Saturday, 14 January 2012

Chapter 3

          Wiping the tear stains from my face, I dunked my head beneath the falls cool water. Opening my eyes underwater I could barely see anything, feel nothing but the water as it seeped into my skin. Feeling my lungs begin to protest I lifted my head out of the water. As I passed my hand across my face to clear my vision, I caught a glimpse of something from the corner of my eye. Seconds later I felt a warm hand touch my shoulder, again. There was no hesitation, as all the sparring sessions and self - defense training my grandfather taught me sprang to the surface. Instincts took over as I turned to face the owner of the hand, thrusting the heel of my palm upward into his nose.

        "What.The.Fuck!!" he yelled out as he leaned forward covering his nose. "Are you crazy? You could have broken my nose!" he screamed at me as I stepped back a couple of paces.

        "Your nose is fine and it serves you right for sneaking up on people." I said without the least bit of sympathy for him.  

“Hey I wasn't sneaking! I was just taking a dip, if anything I was here first!” he started to argue. It was dark, if it wasn't for his deep raspy voice I would have thought I was talking to a 10 year old. I couldn't help it, a small laugh escaped me as I asked “Seriously?” Finally the moonlight peeped out behind cloud cover, to help give me a look at him. He was chest deep in the water, letting go of his nose I could see his eyes as he looked at me, clear and grey. His hair, sodden with water appeared ink black as it brushed his thickly stubbled chin. 

        Remembering, that even though the night was dark and we were both hidden by the depth of the water, I was still naked. I Crossed my arms over my chest beneath the water, I started making my way to the boulder where I stashed my clothes when I heard my name.

            “October!” both me and the dark haired guy turned toward the banks as the torchlight shone down on me. “October, what the hell? You've been gone almost an hour, and I heard a scream”

         Raising my hand to shield my eyes from the light, I finally saw that it was Daniel. “Sorry,” I told him in a small voice. “I didn't mean to take so long.”

            “Scream? I don't scream. Girls scream. I was just……caught off guard.” The dark haired boy said to, Daniel, as he wadded out into the light. A knowing pause filled the silence as Daniel and the dark haired boy looked at each other. “Lucas? Of course.” Daniel said with a sigh as his eyes shifted from my face back to  Lucas'.

            “I should have guessed this one huh? Lucas Knight can smell a pretty girl from a mile away.” He threw at  Lucas with a grin stretching across his face. Rising out of the water and making his way towards, Daniel on the banks. I got a full view of Lucas' broad back, as he leaned down to pick up a back pack he must have hidden somewhere along the banks. When Lucas finally reached him, they did that clasp hands, half hug thing that guys do.

            “Hey Dani, it's been a while.” I could hear Lucas say to Daniel as they parted. 

           “Yeah, it has. Thought you were going to be gone a couple more weeks though?” Daniel asked him.

           “I was, but things kinda wrapped up early. So you know that crazy chick back there?” Lucas asked Daniel.

           Having had enough of watching a rekindling bromance, I interrupted their conversation. Clearing my throat loud enough to catch both boys attention, I just looked at them as they stared blankly back. Apparently living with my gramps all my life, hadn't prepared me for how dense boys could be. Securing my crossed arms under my arm pits under the dark water I told them to turn around so I could get my clothes. 

“Oh, crap. Sorry” Daniel said to me as he grabbed  Lucas' arm and led him a little way from the falls. The light of the flashlight helped me keep an eye on them as I made my way to the boulder where I left my clothes. Having nothing to dry myself, I shouted in the boy's direction “Did either of you bring a towel?” as I knelt down, to gather my clothes with my wet hands.

I felt something soft hit my head a couple seconds later, looking behind me where it landed on the ground I picked up the large white towel. Throwing a thank you in the boy's direction, I could barely make out there shadowed figures as I heard their low chuckling. Using the towel to dry myself, I threw on Daniel's two sizes to big, black t shirt and pair of plaid boxers, which felt a little too tight. I gathered my old clothes and balled them up as I slipped my feet into my shoes and made my way towards Daniel and Lucas.

“So that's her? The granddaughter? What's she doing here?” I overheard a full dressed Lucas ask Daniel as I approached them from behind. “I don't know what happened man. Marcus, he- ” Daniel began to reply before I cut him off.

“I think it's time you started talking.” I said to theirs backs, waiting for them to turn around. They both just stood there for a while, frozen, before turning to face me. When they did, they both had weird looks on their faces. “How long have you been standing there?” Daniel asked a look of uncertainty in his eyes. “Long enough.” I answered. 

“We didn't hear you walk up.” Lucas added as he and Daniel, both sneaked a glanced at each other.

“Who are you two? What happened back at my house? How do you even know my gramps?” I demanded, feeling my patience for answers wearing thin.

“Let's go back to the cottage and we'll-” Daniel started. 

“No! The only reason I'm still here, is because you promised me answers. Tell me what I want to know or I'm gone” I said to Daniel.

“Gone?” Daniel asked as he walked towards me. “And where will you go?” he asked. “Back to the pile of ash, that used to be your home? Or back to your dead grandfather, who was the only living relative you had?” he answered his own question as he stood face to face with me. 

                           He's right. There's nothing to go back to.

I thought. Looking straight into his eyes so dark they almost seemed black. I felt my nails dig into my palm as I clenched my fists, trying to keep hold of my emotions. Just like gramps taught me. Face impassive, I heard no emotion in my voice as I looked Daniel straight in the eye

“Thank you, for all your help.” I said to him as I turned to walk away. 

“We're hunters.” Stopping mid step, I turned back. Looking at Lucas unable to hide my confusion, I asked "Hunters? What does that mean?”     

Friday, 13 January 2012

Chapter 2

          I ran. What else could I do? I had no idea who this kid was running next to me and frankly after what I just saw, I didn't care much, but those thoughts and feelings lasted two more seconds before I heard my gramps voice whispering in my head.

                    Don't be stupid Tobi. You don't trust strangers.
                           Don't forget the things I taught you!!

With that I ran into the boy next to me, and putting all my weight behind it shoved him off the pavement and into the street, despite the fact that he probably just saved my life. I heard the cars honking, heard him yell something in my direction but I couldn't look back, I just dove past the bushes on the other side of the pavement and ran into the night forest of Marshall Woods.

When I was younger, gramps would carry me walking through these woods for hours. He'd teach me how to get lost and find my way back, how to cover my tracks and make it look like I was never there, before tonight I always thought it was just his weird way of playing hide and seek. That was before tonight. It took me less than 5 minutes to get lost in the dark and find a good hiding place in the trees, by then I could hear the heavy thumps of feet running in my direction. 

Peeking below from the high branch I lay stretched out on, I could see that it was the boy who pulled me out my house. He ran past the tree I hid in a couple times before I heard his noisy footsteps moving farther and farther away from my tree, with that I slowly and as soundlessly as possible dismounted from the large tree. As soon as my feet hit the leaf covered grass my knees gave in and I fell face first into the ground like a sack of flour.

The adrenaline was wearing off and my body was starting to feel the backlash. 

Looking up from my position on the ground I tried to lay still and listen, the sound of me falling shouldn't have been loud enough to make him backtrack and return my way, but gramps always taught me not to take chances. After a couple minutes of nothing but crickets chirping and frogs croaking, I decided it was safe enough to make a run for it.

If I can just get to the highway, from there I can take a taxi to the inner city of Troian and find somewhere safe to stay while I try to figure this all out.

I thought. Picking myself off the ground took a lot more effort than I thought it would, making my swift get away not so swift, but the forest was silent. No footsteps. Taking that as a sign that luck was on my side, I fast walked through the woods the way I came.  Hiding from the moonlight beneath the thick shadows of the forest trees, I was almost halfway to the highway when I stopped to catch my breath. I could almost hear the cars driving by. Sighing with relief I took a look backwards, nothing, gearing myself to walk the rest of the distance I turned forward ready to make my way, only to come face to face with him.

The boy, he stood right in front of me, staring down at me with worry and a little irritation in his eyes. It took me less than a second for my brain to get over the shock of his silent approach, by that time my fist had already connected with his jaw. It wasn't much of a hit with what little strength I had left, but he was caught off guard so I used my advantage. Pushing past him I ran in the direction of the street. I made three strides before he grabbed my shirt from behind pulling me backwards to the ground. I hit the ground so hard I could feel all the air rush out of my lungs.

“Oh crap, I'm so sorr-” was all he got out before I started clawing at his neck with my hands, trying to get a grip. Fighting my hands away and restraining them to my sides took little effort on his part, when he saw my legs start to kick up he pinned them down with his body. 

“October, stop!!” he screamed in my face. 

“Let me go!!” I screamed back in his. I was breathing so hard I could feel the lack of oxygen getting to my brain.

“October, my name is Daniel. I know your grandfather, he sent me to get you.”

“My gramps is dead!!” I heard my voice crack as I said the words.

“Look, I know everything is pretty messed up right now, but we need to get you someplace safe.” 

“Get off of me!!” I yelled at him. Feeling dizzy and finding it harder and harder to breathe.

He looked down at me concern in his eyes. “Hey, I'm really sorry but we need to go. Now.” He said, as he started pushing himself upright, pulling me along with him.

“No!” I yelled at him as I stood upright and took off again into the trees. This time I made four strides before he caught up with me. Grabbing me from behind he wrapped his arms around me like manacles, pulling me against his chest, pinning my hands to my sides.

“Look , I've had just about enough of you. Your grandfather asked me to look after you. I gave him my word that I'd protect you and keep you safe.” Daniel said into my ear.

“Let me go!!.” I screamed with heavy breaths willing myself not to faint.

“Fine…..” he said with an exasperated sigh as he loosed his arms and let me go.
“I get it I'm a stranger. I'm no one and you have no right to trust me” He said looking at me straight in the eyes “but your grandfather asked me to keep you safe.”

“How do you know him?” I asked, finally getting a good look at him in the moonlight as he stepped out of the shadows. He had short blonde cropped hair, so light it was almost white in the moonlight. Eyes so intensely dark and piercing, they looked like they could see straight through you to the very core. His baby face made it hard to believe that he was even strong enough to take me down the way he did. He was tall, but not at all lanky the way he filled out his dingy jeans and faded t-shirt.

Seconds ticked by with no reply, looking around trying to figure out how long it would take me to lose him. I was about to take off again when he turned around and started walking in the opposite direction of the highway, deeper into the night forest. Glancing back to see that I wasn't following him he strode back to where I was standing.

“We need to get to the safe house before dawn.” He said to me as he waited for me to walk with him.

“You didn't answer my question.” I said following him “You said you know- knew my grandfather. How?”

Daniel, barely swung his head around to answer my question, as he continued leading the way.  “When we get to the safe house we'll talk. Right now we need to just get there in one piece.” He answered.

          Saying nothing, I followed, Daniel, quietly listening to the sounds of the night's creatures. After almost an hour of walking we finally reached what I assumed was our safe house. The little wooden cottage sat right beneath a giant oak tree, so tall that it towered over everything next to it. Lush green vines carpeted the roof, spilling down over to the cottage walls. 
          “More delicate than safe looking this house of yours” I threw at Daniel as I walked over to the cottage. “What are these symbols carved into the door?” I asked turning to look at him. “What do they mean?” glancing back, to where my fingers touched the intricate lines and curves.

           “They're hex symbols of protection.” He said looking at me questionably.
 “Let's go inside, you look about ready to collapse and we should make sure you didn't get any serious burns” following his line of vision I looked down to see that most of my clothes were either singed or burned from running through the fire. 

“Maybe I should take a shower first, wash off all this smoke and ash” I said to him.

“Yeah, sure. There's a stream running behind the house, and a waterfall a couple feet upstream. You could wash up there. I'll take you” Daniel, said already making his way around the house.

“Wait. You don't have a shower here?” I asked pointing at the cottage.

“Well…no. sorry.” He said sounding not at all apologetic.

“But I can take you to the falls and you can borrow some clothes. Be right back”  He said as he strode inside the cottage. 

               Not wanting to just stand there, I decided to walk to the back of the house. There I found a quiet little stream, dark water flowing calmly by.    

   Looking up at, Daniel, as he made his way towards me I said "Thank You." Looking him in the eye, and truly meaning the words, as he offered me a wadded up bundle of clothes in his outstretched hand.

“No problem.” He softly said, looking down as I took the clothes from him “Come on.”

“You don't have to walk me there, you know.” I said to him as he started walking. “You said all you have to do is follow the stream and you'll find it.”

“Yeah, but I don't think I should be leaving you alone-” interrupting him I said “Alone, is something I could use right now. Please”

The please probably did him in. 

“Yeah, sure. But I'll be nearby in case anything should happen. You just scream or something. Kay?” Daniel, said with a seriousness to his tone. I just nodded a yes as he handed me his flashlight and headed upstream along the bank.

It didn't take long for me to find the waterfall, even at night it was hard to miss the water as it fell from a small cliff, into a shallow pool before streaming out. Turning the flashlight off I Dropped it and the bundle of clothes on a boulder at the bed of the stream, as I peeled off my clothes and shoes. It was a strain to take them off, my worn and tarnished clothes, but it only made my sigh that much sweeter as my feet touched the cool water. 

Pulling the tie from my hair I shook it out before wading neck deep into the water. Dipping my head back, I let the water soak through my hair. With my head tilted back I opened my eyes and looked up and saw the most beautiful sight. The full moon hung high beyond the forest trees, against the dark sky littered with stars. The moonlight gleaming off the light mist as the falling waters hit the rocks below.

For a moment, as I stood there looking at the night's natural beauty, I almost forgot the events that happened only hours ago that brought me to this place. That I just lost everything. That was when I felt the tears trickle down my cheek. Finally giving in now that I was alone, I covered my face with my hands and cried, sobbing so hard I felt I could barely breathe.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Chapter 1

                      “Hey sleepy get up, we should get an early start. Never know what traffic is going to be like” I heard my gramps shout through my door.  

“I swear that is never going to stop being freaky!” I shouted from my bed.

For some weird reason gramps always knows stuff like that about me like if I'm awake or close by or if I'm in a mood. I call it our freaky bond and chalk it up to him raising me on his own, it’s hard to not have a bond like that when all my life he's been both my parents and more. My mom was seventeen when she got pregnant with me. Gramps, said that her body couldn't handle the strain and she died during child birth and my dad….. well according to gramps he was an ass that ran in the opposite direction when he found out mom was pregnant. I never really felt too bad about not knowing him after that.

“You do know that its 8 right? My flight isn't till 10 P.M.!” I screamed through my door as I hid my head beneath my pillows.

 “Traffic is unpredictable. Now get up and get ready”

“Fine, but there better be food”

I got up and went across the hall to the bathroom to do all the girly things I needed to do. I took a good hard look at myself in the mirror. I was pretty, but in an average way. Dusky brown skin, long dark loosely curled hair all over the place, sleepy hazel eyes that told of my East Indian roots and a pair of cute lips with the hint of a smile. Standing there, staring at my reflection I thought.

Happy 19th birthday girly, in a few hours you'll be on a flight to Europe.

After finishing my morning routine I headed downstairs following the smell of coffee.“You know, if you had told me you were making omelets, I would have come down sooner.” I said to gramps as I sat at the counter with an empty plate waiting.

 Gramps makes the best omelets. 

He just smiled that little sad smile at me again. At first I thought it was because I was leaving for another continent for a few months, but for weeks he's been like this. Even before he gave me the plane ticket as a graduation gift, he's been all depressed like someone he knew just died. Whenever I'd try to bring it up or ask him about what's going on, he'd just shut down and immediately change the topic of conversation.

“Hey you know I could postpone this trip, I mean I'd much rather spend my limited freedom before higher education with you.” I told him.

“No, Toby. This is my gift to you. Go! Be young and stupid, far enough away from me that I'm not tempted to lock you in your room till your thirty.” he replied with a genuine smile that touched his eyes.

 “Gramps, I highly doubt my university experience, will be any different with or without the cultural experience of the Asian Pacific.” I quickly retorted.

He just sighed and went back to making his eggs.

At 9 pm with the car packed with all the things gramps thought I might need, which ended up being half the things in my room, we jumped into his old white Honda and set out for the Troian airport. With a half hour till my flight boarded, gramps helped me unload my stuff and walked with me into the terminal.

My grandpa is one of those old fashioned men that think that a real man doesn't cry. For an old guy in his early 60's gramps was huge. His arms and chest were big by any means, and at about 6"4 in height, he was pretty intimidating. So when he hugged me so tight, that I was starting to have trouble breathing and had to push him off, I was stunned silent to see him with unshed tears in his eyes. When he saw me looking at him, he pulled me into another bear hug and kissed my head.

“I'm going to miss you more than you'll know, Toby.” he whispered in my hair. 

“Gramps, you make it sound like were never going to see each other again, it's just for a couple of months…. I know your life is going to be boring without me but it'll be fine.” I shakily said into his chest. With a deep breath, I took in the smell of his shirt, inhaling that tobacco scent that was so intrinsically gramps, for the last time in months to come. Blinking back the tears welling up in my eyes, I pulled out his hold and gave him my 100 kilowatt smile. 

“I thought you said you said you stopped smoking those horrible cigars?” I asked him wiping away the tear that spilled over. Wincing he answered “Sorry….but my only granddaughter is leaving me and going off to a foreign country. Let's just let it go this time.” with a laugh in his voice. “Have fun. Be careful and watch out for those European boys, make sure they keep their hands to themselves.” Gramps pointedly warned smoothing his hand in my hair.

 “I'll be fine. Bye gramps, I love you.” 

 “I love you too.”   With goodbyes said and done I jogged off to my gate.

Looking back over my shoulder to where I was just standing I saw that gramps was already gone.

About an hour later still standing in line waiting to be boarded, thanks to a flight delay, an eerie feeling fell over me sending ripples of shivers through my body. Shaking it off, I took a small step forward as the line slowly moved, when another shiver comes over me causing my hands to tremble. 

It's just nerves. This is the first time I'm going to be away from home for so long, away from gramps. It'll pass.

I thought to myself, as I stuffed my hands into the pockets of the oversized wool hoodie I wore over my dark jeans and t-shirt. After a minute or so of steady trembling I started to feel them getting stronger and more painful, like the muscles in my hand were burning. Every move of my fingers felt like they were being held over an open flame.

Screaming with the sudden force of pain to my ribs, I fell to my knees gripping my chest. Trying to catch my breath as the pain continuously beat at my chest, threaten to rip me open from the inside out. I opened my eyes, looking up at the dozens of faces peering down at me with worry and curiosity. Pushing myself off the floor and trying to stand, I took off running or as close to running as I could get. Still holding unto the pain in my chest, as it started to slowly fade I headed out the terminals glass doors and started running down the streets heading down an all too familiar route.

After a couple miles of nonstop running, grateful I wore my comfortable converse shoes and that I ran a few miles every other morning. I finally reached my street and stopped, staring up in shock as the house in front of me is engulfed in fire. My house, realization snapping me out of my trance, I quickly looked to the open garage door to see that his car is parked there. “Gramps! Grandpa!!” I screamed out as loud as I could, waiting for a reply, a noise, anything. Nothing. Taking my cell phone out of my back pocket I called 911.  I couldn't take the chance of waiting for the fire trucks to come, what if he's still in there? Taking a deep breath and stifling the fear that knotted my insides, I ran through the already open door into my house screaming his name.

The ceiling was entirely engulfed in flames as I ran inside, my eyes watered from the heat building up in the air, making it a fight just to breathe. Racing through the house, glancing in and out of rooms calling for gramps, I almost cried in relief when I reached the entrance of our living room and found him lying there in the middle of the floor.

I almost ran to him, until I saw the man standing over his body. The man's back was facing me as he knelt down beside my gramps, so I couldn't see his face, but I could see his hands as they lifted over gramps chest and they were covered in something dark and wet, looking back down at my gramps on the floor I finally saw that he was covered in the same thing. Blood. The realization of what the dark liquid was, was  such an unnerving shock, that when the man brought his hand down on my gramps chest with such force, my scream stuck in my throat as I felt the entire house rattle.

That was when the man kneeling at my grandfather's body head turned and looked straight at me. His eyes were an impossible purple, even through the licks of fire there was no way to mistake the colour. Though it was his eyes that kept my gaze as he rose to face me, it was his face that had me frozen in the room's doorway. As the shadows around him began receding I could see that his face wasn't that of a man's or even close to human. 

At the moment the man took his first step toward me, I felt a brutal tug at my shoulders pulling me backwards and away from the purple eyed man and towards the front door.Strong male hands gripped mine as it kept pulling me away from my house, down my street and unto the side walk of the highway, running.