Here is a story that I wrote when I was fourteen - purely for nostalgic purposes. My intention is take this story and use it as the skeleton for a fantasy novel, hopefully...
My Own Reflection
You begin to pray that there is a switch you can flick to turn your brain off. Stop the nerves from zapping each other and sending signals and reminders. Plunge everything into darkness. Just to turn out the lights for five minutes would be nice. Peaceful, even. Scratch that, I’ll take ten minutes. Only ten? Maybe more. I don’t know. To be honest, if such a switch were to truly exist, I’d just flick it off and leave it off. I’d dwell here, in the darkness, curled up in a ball of elbows and knobbly knees. As long as there was silence, oh, how nice that would be.
I woke up, staring at the ceiling. The peacefulness of sleep was broken by shards of sound. My head was foggy and my tongue felt swollen. My throat was dry and scratchy, as though I’d been eating cardboard. I didn’t like our ceiling. It was filled with jagged holes, rusty nails and old cobwebs. I sighed, rolling over. I didn’t like the walls much better, either. The faded wallpaper was peeling, dated floral design wilting to give way to cheap plywood walls. Normally, I would smell Jacko’s cigarettes and the daily newspaper drifting through the arch way, but today something was overpowering it. A thin, fruity scent burnt the insides of my nose. I soon recognised the smell, Diana’s perfume.
It had been different since Diana had moved in. She liked the house spotlessly clean, flowers on the windowsill; she even dared to spend Jacko’s savings on dried fruit and cheese and, instead of drinking water, fejoa juice or watered milk fat, she drank tea and coffee, sometimes with a hint of lemon.
She did the laundry daily, and when Jacko ever complained about income or taxes, she told him to stop buying cigarettes and chocolate on the way home from work. She had even woven some curtains out of thin cotton. We weren’t used to this kind of lifestyle.
Every morning was the same. Diana told us to sweep the floors and make our beds. It’s not as if we didn’t do it already, but she forced us with threats and punishments. Jacko didn’t know about any of this.
I hadn’t actually cried when Violet was thrown out, I didn’t even say goodbye. Of course, I regretted it later. You see, when I am angry or sad, I like to run. There are many times I didn’t get to, like when Jacko showed up on our doorstep on the best day of the year, or when we found the locket.
I climbed out of bed, made it, got changed. I slipped on my pair of ragged sneakers and managed to avoid anyone in the kitchen. I strolled out the front door, patted someone’s cat and wandered up to the Corner shop. It was time for the weekly gang meeting. It wasn’t exactly a gang, more of a club, yet I admit that we do fight other gangs. I grinned at the familiar faces as I rounded the corner, my family Ingrayh, Lukest, Karlier; even Mica had come back from his hunting trip.
I glanced around again, seeing our friends, and our friends’ friends. Together, we had formed the unbeatable. It was great.
I reached home, happy, yet exhausted after the meeting, territorial raids and some hard out combat practise. I was still full from eating Morit and Kokos’ stolen lollies.
I arrived home smiling, but as soon as I saw Diana standing over the range, a teapot whistling and jittering on top of the elements, it vanished like a flower getting blown away in the wind.
She spun around on the heel of her pointy shoes and glared at me. “Rikeyarah! Where have you been?” she screeched. I turned around in fear and surprise to warn the others. I was too late.
“Where have you been?” she repeated, “You and Ingrayh were supposed to be getting lemons for my tea! I’m going to have to have a word with that father of yours, young lady!” She soon spotted the others.
“Oi!” she yelled. “Get the hell in here! I’m sick of all this skiving off business, when your father hears of this, he’ll have fits!”
“Calm it down, woman.” said Mica quietly.
“Calm what down, Mica? Would you mind telling me what to calm down?” she seated herself on one of the second hand deckchairs we had in the kitchen. Mica spat on the ground, his face red with anger.
“I want you to calm down! Look, guys, just forget it. I’m going hunting.” he said quietly, his voice shaking with rage. Diana looked red-faced and defeated as the kettle bubbled over, hot water dribbling over the dusty concrete floor. She sighed and looked up, and seeing us, she yelled, “Get me my lemons, or you’ll never hear the end of this!” I sighed, kicked the door, as me and Ingrayh trooped back down street, leaving Karlier and Lukest with Diana.
Getting to Know Ingrayh Again
And that was it. Ingrayh and I were stomping down the well-used dirt track and I was thinking of how much I hated Diana and her threatening rules and the way she always emphasised certain words, when Ingrayh broke my train of thoughts.
“You know,” she interrupted. “Ever since Violet left, you have been the slightest bit of a loner.”
“Sorry.” I replied. I knew she was right.
“No, don’t apologise.” She said. “I should apologise, all I wanted to know was why you’ve been acting differently.”
“To tell the truth, I’m sick of everything, especially people like Diana. I’m sick of pretending that the Pepille incident never happened. It scares me that they’re still out there, most likely planning something evil.”
“I’m so sorry, Rik.” She looked down.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you faced Pepille by yourself, and you missed Violet’s goodbye. I haven’t been much of a friend, yet alone a sister, lately, have I?” she asked. It must have been a rhetorical question because she continued. “And then that pathetic Jacko came and brought Diana into our lives.”
“Look, I don’t feel that down. I just missed the old days, okay? I think we should end this conversation. And, I didn’t face Pepille by myself, you and Mica dealt with the other two, Tommey and Saltina,” I said, meaner than it was supposed to sound. Ingrayh didn’t look up for a second, and then she smiled at me.
“Hey Rik, can lemons actually grow in the jungle?” We both laughed.
“I guess anything can happen.” I replied happily, but my mood was crushed when a dark shadow flickered across her face as she forced a smile and laugh.
We leant on the thin wooden beam that reached across the cliff, making it safe for us to stand there. I watched the clouds, watching them swirl and change. Those made me think of our family, shaping and changing, from pleasant to dysfunctional, from revenge seeking to peaceful. From a light cloud to a storm cloud in just seconds, but I thought I would never see that light cloud hovering over us again. I was scared that the black cloud would never go away.
Ingrayh let out an agitated groan. “What’s up?” I asked, my thoughts left hanging there in the sky. Left to make their way up to the clouds. Hopefully the light, wispy cloud. “Did you notice the silence?” she asked me.
“No.” I replied. She was right, there were no birds singing, no leaves rustling. “I guess I was too preoccupied.”
“It’s creeping me out. I didn’t want to say anything until you noticed, but it is scary.”
“Hmmm.” I said quietly.
“I just have this feeling.” She began.
“Why don’t we just go to the graveyard?” I suggested.
“Okay then, if you want to…. We don’t have to…”
“Look, Ingrayh, I need some adventure in my life, and I think it would be fun.”
“Fun?” she rolled her eyes.
“Well, not fun, but adventure, come on!”
We leapt off the narrow cliff and ran south, down the path, towards the gloomy graveyard.
The huge iron gates loomed precariously on rusted hinges. In the late afternoon sun, shadows fell in all directions. The mouldy tomb stones were already sending shivers down my spine; my previous graveyard experiences had not been pleasant.
“Well, that’s new,” stated Ingrayh, pointing out the fact that the gates were open.
Usually, they were only opened for funerals, which never happened any more in this graveyard, people were too scared to bury their relatives in the cursed yard.
We clambered over the tombs carefully, edging around potholes and open graves. I tugged on Ingrayh’s sleeve. “What?” she asked. I held up a leather bound diary. “Not again!” she muttered.
“No! Look closer.” I pointed at the black spidery letters in perfect writing and exact font. Ingrayh gasped and read out the title, “Lukest’s Diary!”
I gulped. “What is her diary doing here?” I asked my sister.
“I just don’t get it.” She murmured. “What would Lou want to be here for?”
I shook my head in surprise and opened the book. “That’s odd.” I said. All the pages except one had been torn out. Her recent entry was dated today, only half an hour before we came to the graveyard. “She definitely knows something we don’t.” replied a stunned and unsure Ingrayh.
I began to read the entry out aloud. When I am alone, I think of the past. It floods back and when I think of Pepille and her siblings, I wonder if Bill will come back and what my dead family thinks of me. And Tommey, I know he is watching me, ready to attack. I know if I ask for help then I am doomed. I’m scared and alone and I know that it’s only a matter of time before he gets….
We sat under the giant oaks in the reserve. I could barely think straight and I felt like I was being crushed by a giant depressing burden. There had been no finish to the entry; it was as if something was waiting in the dark, taunting us, egging us on to match the rest of the puzzle together. I had a feeling Lou was having problems, but I would never have guessed that she was being haunted. She could have asked for help, but maybe she too understood about the cloud, maybe she was afraid of the reaction she might get.
Once again I was awoken from my thoughts by a shaking hand on my shoulder, “Rik, please, play dead, a hunter or something…”
My body froze, but my instincts were on high alert. I recognised the drop in temperature, that spine chilling freeze, the deathly silence that seemed to echo, the blurry dimness of my sight. Tommey was here. Slowly as I drifted out of consciousness, I heard a single shot fire and a woman scream.
First Time for Everything
Diana was still sitting in the plastic nylon deckchair, sipping at a hot drink, while screaming orders at Karlier and Lukest. Lukest yelled back, and soon it was a loud row. Karlier was crying, hands over her ears, unable to stop the fighting, she was terrified Lou would attack Diana, Lukest was deadly when need be.
The door slammed shut and wind howled down the sheltered street. Lukest kicked the wall, smashing the teapot on the concrete, Diana raised a fist to strike her, but backed down at Lou’s hiss. Karlier was whimpering now, her eyes changing colour, her face contorted in pain.
That same shot heard in the reserve fired, the glass shattered and everyone was screaming, except for Karlier, whose eyes were black holes as she tilted her head back to laugh. Diana slumped to the floor, blood running into the cracks in the floor. A man in black entered, reached out and pulled Lukest by the collar out of the room. She was fighting, but an eight year old is no match for evil.
He dragged her away and soon only Karlier’s laughter filled the room. It was a blood-curdling laugh. Like the one you see in horror movies. But this was reality.
I jerked awake, the dream niggling at the back of my mind, yet I had no recollection of it whatsoever. I shivered in the cool evening breeze. Karlier and Mica had found us. They sat on a couple of flat rocks, in a ring around the burning flames. I stood up, leaving Ingrayh on the damp grass, and walked to my siblings. “Hey, Rik.” said Mica, chewing on a hunk of stale bead. I nodded a reply then said, “How’d ya find us?”
“Gut instinct.” He replied, staring into the fire.
“I guess that hunting pays off, eh?” I said in a quiet voice. He nodded a silent reply and gestured to a waking Ingrayh.
“What happened?” she cried out, running over to us.
“Well, Diana was shot and Lukest is missing.” He stated, counting the facts off on his fingers. Karlier nodded. No proof of those scary black eyes.
I shuddered, “Strange…”
“What?” Karlier snapped, seeing me stare at her.
“It’s your entire fault!” I suddenly accused. “Why couldn’t you stop that man from taking Lou? Huh? Why, Karlier, why didn’t you stop him?”
She was shaking with rage, and almost crying, “I couldn’t, could I? I didn’t even see it happen!”
“What in the name of Tarina are you two on about?” asked Mica and Ingrayh.
“I was out cold!” Karlier yelled out.
“You laughed, you idiot, how can you not remember that?” I screamed back.
Ingrayh gave me a questioning look as Karlier broke down in a flood of tears.
“Leave it, guys.” Mica interrupted. “Her fault or not, we just need to find Lou before it’s too late.” He held up the journal.
“How, though?” asked Ingrayh.
“Well,” he began. “Karlier was the one who ripped out the other entries, and, stupidly threw them in the river.”
“I was angry.” muttered Karlier.
“Then it IS her fault!” yelled Ingrayh, pointing her finger at Karlier.
“No!” yelled Mica, then he said quietly, "We can go home and look for clues, we have to find her before the first of October.”
“Three days?” I asked.
“Uh huh,” he replied. “The first of October is the day that Tommy died.”
“It was?” asked Karlier. “I mean, how do you know it was actually Tommey who took Lukest, and not the next neighbourhoods’ gang?”
“Well, Tommey didn’t take her; it was probably his human servant, Doniel.”
“Huh?” said Ingrayh.
“I wasn’t out hunting. I was at the Chaloa Library.”
“What would you want at a library?” spat Karlier.
“After the Pepille incident, I thought it may be handy to research our family history.”
“Oh.” was all we could manage.
“Don’t look so surprised.” Mica said, irritated.
“Basically it means we have to find Lou and get rid of Tommey… and Doniel, before the first?” Ingrayh asked.
“Pretty much.” Mica replied, shrugging.
“But why does Tommy want her?” Karlier asked.
“He wants all of us, like Pepille.” He muttered.
“But, why?” she demanded. I rolled my eyes.
“We are meant to discover some things on our own,” Mica replied quietly. When he said things like that we all knew it was conversation closed.
Life Doesn’t Come Easily
Cool morning light washed over the reserve, bathing everything in an ominous glow. I shivered as I stretched my cramped muscles, and walked down the hill to find Mica packing up camp.
During the Pepille incident, Lukest had been blind and unable to help us fight, and now we were saving her. To tell the truth, it felt like we were saving her all over again. I was thinking exactly that when a scream broke the silence. I spun around from covering the fire with soft dirt, to see the man from my dream, Doniel, standing over Ingrayh, gripping a knife in his fist.
I saw Mica sprinting in from behind Doniel, and unlike me, he didn’t hesitate. He shoved Doniel, sending him sprawling onto a rocky piece of ground. I rushed over to Ingrayh, to check her pulse. She was out cold. A supernatural chill ran through me as I felt the icy grip of Doniel’s hand on my shoulder. I spun to face him and let out a terrified scream.
“Mica!” I screeched. Doniel raised the knife over my chest, but he was too slow. I swiped at his grimacing face as Mica punched him in the gut. I felt sharp fingernails dig into my shoulder and I gasped. When Mica struck again, Doniel let go of me, and we both fell in different directions. I tumbled down the hill, eventually rolling to a stop. I collapsed from exhaustion.
I felt Mica shake me. “Ow.” I mumbled, pain shooting down my arm.
“Rik?” Mica cried out. “Are you alright? You have to wash that cut…. It could be poisonous, do you think you can stay awake for long enough?”
I nodded, I felt like I could throw up any minute, all I wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep.
He lifted me up and dragged me by the hand toward the small creek. “Doniel’s gone,”
I heard him say. He sounded distant and muffled. I nodded a reply. My vision was blurry and my body felt like lead.
I winced as Mica splashed water onto my sore arm. “You were lucky, that was a close call. We have to be more careful.”
“Okay.” I mumbled. Then I collapsed to the ground, falling into a cold mass of swirling darkness. There, I thought, that feels much better.
Possession of Her Body
I was lying on the grass in the reserve, my siblings lying all around me. It seemed to be about mid-morning, the sky was well and truly light by now. Karlier and Ingrayh were playing the Guess My Theme Song game. Mica was silent, clearly shaken by the morning’s events. It was ages before someone decided to actually speak about it.
“We are not going to find Lukest, you know.” Mica finally said. Karlier’s face went pale as her and Ingrayh stopped playing their game to listen to the conversation.
“We have to.” I replied coldly.
“Tommey doesn’t want us to.” Mica said again.
“But that gives us even more reason to get her back.” Ingrayh pushed in.
“We don’t have enough time.” I said quietly, realising Mica had a point.
“It’s what we have brains for, isn’t it?” Ingrayh cried. “I want to find her, and if you don’t, then I’ll do it myself!”
“I…” I began.
“You do know that that is what I want, don’t you?” interrupted a rough, boyish voice. I glanced around, my eyes meeting Karlier’s. They were black and soulless. I uttered a scream.
“Holy Tarina!” Mica cried out. “Get away from her Rik!” he grabbed my hand.
“Why should she?” Karlier asked, taunting him. She grabbed my leg, supernatural strength overpowering my will to run. I slapped Karlier’s face as she grinned manically. “Stop playing games!” I yelled. “It’s not funny!”
“You’re right.” She said, tightening her grip. “It’s not.” I let out a yelp.
“Let go of her, Karlier.” Ingrayh threatened.
“I’m not Karlier.”
“Then who are you?” breathed Ingrayh.
“Tommey.” Karlier said. “I am Tommey.” I cried out, Mica leapt forwards and Ingrayh backed off. Tommey stood up holding me by the collar.
“Help.” I choked as I was thrown at a tree. I cried out in shock as I tumbled to the ground. I was out cold. Again.
Lukest was lying on the ground, she was crying, her face red and dirt streaked. Her clothes were muddy and ripped. The air was thick and it was hard to breathe. A door swung opened and a boy walked into the cellar-like room. He held up a thick rope, and pulled Lukest over to a pole. He tied her up, punching her and yelling. His voice was muffled and it was hard to hear. Her mind drifted into nothingness, her eyes rolling back, her breathing getting heavy. Her ribs hurt. The boy laughed.
“Your time will come.” He muttered, walking out and slamming the door behind him.
I woke up gasping and choking. The dreams were haunting and realistic. Were they a sign or something? It was still late morning, I hadn’t been out for long, I soon realised. My head still throbbed and there was blood drying on my face. I propped my self up onto my elbows, and glanced down the hill to where Mica and Ingrayh lay, clearly awake and most likely wondering what had just happened.
Instead of just sitting there, I leapt up in anger and ran down the hill, yelling at Karlier, who was relighting the fire. I was filled with a bubbling rage as the same thought swam around in my head, convincing me to believe it.
“She’s evil! We can’t trust her, don’t believe anything she says!”
Realising the Truth
We had all settled down around the log fire, me still yelling away like nobodies’ business. “That is what she looked like when Lou was taken, I swear!” I screamed, my voice echoing around the clearing. I had repeated myself many, many times but nobody seemed to understand me. “Do I have to repeat myself? It's what she looked like!” Their faces were still filled with self-pity and doubt.
“Oh dear, Rik,” Karlier drawled, her voice absolutely dripping with sarcasm, “Did somebody have a bad dream?”
“Yeah, I did actually!” I spat.
“Oh, how magnificent, tell us all about it…”
“Well,” I ignored the irritating sarcasm, “Lukest was…”
“Lukest?” interrupted Mica.
Yes. Tommey, I think it was him, tied her up in some cellar, she was crying and he was hitting her…” I burst into tears.
“Some dream.” snorted Karlier.
“Can you just shut the hell up?” shouted Mica. Karlier cowered, her face pale in the firelight, though it was only midday.
“You know that in the Jungle, dreams mean things to people, they’re signs, or a reflection or a parallel world of what you have been thinking of. Occasionally they show the many possible futures. That is also how the wise ones make decisions.” Ingrayh added quietly. She was the only one who had ever been smart enough to want to try out Jungle Lessons. Different from ordinary lessons, they’re about nature, folk lore and magic. Looking back now I can’t quite understand why I never chose to participate in them.
Mica nodded in agreement. “Where exactly was he? We may have been there.” He asked quietly.
“Well,” I mumbled. “It was dark and stuffy, hard to breathe. It was probably some sort of basement or storage cellar.”
“It may have even been underground, for all we know.” added Ingrayh.
“Hmmmm…” Mica looked thoughtful.
“Anything and anywhere is possible.” muttered Ingrayh.
Mica twiddled his thumbs, forehead creased from the force of his thinking. Suddenly, his head snapped up. “I’ve got it!” he exclaimed. “We are going home. Why did I not think of this before? There will be clues hidden everywhere!”
“Won’t the house be all locked up though?” I asked.
“Has that ever stopped us before?’ he replied, standing up.
“I guess not.” mumbled Karlier.
“What did you say?’ demanded Mica, glaring coldly at her. I shuddered at his attitude, yet somehow I still followed him home. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ingrayh shake her head at his actions, but I didn’t dare saying anything around him. It was quite clear we felt the same way about this.
A Place I Can’t Call Home
Our small house had been tidied up, roped around, and the furniture all stacked up in one of the corners. It smelt worse than Diana’s’ perfume, it was a clean, clingy hospital smell, disinfectant. The doors were closed firmly, they looked stuck. I leant forwards to grab the door handle. I gripped the cool metal and tugged. The door was jammed firmly in place.
I looked down to find the source that had jammed the door, and right next to my foot was a blood covered rock. “Look,” breathed Ingrayh. My heart began to race as she picked up the rock in a trembling hand. “Oh Tarina.” I murmured. The rock wasn’t just blood-covered; the blood had been used as ink.
“You won’t find her.”
I gulped, seeing tears pricking in Ingrayh’s’ eyes. “We will find her, won’t we?” she sobbed.
I nodded. “I hope to Tarina that we find her, all we can do now is look.” I heard Mica quickly pull the door open, and I hoped Karlier was scared by the rock. She looked pale, but apart like that she seemed as though nothing had happened. I could never quite understand her. One thing was clear though, we all knew who had sent the threat.
Mica stood at the side of our dismantled cooking range, shaking his head. It was hot and stuffy inside, and I could barely stay still I was so afraid. All I wanted to do was run. “Well.” Said Mica unsurely.
“Well.” I replied.
“Uh,” he began, and then faltered.
“What?” asked Karlier, already cowering in case of a glare. Mica did nothing.
“Me and Karlier can take the kitchen and path.” He nodded at an even paler Karlier. “Rik,” he began, “You and Ingrayh take the bedrooms and basement.”
“Basement?” Ingrayh shuddered.
“I doubt that Tommey’s that stupid.” Mica laughed bitterly.
“Lets go, lets get to it, than, shall we?” Ingrayh faked a cheerful smile. I shrugged at her and followed her through the archway to the bedroom.
We began with the beds, sorting through bedclothes and pillows. Then we moved onto our one set of drawers. We spent at least a quarter of an hour sorting through children’s clothes and old toys, books and Violet’s stationary she had bought when she wanted us to be educated. It never happened. We slid under the beds, lifted mats, we tried everything. I could hear Karlier and Mica rummaging through kitchen equipment.
“I guess there is nothing left to do than help the girls with the basement.” I heard Mica declare as he strode into the bedroom.
“Absolutely nothing.” I grimaced. Ingrayh nodded her agreement.
“We haven’t done the basement yet,” she added.
Mica looked at her thoughtfully as he tip toed through the doorway to the basement stairs. I think everyone was half-hoping Lukest would be down there. She wasn’t. We heard Mica creak down the stairs, and pull back a chair. He was probably sitting at the old tea table we had down there.
“Hey guys!” he yelled. “Come and see what I found!”
We ran, pushing and shoving down the damp rotting stairs until we reached the bottom. Mica was indeed sitting at the tea table, and he had a book with him. “Someone must’ve left it on the table!” he exclaimed, holding it up. In the dim light I could see the thin spidery letters.
“The Book of Secret and Lies”
Karlier coughed and crossed her heart. Ingrayh muttered a quick “Long last Tarina.” I could do nothing but shudder. Mica just looked intrigued, opening the book to a page that he had dog-eared. “Tommey’s Secrets,” he read out.
“It’s weird that that just happens to lie on the middle of the tea table.” I grimaced.
“Yeah, but I bet that it’s helpful.” He said, his eyes drifting down the page.
“Mmmm, but a bit demonic sounding, don’t you think?” Ingrayh put in.
“I agree.” exclaimed Karlier.
“If we asked your opinion we would have spoken to you.” Mica hissed.
“Okay, okay, the book is probably helpful.” I lied, trying to break the tension. Mica nodded and pointed to the first line of the paragraph.
“Alright then, smarty pants,” he glared at Karlier. “Read us this.” Karlier rolled her eyes and pulled the book over to where she was standing.
“Whatever you say, your Lordship,” Karlier drawled in her Queen Sarcastic voice, and then she looked at the book, finger drifting to the first line.
‘It was the day that Tommey cursed, the first of October, and the family was grieving for the lost children. At Midnight, when the Silence of Respect is shown, Tommey’s voice filled the room.
‘At School we learnt a chant,
And when revenge is calling,
We revise that chant,
And we chant together,
Three times two equals six,
Death to six,
Who challenge us,
Death to the six who take over our lives,
And fight us all,
Wait ‘till the First of October.’
The chapter ended abruptly. Karlier had said the words with such feeling and knowledge, it seemed as though she knew something we did not. I shuddered again and had that spooky feeling like I was being watched.
“What could that possibly mean?” Ingrayh looked scared.
Mica shrugged. “I don’t know, death to six?”
“But what six, Mica, what six?” she demanded out of pure fear.
“I know.” Karlier implied. This time no-one told her to shut-up.
“We are the six, to put it basically. We have taken over their lives.” She stopped, then continued, “To make it more complicated, you could say that we are the chant, three times two equals six. We are the double.”
“Oh. It does make sense, how did you know that?” I asked.
“I was the one who left the book on the tea table. It makes good reading when people don’t want you to hang around. In fact you might even call me an expert on belligerent ghosts.” She replied casually.
“Oh, so now are we being accused of being stupid?” Mica cut in harshly.
“Mica, can you just stop for a minute? She was not trying to cause any harm, you should be grateful.” Ingrayh yelled.
“Why?” he growled. He knew he would lose.
“I think you should get off your high horse and stop pretending to be the man of the house. Karlier just figured out an important part of the puzzle!” Ingrayh yelled.
“Yeah, she’s right.” I muttered. I glanced at Karlier expecting her to look smug and pleased with herself but she just looked utterly devastated. I had a feeling she thought this was all her fault. Then again, Lukest was here only living pure-blood relative.
“I guess that means we have to stop this ghost before he kills Lou and then all the rest of us? Huh?” Mica stood up and walked out of the basement, and relief washed over me.
No-one was smiling. But then again, no-one had a reason to smile. We all knew what was in store for Lou, but we had no clue of what to do next. I was sitting on a deckchair, chewing on an expired dried apricot. I couldn’t help but watch Karlier keep fidgeting, the rhythm on her rocking chair beating against the floor. She was pale, eager to leave, I thought.
It had been ten minutes and the silence was becoming unbearable. I had started pulling at the cords on my pants, when Karlier leapt off her chair. “I cannot take this!” she cried. “It’s such a waste of time!” she ran crying out of the house and round the bend. “I knew she would crack first.” Mica said nervously. Ingrayh rolled her eyes.
“I hope she doesn’t do anything dumb.” I said quietly.
“She’ll be back.” Mica said. “Oh, she’ll be back.”
“I hope.” Ingrayh murmured.
About half an hour later Karlier silently pushed the creaky door open. I felt lighter, as though we had one less problem. But, even then, there were still too many problems were piled up outside the front door. The problem returned, this time worse.
A Place in Need
The book sat heavily in Karlier’s backpack. She had voluntarily apologised to everyone, and then when we told her plan, she said she would carry the book. We, well, Ingrayh to be more specific, had reminded us of the old war shelter we had stayed in while we were hiding from Ambrina. We knew that staying home would be a bad idea, so we packed everything that we would need, including the book. We were all positive that the book may have contained the answers all along. And that is why we trekked down the wasteland river in the heat of the day.
We hadn’t covered up our mess since we had last left the shelter a couple of months ago. Rocks and mud were lying everywhere, puddles from a flash flood and overgrown vines lay in our way. I bent down to tie up my old boots, then glanced at Ingrayh. She shrugged as we watched Mica scramble over the rubble. “I’d light the lantern now, if I was you, Karlier.” I said curtly in her direction.
“But it’s still light!” she complained. “And I don’t see why we didn’t use the trapdoor on the bedroom.”
“If someone came looking around, they would find it, and then maybe us.” I replied harshly. “To state the obvious.” I added with a smirk at the end.
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, sure. If anyone was interested enough to enter the house, they’d have to be a pretty desperate bogeyman.”
“Karlier,” Ingrayh snapped. “Just do it, okay? And shut up before we set Mica on you!”
“Hey!” He yelled from the tunnel. “Stop trying to bring me into this, and get in the goddamn tunnel!”
I scrambled over the mountain of rubbish, tumbling over rocks and earthquake debris. I slid to the smooth tunnel floor, Ingrayh close behind me. My hands were stinging from the hurry but it was too dark to see the blood. “What the hell did you bring us here for, Mica? It’s too bloody dark to actually see anything!” Ingrayh swore.
I grimaced. I could feel arguments bubbling in the air. “Well, you came when I called.” Mica replied coldly.
“Yeah, you sounded like you needed us, you idiot.” She hissed.
“Yeah, is that so? Maybe you should stop looking after other people and leave it to me!”
“What? You looking after people?” she snorted. “What a joke!” she mock laughed.
“Oh yeah, Miss Big-Shot, tell someone who cares!” he yelled.
“Can you two just shut the hell up for a little while?” I yelled, interrupting them. I’d had enough. Ingrayh looked at her books and Mica crossed his arms. I heard Ingrayh mumble, “Sorry Rik.”
“Yeah.” Mica added, and then turned away as Karlier tumbled in. The tunnel was filled with a dim light.
“Sorry, I thought you lot were in trouble.” She said, her face flustered.
We had been walking for ages, following the complex design of the underground tunnels. Everyone was irritated and hot. The air was far too stuffy down here and a scratchy on-off record seemed to be following us. “Can you hear that noise or am I delusional?” I asked Ingrayh quietly.
“Oh, I can hear it too, and it’s really annoying me.” She whispered back. The noise was somewhat luring, and before long I felt myself trying to make sense of the jumbled words. All of a sudden I had it.
I spun around to face Karlier whose lips were moving as though she was singing. She didn’t appear to care why I had stopped, and pushed past me. When she moved past, I was sure it was her singing.
“One, two, he’s coming for you,
Three, four, he’s at your door,
Five, six, murder with sticks,
Seven, eight, you’re far too late,
Nine, ten, he’s back again.”
“Karlier!” I called after her. The singing stopped at she swivelled around to face me. “Could you please stop singing?” she nodded, blushed, and continued walking.
“Karlier!” Mica yelled after her, looking angry. I grabbed his elbow.
“Don’t bother.” I said quietly, before running ahead to join Ingrayh.
The book lay open on the hard packed floor. Everyone was quiet, the air was still. I half expected the pages to flutter and Karlier’s eyes to turn into black holes. Mica crouched down, and flicked a couple of pages. He scanned the words quickly, and then flipped the page. Eventually he let it rest on a single page. “I don’t think I need to read the rest of it. The title is pretty self-explanatory.” He said, leaning back.
I glanced at the title, “How to Vanquish Evil Spirits, huh.” I read out.
“Who wants to read it though?” asked Ingrayh. Mica sighed.
“I will.” said Karlier quietly. She moved forwards to the book and focused on the words. I imagined Mica rolling his eyes as I sat back and hugged my knees. I was ready to listen.
Slowly and carefully, in that same chilling voice, she began to read, “Vanquishing ghosts is easy, you need…”
“Look,” Mica snapped. “We know that, all we need is silver, blah, blah, blah, okay? We need to know how to kill ghosts. We’ve vanquished Tommey once before, and am I imagining it or is he back again? Huh?” He slammed the book shut and Karlier looked hurt.
“Look, Mica, he is back, you’re right. You also said that we need to kill Tommey.” Ingrayh put in. “Mica, Tommey’s a ghost, he’s a dead boy. He’s long gone, we can only vanquish.”
“Oh, no.” Karlier suddenly replied. “We can kill a ghost alright; it should be in this book.”
I sighed. “I’m not sure about this killing business. This book could be anything. What if it backfires?”
“What if we have to have some sort of séance?” Ingrayh wrapped her arms around her legs.
“Ingrayh, I think a séance would be more likely to get us killed.” I replied.
“But would you have one?” she asked.
“Have what?” asked Mica.
“A séance?” she said quietly.
“No.” he replied. “Not in a million years.”
“No, I wouldn’t, have you heard about those things? I think we’ve had enough experience with dead people already.” Karlier said.
“I’m with them.” I jerked my hand in Karlier and Micas direction.
“But would you have one for Lukest?” Ingrayh replied.
“She’s not dead.” I replied coldly.
“Yet.” Ingrayh opened the book. “If you lot really believe in this ghost killing business, then let’s do it.”
The page sat taunting us, the words playing in front of our eyes. I gulped and looked at Karlier. “Everyone ready?” she asked.
“Yup.” came the reply. Then she started.
“The art of killing ghosts is simple. This is different to just vanquishing ghosts. Not only do you need the preferred silver dagger, or pure silver item, you need a ruby necklace and a velvet bag. It can help if you are able to wash the dagger in salty water. Then you have more chance of winning the battle.
And instead of just touching the ghost with your weapon, you must stab it around the chest area. Remember, your ghost was probably a human once.”
Karlier shuddered as she finished and suddenly I felt cold. I shivered in my summer clothes and hugged my knees tighter. Mica looked unnaturally tired, either that or my vision was blurry. I felt empty and drained like this was just a waste of time. I think that’s what made me even more determined to win this battle.
I returned to reality to find Mica and Ingrayh rummaging through a rucksack. “Here we go!” I saw Ingrayh hold up the dagger. Its silvery blade shone in the dim lamplight. He grinned manically, and held it above his head.
“Don’t be stupid now, Mica.” Ingrayh said in her older sister voice. But she wasn’t older than him; she was about four years younger.
“You know, I think Ingrayh should get credit as well for finding that thing.” I replied, trying to stall the argument.
“Okay, just whatever, okay.” Mica muttered. I shrugged.
“So?” said Karlier pacing the room.
“Well, we have water, salt, and the dagger.” Ingrayh said.
“That leaves the velvet bag and the ruby necklace.” I explained to everyone, though I felt like I was just explaining it to myself.
“You guys are so lucky you have a clever older brother with a plan.” Mica laughed.
“Ahem,” Karlier interrupted sarcastically. “I am the oldest, actually.” She smothered a giggle. Mica looked amused.
“I’m still the oldest boy though.” He replied.
“Good point!” she smiled.
“Glad that’s settled then.” Ingrayh muttered sarcastically. I giggled but the others took no notice. But, deep inside, I knew that nothing was settled. The games had just begun.
“So we need a plan, huh?” I broke up Karlier and Micas’ brother-sister reunion.
“Yeah, guys, it’s not a romance novel.” Ingrayh put in.
“God, we’re brother and sister, not school yard crushes,” Mica snapped, his brief happiness bursting like a bubble. Here came my cloud, my dark cloud.
“So what’s the plan then?” Karlier murmured shyly, as realisation struck me. Mica and Karlier weren’t related at all. Mica was adopted into the Wild family, and Karlier and Lukest had been found when we travelled back forty years ago… Lukest. The thought hit me and I bolted out of my thoughts.
“The plan?” Mica looked pale, like he too, had just been thrown out of his own thoughts.
“Uh, duh?” Ingrayh encouraged.
“We can’t expect him to do everything.” Karlier said unexpectedly.
“Yeah, God, guys, don’t you have minds of your own?” Mica grinned. “But, I do have an idea.”
“What is it?” I demanded impatiently. All I wanted to was to save Lukest, and even Tommey wasn’t going to stop me.
“Just look,” Mica said quietly as he dug his fingers into the dirt. And I did look, I didn’t even know if I wanted to, but I guess that it’s just one of those things that you do.
From Heist to Fright
Corrugated iron jabbed me in the back as I lay on the cooling roof of the jewellers shop. Dark purple clouds were drifting away from the horizon and slowly moving forwards, shrouding the daylight and turning in into night. I sighed, rolling onto my stomach, a cool breeze ruffling my thin shirt.
I pulled myself to the edge of the roof and peered over. Karlier stood behind the wooden pillar at the edge of the verandah. She was nervously hopping from foot to foot, and I could see her hands shaking, even from up here.
I ducked back into position as the shop-owner poked his head around the door to make sure there were no lingering shoppers. I heard the lock click and lifted my fingers to my mouth. Did I really want to do this? I let out a short, loud sparrow whistle and swung to the deck.
Three more whistles replied and then there were four of us under the verandah. Mica crossed his arms and checked everybody else’s expressions. “Are we sure we want to do this?” Mica asked finally.
“Do we want Lou to die or not?” Ingrayh counter-attacked from his right. Mica shrugged as me and Karlier nodded.
“Ready?” he said.
“Ready.” we chorused as Mica pulled a thin pin out of his pocket and inserted it into the lock. His hands fumbled a bit before the lock clicked and the door swung open with a sigh. “There we go.” He said, relief briefly crossing his face before I saw a new expression, a new cloud. Determination.
“Rik, you and Ingrayh are on ruby. Karlier and I will do the bag. Okay?” Mica snapped into action.
“Sure, that makes sense.” I replied.
“What makes sense?” Karlier snapped, and I was afraid her eyes would turn into those black holes.
“Who cares?” Ingrayh said as Mica sighed.
“Ingrayh, Rik, remember that the jewel will most likely be in some sort of filing cabinet.”
“Filing cabinet?” I asked.
“A set of drawers, got it?” He replied before turning to Karlier. That was our queue to leave.
The shop had been hastily decorated by someone with very bad taste, I noted as Ingrayh and I walked through the doorway at the back of the shop. In the next room isles and isles of drawers, or ‘cabinets’, were laid out in front of us. I placed one hand on the brown and green floral wallpaper.
“Where in the name of Tarina do we start?” I asked. This was going to be a daunting, but very boring, task.
Ingrayh glanced around the room, and then pointed to the back wall. “There, we start there.” She said, moving swiftly forwards down the nearest isle.
The very last filing cabinet only had one label on its very top drawer. I placed my hand on the tiny metal handle and pulled it open.
“Got anything?” Ingrayh asked from the cabinet next to mine.
“Rubies are red, right?” I asked, picking up the single jewel. The light was dim, and darkening, but I could just make out its deep red colouring.
“Uh, I think so.” She replied, closing her drawer and leaning over my shoulder.
“Then bingo!” I said, waving the jewel in front of her face.
“How can you see in this light?” she demanded.
“I don’t know.” I placed my spare hand on a hip.
“Well, to be quite honest, I don’t care. We had better go to the shop now.” She turned down the isle.
“You’re always quite honest, aren’t you?” I asked, following her out of the back room.
“Of course, Rik.” She laughed.
“Huh.” A voice said from behind us. I spun around to face Mica, who was holding a velvet bag.
“Give them a heart attack, why don’t you?” Karlier said from behind him.
“Got the ruby?” he asked. I held up my jewel.
“Got the velvet bag?” I replied, even though I knew he had.
“Yeah. Let’s get out of this joint, I heard someone in the back room.”
“Us?” Ingrayh asked belligerently.
“No,” a completely different voice from behind us said, “Me.”
I spun around on my heels as that supernatural chill wafted into the room. Someone was here, someone dead. In the darkest corner a small boy stood. He was as thin as a whippet, and covered in blood. “Tommey?” I whispered.
“Who else?” he pursed his lips.
“What do want here?” demanded Mica, “To kill us?”
“No. Not yet, anyway.” Tommey paused, gliding forwards, “It has to be that sister of yours first.”
“Why? Why her?” Karlier begged.
“I could kill you all, here and now.” Tommey laughed.
“Was that supposed to be a joke?” I put my hands on my hips.
“Not really.” Tommey was playing games with us.
“What do you want?” Mica repeated.
“I just want you idiots to know that some expensive jewel that you stole won’t defeat me. I am dead, you can’t kill me.”
“We killed Pepille.” Said Ingrayh.
“She’s not part of this, she didn’t want to stay, and I don’t blame her. I want to be alive again, to be a family again.”
“Well, we can all be part of it, can’t we?” Mica asked.
“Not you! Things would’ve been different if we hadn’t have died!” Tommey was shouting. “And now I’m going to kill all of you! Ever single one of you, and I don’t care what you think, or how you try to stop me. I swear on my mother’s grave, you will die!” The room was silent as he began to fade.
“No.” whispered Ingrayh. “We will live!”
And then we were running, the door to the shop left wide open behind us. We tore through endless alleys and passages, nothing could stop us, not even Tommey. To be honest, I didn’t even know why we were running, were we scared, or did we want to find Lou even more desperately now?
I was exhausted, I felt like I could barely breathe. I doubled over in pain, and my breathing grew more rapid. I could barely hold on to reality, that darkness would arrive any second…
He was furious. Those children knew far too much, and Lukest was the only one around for him to take his anger out on. He swung the heavy door open so hard that it smashed into the brick wall, the sound reverberated off the pillars. He heard Lukest cry out in fright, and that made him grin maniacally. He wanted to cause pain, and that’s what he was going to do.
I jerked upwards, and heard Mica breathe a sigh of relief. “You’re awake!” he said gratefully.
“I wish I never fainted.” I lay back down on the cold dirt. I didn’t know where we were, and I didn’t care. I was cold and sore, but self-pity was out of the question. Lukest was the most important one at the moment.
“Another dream?” I heard Ingrayh ask.
“Yeah. And I think I know where Lukest is.” I felt someone grab my arm.
“Where?” Karlier asked desperately.
“Somewhere we have all been before. Somewhere back, around, forty years ago.” I gulped.
“The Wild Mansion?” Mica asked.
“That would mean using the locket, right?” Ingrayh asked carefully.
“We do have a fifty percent chance of getting where we want.” Mica reassured.
“Do we even have the locket?” Karlier said doubtfully.
“My left pocket.” I pointed to my trouser pocket and felt someone grab the neatly wrapped parcel I kept it in.
“Are you up for this Rik?” Ingrayh said.
“Always.” I staggered to get my footing right at first, but was soon standing in a square around the rhinestone locket.
“Okay then.” Mica grinned, and we all reached down to grab it. “Here we go!”
A familiar rush of cold pain and swirling colours met me quickly. I felt blinded in the bright light, and I desperately tried to focus my thoughts. I felt like I was going to snap in half, and tried hard not to panic. ‘The Wild Mansion, the Wild Mansion, the…’ I thought my head would burst as I landed with a thud on bare wooden floorboards.
My head throbbed as I stumbled up mouldy stairs. I stopped on the landing to glance down to where we had come from. Creeper plants and dust lay thick on the floor, and dim light filtered through the boarded up windows. Furniture remained still under once-white sheets and dank water lay in puddles all over the place. I shivered in the cool air of the marble room, and placed my hand on the stairwell. There wasn’t much room for mistakes now.
I desperately wanted to tell the others that I had a bad feeling about this place, but Mica had warned us not to talk. Tommey could be anywhere. I shuddered at the thought and followed the others into what appeared to be a kitchen. I looked in dismay at the collapsed benches and smashed crockery. Somebody else had been in here, and recently.
“What a dump.” Mica kicked a metal milk jug.
“I bet the place used to be nice, like ten years or so ago.” Ingrayh replied quietly.
“It’s sure big though, isn’t it?” I said. I looked around the wall, taking in the marble walls and black and white tiles. Something was missing. “Where’s Karlier?” I asked, breaking the silence.
“I don’t know.” Mica replied, as the peace was shattered by a blood-curdling scream. Karlier hurtled through the archway, and slipped across the floor, where she fell, and lay gasping for breath.
“Bloody hell, girl!" Mica almost yelled.
“What is up with you?” Ingrayh grabbed Karlier’s arm and pulled her upright.
“The door….” Karlier gasped. “It slammed, and now it’s… now it’s… locked!”
“Okay, look Karls, we can climb out of a window or something, I don’t know. We’re fine!” Mica shot back angrily.
“I guess she has a reason to be freaked though,” Ingrayh looked around the room.
“I agree, someone could be in here with us!’ Karlier giggled nervously.
“Like who? Tommey? State the obvious more quietly next time, won’t you?” Mica demanded. Nerves were getting to all of us, but arguing wasn’t the way to solve our issues. I knew now wasn’t the time to start a discussion, we needed a bowl and a quiet place to complete our incantation.
“Look, how about we fight after we’ve saved our sister from that murderous ghost, huh?” I snapped, turning to pull the pantry door open.
In place of where the kitchen utensils should be, stood Doniel. “Boo,” he snarled, pulling a butchers knife out from behind his back, “I stole this knife just for you. Tommey said that in easier times he would have dragged you off, one by one, but you meddle far too much.”
We all stood in the centre of the kitchen, either terrified of being killed or annoyed because we had been stupid to not expect this. My hand dropped from the handle, and the door hit the tiled wall with a clang. I heard Karlier breathe a sigh of relief, or was it an annoyed, ‘I told you so’? But I didn’t care; Lukest was going to die if we didn’t see to this problem first.
“Doniel, huh?” Mica spat the name like dirt, whilst beginning to circle the man.
“Who else?” he replied.
“That’s what Tommey said, you know.” Mica grimaced.
“It could be our slogan,” Doniel raised the knife, unaware of the chair hurtling at him. It hit the side of his head with a loud crack, before he toppled to the ground, blood smearing across the floor.
The knife lay in the damp light, and Mica picked it up, and then leant over our enemy. “Don’t ever let me catch you again!’ he hissed, barely audible.
“No!” Karlier yelled, “Don’t kill him!”
“Why? He was going to kill us!” Mica yelled.
“He’s a living being!” Karlier sobbed, “I didn’t mean to hit him with the chair! I feel terrible!” Tears trickled down her face.
“You did good, Karls.” Ingrayh gave her a swift hug.
“You can’t, Mica.” I whispered. If Mica killed a human or animal, I’d….
“Okay,” Mica stood up, tucking the knife into his belt, “Then we’d better get this ghost-killing stuff over and done then, hadn’t we?”
I was scared. If Mica could feel no regret about killing a man, then would we be able to stop him next time? Just seeing the look on his face as he bent over Doniel was… well, it was terrifying. If Mica killed, got caught and hung, what would we say?
“Who, our brother? Oh yes, he died because he killed a man!”
It would be against everything we had ever worked for, ever believed in. But then again, so was what we were doing, that terrible day.
We sat in a tight circle in the front parlour, our equipment set up in the centre. The dagger lay in salt-dissolved water, next to a dark red jewel. The ruby. The velvet bag was only for storing, I noticed, then I shuddered at the thought of calling some ancient, long-dead force to help us kill another of its kind.
“Okay, Karlier, open the book!” Mica commanded, not earning the rolling of eyes I expected. She obediently opened the book to the right page; it could barely sit on her shaking knees. I wasn’t the only one with fears about the incantation.
“Do we all say it at once?” I asked, shrugging.
“I guess. The more the merrier,” she joked bitterly.
“Do we have to, like, hold hands?” Ingrayh looked disgusted. She shared one of the same dislikes as I, not liking other people’s touches.
“No,” Karlier looked at the book glumly, “No.”
“Where do we start? All at the same time?” I asked.
“Yeah, and can everyone see from there?”
We all nodded.
“On the count of three. One, two, and three…”
‘It’s Hallows Eve,
On Gallows Lane,
A silver dagger to protect from pain,
Ruby for the shiniest light,
Salt to keep away the fright,
Water mix us all as one,
Prepare a weapon before night is done.”
Our weapon lay on the floor. I was tired, and my siblings looked gaunt and haunted. I guessed that I looked exactly the same. I heard Mica climb out of a broken window, barely hearing him call something about retrieving the daily paper.
“Thirtieth of September,” I heard him call about two minutes later, “I’d say it’s early evening. We have five to six hours left, lets rest.”
I stopped listening. We were in living hell. “Wake me up in due time…” I heard myself reply. We were so close to finding Lukest that the tiniest mistake could destroy all that we had worked for.
Lukest was tied against a pillar. Her face was tear streaked and grimy. Even the blindest person would not miss the festering red welts on her face. It was clear to the cruellest human being that she was being tortured like a criminal. Her voice was barely a hoarse rasp, more of a tear-filled choke. She thought her luck would never change, Tommey had killed them all, and she would die, too. How she hated Tommey. Her hate was an indescribable anger, none to be underestimated. Her one and only wish was to see Tommey die. But that was cruel; her only wish was really to see her siblings one last time.
She only had five to six hours left to live, and she was becoming more and more agitated. Lukest began to fight the ropes, writhing and screaming, using her last energy to cry out. “Please!” she screamed, “Save me! Kill that boy, he’s a murderer!” She stopped, gasping for breath.
“Kill that boy, he’s a murderer!” I jerked awake, suddenly filled with the realisation that Lukest was in the cellar. She was calling to us, we had to save her! I was ultimately the only one who could see her.
Outside, I could hear birds calling their last mocking calls, and their happiness filled me with the same anger that was contained inside my sister. “Mica!” I screamed, watching angrily as he woke. “Geddup! We gotta save Lookist!”
“In a language that I can understand?” He snapped. I handed him the weapon, tugging at Ingrayh’s foot, and shaking Karlier’s shoulder. Mica nodded, he knew what to do.
“Where?” he whispered, hands shaking.
“Follow me.” I replied, waiting impatiently at the entrance. “I know that we’ve only slept about five minutes, but so what?” The others shrugged.
“Come on, then!” Ingrayh urged, “We have to hurry if we want to be together forever!”
“I’m gonna kill that boy, he’s pissed me off enough for one lifetime,” Mica growled as we stole towards the trapdoor in the hallway.
“Kill him, Mica, I couldn’t care less. In fact, keep stabbing until he’s in tiny pieces!” Karlier looked evil. I wasn’t the only one who was desperate to find Lukest; we all wanted the bloody ghost dead. Dead, and gone.
The cellar was filthy. I choked on dust until my face was a river of salty tears. This wasn’t the right place; it wasn’t the one in my dreams. I heard Mica hiss to us, telling us to crawl lower, and the ceiling was dropping. But it didn’t, not in my….
I heard a shriek from behind me, followed by a short thump. “Bloody hell,” I heard Ingrayh say.
“She’s down there,” Karlier pointed to a hole in the cellar floor.
“Let’s check what’s down there before we all follow,” Mica grimaced. We stuck our heads through the narrow gap. Ingrayh had found it. Ingrayh had found the place from my dream.
“That’s it!” I muttered, “The place from my dream!”
“Slide down then,” Mica shoved at Karlier, “So I can kill this idiot ghost!”
I slipped through the gap, choking on the stale air. I heard Karlier complain about a twisted ankle, and before I knew it, we were searching.
It was hard not to step on rusty nails and shards of broken glass. I thought we’d never find Lukest in this underground maze. “What the hell is going on?” Mica hissed.
“Yeah, Rik, this is annoying.” Karlier replied, hands on her hips.
“I swear to Tarina, this is the place in my dream!” I glared at them.
“I believe Rik,” Ingrayh said, “I believe Lukest is down here.”
“You believe anything, don’t you?” Karlier mocked.
“Shut up, what would you know Karlier?” Mica interrupted.
“I thought you were angry at Rik!” she declared.
“No, you idiot. Just turn around and you might notice that light over there!” he pointed to a pillar one hundred metres away.
“Oh, Tommey made a mistake,” I laughed bitterly. “That boy is gonna die!”
“Uh huh. Sorry Mica, by the way.” Karlier apologised.
“Yeah, whatever. Just shut up so I can hear what they’re saying.” Mica grimaced before holding up the weapon. “Bye bye, Tommey.” he whispered, as we crept forwards.
A Weapon for Justice
It was easy to keep quiet, our feet muffled by thick dirt and dusty remains. As we grew closer to Lukest’s pillar, we could hear her crying, and it was obvious she was not alone. I felt someone grow tense beside me, and I gulped. Mouldy dirt travelled down my throat and I had to put my hand over my mouth to stop myself from dry-retching.
“Could it be Doniel?” Karlier referred to the presence with Lukest.
“You got him, remember the chair?” Ingrayh sidled up to the closest pillar.
“It was too make me feel better, actually. You know, I was hoping it was Doniel, and not Tommey.” she whispered.
“Okay, guys,” Mica ignored Karlier, “This is a crucial moment, got that, Karlier? One false mood means we die, ya hear me?”
“Yes,” we replied almost silently, “We hear you.” But we could also hear Lukest screaming.
“What do I want with you, Lukest?” Tommey smirked, half yelling, “I want ya dead, don’t I? I want all of ya dead, you can go to hell!”
“Just leave me alone!” a girl cried.
“Nah! Make me, you’re gonna die, ya know that?”
“Oh, well, screw you!” None of us had ever heard Lukest speak like that before.
“If ya tryna’ be funny, it ain’t working!” Tommey laughed, but he now sounded agitated.
“What’s wrong Tommey had a change of plan?” Lukest spat.
“No, girl, there’s someone else in here?”
“That idiot, Doniel?”
“No, I feel them, more than one presence…”
“Hmmm,” Lukest murmured sarcastically, “possibly me and you?’
“Are you sure ya didn’t invite others to see ya die?” Tommey smirked.
“Oh, I wish.”
“Ya is gonna wish that ya ain’t dead soon, ain’t ya?”
“Oh, no. I just love the thought of not being able to be with people I love!” Lukest yelled belligerently.
“Of course you don’t, Lou!” Mica flashed a grin as he stepped from behind the pillar. We followed quickly, and grinned to ourselves at the delight on Lukest’s face.
“Guys!” Lukest yelled, struggling harder.
“Guys.” Tommey faltered. Mica leapt forwards bowling the apparition over onto the ground. I didn’t stop to watch them brawl, but instead rushed to gather Lukest.
“You got here!” she whispered, glancing at us as we unloosed the knot in the rope.
“Yep.” Karlier said, warily eyeing up Tommey and Mica.
I could barely bring myself to look at Lukest’s torn up face. I choked on tears as we lifted her body to a safe corner. All of a sudden, Tommey appeared in front of us and Mica let out a wild yell. “I’m gonna kill you!” Mica yelled, running to where we stood.
“No,” Tommey smiled coldly, “I’m gonna kill ya!”
I stood frozen, sharing Lukest’s body with my sisters. None of us dared to move, let alone breathe. I felt Lukest pass out in my arms and her breathing grew heavier.
“Drop the girl!” Tommey hissed, and the room grew cold.
“No,” I heard Karlier whisper. Her voice shook with terror.
“No,” Mica followed her lead as he edged towards Tommey.
“Ha!” Tommey suddenly yelled, moving forwards in a single movement. He grabbed Karlier around the neck and pulled a knife from his pocket. He held it to her neck and I knew this was the moment. One of us would die.
Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers
“One or the other,” Tommey snarled. “Or how about both?”
“Neither!” I hissed, my voice suddenly returned.
“Hmmm….. Let me think about that…” Tommey laughed. “No!”
“Do you have no feelings?” Mica whispered.
“You don’t know what it’s like. What being dead, what losing everyone is like.”
“I do.” Lukest whispered, “And so does Karlier.”
“When you die, you can get your revenge!” Tommey snarled, his grip tightening on Karlier. Her face turned pale and my hands started to shake. Before I knew what was happening, Lukest’s upper body fell from my sweaty grasp.
I felt myself follow Lukest down, scrambling in a cloud of dust. I needed her! I needed her! I could hear people yelling, but I was unable to decipher their words.
I had to grab Lukest, I had to! I heard a loud scream and lifted my head. The dust seemed oblivious; I didn’t feel like anyone, I felt as if I was watching what was happening from above.
Karlier flew from Tommey’s grasp, tumbling head first into a wooden pillar. I watched as Ingrayh rushed over in obvious panic, ripping fabric from her shirt to staunch the wound. Blood trickled from a gash in her forehead, but I stayed put. I was frozen, as good as dead. Dead… the word ran around my head in circles. I started to scream.
I felt myself be shoved out of the way and I lay sprawled on the ground. I was still screaming, but now I was crying as well. I used a dusty hand to cover my mouth as I staggered to my feet. Mica and Tommey watched each other with hunters’ precision, and I ruined it all. My hand fell from my mouth as I slammed Tommey into the dirt, something around my chest cracked.
I heard Tommey snigger as I crawled to the nearest pillar. I could taste the salty blood in my mouth, I had stopped screaming. Mica didn’t dare hit Tommey with the knife, not yet. But then Tommey raised his arms, his silver knife reappearing in a transparent hand.
“Ten, nine, eight…” he called, bending over.
“Midnight!” I screamed, “He’s counting down to midnight!”
“Stab him!” I choked.
“Now!” Ingrayh screamed, but was barely audible above my consistent wail.
Mica acted instantaneously. He leapt forwards brandishing his dagger. But he was too late. He struck Tommey at the same time Tommey’s knife struck our sister. A bright light seemed to burst from Tommey, and the most horrible scream that I’d ever heard reverberated from the walls. Our surroundings began to quiver like there was an earthquake, and I started to move towards the wall. I was afraid the house would explode.
Dust clouded the room making the air seem toxic. I heard Ingrayh scream but I could do nothing. I flattened myself against the earth wall. My mind was spinning. I felt the last of the light fade away and we were plunged into complete darkness. I began to choke again, but this time I was happy. Tommey was gone!
Or was I happy? A sudden thought slid into to mind. ‘Lukest, is she dead?’ I shuddered at the very thought, but I stayed in my place until the dust had subsided. I shivered at the memories that wanted to replay themselves in my head, I wished the past would stay where it was and stop bothering me.
“We gather here today to mourn the loss of a loved one who perished unnecessarily. We do not know why these events happen, these horrible, life changing events. All we know is that our dearly departed, Lukest Viola Wild, has lived a life with a caring and loving family. All we know is that she will be missed.”
I hated the drone of the Minister’s voice, but I listened anyway. I felt as if there was a giant, gaping, black hole inside of me. Lukest was dead. I was never going to be happy again. I held my head high, as if refusing to accept the fact that Lukest was dead. They say that the truth is worst when you can’t accept it. But if I could accept it, why did it still feel like the worst thing in the world?
I watched in lonely despair as Ingrayh grasped her bouquet of poppies even tighter. Tears trickled down Karlier’s face; Lukest was her last remaining pure blood relative. But, and I had to admit, the person that I felt most sorry for, was Mica. Every day when he woke up before the funeral I could see his actions in his eyes. I knew he wished he could’ve done more. If he had saved Lukest, he would have had to be a superhuman.
At the moment though, he didn’t looked pained, but confused. “Mica?” I whispered as friends drifted back up towards the reception area.
“Yeah?” he replied as soon as the graveyard had emptied.
“I just swear… I swear that I saw…. Doniel in the bushes, laughing at me,” he whispered.
“Doniel?” Ingrayh muttered as she walked over.
“I wish this never happened,” Karlier had stopped sobbing, and we watched in silence as Lukest was buried. She was officially dead, declared gone.
‘At least,’ I thought, turning away, ‘that the doctors said she felt no pain when Tommey stabbed her. At least she died with us at her side.’
“You know what, Karlier?” Ingrayh asked her as we trudged sorrowfully back towards the reception, “I’m sorry if I was ever cruel towards you.”
“Me too,” I said honestly.
“And me,” Mica murmured, “You are a great sister, just as Lukest was… hang on, no, she still is.”
“I accept your apologies with one of my own. I’m sorry; I must’ve been really annoying sometimes. It’s just, well, you all seem so powerful, and Lukest seemed to fit in fine, while I was a follower. I never wanted to be a follower.” She whispered sadly, head bowed in respect for both us and the dead.
“You never were a follower.” Ingrayh said.
“Just misunderstood.” Mica nodded.
“Kind of like the rest of us.” I finished as we entered the dank funeral reception. We were all misunderstood, but we weren’t failures. This wasn’t to be the end of our lives. It was merely the beginning.
THE END --- or is it?
Published by Samantha Anderson