Embracing the inner delinquent.
It was the same dream again. Smile was beckoning me, his
huge eyes confused as he watched me struggle with the rope around my ankle.
It was tied to the wheel of a huge, abandoned wagon and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the rope free. Behind the wagon was an old homestead that looked like it hadn't been used in years. There was a strange smell in the air: a mix of ran and mud that made my skin crawl.
I was wearing ballet shoes again; ballet shoes that were way too tight.
I closed my eyes, trying to forget the memories that stirred at the sight of those shoes.
And then the music started, softly at first but slowly growing louder. I frantically pulled at the knot in the rope, breaking one of my nails and watching as pearls of blood soaked into the off-white material. The sight only increased my desperation as I felt a shadow of foreboding stir the air around me. I needed to get away before I succumbed to the building nostalgia bubbling inside my mind.
Then I heard footsteps and the sound of a creaking door slamming.
I felt a small hand on my shoulder and looked up at Smile, who was gazing at something behind me, his eyes stormy.
Then he leaned down and whispered the first words he's ever spoken to me in my life.
I sat up, breathing hard and glancing around the darkness of the room.
Something wasn't right, something felt off. It didn't look right. There was no window next to me and I was lying on something hard and flat. Panic and remnant emotions from my dream burst forth and I swallowed a scream. Then I realised that I was in Lizzy's room.
Relief flooded through me as I looked around and saw the lump that was Lizzy snoring on her bed.
I had chosen to sleep on the air mattress this time instead of the bed. We alternated every time I slept over at her house.
I sat for a few moments with my head rested my raised knees, concentrating on calming my erratic brain.
It was just a dream; nothing more.
A new wave of fear rippled across my consciousness when I felt something on the back of my neck. It was almost like someone was breathing on me.
I turned my head sharply and screamed, throwing myself backwards as Raith started laughing.
I hugged myself, glancing at Lizzy who hadn't moved from her spot. Surely she'd heard my terrified scream?
Raith was looking at me, a strange smile on his face as he sat against the wall next to the mattress.
"Lizzy?" I said loudly. When I got no response, I spoke louder. "Lizzy!"
Suddenly frightened for my friend, I stood up and jumped onto her bed, shaking her.
"Lizzy! Wake up!"
"She won't wake up until I want her too." Raith said seriously. I couldn't see him from my spot on the bed.
With a held breath, I reached up and felt Lizzy's neck for a pulse, almost crying in relief when I felt it. She was still breathing too, a serene smile on her face.
My relief was suddenly replaced with anger as I turned and looked for the psychopath in the darkness.
"What did you give her?" I shouted.
"What?" he sounded amused.
"You drugged her didn't you?"
"Tsk tsk, there is still so much you don't understand."
My anger had reached boiling point.
"I don't know how you got into Lizzy's house but I want you to leave. Now."
I jumped. He was right next to me!
"Get out!" I screamed, moving away from him.
"Oh, I can't do that sweetheart. You have my ring."
"No I don't! Get out! Get out!"
Panic with a side of hysteria. That's all I felt as I sat frozen in my spot on Lizzy's bed. How did he get in? What was he going to do to me?
"But you know where it is."
It was a statement, not a question, and I felt horror zap through my veins.
"You've been stalking me." I said through clenched teeth.
He didn't say anything. I could make out his silhouette in the shadows but it did little to lessen my fear.
"Don't flatter yourself." He said at last, his voice cold. "Just get me my ring and I'll leave you alone."
"But I don't know-"
"Yes you do." His voice came out in a lethal hiss and I cowered a little.
"Good. Now you're going to go get it."
"You're going to go get my ring right now."
"If you don't…then your friend…" he didn't finish his sentence but instead I saw Lizzy start to jerk. Then she sat up, her hands clutching at her throat as she spluttered and coughed.
"Lizzy!" I screamed, crawling towards her and grabbing her shoulders, trying to figure out what has happening.
"Te…gan…?" her eyes were wide and bulging with horror, her hands frantically clawing at her throat. I remembered what happened to me the other night and felt dread.
"Lizzy!" I cried, again, flicking on the lamp beside her bed and trying to find the source of whatever was strangling her.
I couldn't believe my eyes. There was nothing there but I could see an impression on her neck, crushing her windpipe. It was like an invisible hand was choking her!
"What…?" Lizzy's voice was raspy and her eyes started to droop.
I turned to Raith and saw that he was sitting crossed-legged on the end of Lizzy's bed, the lamp light illuminating the lazy look on his perfect face as he made clenching movements with the fingers of his outstretched hand.
"You! Stop it! What are you doing?" I screamed.
"Get me my ring." He said in a sing song voice.
I jumped down from the bed and ran at him, thoughts of saving Lizzy clouding my good judgement.
"No, no, sorry sweetheart. You can't touch me remember." Raith taunted, not even looking at me as I started struggling against what felt like an invisible wall between me and the sadistic boy.
Lizzy's eyes had gone unfocused and her flailing arms slowly dropped.
With tears in my eyes, I gave up on my attack and crumpled to the floor.
"Okay, okay I'll get it for you. Just don't hurt her!"
Lizzy suddenly fell back down into her bed, her chest heaving and her breathing ragged. I immediately stood up and went to her side.
She looked fine. A little pale but otherwise unharmed.
"Now that wasn't so hard was it?" his sly voice remarked from somewhere to my left.
At that moment, all I felt was loathing for the dark haired boy.
It was still dark when I left Lizzy's house, wrapped in a fluffy scarf and wearing one of Paul's huge hoodies that I found lying around the house. I should be back before they noticed I was gone. Actually, it was more likely that by the time they woke up, I'd be sitting in a jail cell for breaking and entering. And maybe theft too depending on how far I got with this ridiculous plan.
I clutched a piece of paper in my hand; the address of Sabrina Saintly which I had copied from one of Lizzy's address books. She had at least five lying around her room and after two minutes, I found one that she had used before she was ostracised from the 'in crowd'.
Sabrina lived in one of the middle class suburbs called Eeltail Lane. That surprised me. I guess I assumed all the pretty, popular kids were rich.
Yes I had a horrible habit of stereotyping people.
Holding out the map that I found in the Connifer's study, I began to make my way down the dark road, the streetlights casting eerie shadows on the pavement.
I should have been afraid. For all I knew, there could be a serial killer hiding in the bushes, waiting to pounce and disembowel me. A cough from the tall boy behind me reminded me exactly why I wasn't scared of anything but him.
I had been ignoring him ever since I agreed to get his stupid ring. He hadn't tried to speak to me either. He just followed me around, probably making sure that I was doing what he wanted.
Stupid psychopath. I had more reason to fear from him than any lurking forty year old paedophile.
To be honest, I had a billion questions I wanted to ask Raith but I was too stubborn and angry to break the silent treatment I was giving him.
It was not that I desperately wanted to know either. Sure I was curious but there was such a thing as knowing too much.
After fifteen minutes of walking in silence, we finally arrived at what I hoped was Sabrina's house.
It looked like one of those houses you saw in a TV sit com; neat and perfect with a neat green garden and a white picket fence.
The gravity of the situation sunk in as I stood on the footpath. Was I really going to break into Sabrina Saintly's house? What the flip was I thinking? This was insane!
"What you waiting for?" Raith asked beside me, sounding impatient.
"I…Why do I have to do this?"
"If you want your friend to live-"
"No, I mean why can't you do this? You managed to get into my house and Lizzy's without any trouble. Why do I have to-"
"Because I say so."
I squinted at him in the darkness, trying to read his expressionless face.
There was something he wasn't telling me, something important.
"You're wasting time. The sun will rise soon and then you'll lose the cover of darkness." Raith said quietly.
"Well you've obviously had practice doing this kind of this." I muttered, glad the fence was low enough to climb over.
We walked around the house once and I realised the flaw in the plan.
"Which window is hers?" I asked.
"How the hell am I supposed to know?" Raith snapped.
"Well you're the one who wants me to break into her house!" I shouted, my voice echoing in the quiet night.
I was suddenly filled with fright, wondering if anyone heard me. The dead silence made my voice ten times louder.
"Just pick a window." Raith growled with a nervous glance around.
I walked around the house once more, trying to decide which window was easily accessible. It was still quite dark but the sky was slowly getting lighter which helped.
I was surprised when I saw that one of the windows was open. That was weird. Surely I'd have noticed that the first time I walked around the house.
It was a pretty cold night too. Something was fishy.
Maybe I should just make a run for it now. It was pretty dark so maybe he wouldn't see me in the darkness. Then I thought of Lizzy and decided that I couldn't leave her to the mercy of this freak.
Choosing the open window as my target, I looked around, wondering how I was going to get up there.
I'd be fine as long as I kept my mind on the technical stuff and didn't actually think about what I was about to do. Like break into Sabrina's house. And steal her ring. For a psychopath boy who tried to kill me and my friend.
As if fate wanted to give me a virtual cookie, I saw a ladder leaning against the side of the house. It appeared that someone had been painting something and had left it there.
With Raith's ominous presence lurking behind me somewhere, I grabbed the ladder and dragged it over to the window. It wasn't quite tall enough and I realised that I was going to have to pull myself up through the window.
I started to sweat, trying to ignore the choking feeling that was developing in my chest.
I jumped and drew a deep breath, trying to find my happy place.
Wishing that I didn't have a fear of heights, and slightly unnerved that it was still so dark that I could barely see the top of the ladder in front of me, I started to climb.
The first step was shaky and I already missed the feeling of solid ground beneath my feet.
My palms were sweating too and I had to wipe them on my jeans a few times before I took another step up. My heart was hammering so hard it felt like it would burst right out of my chest.
I reached the top almost too soon, desperately trying to ignore the vertigo of being up so high.
As I stood on the tip of my toes and looked into the window, I felt as if I were on the precipice of something huge. I was standing at a fork in the road and my choice now would determine how the rest of my life would turn out.
"Hurry up!" Raith shouted from somewhere below and I cringed. I had to do this. I had to get that damn ring so that this freak would leave me alone, so that Lizzy would be safe, so that I never had to worry about getting choked in the middle of the night.
I didn't know what Raith was but I knew he wasn't normal. It didn't surprise me that I was suddenly so open minded. My rational mind had taken a vacation a long time ago, probably skinny dipping in the Caribbean for all I knew. All that was left was fear and hopelessness.
"I don't have all night." Raith spoke again and I threw caution to the winds.
Gripping the windowsill with my sweaty hands, I pulled myself up. It was harder than I thought it would be, my arms immediately straining against my weight.
With a grunt, I swung my right leg up onto the window ledge and with a heave, I rolled into the room.
As I stood there, I couldn't believe what I had done.
I did it. I did it!
I was overwhelmed by the urge to do a victory dance. It was exhilarating! And scary! And there was so much adrenalin pumping through my veins that I was having trouble keeping still.
A careful look around the room made me realise that I was in someone's bedroom.
Moving slowly and as quietly as I could, I looked at the various pictures sitting on the dresser and couldn't believe my luck. I was in Sabrina's room!
This time I did do a little dance, a huge smile on my face as I punched the air in triumph.
Now I just had to find the ring.
I opened the top drawer of the dresser and closed it immediately, a horrified look on my face. I did not want to look at her underwear thank you very much.
I hoped Sabrina wasn't wearing the ring.
After a search through the rest of the drawers, I found a little ornate box with rhinestones and a Chinese dragon embroidered on it.
I almost squealed in delight as I opened it and saw a small pile of jewellery; earrings, bracelets and rings.
Then I felt it. It was a weird sensation, like cold water running over my head.
Without a doubt, I felt like someone was watching me.
I turned around, expecting to see Sabrina glaring at me with murder in her eyes.
However, I was alone except for her sleeping figure on the bed. Actually, it looked like there were two people sleeping on the bed. Ew.
But I could still feel the stare. Maybe I was being paranoid.
Either way, I wasn't waiting to find out. Turning back to the jewellery box, I rummaged through it until I saw Raith's ring.
With the prize in my hand, I put the box back and ran to the window, my former exhilaration replaced with numbing trepidation.
I swung one leg out and felt for the ladder. A small part of me was certain that the ladder would be gone, but I felt the metal brush the sole of my sneakers.
As I swung the other leg down and lowered myself onto the ladder, I looked back into the window one last time and froze.
Standing on the other side was a man. At least I thought he was a man. What made me doubt his gender was his the way he looked. This man was unbelievably beautiful. Not handsome but beautiful, pretty, feminine. Androgenous was a better word for him. But he was too pretty. It looked wrong; fake. It was like those people who got too much plastic surgery. They should have been beautiful because their features were flawless but it looked too unnatural to be appealing. That was what this man reminded me of.
He stared at me with a look of pure rage, his long white air shifting in the wind.
The vibe I was getting felt like someone had slapped me across the face with a bag of ice.
Then the man disappeared and I was left, shivering against the memory of his angry, violet eyes.