, now Cherry’s going to be pissed. I walk through the house and into the garden riffling through my wallet in search of my tips from the bar. Belle hasn’t moved from the sun lounger though now she has a veggie burger. Mac and Cherry sit writing notes to each other by the bbq, I steal the beef burger Mac has in hand and retake my spot in the shade of the tree.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ Cherry asks. I pull out a handful of notes and float them over.
‘Don’t know where she is but that fucking dick is waiting.’ Cherry glances at the money plucking it out of the air. ‘For the window.’ She gives me stern look but says nothing out loud.
‘Who’s waiting?’ Belle chimes in.
‘Fucking yellow eyes.’
‘Lachlan must be investigating all of them.’ Cherry says an annoyed look crossing her face. I know she’s tried her hardest to get information about what’s going on but they’re not telling her shit. And given her heightened senses I doubt I could delve far into her mind without her noticing. I do wonder what she does when she visits Camp.
‘If she doesn’t turn up soon she’s fucked.’ I hit my head against the tree in anger. Mac quickly scribbles on some paper and holds it up; WHAT ABOUT STEFAN?
The energy flows around and through me, I feel eerily at peace. The last of the summer sun beats down on me as I hover in the circle of energy I’ve created. Something in the atmosphere changes, everything goes cold and I begin to shake, I feel the connection with the circle leave me and I fall painfully to the ground. I lie there for a moment in my crippled heap trying to assess whether anything is broken, my conclusion leaves me relieved. I shuffle into a sitting position and look up the sun burns my eyes and they begin to water, I can vaguely make out a figure standing before me.
‘Are you that stupid?’ Stefan’s voice, my eyes adjust, he looks a mixture of angry and fearful.
‘Stefan, I-’ he rushes around me picking up everything incriminating, he throws everything in my bag then hauls me to my feet. ‘Stefan please.’
‘Lachlan is waiting to see you.’ he grabs my wrist pulling me through the woods.
‘Stefan please, let me explain.’ the grip he has on my wrist tightens. Everything seems colder and darker now, Stefan’s seen me and he’s handing me over to Lachlan. Is this it, am I finally going to Camp? Or will I simply be sentenced to death for witchcraft? Am I really going to let him take me? I love Stefan but he’s selling me out, betraying my by doing his job. My inner rambling comes to and end when Stefan stops our trek to dig a hole in the ground, he begins pulling all my stuff out stuffing them in the hole which he then covers. He gazes at me for a moment wiping the dirt from his hands.
‘Will you remember this spot?’ he asks, I nod. He’s not selling me out? This could cost him everything, I stare at him in confusion.
‘What possessed you to practice in the open?’ he speaks in hushed tones though we’re alone. ‘In a few days come back and get your things, but do not practice here.’ he takes my hand gently and squeezes it affectionately before pulling me into a kiss.
‘You knew? I thought that-’
‘You think I’d let them take you to that place?’ he hangs his head. ‘I can’t fix this, but I can keep you safe.’
We don’t go to Lachlan’s office at the campus we go to the much more intimidating Town Hall. Walking through those corridors is uninviting and grey, people don’t look at us as we go through endless halls and down even more endless stairs. Finally we stop under a harsh spotlight in front of a blank door, Stefan knocks once and we wait.
The bar is suffocatingly full tonight, and Gwen hasn’t turned up so it’s just me and the boys. Orders are coming fast and I’m struggling to keep up, the regulars feel sorry for me but the younger crowd are impatient. Then I see Gwen walk in.
‘Where’ve you been?’ I almost yell at her, she looks awful and holds up her wrist. The standard thick ugly tracking bracelet is clamped to her arm pinching at her skin.
‘Mum tried to leave.’ she says simply. I look for signs of tears but she doesn’t appear to have shed any.
‘Where’s my drink?’ a drunkard yells, I flip him off and turn back to Gwen.
‘Dads judgement will be soon, I guess she doesn’t wanna be here.’ I hesitate but hug her ignoring the drunks yelling. I’m not a hugger so she’s fairly surprised by the gesture. ‘Take your break.’ she tells me trying to smile. I make my way outside holding my wrist remembering the raw bloody skin left after mine was removed. They deliberately put them on too tight to discourage people trying to take them off. I cringe at the memory while lighting my cigarette, I calm down relishing in the nicotine.
‘Do you ever smile?’ his voice catches me off guard and I almost drop my cigarette. He emerges out of the shadows as if he were a part of them.
‘Oh, fuck off.’ I have to deal with drunken boys all the time but usually I can get into their heads. With Wolfe I’m completely clueless, it’s just the endless hush.
‘You know, I’ve never met a girl like you.’ his voice is silky smooth and not drunk, he’s perfectly calm. ‘You’re different but I don’t know why, you’re an Abnormal sure but there’s something I can’t put my finger on.’ he looks me up and down while I formulate my reply, a dangerous glint in his eye. I start to wonder if perhaps he can feel it when I try to get into his head, he’s not a telepath though otherwise he’d know already.
‘Maybe because your arrogance don’t mean shit to me.’
‘No, it’s not that,’ I clearly amuse him. ‘No matter, I’ll find out.’ He could be a Hunter, although I’m not sure a Hunter would be so brash. And who would want me dead? Stupid question I’m sure there’s a line. ‘You’ll tell me, eventually.’ there’s that arrogance I can’t stand shining through like headlights in the dead of night.
‘Keep dreaming.’ I say with a mocking smile and I turn to go back inside.
‘You need to get more fun out of life. I’m a fun guy-’
Nearly all of my time is spent with Donavon either just talking or me tutoring him. But each time I touch him the earth commences shivering. And when he kisses me the heavens roar in protest. Although Donavon doesn’t turn up to school very often. I wonder where he goes and why no one else seems to notice. If it weren’t for his evening visits for me to tutor him I would’ve thought he’d been taken. People disappear all the time.
I stand outside Ri’s heavily decorated door, ready to confide. Though she’s judgmental and cynical she seems the best person to ask about such things. I know she probably doesn’t count me among her friends, if she counts anyone, but with a past as mysterious as my own perhaps I feel some sort of kinship. I knock twice before entering. She’s at her window, some sort of firearm in her hands while a black listed band I don’t know plays on the stereo. I notice new images added to the collage of graphic sketches and photographs that cover the walls. All of which stare back at me as I gaze at the room. A punch bag hangs at one end of the room next to her wardrobe. A large TV balances on unpacked boxes playing the news on mute, it’s shows nothing but images of carnage and death, and the headline ‘First Hunt: 20 years on’ in bold at the bottom of the screen. The room smells of a mixture of febreeze and cigarette smoke. I close her door quietly behind me. She glances briefly at me before staring back down the barrel of her gun.
‘What d’you need?’ she asks before pulling the trigger I hear the bullet hit a bin on the street. So that’s what those noises are, Ri shooting at things.
‘This may seem random.’ I start.
‘Great.’ she says pulling the gun away from he window, ‘You have my undivided attention.’
‘Well, it’s about the earthquakes.’
‘You came to talk to me about the weather?’ she looks sceptical.
‘Well, that’s it, I don’t think it is just weather. They only happen when Donavon is here, the thunderstorms too.’
Ri looks intrigued. ‘So you think it’s him?’
‘No. but it only happens when he touches or kisses me.’
She raises an eyebrow. ‘You’ve progressed to kissing?’
‘Yes, so? That’s not the point.’ I’m annoyed that she’s mocking me.
‘So what’s so special about you?’
‘I,’ panic fills me for a moment. ‘nothing.’ I can’t tell her about my abilities, though I doubt she’d shun me having an ability of her own and she’d never tell but I don’t entirely trust her.
‘Hmm, must be a coincidence then.’ she half-smiles. ‘Food for thought. So, is Donavon due for one of his night time visits?’ I shake my head and turn to leave. ‘Remember to use protection.’ she sings as I slam her door shut, from the other side I can hear her laughing. Why did I choose her to confide in?
I smile knowing I’ve provoked her, almost far enough to tell me her secret. Then maybe we could figure out what’s going on together. But I can tell she’s too infatuated with Donavon to think rationally anymore, she thinks he’s prince charming. I stare out the window at the bullet hole in the side of a wheelie bin on the street and laugh, another reason people tend to stay away from me. They think I’m nuts, probably true. But still Belle felt she could come and confide in me, I’ve never really had much of an opinion of Belle other than she’s very naïve though I put that down to her limited experience of this world. She’s still so innocent and I’m really not, she’s more Cherry’s friend or child than a mate of mine. I can see from her mind that she doesn’t really trust me, so why did she come to me and not go to Cherry?
‘What’s with her?’ I ask curiously standing in Ri’s doorway, she shrugs through the smoky haze.
‘Donavon.’ Ri reports, opening a vent in the roof trailing yet more smoke behind her. ‘It’s gonna get breezy in here.’
‘Fine. He is here a lot.’ I say closing her door, I perch on her bed. ‘What do you think of him?’ Ri shrugs not seeming to care.
‘Not arsed really, not arsed about Mac either but I’ll ask to be polite.’ I watch as she carefully cases her gun and takes out a first aid kit.
‘Must you do that in my house?’ she ignores me and continues to take out a tiny bottle and a syringe. Of all the Abnormals to come through this house in the last thirty years I’ve never been more wary than I am around Rihannan.
‘You were saying.’ she says filling up the instrument, tying a belt around her arm and flicking for a vain. I shake my head walk over to her and take the syringe.
‘There may have been a moment.’ I say inserting the needle in her vain ignoring the other track marks present. From personal experience I knows it’s better for everyone else to feed the beast rather than have it attack.
‘A moment? What we talking? Seconds, minutes, an hour?’ I smile to mask my frustration, in twelve months I’ve not been able to figure her out. She smirks. ‘You got laid. Any good?’ I just keep smiling, she always knows. ‘Good for you, it’s been ages.’ she says putting the needle in the bin and stashing her drug hoard under her desk. Unable to hide my frustration any longer I stand to leave her room, by the door I notice a picture.
‘Where are you in this one?’ she’s smiling in this photo and a small fair-haired boy is wearing a party hat and they appear to be in a busy restaurant. Ri turns to see the picture I’m looking at and speaks with clear unhappiness.
‘16th birthday in the city.’
‘London.’ I say wistfully remembering the old city. ‘Whereabouts are you from again?’
‘Who’s the little boy?’
‘Nephew.’ she never speaks about her family I’ve only been shown what’s in her file most of it redacted. I change the subject.
‘Anyway, your birthday?’ I stare at her.
‘What about it?’ her eyes are starting to get hazy.
‘It’s soon, and it’s on All Hallows.’ she ignores me. ‘Come now, it’s your 25th we need to do something.’ silence, I take that as my cue to leave.
‘Hey,’ I glance back at her. ‘you be careful with that boy.’ she smirks as I leave.
When I get to my room I get the usual nagging in my stomach it’s time for blood. Down to the kitchen I go, to the fridge and stare at the blood bags. Before I know it the craving has taken over and I’m driving to the town hall, I race down the halls looking of the office that holds what I crave. I open the door to a lone lamp glowing in the dusk and there he sits, Captain Mordane.
‘I was wondering when you’d show up.’
‘Jared Watkin.’ my anger bubbles up due tot he hunger.
‘Shall we feed you first?’
How do you have an argument during sex? This is what I contemplate as Stefan hovers above me still inside and glaring at me. I move my hips in an effort to get him to continue, his facial expression doesn’t change and it’s my turn to glare at him and his self-control. I lie beneath him getting more sexually frustrated and in need of release. I buck my hips again, in response he pins me completely underneath him. It’s not a sexual move though it’s an angry one.
‘Hate me if you want, I’m done.’ he whispers at me before pulling himself out and off me. I lie there unsure of what that means and what to do, in my peripheral vision I see him dress and leave. I hear him slam the front door, how he can walk with a boner I have no idea. My bed feels cold now and I pull the sheets around me, I don’t know where my anger at him came from. I know none of this is his fault, the only thing he’s done is taken me to the meetings with Lachlan other than that he’s done nothing but protect me. I just wanted this to be a good night where I didn’t have to think about what’s happening to my family, and I ruined it.
My thoughts turn to my father as I lie scratching around the tracking tag on my wrist. No one is allowed to see him, and I can’t bear to think about what they’re probably doing to him. Whether he’s guilty or not, they don’t care. They don’t care that they’re ripping a family apart as long as it gets the point across. It was on the news that the three missing inmates had been captured but we all know they’re dead. I doubt they even questioned them. Angry and in need of a drink, I dress quickly and leave the house.
The hooded figure carries my mutilated body out of the ditch my love left me in. I can see blood oozing out of my body from deep cuts and I can taste it in my mouth mixed with dirt. I can smell mud and dampness all around me and I can hear a car idling somewhere nearby. My eyes can barely open but when they do all they’ll see is the night sky, the stars mocking me. I can’t see my saviour’s face. But as they carry me to the car I know that in their strong embrace my body is safe.
I wake again. A short dream but I get a violent flash of it every time I close my eyes. I drag my nails down my face in an effort to scratch the memory of that night from my mind.
My bedroom door opens and closes quietly, Gwen’s thoughts itch in my brain. I reach for the flask of vodka under my pillow, take a swig and breathe deep as it burns through my system. The morphine isn’t helping me sleep anymore. Gwen climbs into bed with me and I pass her the flask.
‘My mother is vacant, my dad will probably be executed and I’m pretty sure Stefan just dumped me.’ she recites her thoughts.
‘Didn’t want to drink alone anyway.’ I match her monotone.
‘I’m not sure what to do anymore.’
‘Welcome to the club.’