They stayed at their spot for a few hours, most of which spent in silence, watching the wind in the trees. Occasionally one of them would throw out a theory about what could be happening. Aris thought back to when she first came to the Roseland Village, and how happy she was to have found someone like Billy as a friend.
Aris came to Roseland Village at age seven. The June sun shined down on the new place, and Aris was excited to get to know the neighborhood and meet all the children playing outside. Before long a few kids about her age came up to her.
“What’s your name?” A girl with a bright orange dress and bow looked at Aris with curiosity.
A couple of the kids burst out laughing while others just looked confused, they had never heard such a strange name before.
A bigger boy with curly hair could not stop laughing. “Aris? That’s a silly name.”
Aris was used to insults; she got them a lot because wherever she went she was always the weird kid. After a while Aris learned to deal with the mean kids by acting out. She glared up at the curly haired boy and kicked him hard in the shin.
His laughter cut off. “Get her!”
All the kids began to chase Aris, but her long legs took her further, and she ran over a small hill and into a bit of shrubbery. She looked through the leaves and waited for the kids to run by before she looked at her surroundings. The plant growth was pretty thick, but thinned out into an empty space surrounded by trees. A boy was sitting on a log staring at her. He had black hair and dark eyes. Aris crawled through the plant growth and into the empty space.
The boy spoke. “This is where I hide from the other kids too. They think I’m weird.”
Aris smiled. “They think I have a silly name.”
“Mine’s Billy, what’s yours?” The boy smiled back.
Aris hesitated for a moment. “Aris.”
Billy’s smile widened. “That’s an awesome name!”
“You really think so?” Aris beamed at the boy.
Billy nodded, and ever since that day they were inseparable.
Rain began to fall down through the trees snapping Aris out of her memory. They got up and walked back to Aris’ house. They passed Mrs. Franklin on the way, walking her big white fluffy dog. The dog was usually very friendly and would jump up on Aris and Billy when they walked by; licking them in the face. But today the dog began to bark and growl. Aris and Billy looked at each other; the dog knew something was different about Aris.
Mrs. Franklin pulled back her dog. “Miss. Fluffkins! I’m sorry Aris, I don’t know what’s come over her.” She dragged the dog away. “Come on, time to go inside.” Miss. Fluffkins still pulled at her leash bearing her teeth; never taking her eyes off of Aris.
“Probably just the rain.” Billy shouted, and Mrs. Franklin nodded.
They continued to walk to Aris’ house, and as soon as they got in Billy sat down at the kitchen island while Aris began to pace a little.
“Can you believe that? The stupid dog knows something is wrong! If I could just get my hands on that furry little-”
“Aris!” Billy gave Aris and strange and worried look. She always liked that dog, why was she acting like she wanted to hurt it now?
Aris stopped pacing and sat down. “Sorry, I’m just…stressed.”
A loud crack of thunder made both of them jump. Aris got up and looked out the window. The rain started to come down harder. They could hear the drops crash down on the roof. Aris looked at the dark clouds and bit her lip.
“Billy, I think you should go home.”
Billy shot up from his seat. “What? No way, I’m not leaving you here by yourself.”
“Look, I’m tired and there’s no way I’m going to get any sleep tonight, so I might as well get some in now while it’s still light out. You should go sleep too. It’s been a long night. Maybe we are just overreacting about the whole thing.”
“You shouldn’t be by yourself if anything happens.”
“Billy, please.” She could tell she was not getting through to him. “If the power goes out tonight I could be dangerous. If I did anything to you…I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.”
Billy shut his eyes and shook his head. “Fine, but I’m calling you tonight before it gets dark, and then every hour after that. So make sure your phone is up loud and by your ear in case you’re asleep. And if anything happens I’m coming straight over and not leaving, okay?”
Billy did not want to leave, but he knew staying would put more stress on Aris. He put up his hood and left the house with reluctance. Aris wanted to tell him everything would be okay, but she knew that was far from the truth. Something horrible was happening to her and seemed to be getting worse. They may never figure out why this was happening, and may never get a cure for it. She could be stuck as a monster forever. Aris watched Billy walk down the street, before heading upstairs to the bathroom. She splashed cold water on her face and stared at herself in the mirror. She looked like she always had, but felt like a completely different person. Being in the bathroom reminded her of the previous night at Rachel’s house. That was all she had been thinking about since then.
Aris groaned. “What’s happening to me?”
She went into her room and sat on the corner of her bed, and stared out the window. The dark clouds spread like a blanket over the sun, but a few rays still managed to peek through. Although it was storming, the lights had not surged yet. She continued to stare out the window in a daze, not realizing she had fallen asleep. A few hours later there was a loud crack of thunder that shook the house causing a couple of car alarms to go off. Aris’ eyes shot open, and she looked out the window. It was beginning to get dark.
The lights began to flicker and panic rose up inside Aris. She looked around her room for her bag; she needed the flashlight Billy had given her. She could not find it, but then she remembered she had set her bag by the door that morning. Aris ran downstairs and rummaged through her bag until she felt the cool metal of the flashlight. She turned it on and hugged it close, knowing that it could be her only salvation if the lights went out. As Aris got up to go back in her room, she looked out the window and saw her parents’ green SUV parked in the driveway. She walked over to the basement door and tried the handle. She knew it was locked, but the basement was the only place with power if the lights went out. Her parents had a generator, so their experiments would not get ruined. Part of Aris wanted to knock and get her parents attention, but she decided to just go back to her room and not clue them in on what was going on. If they found out about her, things could be worse off than they already were.
She passed by her parents’ room and stopped. If she could find the key to the basement, and something started to happen, she could run in there and make something up. She could tell them they must have forgotten to lock it. And if the lights ever went off again and her parents were not home, she could go down there and know she would be safe. Aris had looked in her parents’ room a hundred times for the key, but she figured another try would not hurt.
As Aris looked through her mother’s side table drawer, she heard a noise coming from her room down the hall. Her cell phone. She must have left it in her bag. Aris’ eyes widened, “Billy!” She had forgotten he was going to call and check up on her. She ran out of her parents’ room and into her own, digging through her bag until she found the silver phone.
Before she could say anything Billy spoke. “Aris is everything okay? I’ve called like five times, I was about to head over there.”
“Billy, I’m so sorry, I fell asleep and forgot my phone was downstairs. I’m fine though, the lights have been doing fine so far.”
Billy sighed in relief. “Okay, do you have the flashlight just in case?”
Aris looked at the flashlight in her hands. “Yeah I’ve got it.”
“Alright, I’m calling you in an hour, so pick up your phone next time. And if you need anything, call me.”
“I will. Bye.” Aris hung up her phone and sat down on her bed.
A few minutes later the lights flickered. Aris shot up and looked out the window. The whole neighborhood had started to surge. Aris gripped the flashlight tighter and turned the switch on, but then a huge streak of lightning cracked across the sky followed by a loud roar of thunder. The lightning must have hit a power line somewhere nearby because all the lights in the neighborhood went dark.
Aris’ breathing increased and she sat down on the floor leaning her head against the bed. She shined the flashlight in her face, hoping it would be enough to stop whatever it was that almost happened every time, from happening. The familiar feeling arose though; she felt dizzy and hot. But this time it did not feel as bad as before. The flashlight kept the thing at bay for now, but the light only did so much. Where the shadows touched her, Aris felt shaky, she could feel her blood begin to boil underneath the skin. She began to hum the song that always popped into her head; the song seemed to calm her down. Suddenly Aris’ mother called her name from the stairs.
“Everything okay up there?”
“Yeah,” Her voice was shaky, but she hoped her mother would not investigate.
“Alright honey. We will be in the basement if you need anything.”
Aris squeezed her eyes shut and tried to control herself. Her mind went back to meat again. It felt just like that night with Rachel, but now Aris thought about her parents, alone in the basement where no one could hear them. Aris shook her head to get the thoughts out. She had to get out of there.