A dangerous game.
My descent seemed to take aeons, my thoughts
becoming more jumbled and incoherent by the second. Who was that man? Why did
he look so mad? Did I make a mistake by doing this? Why was he in Sabrina's
room? What is going on? Was he Raith's evil twin brother or something?
"You have some serious explaining to do." I said to Raith as my feet reached the ground.
I turned around and stifled my surprised yelp when I realised how close he was standing to me. He smelt good. I mean, what?
"Did you get it?" His voice was alight with excitement and I narrowed my eyes suspiciously.
I held up the ring, dangling it from the ends of my fingers.
Raith broke into a charming smile, his eyes lighting up with joy. I was taken aback by how happy he looked. He didn't look merely as intimidating as before. My traitorous heart started hammering in my chest as he let out a breathless laugh, like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"Oh thank God. Give it to me." He said, holding out his hand.
I glanced down at his long fingers, dreading the decision I was about to make.
The change was instantaneous.
Raith's smile vanished and his eyes turned menacing and cold.
"What?" he said in a low voice.
"I…I'm not giving it to you until you tell me what the hell is going on. Why is this ring so important and…" I trailed off as Raith moved towards me, our noses barely an inch apart.
"Give. Me. My. Ring."
There was no doubt about it. There was murder in his tone. I swallowed, my eyes never leaving his.
A small part of me realised that the sun was rising in the background, the sky turning a radiant pink and orange. The scenery did little to ease my distress; all I could think about was what a dangerous game I was playing.
"Are you insane or just stupid?" Raith hissed at me, his teeth bared in a snarl.
My voice came out in a croak.
"I just want to know what's going on. Please?"
He was angry. His fists clenched and his jaw tightened. His eyes were black now. Black as death.
It was as if he'd transformed into something else. I could feel a numbing coldness radiating from him. Suddenly I couldn't feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, or hear the calls of the birds in the trees. The world seemed to drain of colour, the vibrant greens of the trees dulling to a washed out grey.
He hadn't moved but I felt his presence stronger than ever. His shadow seemed to grow five times larger and the air turned frosty. I was in too deep, messing with forces beyond my control.
What is he?
I didn't doubt what had happened in the girls' bathroom anymore. It wasn't a hallucination. He wasn't human. He couldn't be. I had been unsure before but now I was certain. The power I felt, the danger, it was all too real.
"Give me the ring."
His voice was everywhere at once, like fire in my ears, singeing every nerve process in my brain. I started to shiver uncontrollably, my hands shaking. All I could think about was the need to get away; to get as far away from Raith as possible.
The air was so cold it hurt to breathe and there was a strange buzzing, fuzziness in my ears like I had been at a rock concert.
Then I felt it; a pressure on my wrist. It tightened and I felt something wet run down my palm as I whimpered in pain. I flexed my hand as a sharp stinging sensation ran up my arm. I realised my mistake as the ring fell from my grasp.
Raith stepped back and suddenly the world flipped into focus so fast I swear I got whiplash. The colour returned, bleeding back into the landscape like a melted rainbow. I could hear the birds, I could feel the sun, I could smell the flowers and the morning air. A love of life overwhelmed me as I took deep breaths, my body still in shock.
I watched stiffly as Raith leaned down and ran his long fingers through the grass, looking for the ring. In the early morning light, I saw how worn out he looked. His striking face seemed gaunt and his complexion a little sallow. His eyes were bloodshot and it looked like he hadn't had a good night's sleep for a while.
As Raith touched the ring, however, his appearance changed dramatically. His skin turned a healthier colour, his hair looked shinier and thicker and the dark circles disappeared from under his eyes; it was like freaking fairytale magic.
I gaped, my mouth open as I stared at him.
Holy crap! What just happened?
He slipped the ring into his pocket and looked at me. We were silent for a moment before he turned away.
"Stop!" I yelled before he could disappear. A strange surge of adrenalin pulsed through my body. After surviving that near cataclysmic thing that had happened, I felt recklessly brave.
When Raith looked back at me, I sucked up all my courage and took a step forward.
"What are you?"
He smirked but didn't say anything.
"You owe me." I said with more force than I thought was possible. Raith looked surprised.
"I owe you?" he took a step forward. "I owe you?" another step forward. "I don't owe you anything! It was your fault that we got in this mess in the first place!"
"What? How is this my fault?" I shouted. I couldn't believe he had the nerve to say that to me when he was the one stalking and threatening me for the past week.
"You broke the chain around my neck and lost the ring!" he yelled back, eyes blazing.
"No I didn't! When…oh…" right, the bathroom fiasco. "Well maybe you should have noticed that the ring was gone in the first place." I said meekly.
"Well I was trying to get out of there before I accidentally killed you!"
There it was again. The mention of death.
"What are you?" I repeated, determined to get a straight answer out of the freak.
Raith stared at me for a long moment, the intensity of his gaze making me fidget.
"Do you believe in heaven?" He finally said. The sincerity of his voice caught me off guard.
"Huh? What kind of question is that? Are you trying to tell me you're an angel or something?"
Raith laughed and shook his head.
"I guess I do. There should be something nice after we die. But I'm not that scared if there isn't anything either, because then we'd just be dead and so we wouldn't know."
Raith nodded slowly. He wasn't looking at me anymore but was instead staring at the sky.
"So do you think there are angels and demons and ghosts and spirits out there?"
"I don't know. I guess I don't really think about it that much."
I was getting slightly annoyed. What was the point of all this talk about angels and heaven? Was he just trying to distract me?
"I don't understand." I told the boy in front of me.
He glanced at me and for a second I saw something strange behind those dark eyes: something like despair.
"Don't worry about it. You don't need to know what I am. I won't bother you again."
My mouth hung open as Raith abruptly winked at me before walking away.
I didn't follow. Something told me that I probably wouldn't be able to even if I tried.
When he was out of sight, I sagged against the wall of Sabrina's house, feeling both emotionally and physically drained. I didn't like the way my heart beat uncontrollably fast every time he was around, or that when he winked at me, I knew that I would believe anything he'd say.
I was supposed to hate him, especially after what happened when I didn't give him the ring. Especially after what he did to Lizzy.
The harsh beeping of an alarm clock in Sabrina's room returned me to my senses.
I suddenly realised that I had to get back to Lizzy's house before she and Paul woke up and found me gone.
Without a backward glance, I ran off, my sneakers pelting against the concrete sidewalk.
I slammed the front door, gasping for breath and clutching the stitch in my side. I was sweating way too much and I knew I must look disgusting. I didn't stop to rest though. I needed to make sure that Lizzy was alright and Raith didn't decide to strangle her just for fun.
Pulling off Paul's hoodie and running up the stairs, I charged into Lizzy's room and ran to the girl.
"Lizzy!" I screamed as I jumped onto the bed.
"Ahhhh!!!" she yelled in response, sitting up and punching me in the face.
"Ow!" curled into the ball and wiped away the tears that sprang to my eyes as my forehead started throbbing.
"Tegan? What's wrong? Oh man are you alright?"
"No! You hit me in the face!"
"Sorry! I thought you were one of Paul's drunk friends who got our rooms mixed up again!"
I sat up and gave her an 'are you serious?' look while clutching my head.
She just giggled.
"Yea, it's happened before. I once woke up next to some shirtless guy who was drooling in my hair. It was gross."
We started to giggle and I suddenly hugged the girl.
"Tegan, you're starting to scare me. What's wrong?"
It was weird that she had no recollection of anything happening in the middle of the night but I was totally fine with that.
"Oh my God what happened to your hand?" she suddenly exclaimed, pulling out my arm and staring intently at my palm.
I looked down and saw that it was covered in dried blood.
"It looks like something cut you." Lizzy continued, prodding a large red welt on my wrist.
I remembered how Raith got his ring back and shivered.
"I must have knocked it on something." I mumbled.
"You're so clumsy. Here, I'll get you a bandaid."
After five minutes of shuffling around her room looking for bandaids, Lizzy and I decided to go back to sleep.
We both lay down on the bed and tried to go back to sleep but after she accidentally kicked me out of the bed a few times, I went back to lying on the air mattress on the floor.
I woke up a few hours later, feeling surprisingly relaxed.
It was a Saturday! I could sleep the weekend away if I wanted to. I didn't have to worry about school until Sunday night. I could-
"What is wrong with you?"
Lizzy sat up as Paul came crashing into her room, her eyes bleary. I felt bad for waking her up so early before.
"Huh?" she mumbled as she looked at Paul.
"What were you thinking barging into that room last night? Cindy was so embarrassed!"
Oh God. I had forgotten that the party last night had been a complete disaster.
After deciding not to kill Sabrina right there and then, me and Lizzy tried to find Paul to take us home. However, when we did run into him, he and his girlfriend were in the middle of doing something that neither me nor Lizzy wanted to see. Ever.
"Cindy was embarrassed?" Lizzy screamed. "How about me? I had to walk in on the most disgusting sight in the whole history of mankind! I think my eyeballs burned! I think my brain exploded because it couldn't comprehend the horror of what I was seeing!"
"And then you make me drive you home just because you had a fight with some chick-"
"You don't understand." Lizzy hissed, her fists clenching.
I watched the whole thing, feeling very ill at eased.
The ride home from the party had been silent, awkward and incredibly uncomfortable. Oh, and Paul's girlfriend gave Lizzy and I death glares the whole time.
"I hate you!"
"I hate you too!"
Their argument ended and the door slammed.
We were silent. I looked at the clock and saw it was eight thirty. I really wanted to sleep but from the way Lizzy was fuming, I knew she wanted to talk.
"I think I should go home." I said quickly before she could open her mouth. I felt guilty the second I said it but after the morning I'd had, I just wanted to sleep. I needed to be alone for a bit.
Lizzy nodded, looking slightly deflated.
"I'll call you later ok?"
She nodded again. I thought I could see red marks across her neck but maybe I was imagining it.
Feeling like the worst best friend in the world, I left her room and walked down the stairs.
Paul looked up from the couch in the next room.
"You going home?"
Even more silence. Awkward.
"Do you want me to drive you?"
"No thanks. I'll just walk."
He nodded and I nodded and we stared at each other a little before I jumped down the last few steps and made my way over to the door.
"Well bye." I said.
I opened the door.
"Bye Richie." I yelled at the statue, just for the hell of it.
Then I walked home.
Sunday afternoon came by way too fast.
I felt lethargic as I peeled back the fly screen on my window so that I could rest my elbows on the window ledge.
I had spent the whole weekend thinking about what had happened at Sabrina's house.
Who was that white haired man? Was he someone like Raith? And who was Raith anyway?
The only solace I could find in the events that had happened was the fact that I would never have to see Raith again.
Whatever he might be, that boy was dangerous and I was glad to be rid of him. What really disturbed me were my dreams. I thought that maybe Raith was the cause of them and so when he told me he'd never bother me again, I hoped that the dreams wouldn't bother me either. My hope was destroyed last night when I had the dream again.
I always woke up before I found out what was coming behind me; I always woke up to Smile's scream of 'Run!'
Jess was sitting with one of her friends in the front garden, magazines spread out over the grass as they talked and laughed.
I sighed. I hadn't called Lizzy back. She was probably sitting by the phone waiting for my call right now.
That was the thing about Lizzy. Despite her chipper personality, Lizzy would never impose her company on other people. She never asked to come over to my house, she never asked if she could come with me if I was going somewhere and she never called me. She always waited for someone to ask her to do something, or to call her, or to invite her over.
It was good having a friend like her. She allowed me to have my alone time and privacy. However, looking at Jess and her friend now, I felt the need to be a good friend.
Deciding to call Lizzy, I straightened up from my crouched position and turned around, only to scream.
Standing in the middle of the room was the white haired man.
"Tegan?" Jess yelled from somewhere outside. "Are you alright?"
I watched in horror as the man approached me.
"Who are you?" I whispered as he came closer and closer and I shoved myself as far back as I could go.
He didn't say anything, his face blank as he stepped onto my bed with graceful agility. My heart was beating so hard that I could hear the pounding and the rush of blood against my temples.
"W-what do you want?" I said, my voice shaky as he stopped inches in front of me. He was standing on my bed, his shins level with my eyes. I had to tilt my head back just to see his face.
Then he kicked me in the chest and I fell backwards, out the window.