Start writing here…I sighed as I approached my locker; I had algebra next I wouldn’t get to go to my art class until after lunch. The day was just dragging on too long for me. I dialed in the combination for my locker and lifted the latch. Stupid lock. These school lockers were never opening right. Come to think about it, the only person who never had any trouble with the lockers was my best friend, Kei. “Hey,” I said as she approached for our walk to algebra.
“Trouble with the lock again?” she asked and I nodded. She reached for it and the lock seemed to spring open and into her hand before she had touched it. She stood there hanging on the door smiling, “there you go.”
“Thanks,” I smiled back as she leaned on the lockers beside mine.
“You doing anything tonight?” she asked, and I gave her an incredulous look peeking out from behind my locker door. When was I ever doing anything?
“What do you think? We do have that algebra test tomorrow. You want to come over after school and study?” I answered pointedly.
“Ugg! Studying! Can’t we just have chick flick night?” she complained as I grabbed my books and we started toward class.
“Fine, but we have to study too, if you fail another test you’ll fail the semester,” I started rolling my eyes.
“Yeah, yeah,” she scoffed under her breath, “Busy body.”
“Hey what kind of friend would I be if I let you fail,” I teased as we turned a corner and I noticed Amanda Harrison and her friends gossiping by their lockers. I swallowed knowing I had to pass down the hallway but I didn’t want a fight, especially with Amanda. I hugged my books tighter and kept my head down hoping she wouldn’t see me. Kei frowned at me but held back her usual comment. I took a deep breath and continued down the hall trying to be invisible.
“Someday I’d really like to see you kick her ass,” Kei whispered under her breath to me.
“Not now” I breathed.
Amanda glanced up from her friends and saw me. I silently prayed she would just let it go. But as I passed by she took a step out and bumped into me forcefully with her shoulder causing me to drop my books.
“Oops, sorry Ana,” she jeered, “but you should really watch where you’re going.”
I swallowed ruefully and picked up my books muttering, “Its fine, Amanda.”
“I can’t say I’m surprised,” she scoffed looking down on me and I flashed a look to Kei to stay out of it, “I mean you’re constantly walking around with your had up in the clouds.”
I shrugged noncommittally, “I’ll try to be better about that.”
“I mean I at least had the decency to say sorry,” she rolled her eyes as I fixed my eyes on the floor picking up my last book trying not to snap back. I was fighting every nerve of my body that screamed to punch her in the face and put a tight lid on it locking it away. I was a better person than that, I told myself. I didn’t need to stoop to her level.
I sighed muttering as I got to my feet to leave, “I’m sorry. Tell Max I said hi.”
She frowned as I turned away calling after me, “When are you going to give up? It’s pathetic the way you chase after him. Don’t you see, I have him wrapped around my fingers. It’s not like you even had a chance anyway. He’s way out of your league, stop reaching honey.”
I frowned stopping and against my better judgment a retorted, “I don’t know Amanda, but somehow I doubt it’s as pathetic as being eye candy… oh did I say that out loud? Oops.”
Kei snickered as Amanda’s glare turned icy and she snapped, “You know what you little freak! I don’t care that you stare at him, that you want him so desperately its pathetic. But don’t ever think you’re a match for me.”
“I seem to be doing pretty well,” I scoffed glaring back at her. Her eyes lit up like fire and she took a step closer. I almost wanted it, to throw her down on her ass and feel like I wasn’t so much lesser than her.
“Don’t even think about it Amanda,” Kei warned stepping slightly in front of me. The two shared a deadly stare with each other daring the other to make a move.
“Whatever, freaks,” She replied stepping back as Max turned the corner to walk her to class.
“Hey ladies,” he smiled at all of us then noticing the tension asked, “What’s going on?
“Oh nothing, boo,” Amanda smiled, “I was just telling Ana that she should join us this weekend at the beach… what do you say Ana?”
“Um,” I muttered feeling my tongue tie itself in a knot in front of him, I wanted to stick it to Amanda but I didn’t think I could stand to watch her hang all over Max, “I… I- can’t s-sorry, I’ll see you later Max.”
“Yeah, see ya later, Ana,” he smiled as Kei and I walked toward class. I tried to focus on my class and learning about quadratic equations but I couldn’t bring myself to stop thinking about my spat with Amanda. She just got on my nerves. I could tell she didn’t even like Max that much she just enjoyed knowing she had what others wanted. It was more of the principle of the thing, I tried futile to convince myself. I knew Max and I would never end up together but I hated seeing him with such a bitch. The bell rang waking me from my thoughts. I rose from my seat and walked with Kei to the cafeteria. As we sat down things fell into their normal routine and everyone began chatting with one another. I sat quietly still bitter from talking with Amanda. I glanced up as Amanda and Max walked in and sat down at a table a little ways away from us. I watched them absently for a minute before turning back to my friends and blurting out, “Do you guys want to come over for a movie night, tonight?”
“Um,” Elvina replied brushing her long red hair out of her face, “That came out of nowhere.”
“Well I figured Kei and I are going studying tonight,” I explained, “Why not have all you crazy people over.”
“I’m down,” Maia nodded smiling her devilish grin.
“I don’t know,” Jasper sighed as Max and Amanda began arguing, “you guys always watch chick flicks.”
“Why don’t you bring the movies then?” Elvie replied shaking her head.
“Fine,” he sighed, “I’ve got nothing better to do any way.”
“Looks like we’re in,” Kei laughed as Amanda slapped Max and stormed off pausing for a moment to glare at me with a deadly menace before leaving the cafeteria. I rolled my eyes realizing I was going to be paying for whatever just happened along with our spat later and Kei frowned, “That didn’t look good.”
“Yeah,” I shook my head, “I don’t even care anymore, she wants to be a bitch that’s her problem. I’m sick of playing that game with her.”
“Good for you,” Maia nodded as the bell rang sending us to our last class of the day.
“I’ll see you guys after school,” I called after them, “Meet at my house!”
I stopped at my locker to put away my math book and grab my sketch book, but the damned lock jammed again. I stood there tugging on the latch muttering about how much I wanted to kill the stupid thing under my breath. “Need some help?” someone asked.
I turned to see Amanda and I frowned, “What do you want?”
“Just thought you could use a hand,” she shrugged as I continued to stubbornly pull at the latch.
“Yeah right,” I muttered rolling my eyes and smacking the locker with the palm of my hand.
“Here let me have a go,” she offered opening the locker with such ease that it looked as if it jumped into her hand, “There you go.”
“Thanks,” I muttered half-heartedly putting my book away and pulling out the sketch book. I locked the locker and turning to walk to my art class.
“I didn’t know you drew,” she smiled following me, “May I?”
“What do you want from me?” I scoffed frowning at her.
“I was honestly just curious about your art,” she replied innocently and I sighed handing her the book and she flipped through it looking at the different sketches before handing it back to me commenting, “You’re really talented.”
“Thanks,” I muttered again.
“What are you doing this weekend?” she asked.
I frowned, “What do you want Amanda? To punish me more for earlier? Insult me? It’s bad enough when I run into you in the halls but now you’re seeking me out to have a go at me. Do whatever you want I don’t care anymore.”
“I was just trying to be nice, Ana,” she replied innocently, “I know I can come off as a bitch, sometimes I don’t realize it… It got pointed out to me recently I could have been taking out some other frustrations on you. I’m trying to make good.”
“Yeah, right,” I scoffed.
She rolled her eyes, “why is it so hard to believe I feel bad?”
“For one,” I replied incredulously, “this is the longest you’ve gone without insulting me.”
“Look, I just want to invite you to a party,” she replied as I stopped outside my class, “I’m throwing one this weekend.
“I thought you were going to the beach,” I rolled my eyes.
“Plans changed,” She sighed, “I thought you might like to come. It starts around noon on Saturday, but its invitation only, I don’t want any of your weirdo friends there seeing as I have somewhat of a reputation to maintain. I do hope you come though.” With that, she left for class leaving me wondering what the hell that was all about.
I sat down in the back of the class and opened my sketch book. I flipped past the sketches of medieval type castles with banners proudly flying; I paused momentarily at the sketch of a moody prince sitting on a regal throne. There was something about him, the way he sat with his hand on his chin brooding over something that set me on edge. When I had originally drawn him I had imagined him thinking about an escaped challenger to his throne. I shook my head, turned to a blank page, and just sketched absently. As the sketch progressed I began to form it into a grand regal looking hall. It was lavishly decorated with roaring torches and large tapestries. Alone in the room were two figures, one was the prince from the throne drawing, but instead of his brooding frown he was laughing and smiling twirling a somewhat shorter girls with long dark hair like his. Though you couldn’t see her face one could assume she was having as good of a time as he was. She was not in a ball gown but in a long medieval style dress that clung to her figure in the most becoming way. I don’t know what had compelled me to draw this scene but I never seemed to know why I drew the things I did.
The bell rang waking me from my thoughts as I walked out to the front of the school meeting Kei. We walked down to the corner and I asked her absently, “Do you think people change?”
“I certainly hope so,” she scoffed as absent as I was, “why?”
“Amanda invited me to a party,” I muttered thinking about going, “I think I might go.”
“You can’t!” she barked suddenly, her face was almost scared. She quickly wiped the look off her face adding, “I mean it’s probably a trap to embarrass you.”
“I know but I want to be the bigger person, Kei,” I replied resolutely, “I’m going to go, maybe this is what we need to move past this Max thing.” She shrugged as we entered the store and walked through the aisles of the grocery store. We walked down one aisle looking for popcorn, as we did another man walked down the aisle as well, I barely noticed him until I got the feeling I was being watched. I looked up and caught his eye, he looked away and continued down the aisle looking at something on the shelf. Kei noticed him too and began eyeing him in a weird way as if she was waiting for something to happen. I grabbed a random box of popcorn and walked to the dessert aisle, he followed us trying to appear as if he was shopping I looked up at him again and he turned away looking at box of candy. I leaned over and whispered to Kei, “Hey are you getting a weird vibe from that guy? He keeps following us.”
She shook her head whispering, “I hadn’t noticed until you mentioned it. He’s probably just lost, let’s go.”
I could tell she was hiding something from me but I let it go saying, “Yeah.” I felt I surge of energy as if an invisible wave had pushed passed me dissipating in a slow ocean like pull behind me. I turned and the man was gone. I shook my head blinking a couple of times.
“Come on, let’s go, or everyone will get there before we do,” Kei shrugged pulling me toward the check out. We checked out and stepped outside and I was shocked by the sudden down pour of rain. Earlier it had been a beautiful day and now it was raining!
“Damn it!” I whispered as I felt the same wave like surge of energy, “we have to walk a block in this!”
“What are you talking about?” she asked opening an umbrella and gesturing for us to start walking.
“Where did you get that?” I asked not recalling seeing her with an umbrella today.
“Oh,” she replied hesitantly, “I always keep one in my locker.”
“Uh-huh,” I replied as we passed a hobo sitting under the eaves of the building.
“You two want something nice to drink?” He cackled offering us an open bottle. He had shoulder length black hair and jet black eyes. I had never seen someone with black eyes, it was creepy and set me on edge.
“We’re 15, loser,” I retorted pulling Kei away quickly. I looked back over my shoulder to see if he was going to follow us but he was just sitting there staring at us. I blinked and he was gone. I thought about asking Kei if she had seen anything but decided not to. She must not have noticed anything because she was thinking about something. We reached my house shortly and I unlocked the door and called, “Hey mom!”
“Hi honey,” a light voice came from the kitchen, “Wow, this rain came out of nowhere didn’t it? Listen I have to go into work tonight, are you going to be alright here?” I nodded giving her a hug.
“Yeah; Jas, Maia, and Elvina are coming over and we’re going to watch some movies,” I replied setting the bag down on the counter and dropping my bag on the floor. My mom was packing snacks and her laptop into her work bag.
“Alright, well I promise to be home as soon as I can,” she said giving me a hug and walking out the door. No more than five minutes passed before I heard the door open. ‘My friends had no manners,’ I joked to myself.
“Hey,” Elvina called as they walked in. I could hear a thud from them dropping their bags in the entry way.
“We’re in the kitchen,” I called back as they walked in, “You want to order pizza?”
“Sure,” they answered in unison, so I picked up the phone and ordered our usual: half meat lovers, half vegetarian. I put in the movie Jas had brought and popped some popcorn. We all sat down as the word “Transformers” came on screen, Jas’s favorite movie. We sat down and relaxed. I noticed a smirk on Kei’s face when Jas thought he was clever reaching around her to set his drink on a coffee table and left his arm around her shoulders. The movie was half-way over when the doorbell rang; I grabbed the money and opened the door. I was surprised when I found Max waiting outside. “I didn’t know you were delivering now?” I said as he looked up.
“Oh, yeah, you know my dad,” he muttered handing me the pizza trying to avoid getting soaked from the rain, “Always had his heart in that place. I gotta earn money for a car somehow.”
“Yeah,” I laughed, “How much do I owe you”
“Uh,” He shrugged checking the receipt, “it’s $10.22…” I counted it out as he chuckled, “Weird about the rain right?”
“Bad night to be delivering pizzas,” I chuckled handing him the fifteen dollars we had scrounged together.
“You’re telling me,” he laughed.
“You want to come in?” I asked feeling sorry for him, “You look miserable. The guys are over we’re going to watch some movies… you’re more than welcome.”
“That would be great,” he replied as I stepped out of his way so he could come in, “Just let me call ‘the boss man’ so he knows I’m taking off early.”
“That’s cool,” I replied starting to walk into the other room, “Just come on in when you’re done.” He smiled pulling out his phone as I walked away. “Pizza’s here,” I called walking into the room. We all grabbed our favorite slice; Kei the farthest from veggie, Jas any meat slice, Maia combo of both but slightly more veggie than meat, Elvina all veggie, and me half and half.
“Who was that at the door?” Kei asked taking a bite of pizza.
“Max,” I shrugged and she rolled her eyes, “he’s going to hang out for a little bit until the rain lets up.”
We sat down as the movie continued; Max joined us after a few minutes and jumped onto the couch next to me like when we were kids. I ignored my heart as it decided to kick into overdrive with him sitting so close. I tried to focus on the movie but I noticed that every few minutes Elvie would turn her head glancing past us at the back door. She scrunched her face up like she was looking for something. After a few minutes Kei asked, “Everything alright, Elvie?”
“Yeah,” she shook her head dismissing whatever was bothering her. There was a loud explosion on screen and Elvie whipped her head around glaring at the back door muttering, “Ana is Maggie home?”
“No she’s performing at a dog show in Vancouver this week with my dad,” I answered taking another bite of pizza, “Why?”
“I could have sworn I heard something outside,” she answered, “I thought maybe she knocked over the trash cans or something
“That’s weird, it’s probably just raccoons,” I sighed getting up to check for her. I walked to the back window that looked into our back yard peeking through the curtains and froze. Finally, I managed to breath as I stared in disbelief. I was staring at a pack of huge wolves, and I mean huge! They had to be a steroid experiment gone wrong. There were maybe five or six in the backyard and none of them looked happy. I rushed for the back door locking it and wondering if I should call animal control. While I debated, everyone got up to see what had made me panic. Kei got there first and glanced outside quickly jumping back from the window.
“Crap!” she whispered beginning to pace as I picked up the phone, “Ana that won’t do anything, we have to leave now!”
“Are you insane? You want us to go outside where those things are?” I whispered franticly trying to punch in the number but the line was dead.
“No, that would be stupid. We have to leave, leave.” She whispered back calmly, “You have ten minutes, if that, before they break down that door.” She handed me a leather pack from nowhere. I paused for a moment not taking the bag debating whether or not to trust her, this was all so strange. She looked me dead in the eye pleading, “Ana it’s now or never, if they make it through that door there’s very little I can do.”
“What’s going on?” I frowned, “You know what those things are?”
“Yes,” she nodded pushing the bag into my chest, “And I need you to do as I say right now so they don’t take you away.”
“Take me?” I stared incredulously my heart pounding a bit faster.
“Ana I don’t have time to explain right this second,” she snarled as I heard something brush past the back door, “I will explain but not right now, I need you to trust me.”
I sighed and went into a flurry of action buzzing around my house like a possessed fly. I knew that I should pack things I would need, I didn’t know where we were going or how long we’d be staying or really anything at all. I ran up to my room and grabbed some clothes and a blanket. I quietly stuffed them into my pack moving on to the next thing.
Elvie began to pack a bag as Jasper, Maia, and Max began questioning Kei as she packed. They were all talking over one another I couldn’t make out much of anything as I rushed around. Kei evidently caught all of it and turned snapping at them, “Yes this is dangerous, yes all of you are coming, despite my better judgment, no there’s no one to call to help us. Right now, I’m your best chance to get out of here without being killed by those things in the backyard, now I’m a bit busy at the moment. So if you’ll excuse me we might just make it out of this.”
I went to turn off the movie but Kei grabbed my arm, “No,” she whispered, “We want them to think that we don’t know they’re there.” She looked around looking at the three packs we had and nodded to herself. “Follow me,” she whispered motioning to go upstairs. We nodded and quickly crept up the stairs. Nevertheless, something made me stop at the top. There was a dull thud, thud, thud coming from down stairs. I recognized it as someone or something throwing their weight against my back door. Locks wouldn’t do anything my ass! I made a motion to hurry and Kei nodded her understanding. There was a bang of the door falling, Kei turned back moving past me as one of the wolves grabbed Jasper by the foot. He wiggled out of his shoe and Kei raised her hands and muttered something in another language before turning around.
“Come on, that won’t hold for long!” she shouted as we rushed down the hall to the closet. Kei opened the door, revealing a glittering light flowing curtain like thing leading somewhere bright and sunny. Max was at the front, he hesitated as if unsure to trust it. Jas moved to the front and pushed him through and the others didn’t wait. I tossed Kei my bag. She made a move to throw me through but I pushed her through first. I heard a loud bang like the firing of a gun, I covered my ears as I started to step through. As I reached back for the door knob I saw something that will haunt me forever. A large black dog the size of a large lion was staring at me; his fur was midnight, his teeth glistening pearl daggers, and his eyes were evil pits of despair and destruction that could trap you in their lingering hold.
I heard a voice in my head coaxing, “Come here Ana, I won’t hurt you. I’m here to help.” Though the eyes before me warned of doom, I felt oddly at ease in the most curious way. There was something about this monster that drew me to him. I started to take a step but I became vaguely aware of Kei shouting something. I drew my attention away from the dog for a second as I looked back through the soft air like curtain. “It’s alright Ana,” the voice said sounding more urgent, “come here. She doesn’t know it’s me. I’m really a friend. You can trust me.” The voice pulled me toward the beast coaxing me to take a step forward back through the veil into my house. Suddenly I felt a hand grab the collar of my shirt and yank roughly pulling me through the curtain.