Death and all His Friends

All Rights Reserved ©

Why is it only a Monday?

Everything went black after that. I don't know what happened. There was a rushing in my ears, screaming, howling and a chill that spread down my back and into my bones. I remembered saying something and then nothing. An empty void.

The emptiness seemed to last for hours and seconds at the same time. The darkness was compressing and yet comforting. I felt safe in the folds of black: like I was in some sort of warm cocoon. I imagined that when I emerged, I'd be beautiful: so beautiful that I'd outshine the sun and the stars and every damn thing in the world.

Then the air smelt strange and clinical. I took a deep breath slowly opened my eyes, bright white light searing my sight.

Everything was blinding and my eyes watered against the pain.

DeathDeathDeathDeath

His words echoed in my head and a weight settled in my chest. Confusion turned to horror.

"I'm dead aren't I?" I whispered, my breath short.

A giggle brought me to my senses and I frowned.

"God?"

The giggle turned into a laugh and I managed to sit up.

Everything snapped into focus with alarming clarity.

I was in a completely white room: white walls, white ceiling and white floor. There were six white beds lined up against the opposite wall and several empty wheelchairs lying around. There was a sink in the corner and a tray full of colourful pills by the door.

I let out the breath I was holding as I recognized that I was actually in the school infirmary. I could even feel the beginnings of tears in my eyes as I thanked the Lord Almighty that I hadn't died: that I was still very much alive.

I looked down and saw that I was lying in one of the stiff beds that everyone complained about and I was once again almost brought to tears. This wasn't heaven. There's no way heaven would have shotty beds like this.

"Oh thank you God thank you!" I suddenly yelled, a huge smile lighting up my face as I punched the air. "Thank you for stopping Raith from-"

Another giggled reminded me that I wasn't alone.

I frowned and turned to the right. Sitting on the bed next to me was Jess' curly haired friend whose name I had forgotten.

I had never been more relieved to see anyone in my life.

"I'm not dead?" I squeaked.

"Nope." She replied with a shy smile.

A moment later, the school nurse, a round woman who wore too much lipstick and not enough deodorant, walked in, her heels clicking on the hard tiled floor.

I cringed. Her white uniform was way too tight. The buttons were already straining across her huge stomach and chest. I tried not to imagine what would happen if the buttons popped off. I'd probably have to kill myself to save my poor virgin eyes from the sight.

"Oh good. You're awake. I was afraid we'd have to send you to the hospital." She huffed in a low voice. And by low, I mean really low. Man low.

Trying to hide my surprise, I gave her a reassuring smile.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Your teacher found you unconscious in the darkroom. She was very distressed that you broke the rules and used the darkroom by yourself."

I suppressed my groan. The last thing I needed was a lecture.

"But what happened?" I repeated.

"How would I know? Did you fall or something?"

I tried to control my anger at the frustrating woman. I guess she expected me to tell her that I slipped on some chemicals and fell. Which was true. But that was not the reason why I blacked out.

I had really hoped the nurse would tell me that I fainted because I was dehydrated or anaemic. That would mean that the cause wasn't Raith.

"Well how do you feel?" she snapped in a breathy voice, clearly frustrated and in a hurry.

"Um…"

"Are you dizzy? Nauseated? Tired? And why are you still here? Didn't you take your insulin half and hour ago?" she turned to Jess' friend.

The girl nodded and practically ran from the room.

"So?" the woman demanded when I didn't answer immediately.

"The back of my head hurts." I said quickly, rubbing the sore spot delicately with my fingers.

"Well obviously. You fell down. Anything else?" she huffed. She seemed to huff a lot. Maybe she had asthma.

"No…"

"Well then you can leave. I'm already busy enough without kids coming in here and wasting my time."

What a cow.

I twisted around and slid off the bed, almost falling over as my legs got tangled in the blanket. My uniform was still uncomfortably wet but there was nothing I could do about it.

"What time is it?" I said to the nurse as I straightened up, just to fill in the awkward silence that had settled.

"Does it look like I care?" she said sharply.

Whoa what is her problem? Jeez.

Annoyed and confused, I stormed past her towards the door. After two unsuccessful tries at pulling it open, I pushed the door and managed to leave the room with at least a little dignity left.

Out in the hallway I suddenly slumped against the door, feeling overwhelmed. It was hard to believe that the day wasn't even over yet. It was even harder to believe that it was only a Monday.

After staying in that same position for a minute, I decided that I should go and find Lizzy and Gina to help take my mind off things. And according to the noises emitting from my stomach, it was around lunch time.

Straightening up, I looked around the corridor. I was in the western wing of the school. At least I thought I was. I had never really been to this part of Kensington and it looked like every other hallway in the school: with fluffy blue carpet to match our uniforms and flawless white walls. However, a quick look out the window confirmed my theory. You could only see the old abandoned train station from the western wing of the campus.

Walking towards what I assumed were a set of stairs, I did everything I could to distract myself from what Raith had told me. I couldn't handle it. There was something so unnerving about him being…well…Death. Death with a capital D.

I shuddered at the thought. I've actually touched Death. I was going to be sick.

The corridor ended in a wooden spiralled staircase and I slowly descended one step at a time, my fingers gripping the railing for support as I started to shake.

Raith was Death and he was following me. Death was following me.

I started to hyperventilate.

How could Death be a person? Could Death die? Had he always been Death or did he die and inherit the role? Is he following me because I'm about to die? Is that stupid ring thing just a cover story? Why can I see him? What is going on? Oh oh massive brain meltdown!

I stopped walking and buried my head in my hands as ideas whirled through my head at 193.5 miles per hour. This was bad. I needed to shut down all thought processes about Raith because if I didn't, my fragile mind would implode and I'd fall down the stairs. And break my back.

I began to count the steps.

One, two, three, four…

BreatheBreatheBreatheBreathe

Five, six, seven, eight…

BreatheBreatheBreatheBreathe

At fifty, I reached the bottom of the staircase safely and sighed in relief at the sight of all the students walking around talking and eating. Animated people. Living people. Unless they're all spirits and I've developed some sort of sixth sense for seeing dead people. But let's hope that isn't the case.

I wandered through the crowd feeling lost and disoriented. My friends would probably still be in the cafeteria and I really needed them at the moment. I needed something to anchor me to this reality. I was on the precipice of floating off into lala land and the only things keeping me from retreating into the comforting walls of my mind were my pride and my friends.

I'd give anything to listen to Lizzy spiel about the hot waiter who served her at the café yesterday or Gina complaining about how her mother used her textbook to mop up the coffee she split on the couch. The trivial things had never seemed so important.

I pushed my way towards the swinging double doors of the cafeteria and was greeted by the loud chatter and laughter that filled the room from the various tables.

I stood there for a moment, confused because I couldn't see my friends. The cafeteria was set up so that there were tables and chairs everywhere but usually each clique had a certain area where they sat. Our table was empty.

I stood there a little longer, feeling empty as people bumped into me. Then I saw something move and I frowned.

Why were Lizzy and Gina sitting underneath the table?

I tried to estimate how embarrassed I'd feel if I sat with them under there but the other option of being alone with my rogue thoughts made my decision easier.

Trying to ignore all the sharp stares people from nearby tables were giving me, I walked up to Lizzy and Gina and crouched down so I could see them.

"What the hell are you two doing?" I asked as quietly as I could.

"What?" Lizzy yelled really loudly and Gina grimaced before grabbing my hand and pulling me under the table with them.

"It was her idea, not mine." She grumbled.

"Lizzy, this is seriously embarrassing. Why do we have to sit under here?" I said to my brunette friend.

"Because we're discussing top secret information! And you know the people at our school love to gossip and eavesdrop!"

"But really? Under a table?" I complained, feeling incredibly stupid.

"Yea. People are staring at us. You're making us look really obvious." Gina added.

"Quiet you two. Phase one of Operation Cupcake is going to be set in motion today after school." Lizzy explained.

Gina sighed and I flinched.

"And do we have to do the plan today?" I'd definitely had enough excitement for one day. Especially after the Raith thing.

"Yes Tegan. The sooner the better."

We all turned and stared at the popular kids' table. It was a little hard since there were chair legs in the way.

"Stupid bitch." Lizzy grumbled, her eyes focussed on her former best friend. Lizzy didn't swear often so I knew that this time she meant business.

"Ok guys." Lizzy claimed our attention again. "After school, we head to Goosefish Mall, where Sabrina and her little gang hang out. We look for the weakest link, split her from the group and-"

"You're starting to sound like you're hunting antelope or something." Gina huffed while I giggled.

"Come on! This is serious! We split her from the group and-"

"No wait. We shouldn't do that just yet. We should observe them first so that we know how to handle the weakest link and get her to do what we want. Otherwise it'll be suspicious and fail."

"Hey, good thinking Gina!"

"So now we're just going to stalk Sabrina and her posse?" I snorted. This was going to be even more embarrassing than the three of us sitting underneath the table.

"It's not full on stalking. Just a little gathering of information." Lizzy justified.

I didn't argue. I guess as long as no one found out, it'd be ok. Besides, it was a great way to take my mind off things.

When the bell rang, the three of us crawled out from under the table and walked to our lockers. I was feeling famished since I hadn't eaten anything for lunch so I was looking forward to the cheese sandwich sitting in my schoolbag.

"I still think this is a waste of time." Gina said to me, glancing back at Sabrina.

"I agree, but sometimes we need to humour Lizzy."

Lizzy was skipping next to us humming 'twinkle, twinkle little star' enthusiastically. I've always envied her optimism and light-heartedness. She always acted like nothing in the world could stop her.

"Oh my God! Tegan! You've got a love letter!" she suddenly exclaimed, pointing at something in front of us.

"What?" Gina and I asked at the same time.

"Look! It's taped to your locker! How romantic!"

I immediately thought of Cory and a smile tugged up the corners of my lips as I saw the white envelope stuck to the door of my locker.

I pulled it down, impressed by the soft, lacy paper.

"It doesn't necessarily have to be a love letter." Gina was saying to Lizzy who was bouncing up and down in excitement.

"What else could it be? Look how nice it looks!"

I turned over the envelope and pulled out the slip of soft paper.

"What does it say?" Lizzy practically screeched, almost ripping the paper in half as she hurried to help me unfold it.

"Maybe we should give her some privacy." Gina said sternly.

"But-"

"Eliza!" Gina gave Lizzy a deadpan look and the other girl slowly stopped her erratic bouncing.

"Okay…"

I snorted at the weird discipline Gina exerted on Lizzy as I continued to unfold the letter. It was weird how many times the person folded it…

I frowned as the message was finally revealed.

MEET ME IN THE CEMETERY AT MIDNIGHT.

L.f.

That was it. It wasn't a love letter at all. At least I hoped it wasn't because the last thing I needed was a secret admirer who was a fan of cemeteries.

Gina and Lizzy, who were shuffling around in their respective lockers, seemed to notice my stiff posture because a second later they were crowding around me reading the note.

"Cemetery?" Lizzy cried at the same time Gina mumbled "Midnight?"

I flipped the paper over to see if there was anything written on the back but there wasn't.

"Who's L.F?" Lizzy asked, her face contorted into a look of confusion.

"No idea." I replied. It couldn't be Cory, nor Babu. It could be Raith but the initials L.F. didn't ring any bells.

"Hmm…well there's Larry Fombom who sits behind us in History." Lizzy mused.

"Yea, of course Larry Fombom wants Tegan to meet him in the cemetery at midnight." Gina snapped sarcastically.

"Well it could be! You never know!"

"Larry Fombom is afraid of the dark. And his own shadow. I don't think he'd be into cemeteries."

"How would you know? Oh wait…didn't you and Larry Fombom used to…"

"No. We were just friends."

"Who's Larry Fombom?" I asked, getting more confused by the second.

"Don't worry. Just don't go meet this guy. It sounds really suspicious." Gina said with certainty.

"No! This sound like some super awesome mystery! What if you'll meet a sexy vampire who wants you to be his soul mate?" Lizzy said dramatically.

"Shut up Eliza."

Gina was right. Meeting some mystery guy in the cemetery at midnight did not sound like a good idea. And who goes to the cemetery at midnight? What a corny line. This isn't some vampire movie. And I didn't even know where the Fishbowl Cemetery was. After the recent events, I decided that I should stay clear of all things death related.

With no hesitation whatsoever, I scrunched up the letter and threw it into the bottomless depths of my locker, prepared to forget all about it.


Lizzy, Gina and I were running after the bus.

Why? Because when we reached the bus stop outside school the first time, Lizzy realised that she had left her schoolbag in her locker so the three of us had to go back to get it with her. And then Mr. Balls saw me running in the hallway and gave me a ten minute lecture about occupational health and safety. Because he's a dick who wants to ruin my life.

So we were late to the bus stop and missed the bus.

"Come back!" Lizzy screamed as we stumbled along the road with our heavy bags, waving her arms up and down like she was drowning.

"Lizzy…It's gone." I said between gasps of breath, stopping in the middle of the road and resting my hands on my knees.

"We just have to wait for the next bus." Gina mumbled next to me, wiping her forehead and fanning herself.

"No!" Lizzy cried, stamping her foot like a child and turning around to face us.

"Why?" I asked. My lungs felt like they were burning.

"Because that's the Sheridan bus."

Her words were met with a dreaded silence. It had long been established that Kensington High and Sheridan Preparatory were bitter rivals. We'd make each other's lives a living hell at every chance we'd got. It got really bad a year or two ago when they flooded our gym so we egged their football team and hid dead fish in their mascot's costume. Good times.

"Well it might not be that bad." Gina said quietly.

"They'll kill us." Lizzy whispered in a hushed tone.

"But why is that bus the Sheridan bus?" I asked, still slightly confused. The last time I checked, buses were public property owned by the state or something.

"It's the bus that stops over at Sheridan Prep before coming to our school. No one from our school is stupid enough to catch that bus." Lizzy explained.

"When's the next bus after that?" Gina inquired.

"An hour."

"Oh."

The three of us stood there in the middle of the road thinking hard.

"Could we wait for the next bus?" I suggested.

"Sabrina and Co. will be gone by then." Lizzy sulked.

"Well do we have to do this today?"

"Yes! Don't you get it? The longer we wait, the harder it'll be for us to break up Sabrina and Josh!"

Gina rolled her eyes.

"Well we don't have anything to change into so if we do get on the Sheridan bus, we'll be dead before we reach the city centre." She said.

"We could walk to the next bus stop." I suggested.

"No way. I'm already sweating like a pig as it is. I'm not walking all the way to the next bus stop with my heavy bag." Lizzy protested. "It'll ruin my hair."

The three of us watched in horror as the Sheridan bus pulled up at the bus stop. I could already see people in red and black uniforms behind the tinted glass windows.

"It won't be that bad." I said slowly, walking towards the bus.

"No!" Lizzy cried, grabbing my arm and trying to pull me back.

"Well we don't have any other options do we?" Gina told her, moving past us.

"Yea. And they can't kill us if the bus driver is there."

Lizzy bit her lip, her azure eyes flicking between me, Gina and the bus.

"If we don't hurry we'll miss this bus too." I reminded her.

"Yea. I mean, it's really up to you if we go or not." Gina added. "I couldn't care less whether or not we stalk Sabrina."

After an indecisive moment where Lizzy's nails practically pierced my arm through the thin white material of my uniform, Lizzy gave us a sharp nod and bravely led the way towards the waiting bus.

"If we don't make it out alive, I just want you guys to know that I love you." She whispered as the three of us climbed up the steps of the bus.

"Stop being such a drama queen." Gina snapped, pulling out her bus card.

As it turned out, Lizzy may not have been such a drama queen after all. As I swiped my bus card and looked at the passengers on the bus, my eyes were met with a sea of red and black uniforms. The whole bus went silent. The bus that was filled with boys. Sheridan Prep boys.

Then someone let out a very loud "Oooohh." And the whole bus erupted into talking.

"Are they crazy?"

"What are those Kensington bitches doing?"

"Hahaha this is gonna be so fun"

"Why is the whole bus full of guys from Sheridan?" I whispered to Lizzy. I had really hoped there would be some normal people here.

"Told you so." She whispered back with a quiver in her voice.

"Let's just chose somewhere to sit." Gina mumbled, her eyes glued to the floor.

We walked slowly down the aisle, avoiding all the legs people were sticking out to trip us. Gina and I managed to make it to an empty seat but Lizzy wasn't so lucky and she fell a metre behind us.

"Help! Help!" she screamed as the sprawled across the ground and the people on either side of her burst into laughter.

Gina let out a tired sigh and moved to help her only to scream and clutch her skirt.

"What?" I asked, alarmed at how red her face was.

"Someone pinched my bum!" she cried, absolutely appalled as a group of boys next to her started cracking up.

I immediately shoved myself back into seat to protect my behind but at Gina's glare, I moved back into the danger zone to help Lizzy up.

As I bent down to lend a hand to my hysterical friend, I felt something on my skirt and suddenly four different clicks resonated from behind me.

"Quit it you perverts!" Gina screamed as I straightened with lightning speed and looked around.

"What happened?" I yelled, my hands glued to my butt.

"Those douche bags lifted up your skirt and took at picture!"

I looked around in horror as a group of four boys started laughing and showing each other something on each of their phones.

"Oh my God!" I cried, my face heating up. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening!

Lizzy finally managed to get to her feet and grabbed both our arms.

"I told you guys!" she screamed. "I-ouch! Who did that? Who pinched me?" she spun around in a circle, death glaring everyone in all directions.

"Will you three sit down!" the bus driver suddenly bellowed at us.

The three of us looked at each other in horror. How could he let this happen to us? What's his problem?

We ran towards the one empty seat and all three of us crammed ourselves into it, Lizzy by the window, me in the middle and Gina near the aisle. We were aware that everyone on the bus was watching us but safety in numbers seemed like the best option.

"How much longer until we get to the city?" Gina asked us.

"I don't know!" Lizzy cried, exasperated.

I said nothing, my eyes glued to the heads of the four guys who had taken a picture of my backside. I needed to get their damn phones! Sure I was wearing black stockings so you wouldn't be able to see anything but it was the principle that counts.

"And besides I-Ew!" Lizzy was suddenly standing up and screaming, tugging at something in her hair.

"What is it?" I yelled.

"There's gum in my hair! This is so gross!"

Gina and I both felt the back of our heads and I wanted to puke at the wad of gum that was matted in my auburn locks.

"What the hell!" I shouted, spinning around and watching in horror as the two lanky guys behind us high fived each other.

"Stop being dicks." I yelled, wanting to punch their stupid faces. That was just so disgusting! Their gum was in my hair! Their gross, spit filled gum!

"Yea you guys. Don't be too harsh." Some shaggy haired dude from across the aisle added. "These Kensington girl's are pretty hot. Except for the nerd." He winked at us and I wanted to jump out of the bus. Gina on the other hand, stood up and looked ready to spill some blood.

"If you girls don't sit down right now, I'm kicking you off the bus." The bus driver yelled again.

I bit my lip and tried to control my bubbling temper as Lizzy, Gina and I sat down slowly.

"Can we sure him for not doing anything?" I asked Gina as Lizzy started sniffling and tugging at her hair.

"Well-…" Gina stopped talking and started sniffling too.

"Gina?" I asked uncertainly. It was so uncharacteristic of her to start crying. That was more of a Lizzy thing to do.

Gina suddenly spun around to that she was facing away from us and looked down at her bag which was sitting at the edge of the aisle. Then she let out a shrill scream and started stomping on it.

"What are you doing?" Lizzy and I yelled at the same time, standing up as our friend kept jumping on her schoolbag.

"Someone set it on fire!" Gina screamed, her eyes wild as she stared at her partially burnt bag. I could smell the smoke now and looked around in horror as everyone started laughing. They found this funny? What the hell were they thinking setting a fire on the bus? They could have killed us!

"Gina are you okay?" Lizzy screeched, on the verge of tears.

"I'm fine. I'm just-"

"That's it!" The bus stopped abruptly and we were almost knocked off our feet. Then the bus driver was standing up and striding towards us.

"Get off my bus!" he barked in our faces.

"What?" the three of us said at the same time.

"I want you trouble makers off my bus!"

My mouth fell open. Was he for real? There is no way that he's being serious.

There was a deadly silence as the bus driver stared at us, his double chin wobbling with rage.

"Okay…" Gina said slowly, picking up her bag and pushing past him. Lizzy and I followed, feeling slightly stunned but also glad that the ordeal was over.

Several guys winked at us as we passed and I wanted to beat their skulls in with the emergency hammers hanging next to the windows.

However, as soon as our feet touched the pavement, the bus drove away and we all let out a sigh of relief.

"That was awful." I said after a moment.

"I warned you." Lizzy mumbled, rubbing her eyes.

"Let's just get to the mall. At least we're in the city now." Gina said in a dull voice.

I looked around and was surprised to be surrounded by office buildings, cars and people.

"Come on. It's this way."

Gina, Lizzy and I walked towards the large building that was in the shape of a massive round fish bowl. Across the shiny mirror windows were golden letters that spelt out the words 'Gooshfish Mall' in the shape of a fish. Even the automatic sliding doors were fish shaped.

"Tell me again why people in this town are obsessed with fish?" Gina asked seriously.

"Well this town is called Fishbowl." I said distractedly, poking at the disgusting gum in my hair. I needed some scissors ASAP.

We walked through the automatic doors and were greeting but mellow mall music. Goosefish Mall was the biggest shopping centre in Fishbowl. Situated right in the centre of town, it was famous for having the most expensive, designer brand stores and the priciest food court in the country. As a result, I had never bought a single thing from the mall in my life. Even a cheeseburger and fries cost like, $20.

The shopping complex was set up in a huge circle that spiralled upwards until you reached the cinema at the top floor. It was really disorienting and annoying when you had to get to somewhere near the top and you had to make your way up by walking round and round and round. It was obviously some sort of marketing ploy to make people spend more money since they have to pass so many stores to get to their destination.

"There they are!" Lizzy suddenly yelled, pointing in some random direction before running off.

Gina and I followed more slowly. I think we were both still traumatised by the bus ride and I decided to never, ever miss the first bus from our school ever again.

We entered the store and saw Sabrina and Co. standing around the change rooms clutching various shimmery skirts and shirts.

"Where's Lizzy?" I asked Gina, glancing around the store.

"Psst! Over here!"

Gina and I turned and saw Lizzy huddling behind an anorexic mannequin. We reluctantly joined her.

"You do realise we look absolutely insane." I said as we crouched down and tried to ignore the pointed looks the sales assistant was giving us.

"Yea, so? It's not like anyone will recognize us."

"Tegan? Ew. What the hell? Why are you in here?"

Gina, Lizzy and I all spun around to face my sister and her loyal band of followers.

"What? So it's against the law for me to come here?" I growled.

"Ugh no but you shouldn't come into stores like these. It's embarrassing. You don't have the right image."

The right image? I was wearing my freaking uniform! I hated Jess at that very moment. After the day I've been having, being insulted by my sister was the last thing I needed.

"Listen Jennifer." Gina sounded absolutely pissed.

"Jessica! Ugh, how can you not know my name?"

"Whatever Jessica. We're a little busy right now so why don't you just-"

"They're on the move. Come on!" Lizzy suddenly ran out of the store, Gina following. Great. Just great. They seemed to have forgotten that I was a temporary cripple.

I hobbled after my two friends, who had slowed down and were walking a safe distance behind our targets.

We followed them to about three different stores but learnt nothing except that Sabrina had a fetish for leopard print and sparkles.

After an hour, we were heading towards the food court.

"So what now?" I asked.

"I think they're getting suspicious."Gina whispered.

"No way." Lizzy shook her head confidently.

"Well they keep looking over their shoulders and I think Sabrina is pointing at us."

"And we're randomly standing at the entrance of the food court staring at them." I added.

I think it was official. We sucked at stalking.

"Come on you guys! They're too dumb to notice."

"Um they're coming over here right now." I hissed, watching as Sabrina and Co. trotted over to us.

"What's your problem?" she said in that whiney voice. For a second, I was sure I saw Lizzy's eye twitch.

"Nothing. Can't we go to the mall?" Gina said.

"Well, yea ok. But like, why are you following us?" Sabrina popped gum in our faces while her 'friends' snickered. Ew please not gum again.

As they talked, I took a good look at her followers. There were four of them, two on either side of the girl which just looked lame.

They were all pretty confident, with that in-your-face attitude that Sabrina had perfected. Well, all of them except the last girl on the end. She was a petite strawberry blond, with small brown eyes and lots of freckles. She was pretty, but seemed really timid and gentle. Although she tried to look confident, her eyes were glued to the floor and she was biting her lip nervously.

Bingo. I think we've found our weakest link.

Gina and I shared knowing looks whilst Sabrina and Lizzy continued to bicker.

"And you know what? That necklace you gave me for my birthday in grade seven? I hated it!" Lizzy screamed.

"Ha! Well those earrings you gave me? I threw them out!"

"Whore!"

"Skank!"

"Slut!"

"Tramp!"

Sabrina and Co. were giving us death stares; hand on their hips and everything. The whole food court had stopped to stare at us. It was like some corny cliché scene from a low budget 90s teen movie. I was beyond embarrassment.

"Well you know what Sabrina? I'm glad we stopped being friends, because I've found real friends now. People who don't put me down all the time and actually listen to what I say!" Lizzy finished.

"You talking about these two losers? You've got to be kidding me Eliza. You used to hate them more than I did! Remember all those times you'd steal their pencil cases and throw them in the toilets?"

Gina suddenly spun, her eyes wide as she faced Lizzy.

"That was you?" she screamed, her face red with anger.

The toilet thing had never happened to me, thank God, but it used to happen a lot to the nerds a few years ago. The principal had to call a full school assembly just to talk about the issue of bullying.

There was dead silence as Gina stared accusingly at Lizzy. I felt really bad for the both of them. I've always been incognito, so no one's ever picked on me. Gina, on the other hand, must have been teased quite a bit. She carried very deep emotional scars.

Lizzy, too, must've felt awful for doing those things to Gina. Ever since Sabrina kicked her out of the group, Lizzy has changed and become much nicer. She probably regretted all the terrible things she'd done over the years when she was friends with Sabrina.

"Gina, I…" Lizzy never got to finish her sentence, because at that moment, Gina just turned and ran away.

Lizzy immediately followed, and we stood in a disconcerting silence as we watched them go.

Then Sabrina and her friends burst into laughter and high fived each other, before turning away and sitting back at their table.

Once again, I was forgotten by both my friends and enemies.

Deciding to leave because I didn't have anything else to do in this consumerist hellhole, I walked to the bus stop outside the mall and prayed that the next bus wasn't filled with Sheridan Prep bastards.

I was lucky it was quite late in the afternoon because the bus back to Herring Avenue was pretty much empty except for a nice looking old lady and a middle aged balding man.

Settling myself near the front, I leaned against the window and sighed, glad the day was over. That was until someone sat next to me.

Suppressing a yawn, I turned to the person only to throw myself backwards against the window.

"What's wrong?" Raith asked nonchalantly, giving me a confused look.

My mouth hung open. I couldn't move. My skin felt clammy and cold as I went into panic mode.

The bus was already moving and the chances of getting out of the seat without touching Raith seemed slim. I was stuck. I didn't know what to do. Raith was still looking at me with his head titled to one side. I wondered if he could see my fear.

"You…y-y-you…"

I suddenly turned away, my eyes glued to the window as I struggled to stay cool and calm. Death was sitting next to me. Death. Death!

"Ignoring me isn't going to make me go away." Raith whispered in my ear. I screwed my eyes shut and shuddered.

"What do you want?" I whispered, still refusing to look at him. What was he doing on a bus?

"You do know you have chewing gum in your hair, right?"

I didn't say anything, focussing on the darkness behind my eye lids and the steady rhythm of the bus wheels on the ground. The fear was overwhelming. I didn't want to move.

"Are you scared?" Raith asked in a low tone, his warm breath shifting bits of my hair.

"How can you be real?" I finally replied, my heart hammering in my chest. "How can death be a person?"

"I suppose I wasn't very clear before. I only harvest the souls that are destined to evolve beyond spirit form."

His words washed over me and I felt overwhelmed.

"What does that mean? Beyond spirit form? Like…angels and d-demons?"

I slowly opened my eyes and turned to face him. He was breathtaking, even up close. His dark hair looked so soft, and his dark eyes were so enchanting.

At my question, he nodded almost thoughtfully.

"Spirits can only become angels or demons if a Reaper is there at the time of death."

I swallowed nervously.

"A Reaper? There's more of you?"

"There's not many but yes, there's more than one."

We were silent for a moment as I thought through everything that had happened with Raith since he first fell through the room of the bathroom.

"I'll die if I touch you." I said, finally understanding what he meant.

"Well you won't drop dead but each time you touch me, you will lose a bit of yourself. Prolonged contact will lead to death. I can usually control how much I take from a person but I must take at least some."

I remembered the drowning feeling I felt when I touched him that one time in the bathroom; the feeling of something being ripped from me.

It was a chilling thought that Raith had taken a bit of my soul.

"Can you give it back?" I said so softly that even I had trouble hearing myself.

Raith shook his head.

"The fragment will stay with me until I release it into Purgatory."

My chest felt tight and my breathing was restricted. This was dangerous. I shouldn't be anywhere near Raith. He could kill me. And yet…

I looked back towards the window again and rubbed my tired eyes. We were almost at Herring Avenue. A moment later, I felt Raith's presence fade and I flinched and glanced around, wondering if anyone had noticed the strange boy disappear. I was relieved to see that the old lady was asleep and the bald man was reading a newspaper. Even the bus driver didn't comment on anything out of the ordinary.

When we reached my street, I pressed the stop button that was on the side of my seat and stood up.

I felt strange. Knowing what Raith was didn't make me feel any better but the initial numbing fear seemed to be wearing off. He was still as mysterious and confusing as ever but he didn't seem to want to hurt me, unlike Babu. He even said he was going to help me with this messy situation.

The walk to my house seemed shorter than usual and before I knew it, I was opening the front door.

Leaving my bag on the floor, I approached the staircase and stopped on the first step.

I couldn't bring myself to go any further. It felt like I was paralysed. It was the fear; the fear that Babu would be there, waiting to kick me out the window again. Or maybe smash my head against the wall.

It felt like my room was no longer safe and that made my blood boil. My room was my sanctuary, my special place to get away from the world. Now my haven had been violated, first by Raith and then by that stupid, white haired freak Babu. What kind of name was Babu anyway? Yeesh.

And now I was scared to go up there.

"No way! And what did he say? Oh my God-" Jess stopped at the top of the stairs when she saw me.

"Tegan? What's wrong?" Hanging up on whoever she was speaking to, Jess walked down the steps. "If this is about what I said today at the mall then I didn't mean it-"

"No it's not that…" I felt like I was going to cry. My vision was turning blurry with tears. I didn't know what it was but the whole situation was finally sinking it.

"Tegan…?"

I looked away, wiping the water from my eyes as inconspicuously as possible. I felt powerless, humiliated, caught up in something I had no control over.

Suddenly Jess was wrapping her arms around me.

We were the same height, even though she was two years younger. I rested my head on her shoulder, biting my lips.

She didn't ask me what was wrong. Call it sibling intuition but Jess had always had an uncanny way of knowing how I was feeling and she always knew when I didn't want to talk about it.

Once I got my sniffling under control, I let go of Jess and smiled at her.

"Thanks." I muttered.

"Hey, we all need a bit of a cry every now and again. I'm always here for you sis."

It felt strange that Jess was acting like the older sibling all of a sudden. It made me wonder if she was having any issues herself. Was I being selfish by having a breakdown when Jess might have been in a situation far worse than mine? Then again, how do you top killer angels and death incarnate stalking you?

"Jess…you know I love you right?" I asked somewhat awkwardly. I was never good with the sentimental stuff.

"Of course stupid. I love you too. You'll always be my big sister."

She gave me a quick hug before heading to the kitchen. I sighed. All that touchy feely stuff sure took my mind off the problem at hand.

Feeling a calmness settle over myself, I walked up the stairs and stopped outside the door to my room. I should have brought a knife with me.

Refusing to think because thinking would mean I'd have to give in to the storm of fear building inside me, I pulled open the door.

A gust of wind greeted me as I looked into my room. The window was still open as I had left it, the bed still unmade. It was empty: no girly men in sight.

Relief seemed like such a recurring emotion as I stood in the doorway, my heart beating slowly, my breathing deep.

Later that night, I slept with my window closed for the first time in what felt like forever.


Smile pulled a knife from the sleeve of his clown suit and with a swing of his thin arms; he cut the rope that tied me to the wheel.

His voice was still echoing in my head as I ran, my feet stinging in the tight ballet shoes.

It was coming behind me. I wanted to turn around and see who it was, to face my fear. I couldn't though. No matter how hard I tried, my eyes were glued forward, my feet taking me further and further into the forest.

Smile ran in front of me, his steps light and weightless, like at any moment he would float away and I'd be left stranded and lost.

We came to a river and Smile ran across a narrow bridge. I stopped. He turned to me, gesturing me with eyes that were hollow.

I was frozen. I couldn't move. All I could see was my reflection; the reflection of a twelve year old girl dressed as a ballerina.

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.


I woke up hastily, my room warm and stifling.

I pulled open the window next to me, closing my eyes against the burst of cold air against my face.

Everything was dark but I felt a presence.

"Raith?" The name slipped out of my mouth before I realised what I'd said.

"Yo."

As my eyes adjusted, I made out a figure sitting crossed legged at the end of my bed.

I let out a squeak, pulling my blanket all the way up to my chest even though I was wearing a sweatshirt and plaid pyjama pants.

"What are you doing here?"

"Our conversation got cut a little short don't you think?" He sounded like he was smiling, the creep.

"Why do we have to talk in the middle of the night?" I snapped. "And what are you doing in my room? It's weird!"

I fumbled with the lamp on the side of my bed, relaxing when I managed to turn it on and the faint yellow glow lit up a portion of my room.

Raith was no longer sitting at the end of my bed. Instead he was sitting at my desk, spinning slowly on my wheelie chair.

"We need to establish some ground rules." I said as I watched him spin round and round and round and round.

"Are you uncomfortable?" he asked nonchalantly.

"Rule one: no showing up in the middle of the night." The spinning was almost hypnotising.

"Are you undressing me with your eyes?" Raith said with a sly grin.

I was stunned into silence.

"No you pervert!"

"Then why do you keep staring at me with that weird smile on your face?"

I was smiling? Oh cripes I was smiling. Note to self: stop smiling. Now.

"What's rule two?"

"What? Oh…rule two: you can't come into my room without my permission. If you want to enter you have to knock on the door and wait for me to let you in. No more random appearing out of nowhere stuff."

"Seriously?"

"Yes! I take my privacy very seriously. What if you appear when I'm getting changed or something?"

"That's a bad thing?"

"Oh my God!" I pulled the blanket up even further.

"Relax, I'm not going to molest you or anything."

"Thanks. I feel so much better."

"Any other rules?"

I cleared my throat.

"Yes there's one more. Rule three: you'll truthfully answer any question I ask."

He gripped the desk next to him to stop the chair spinning, and raised an eyebrow at me.

"Ok, no to rule one: I'll show up whenever the hell I want to sweetheart. Rule two is a maybe, and as for rule three…" He looked away as if thinking. "Well, I suppose it depends what the question is."

I narrowed my eyes at Raith, and he turned back to me with a lazy grin, a wicked expression on his face.

"What? Why are you looking at me like that?" I gasped, pulling my blanket over my face so only my eyes were showing.

In response, he just smirked and started playing with one of the pencils on my desk. Creepy, creepy, creepy.

I yawned at looked at the clock. It was midnight. That reminded me…

"Hey did you stick a note on my locker today?"

He lifted an eyebrow and chewed on the end of my pencil. Ew.

"What did it say?"

"To meet at the cemetery at midnight. It was pretty creepy. So it wasn't you?"

"No. Did it have a name on it?"

"Just the initials L.F."

Raith's eyes narrowed and the pencil snapped in half.

"Do you know who it's from?" I pressed when he didn't say anything.

"No." he spat the end of the pencil out and I cringed. That was so unhygienic. And he was lying. I'd never been more certain in my life but I didn't want to confront him about it. He still terrified me senseless.

Instead, I changed the subject.

"So…why is Babu trying to kill me? And how do we stop him?"

"Why do you think?"

I frowned, lowering the blanket so that my face became visible again.

"Because he saw me break into Sabrina's house?"

"And?"

"And he saw me steal the ring?"

I sat up straighter, my browns furrowed.

"So technically this is all your fault!"

Raith rolled his eyes.

"If you had any tact, you'd have been able to get in and out of there without him noticing a thing. Why did you take so long getting it in the first place?"

Because I was doing a victory dance.

"Because finding a ring is hard you know." A sudden thought occurred to me. "Is this why you couldn't get it yourself? Because Babu was guarding Sabrina and he'd stop you or something?

"How, so you do have a brain in that head of yours."

"Shut up and get out."

I turned away from him, suddenly annoyed. He used me, the douche. He used me so that Babu would target me and not him!

Suddenly I spun back around, relieved to see that Raith was still there, eying me strangely.

"Before you go can you just answer one question?" I said cautiously.

"What?"

"Exactly how dangerous is Babu?"

Raith paused, twirling the remains of my pencil around his long fingers.

"Truthfully, he won't try to kill you."

"Oh thank God."

"Probably just maim you. Or traumatize you. Angels can't kill but they can psychologically destroy you if you cross them. Goodnight."

Then he was gone, the pencil clattering to the floor.

Lorelei Ravencroft 2011-03-29 . chapter 11

OMG WHAT? Raith is death? How...what? That is so COOL! and ya, Raith is so much better than Cory... I keep thinking Raith and Tegan should get together...

LoStInMyTeArS 2011-03-27 . chapter 11

Ep xD I love Raith. Wow. Gosh. He's so darn smexy, it makes my heart flutter. Even though hes Death...Oh well!

xofallenangelxx 2011-03-27 . chapter 11

Raith is awesome! Awesome chapter!

Jenna Lovett 2011-03-25 . chapter 11

thank god you updated! comments about the chapter: my only complaint is that it got confusing when tegan and all her friends were talking because you didnt really put who said what. death?? really? well sorta makes sense. i like their relationship. both dont really want to be around each other, but theres obvious chemistry! idk how that would work in the long run...cant touch, she human, him...not. i hope you figure out all this! great chapter as always!!


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