“You alright?” Daniel asked. His eyes revealing nothing as he studied my face, waiting for an answer.
Monday, 30 July 2012
“You alright?” Daniel asked. His eyes revealing nothing as he studied my face, waiting for an answer.
“Yeah, I’m…..I’m fine” I said with heavy breaths, my hair spilling down around me as I sat up to avoid his gaze. “I must have just dozed off. It’s not a big deal.” I added dismissively.
“You sure?” he asked once again, situating himself to sit bare inches away, beside me on the sarsen.
Nodding a yes without looking at him, I scooted back, pulling my feet out of the pool’s cool water.
“You open it yet?” he asked with impatient curiosity as his eyes shifted from the bag next to me and back to my face.
“No, not yet” I said in irritation “But I will when I’m ready.”
Huffing out an exasperated breath, he leaned back on his elbows to reach back for something. Sitting back up, he held out a sandwich, haphazardly wrapped in a white paper napkin.
“Lucas made sandwiches. Here…” he said shoving the sandwich in my hand “You should eat something.”
Looking down at the sandwich in reverence, not knowing how hungry I really was until I held it in my hand. I said a quick thanks before turning all my attention back to my sandwich. They say when you’re hungry, everything tastes good and this was no exception. As I chewed my first bite of the turkey and cheese on plain white bread, I swore I could hear a choir of angels, singing halleluiahs in the background. Completely forgetting Daniel as he sat next to me, I practically inhaled the rest of the sandwich.
“Do you chew at all or is it just preference to swallow it whole like a snake.” He sneered in a teasing tone.
Turning to him and screwing my face up at his words, my mouth still full of food I was taken by surprise at his unguarded response as he looked down at me. Throwing is head back and laughing in a low and husky timbre, Daniel gave me my first glimpse of his dimples as they sank into his cheek.
“You should see your face right now.” He chuckled, flashing me a perfect toothed smile before shaking his head and staring at the falls in front of us.
Finishing off the rest of the sandwich and dusting off my hands on my shirt, I turned to Daniel. Looking at him as he sat there, haloed by the sunset coloured sky, the ghost of his dimpled smile, still lingering on his handsomely boyish face. I couldn’t help but think how beautiful he looked.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” he remarked, his question breaking through my thoughts as if he could read them.
“What?” I asked perplexed, shifting my eyes from his face and shaking off my current train of thought.
“Sunsets.” He said, looking up at the multicoloured streaked sky, as if it should have been obvious. “There amazing. The world’s natural marker, of what has been and what is to come. Not just the end of one thing but the beginning of another.”
Silent as his poetic words took root, I joined him in watching as the day turn to night.
“We should probably head back, Lucas must be wondering where we ran off too and left him.” I said to Daniel, breaking the silence. Pulling my hair back into a loose braid and tying it at the end.
“Lucas is probably more worried about what we’re doing alone together, than us leaving him behind.” He said with a chuckle so contagious, I couldn’t help but smile.
“Still, we should go.” I replied, neither one of us making a move to leave.
Carried by the night’s warm breeze, the sound of steady footsteps interrupted our conversation. Looking over my shoulder, in the direction the sound was coming from, I watched as a small shadowed frame came into view. Turning my back to the falls and facing Lucas, I watched him as he languidly walked over to me and Daniel.
“Hey.” Lucas said to us both in greeting, barely glancing at Daniel before focusing on me. “You guys have been gone long, thought you were eaten by a bear or something.” He said with a smile, looking up at me as he braced his palms on my boulder, trapping my legs between them.
“There aren’t any bears in Marshall Woods. Foxes, Yes. Bunnies, deer and the occasional wolf, but.. no bears.” I corrected him.
“Good to know, Octopedia.” Lucas teased.
Clearing his throat in clear annoyance at Lucas’ and I verbal exchange, we both looked over at Daniel as he jumped off the rock to the ground and stood next to Lucas.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
“So? What’s in the bag?” Lucas asked me a while later, the strain between the boys fizzling out as we began heading back down the dirt road into Marshall Woods.
“Umm….. I don’t know?” I answered his question. My eyes flicking between Daniel and Lucas, waiting to see if I needed to be a deterrent to violence if they decided to snap at each other again.
“Well, you could try looking in the bag” Daniel snarkily suggested.
Glowering at the back of his head, I reluctantly conceded to myself that he was right, if I wanted to know what was in the bag I was going to have to open it. Forgetting where I left it in the jeep when I made my speedy exit to empty my stomach, I began looking around for the bag. With no luck, I started checking under the seats.
“Are you serious? You lost it?” Daniel sneered in disgusted disbelief as he shifted in his seat.
Looking up from the floor at Daniel with narrowed eyes I clipped out “I. didn’t. Lose it.”
“You make us drive all the way to your house for a stupid bag and then you lose it?” Daniel continued to chastise.
“Ease up Dani, I highly doubt she lost it.” Lucas piped in defensively.
Tuning them both out as my hands continued to feel around the jeep’s dirty floor. I finally felt the soft velvet of the bag brush against my fingertips. Pulling the bag out from under Daniel’s seat I leaned over the middle between them.
“Well look at that.” I sing-songed, dangling the black bag in front of him from the back. “I didn’t lose it, it just fell under the seat. Jackass” I added, righting myself in my seat.
Openly snickering, Lucas parked the jeep in the same small clearing as before. Emptying out the jeep, I held unto the bag with a vice grip and stood back as both Daniel and Lucas retrieved my luggage and theirs from the jeeps tray. Setting the bags aside I helped them to throw back the branches on the jeep, making it a little less noticeable in the middle of the woods.
Hooking the bag’s drawstring around my wrist, I grabbed the handles of my luggage bags with each hand and tried to wheel them back to the cottage on the uneven forest floor. I must have taken ten frustrating steps before I felt my luggage bags being pulled out of my grasp. Spinning round I watched as Daniel and Lucas each hoisted a luggage bag over their shoulder and strode forward without a backward glance at me.
“Thank You!” I loudly said to no one in particular as both of them sauntered off into the shadowed trees.
Stepping back, I decided to head off on my own instead of following them back to the cottage. Turning in the opposite direction, I followed the faint and hypnotic rhythm of cascading water as I made my way to the waterfall.
Walking over to the bank, I climbed onto one of the larger boulders on the edge of the waterfalls natural pool. Pulling off my shoes and the bag from around my wrist I sat them both down next to me as I dipped my feet into the cool, crystalline water. Staring at my square cut, black polished toe nails beneath the water, I tried to think about how the polish was beginning to chip or how if you listen closely, you can hear the small forest animals scurrying around. Anything to stop myself from thinking about the fire again or my grandfather or how more and more, I was starting to feel like my life was a hidden lie.
The owner of this house died in the fire. He didn’t have any relatives or known family.
My thoughts flickered back to what happened only a few hours ago, the officer’s words lingering in my head.
No relatives or family? I was gramps family. Everyone knew I was his granddaughter. He came to every PTA meeting to meet my teachers. When we first moved to the neighborhood, gramps made it his mission to say hi to everyone on our street and invite them over for a house warming barbeque.
I frustratingly thought. Just when I thought I had at least one answer, five more questions pop up demanding to be resolved.
Shaking out the thoughts that had involuntarily began to form, I reached back and pulled my hair loose from its tie. Letting it fall to the middle of my back, I slipped my wrist into the hair tie so I wouldn’t lose it. I should have cut it before I went on my trip, it would have been a lot more manageable but gramps use to always say that I reminded him of mom with it was like this.
Smiling at the thought, I ran my fingers through the it's length before laying back on the sun warmed rock. Closing my eyes I let the natural heat seep through my shirt to my skin. It wasn’t long before I felt the soothing warmth growing against my back, the temperature quickly rising, forcing beads of sweat to form on every inch of my skin. I tried to get up but I couldn’t. I faintly heard my named being called in the background but all efforts to respond failed until I felt steady hands grip my shoulders and shake me. My eyes snapped open and almost immediately I felt the molten heat dissipate back to normal.
Shielding my eyes from the descending sun I looked up at Daniel slouching over me, his brows pulling together in worry.
Monday, 9 July 2012
Walking out of the house back to the jeep, getting in the back, it all felt like I was on auto pilot. I couldn’t begin to understand what just happened because there was no way to rationalize it. What Lucas did to the officer? The grotesque way the officers face distorted in the sunlight? I wish I could say I was seeing things but I kept drifting back to the conclusion that maybe the boys were right. The hunters, the demons and that all of it was real.
Which means what I saw in the fire, the thing with the purple eyes, it was all real and I watched as it stood over my grandfather and killed him. Quickly slapping a hand over my mouth to stifle the bile I felt rising at the back of my throat.
“Stop the car! I think I’m gonna be sick.” I shouted over the boys’ conversation.
Hurriedly pulling the car off the highway, they both opened their doors and flew out of the jeep. Climbing out the back as fast as I could, I ran to the nearest bush as soon as my feet hit the ground. Leaning over I emptied what little I had in my stomach, dry heaving when there was nothing left to spew.
Stepping back I dropped to my knees as I tried to even my breathing, the newly shed tears running down my face beginning to wane. Staring at the ground beneath me I leaned back onto my heels, collecting myself. I saw his shadow pass over me before I felt a hand tentatively touch my shoulder and hand me a bottle of water.
Taking the bottle and throwing a quick thanks over my shoulder at Daniel, to my surprise, I cracked the seal. Rinsing my mouth out, I drank as much as I could before throwing the rest on my face. Using the bottom of my t shirt, I dried my face as I stood and turned around to walk back to the jeep. Looking at the now empty space, where before, the jeep was hastily parked on the side of the Troian main highway, I looked back to where Daniel stood.
“Umm….?” I said in question as I splintered my confusion between the empty space and back at him.
“Lucas needed to go into the city, sort out a few things and pick up some stuff. Don’t worry, he’ll be back soon. Hopefully with food.” He casually answered as if it were no big deal that we were now stranded on the side of the road.
“He could have waited, I mean-” I began in between the sounds of the cars passing by.
“I told him to go on ahead without us.” He said looking down at me as he shaded his eyes from the glare of the setting sun.
“Oh..” I muttered in confusion.
“Traffic’s light, he won’t take long. Besides I figured we could use this time alone to have a little chat.” He said with a stern expression.
Looking at him as he stood there in the fading sunlight, he looked almost harmless in his dark jeans and plain white t, his hair taking on a darker tone than I remembered the night we met.
“What do you want from me Daniel?” I asked, exasperated with him for cornering me like this and making me feel like this was somehow, all my fault.
“The truth.” He demanded in a toneless voice.
“About what? I have no idea what the hell is going on. I have NO answers!”
“You think I wanted any of this? To miss my trip? To go back to my house and not only see all my memories being burnt to nothing but to witness my gramps being murdered” I said to him, my voice sounding raw and gravelly to my own ears.
“Murdered? October what happened? What did you see in the house?” he asked sympathetically.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I saw.” I answered softly.
“October-” Daniel started to speak before I cut him off.
“NO! I’m done talking!” I yelled at him.
Settling his hands on his hips and sighing in response, he narrowed his eyes at me in look that said that this conversation was far from over as silence fell between us. We quietly waited for almost an hour, both sitting on the warm pavement until Lucas finally came to pick us up like kids after school. The silence between Daniel and I followed us into the jeep but it wasn’t long till Lucas put an end to it.
“Hey October, I have a surprise for you.” He said without looking back at me.
Not sure what to say, I waited for him to continue.
“Look in the back.” He said to me, a smile in his voice.
Unbuckling my seatbelt, I turned where I sat to look behind my seat and into the small tray at the back of the jeep. Crowding the back were two identical medium sized, royal blue wheeled suitcases, with black zippers and a huge, coloured in hand drawn white star on the front of each. The same white stars I half-hazardly drew when I was younger and decided that if gramps was going to make us move so much, then I’d mark my bags so that they’d never get stolen or accidentally lost.
“Oh my God! How’d you!- When did you!-” I was at a total loss for words as I turned back around in my seat.
“I asked a couple of friends to pull a few strings. No worries” he answered with forced nonchalance as he shrugged in the driver’s seat.
“I could kiss you right now! Thank You!” I said to the back of Lucas’s head, a ridiculous grin spreading across my face.
“Oh.. I’d gladly pull over for that.” Lucas said, the jeep beginning to slow as he prepared to pull over.
Grabbing the steering wheel in a white knuckled grip, I watched from the backseat as Daniel leveled Lucas with a glare and told him to keep driving. A thick cloud of tension began to fill the jeep as Daniel finally released his hold from the wheel. Letting out a deep chuckle, Lucas held onto Daniel’s gaze for a few more seconds before shaking out his hair and returning his eyes to the road.
Sunday, 1 July 2012
Glancing up at Lucas as he inched his way closer, him and Daniel both leaning in, attempting to sneak a look at what was inside the safe. I looked back down at the fairly sized, black velvet draw string bag as it sat there, holding whatever it was gramps left to me for safe keeping. Grabbing the bag out from its home and clutching it to my chest like a life line, I stood with an amused smile as I saw the mirrored looks of confusion on both boys’ faces.
“We can go now.” I said to them both, still holding onto my smile and the bag as I walked past Daniel and Lucas, to lead the way back through the house.
“Wait, that’s it?” I heard Lucas ask behind me as I kept walking.
Within moments of stepping out into the hallway, my senses were bombarded by the heavy scent of rotten eggs and decay. Mixing with the lingering smell of ash and cinder in the air, I raised a hand to cover my mouth and nose at the unbearable odor, so strong I felt I could almost taste it on my tongue. Walking as the boys came to join me, we were almost through the hallway before I felt the horrible stench clouding around me.
“And what may I ask, are you kids doing here?” said a voice from behind us “Besides trespassing on private property.”
Stopping in our tracks we turned towards the voice and were greeted by the stern face of a patrolling officer, standing in the shade less than a foot away. He was tall and in full uniform from the hat that covered his crew cut, to the aviator sunglasses that covered his eyes. He was decent looking, with a sharp angled nose and wide set jaw, he would have even been hot if the lower buttons on his shirt weren’t being pulled taunt by his developing potbelly.
Lowering my hand from my face, I plastered on a warm smile before answering his question.
“Well officer, it’s hardly trespassing if it’s my house now isn’t it?” I said to him in a sugary tone as I felt both boys subtly position themselves on either side of me.
“Your house?” he asked, the corners of his mouth turning up “and what did you say your name was again Ms. ?”
“October. My granddad owns this house.” The words flew out my mouth before I felt Daniel’s hand on my waist squeezing in protest, not to answer.
“Well I’m sorry Ms. but the owner of this house died in the fire. He didn’t have any relatives or known family.” He replied with amusement “either way, you and your friends shouldn’t be here. Come on I’ll walk you out.” He said as he stepped out of the shadow and into the light, towards us.
“It’s ok Sir, we can find our own way out.” I heard Lucas say to the officer.
I felt him grip my upper arm and pull, trying to lead me away from the officer so we could leave but I couldn’t. For the second time, standing in my house I saw something that shocked me frozen.
As the officer stepped out of the shadows and into the evening light, I watched as it streamed across the right side of his face, altering him completely. Where the parts of him I could still see in the shadows were the same as when I first saw the officer, the parts of him that were in the light were beyond human. Where he had pale brown skin and perfect white teeth sandwiched between an average looking mouth on the left of his face, the light exposed his skin as a dark shade of reddish brown, covering his right. No lips, just two rows of sharp jagged teeth, tinted yellow.
“You alright Ms. ?” I heard the officer ask me, his eyebrow furrowing in unease as my eyes stayed fixated on his face.
Reaching his hand forward to pull down his shades, I stared as horror dawned over me black and violent, the same as his eyes. Taking an involuntary step back, I stumbled into the boys right beside me.
“October? What’s wrong?” Lucas whispered to me in question.
“His face. His Eyes.” Was all I could manage to say.
He must have heard me, the officer, because within second the blackness that encompassed his iris and the white in his eyes shifted from concern to realization to fierce resolve.
“You can see me!” he roared as he crouched down on all fours and lunged towards to me like a panther.
It all happened at once as Lucas, whose hand still gripped my arm, wretched me back tossing me to Daniel. Reaching behind him, Lucas pulled out a hand gun and fired two quick shots at the officer hitting him right between the eyes.
Slumping to the floor, the officer laid face down in a life less heap at Lucas’ feet. Never taking his eyes off the body, Lucas returned his gun to the small of his back as he turned to where he threw his duffel to the ground. Opening it he drew out a machete, long and thin, he tightly gripped the handle of the curved blade as he walked over to the body.
Pulling me back into him, Daniel snaked an arm around my shoulders as the other tried to cover my eyes from the gruesome scene about to unfold.
“Don’t look.” Daniel said to me as he struggled to turn me away.
Ripping his hand off my eyes, I pushed away from him in time to see Lucas bring the whistling vane down in one swift move, severing the head. Wiping the black blood off the machete on the officer’s clothes, Lucas dropped it back in his duffel as he pulled out lighter fluid and matches. Dousing the surely dead body in it, he stepped back and struck a match.
I felt like I was watching something burn in fast forward. Seconds was all it took for the body to start to melt, even less for it to disintegrate until the fire burnt out, leaving nothing behind but scorch marks on the already singed floor.